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Tuesday, 22 November 1960


Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) .- by leave - I move -

In proposed section 24aa, sub-section (1.), omit ", of a State or of a proclaimed country ", insert " or of a State

The consequence would be that a person would commit the crime of treachery if he did any act or thing with intent to overthrow by force or violence the established government of the Commonwealth or of a State, but not if he did so in respect of a proclaimed country. The provision regarding proclamations of countries and of enemy countries will be the subject of later amendments, but at this stage I invite the attention of the committee to the fact that this paragraph (a) is not limited, as is paragraph (b), to action within the Commonwealth or a Territory not forming part of the Commonwealth. Under this paragraph a person can commit treachery if, anywhere in the world, he does an act or thing with intent to overthrow by force or violence the established government of a proclaimed country. The combined effect of proposed section 24aa (1.) (a) (ii) and proposed section 3a will be to penalize conduct beyond the Commonwealth and the Territories by persons who could have no knowledge of a proclamation or of its effect, but who subsequently may become subject to the jurisdiction of Australian courts. Australians overseas are not aware of these proclamations. They do not see the " Gazette ". They may in some circumstances do an act or thing to overthrow the established government of a proclaimed country while not knowing that the country has been proclaimed. If they come back to Australia they may find that they have committed a crime and are subject to prosecution for an offence which attracts a penalty of imprisonment for life.

The whole procedure of the proclamation of countries can be an invidious and mischievous one. We should either enforce a neutrality in the attitude of our citizens towards all other countries or we should provide that our citizens and those of other countries should undertake mutual and reciprocal rights. It is invidious to pick out which countries we are to protect and which countries, by inference, we are not to protect. In any case, there are limitations already in the law on the extent to which Australians may enlist in the armed forces of other countries. The Foreign Enlistment Act of 1870 - an Imperial act which applied to Australia and still applies to Australia - provides that it is a crime for any British subject, within or without Her Majesty's dominions, to accept or agree to accept any commission or engagement in the military or naval service of any foreign State at war with any foreign State at peace with Her Majesty or, whether a British subject or not, within Her Majesty's dominions to induce any person to accept or agree to accept any commission or engagement in the military or naval service of any such foreign State.

There are also, Sir, penalties for embarking persons for foreign service, for building ships for such foreign service, and the like. The act is quite extensive. It still covers Australians who engage in these freebooting operations. It is, we submit, unnecessary to introduce this other act of treachery within the new section governing treachery. Above all, there is the objectionable feature that Australian citizens can commit a crime without knowing it.







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