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Tuesday, 22 November 1960

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK (Parramatta) (Attorney-General) . - Mr. Temporary Chairman, I did not intervene earlier because I did not want to deprive any honorable member of any time, but I just want to explain now something that seems to have been completely overlooked so far. This device of a proclaimed country has been rendered necessary by changes in the British Empire and changes in the nature and the constitutional form of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

If honorable members look at the existing act, they will see that section 24(1.) makes it treason to instigate any foreigner to make an armed invasion, inter alia, of any part of the King's Dominions. Now we no longer cover the same area as was covered by the expression " the King's Dominions " in 1914. So, in order to protect the countries of the Commonwealth of Nations, we must have some mechanism, and the Government has chosen the mechanism of the proclaimed country provision. By the use of this device, we are able to do what is done under the existing act and what was intended to be done. Equally, assisting by any means whatever any public enemy is treason. The words " any public enemy " have the effect of carrying the offence beyond Australia, as it were, to the enemies of other Commonwealth countries. If that intention is to be carried out, some other mechanism will now be needed. In this instance, the Government has not proposed much change in the existing law, but has provided a mechanism whereby the offence is divided, so that we have treason in relation to Australia itself and treachery in relation to other members of the Commonwealth of Nations where enemies of other Commonwealth countries are assisted. Quite frankly, this provision will extend also beyond the Commonwealth of Nations to other countries.

With very great respect, I do not share the difficulty of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I do not feel that when I pick my friends I discriminate. He says, in effect, " This is discriminatory. We do not mind pervasive neutrality. We do not mind doing nothing. We do not mind if you pick everybody, but you are discriminating when you select one country and say, ' This country is our friend. It is helping us. We should like to protect it.' " I do not understand that.

Mr Whitlam - I said that we did not object to mutuality or reciprocity.

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK - The whole question will be before the Parliament at the time. There will be no hole-and-corner business about it. Is not this Parliament capable of sifting the facts of the situation when it arises? The Parliament will have the machinery ready at hand, and there will be a proper safeguard in that the Parliament will know what are the considerations and will be able to decide in the particular circumstances then current. There may be mutuality; there may not be; I do not know whether there will be. But the Parliament can determine the matter at the time. I see nothing discriminatory in picking my friends.

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