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Tuesday, 22 November 1960

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) .- The Attorney-General adheres to the view, which .he has expressed on several occasions in the last couple of weeks, .that it is not necessary for him to move the amendment which he has now moved. Many other learned .gentlemen, including Sir John Latham, .a former Attorney-General of this Commonwealth and Chief Justice of Australia, were of the view that in fact the matter was not of general .application and that this matter should be put beyond doubt. With whatever ill grace the AttorneyGeneral now does it, we support him because we wanted him to do it. We shall support this amendment.

Furthermore, the amendment which he has -proposed provides a safeguard which was not in the section of the principal act relating fo sedition, but it was in the amendment which we had already circulated and which was forecast by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) when he moved at the second-reading stage that the bill be withdrawn and re-drafted to ensure certain liberties and freedoms for Australians. The amendment which the AttorneyGeneral has now moved provides what the amendment which we circulated also sought to provide and which the principal act does not ensure in relation to sedition or anything else, namely that it shall not be unlawful to do anything in good faith in connexion with an industrial dispute or an industrial matter. This amendment is a distinct improvement on the present law, whatever that law may mean.

We want also to secure further safeguards than those provided in the AttorneyGeneral's amendment, and for that .purpose I move -

That the proposed new clause be .amended by adding in proposed section 24f, sub-section (1.), at the end of the sub-section, -the following paragraph: - " (f) to do anything in good faith of a substantially religious or humanitarian character.".

Matters of a substantially religious or humanitarian character do not come .within any of the -five guarantees which are already listed in the Attorney-General's- amendment. They are not industrial matters; they are not pointing out in good faith any errors in policies or constitutions or government in this or any other country. They are of a different character. They are of >a. character to which attention has been directed by several religious and humanitarian bodies in Australia. To give an instance, this proposal would guarantee against prosecution missionaries who were in the Territories when those Territories were over-run. A book was published recently, and ^serialized in the " Sun-Herald ", telling of the misfortunes of the missionaries who were overrun at the Vunapope mission near Rabaul. Technically, many of the things which the missionaries did would be offences against the preceding sections of the act as amended by this bill. We want to guarantee that they shall not be .so regarded if that circumstance arises again.

To give another example, many transactions of a humanitarian character are performed by Australians during war-time which technically could be breaches of the principal act as amended by this bill. The activities of Red Cross workers or of Quakers in over-run Territories could be offences against the Australian Government in the sense in which offences are regarded in this Part. We want to ensure that if Red Cross workers or Quakers carry on during war-time the work to which they dedicate themselves, they will not be committing any crime against the laws of our country if they happen to be in enemyoccupied territory.

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