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Friday, 27 March 1942

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) . - The matter raised yesterday during question-time in relation to the Australia First Movement cannot be allowed to rest where it is. The statement on the subject by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) was, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) said to-day, the most staggering statement made in Parliament since the days when Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the British House of Commons. Certain principles involved in these issues should be examined. If we have in our midst Australian nationals who are determined to ally themselves with, and to give assistance, accommodation and encouragement to, the King's enemies, the course of the Government is clear beyond question, and there is no impediment whatsoever in the way of its doing what ought to be done. The proper thing for the Government to do is to arrest these people and charge them with the crime that lias been alleged against them. I am glad that the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Beasley) is in the chamber. I put it to him that it will be a most unfortunate and improper thing if the pathway to the criminal courts of this country must run through an internment camp. My reasons for making that statement must be obvious. Interning a person is an entirely different thing from charging him with sabotage, conspiracy, attempted assassination, or treason. In my view it was most unfortunate that this matter was introduced into the House as it was yesterday. The Opposition has been chided with having approached these issues with prejudice, but it was quite clear to every honorable member of the House yesterday that the Minister for the Army brought into the chamber a prepared statement which he read in answer to a question that he obviously knew would be asked of him. The Minister was not taken off his guard. He did not say something in the stress of debate which, perhaps, in a calmer moment and on consideration, he might not have said. It is interesting to me that there should be any hesitation on the part of the Government in dealing with a case like this. It is only a few days ago - on the 14th March to be exact - that the Prime Minister made a broadcast statement to the people of the United States of America.

Mr Beasley - What does the honorable member mean by " hesitation " ?

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I say definitely that these men who have gone into internment should have gone into gaol. If they were apprehended on the grounds alleged yesterday by the Minister for the Army, they certainly should not have gone into an internment camp. That is not the place for them. There are British nationals in internment camps to-day. Incidentally some of them would be better out of the camps; but they have not been charged with any crime. They have been put where they are for reasons of public safety, not because they have done anything against the State. The same kind of thing has happened in Great Britain. We all know of the internment of the notorious Sir Oswald Mosley. So far as I am aware, no charge has been made against him. I believe that a libel action has occurred but that is quite a different matter. I do not desire to name local ' citizens who have been interned, though I could do so if necessary. Such persons have been dealt with in this way, not because they have broken the laws of the country, but because the Government considers that public safety demands that they should be under surveillance.

Mr Duncan-Hughes - The Tower of London is still iu use!

Mr Conelan - But we have no Tower here.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - In view of the extravagant expenditure on various buildings in this city, and of recent happenings, it is perhaps a pity that some of the money wa3 not spent in building a Tower of Canberra. The Government Whip (Mr. Conelan) would probably be an excellent person to lay the foundationstone of such a building.

I am glad that you are in the chair at the moment, Mr. Speaker, because I wish to refer to a matter that occurred earlier this afternoon when Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Prowse) was presiding over our deliberations. A ruling was given from the Chair by that honorable gentleman to the effect that the honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price) was out of order in referring to a subject that has been debated earlier to-day.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon W M Nairn - On the motion for the adjournment of the House it is not permissible to allude at length to a debate that occurred earlier in the day. Whether such a ruling should operate to prevent any reference to a subject that had been raised on a formal motion for adjournment, I shall not say to-day. It is beyond question that when a subject has been debated and a determination made upon it, it must not be discussed by any means at a later stage. If a debate has been adjourned, it must not be anticipated. In this matter there was not a conclusion of the debate. At some future time whenI am in the chair, the question may arise as to whether or not honorable members who have been prevented by effluxion of time from saying what they wished to say, are thereby debarred from discussing the matter on the motion for the adjourn- ment of the House. I shall then give a ruling. The House gave leave to an honorable member to continue his speech, and it is not for me to interfere with what was done.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I thank you for those observations, Mr. Speaker. I merely wish to direct your attention to Hansard of the 24th March, 1936, on which date the then honorable member for Griffith, at 3.17 p.m., moved a forma! motion for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, " the execution fixed for tomorrow of Ludwig Schmidt in the Territory of New Guinea ". That debate was interrupted under Standing Order 257b.. after having lasted for a period sufficient to provide matter covering about ten pages of Hansard. At 10.36 p.m. on the same day on motion by Mr. Archdale Parkhill, " That the House do now adjourn ", the same honorable member again raised the question. Shortly afterwards, the Speaker of that day, the Honorable George James Bell, called a member to order and delivered himself of the following: -

I have already asked the honorable member not to refer to the debate that took place earlier in the sitting. It is unusual, on a motion for the adjournment of the House, to have a discussion concerning a matter which was the subject of debate earlier in the day ; but there is nothing in the Standing Orders to prevent it. The Standing Orders do, however, forbid reference to a previous debate during the same session.

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