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, 29 August 1972
Page: 469

Senator HANNAN (VICTORIA) - Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs been drawn to reports at the weekend that 18 Soviet Russian merchant seamen had just defected in Greece and sought political asylum? Is it not a fact that the Greek Government is a military dictatorship which has been under constant attack by honourable senators opposite and by the Australian Labor Party generally? Does this defection seem to indicate that bad and all as the Greek colonels may be, these seamen regard that regime as being less oppressive than that of Soviet Russia?

Senator Willesee -I rise to order, Mr Acting President. I ask you to draw the attention of Senator Hannan to the fact that in this place it is always held that one does not cast aspersions on any government with which we exchange diplomatic recognition? I put to you that this has been the practice since the first ruling was given on this matter 60 odd years ago. I do not think I am inhibiting the honourable senator in any way in asking his question, and it is an interesting one, but 1 think he might do so without casting aspersions on various governments, whatever we might think of them.

Senator Gair - What has been said about the South Vietnamese Government?

Senator Willesee - If any honourable senator has offended in that way he should have been stopped at that time. I suggest to you, Mr Acting President, that if you allow this place to be a forum in which people can attack governments and their representatives without their being given a chance to reply, it will not do anything for the Senate or for this or any other questioner.

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Senator Hannan, I ask you to keep in mind the general principles of the point made by Senator Willesee.

Senator HANNAN - If the honourable senator would direct my attention to which of the 2 governments was being insulted I might be able to adjust my question accordingly.

Senator Willesee - I do not suggest that you should insult any government. That is my suggestion and the clear practice of this House.

Senator HANNAN - I will rephrase part of my question in order to conform. Is it not a fact that the Greek Government is under the control of a military adm ins t ration? Is it not a fact that that administration has been under constant attack by honourable senators opposite and the Australian Labor Party generally? Would this defection seem to indicate that the Soviet seamen prefer to live in Greece rather than in Russia?

Senator WRIGHT - I think the Senate is indebted to the honourable senator for placing on record facts which seem to command almost unanimous acceptance in all quarters of the chamber, significantly from Senator Georges who would seem to have some very jovial relish of the fact that he is not there to be administered by the Greek Government. Turning to the question of these fugitive merchant seamen, I would think that the inference is fairly obvious. I myself would like a holiday in Greece.

Suggest corrections