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Friday, 16 August 1974
Page: 1058

Senator DURACK (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question, which is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, refers to the answer which the Minister has just given to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Is it not a fact that the application for a writ of habeas corpus taken out by the students of the University of Western Australia was served not only on the Commonwealth Police but also on the Russian official, Alexandrov? Is it not a fact that the writ was served on the Commonwealth Police because in the early stages of this sad affair all that the students and everybody else could see was that Ermolenko and the Russians were being protected by the Commonwealth Police, and they had good reason to expect that they had something to do with his being held in custody? Is it not a fact that although, as the Minister says, the writ against the Commonwealth Police Force was discharged because it was able to satisfy the court that it was not holding Ermolenko, the writ against Alexandrov which has been served on him on 2 occasions, is being considered by the Supreme Court of Western Australia and that the question of Alexandrov 's diplomatic immunity, despite the Minister's certificate to that effect, is before the court -

The PRESIDENT - Order! I ask the honourable senator to direct his question to the Minister now.

Senator DURACK -And that the judge is going to give his decision on that this morning -

The PRESIDENT - Order! What is the honourable senator's question?

Senator DURACK - Mr President,I am asking a series of questions. When will the Minister get his facts straight about this case and stop misleading the Senate?

Senator WILLESEE -I notice that Senator Durack and Senator Greenwood who are both lawyers keep referring to the fact that the man Ermolenko has been held in custody. They know perfectly well that that is not so.

Senator Greenwood - We were asking the court to decide whether or not he was.

Senator WILLESEE -Would you just keep quiet, little boy. Opposition senators talk about the question of political asylum when there was never an application for political asylum. It is unthinkable that a person who is not interested in politics and who has just turned 18 years of age should wish to make such an application. Unfortunately, it was nobody's responsibility but mine to take the actions that I outlined at the Press conference yesterday. It was for me to be convinced whether or not he had a desire to stay in Australia. I made my mind up on the clear, incontrovertible facts which were before me.

Senator Greenwood - Why did you not leave it to the court to decide?

Senator WILLESEE -It was my job to do it. I did it and because of the circumstances I did what any proper government ought to do. We had no legal right to keep him here. If anybody was keeping anybody else in custody, it was members of the community keeping this man in custody and preventing him from returning home.

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