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Tuesday, 1 May 1973
Page: 1476


Mr ANTHONY - I direct my question to the Prime Minister. In light of the fact that 3 Australians were executed by the Yugoslav Government without any information being given to the Australian Government beforehand and that the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, knowing of these executions, said nothing of them while he was here, will the Prime Minister say what action he now proposes to take? Does he regard the actions of the Yugoslav Government and its Prime Minister as so serious as to warrant at least that he ask that the Yugoslav ambassador be recalled or even that diplomatic relations between Australia and Yugoslavia be suspended?


Mr WHITLAM - I do not know whether the Yugoslav Prime Minister knew of the executions when he came to Australia. As honourable members should recall, he visited several Asian countries before he came to Australia and the executions took place when he was in another country. I have protested to the Yugoslav Government at the fact that these actions were taken by that Government without the Australian Government having been informed that the 3 Australian citizens had been arrested, were being held or were being tried. My Government takes seriously the fact that persons whom Australia regards as citizens of Australia can in some countries be arrested, tried or convicted without Australian representatives in those countries being informed. My Attorney and I do not take so supinely as our predecessors the fact that this can happen. For instance, our predecessors had taken the attitude that no useful purpose would be served by making protests, that they should not be made and that we would be on rather weak ground in making a formal protest.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Who said that?


Mr WHITLAM - Our predecessors. I have the documents in front of me if anybody wishes me to table them. One of the early actions that my Attorney and I took was to try to solve this long outstanding dispute between Australia and Yugoslavia about dual nationality and between Australia and several other countries. The execution of these men is the most serious instance of the trouble that can arise over disputes on dual nationality. But honourable members should know that for very many years there have been cases, for instance, of the United States, Greek or Italian persons who have become naturalised in Australia being called up for military service when they visited their countries of origin. This is a matter of longstanding contention between Australia and several other countries. The difference between my Government and its predecessors is that we are trying to solve the matter and at last we have a Minister for Immigration, an Attorney-General and a Foreign Minister who are co-operating to that end.


Mr Snedden - Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Is this a point of order?


Mr Snedden - Yes. Well, it is not precisely so. As I understand it the honourable gentleman has asked whether I would agree to the papers being tabled and I am responding to that request. If you wish to silence me, Mr Speaker-


Mr SPEAKER - No, not in those circumstances.


Mr Snedden - Very well. The honourable gentleman produced a bunch of papers. Quite clearly they are papers which were the papers of a previous Government and his possession of them flouts all constitutional precedents. I am not going to raise anything in terms of this Croatian issue, the Murphy saga and now the involvement of the Prime Minister in Whitlam's Watergate but so that there shall be no misunderstanding, for the principle is very important, I ask the honourable gentleman to table not just his selection-


Mr Martin - I raise a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition is completely out of order in traversing this ground.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Is the right honourable gentleman asking that the papers be tabled?


Mr Snedden - I am asking for all relevant papers to be tabled - the whole bunch of papers in the Prime Minister's hand and all other relevant papers, including the documents to which he has referred but so far has refused to table. For instance the report of the interdepartmental committee should be tabled. The Prime Minister claims that he will not table that report. All documents should be tabled.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I understand that the Prime Minister referred to one particular paper which be would table. Does the Leader of the Opposition wish to have tabled the paper which the Prime Minister volunteered to table? That is the matter before the Chair.


Mr Snedden - I wish to see honesty and probity. Therefore all papers should be tabled.


Mr SPEAKER


Mr Snedden - I want to see honesty and probity in this matter, and the judicial inquiry which has been refused.







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