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Tuesday, 23 May 1972
Page: 1938

Senator TURNBULL (TASMANIA) - I want to raise a matter which disturbs me greatly.I refer to an apparent totalitarian trend which seems to be appearing in Australia and which may well be a backlash to the problems of demonstrations. Although it may be said that the example I am about to give is no business of mine or of this Parliament, nevertheless I believe this matter is of vital importance. It is almost unbelievable that it could have occurred and that such a trend is developing in Australia. I refer to the refusal of a police board to allow a former polceman, Mr Arantz, to rejoin the New South Wales Police Force. It is significant to me, and I hope to every decent Australian - I believe every decent Australian will support me in my view - that the individual apparently is not allowed to confront the establishment. We have seen this in politics, of course, in the case of an ex-Prime Minister. Apparently this occurs on every occasion on which anyone wishes to confront the establishment.

No-one will deny that Mr Arantz was torn between the necessity to abide by the regulations of the Public Service, which forbade him to make the truth public, and his conscience, which demanded that the truth will be disclosed. When, then, should a public servant speak out? That is a particular problem and one that I think this Parliament should resolve at another time. Mr Arantz should have first taken up with the New South Wales Commissioner of Police the matter of the deceitful crime figures, and only if the Commissioner maintained his untruthfulness should Mr Arantz have made the information public in the public interest. It is obvious that the Police Commissioner, on the figures available, was deveiving the public. For political purposes he was aided, whether unwittingly or otherwise, by the Premier of New South Wales.

I think that most people agree that public servants should have the right to speak out when those in authority knowingly decieve the public. Who now would not believe that the publication of the Pentagon Papers was not in the public interest? Anyone who has been in the United States of America will know that the consensus of opinion there is that they should have been made known. We in Australia had an incident in which a Prime Minister and a Minister both lied to this Parliament and the public. This so infuriated a public servant as to compel him to make the truth known to me. I refer to what has become known as the VIP affair. Everyone knows what happened in that case.

There can be no question that Mr Arantz should have been subject to some disciplinary action but he certainly should not have been dismissed from the Police Force. That was a callous and inhuman decision. Obviously he had no chance of succeeding in his appeal to a board which consisted of a judge appointed by the Premier and 2 police officers subordinate to the Commissioner of Police. If the Board had upheld Mr Arantz's appeal it would have indicted the Premier and the Commissioner of Police. What horrifies me is this: Firstly, this man's career was ruined because he told the truth. It is unbelievable that this could happen in Australia. Secondly, no justice has been meted out to those who tried to deceive us. In fact the Commissioner of Police was given the golden handshake. Admittedly, many people believe that he was dismissed but he was dismissed in such a way that he retained all his credits.

This is indeed a sad commentary on our political scene. More horrifying still, in my opinion, is that an Australian can be forced to undergo not just a psychiatric examination as such, but a psychiatric examination by a doctor appointed by his accuser. What was the reason for making him undergo a psychiatric examination? Obviously the Commissioner of Police realised that he was in the wrong and so he tried to destroy the credibility of his antagonist. All honourable senators know that once a person is referred to a psychiatrist there is a stigma, whether we like it or not, and an implication that there is something peculiar about that person. If all of us went to a psychiatrist, including myself, there is not one of us who could not be labelled with having one or other psychiatric illness. In my opinion the New South Wales Medical Board should deregister the police doctor concerned in this case who so willingly tried to please his superiors by declaring that Mr Arantz was a psychiatric case. Fortunately for Mr Arantz. he was taken to other doctors who decided that he was not a psychiatric case.

Have we not protested about similar cases that occur in Russia? Do we not hold demonstrations about these sort of things? Are we not appalled by similar things in other countries? Well, why do we allow them to occur in Australia? That is why I raised this matter this evening. I want to alert Australians to the fact that it. can happen here and is happening here; to alert them to the fact that we are heading for a totalitarian state. One only has to recall the fact that police are assisting a Nazi group in their future brutalities. Not one of the members of this Senate, or the other place, who usually become hysterical about matters concerning law and order, has spoken against this assistance being given by police. I may well ask the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) what he has done about it because it could be that the Commonwealth Police are involved. I do not know which police force was involved. If it was not the Commonwealth police then the Attorney-General is left out of the matter. It was not clear to me from the discussion the other night whether it was the Commonwealth police or State police who were involved.

Finally, in all sincerity, I ask the AttorneyGeneral to try to do something for this conscientious and very intelligent police officer who has been robbed of his livelihood. I suggest that he employ him in the Commonwealth Police Force. The AttorneyGeneral could do this. It would show that Australia has some sense of decency when dealing with its own people.

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