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Thursday, 14 September 1972
Page: 819

Senator HANNAN (VICTORIA) - Is the AttorneyGeneral aware of the developing feelings of frustration and resentment in vast sections of the Croatian community at the unjust allegations being made against that community by representatives of the Yugoslav Embassy and other person:- of dubious antecedents who accuse them of terrorist activities in this country? Is there any truth in these allegations? If not, will the Attorney-General take appropriate steps to clear the good name and reputation of these people who have been subjected to such unfair allegations?

Senator GREENWOOD - I am aware of the many allegations that have been made and of the tendency, to which the use of the word 'Croatian' in the making of those allegations gives rise, for people to think that there is some link between Croatian people generally and acts of violence and terrorism. I think it is tremendously unfortunate that these allegations are made with such frequency, because this is creating a sense of frustration, opposition and resentment among members of the Croatian community who object most strongly to these allegations. I should say 2 things about the allegations that have been made. The first is that they have been investigated and the investigations have not revealed that there are the training camps and terrorist activities which so often are said by people, claiming some verification, actually to exist. In short, all the allegations are investigated and broadly they are found to be groundless.

The second point is that in recent times 1 have received many representations from members of the Croation community who are concerned. I have an accumulating body of evidence which is giving me the gravest concern that much is happening behind the scenes and is not being revealed; that there are agents provocateurs; that there are persons who are trouble makers; and that there are other people who are identifying themselves with the Croatian community with a view to causing trouble within that community. When this is linked with statements by representatives of the Government in Yugoslavia making allegations or repeating allegations which are unsustained and when it is linked with the treatment which is accorded to Australian citizens who have recently been to Yugoslavia, it is a matter which ought to concern all Australians.

I have, as I said, a growing body of evidence of persons who, having gone to Yugoslavia, have not been heard of; of one Australian citizen who has died there in circumstances not explained; of persons who have been unable to reach the Australian Embassy in Belgrade. These are matters of concern. I hope that, in due course, I will be able to provide more information than I have been able to provide at the present time with a view to indicating the truth of this matter, which is what Australians should have, not a constant repetition of allegations which on investigation prove to be groundless.

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