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Wednesday, 13 September 1972
Page: 1323

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I wish to protest against the manner in which this country of ours is being governed at present. It is high time that we had in power a government that has decent respect for human rights, human dignity, the liberty of the subject and the rights of man. We have not seen that in evidence here. We are living today in a country which has both Houses of its Parliament in session but not a single Minister who is in a position to do so is showing the slightest concern that at this very moment in a New South Wales gaol is a young woman of 22 years of age. She has been incarcerated against her will by an act of violence the equal of which surely this country has not witnessed since Federation. I refer to nursing aide Barbara Joyce Russell of Narrabundah who is in gaol at this minute, put there by a person who had no legal authority to do so. She was sentenced to imprisonment by a person who had no more legal right to order her to pay a fine of $40 or else go to gaol than has the ambassador of the Aboriginal embassy.

It is a scandal and disgrace that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) can sit opposite me in this chamber as though nothing untoward is happening, as though everything is normal. This afternoon I pleaded with the Minister to let this young woman out of gaol. His interest was dismissed completely by saying: 'It has nothing to do with me. Go and see the AttorneyGeneral.' Fancy going to see the AttorneyGeneral. What faith can anybody have in this Attorney-General, a man who we all know broke the law of the land himself when he filled in a false declaration about his expenses in the election.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Hindmarsh will not in any manner cast aspersions on other members of this Parliament. The honourable member has been here long enough to know, and he knows it full well, that he cannot speak in this way, particularly about members of the other House.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Fancy going to Ivor Greenwood, whoever he happens to be, and asking him to take action.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member knows that Ministers and members of the House will be called by their correct titles. The honourable member will obey the standing order which lays that down.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Fancy going to this Attorney-General and asking him to do justice in a case of this kind. The Minister did not even have the decency to say to me: 'Look, it is not my Department, but this young woman is somebody's daughter. I will go and see the Minister myself.

Mr Sinclair - It would be unusual if she was not.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Minister laughs and says that it would be funny if she was not somebody's daughter. This is the cavalier, miserable, mean and cruel attitude that the Government takes towards these cases where human compassion is the sort of thing we should be looking for.

Mr Whitlam - The Attorney-General told the honourable member for Prospect that he would do justice only if he was forced to.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My Leader informs me now that the Attorney-General has already informed the honourable member for Prospect that he will not give justice to this young girl, who has been put into gaol by a man who had absolutely no legal right to put her into gaol, unless she goes to some barrister or engages counsel to make an application for her and pays for it out of her own pocket. Presumably if she took the action the Attorney-General would send senior counsel, the best counsel that money could buy, to appear.

Dr Klugman - Not his money.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Not his money, no. The Commonwealth's money, the taxpayer's money, this young girl's money and the money of her mother and father would be used by the AttorneyGeneral to put a counsel into 'the court either to ask for an adjournment or to put forward some cases indicating why that young girl should be kept there. I am not talking about a common criminal now. I am talking-

Mr Sinclair - Mr Speaker-

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - 'Sit down, you miserable cur.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member for Hindmarsh will withdraw those remarks and apologise.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I apologise and withdraw.

Mr Sinclair - Mr Speaker, I think I should draw attention to the fact that Miss Russell, to whom the honourable gentleman is referring, is, I understand, imprisoned under the Crimes Act. That Act is in no way affected by the Bill before the House, although I understand the reason for the honourable member for Prospect raising this matter.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister does not have the indulgence of the Chair to interrupt at this time the member who is speaking.

Mr Sinclair - On a point of order, I submit that the honourable member for Hindmarsh is talking about a matter which has no direct relevance to the Bill before the House.

Mr SPEAKER -If the person who was involved in this matter is not in custody because of the ordinances-

Mr Whitlam - Mr Speaker-

Mr SPEAKER - Wait a moment. I can only seek guidance on this. I have only come into the chair very recently. I have been under the impression that this lass was in custody because of the ordinances which are now before the Parliament, and this is why I have allowed debate on this matter to go on. 1 must seek advice, and the only advice I can take in relation to this matter is advice from the Minister representing the Attorney-General. I ask the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral whether this lass is in custody, as he has stated, under the Crimes Act and whether her imprisonment has any rela tionship to these ordinances. If she has been imprisoned under the Crimes Act, I will have to look at whether I can allow the continuation of the debate on this matter.

Mr Sinclair - Mr Speaker, you have asked for my advice. Perhaps I might elucidate the position. I have been advised by the officers of the Attorney-General's Department that it is true that there is a question of a petty sessions ordinance, but the constitution of the court of petty sessions has not been judicially determined to be invalid, nor has my advice indicated that the court of petty sessions ordinance is invalid. For that reason, as I understand it, this matter does not come within the context of this Bill. I believe that there was some doubt, and I did not intervene while the honourable member for Prospect spoke. He mentioned that he wanted to raise a very human case and I believed that he should do so. The honourable member for Hindmarsh has similarly raised it. I am relating the advice which the Attorney-General's officers have forwarded to me. At this stage they do not believe that the court of petty sessions ordinance is invalid, and accordingly I do not believe that it comes within the ambit of this Bill.

Dr Klugman - I wish to speak to the point of order. This morning at some time we are not sure about because the Minister does not know for sure but at about midnight the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette was published and it listed certain ordinances which the Government obviously felt had been originally gazetted invalidly. Amongst them were 18 court of petty sessions ordinances for the yeats 1930, 1932, 1934, 1937, 1940, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1958, 1961, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 and 1970. They were re-gazetted. Surely this is prima facie evidence that the Minister for the Interior at least believes that the original ordinance is invalid. Otherwise, why gazette these ordinances again during the middle of the night?

Mr Sinclair - On that point of order, I am advised that 1 have apparently misinterpreted the advice. There is no suggestion at this stage that the ordinance is invalid, but it could well be that it might be held at some future time to be inoperative, and for that reason I withdraw my point of order.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - This is pretty rough. At least 5 minutes of my time has been taken up discussing a point of order that the Minister now admits was not a valid point of order. I will ask for an extension of time when my time expires. I return to the matter about which I was speaking. That young girl is in gaol at this minute. She will spend tonight away from her friends, her relatives, her dear ones and her loved ones. She will be spending a lonely night in gaol. That supercilious person on the other side of the table is interjecting again. He could not care less that there is in gaol tonight a person who was sent there by a man who had absolutely no legal right to put her in gaol. Yet there is a smug grin on the face of those few members opposite who are in the chamber. What sort of people are they? What sort of Government have we when the members behind the Government which has been responsible for this miserable treatment of this young 22-year old girl can sit back as though it is a great event, as though they could not care less. No wonder people are not being treated decently in this country when this sort of attitude is displayed by them. Where on earth could this young 22- year old girl, who is an unemployed nursing aid, get the money to brief counsel to make the application that the Minister says that she ought to make? We know where the Minister will get the money for his counsel. It will not be out of his own pocket. Yet he could find the money so much more easily than this young girl could. Here a Minister on $27,000 a year with $36 a day in allowances, with cars and staff and all the perks you can think of, has the hide to tell a poor, unemployed nursing aid to engage counsel. She is not even a communist, mark you, not a criminal. She is a girl who has done no harm to anybody. She decided to go to gaol rather than pay the fine that was illegally imposed upon her. She said: 'I think the National Service Act is an immoral and unjust law. I will not comply with it in any regard because it is my Christian duty. She is a Christian. Let not the Minister for Immigration laugh that off because she is a practising Christian and a good cleanliving decent girl whom people had no right to grab by the scruff of the neck like a common criminal and shanghai to New South Wales to be incarcerated in a prison. Again there is that supercilious look on the face of the Minister for Immigration. He could not care less. He has sons and daughters. This girl is the daughter of somebody, let us not forget. Cannot the Minister wipe that smug grin off his face at all? Is it so funny that an innocent person is in gaol at this moment?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Hindmarsh should debate the subject matter instead of endeavouring to bring in the personalities of fellow members to the extent that he has brought them in.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I want to say that it is very doubtful whether the national service regulations are operative. Even that is open to doubt. We have heard a lot about the rule of law. We have heard a lot about the common law. But if we are going to talk about the rule of law for goodness sake let us make the rule of law something that we can respect. How can we respect this thing called 'the rule of law' when this Government allows people like this to be grabbed out of their homes and taken to gaol on the say so of a man who has no more legal right to make the decision than this book which I hold in my hand. Everybody knows this. That is the position. It is as simple as that and it is because it is so simple, perhaps, that the simple minded people opposite are not able to see how simple it is. But, worse than being simple., we are talking about a person's freedom. Honourable members opposite talk about the liberty of the subject. They talk about people bashing people up at union meetings. They talk about the destruction of property.

What could be a greater act of violence than the violence that it reflected in the decision that was made yesterday to arrest this young woman, take her against her will outside the Territory in which she resided into another State, throw her into a prison and keep her there? Somebody without authority - with no more authority than this book - told her that she has to go to gaol and will be kept there tonight. If this Government could act as quickly as it did in reframing the Ordinance necessary to throw the Aboriginals out of the embassy this morning it would not have any trouble in arranging for this young lady to be let out of gaol in time to have her evening meal in decent surroundings as a self-respecting citizen, lt will stand to the eternal shame of every person who is personally responsible for this outrage if they allow her to stay in gaol tonight.

I will say this for the Minister for the Interior: Although he is primarily responsible for what happened at the embassy last night the Minister is clearly disturbed and distressed over the case of this young girl. I do not blame the Minister for the Interior at all in this connection. It is obvious that he is distressed, but the Minister for Immigration is not distressed. The honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) is laughing about this, lt is obvious that the Attorney-General has not the slightest compassion, nor has he shown the least bit of distress at what is happening tonight to this innocent young woman. 1 now learn from the Leader of the Opposition that he has confirmed that the national service regulations are themselves inoperative. Is the Government going to allow this young woman who is in gaol because she handed out leaflets advising people not to observe an inoperative law - this person who was put into gaol by a person who had no right to impose a penalty on her - to spend tonight in prison? It will be a disgrace and a national scandal if this young woman is allowed to stay in prison tonight, lt is high time that the Government took stock of itself. The Government ought to realise that this is not a dictatorship: this is not a police State; we are not living under a government of Hitlerite Germany; we are not living in the Soviet Union; we are not living in Portugal or Spain. We are living in what passes for a parliamentary democracy yet you behave like a bunch of ratbags who have not the slightest respect for law.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will withdraw that imputation.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I withdraw the imputation.

Mr Webb - Why?

Mr SPEAKER - Because it is a reflection on every member of this House.

Dr Klugman - I rise to order, Mr Speaker. You have previously ruled that it is not-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I withdraw the statement. You are quite right, Mr Speaker, 1 had no right to make it and I withdraw it. But the situation is an absolute scandal when we have in this Parliament people who seem not to care. Good God, what sort of a setup are we living under? Just where do the rights of man end or begin, if this is the way you are going to treat this young woman? I say to the Government: If it can act as quickly as it acted last night to correct the defect in the law which made it an offence to have an embassy on the lawns opposite, to get the printing presses going after midnight and to get police storming the countryside in the early hours of the morning, then why in the name of God can it not act with the same alacrity to ensure that this young woman is not kept in gaol tonight against her will? lt is a scandal.

Mr Whitlam - Not legally kept there.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - She is not legally kept there against her will.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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