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Thursday, 5 March 1970


Mr BRYANT (Wills) - The Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) seems to me to have compounded the sins with which we have charged the members of the Government. As far as I am concerned, there are a number of fundamental freedoms to which every person is entitled and of which he should not be deprived except by the due process of law. Those include freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom of political action and, in these modern times, freedom of travel. This Government, by administrative decree - this, is the charge we lay against it; it is not a question of whether Burchett is or is not guilty of this or that - has removed from an Australian a fundamental right. I believe that this is against all those things for which we have stood and fought over the centuries and that therefore it ought not to be tolerated in this day and age.

It is not good enough to say that the Crimes Act is this or that, or that Burchett did this or that. In the world today we need standards set at the highest possible level by countries such as Australia. Let other countries do as they will. Let dictatorships act as they may. But an Australian government ought to act with a proper regard for all the traditional rights of Australians. This is why I have continuously fought for the right of Burchett to be issued with a passport. If he has committed any sins, then he must be charged in accordance with the due process of law. But, of course, to those alleged sins my friend, the Attorney-General, has added the sin of retrospectivity. We did not have a law in 1953 under which we could charge Burchett or assail him, but now we can apply it. But we cannot apply it in a court. So we just do it by administrative action. This, I believe, is a serious sin on the part of the Government.

But there is another matter, that is, the inconsistency of the Government's attitude in these matters. My friend, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), referred to three people who operate for the Rhodesian Government. As far as I can see, we have a duty in relation to Rhodesia to comply with the requirements of the situation vis a vis royalty, the Crown, British action and the United Nations decisions on these matters. Although we have given some sort of lip service to these requirements as regards sanctions and so on, when it comes to the question of Hawkins, Knox and O'Donnell, we have forgotten those requirements and have issued them with passports. I do not mind the Government issuing Hawkins, Knox, and O'Donnell with passports, but if it issues them with passports it should issue Burchett with a passport. If the principle of freedom of issuing passports is sound for these other men. then it is fair for Burchett.

There is an inconsistency on the part of the Government in these matters, lt chooses friends in this way and it picks its enemies in the other way and it attacks them in such a way that they have no right of appeal. It applies the principle of retrospectivity so far as the Crimes Act is concerned, and it chooses other peculiar friends whom it lionises at various times, such as Krupp, the well known war criminal who came here. I will correct the Attorney-General on the Crimes Act. At the time when the legislation was introduced into this Parliament we opposed a number of provisions in it. We fought them bitterly, as I recall, although I have not the documents before me. One of the matters that particularly affected and offended me was the insertion in the Crimes Act of a provision for guilt by suspicion. I suggest that honourable members read some of the sections of the Crimes Act and the debates that took place at the time of their introduction. The Crimes Act is no credit to the Australian statute book, but the way in which we have persecuted Burchett, the way in which the House has conducted itself in this matter, and the way in which the Government, including the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), has responded to the appeals of Australians to act in a dinkum Australian way, have been a disgrace in the administration of Australian law. As far as I am concerned - I come in contact with this sort of thing so often in relation to the naturalisation of people, the issuing of passports and other administrative decisions - we must by some means or other remove from executive authority the power by administrative decree to withhold from any Australian or any person a fundamental right







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