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Tuesday, 19 September 1972
Page: 918


Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - 1 move:

That there be referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence the following matters for urgent inquiry and report -

(1)   Complaints by the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia that there are, in Australia bases, training ranges, storage places for weapons and diversionist material for criminal activity against Yugoslavia', and that the Australian government 'has tolerated migrants engaged in terrorist activity against Yugoslavia', and that Australia has not adhered to international law in regard to terrorist activity.

(2)   Whether there have been or are in Australia extremist or terrorist elements engaged in violence or other illegal activity directed against representatives or property of the Yugoslav government in Australia.

(3)   Whether persons in Australia have engaged in training or preparations for, or been in any way party to, terrorist or attempted terrorist activity in Yugoslavia.

(4)   Whether the Australian authorities have taken sufficient steps to discourage, prevent, investigate and prosecute offences in relation to such activities.

(5)   Whether in relation to Yugoslavia, Australia has failed to observe the requirements of international law and the comity between nations in respect of terrorist activity.

Paragraph 1 of my motion refers to statements by the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, a country with friendly relations with Australia, which were highly publicised throughout this country on 4th August 1972. Some of the reports indicated that the Prime Minister had spoken of fascist terrorist gangs that had not been stopped by Australian officials and whose crimes had not been punished. This is a very serious allegation made about Australia by the executive of a country friendly to Australia. The allegations are that there are and have been in Australia bases, training ranges and storage places for weapons for criminal activity against Yugoslavia. That is an extremely serious allegation made against Australia. There is the further allegation that the Australian Government has tolerated migrants engaged in terrorist activity against Yugoslavia. That also is a very serious allegation made against the Australian Government. The third item is that Australia has not adhered to international law in regard to terrorist activity. That also is a most serious allegation against Australia.

The purpose of this motion is that the Senate should institute an inquiry into these allegations against the Australian Government. The Australian Government is responsible for maintaining friendly relations with the state of Yugoslavia, lt is responsible for seeing to it that criminal activity is not nurtured or conducted in Australia for criminal action against the Government of Yugoslavia. That is not only a matter of international law; it is also a matter covered by our own Crimes Act. The Australian Government is responsible also for seeing to it that friendly relations are maintained with Yugoslavia and that Australia is not properly to be adjudged guilty of any failure to adhere to international law or the comity and friendship which should exist between nations.

There is no doubt, as appears from the statements made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen), that these incidents have injured relations between Yugoslavia and Australia. He described them as having dented the relationship between these 2 countries. If the Government of Australia is at fault, who is to decide that it is at fault? The Parliament is here to supervise the Government. If the Government is to be accountable, under a system of responsible government it must be accountable to Parliament. When a serious allegation such as this is made by the chief executive of one country against our country it is the bounden duty of Parliament to inquire into that allegation to see whether there is justification for it.

Without more, that would be enough to justify the inquiry that I have suggested. But not only was the complaint made by the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia; it was voiced also by President Tito of Yugoslavia.


Senator Hannan - Who is the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia?


Senator MURPHY - If the honourable senator would like to give me the benefit of his pronunciation he may be able to do a little better than I can.


Senator Hannan - I am just asking who the Prime Minister is.


Senator MURPHY - I shall spell it. His first name is D-z-e-m-a-1 and his second name is B-i-j-e-d-i-c. Does that suffice for the honourable senator? President Tito of Yugoslavia also has made public statements which have been reported through our Foreign Office. In one of these on 10th September he accused Australia of having allowed terrorists to be trained and prepared. He said: 'In Australia the terrorists are trained and prepared. They are sending them to our country. In these countries' - he referred not only to Australia - 'no energetic actions have been undertaken to ban this terrorism and to deprive such elements of one's hospitality.' Those are most serious allegations. It is encumbent upon Australia, as it would be upon any civilised country, to see to it that there is an inquiry into those allegations so that it may either clear its name or take appropriate action to ensure that justice is vindicated and that international law is vindicated.

It is interesting that these statements were made as a result of incidents in Yugoslavia in respect of which it was reported that persons who had been in Australia had been taking part in criminal activity in Yugoslavia. The persons who were arrested there, persons who were killed there and persons who were tried there apparently had been in Australia and apparently some admissions were made in the course of inquiries as to their activities in Yugoslavia. I do not want to enter into that because that is the proper subject matter of an inquiry into these affairs. In Australia we have had a long history of allegations about terrorism connected with the Croatian community. I want to make it quite clear that so far as the Australian Labor Party is concerned most of the people who have come here from Yugoslavia - the overwhelming majority of them - have fitted into our community and have been decent migrants. They are shocked at the terrorism that has been associated with some members of the Croatian community. I think probably they are not only shocked but also feel especially aggrieved by it because of the slur which has been cast upon them by the terrorist actions of some persons associated with Croatia.

We have had this long history of incidents of bombings, of photographs in newspapers about terrorists training with the Australian Army, of having bases here and there, of persons being blown up with bombs and of regular incidents outside the Yugoslav consulate in Double Bay. Those things seem to have been going on with impunity. The representatives and the property of the Yugoslav community in Australia, particularly at the consulate at Double Bay, seem to have had no protection, despite the great resources which the Government has by way of Commonwealth Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. It seems to me that no protection is available for that consulate, or no protection which would prevent the acts of terrorism which have been conducted against it.

I come now to 15th August. I put this motion on the notice paper on the first day that the Senate met in this sessional period. Because of illness and other events the matter has not come on until today, but there has been the warning in the interim by the President of Yugoslavia. Even before last weekend there were suggestions that there would be more violence and, sure enough, there was more violence. I think the whole Senate as well as the people of Australia was shocked at what happened on Saturday when another bombing occurred and innocent people were injured. 1 trust that they were all innocent. Certainly a considerable number of innocent people were injured. What is to be done about this situation? In our belief there should be an inquiry not only into that occurrence but also into the second matter, whether there have been or are in Australia extremist or terrorist elements engaged in violence or other illegal activity directed against representatives or property of the Yugoslav Government in Australia. I would think - and I am not prejudging the matters - the high probability is that the answer to that will be yes.


Senator Hannan - How do you know?


Senator Withers - What is that, if it is not a prejudgment?


Senator MURPHY - I hear what honourable senators opposite say. They say: What sort of prejudgment is that?' I have read what has been said by the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood). He keeps on playing about with words as to whether there is a group, or whether there are individuals who are doing it, or whether it is a system or whether it is an organisation. I do not care what they call themselves. Are there in Australia persons of terrorist or extremist elements connected with the Croatian movement who have been conducting terrorist activities here, aimed at Yugoslav property and the representatives of the Yugoslav people? I will tell honourable senators what my authority is for saying that in all probability the answer to that question will be found to be yes. My authority for the proposition, despite the fact that Senator Greenwood has been telling us constantly that they do not exist, is the report of the Department of External Affairs for the year ended 30th June 1969. At the bottom of page 31 the following appears:

There have been some demonstrations against Yugoslav offices in Australia, mostly inspired or carried out by extremist or terrorist elements formerly in Croatia or from other parts of Yugoslavia. The latest of these incidents was on 9th June J969 against the Consulate-General in Sydney. The Department of External Affairs immediately conveyed to the Embassy of Yugoslavia the apologies of the Australian Government, which is taking measures to detect and prevent any further attempts al harassment. The Australian Government strongly condemns acts of terrorism or violence, or infringement of the courtesies and respect that should be extended to representatives of a country with which Australia has diplomatic relations.

Who would not agree with the proposition that the Australian Government should apologise and say that it would endeavour to prevent any further acts? The Department of External Affairs, as it then was, thought that that was the position. But it is pretty hard to find that kind of attitude coming from Senator Greenwood. The amount of trickiness and the statements here, which are appalling, which have come from the honourable senator, I would think, would shock the people of Australia. They would be shocked that he could come out with remarks such as he has made. On 23rd August 1972, after the complaints by the Prime Minister of

Yugoslavia, when asked by Senator O'Byrne about police raids on Yugoslavs Senator Greenwood said:

The position as I have stated it for several weeks - that there is no credible evidence of any Croatian terrorist groups in Australia - still stands.

I have read to the Senate what was said by the Department of External Affairs in 1969. It referred to 'extremist or terrorist elements formerly in Croatia or from other parts of Yugoslavia'. Is the Attorney-General engaged in some kind of a quibble? He says to us that his statement that there is no credible evidence of any Croatian terrorist groups in Australia still stands. Is he going to say to us: 'Oh, it is not groups, it is only an organisation', or, 'They are only individuals', or, "They are something'? I am not interested in the manner in which they are operating. It is quite clear, as the Department of External Affairs said, that there are in Australia extremist or terrorist elements associated with the Croatians, and it is time for an inquiry.

It seems to me, as I have said, that in all probability, in the light of what has been said by the Department of External Affairs and against the background of what we have read in the newspapers over a number of years, the answer to the question posed in paragraph (2) of my motion is yes. But we do not need to prejudge it. We do not even need to act on the assumption that the Department of External Affairs, as it then was, knew what it was talking about. Paragraph (3) of my motion reads:

Whether persons in Australia have engaged in training or preparation for, or been in any way party to, terrorist or attempted terrorist activity in Yugoslavia.

That allegation has been made, and it has to be inquired into.


Senator Gair - Have you any evidence that it is true?


Senator MURPHY - Senator Gair interrupts me and asks whether I have any evidence that it is true. We have this evidence: The Government of a friendly nation has alleged that this is so, that there has been a breach of international law by Australia. It has asserted that that has taken place. It is incumbent upon us to establish whether the allegation is true or false. If it is false, then we are in a position to say so to the Government of Yugoslavia. Paragraph (4) of my motion reads:

Whether the Australian authorities have taken sufficient steps to discourage

And should not they discourage - prevent

And should not they prevent - investigate

And should not they investigate - and prosecute

And should not they prosecute - offences in relation to such activities.

The Committee is asked to investigate whether the Australian authorities have taken sufficient steps. It is the belief, as expressed by the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, that the Australian Government has not taken sufficient steps, that it has tolerated this conduct. The expression by the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia is that the Australian Government hasnot done enough; that it has tolerated that conduct. It is the feeling of a lot of people in this Parliament and of a lot of the people of Australia that the Australian Government has not taken sufficient steps. The AttorneyGeneral has run dead on this question. He has not done as much as he should do. His answers this morning indicate that he is soft on this question. He is not really attempting, with the vigour which would be expected, to pursue these matters after what was said by the Department of External Affairs and after the bombings that occurred. How is it possible, with the resources at the disposal of the AttorneyGeneral, that after these warnings came and after the complaints were made to the Australian Government, so little is done that we have people able to be bombed in Sydney on Saturday? What is going to happen? Is this going to happen next week while the Attorney-General says that he gets very upset?

A look at what the Attorney-General said on 27th April 1972, in answer to a question by Senator O'Byrne, perhaps will give an indication to the Senate that it is necessary to inquire into this' question. Senator O'Byrne asked the AttorneyGeneral the following question:

Will the Attorney-General agree that it is more urgent to prevent possible loss of life through bomb explosions and other Ustashi violence than to arrest young men who have the courage of their convictions? Will the Minister direct his investigatory apparatus to the tracking down of the source of supply of explosives, fuses and so on known to be used by Ustashi terrorists in this country?

Senator Greenwoodsaid:

I have said that as far as I am aware the use of the word 'Ustashi' is politically motivated because of the provocation which it gives to people who object to being so termed, that there are terrorist activities and people with the propensity to engage in them in Australia would appear to be incontrovertible. We know that there have been bomb attacks. The circumstances in which they have occurred and the persons who have perpetrated them are matters for police concern. The State police, of course, have the primary responsibility, but may co-operate with Commonwealth police in order to ascertain who are the wrongdoers and to have them brought before the courts.

However, as with persons who seek to avoid the National Service Act, so with persons who are prepared to resort to bombing and other means of giving expression to their traditional homeland vendettas. The difficulty is that one is not able to get the necessary evidence in many cases to identify the persons who are assisting or who are responsible. That is one of the problems in detection of all crimes. I can only say that in both areas the police are pursuing their inquiries to the best of their abilities. The intention is in each case to insure that wrongdoers can be brought to justice.

That is the attitude of the Attorney-General. He equates the people who are standing against the National Service Act with these terrorists who are going around with explosives and who are ready to blow up innocent people. If he cannot even catch Barry Johnston, what can we expect him to do about the terrorists in Australia?

The last paragraph of my motion reads: (5) Whether, in relation to Yugoslavia, Australia has failed to observe the requirements of international law and the comity between nations in respect of terrorist activity.

We have heard this morning allegations made by Yugoslavia. On what was indicated by the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Wright) the Yugoslav Ambassador to Australia has made further complaints against Australia. There have been indications that the Yugoslav authorities have supplied to the Australian authorities lists of names of persons who ought to be investigated as being persons suspected in connection with these terrorist activities. We believe it is time there was an investigation of these matters.

There is no need for the Senate to prejudge these matters. I think every person here has a healthy suspicion that the Attorney-General - not only from what has been said but by his behaviour and demeanour in this Senate - certainly does not want to investigate and prosecute these terrorists, as I think the rest of the people would want their activities to be investigated and the terrorists brought to justice. It is obvious that some kind of an inquiry has to be conducted into these activities. In its usual fashion the Government is not prepared to indicate firmly whether it will have an inquiry. I understand that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said today that he is not opposed to a royal commis sion, in order to avert the suggestions that a parliamentary inquiry would be the most suitable vehicle, although I think it would in view of the fact that the Government itself is alleged to be at fault. There ought not to be a Government inquiry.

My proposal is that the reference should be made to the Committee and that we should add to the motion a clause providing that the Committee not proceed - Mr President, would you ask Senator Withers to stop yapping constantly?







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