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Tuesday, 10 April 1973
Page: 1225

Mr WHITLAM - Nevertheless, the formal reply to the Yugoslav note did not refer to this fact. Our diplomat who delivered the note to representatives of the Yugoslav Government was specifically instructed that he 'should avoid any discussion of Croatian organisations within Australia'.

Since 1963 the Yugoslav Government has made 13 formal representations about Croatian extremists and on 18 other occasions oral representations have been made by the Yugoslav Embassy or to our Embassy in Belgrade. The pattern of Australian replies to these representations has been a consistent one throughout the decade. In many of the protests the Yugoslav authorities have provided infor- marion about Croatian activities and in most of them have made broader references to Croatian nationalist activity in this country. Virtually without exception, the Australian replies either ignored or dismissed without further comment the broader allegations made by the Yugoslav Government. Our replies concentrate on the particular incident, whether a demonstration or an explosion, which prompted the latest Yugoslav protest. The previous Liberal governments would go no further than to give general assurances that the Australian authorities would pursue investigations with respect to the particular incident. They never did.

The final note of 19th September 1972 formally demanded whether the statements attributed to Senator Greenwood represented the official attitude of the Australian Government. The interim reply to this demand in the Australian Government's note of 20th October 1972 did not simply lack candour; it was positively misleading. The Australian Government confirmed that Senator Greenwood's comment on the absence of credible evidence of the existence of terrorist organisations was correct at the time it was made. In the light of the facts revealed by Senator Murphy, this reply was misleading. There was evidence of the existence of organisations, even at the time that Senator Greenwood made his statements.

Last Thursday I told the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) that I would seek the consent of the Yugoslav Government to table the notes if he also agreed to my tabling the drafts for the Australian responses. The Yugoslav Government has given me permission to table its note and our response.

The Yugoslav Government was not referring to evidence admissible in a court of law against particular organisations which may be in breach of relevant provisions of the Crimes Act. The Yugoslav Government, as with the Australian people last year, was concerned with fact. Were there organised activities behind the various acts of violence which had been perpetrated in this country and in Yugoslavia itself? The simple answer to that, as Senator Murphy has shown so clearly, is that there were. Indeed, in his reply of last Wednesday, Senator Greenwood did not face up to this basic accusation. He sought refuge in the excessive legalism with which he has so consistently shrouded the truth. In his reply Senator Greenwood failed to mention or in any way refer to the present Attorney-General's references to an organisation known as the United Croats of West Germany. There was no doubt that this organisation existed; no police or ASIO report ever questioned that. There was no doubt that its members were associated with violence. Police and ASIO reports confirm that. Then there is the allegation of the resurgence of the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood, or a similar organisation. This was thought to have disbanded in about 1967. Senator Greenwood in his reply refers to one document - a report by the Commonwealth Police on 23rd November last stating that the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood had been revived. He asserts, in misguided defence, that he never saw this document, as if that were enough. He completely failed to face the clear evidence that 5 similar reports of 20th April 1972, 8th June 1972, 5th July 1972, 17th August 1972 and 12th September 1972, all prepared by the Commonwealth Police, had each referred to the possible resurgence of the old Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood. These are amongst the documents tabled. These are amongst the documents available to Senator Greenwood, as to every honourable member of both Houses. These are amongst the documents available to the Australian Government before it told the Yugoslav Government that at the time Senator Greenwood made his statement there was no credible evidence that any Croatian revolutionary terrorist organisation existed in Australia.

So here we have a continuing pattern of the Parliament being misled, the people being misled and a foreign government being misled. This is the real default, the real basis for censure. These are the charges which have to be answered - and the only men who can answer them are the members opposite, the ex-Ministers. What has a government of 4 months to answer for about the growth of terrorism in Australia? Nothing. What has a government of 23 years to answer for? Everything. These are the guilty men on trial. I forbear, and they will come to thank me for it, to put all of them where they should be - in the witness box of a royal commission, where they would be forced to answer once and for all why they allowed, knowingly allowed, the cancer to grow in our midst.

I turn from the wretchedness and the recriminations of the past. I am concerned only about Australia's future. If one had to state a general theme for my Government's program it would be the reduction of fear. It is our overriding aim. By our economic policies we are determined to remove the fear of unemployment; our social security program is designed to remove as far as humanly possible the fear of poverty and sickness; our foreign policies are aimed at reducing the fears and suspicions which have so hobbled Australian thinking and distorted Australian attitudes for generations. And we are determined that everybody living in Australia shall be free of fear of political violence, of political extortion, of threats and blackmail.

It has been asserted that actions taken by the Attorney-General before and after 15th March, were extraordinary and unprecedented. If they were so, it was because they concerned extraordinary and unprecedented developments in Australia. To Australia's shame we faced the situation that an honoured guest, the Prime Minister of a friendly country, a country which we have recognised since 1918, when it was formed; a country with which there have been diplomatic relations since 1966 - was under threat of assassination. This threat was the high point in a pattern of organised political terrorism which had developed in Australia over the past 10 years and more. It has been suggested that the prudent course would have been to cancel Premier Bijedic's visit. My Government was not prepared to allow political terrorism to achieve so shameful a triumph. Was it to be tolerated that Prime Minister Bijedic could visit all our neighbours in perfect safety but not Australia? Was it to be tolerated that his President Marshal Tito, could visit London or New York in perfect safety but that his Prime Minister could not be guaranteed safety in Australia? I would not have a bar of such a proposition. Accordingly I instructed the Attorney-General to take all measures he deemed necessary to guarantee the security and success of the visit. The Attorney-General was therefore a custodian, not just of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia but of the reputation of this country. Under such a heavy responsibility I believe he was entitled to take the actions he did to ensure that he had the full co-operation of Australia'a law enforcement and security organisations. In the event, they carried out their duties to the complete satisfaction of my Government. On this occasion there was complete co-operation between ASIO and the Commonwealth Police, between ASIO and my Department of

Foreign Affairs, between ASIO and the AttorneyGeneral's Department and my own Department. I am bound to say that this cooperation was not always forthcoming in the past. The Attorney-General was justified in satisfying himself that he was receiving the full information and co-operation by which alone he could discharge the deep responsibility I had placed upon him.

As far back as 1964 the Department of External Affairs wished the Government to make strong and unequivocal condemnation of political terrorism. So did the present Leader of the Opposition as Minister for Immigration. The then Senator Gorton insisted that the statement be watered down because he feared adverse reaction from certain backbench members of the Liberal Party. Thus the guilty knowledge was shared at the highest levels by the previous Government. Leading members of that Government privately complained but publicly condoned. The terrorist organisations continued and so did their acts of terrorism - the bombings, th.e intimidation, the blackmail, the extortion. It has been a disgraceful chapter in the. history of Australia and that disgraceful chapter was written by members of the previous Government. The previous Government did not deal with the Parliament or the people with candour; it did not deal with the Yugoslav Government with correctness or candour. My Government is determined to call a halt. There is no place for political thuggery; there is no place for terrorism in Australia. Equally we are determined to remove any cause for unease or apprehension among the migrant communities. Certainly we will not shrink from the exercise of the full legal authority entrusted to us by the people; but we shall in no way use that authority to promote authoritarianism in Australia. We are not in the business of spreading fear; we are committed to removing its causes.

I address my words now in particular to the Croatian community. The Government will play its part in assisting that community and its genuine leaders to remove the few extremists who besmirch the decent and overwhelming majority, but the remedy also lies in the hands of the. community itself. Terrorism will wither on the vine if the community turns its back on the few malefactors in the midst. Victims of standover tactics, of blackmail and extortion will receive, the fullest support and protection from my Government in their resistance. I have never supported the proposition that migrants are in some way obliged to forget the affairs of their homelands - their ancestral homes. We do not require it of Greeks, we do not require it of Jews, we do not require it of Italians or Maltese, or even of the Irish; and we do not require it of Yugoslavs. But we cannot tolerate the use of Australia as a base, as a recruiting ground or as a source of finance for promoting terrorist activities within Australia or abroad.

The line between legitimate interest in the political affairs in one's homeland on the one hand and political terrorism on the other is sharp and clear. It is the only line my Government intends to draw. While I fully recognise and endorse the right of migrants in Australia to maintain their links with, and their interest in, the affairs of their former countries, I have to insist that such interest cannot be exercised in such a way as to distress other Australians. I deplore in the strongest terms the commemoration in certain clubs in Australia of the regime of Ante Pavelic and the celebration of 10th April.


Mr WHITLAM - What a supreme irony it is that this very day, 10th April, I should be defending my Attorney-General for cracking down on terrorism; that on this day he should be attacked for it - on the anniversary of the triumph of fascism in Yugoslavia. This day commemorates the temporary triumph of nazism, racism and anti-semitism in Yugoslavia. It is a matter of the deepest affront not only to the great majority of Yugoslavs in Australia and not only to our Jewish community but to everybody who fought in or had relatives fighting and dying in the war against Hitler and against fascism.

What would we say if a German club were to display portraits of Hitler and the swastika flag and to commemorate and celebrate the day Hitler became Chancellor as a community national day? Yet Pavelic was, in his sphere, as violent and cruel as Hitler himself. He was not, as honourable members opposite tend to think, just a good anti-communist. It was his men who assasinated King Alexander of Yugoslavia. He was among other things, the betrayer of King Peter who assumed his majority and represented the popular revulsion of the people throughout Yugoslavia against the Axis powers. What an affront that only last weekend the picture of this man

Pavelic should be displayed in places of honour beside that of the Queen - King Peter's relative.

It is matter of deep distress to me that the necessary actions of my Government and its agencies should be the cause of uneasiness and apprehension amongst migrant communities. Nothing could be more alien to the spirit and desires of my Government. I am determined to allay these groundless fears and suspicions. In particular, I wish to remove any grounds for discrimination in matters of citizenship and employment against migrants or any section of any migrant community. There are to be no second class citizens in Australia under my Government. That is why the Government has decided to amend the Crimes Act to prevent the deportation of naturalised citizens and to repeal those sections of the Crimes Act which allow the deportation of members of declared organisations. In the meantime, I wish to make it quite clear that no Australian citizen will be deported, and that there will be no abridgment whatsoever of the rights of any Australian resident in the execution of deportation orders.

I repeat: My Government is determined to remove the cause of fear insofar as Government action can affect the conditions of human existence. In that aim we need the help and co-operation of all the people - the Australian born, the naturalised and the nonnaturalised. The previous Government did an immense disservice to Australia in hushing up the existence of terrorist activities in this country. Its greatest disservice was to the Croatian community itself for by its silence, indeed acquiescence, it allowed terrorism to take root. My Government and the Croatian community together will root this evil out.

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