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Thursday, 5 March 1970


Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) - I thank the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) and the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden). As I understand the law and as I recollect the law on passports, the situation can be stated briefly as follows: A passport lasts for 5 years and no longer. If it is to be renewed it has to be renewed in Australia or, in the case of people working for the Commonwealth, it can be renewed even if they are outside Australia. If that is the law, then Burchett's passport has expired; but so, too, have the passports of O'Donnell, Hawkins and Knox. If Burchett's passport had expired, it should be stated publicly that the passports of those three men have also expired and that they have no right to re-enter Australia.

I believe that all these people, being natural born Australians, have the inalienable right to come back to this country. That is the great principle that we are debating. If the Government does not want to issue a passport to Burchett or to anybody else who in its opinion has behaved disgracefully and can no longer have the protection of the Commonwealth, such persons are entitled to a document of identification to say that they are Australian born citizens. In my view an Australian born citizen certificate is more important than any other document that can be issued, and that should be the view of all Australians. The second point to which I direct attention is the Attorney-General's observation about the amendment of the Crimes Act in 1960 to validate the extraterritorial activities of Australian citizens.

As the law now stands, does it mean that any person who has reported adversely on Australian citizens or Australian soldiers in regard to the contest in Vietnam can be charged with treason? Is that the fact? If it is, why is not Burchett tried for treason under the new law in respect of the Vietnam war? If he is not to be charged for anything he is alleged to have done in regard to the Vietnam war, is the failure of the Government to prosecute him due to the claim which the Australian Labor Party makes that the Vietnam war is an undeclared war? The Korean War was a declared war. We engaged in the Korean War under the United Nations, but in the Vietnam war there has been no declaration of war. Is the position in regard to the Vietnam War different from that of the Korean War because, in one case, we were legally engaged in hostilities and, in the second case, we are engaged not in a war but merely in an adventure? I should like the opinion of the Attorney-General on these points.







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