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Wednesday, 2 May 1973
Page: 1619

Mr LUCOCK (Lyne) - It was interesting to hear the remarks of the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) in the adjournment debate this evening because I want to mention some matters at this stage that I believe should cause concern to thinking Australian people. First of all there is the failure of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) to pass on to the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Whitlam) certain information. I do not think that, from the very moment that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation matter was first raised in this House until the present stage, the Attorney-General in the Senate or the Prime Minister in this House have answered questions to the satisfaction of either the people of Australia or those of us who have asked the questions. The Prime Minister must think that the people of Australia are very naive because when he was excusing the fact that the Attorney-General had not passed on the information he said that both the Yugoslav Ambassador and the Attorney-General thought that the other would pass on the information. One might have believed that for a brief period of time, but after one or two days when there had been no report and no comment about it in the news media surely the Attorney-General must have then been aware of the fact that this information had not been given to the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. I believe that with the Prime Minister holding 2 portfolios it was of greater importance that he should have received this information.

There are 3 other matters which I believe should cause concern to the people of Australia. The first is the visit to this country of a delegation from North Vietnam and the Vietcong. As I said in the Anzac Day oration, this visit is a disgrace to Australia. I make no apology for saying that and I make no apology for thinking that. J believe that it is a disgrace to Australia. Some people say that once a war is ended the quicker the reconciliation the better. 1 would remind anyone who puts forward that argument as justification for this visit that a member of this House, who is now a senior Minister in the Government, returned from a visit to Cambodia and said that the attacks in Cambodia were naked aggression by the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong. 1 believe that as that was true at that stage it is still true today. Yet we are nowallowing into this country the visitors to whom 1 have referred, and they have been within the precincts of this Parliament House. Frankly, I never thought that I would see anything like that happen in this House. 1 believe, as I said, that these are matters that should cause us concern.

I now refer to the action of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) in regard to the Rhodesian Information Centre in Sydney. I will not offer any argument at the moment in relation to the establishment of this Centre. I believe that there are 2 points of consequence in this matter. The first is that a State government, a sovereign power, said that the Centre was entitled to be there, to be manned and to put out statements and comments.

Mr Sherry - Propaganda.

Mr LUCOCK - I would have thought that the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) might have had more thought for this country and its freedoms. What about the rights of people or a country at least to put forward their arguments in support of their case? As 1 say, I do not want to put forward any argument in regard to the position in Rhodesia or the case for Rhodesia. 1 believe that the interference by the Postmaster-General was a censorship in a political field which is dangerous to this country. Fortunately the process of democracy was put into being and, of course, the matter was taken to the courts. The third aspect of this matter - and let the honourable member for Franklin answer it - is that, although the action was not proceeded with, the Postal Workers' Union said that it would refuse to deliver mail to Opposition senators, because the senators did not do something that the postal workers wanted or had done something with which the postal workers disagreed. Again, this is political censorship of the worst type, lt would mean that if any member of this House or a senator in the other place did something with which a particular group did not agree that group could take action to militate against the freedom of that member.

I believe this matter should be viewed with serious concern by the news media of this country. I. believe it is a matter to which people like Rupert Murdoch and others who have been great friends of the present Government and who gave it great assistance to obtain office should give serious consideration. It could be a possibility that if any newspaper or any publishing group did something that was against what this Government felt was in its interest the Government, through the

Postmaster-General's Department, could immediately interfere with the publication of that newspaper. The same thing could also apply to radio and television. As I say I believe that these are matters to which the people of Australia must give very serious consideration now.

A great deal has been said about the freedoms in our country. It is my right disagree, as I do on numerous occasions, with commentators, newspaper writers and all those who are engaged in the propaganda media. It is my right to stand in this place and say that I disagree with them. But in the ultimate any interference with or political censorship of any of these organisations would be to the danger and detriment of this country. I believe that the 4 things which I have mentioned are an indication of what we said during the election campaign would be the dangers facing this country if the Australian Labor Party were ever put on the treasury bench.

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