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
Tuesday, 10 April 1973
Page: 1236

Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) (Minister for Immigration) - I second the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) of confidence in the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has moved an amendment to the Prime Minister's motion and has called for a judicial inquiry. The first point upon which he hangs his request is: 'Are there any active Croatian terrorist organisations in Australia and have they been responsible for violence?' The right honourable gentleman is either playing with the House and the nation or has forgotten to confer with his colleagues, because on 3rd December 1969 his deputy, the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch), who was then Minister for Immigration, wrote to the then Attorney-General and said:

I feel it necessary to bring to your attention my concern at the likely serious consequences if Croat nationals in Australia are permitted to continue unchecked their terrorist activities and outrages against representatives of the Yugoslav Government and authority generally in this country.

The honourable member went on to say:

I have reason to believe that the terrorists are endeavouring to create the impression among Yugoslav migrants in Australia that the Croatian extremists have the support of significant sections of Australian society and even the Government.

This is his own deputy. He continued:

The bombing attack last week on the Yugoslav Embassy in Canberra ... the evidence of a deliberate attempt to fire the Immigration Offices at Barton on the evening of 1st December -

That could not possibly have been successful because those offices are too old, too whiteant ridden and too decrepit to burn anyway the bombing of the Yugoslav Consulate-General in Sydney earlier in the year are evidence of a pattern of extremist activity which should be capable of preventive measures by the law authorities.

This was a warning by the then Minister for Immigration to the then Attorney-General of the previous Government. The then Minister went on to say:

Apart from this immediate issue and the inevitable involvement of human life, 1 am moreover concerned with the likely effect upon our relations with Yugoslavia, especially in terms of our migration arrangements with that country, of continued incidents of this kind and the apparent inability of the law authorities to apprehend offenders.

Mr Martin - Who wrote that?

Mr GRASSBY - This was written by the honourable member for Flinders, the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition who was at that time Minister for Immigration. He went on to say:

The continued disquiet among the Yugoslav community generally in Australia must also have a deleterious effect upon their ability successfully to integrate in the Australian community which I have little doubt is the primary desire of the great majority of Yugoslavs in this country.

That was his concern, a concern that was shared by the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) who was at that time Minister for Foreign Affairs and who, in a letter addressed to the then AttorneyGeneral, pointed out that over the last few years there had been a number of incidents or attacks by extremist groups. The right honourable gentleman stated: the extremists themselves may by now have come to believe that they can act with impunity and that they can therefore, without risk to themselves, step up the level and frequency of violence.

This is an indictment of members of the previous Government who are now on the front bench of the Opposition. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition might very well have conferred with his own colleagues before posing this amendment. (Quorum formed).

The Leader of the Opposition, of course, then referred to the rule of law, that is, the law of his Government which sets oat that, under the provisions of the Crimes Act, Australian citizens could be deported despite the fact that they held citizenship. So much for his rule of law. It was a bad law and we will change it in defence of the unity and indivisibility of Australian citizens. There is no doubt from the information now available to us, and, indeed, information which was available to the previous Government, that Australia has only narrowly missed becoming the world headquarters for a counter-revolution. There is no doubt that this situation was accepted by the previous Government, as it seems to have held the view that any revolutionary violence planned here would have been exercised outside Australia and not within it. But I make the point - and it should be remembered - that violence is like a disease. One cannot contain it at will or direct its course.

We have had in this country - not overseas-! 70 acts of violence and we have a situation about which the Attorney-General and the Government were rightly concerned. Certainly this Government is concerned with violence from wherever it comes. We have a situation at the moment in which bombs in Sydney injured 18 people and fire bombs in Brisbane killed 15 people. Australians are concerned about this state of affairs. I might say that the concern was felt by some Ministers in the previous Government.

To me, as Minister for Immigration, it does not matter at all what the pretext is for violence: Violence in our society must always be condemned. The man in Australia who puts aside the ballot box and reaches for the bomb leaves the ranks of the politically concerned and becomes a criminal. So the bombings of Brisbane and Sydney are both criminal acts even though they might have been carried out as the result of different motivations. The Australian hurt by a bomb does not ask whether the bomb was a right wing bomb, a left wing bomb or just a plain racketeer's bomb. He knows he is hurt and resents it. Material I am now studying covers some 415 people who have been associated with violence. Naturalised Australians account for 195 of these. Of 51 Australian citizens who came under notice first for violence, 11 are now reported to have died in violent circumstances^ - 8 shot in Yugoslavia last year, 2 others murdered in other European countries and one murdered in Australia. Four of these Australian citizens are understood to be currently serving gaol sentences overseas for alleged involvement in violence. A further 9 have charges pending against them before the courts in Australia. Information brought to my notice concerning another 37 Australian citizens, some of whom have convictions for violence, indicates that they are implicated in criminal extremist activities.

The Commonwealth Police has brought to the attention of my Department the names of a further 134 Australian citizens who are suspected of association with criminal extremism. Some of these have criminal convictions relating to acts of violence. I remind honourable members that Australian citizens are beyond the deportation provisions of the Migration Act. Amongst the 220 aliens under review are 9 persons who now have left Australia. Three of these are reported to be dead and 6 others are reported to be serving prison sentences overseas for alleged offences relating to criminal terrorism. Two are serving gaol sentences in Australia for serious offences. Another 17 have been charged in court for various offences and are awaiting trial. There are a further 25 aliens whose involvement in criminal extremism has been such that they are of significant interest to us. Several of them have previous convictions and information relating to them currently is under study. Information about 167 aliens indicates that they are involved in criminal extremism. These cases also are under examination. The list of 415 persons to which I have referred does not represent the total number of those whose histories in Australia are under review. I am informed that further cases are under investigation now and in due course may be referred to me for attention.

So, I report the facts to the House. Taken together, they must give rise to deep concern. They must also give rise to the question of how more than 200 people could gain our citizenship without question - if, indeed, that was the situation. We do know from the files that there was some dispute about whether citizenship should be granted. But, be that as it may, the situation is not healthy from our point of view. The facts speak for themselves. While the previous Government was chasing elderly peasants in the hills of Calabria for voting communist 20 years ago, it certainly ignored the violence of the Right; the facts given indicate this quite clearly. The Government and the people of Australia are implacably opposed to terrorism from any source - from the Right or the Left - and the Prime Minister has made that clear. There are no exceptions to this.

Equally we are determined that the many shall not be condemned for the actions of the few. There are in the Australian community today more than 140,000 people who were born in Yugoslavia, and the great majority of them are good, sound citizens and residents of this country. I remind the House that Yugoslavs have a long and honourable history of migration to Australia going back well over 100 years. They, even more than the community generally, have reason to condemn the acts of political terrorism which have taken place. Only a couple of days ago I received from a large Croatian organisation a statement of rejection of acts of violence from whatever source they might come. These good people are deserving of the fullest sym pathy and understanding of the Parliament of the nation.

I should like to refer to the small minority involved in criminal or terrorist activities and those who, sharing their views, may seek to come to Australia. I want to be quite clear on this point. Under the Migration Act, the Minister for Immigration has authority to exclude from Australia any persons who are not members of the Australian community. I shall exercise that authority to the full against people who advocate or engage in acts of criminal terrorism. Officers of the Department of Immigration here and overseas are under standing instructions in this matter and I have re-emphasised those instructions. However, no migrant screening process in the world can completely guard against the possibility that a person may be recruited into this type of activity after arriving in Australia. I am particularly concerned, therefore, about those people who are already here and who attempt to recruit young men to kill and to be killed in campaigns of violence and terror.

Under the Migration Act, I have the authority, as Minister, to order the deportation of aliens and immigrants in certain defined circumstances. But I want to make it plain that no Australian citizen can be required in any circumstances to leave his adopted country. Each case in relation to deportation can and will be looked at on its merits. I . am determined to do all in my power as Minister to keep political terrorists out of Australia and to apply the deportation provisions of the Migration Act to the fullest extent, consistent with our system of justice. The special reports branch of my Department will maintain the closest possible liaison with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Commonwealth Police and State law enforcement agencies. Any information will be brought to my notice and whatever action is necessary will be taken within the powers given to me, as Minister, by the Parliament. My Department neither has nor seeks its own police force. The special reports branch is not concerned only with offences by migrants. It is equally concerned with offences which affect the interests of migrants. When evidence of offences is obtained, the information is referred to the Commonwealth or State police for investigations and court proceedings in the usual way. Officers of this branch are neither police officers nor security officers. However, they do work closely with other agencies.

I warn those who may contemplate acts of violence to weigh fully the consequences of their actions. I offer them this choice, on behalf of the Australian Government: Live with us in peace or leave. Australia will not tolerate them; neither will it provide a haven for them. I repeat my earlier undertaking to do everything in my power to stop any more such people entering the country and I repeat my warning to those who are already here and who embark upon acts of violence and terrorism. They will have visited upon them the full rigour of the deportation provisions of the Migration Act, within the law. There is no blame or shame attaching to the great majority for the actions of the few. Just as the full sanction of the law will be applied to stop those who engage in terrorism, so too shall we apply the full sanction of the law for the protection of the innocent. I give this pledge on behalf of the Government of Australia: I pledge myself to justice - justice to the community, to the individual concerned and to the many thousands of good people who, with faith in us and in our country, have pledged their future with ours. The Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the Government are unanimous in this dedication.

Suggest corrections