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Thursday, 15 August 1974
Page: 966

Senator WALSH (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -I ask the AttorneyGeneral: How many young Australian men were imprisoned by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government under the provisions of the National Service Act 1964 because of their refusal to be conscripted? At any stage did any of the 2 1 sitting Liberal or Country Party senators prior to December 1972 protest at this abrogation of individual liberty, or move to suspend the Act? Did any Liberal or Country Party senator elected since 1972 make any similar protest? If not, can the Attorney-General explain why Liberal and Country Party senators who showed no interest in protecting the liberty of young Australians have suddenly developed a passionate interest in the very dubious allegation that the liberty of one Russian youth may be in jeopardy?

Senator MURPHY -I cannot give the exact number of young men who were imprisoned because of their refusal to be conscripted during the regime of the previous Government. But even if we do not know how many, the number was too many. None of those young men should have been imprisoned. With regard to the question whether any of the Liberal or Country Party senators at any time objected to what was being done, so far as I can recall only one senator objected- Senator Hannaford. He felt so strongly about the matter that he resigned from the Liberal Party and became an Independent.

He spoke out courageously against what was being done by the then Government.

As regards the other part of the question about the liberty of the person, it is strange to see this great concern. I am also amazed at the extraordinary silence in the last day or so when it appears that the freedom of the young man to leave Australia is being impaired. No one on the Opposition side has raised any question about what I think is a very serious matter. This is the second time in the course of about a month that a person who has come to Australia- the other one was Sinatra- has been threatened with action to prevent him leaving Australia, although in this instance it was in no way connected with industrial issues. I think the honorable senator who asked the question can get his explanation only in the action or the inaction of the Opposition because of what it thinks will suit it politically at the time. The Opposition is prepared to sacrifice human freedom and civil liberties on the altar of political stunting.

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