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Thursday, 8 July 1920

Mr GABB (Angus) .- I move -

That a Select Committee be appointed, with power to send for persons, papers, and records, and to move from place to place to inquire into - >(o) the control and management of internment camps, including the expenditure in connexion therewith; (6) the treatment of internees; and (c) to investigate the circumstances in connexion with the internment of any native-born or naturalized subject who, by statutory declaration, affirms that lie has reasonable grounds for believing, and does believe, his internment to have been the result of untruthful information maliciously furnished to the authorities in his regard.

The subject of my motion was brought before the House some three months ago, when the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Tudor) moved the adjournment to discuss it. Tt is not my purpose to speak to-day at any great length, unless replying to interjections makes it necessary to do so. I admit that I have some feeling in this matter, but I wish to discuss it in a spirit of calmness, in the hope of influencing honorable members with a view to bringing a little nearer the granting of justice to certain persons, particularly persons born in Australia, and I should like a vote to be taken on the motion this afternoon. I shall not repeat now statements which I have already made in this Chamber on two previous occasions. I am afraid that were I to allow myself to speak at length, I might be tempted to bring before the House cases that would convince members of the need for fair play for certain men.

Mr Bell - Let us have them.

Mr GABB - I may mention one or two, but while some persons who have made statements to me are willing that I should mention their names, others have asked me to keep their names secret. Honorable members may ask the reason for that. I would remind them that the War Precautions Act is still in force. The persons to whom I refer have received such treatment from the present Government that they would not be surprised at anything that might be done to them even now. I do not wish them to be victimized, and I know that feeling generally is cooling down; that the War Precautions Act will presently cease to operate, and that then these persons may speak the truth without; fear of injury. I know, too, that if I cannot get what I am asking for now, I shall be able, if I am spared, to make another attempt next session, and if that is unsuccessful, a further attempt in the following session. This is a letter which waa sent to me yesterday. It shows what my opinion of the position is when I have taken care to tear off the name and the place it came from. It was not sent to me in order that I should read it in the House, but there are one or two sentences in it which I think I ought to read, because they show the feeling of fear existing in the minds of our Australian-born who have had to go through the experience of internment. This is one passage -

Have you any idea when the War Precautions Act is to be entirely abolished? This damnable instrument hangs like the executioner's blade-

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