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Tuesday, 22 November 1960

Mr UREN (Reid) .- Mr. Temporary Chairman,I should like to say a few words in the few seconds that we have left before, in effect, the gag is applied to the discussion on proposed new section 24aa. We have been able to discuss only a few aspects of this most controversial proposed new section, which relates to treachery. The Attorney-General proposes to give us a sugar-coated pill of an amendment to sub-section (4.) of proposed new section 24aa. The reference in the amendment, which he has circulated, to "proclaimed enemy " will not alter the original intention of the bill with respect to what is termed a " proclaimed country ". The Minister wants to throttle any free discussion of foreign policy and any criticism of the Government. If honorable members have any doubts, let me quote the view of Professor Geoffrey Sawer, Professor of Law at the Australian National University. He stated -

The new Section 24aa . . . seeks to brand as " traitors " any citizens who disagree with the foreign policy of the Government in regarding as the " baddies ", in a war between two other countries in which this country is not engaged, the side which the Government has chosen to regard as "goodies", or vice versa.

The Attorney-General, when addressing a convention of Apex Clubs at Parramatta, as reported in the " Sydney Morning Herald ", of 15th November, said -

We as the people do not have to ask the Government can we think, can we talk, can we gather together and discuss things.

If a group of young people want to get together to find the facts that is democracy.

And a Government which doesn't take into consideration all the points of view of minority groups as well as the majority isn't governing democratically.

Is not that utter hypocrisy? The Minister said that at Parramatta as recently as 15th November, but he attempts to gag and throttle any discussion of foreign policy by means of this proposed new section of the principal act. The attempt to gag this bill through indicates the Government's attitude. The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Cash) revealed the true principle of this proposed new section, and what it really means will not be altered. The Attorney-General made his position quite clear in his second-reading speech.

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