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Wednesday, 20 September 1972
Page: 1690

Mr BARNES (Mcpherson) - I had no intention of entering this debate but I rise to participate because of some remarks passed by members of the Opposition. The honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) made allegations. It is easy to make allegations.

Mr Keogh - Mr Chairman, I rise to a point of order. My point of order is that I did not make allegations. I make this perfectly clear. All I have done is to raise, on behalf of a constitutent who asked me to do so, this matter in the Parliament in order that the Government might have the decency, through the office of the AttorneyGeneral, to clear the names of senators about whom I have not made allegations but who, in fact, actually sit on the board of directors of the company 1 mentioned.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! There is no point of order.

Mr BARNES - I maintain what I said about allegations. Nothing has been substantiated. It is easy to make allegations without backing them with argument or facts. I wish to speak on the point raised by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby). He discoursed at length and made allegations of lack of freedom of speech and so on. He suggested that a Bill of Rights in Australia would remedy all this sort of thing. He mentioned the United States of America and from his remarks I gather that he believes that the situation in Australia compares adversely with the American situation. This amazes me. I am reading a most interesting book, which is available in the Parliamentary Library. It is a biography of Senator Huey Long of Louisiana. If the honourable member thinks that the Bill of Rights is such an effective means of preserving individual rights I suggest that he read this book. I think our situation in Australia compares very favourably with that of any country. My concern is that we follow American attitudes in these sorts of things. The honourable member spoke also about the police attitude towards the antiSouth African demonstrators.

It concerns me that members of the Opposition are not concerned with the innocents - the ordinary people - who have a right to go to a football match or anything else without interference from organised demonstrations which are really sponsored by subversive groups in Australia. I know that South Africa is held in poor regard by honourable members opposite. I think it is quite unfair to criticise South Africans. Obviously honourable members opposite do not know the situation there. I do not think we have a right to criticise South Africans because they have a problem which, thank God, we do not have, because of the wisdom of our ancestors in preventing minority groups from coming to Australia. One honourable member opposite mentioned the Ustasha. I think it is a pretty poor business for this group to bring its political problems from another country to Australia. But it is a pretty one-sided operation. In view of the history of the Ustasha or the Croatian nation I suppose there is some argument on its side. The Croatian problem has continued for many years since the Balkan War of 1912 when these divisions took place. I think the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) remarked that the Balkans were the cockpit of Europe. The hot blooded people of that region take their way of life very seriously.

I recollect that in the last war the Croats had a very difficult situation. They wanted independence for their nation. My understanding is that honourable members opposite have been all for independence, but this does not work from the point of view of the Croats. The leader of the Croats in the last World War surrendered to the Allies. My recollection of this part of history was that the Croats were handed over to the Communist group and they were murdered by the thousands. Obviously this creates bitterness. But this is no excuse for them to come to Australia and bring their political problems here and involve us. But that is another aspect of the question. Freedom of speech and freedom to do everything else must take cognisance of the rights of the innocent people of Australia. No-one speaks of the innocents of Australia. Crime is rising faster than we have ever known before. The police are handicapped in finding an answer to crime by the present legal measures. This is the last opportunity I will have to speak on the Estimates, but I should like to make the point clear that the police comprise a section of people in Australia which is not treated very well by the community, I believe that we have to make every effort to build a police force better able to deal with the problems of crime and disorder in Australia. Police officers should be paid more. I always say that police and politicians are not favourably regarded by the people of Australia as regards pay and privileges. If we are to build an effective force to combat crime and to combat subversion I believe we have to build a higher standard of police force in Australia.

This Bill of Rights business is quite extraordinary. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory is alleged by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) to be the foremost legal advocate in Australia. This is quite surprising. I would say that he is probably an academic advocate. He has not studied the situation. I am not a lawyer; I am a layman. A Bill of Rights sounds a wonderful prospect for law and order and so on but does it work? Does it work in America? Would the people of Australia like to see in Australia a situation the same as that in America? I would say no. Great Britain, I believe, is the land of the free where everyone has justice. Australia has adopted the British common law and I believe it gives the average person a better chance for justice than there is in any other country. Britain has not a Bill of Rights, it does not even have a Constitution. The British principle of justice has worked better than the system of any other country. We have accepted the British common law. For God's sake do not let us go over to a system such as that of America which has proved to be wrong.

I was in America as a young man about 50 years ago and I formed the opinion there that unless one had money one did not have any rights whatsoever. But this cannot be said of Australia. Let us be proud of our legal system - our system of law and order. Do not let us depart from it. I make a plea for consideration of the innocent man in Australia. Our wretched Press builds up a great sentimental furore for somebody who has broken the law. Some frightful crimes have been committed in Australia and the sympathy of the Press is always on the side of the wrongdoer. The innocent is forgotten in all these things. Let us have the strong attitude that the innocent is an important person in Australia, and let us stick to this.

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