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Thursday, 5 March 1970


Mr JAMES (Hunter) - I should like to support the remarks of my colleague the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), and without denigrating him in any way I want to be more positive in what I have to say on the same subject. I rise tonight to express my own deep indignation at the Commonwealth Government's attitude towards a third generation Australian, a man who was Australian born, and a foreign correspondent for 28 years. Because of his frank writings concerning facts as he saw them he has been persecuted by this Government in that it has withheld from him a passport which is so important to his livelihood and is so important to his wife and three children. I refer tb Wilfred Burchett who, I believe, has the sympathy of the majority of the Australian electors at this time. I am surprised at the Government making another grave political blunder in view of the results of the election held on 25 th October last.

I have always been of the belief that any Australian citizen, no matter what he has done or is alleged to have done at home or abroad, can never be deprived of his Australian nationhood or the shelter of his own country; but this Government has adopted the attitude of a leading Fascist country by preventing this internationally famed Australian journalist from entering his native land. I understand this right and privilege has been denied Burchett for 8 or 9 years. This man has pursued every lawful and diplomatic means to obtain an Australian passport. In the absence of evidence to the contrary I believe most of what I have had the opportunity to read in his book today. I recommend to fair-minded government supporters that they read the book and analyse for themselves what is true, what is slanted and what is untrue. Mr Burchett was deprived by the Government of the right to come home to his native land to see his 90-year-old father who was in the twilight of his life. It is something for which the Government should be utterly ashamed forever, as should every Government supporter who has supported this attitude. The Government has adopted an attitude in respect of this man which it has not adopted with some of the worst Nazi war criminals, to whom it has given shelter. I shall refer more to that aspect if time permits.

What has Burchett done? What has been alleged against him to bring about this extraordinary action by the Government? We have read in some Australian newspapers that he interrogated Allied prisoners of war who had been captured during the Korean War. If we believe what we read in his book we know that he did interview prisoners of war. I should imagine that this would be the normal action of a foreign correspondent who was anxious to establish the truth so that he could report to the world.


Mr Katter - Do you believe all this?


Mr JAMES - Empty vessels make loud noises. Several written statements and confessions obtained from Allied prisoners of war were brought to Burchett's notice. These related to the alleged use of germ warfare by ihe Allies, including the United States, in the Korean War when, it was alleged, germs were dropped over North Korea and northern China. Burchett does not hide the fact that he did interview prisoners. He even has given the Government the names of witnesses, should they be needed. In his book he states that he interrogated prisoners of war, whom he names. If 1 might interrupt my remarks, the honourable member for Reid has said that the Government could bring witnesses to Australia to give evidence and the Government should charge Burchett if he has committed an offence. It could be done more easily today than just after World War II. At that time I remember being in Central Police Court in Sydney when an Australian Army officer named Charles Cousens was charged with sedition, collaborataing with the enemy and broadcasting enemy propaganda over Radio Tokyo. The Government of the day brought out a female Japanese radio broadcaster, Tokyo Rose, or some other person from the Japanese radio station, to testify at his trial. If I remember correctly my respected Leader's father-in-law prosecuted for the Crown on that occasion. Witnesses were brought out from Japan then, so if there is any charge to be laid against Burchett the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) should have no trouble in obtaining witnesses to testify whether Burchett interrogated Australian prisoners of war. Burchett has supplied the names of witnesses in his book 'Passport'.

As for dropping bacteriological bombs on North Korea and China, let us face reality and truth. Does any man who has read anything about the Korean war believe that this was not done? Of course it was done. Any man who does not believe it is hiding his head in the sand. I personally believed it long before I read this book. When I was overseas I read a report by an international commission of scientists - one from Britain, one from Brazil and one from Poland - which, at the request of the North Koreans and the United Nations, personally investigated the charge. They obtained exhibits and carried out tests. Burchett spells this out clearly in his book. He explains that the Allies dropped canisters containing germ contaminated insects which could breed and in which there were an abundance of flies, fleas and mosquitoes and poisoned wheat which rats would pick up and further contaminate the community. I am more convinced than ever that we did break the Geneva Agreement made in about 1924 by resorting to bacteriological and germ warfare during the Korean War. This is to our everlasting shame and disgust, and it shames the flag of the United Nations. Let us be truthful about it. From the knowledge I have now I believe that the only crime Burchett has committed in the eyes of the Australian people and of the world is the crime of telling the truth, if it is a crime. Something that I will never be guilty of whilst I am a member of this Parliament







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