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Thursday, 5 March 1970


Mr DALY (Grayndler) - I wish to make a few comments on what has been said so far by supporters of the Government. If Burchett is not entitled to an Australian passport for the reasons which have been given by every supporter of the Government who has spoken, he should be charged with treason. Honourable members on this side of the House want to know why, if the charges which have been made tonight by honourable members opposite are believed to be true, the Government is not prepared to lay a charge against him when he is within its jurisdiction. It is not a question of defending Communists or anything of that nature. The principle involved in this issue is the refusal of a passport to a certain person. The Government has stated that the grounds for refusal are his treasonable activities in relation to Australian forces. If that is the case the Government is charged with allowing to go free a man whom it believes to be guilty of treason and against whom the only thing it will do is refuse him a passport.

Let us take the last speaker, the Minister for Social Services. I have never seen him better at chasing the Corns since the days when he was trying to get into the Ministry. Tonight he was in full flight again. He is much better at chasing Corns on this issue, I would imagine, than he is at administering social welfare. If he had half the enthusiasm there that he has shown on this issue we would have the best social services in the world. He is the same Minister who sponsors the selling of wheat to China. He does not mind wool going to Russia. He did a Burchett in his time, too, because his Government sent war materials to the enemy by sending strategic metals, chemicals and tallow and things of that kind to Red China in days gone by. This Government could be indicted on the same charge as it makes against Burchett. It traded with the enemy, it sold the enemy strategic materials. Australian servicemen were blown up in Vietnam by explosives made from tallow shipped to China by this Government. That was not stopped until the Labor Party raised the matter in this House. I do not see how the Minister for Social Services, making the charges that he has made in this House and expressing his willingness to repeat them outside it, can remain a supporter of the Government and a member of the Ministry. I challenge him now to resign his portfolio as a proof of his sincerity in respect of the charges that have been made. Tonight he stated that he believed Burchett was treasonable, that he would make the charges outside the Parliament, that he would do what he believes to be right and expose this man to the public, in the Parliament and outside. If that is the case how can this man, if he values his self-respect, remain in a Cabinet that refuses to prosecute a man whom he believes to be guilty of treason. The only respectable thing that the Minister for Social Services can do, if he honestly believes what he said, is tender his resignation from a government that refuses to prosecute a man whom he, the AttorneyGeneral and the Prime Minister say is guilty of treason to this country. I challenge him to prove his sincerity on this issue, to tender his resignation and let us see where he stands.

The Government of the day had a lot to say about Burchett before he came to this country, but now that he is within its jurisdiction it accuses the man of all kinds of charges but refuses to prosecute them in court. As the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) said, you can go around saying that you know somebody murdered someone, or knocked somebody down or otherwise assaulted him. But such a statement does not prove a thing. Many a man who may well have committed murder has escaped the law because the offence has not been able to be proved in court. Every man is entitled to a trial. No government has been guilty of more infamous conduct than this discredited administration which charges a man with treason, refuses him a passport on that ground, and refuses to set up an inquiry or charge him in a court of law and give him the opportunity to clear his name. That kind of justice went out with the Ark. There is no place for it in this country.

The Attorney-General is an eminent Queen's Counsel. I have often said I think he must have made a fortune losing cases if this is the kind of judgment he brings forward. The fact of the matter is that he knows the man is entitled to a trial and yet he, an eminent Queen's Counsel, highly paid and highly skilled in the law, one who should be here to protect the rights of the citizens, stood in this Parliament at question time today and said that a man was guilty of treason but he, the senior man in the Department which administers the law, was not prepared to lay a charge against him in this country. That is scandalous and contemptible conduct of the worst kind. I care not what side of politics a man stands on - whether he be right, left or centre, Communist, Liberal or anything else - he is entitled to a trial. If the Government allows this kind of thing to occur it will become the laughing stock of the world and be completely discredited in the eyes of all who believe in justice.

So let the Minister at the table stand tonight and tell us not why Burchett has not been given a passport but why he has not been charged so that the Government may prove that what it says is right. This is what the Minister must stand up to. I am reminded of an article about passports that appeared in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' a couple of days ago. The article stated:

In medieval times English monarchs exercised Royal control over travel papers mainly to prevent unco-operative priests treading the High Road to Rome.

Today it appears, the Australian Government can exercise the same prerogative, with equally limited rights of appeal, to stop or discourage left-wingers (or right wingers) treading the road to Moscow, Hanoi or Salisbury.

The article goes on to say that a more uptodate assessment on the issue of passports was made recently by the Professor of English Law at Oxford University, Professor H. W. R. Wade, who said:

The modem type of passport is said to have been invented by Louis XIV. Too much of his technique seems to hare stuck to it.

This Government is following that practice today. I cited today that it is the right of every man to receive a passport unless it can be proved that he is not entitled to it. I will just summarise the position. If the charges made against Burchett are true - I refer to the charges which are given as the reason for denying him a passport - there is no place for him in society as honourable members have said. He should pay the penalty for those crimes. But he is innocent until he is proved to be guilty. I had never thought that I would see these circumstances arise in this Parliament in which this Government has refused to lay charges of treason after suggesting that a man has committed treason. I had never believed that in this enlightened age. when we boast of our independence and freedom in this country, we would hear a Minister stand up and say that a man had acted treasonably and that he would repeat the charge outside the House, yet still support a Ministry which will not prosecute that man whom the Minister has quite truthfully said in his mind is guilty of treason.

It is no wonder that the Government nearly lost the last election. It is no wonder that it is on the way out. Who would put up with this kind of administration? You will not give justice to people and you will not protect their legal rights. You deserve to be condemned. I hope you will stand up at this stage and explain why a man you say is guilty of treason should not be charged and at the same time think you can maintain your self-respect in this country.







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