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Tuesday, 5 July 1949

Mr BEALE (Parramatta) .- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) because I have had some experience of this type of clause. I have no objection to a clause which provides that an officer may, having obtained a warrant, arrest a person reasonably supposed to be a deportee. Having had some experience of these matters in the courts, I realize that it is not always possible for the officer to be certain, in cases where a person is seeking to avoid deportation, that the person he is arresting is the deportee. There should be a safeguard inserted in the clause that the officer shall obtain a warrant. If that were done an officer would have to appear before a justice and swear an information. Based upon that information the justice of the peace or other officer would issue a warrant. The officer would not have togo before the court in the ordinary way, but only before somebody charged under the particular State law with the power of prima facie inquiry as to whether the circumstances justify the issue of a warrant. That is normal police court procedure. Some safeguard, although not a complete one, would be provided by requiring an officer to obtain a warrant. As the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has pointed out, under the clause in its present form an officer may, without any preliminary inquiry and without going through any kind of judicial process, grab hold of any person who he thinks is a deportee. Some brake should be put upon that power. We are familiar with the growth of official and what we loosely call bureaucratic power. Honorable members on both sides of the chamber must be becoming very uneasy at the degree to which officials are being authorized to do almost anything at all with respect to the citizen. Step by step we are getting closer to the police state.

Let us see what may follow from the clause in this form. An officer - presumably that means an officer of the Department of Immigration - may, without having first obtained a warrant, as police officers, who, although highly experienced men, are required to do, arrest a person whom he supposes to be a deportee. That means any person, including you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, me, or anybody else. There is no appeal against that decision. It is entirely for the officer to say whether he thinks that the person he is arresting is a deportee. Under the clause, the person who is being arrested must not resist or prevent the arrest. It will be a pretty poor state of affairs in this country if somebody can come up to me, without a warrant or any authority of that kind1, and say, " I think you are a deportee, and I propose to haul you off to a police station or a lock-up ", and if I am not entitled to say, " I am an ordinary citizen. You have no power over me. If you seek to take me by force, I shall punch you on the nose ". The healthy reaction of the average citizen is to demand to know from where an official derives his authority to do a certain act, but, under this clause an official can say, " I do not care who you say you are. I think you are a deportee. I am going to lock you up. Come along with me." I agree entirely that some brake should be applied to that power. I have already pointed out that it is provided that a person shall not resist or prevent his arrest under such circumstances, as any red-blooded Australian would wish to do if he were an innocent person. If he does resist, he is liable to a fine of £100 or imprisonment for six months. That is going too far. I do not believe that any official should be clothed with authority of that kind.

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