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Tuesday, 9 June 1970

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - Despite the fact that my voice will not last very long because of an infection from which I am suffering, I feel so concerned about this matter, as a onetime commercial pilot, that I will speak until either my voice runs out or I am lucky enough to get through all I want to say. This Bill is designed to give effect under Australian law to the Tokyo Convention, which refers only to registered aircraft while they are engaged in flights outside the State of registration - that is, on international flights. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) gave sufficient detail on this aspect so I will not take up the time of the House or use my voice in speaking about it. The International Civil Aviation Organisation convention defines the powers and duties of States in relation to persons who have committed serious offences on board aircraft, such as taking them into custody, making preliminary inquiries and deporting them. The primary purpose of this Bill is to approve of Australia's accession to the Convention and to give the provisions of the Convention the force of law in Australia.

It is time something was done urgently about this problem. I know that the honourable member for Newcastle expressed opinions of disgust and fear from persons all over the world about what can happen to an aircraft in flight and the passengers in it when people take the law into their own hands. Most of them know nothing about aeroplanes. It is not as though they have any skill. They may have a knife and grab a passenger or member of the crew, or they may threaten with a bomb, and there is no question of their having the knowledge to handle the aircraft. They would not know the effect of half the things they set out to do, and that is why their actions are so very dangerous.

The Crimes (Aircraft) Act of 1963 does give us some control in this matter. The offences outlined in that Act need some stressing. We do have a considerable amount of power under this Act in respect of persons who take or exercise control of an aircraft without lawful excuse, whether by force or violence or bv threat of force or violence to wilfully destroy an aircraft; persons who wilfully destroy an aircraft; persons who do anything capable of prejudicing the safe operation of an aircraft with intent to prejudice safe operation; who assault, intimidate or threaten with violence a member of the crew; and who threaten, or state an intention either truly or falsely to destroy, damage or endanger the safety of an aircraft. We do have some problems of this sort in Australia. We have had only 1 case, and the honourable member for Newcastle mentioned this, where recently a nut tried to get an Ansett aircraft to fly to Perth. However there have been several bomb hoaxes and other incidents. A bomb hoax is very bad because one does not know whether there is a bomb in an aircraft that is going to go off. Under the Government's 1963 Crimes (Aircraft) Act penalities are provided in respect of Australian aircraft engaged in interstate, territorial and international flights. That Act deals with a much wider sphere than the Tokyo Convention.

The Act also makes provision with regard lo foreign aircraft in Australia or engaged in flights over Australia. The commander of an aircraft is authorised to arrest, without warrant, any person committing an offence on board the aircraft. We have a certain amount of strength in this regard in our legislation.

The relationship between the Tokyo Convention and our Act shows up the comparison that our Act does not provide for restoration of control of the hijacked aircraft to its lawful commander or owner. The legislation adopting the Tokyo Convention will give effect to this provision. The duties and powers of the Australian authorities in relation to offenders disembarked from foreign aircraft will be expanded by accession to the Tokyo Convention. Application of the provisions of the Tokyo Convention will be a valuable supplement to the Commonwealth Crimes (Aircraft) Act. In order to meet the - case of foreign states which are parties to the Convention and in which there are no extradition arrangements the new legislation will empower the Commonwealth to return, pursuant to Article 14 of the Convention, persons who have been disembarked, delivered or taken into custody as a result of involvement in the hijacking of an aeroplane.

In his concluding remarks the honourable member for Newcastle said that there should be some provision for returning hijackers to the country from which they come. If this were done consistently throughout the world we would have some influence on them. We could move in a concerted way against hijackers. As it is now it seems that once they get away from their country of origin they can do almost what they like. In December 1969 Australia joined with 27 other sponsors in proposing a draft resolution for adoption by the Sixth Committee of the Uniter Nations. The resolution adopted on 12th December 1969 said that the General Assembly of the United Nations was deeply concerned over acts of unlawful intereference with international civil aviation, considering it necessary to recommend effective measures against hijacking in all its forms. This was a resolution at the 24th General Assembly of the United Nations and related to the question of hijacking of aircraft. The resolution called upon states to take every appropriate measure. It urged the states in particular to ensure that persons on board who perpetrated such acts were prosecuted, lt urged full support for the efforts of the International Civil Aviation Organisation directed towards the speedy preparation and implementation of a convention for appropriate measures. It invited states to ratify or accede to the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft signed in Tokyo.

There is tremendous concern all over the world with this problem and it is something that we really must do something about. In the interests of my own voice 1 do not think 1 should continue much longer. But before resuming my seat I would like to say a few more words. We have not suffered to any great extent from hijacking in this country but, as is often said, it can always happen here. In fact, 1 think I can claim to be one of the early would-be hijack victims. While I was flying a commercial aircraft somewhere southeast of Wyndham on one occasion a passenger became somewhat intoxicated and wished to hijack the aeroplane and land immediately because he was not feeling well. The honourable member for Newcastle mentioned the tremendous number of hijackings that have taken place. He said that well over 100 have taken place since 195.1 and that 55 aircraft bearing United States registration alone have been hijacked and in 54 cases Cuba was the destination. He made a suggestion, which I support, that not only the aircraft but the hijacker when apprehended should be returned home.

Under the regulations that apply in Australia the crew are not permitted to carry firearms on board an aircraft. They can carry a baton and a set of handcuffs. That seems a little old fashioned. 1 suppose that if one could get hold of a hijacker one could clap him in irons. Ratification of the Tokyo Convention would certainly be a step towards unifying the approach of all countries to the whole question of hijacking. 1 commend the Bill and say that the quicker that action - and more severe action - is taken the better.

Mr JAMES(Hunter) {5.33]- My contribution to this debate will be very brief, at the request of the Government, which is anxious to see that this legislation passes through this chamber within the next quarter of an hour. My colleague the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) did rather extensive homework on the Bill. 1 have not. 1 was inspired to speak to it after listening to contributions by honourable members. The Bill before the House is the Civil Aviation (Offenders on International Aircraft) Bill. I want to say definitely and positively that whilst we of the Australian Labor Party applaud this legislation I agree with the honourable mem.ber for Newcastle, who is in charge of the Bill from the Labor Party point of view, that it will do very little to achieve the goal it seeks to achieve.

I have said before in this Parliament, and I repeat, that what is wanted between the nations of the world are international extradition treaties. The world, because of international air travel, is becoming smaller and smaller each day. But this Government has really put the sliprails up against the introduction of international extradition treaties because of its attitude towards an eastern European country some years ago. When the present Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia was Attorney-General he made a statement in this House that he refused to hand over a war criminal who was responsible for some 3,000 or 4,000 deaths in a Balkan country - a crime of which there was overwhelming evidence. A request was made for this person to be handed over to the Soviet Union to be taken back to that country to be tried. There would be no need for this legislation if international extradition treaties existed between all countries.

The honourable member for Newcastle said he thought there would be Jess hijacking if people were allowed to move more freely from country to country. I agree with that submission, although I can sec some difficulties in it as far as it would apply to some of the eastern European countries. Why there have been so many hijackings of aircraft which have been directed to certain places by the hijackers is probably that people have been treated as I was treated by the American authorities when I was on my way to Brazil in 1962. Like any curious Australian, 1 was anxious to go into Cuba because it was in the world headlines. 1 was to travel through Las Vegas and Florida into Havana. But when I found that it was a little cheaper and more convenient to go through San Francisco, Los Angeles and Mexico, I got a visa for Cuba and Mexico and went into Havana through Merida. When I got to

Cuba I went to the office of the KLM airlines, where a man said to me: 'Are you Mr James from the Parliament of Australia?' I said: 'Yes, sir'. He said: 'You are not supposed to be here'. I said: 'Why? What have I done?' He said: 'We have a visa waiver from Florida and we have been told that you should not be allowed in'.

If the American authorities are treating Cuban nationalists who are desirous of getting back to their own country because of unsatisfactory living conditions in America the same as they treated me, those people probably meet the same obstacles as I did. They are not allowed to go back and they are forced to hijack aeroplanes. A person would not have to be insensible to do this when the type of treatment I have described is meted out to him. I believe that it is probably still being meted out. It was meted out to me when I was travelling on an official Australian Government passport.

Mr Kevin Cairns (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) - Will the honourable member explain the Cuban part of that story again?

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