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Friday, 27 March 1942


Mr MARTENS (Herbert) .- I was interested to hear the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) suggest that if the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) had known certain things yesterday that he knows to-day he probably would not have submitted this motion. That may be true. But the Leader of the Opposition spent most of his time condemning a procedure which he knows has been effective to a large degree in the last two or three weeks. He told us yesterday that he had recently visited north Queensland. Therefore, he must know as well as I do that more than 600 men have been taken out of two districts there during the last fortnight or so. That is a fairly large number of people to remove from such an area. In my view, some of the statements of the Leader of the

Opposition cannot be justified, particularly as be is as well advised as any other honorable member of the House on these subjects. The honorable gentleman referred to the prosecution of Mr. F. W. Paterson, of Townsville. Yet he knows very well of Mr. Paterson's activities for a long time past. It was a government which the honorable gentleman supported, if not the Government he led, that declared an illegal body the organization with which Mr. Paterson was connected. I said at that time, and I say now, that the declaring of that organization as an illegal body simply had the effect of driving it underground. An organization driven underground may still carry on its work. In some cases it may work more effectively than before it was driven underground. I believe that it was foolish to declare the Communist organization illegal. Mir. Paterson is a clever and dangerous man who has been able to use his position in a remarkable way to state his views. If the organization had not been declared illegal, he would have continued openly to declare his political beliefs. Because he has been refused the right to speak openly, he has been accorded a certain sympathy by some people, including many who do not support the Labour movement. Mr. Paterson addressed certain meetings in Townsville, and I have no doubt that the Leader of the Opposition is well aware of the amount that was subscribed at those meetings to help him. The larger amounts in the subscription lists were certainly not subscribed by Labour supporters. Mr. Paterson received a great deal of sympathy, because the view was held bysome people that he had been wrongly treated. I informed the previous Minister for the Army (M.r. Spender) that I thought it was an unwise act to declare the Communist organization illegal. In any case, Mr. Paterson has paid the penalty for his conduct, according to the view of the. legal authority which tried the case. The Leader of the Opposition knows very well my personal attitude on this matter, but that is entirely beside the question. Mr. Paterson went to Sydney and addressed a meeting recently; but that is not by any means the first meeting of the kind that he has addressed in Sydney. He addressed meetings there

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while the present Leader of the Opposition was either Acting Prime Minister or Prime Minister. The name that Mr. Paterson applied to himself at that time was not Communist. If he had been allowed to address meetings as a declared Communist he would certainly have done so, and I do not think that he would have done any more harm by the adoption of that course. I say quite frankly that there are men in internment in Australia to-day for whom I have a great regard. I shall continue to hold them in esteem until it has been proved that they have done wrong. I think, in particular, of one very good friend of mine who is interned. He has contributed money to war loans in this country, in all instances free of interest, and also has made money available to the Government without interest for the duration of the war and for six months thereafter. I know of certain other men whose names I gave to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), who were interned for a few hours and then released. One such man has made the statement openly that it cost him a good deal of money to get out. I do not know how true that is. I have been accused by certain individuals in my electorate of having been responsible for approaching the Minister for the Army in the interests of certain aliens. I have not approached cither this Minister or his predecessor to secure the release of anybody. I have asked that certain cases should be investigated, to ascertain whether statements made in letters written to me were correct, and to ensure that justice would be done in respect of certain individuals. All I am concerned about is that persons who are interned shall be dealt with justly, and not unjustly.

The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has made an attack on the Italians in north Queensland. Mention was made also of an individual who was a Fascist leader and a member of the Grand Council. The man to whom I have referred as having made his money available to the Government, free of interest has refused, on many occasions, to meet a representative of Mussolini. My reason for making that statement is that I wish to make clear why I am opposed to the wholesale internment of persons. I have received, copies of resolutions carried at many public meetings requesting me to support the policy of the .wholesale internment of enemy aliens, whether they are or are not naturalized. My opinion is that our chief concern should be to ensure justice to these people. If certain persons have done wrong, they should be interned whether they have, or have not, been naturalized. We talk a good deal about British justice, but justice is justice in Britain, Australia, or any other country. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) made some apt remarks on that subject. Our concern should be to give these aliens justice. The internment of a good many individuals has resulted from the entry of Japan into the war. If more activity had been shown in this direction previously, in order to ascertain whether certain individuals ought to have been interned, it would have been a good thing for the country. Of course, some persons should be interned who have not been interned, and other persons who have been interned should be released.

I agree with the Minister for the Army that until such time as persons are known to have been guilty of misdemeanors, they should not be penalized. As to tho individuals referred to in the Minister's statement yesterday, all I have to say is that it is not internment they deserve, but something very different. In spite of the danger of being dubbed something that I am not, I consider that if these persons are guilty of the charges levelled against them, they should be dealt with promptly and in a proper way. I know of some interned enemy aliens who were released a few hours before the appeal tribunals were established by the previous Government. I do not know how they obtained their release, but I know that no persons have been released because I have asked for their release. My view is that persons involved in these matters should be accorded a proper trial. What I know of many Italians in North Queensland has led me to the opinion that the wholesale internment of aliens, and even of so-called enemy aliens, is not a proper procedure. There are enemy aliens in Australia who fear far more the treatment that they may get from their own nationals than the treatment they are likely to get from Australia. I also know of unnaturalized Italians who are far. more loyal to Australia than many naturalized Italians.

I was interested to hear the Leader of the Opposition say that an investigation should be made into all cases of naturalization during the last two or three years. Personally, I should be surprised to learn that many people had been naturalized during the last two and a half years. 3 am satisfied that in certain case3 the investigation officers have acted wrongly. Men have been naturalized who should not have been naturalized. The reason given to me in letters written to me by the former Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) why certain people had not been granted naturalization was that their knowledge of the English language was insufficient. I am not greatly concerned about that phase of the subject. I have been interviewed by Italians in north Queensland who have been denied naturalization, and their explanations have been put to me by other Italians in quite clear language although those persons also have been refused naturalization because their knowledge of English was said to be insufficient. There are persons in north Queensland who have spoken openly about how much they have had to " put up " in order to get their naturalization papers. I cannot say whether the statements of such individuals are in accord with the facts, but I arn quite convinced that an investigation should be made into such cases by a person other than the local constable. Whether enemy aliens are interned or not, I trust that the.y will get justice. I do not intend to write letters to members of the Ministry in connexion with the internment of individuals; all I hope is that they will receive just treatment.







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