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Friday, 27 March 1942

Mr FRANCIS (Moreton) .- The disclosures made yesterday by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) that many members of the Australia First Movement have been guilty of treasonable conduct and a desire to appoint a Quisling government to assist the enemy, to assassinate prominent citizens and to overthrow democratic government in this country provide one of the most striking examples of fifth column activity ever revealed in Australian history. The observations made from time to time by the Prime Minister and other members of the Government that fifth columnists are at work in this country must convince the Government and the people that adequate steps are not being taken to counter the menace. I pay' tribute to those who discovered the activities of these people, and I urge that the personnel of the Investigation Branch which in most instances has done extraordinarily good work, be increased. There should be more intense activity in watching the movements of people of this character. Those who are not for Australia are against it, and they should bc treated as enemies. Their internment alone does not satisfy me, and it should not be satisfactory to the Government. If we are to be satisfied merely with their internment, we cannot hope to defend Australia adequately. I direct the attention of honorable members to a paragraph in a speech delivered recently by Dr. W. G. Goddard, director of the Round Table Club in Queensland, who forcefully drew attention of the people to this menace. In the course of his remarks he quoted the following excerpt from a speech by Marshal Enrico Caviglia at a conference of the Grand Fascist Council at San Remo, in the presence of Mussolini -

A great new empire embracing China, Man.chukuo, Mongolia and Tibet will emerge in the Far East within the next twenty years. This new empire, which will bc Japanese, will lie highly modernized, and its prestige will become so great that Oceania will submit to its attraction. Italians who are in Oceania ure the vanguard of that Japanese Empire, which I mentioned. Care has been taken in their selection, and especial care must be taken in future, as they have a special mission to perform. They have been migrated to the south .sew to prepare the way for Japan, as ta.pan is the natural country to drive everything British out of the Pacific.

The fact that Mussolini was present, and that no protest was made against the speech by any member of the Grand Fascist Council, must convince honorable members that the mission with which those Italian Fascists were charged had the support of the whole of the Italian people. The speech indicated carefully laid plans for selected Italian migrants to act as an advance guard for the Japanese. That is fifth column activity of the worst kind. I ask that enemy aliens of Italian extraction be carefully watched. To-day, their activities are mostly centred in north Queensland.

Mr Curtin - What about the Germans?

Mr FRANCIS - We have no evidence that Germans have been commissioned to carry out similar duties. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) knows of such activities by Germans, -he should take action in the matter. Most Germans in Australia to-day, who were residents of this country during the last war, have displayed commendable restraint and proved themselves good Australians. All 'Germans who have displayed enemy sympathies have, so far as I am aware, been interned, and I do not hesitate to say that they should be interned ; but there is a number of Germans of my acquaintance in Australia who are as loyal as it is possible to be.

Mr Curtin - That is the problem with which we are confronted when it is suggested that all enemy aliens should be interned.

Mr FRANCIS - In view of the statements that I have submitted, I urge the Government to see that the Fascist advance guard specially sent to Australia to co-operate with the Japanese shall be carefully watched and promptly dealt with. The personnel of the department now employed in observing activities of this kind should be doubled, and even quadrupled. Although many Italians have been detailed to do special jobs, I do not say that all Italians in Australia are fifth columnists, or members of the advance guard that is preparing for the attack on Australia by Japan; but increased activity is required in the suppression of fifth columnists in this country. The measures taken must be prompt and effective.

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