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Wednesday, 7 April 1971


Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - When this matter was before the Senate previouslyI stated my views about the future of Australian forces in Vietnam. I discussed the trial and the allegations against Lieutenant Calley in America and the upsurge of protests as a result of the verdict of guilty brought in against him, although there was no suggestion that he was not guilty of the 22 murders, which included the killing of civilian women and children. There, was a suggestion that he was not the real culprit but that he was carrying out orders in accordance with the training that he had received from the time he entered military service until the time of his arrest. The protests have been of sufficient magnitude to force President Nixon into releasing Lieutenant Calley from prison into confinement in his own barracks,until such time as all appeals have been heard.


Senator Wright - Is this matter referred to in the ministerial statement?


Senator CAVANAGH - Obviously this matter is not referred to in the statement. The statement was concerned with justifying our altitude in respect of Vietnam. I believe that what is happening in Vietnam is a condemnation of participation in brutality by normal citizens who would not act in this way if it were not for the war in Vietnam. We as a respectable Government should not be involved in such an issue as Vietnam.

Since the statement was submitted to the Senate our attention has been drawn to another individual who attempted what he would term murder at the direction of the American Central Intelligence Agency.

Those people who were involved with him could not be charged with any offence because the CIA would not release evidence for the purpose of a prosecution. This clearly shows that there is a force in America that can order the killing of certain people, other than those engaged in war, for the purpose perhaps of silencing them or punishing them for previous actions.


Senator Prowse - Have you evidence of that?


Senator CAVANAGH - I am only commenting on a report which was given over a network of American radio stations and which related to an admission that an individual did attempt the slaughter of a particular Vietnamese agent. The report stated that some 7 men were on trial at that time but the trials could not proceed because the CIA refused to release the evidence. The serious question about this is: How far does this involve us? Is Australia aligned with a country which can order the killing of citizens in another country? There is obvious evidence that it can do this in Vietnam.I have raised questions in this House about a book written by Mrs Dalton who suggested that that can happen in Australia. I would say that my inquiries and the replies I have received to questions directed to the former Attorney-General and the former Prime Minister would place me in the position of saying that by no means could I claim that there is definite proof that this happened in Australia in the case of Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler.I am of the belief that, before this session is ended, it will be proved beyond doubt that another death which has occurred in Australia was due to the organisation which America is operating in Vietnam and which orders the deaths of those whom it desires to dispose of. It will be proved that that organisation is operating and has operated in Australia.

Another matter to whichI refer is linked with Vietnam. I refer to national service. Today the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), in a reply to a question, mentioned the low percentage of those who suffered some penalty because they refrained from participation in national service. It is surprising that of those who defiantly refused to undergo service under the National Service Act only very few were prosecuted and imprisoned. The Government has tried to implement the legislation where it has thought it will meet the least opposition or the least sympathy for the individuals who have such high Christian conscience.


Senator Buttfield - What is that?


Senator CAVANAGH - You would not know. I know that some people have such a high Christian conscience that they will not undergo training; they refuse to be trained to kill. The Government imprisoned John Zarb. It found, to its sorrow, that he had a strong industrial union behind him - the Postal Workers Union. The threat of industrial action and the industrial action itself made it essential that John Zarb be released. The Government needed an excuse to justify the Minister for Labour and National Service getting a pardon from the GovernorGeneral. Zarb had a seriously ill mother or father, so compassion was shown. He was released before the expiration of his sentence.

The Government would not pick another industrialist. It went to Sale, about 200 miles from Melbourne, in the hope that the imprisonment of a small dairy farmer would not raise opposition to his imprisonment for defiance of the National Service Act. So the Government put Brian Ross in gaol because he was in defiance of the Act. Due largely to the strong militant action of the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labor Party, there was strong support for Brian Ross in New South Wales. As I have stated before, I attended a motorcade to Sale. I visited the prison and addressed a successful meeting there. The continued agitation was such that the Government had to find some way of getting Brian Ross out of gaol. Although he did not seek exemption from the Act as a conscientious objector, the Government sent Mr Justice Smithers to Sale to ascertain whether Ross had a conscientious objection to military service so that the Government could release him, stop the protests that were being held in Melbourne and so provide the Minister with some excuse for releasing him from gaol.

Brian Ross went to the open inquiry at Sale. In a prepared statement he said: 'I. have nothing to say. I will not co-operate with this tribunal. I am opposed to the

National Service Act and I will not assist in making an excuse for the Minister to release me from gaol'. Therefore Mr Justice Smithers, with all his sincerity, could do nothing about the matter. He held a secret session - everything was held in camera - and submitted a report. He found that Brian Ross had genuine conscientious beliefs which prohibited him from serving in any theatre of war. On that recommendation Brian Ross was pardoned. In a television interview subsequently Brian Ross said: 'I said nothing different from what I said at the public trial. I said that I would not help the tribunal'. Nevertheless Mr Justice Smithers found that, in his opinion, Brian Ross did have a conscientious objection. South Australians are not so active in protest, participation in demonstrations and so on.


Senator Young - I thought that on one occasion you told us they were. It was a damp squib, was it not?


Senator CAVANAGH - I am endeavouring to make them so minded for the purpose of securing the release of poor victims of a tyrannical government which seems to imprison those who will not be trained to kill. So the Government picked on Charles Martin. As I have stated before, Charles Martin would be the nearest approach to He whom we in the Christian religion uphold. He is 22 years of age. He follows the faith of the leader of our Christian beliefs insofar as he refuses to be a party to killing. He believes in brotherhood upon earth. He is a carpenter, the same as Christ was. He works for his father, the same as the Saviour did. The only difference is that in his case the penalty comes at the age of 22, whereas Christ did not recive His penalty until He was 32. South Australia has been awakened from its apathy. About 104 miles from Adelaide, at Cadell, where Charles Martin is imprisoned, last Sunday there was a motorcade or freedom ride in which about 300 people participated. The authorities were co-operative and allowed the demonstration on the lawns of the prison. Charles Martin was released from gaol for the afternoon to deliver a public address to the demonstrators. His public address to the demonstration was: 'I believe in defending this country. I would support conscription if the urgency or the necessity were there, but I am opposed to the National Service Act which conscripts men to be taught to kill victims in Vietnam.

That is Charles Martin's philosophy. For that philosophy, today he is serving 2 years imprisonment. He has spent 6 months in gaol in South Australia. He will possibly have to serve 15 months. He said: '1 hope to be out for Christmas'. Whether Charles Martin is a victim of his conscientious beliefs, he is a victim of the fact that he comes from a Stale which is not renowned for its protests. Everyone who believes in the right of the individual !o follow his own conscience and every Christian in South Australia has a responsibility to protest, in a similar fashion to the protests over the gaoling of John Zarb and Brian Ross, to ensure that Charles Martin does not rot in gaol until Christmas.


Senator YOUNG (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - What about the Communists? Wilt they support you?


Senator CAVANAGH - Although Senator Young does not have sufficient Christian principles to feel some duty to follow those who do, nevertheless there are enough non-Senator Youngs in South Australia and enough honest people in South Australia that I am convinced that the Government., by the continuation of its policy in South Australia, will arouse sufficient enthusiasm for and sufficient protests over Charles Martin that he will not stay at Cadell until Christmas of this year.

I raise one other matter. The South Australian Labor Government is opposed to national service. The Premier has expressed his opposition to national service. That Government is now joined by a Labor Government in Western Australia. It gave some support to 2 State governments which are opposed to the National Service Act. At considerable cost they are keeping in prison those in breach of Commonwealth law. As those State governments are oppoed to that law why they should make facilities available for the purpose of punishing offenders against Commonwealth law I do not know. Because we now have 2 State governments which are opposed to the unjustifiable National Service Act it is to be hoped that there will be some action. The Attorney-General of South Australia gave Crown law opinion that there is a constitutional obligation for the States to carry out the punishment inflicted by a court for breaches of Federal law. I could not find that provision in the Constitution but, as I said, 1 am not a legal man and I presume it is there.

I cannot see why the Commonwealth Government could not take an alternate view and release Charles Martin in South Australia. If there is a Commonwealth obligation I suggest that the responsibility should be thrown on to the Commonwealth Government to take legal action through the High Court for a writ compelling the South Australian Government to honour its constitutional obligation. Furthermore .1 can see no reason at all why the South Australian Government has the responsibility of imprisoning Brian Ross. Why cannot it detain this person in some rented property in Adelaide or put him into the custody of his parents under house arrest in his home town? Why the State Government has to carry out this formality connected with a law with which it has no sympathy I do not know. Recent elections have shown that State Labor governments will increase in number. In New South Wales at the recent election there was a big increase in the Labor vote, but it was not sufficient for Labor to form a government. But as State Labor governments increase the Commonwealth must recognise that added to the number of protests against the application of the National Service Act will be protests from an increasing number of State governments.

The Commonwealth cannot hope to control or carry out this Act in the future. It cannot hope to continue with it. Some consideration must be given to this fact. The Commonwealth must also consider whether an Act which it cannot fully enforce because it only selects particular individuals for breach of it should be permitted to remain, ls it just for such an Act to remain? Is it right that Brian Ross should be committed to prison because of his conscience? Is it right that the house hungry public of South Australia should be excluded from the talents of Charles Martin who has a degree in builing science and a knowledge of building construction? Can we afford at this stage of shortage of skilled tradesmen to lock someone away for 2 years because he has a conscience? [ say that the States cannot do it and the country cannot do it. Therefore these people should be released. In this paper presented by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) there is nothing new. We have had notification in the statement of the Minister that there is going to be a withdrawal of some one thousand troops from Vietnam beginning in May, which is in some 2 months time. We have had notification that America is getting out a lot quicker. Today the agitation in America is for the naming of a date for a complete withdrawal. Why does not our Government follow suit and name a date for the complete withdrawal of our troops?







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