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Wednesday, 13 September 1972
Page: 1334

The CHAIRMAN -(Mr Locock)- Order! Interjections are not helping the presentation of something that is extremely difficult. I have been a little disappointed this afternoon with some of the personal reflections that have been made from both sides. I would hope that in this debate, which is concerned with an emotional subject which is causing concern to certain groups and sections, we might be able to refrain from the personal reflections that have been coming from both sides. Honourable members might also reflect, as the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory has asked in regard to this matter, on the behaviour of honourable members on this subject and assist by ceasing to interject.

Mr ENDERBY - I do not know whether it is parliamentary language, Mr Chairman, but 1 am indebted to you. One could go through law books and do some, research on the subject. There is a fair amount of material on this sort of thing from superior courts where judges have been concerned with this problem from time to time. Where something like this happens and retrospective legislation is passed, the people who are vitally concerned with the immediacy of the original mistake are usually allowed to take advantage of it. A totality surrounds the people who were arrested and charged on those 2 days. They were there for a common purpose. Earlier in the day 1 quoted what Mr Justice Fox said about it being a political demonstration. The people were there for that purpose. There can be no argument about that. I have never heard anyone say that they were not there, trying to defend their tents, their flag and their sign. Noone has argued that the police did not surround them and tear down the tents, acting pursuant to their duty as they saw it. That is the duty the Government gave them to perform. So there was a common interest and a common purpose identifying and linking up all those people on the Thursday and the Sunday. By every principle with which I am familiar, they should be given an indemnity. They should be released.

I suppose that the honourable member for Moreton and the honourable member for Diamond Valley will remember the Burmah Oil case that went to the House of Lords. In that case the same sort of problem arose. The whole purport of the judgment of the House of Lords on those 4 or 5 cases was that when this sort of thing happened and you had to introduce retrospective legislation, you gave a release to the people immediately concerned. You did not do it generally and take it out for everyone. You could not do that. But you let go those immediately concerned, those around whom you could put a ring of immediacy and totality. I understand that the Minister is prepared to do that in respect of the immediate, plaintiffs. All this amendment asks him to do is to extend it to the people who were there, the people who had linked arms around their tents and who were singing the song 'We Shall Overcome', and the ones who went back on the Sunday in an attempt to put the tents up again, in a spirit of conveying a political message and a political thought. The honourable member for Moreton might not agree with the efficacy and efficiency of it.

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

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