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Tuesday, 19 September 1972
Page: 954

Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) -I rise to support the motion moved and amended by my leader, Senator Murphy.

Senator Gair - You will want to do better than you did on television tonight.

Senator MULVIHILL - Mr Acting Deputy President,I could give this gentleman a blast but, in deference to you, I will not.

Senator Gair - You tell lies.

Senator MULVIHILL - This fellow wants the rules applied one way but not the other. I will not tolerate these interjections. Many members have motives for entering into a specific debate. Quite apart from the basic features of the motion moved by

Senator Murphy,I took the opportunity last night between the hours of 7 and 9 to ring 9 members of the Yugoslav community whose friendship I have enjoyed since 1953 or 1954. For the information of Senator Gair, these people have established sound careers and have demonstrated good citizenship in this community. Their cry to me was: 'How long will these investigations be dragged out? Why should the inquiries drag on? Why should these smears be applied in the broadest sense?' By and large, most members of the Australian community do not differentiate between the different sections of the Yugoslav community and consequently the unwarranted stigma is applied to them all.

When I entered the Senate some 6 years ago, one of the first matters about which I complained was the rising number of incidents of the type which occurred last Saturday. Some Government senators said that I was pre-judging the issues. They said that [ should await the results of specific investigations. I can do no more than refer to a statement that was made on 27th August 1964. That statement reads:

If as a result of these investigations there is evidence of illegal activities on the part of the organisation or individuals the law of the State or relevant Commonwealth legislation will be implemented.

That statement which was made on 27th August 1964 came from the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. I think that every speaker has admitted that the situation that we are considering has deteriorated since 1964. This is the point from which 1 launch my speech by asking whether various Ministers could have done a good deal more to nip these activities in the bud? I say they could have and I will produce one or two incidents in a moment to demonstrate my argument.

For example, there was the game of what I will call musical flags which was played in the Snowy Mountains area in 1964 with the flag of Yugoslavia. The Mayor of Cooma was threatened by Croats. It is true, as some honourable senators opposite have said, that there were some court convictions at that time, but they were all at a lower level. For example, they were for charges of offensive behaviour, which carried only about a $20 fine.

This is where I claim the Commonwealth has been very lackadaisical. The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) has at his command the Crown Solicitor, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Commonwealth Police. He has already admitted that over the last few years he has accumulated an amount of material from certain inflammatory journals. It is beyond my comprehension why there has not been sufficient evidence in some of those journals on which to launch a prosecution under the federal laws. I say that quite sincerely, mindful of what was said earlier by some Government supporters. To anyone who has a concept of liberty, prosecution is often quite repugnant, but there does come a time when one has to decide between licence or liberty. It was good enough for a former Labor AttorneyGeneral, Dr Evatt, to take action in a very ticklish situation. I refer to the Sharkey prosecution. In a cold war atmosphere - it was only words - the law prevailed. It was good enough for a Labor government to go against people to the left of it and I have waited in vain since 1964 for similar Commonwealth action against the extreme right.

I refuse to believe, in view of the numerous translations I have read of articles in Croatian journals, that there has not been enough evidence on which to launch a prosecution. I admit that if such a prosecution were launched in a federal court it could result in only a small fine being imposed. The point is in any form of revolutionary activity there is a propaganda tussle as distinct from a physical tussle. I refuse to believe that at some point in time there has not been sufficient evidence to warrant the launching of a prosecution by the Attorney-General or his predecessors in this respect which would have exposed these people. As Senator Gair would have noted, tonight in another place I said, and repeat, that the Special Division of the New South Wales Police Force has experienced numerous difficulties with terrorist activities. Its job would have been a lot easier if the myth had not been created that certain individuals in Canberra love some of the people who engage in these activities.

After I deal with the internal situation, I will comment on Senator Carrick's remarks concerning the external pressures which are being brought to bear. But 1 wish to deal with the internal situation first. For years now the mere declaration by Yugoslavs that they have Australian citizenship but their country of origin was Yugoslavia have been enough to draw abuse backed up by physical attacks. But they are no different to many other Australians in respect to the taking of court action. They say: 'What is the use of being involved in a court case?' I am not speaking from an academic point of view. I have been involved in 1 or 2 incidents myself. To illustrate how mad some people are I will repeat the story I have told before of a chap named Halpin who was attacked by a Croatian and jabbed in the testicles with an umbrella in a Yugal versus Croatia soccer match. It could be said that attacks can happen at football matches, but this was during the chanting afterwards. In fact it is astonishing how this incident was politicalised. I was accused of being a lackey of this and a lackey of that. It is marvellous how all of these things are raised when an incident like this occurs. The point I am making is that there should have been a constant monitoring at a federal level of the numerous incidents that have occurred. Even the utterances of Fabian Lovokovic and certain other people should have merited some action. It was good enough for the Australian Labor Party to deal with somebody on the far left who had broken the law, but we have not seen any comparable action taken by the Commonwealth against anybody from the Right.

Reference has been made to certain events in history. In the wartime years the British Government had Harry Pollitt of the Communist Party in one cell and former British admirals of the Link organisation in another cell. Can the Government tell me of any occasion in the last decade when it has taken action against someone from the extreme right? The Government has adopted the attitude of sweeping certain things under the carpet. An example of that is the episode which took place in George Street, Sydney, at the week-end. Senator Murphy has asked the Government whether Australian authorities have taken sufficient steps to discourage, prevent, investigate and prosecute offences of this nature. I believe that the AttorneyGeneral's officers should submit reports to him on these incidents and prosecutions should follow.

I revert to the field of immigration. 1 have visited most of the migrant hostels in Australia. I visited Bonegilla on one occasion. What happened there destroyed the myth of this being something of a religious dispute. That is an oversimplification. There was a Croat chaplain at Bonegilla. Apparently he was appointed to deal with all people of his belief. Alter he was there for a month he decided to put on a sacramental black ban. The Slovenes and the Polish people were denied any spiritual advice. I was told that by the camp manager, who, to his credit, had him removed. The point I am making is that the Minister for Immigration knew that this sort of thing was going on but never sought to discourage it. The people who gravitated out of this camp said to me: 'It is obvious that there is ohe law for the extreme group of Croatians and another law for everyone else'. The incidents T have referred to go back to' 1964-65. There have been articles about them in the 'Bulletin' of 1964. In fact, I have, in front of me an article which appeared in the Sydney 'Daily Mirror' in' 1963, which quotes Fabian Lovokovic as saying: 'We march and sing and drill, but' we have no weapons to drill with - yet'.

This brings me to the dilemma of the Government. With the effluxion of time in the last 5 years there has been' an ideological thaw in Europe. I would be the last to deny anybody the right to have some nostalgic longings for the past,' whether they be political or anything else'. But the fact of the matter is that we live in a pragmatic world and, whenever it -has been good enough for the Western powers and the United States of America to make certain agreements with Yugoslavia and Romania as a buffer to some of the other Cominform nations, Australia has been very happy to fall in with the idea. I remember that on one occasion when Senator Gorton, as he then was, was the representative in this chamber of the Minister for Foreign Affairs he drew a very good distinction between the territorial expansions of the super communist powers, China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and those of Romania and Yugoslavia, which he put in a different category.

Jumping a little ahead to some of Senator Carrick's remarks, I wonder what our foreign advisers would be telling our Minister for Foreign Affairs if, through some peculiar alliance - nothing is impossible in politics - some of the ultra right in this country were assisting in some way to cause a disturbance in Yugoslavia which could result in the Red fleet utilising the port facilities of Rijeka. I know what the Americans would think about it and I know what the British and the rest of the NATO powers would think about it because they went into a flap over the situation in Malta. I can imagine what they would do as far as the Adriatic area is concerned. 1 know that at times our Minister for Foreign Affairs is pretty amenable to British and American requests. I sometimes wonder whether it is realised that by placating some of these extremists and doing nothing about them there is a spread across to the other side of the world of the balance of power.

People could go back, as Senator Carrick did, to the origin of Yugoslavia and deal with the post war period. But I think it is of particular importance to deal with the job opportunities for Yugoslav migrants who come to this country. Nobody has argued better than I for job opportunities for these people. It is remarkable that all of the Yugoslavs of Croat origin who say: T am a Yugoslav and I am acceptable here' and who do not have the same zest to change the boundaries of Europe as others are subject to attack. I could not speak for the situation in Melbourne, but I can speak for the situation in Sdyney. I go back to what happened in the early 1960s. On every occasion in those years when there was a function at the Macabbean Hall on 29th November there were smoke bombs, physical violence and everything like that. That went on for years. It was only about 1964 or 1965 that the Lesic episode occurred. I want to say to Senator Greenwood that I am never backward in expressing my view, but I have always kept within certain guidelines. I had correspondence at that time with the then Premier of New South

Wales, Mr Renshaw. I also had consultations with the Special Division of the New South Wales Police Force following a 6- man delegation of Yugoslavs which saw Mr Renshaw and his predecessor, Mr Heffron. I assure Senator Greenwood that not one of the members of the Special Division believes the romances of Mr Lesic. It was unfortunate that he lost his feet but I assure Senator Greenwood that Mr Lesic was a complete humbug. He was a humbug to the extent that the suitcase he carried contained a bomb. There is no argument about it. The Attorney-General is probably reluctant to make public comments in this Parliament because he has to deal with his officers and these comments could affect some of their investigations. I have here a pamphlet which Tomislav Lesic produced when he sat outside Parliament House. He is a man full of fantasy. He makes just as many allegations against the Government and the Special Division in New South Wales as he makes against anyone else. No-one can put any credence in him. What he says is just rubbish.

I asked questions in this place about his habit of going around to the Commonwealth banks and saying to a teller with a Yugoslav countenance who could be a post-war migrant: 'Are you a Yugoslav?' If the fellow replied yes, he would ask: Where are you from?' The teller might say Croatia'. If this were the reply Lesic would try to jab at him through the grille. This sort of thing has gone on. But what has happened? We have never seen any prosecutions. The Attorney-General can talk and talk but I go back to 1964 to what the then Prime Minister, Mr Menzies, said about investigations. I ask honourable senators to refer to my original assertions. There is no reason why there could not have been prosecutions. But I suggest that we bring the matter up to date. The Government, for all its talk, can always find out why somebody should not be naturalised. It is because he is radical. I have talked about these double standards. Some years ago Mr Lynch as Minister for Immigration belatedly conceded that some of the people who were refused naturalisation were connected with a certain organisation. Whether one calls it the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood or the Ustasha, the fact is that it was engaged in terrorist activities. The Government belatedly conceded that there were some people to whom it would not give citizenship.

I do not like raking over the ashes of the past but 1 suggest we make a comparison. This is the way I approached the matter with the predecessors of the Attorney-General and with Ministers for Immigration. Questions have been asked about the activities of Wilfred Burchett in Asia. That matter provided a field day for honourable senators. Senator Hannan and other honourable senators including the Attorney-General shouted out about Wilfred Burchett. But the Government could go into detail when he asked for a passport, and say why he was hot given one and all this sort of thing. But when we ask about Srecko Rover and why the Government took away his passport the Minister says: 'National security'. I would like the Attorney-General and other honourable senators opposite to tell the Triglav Slovene group, post-war Yugoslavs and members of the Yugal soccer club why no explanation can be given. Do honourable senators on the Government side realise that every time such a reply is given such people begin to think that there is a sort of teacher's pet complex. But these people are patted on the back. If honourable senators read the dialogue by Mr Rover on the television programme 'This Day Tonight' they will see that he is a very skilful man with words. I do not always agree with Senator McManus but the honourable senator argued about a citizen and his rights.

Senator Gair - The honourable senator never mentioned his name.

Senator MULVIHILL - The caravan goes on but the dogs bark; Senator Gair will know what I mean by that. But the point I am making in relation to Srecko Rover is that if it were good enough to tell all in relation to Wilfred Burchett - whether it is completely correct I do not know - why should anything in relation to Srecko Rover be covered up? Obviously the man was in Canada. If he were doing no wrong the Government would not have taken the action it took. But he was brought back and the other day the AttorneyGeneral said: 'It is in the national interest. I cannot say any more'. I would have gone along with the Attorney-General if he had felt that he was on the verge of a big breakthrough. But on Saturday all we got was an intensification of the very thing which we are trying to combat. I cannot repeat enough and enough that there are many little incidents. I know of a case 3 weeks ago where a chap and his nephew were attending a soccer match. Because they were clapping the Yugal soccer club against the Croatian Soccer Sports Club the man was held while another fellow kicked him in the stomach. Such people have no confidence in going to the police because they say that the State police have limitations. But when there is a problem one does not go to the vine; one gets at the root of it. I repeat that if the Government brought into the Commonwealth courts-

Senator Greenwood - How can people expect prosecutions if they do not tell the police?

Senator MULVIHILL -! shall read the honourable senator's interjection tomorrow. I am dealing with reality. If the Government brought Srecko Rover into, a Federal court and accused him df some action - the Government took his passport off him, we did not - then we would know that it is really dinkum about the matter. I repeat that on the numerous occasions when 1 go to these people they state that they want to see some prosecutions. They want to see something positive rather than a smotherup job. This is the thing I keep hammering but we never see any action.

I want to deal with another aspect. During one of my earlier speeches in this chamber in relation to foreign affairs I hinted that we would probably have trade and cultural agreements with Eastern European countries. Some of the wild men on the Government back benches scoffed at the idea. But this came about. When the Government made that decision it should have been fully conscious of what it entailed. Reservations were raised by Senator Carrick. He said that there are people here who are hoping that one day the boundaries of Europe will be changed. Whether we like it or not we are in the period of the super powers, the A-bomb, the H-bomb and many other ways of warfare. We cannot have the little blokes rocking the boat. This does not mean that we scorn their ideas of freedom. Honourable senators talk about the position of Yugoslavia. It may well be that when Tito passes on there will be power struggles there just as in any other country. We talk about a viable country but the fact of the matter is that Yugoslavia is there to stay. As a matter of fact in shipbuilding and other things Yugoslavia has a far better record than we have despite its wartime devastation. Our Ministers for Foreign Affairs have negotiated diplomatic exchanges with Yugoslavia and Romania. We have one coming up with Hungary. These are facts of life. I applaud them. I just wonder whether the Government realises how far some of the minorities here can step out as far as demonstrations are concerned.

Senator Carrickhas asked how far we go with demonstrators. The Yugoslav consulate in Knox Street, Sydney, has been a favourite target. At times demonstrators have stood on the side of the road with banners as do other demonstrators. But noone will deny that escalation has taken place. Reference was made to the action of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) although 1 think he was the Treasurer then. Whatever else we might say about the Prime Minister, the former Treasurer, he is politically conscious but he put on a pretty poor show on that occasion. It was not a peaceful demonstration - far from it. The police were involved in fisticuffs. They had to stop the demonstrators from trying to barge into the front door of the consulate. The Prime Minister made a bad mistake in trying to give the impression that he was supporting some form of upheaval, which is what it was. This is the picture I am trying to paint. The Attorney-General talks about evidence. I know of cases in railway workshops where AttorneysGeneral, members of the Crown Solicitor's Office and even the Arbitration Court have charged people with contempt because some shop steward has fancied himself in the literary fields and has written some workshop pamphlet. Those prosecutions have taken place or, if they have not, at least there has been a 'please explain' from Commonwealth authorities. Maybe there have been a few minor prosecutions at a lower level. But these people have been handled with kid gloves. I have made numerous representations to the Commonwealth Bank about the Yugoslav-Australian journal. 1 think it is now known as 'Nova Dobra'. I have asked about the journal obtaining reasonable banking advertisements. Each time the Treasurer has said to me that the bank has autonomous rights. But it is remarkable that some other papers which have a very short lifetime seem to obtain advertisements. A very difficult question has been manifest tonight. I do not say that everyone who is conservative is on the verge of fascism but I wonder how many honourable senators on the Government side draw the line between genuine radicals and the communists or Marxists. Some people can be accused of this sort of thing. How often do we hear a hymn of hate because we do not make this distinction. How often are people regarded as guilty because of association. Honourable senators opposite start with Bob Hawke and go right down through the top echelon of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

Senator Carrickreferred to the experiences of the Liberal Party with regard to bomb threats. We know that a lot of hoaxers today are crackpots. When I was an assistant secretary of the Labor Party Jack Renshaw was to lead a rally at the Sydney Town Hall. We were plagued with telephone calls about bombs under the big pipe organ. We lived with threats of that sort. I do not know what you are trying to prove here. We did not say that it was a Liberal Party plot. We asked the police to check. There was nothing there. I resent the people who at times do a little bit of grandstanding about what they are involved in. I know that it would be very unpalatable to have to study the speeches made in the United Nations about captive nations. The speeches have to be tailored. There was a time when our Government said that it would not have any dealings of a diplomatic nature with such countries. We certainly do not underwrite the internal structure of any country, whether it is Portugal and Spain on the one hand and the Soviet Union on the other. Numerous Government speakers have gone to gatherings and have created the idea that the third world war may be round the corner and that boundaries will be changed. If honourable senators opposite say that is a fallacy, they should look at the other side of the question. Is it not time the Government said: 'Look, friends, in this country you are entitled to agitate for better internal conditions, but you cannot use this place as a launching pad for a particular expedition overseas'? If the Government does not accept my view why did it secure diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia? Subsequently it will have agreements with other eastern European countries. This is where the Government is in a jam. It realises that its foreign policy has to be flexible. At the same time some groups have latched on to the non-Labor Party, thinking that it would do a lot for them. The Government has not been able to do it for them.

The Government has to decide on these things. The Government is under attack now about its policy on portability of pensions. Some of the Baltic groups, like some of the Poles, may wish to visit their homeland. Mr Wentworth has told me, as Senator Greenwood knows, that the USSR is not happy about reaching an agreement with us. Should the Government tell these people to go stew in their own juice or should it make representations to the Soviet Union?

Senator Gair - There has to be reciprocity.

Senator MULVIHILL - For the information of Senator Gair, I will tell him something else. Plenty of right wing people in the community, including White Russians and other groups, are not above coming to Labor parliamentarians if they think we can be a bridge across ideologies to reunite a family. I have not played politics that way. That is more than I can say for the honourable senator. He is the most ill informed man as far as foreign ideologies are concerned. I give Senator McManus some concessions, but not Senator Gair. For years I have clamoured for some action from the top. The greatest tragedy is that each day this thing is prolonged there is a general smear on all migrant groups. It was never intended that way, and it should not have been. We never hear of the vast bulk of the Yugoslav communities - whether they are on the opal fields at Wilcannia or White Cliffs or whether they are at Port Hedland and similar places. They do not write letters. The political spivs who are involved in phoney demonstrations write the letters. The people to whom I refer are the people who get caught up in these silly demonstrations. The Government should say to them: Look, we have diplomatic relations with these countries. We cannot afford the luxury of your indulging in some of these speculative schemes.' These problems are the problems that the Government has not been prepared to face.

I will give another illustration. Although there have been bombing episodes here there have been no counter attacks on our embassy in Belgrade.

Senator Sim - They would not be allowed to. They would be shot.

Senator MULVIHILL - When I was there with the delegation which was led by Sir William Aston the people showed much more politeness than Senator Sim does. He should have opposed our diplomatic links with these countries if he would be consistent.

Senator Sim - Why should I?

Senator MULVIHILLTha t . means he is offside with his Government

Senator Sim - The honourable senator is wrong. He does not understand the situation.

Senator MULVIHILL - I am not wrong. When we went there on a particular mission 2 years ago the honourable senator's political colleagues were asked: 'What are you doing about these extremists over there?' To the credit of Mr Speaker, he indicated that the activities did not have the Government's concurrence. I know they did not. That was 2 years ago. There is something wrong with our security service if it cannot launch prosecutions. There is no question about that. Honourable senators opposite talk about the incident involving an official of the Builders Labourers Union. I have no particular ties with Jack Mundey. It is remarkable that the law can apprehend the BLU marauders but it cannot get convictions in the cases to which I have referred. That is the situation. That is one of the reasons why we want the matter inquired into by the committee. I would like to know what successive Ministers for Immigration have done about the files on these cases. How long did it take the Government suddenly to lower the boom on naturalisation applications from some of these people? Is Senator Greenwood prepared to come clean and say to me: 'Some inflamatory statements were made to Ministers for Immigration by one or two chaplains who mixed their religious beliefs with their political views'? I say to the Attorney-General that the ASIO people and others have made some blunders at times in relation to naturalisation cases. I have had two or three which, on further representations, the Government has had to rectify. I respectfully say to the Minister that those people are not the experts that they should be. They make too many mistakes. Usually the people concerned are radicals. When the people who made the decision are challenged they say that a mistake was made. The mistakes are always in relation to people to the centre and the radicals.

Apart from a few recent exceptions I have not known the Government to take action in relation to people who have indulged in terrorism of the right. This matter has been continuing for a long while. There is no question about that. The point \ make to the Minister is that irrespective of the wall of silence that he will say he struck in relation to the present bombing episodes I think he should look beyond them and that he should take the Australian community into his confidence and say very clearly that the cancellation of passports does indicate that a minute section of the Croat community has been engaged in activities that are damaging to Australia here and abroad. I think that in addition he could indicate why there is no permanent monitoring of some ethnic newspapers which are adopting attitudes that are repugnant to Australia. Where Croatian boys have intended to marry Australian girls one or two of the Croatian leaders have talked in the Hitler vein about weakening the strain of the race and all these things. Those statements have appeared in some of their journals. Surely some of them could be given exposure.

I have not had any real hankering for the debate because previously I have told the Government what could and should be done. I have no inhibitions about anything that 1 have been saying for the last 13 or 14 years. What I have said has been proved. The onus is on the Government to give me parallel cases of prosecutions of wrong doers to the right. I refer to the passport breach by Rover, the situation in respect of Burchett and the prosecution, in the days of Dr Evatt, of Sharkey. That is my theme. I feel that the Government has not had the same zest for it. As far as the future is concerned, I think representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs who attend functions should give an idea of and warn these people what citizenship responsibilities mean. One of the worst features of the situation is that it is something like a football match. For 20 minutes one player can provoke all his opponents. Then the game is stopped and general cautions are issued. I do not doubt that people who were visited in Sydney had no connection with the extreme right of the Croatian movement. The whole thing is right out of perspective. We have to ask: Am I my brother's keeper? Where do the functions of the Commonwealth Police end or start in relation to their State counterparts? This is something that has never been brought out clearly.

Senator Carrickrelated the early history of Yugoslavia. Whether we like it or not, its particular federal system may well mean that greater autonomous power is given to the various republics of Yugoslavia. I have visited there 3 times. A young person who has gone through a different society to what we have is far more flexible than the early generations. If the Senate accepts Senator Carrick's concern about the creation of the state of Yugoslavia after World War I, then I would take exception to one or two points he made. He spoke about the forcible amalgamation of 6 republics. History shows that the Slovenes, in particular, were not very happy under the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. In that situation their culture was menaced. So that was no solution. My second point is that whatever occurs after the post-Tito era we shall see that the people will not want to return to what might be called the concept of the Pavelic regime - far from it. It could well be that for Croatians here - and honourable senators will recall my aside about the cut-up of money for the various Australian States - the ideal form of government for some people will not be a socialist government to any degree at all. No-one can turn the clock back to 1939.

I repeat that much of what I have said tonight has been said by many Yugoslavs in this country, both pre-war and post-war migrants, who have looked in vain for the law to be applied equally. When I say equally, I put this final point to the AttorneyGeneral: When Mr Lang was Premier of New South Wales a number of razor gangs were operating in Sydney, and the Government used the Consorting Act very effectively against them. I cannot see why some of these terrorists cannot be badgered. It is all very well to run about denouncing draft resisters and to speak of the magnitude of the law, but if time can be spent doing that, then I would like the Attorney-General later to convince me that he is monitoring these inflammatory newspapers, among other things. And I would ask whether the Minister for Immigration is permitting the leaders of some of these groups to come into this country - and I include Fabian Lovokovic and Mr Rover. I will give the Senate an illustration of their sense of fair play. I once attended a Dyason Lecture given by Leo Mates, a leading foreign affairs expert on Yugoslavia. A fair number of other people, including members of the Special Division of the New South Wales Police Force, were present, and before I was able to say anything. Fabian Lovokovic started to heckle the speaker. Then he emulated Senator Gair when I asked questions: he started to heckle me. This is the kind of behaviour one gets from these people. The concepts of democracy must be right across the board. I leave it at that.

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