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
Thursday, 5 March 1970

Mr JESS (La Trobe) - lt is always a pleasure to listen to the passion of the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) when he is espousing causes. Indeed, bis passion seems to be aroused mainly on questions that affect people like Wilfred Burchett, the Cuban issue and other issues that seem to relate, perhaps unintentionally, to people who, in my opinion and 1 think in the opinion of a large number of Australian people, are not necessarily friends of Australia or the Australian people. It is indeed interesting to listen to the passion of the honourable member. I liked, as we all did, his sincerity when he banged his book down and said that this country would be cleaner and better if we allowed this man in.

Mr James - I did not say that, Mr Speaker. I said it would be better if the truth were propounded in this place.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Hunter has already spoken in the debate.

Mr JESS - I would suggest to the honourable member for Hunter that perhaps if he had consulted with men who had been prisoners of war in the Korean theatre when Mr Burchett went there - and the honourable member for Hunter implies that he was merely doing his duty as a foreign correspondent - he may get a different attitude. I was interested to hear Mr Burchett being interviewed in Australia. When it was suggested to him that his reception at the Brisbane airport had been fairly hot he said: "Why should I be impressed by 200 or 300 people? When 200 or 300 people gather together to protest, that does not mean that the Australian people are not with me. They are'. But when the honourable member for Hunter sees 50 or 100 people gathered together - and this is a failing also of the Australian Labor Party - he suggests that it is the whole Australian community protesting and that the whole Australian community supports him.

The honourable member spoke about the rights of this man and said that this man should be allowed to come in here. But he did not say that when another Australian who is living, and has been living, openly in Rhodesia and not engaging with an enemy came to Australia. The Labor Party protested right, left and centre that this man should be prevented from coming into Australia. ls it only that a Communist gains the succour and support of the Labor Party and of the honourable member for Hunter?

Let us consider the book that he banged on his desk. I went into the Parliamentary Library this morning looking for books in which Wilfred Burchett is mentioned. I have not time to refer to them all but I direct attention to the book 'Secret Search for Peace in Vietnam'. It is published by Random House and is not an Australian publication. I ask honourable members to see how many times Wilfred Burchett is listed in it. On some occasions he is referred to as being behind the North Vietnam line and on other occasions as being behind the North Korean line. He moves with freedom among and propounds the theories of the people who are fighting against our Australian boys. I have not heard our Australian soldiers get up and support what the honourable member for Hunter has said. I have many books on this subject, but I cannot quote from them all. It is of no use coming into this chamber with only the one book which suits ones purpose. Each one of these books which I have refers to a well known Communist Australian journalist behind the North Vietnam and North Korean lines. What is the Opposition asking? The Opposition is asking the Government to give a passport to a man who has supported the enemy both in this country and abroad and who has made charges not only against Australians but against United Nations forces. The Labor Party claims to support the United Nations when it suits the purposes of the Opposition. But let a Communist make an accusation and it knows which way it will run, and so do we. Indeed, the Opposition is asking us to give Burchett a passport which will allow him to go to any country in the world and to say: 'I am an Australian citizen supported by the Australian Government and under the Governor-General's signature and Her Majesty the Queen's signature it is asked that every assistance be given to me'.

I have seen and spoken with officials of the Returned Services League of Australia. I have heard motions passed by both the Queensland and New South Wales branches of the RSL and 1 have heard of the letters that they have written to the Leader of the Opposition and to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and to the Press over which they have not received any publicity whatsoever. Believe me, they are offended because the Press on certain occasions and the television media are prepared to give this man every bit of publicity and coverage that is possible but when the returned soldiers of this country who are the ones who allow you gentlemen to sit and prance and parade in support of your Communist friends endeavour to put a viewpoint, some sections of the Press say that it is not of interest to the public so they will not print it. I suggest that the majority of the people in Australia agree that this man Burchett has put himself beyond the pale and I do not feel that he should be given an Australian passport. I think that Burchett has made his choice. He has made his bed. Let him lie in it. As to the people whom I represent and as far as the majority of Australians are concerned, I think that the Labor Party is speaking for the minority.

No doubt the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) will give to me some of his high thoughts, but I would suggest to him to go out into the market place and ask the Australian people what they feel about Wilfred Burchett and his rights within Australia. Burchett has been permitted to come into Australia and he is allowed to go out of this country, and as far as T am concerned - and I think I speak for the majority of the people of Australia - he can go back behind the lines of North Vietnam, to Russia or the other circles in which he has chosen to move. He has made his choice. He has made his bed. Let him sleep in it.

Suggest corrections