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Thursday, 31 March 1966

Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) .- This morning I want to express to the House my concern at some information I received from a most reliable source relating to section 24aa of the Crimes Act.

Mr Reynolds - That is the treachery section.

Mr HAYDEN - That is right. The information I have is that a powerful lobby has been formed and is operating in the ranks of the Liberal Party to agitate for the implementation of this section, which is a potential cudgel of political oppression. The lobby wants the section to be used against people who are demonstrating about Vietnam and who are showing their disagreement with the Government's policy. Let me outline the provisions of section 24aa. Subsection (1.) makes it an offence for any person to assist by any means whatever, with intent to assist, a proclaimed enemy of a proclaimed country. Sub-section (2.) provides that a person shall not assist by any means whatever, with intent to assist, certain persons who are defined. The 10 minutes I am allotted this morning does not allow me to give the details, but the Crimes Act is available to anyone who wants to read it. The penalty for the offence I have just mentioned is imprisonment for life. Sub-section (4.) provides that a proclaimed country means a country specified by proclamation made for the purpose of this definition to be a proclaimed country and includes certain defined areas. It also provides that a proclaimed enemy, in relation to a proclaimed country, means an enemy of and at war with a proclaimed country, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared.

To have a proclaimed country, a proclaimed enemy and so on, this Parliament must go through certain processes. I understand that some members of the Liberal Party are agitating most vigorously to have this section implemented and that they are receiving a favorable hearing from some Ministers. Section 24aa relates, inter alia, to people who excited disaffection against the Government or Constitution of the Commonwealth or against either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. This apparently is a seditious intention and the penalty for this offence is imprisonment for three years. Later, some so called safeguards are provided, but they are not worth the paper on which they are printed. This is largely a matter of interpretation and one must be concerned at the interpretation by some Ministers of the protests of people who are exercising their democratic right of dissent. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) has talked about a political fifth column existing in this country, merely because people in Australia are not happy about the policy which this Government espouses in the field of foreign affairs. People in this country have a perfect right to express dissent. We are living in a democracy and one of the essentials of a democracy is a right to express non-conformism, the right to express dissatisfaction with the way in which the nation or the economy is being administered.

This morning we heard the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) refer to the enemy in our midst. We hear these sinister, ominous words which are being dropped about this House; these sinister, ominous phrases which are being dropped about this community; and we hear these serious ominous threats which are being constructed around a by-election and which will be developed into a very real threat by the time of the next general election, unless the people of Australia realise the threats implicit in the attitudes being expressed by these people. Ministers in this place say: " We believe in freedoms; we believe in the rights of people to demonstrate in a democracy, but " - and we always have this huge "but" flung at us like the fettering manacles of a gaoler. These restrictions on our freedoms are dangerous. Honorable members opposite seem to think that they have a monopoly of virtuous interpretation of what our foreign affairs should be. There is no room for disagreement, in their view. When it comes to interpreting foreign policy, there are some extremists on the other side of the chamber who cause a shudder to run through everyone in this community by the way in which they pose potential threats to the liberty of our people. I want to give to the House an example of what has happened in this respect.

I refer to an incident last week in Queensland, my home State, when some young people demonstrated against our commitment in Vietnam. As a result of that demonstration 27 people were arrested. I want to make my position clear. If people break the statute laws of the community they must expect to be proceeded against, one way or the other. This is obvious. But then certain responsibilities rest on the people who make arrests. If people break statutes and regulations - I understand that in this instance most of the law breaking was a breach of the traffic regulations - and if they do so in an orderly way with no civil disobedience in terms of disorderly conduct or resisting arrest, they should not be treated roughly. They should not be roughly manhandled. I received telephone calls here from about 11 p.m. last Thursday night and I received further calls when I went home. These were as a result of the concern of people, who normally were not greatly interested in political activity, who were distressed at the way in which they had seen on television screens in Brisbane these demonstrators roughly manhandled unnecessarily. As a result I made a fairly exhaustive survey at the weekend. It seems to me that a number of the police panicked when the demonstrators arrived at the point of demonstration and were unfairly and unnecessarily rough with the people who were involved. I understand that in one case six policemen - I do not know whether that number is exact, but certainly there were more than two - lifted bodily a young lad who had a broken arm which was in plaster. One of them-

Mr Coutts - He was huge.

Mr HAYDEN - A huge man,, as the honorable member for Griffiths points out, twisted the lad's broken arm up his back and flung htm into the paddy wagon. This is not the way to handle a civil disorder.

Mr Jess - Hear, hear!

Mr HAYDEN -The honorable member for La Trobe says " Hear, hear! " Of course we know him as the swaggering young juggernaut of this place.

But let me mention also how badly the demonstration was handled by the police. Two young people were standing by the sidelines watching the demonstration. One of them said to one of the policemen. " You are pretty rough, mate" and he was lumbered. His friend said "By jingo, I think that is tough " and he also was lumbered. I have been informed that they were both members of the Young Liberal Movement. . This is how serious the situation was. I have been informed also that the 27 people arrested were not all demonstrators - some were innocent but curious bystanders - and that if the public thought they were all demonstrators the people responsible for the demonstration would be somewhat flattered. What I am suggesting should be done is that a special public inquiry should be undertaken immediately in Queensland to investigate the way in which this investigation was handled by the police. Secondly, we want to see in this House the television films which were screened in Brisbane on commercial television stations and which show the way in which the police handled these people. If this were an isolated instance we would not mind, but there have been loo many of these instances in Queensland of late. Before I mention another one I want to say also that there is a very strong suspicion among people who were not directly involved in the demonstration that the reasons why the lengthy delay took place - it was an extremely lengthy delay - between the time of arrest and the time when the people were released from the watch house, notwithstanding that bail was available, were first, that the police did not know whom they had arrested and for what; and secondly, the special branch, the State political police - if I have time I will say more about them - were pinpointing certain people whose fingerprints they wanted on record. There is no power to fingerprint under the Traffic Act but there is under the Vagrants Act for certain simple offences. I do not know whether this is true, but if this sort of thing is happening in a democracy we want an immediate inquiry. People in this country have rights and they should not be intimidated by special branch police or political police.

There have been demonstrations by trade unionists in Brisbane who have been intimidated by these special branch police. The people gathered in a public park - Queen's Park - to protest about rising living costs. They were threatened with arrest, insulted and treated quite discourteously by senior police officers. From a photograph which I saw in the Press I know that one person was physically removed from the scene. The trade unionists then went to

Botanical Gardens, a Brisbane City Council park. Again they were threatened by the police with quite stern reprisals. A senior police officer was advised that they had the right to be in the gardens and he was referred to authority obtained from the Lord Mayor of Brisbane or the Town Clerk. Stymied there, the senior police officer, I am informed, was quite discourteous and nasty to these people. We cannot have this sort of thing developing in our community. 1 think honorable members opposite will realise that 1 have raised this matter not because of an opportunity to grab something sensational but because of my serious concern. The police must realise that they do not have a personal involvement and that there is no personal slight against them when people perform in these demonstrations. They have a right to demonstrate. If they break the regulations, then lawful processes must be introduced, but not unnecessary force or unnecessary intimidation.

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