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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3428

World War II

Debate resumed on the motion by Ms Parke:

That this House:

(1) notes:

(a) the motion tabled in the South Australian Parliament on 28 July 2011 by Mr Tony Piccolo MP, Member for Light, which acknowledges the experience of 'enemy aliens' interned during World War II and seeks to record an acknowledgement in similar terms by the Commonwealth Parliament on behalf of the nation; and

(b) that during World War II thousands of people were interned in camps around Australia as ‘enemy aliens’ and prisoners of war, and among the 'enemy aliens' interned were permanent Australian residents born in Australia or who had become British subjects in accordance with the Federal immigration and citizenship laws of the day;

(2) acknowledges that:

(a) of these people interned at the camps, the overwhelming majority were law-abiding members of the Australian community who posed no security threat, indeed they were people who had made a valuable contribution to Australian society and so their internment was not only a hardship to them and their families, but also a significant loss to the communities to which they belonged; and

(b) ‘enemy alien’ internees were deprived of their freedom and consider that this was primarily on the basis of their ethnic and cultural identity under the mistaken belief that this cultural heritage posed an unreasonable risk, and not for any demonstrated or valid security concerns;

(3) notes:

(a) the substantial research and personal histories that demonstrate that the internment experience had a long term, detrimental impact on the physical and psychological health and wellbeing of many of the people interned; and

(b) that two thirds of all Italian internees were interned in the states of Western Australia and Queensland, including more than 1000 in Fremantle, and that certain communities and industries were particularly affected by the internment policy;

(4) recognises and acknowledges the pain, suffering, grief and hardship experienced by the people who were interned and their families, and in particular, the impact on mothers and wives who were left to care for children, homes, farms or businesses alone;

(5) congratulates those internees and their families who made the decision to remain in Australia and rebuild their lives following internment and/or other discriminatory treatment including the inability to buy or lease land, or obtain bank loans, the prohibition against travel, and the confiscation of torches, radios, cameras, trucks and tractors;

(6) celebrates the lives of those former internees and families, and those wrongly classed as ‘enemy aliens’, who despite their experiences went on to make a significant contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of Australia; and

(7) expresses the hope that as a maturing nation we have learned from the experiences of the World War II policy of internment and that we should ensure that current and future generations of migrants to this country, and their descendents, are treated with justice and equality before the law, and not discriminated against on the sole basis of their cultural heritage.