Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 12 April 1972
Page: 1056


Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) - I intend eventually to deal with the administration of the PostmasterGeneral's Department which I think the Leader of the Government in the Senate Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) or, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) will be handling. But before 1 reach that matter I am prompted by Senator Hannan's submission to follow up a question upon notice that I have asked the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) dealing with the subject of me Ustashi. Senator Greenwood will recall that I referred to the emulation of security methods operated by the Willi Brandt Government in West Germany. Before dealing specifically with the remarks made by Senator Hannan tonight I think it is important to say that we are dealing with a situation of terrorism in Australia and that everything that is argued about the wartime Yugoslavia and the immediate postwar Yugoslavia can be argued in reverse. The crux of the article in the Sunday Review* to which Senator Hannan referred was not on A or B but on the unmistakeable fact that there have been at least a dozen attacks with the use of explosives to demolish the residences of Yugoslavs who had little or no time for people using the veneer - and t use that word - of anti-communism in order to smear every other person in the Slav community who differed with them and were largely of the moderate section of the Yugoslav community.

I cannot speak with a lot of authority about the situation in Melbourne or in Victoria generally, but I do throw the lie back into Senator Hannan's face in regard to the experience of many people in Australia. Senator Hannan knows - and I think we would agree on this point - that between the wars the Yugoslav community was centred largely or initially on Broken Hill and Kalgoorlie and that it had a very excellent record. One Yugoslav from Western Australia won the Victoria Cross during World War II. Senator Hannan also knows that I am prepared to accept people of all outlooks who want to come to Australia provided they do not pursue their vendettas here. I am buttressed in saying this by having seen files submitted to Mr Renshaw, the then Premier of New South Wales. They revealed that there was not one episode in Sydney, and I am sure that there were none anywhere else which could lead one to say that people of the centre or people of the left - and I use these terms in the broadest sense - indulged in these activities. It is one thing to abuse people and call them communist or fascist. If it is left at that then what has been said will not matter because I know that the old adage of 'sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me' can apply in this case.

Various embassies in this country have been blasted. I can well imagine the purge that would take place if someone put a bomb outside of the Spanish Embassy in Canberra. If we want to argue about the need for an equal sense of justice I have a file of correspondence between myself and the former Minister for Immigration, Mr Lynch, which relates to a Spanish migrant whom the Department would not naturalise. When I asked why he was not granted naturalisation I was told that it was because he had carried a banner of protest outside the Spanish Embassy. I believe that the Government is displaying double standards. If Senator Greenwood says - and no doubt he will - that 'you cannot get the wood on people', I will lay it on the line for him.

I challenge Senator Greenwood or any other member of the Government to go with me to Sydney and to have a look at the files of the New South Wales Police Force in regard to the Lesic case. It is admitted that Lesic blew himself up. He was on his way to plant a bomb to blow up other people. Do honourable senators know what the Government has done? It has put him on social security. But we forget what he was going to do and we say: Was he not unlucky'. We do not take into account the charmed life that this fellow led.

Senator Hannantalked about law and order. Lesic made a nuisance of himself on the steps of this Parliament House. If honourable senators look at Hansard they will see that he went into various banks and assaulted clerks because they said that they were Yugoslav and not Croats. Senator Hannan knows this. It is their own business whether they are Slovene, Macedonian or Serbian. But you cannot go round and pick on someone else. Who is the aggressor? Has all the aggression come from this side.

I want to nail this canard about Orthodox versus Catholic. I took a deputation of 5 middle-of-the road Yugoslavs to see the Premier of New South Wales. It is not a question of developing a sectarian smokescreen. Four of those people were active in trade unionism in the Labor Party and in their own church which happened to be the Catholic Church in Sydney. But that did not stop them from being smeared and insulted by other people. In some circumstances if a spectator at a soccer match applauded a player for scoring a goal he would be called a Tito whore for doing so. I do not think that Senator Hannan agrees with this type of behaviour. But many of the moderate Slav community want to see some of these people gaoled. I want more than that.

I get back to what Willi Brandt has done in West Germany. Senator Greenwood has said that these bombings are continuing in Australia. They are also occurring in some other countries. But bombings in West Germany in recent times have ceased because the authorities have called together the people who are exiles - and I use that word advisedly - from Yugoslavia and told them that if they wanted to live in West Germany they had better pull in their horns a little. These people know that if they breach the law they will be sent back to Yugoslavia where they will probably be dealt with for other crimes. But 1 do not want to be vindictive.

I come back to members of the Slav community. I have a very good friend who was an 18-year-old interpreter in the railway workshops. He would be about 35 now. He has 2 boys in a country town and they belong to the local Boy Scouts and the local football clubs. In 1954-55, when he became naturalised, he did his training with the Citizen Military Forces. What do you think his reaction is when he gets people of the ilk of those about whom Senator Hannan spoke calling him a fellow traveller and a Com. Those are the words used. Bui where does this mau stand? He looks to the Australian law for justice. 1 have referred to Mr Lesic. 1 will give the honourable senator a few more names. He spoke about another gentleman named Mr Ubantic. He happens at the moment to bc working for the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board. At various times he has worked as an interpreter for the Commonwealth Bank. People can get very provocative. He is so involved now over the Middle East situation and the Israeli war that he believes that there is a plot between Israel and the Soviet Union. As a result of all this the situation in the Commonwealth Bank at Burwood - is that he isĀ° abusing the teller in the next cage who happens to be of Jewish origin. He is accusing him of this sort of thing. Nobody disciplines these people, but you are quite happy to put the finger on a draft resister or someone else and say: 'Where is the law?' These are actual incidents. They are nol figments of my imagination.

I want to refer now to something that is going on across the border in Victoria. I have a question on notice about Mr Ivica Kokic who is a high official in the Department of Labour and National Service. Do not run away with the idea of recent years about the ethics of top officials when employing people. I know that many honourable senators present come from the trade union movement and that they know about tradesmen's rights and that this is a difficult question. It is common knowledge that this fellow did exercise influence. If a man said: 'Yes, f am a Croat', he got better treatment than if he simply used the word 'Yugoslav'. Even if the honourable senator does not believe that I wonder what he would say about a top public servant who attended something in Eastern Europe. Would such a person get promotion? This fellow attended a convention of ultra-rightist Croatians in Chicago. He was a vice president of the organisation or else he held a similar position, but yet he moves in this charmed circle. Do not run away with the idea that there is no malice. I remember a recent occasion when I attended a hostel in Victoria. I started to ask questions. I remember one very militant Croat who told me that it was like my hide to inquire about these things. Well, he got more than he bargained for. This only proved my suspicions. However, 1 do not want to belabour this question. I am not going to resurrect war-time Europe or early post-War Europe. There is only one test-


Senator Hannan - This was last weekend in Melbourne.


Senator MULVIHILL - If people of the Left carried out their vendettas you would want to deport them. I challenge you to find one case where somebody to the left and centre in the Slav community has been arrested for any extreme cases. They have not. You talk to Detective Sergeant Longbottom and the members of the Special Branch of the New South Wales Police. You come with me to the Maccabean Hall. If you did you would see people hurling smoke bombs. This has gone on for 4 or 5 years, lt is a remarkable thing. Perhaps I could use Senator Gair's phrase about people being flogged with a feather. What did our Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) say about these people? He said that they are good chaps and that they have a good cause. You look at their cause. The Prime Minister said this when he was returning from a squash match. These people :>ad been turning on a bit of a blue in Knox Street. Double Bay, and the Prime Minister said that they were good chaps and that they had a good cause.

Do you know what is wrong, Senator Hannan? 1 ask you to take this information back to your friends. History has passed these people by. The fact is that there has been a rapprochement with the Vatican and with the Yugoslav Government. Of course the situation is not perfect but they are living in a form of coexistence. They are not persecuted in this country because they are Croats but they are persecuting other Yugoslav people.


Senator Hannan - That is what you think.


Senator MULVIHILL - That is what is happening in Sydney, senator, and people are getting sick of it. I am not looking upon it as a disinterested observer.


The PRESIDENT - Order! The honourable senator will address the Chair.


Senator MULVIHILL - 1 have had my share of these altercations. 1 enjoy that sort of thing but at the same time I never looked for it in the 2 incidents referred to. Believe me, senator. There was an incident at Erskineville oval where 2 Yugoslav teams were playing. The incident involved a centre forward named Halpin who was not a Croat or a Serb. One of these mad people went to jab him in the testicles with the ferrule of an umbrella. I grabbed hold of the fellow and pushed him against the fence. What was my reward for that? My reward was that about 40 people called me a Red agent and all that sort of stuff. This showed their mentality.


Senator Hannan - 1 have expressed my criticism about that.


Senator MULVIHILL - All right, Senator


The PRESIDENT - Order! I asked you to address the Chair.


Senator MULVIHILL - AH I am saying, Mr President, about the submission by the last honourable senator who spoke is that we want people against whom charges have been proved to be dealt with properly and not put on a bond. I want to refer now to my original brief. I rose tonight to bring a matter to the notice of the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson).


Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - Unfortunately I will not be able to respond because 1 will close the debate. I understand that Senator Greenwood wants to take part in the debate. If he does not speak I can respond to you.


Senator MULVIHILL - I am quite happy to make my plea to you as I understand that you will have some say on amendments to the Public Service Act which will affect a group of employees. I think that Senator Douglas McClelland mentioned this matter 2 years ago when the President of the New South Wales branch of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union pointed out what was happening. Migrants who had been here not long enough to become Australian citizens felt that, being employed in the PostmasterGeneral's Department and being ready and willing to accept Australian citizenship, they could find themselves in a cleft stick If there happened to be a contraction of the work force. They felt that with less than 3 years service they were in a sort of limbo and were being denied job security. I raised this matter 2 years ago but it was not as important then as it is now.

I have been prompted to raise it following the receipt of submissions by Miss Sonia Posenelli, a very active member of the telecommunications union at the Sydenham workshops. She pointed out to me the injustice of the situation. I am not just springing this matter on Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, as he will appreciate. I documented 4 cases and submitted them to Mr Waterman, the New South Wales Director of Migration, a very efficient officer. I sent a copy of the submissions to the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) well over 3 or 4 weeks ago. I then followed it up with a further letter to the Postmaster-General. There are 2 ways in which this matter can be solved. If the Government wishes to be a little flexible about citizenship it can accelerate the permanency of these people. This has been done in the case of people who did not have Australian citizenship. I refer to people who were good athletic material. I do not cavil at it. It was done in order to enable them to become members of Australian sporting teams, even Olympic Games representatives. This has been done. That is one avenue by which the Government can overcome this problem. Alternatively, the Public Service Act could be amended.

If the Minister wishes to raise the question of security I can answer it in this way: In Hansard of the House of Representatives of 11th April a question was answered by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) in which he said that some of our embassies employ people who do not hold Australian citizenship. I am not looking for subversion under every bed or at every desk. If the Government can interpret broadly our law relating to the responsibility of embassy or consulate staff overseas I fail to see why it cannot interpret it broadly in the case of process workers or people assembling components for equipment for the Postmaster-General's Department, lt is time we speeded this matter up. I say quite sincerely that in this age when jobs are not easy to get, when people are looking for security and are ready and willing to accept Australian citizenship, legal process should be accelerated. That is the view of members of the telecommunications union and the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union. I took the trouble to document this matter in detail and to give it to 2 Ministers. I am not blaming Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson but I think it is time a decision was made about this matter.







Suggest corrections