Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 29 September 1971
Page: 1689

Dr EVERINGHAM (Capricornia) - I would like to place on record that statement of a young man who served his time in gaol under this Act. The first man committed was Brian Ross. He said:

I wonder what has happened to freedom, democracy and justice in Australia, when we have twenty-year-olds being made staves, killers and dead.

Can the state ask people to kill, let alone tell them to kill? And can it ask them to die, let alone tell them to die? To whom does life belong? And to whom does an individual's mind and body belong? Is there such a thing as equality? Shouldn't we all, twenty-year-olds to sixtyyearolds, men and women, be conscripted, if anyone is?

We hear our government talk a lot about freedom, and then let it create a National Service Act. Are we 'God' to decide what is right for the Vietnamese? Anyway Australia's involvement in Vietnam is more than unfortunately foolish and lacking in reason. It is a brutal infliction of pain and suffering on an innocent people, and a criminal destruction of life and natural resources. In this case, it is common sense to learn from Nuremburg: A soldier's responsibility must go (for his own sake) further than just obeying orders. Nations are also judged on their actions, as are the people who allow their leaders to abuse humanity.

Can we ever have peace on earth? I will just say that violence has had a fair trial. Perhaps, and I think it may be so, a conciliatory approach and non-violent resistance to evil might be a more successful method for maintaining right. Everyone must admit that war, especially now, is very foolish. Yet the country's faith and money still goes towards war machinery; next to nothing is spent on removing the causes of war - fear, mistrust, greed and extreme nationalism.

The resources of the world must belong to everyone, not just the fortunate few, who by a mere fluke happen to be born in rich countries. I fail to see that Australia, and other wealthy nations, should selfishly, protect their own standards of living at the expense of the poor people who starve until they die.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! 1 point out to the honourable member that he is straying a little from the clause which is before the Committee.

Dr EVERINGHAM - If the Committee will bear with me, there is very little more, and the point is that I want to put succinctly the case of one young man involved with this very Act. I believe that if we are to see the justice of the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard), it is right that the House for once should listen to the words of a young man affected by this legislation, to listen to the protests of one man who has been forced, against his will, into the situation which this amendment seeks to correct. I believe he has the right to be heard in this chamber if there is such a thing as freedom of speech left for these young men in this country. Brian Ross continued and said:

This is what we do; this is, of course, where our interests lie.

Aren't we a great and, if I dare use the word, Christian' nation? I don't believe in waving flags. I have no wish to be inhuman. I don't wish to be a rebel or lend myself to radical activities. The present government is trying to force me into actions of an incredibly evil and extremist nature. So bow can I be a national serviceman?

I don't believe in breaking the law either, except when the law is as uncivilised and immoral as the National Service Act; then I have a duty to break it, and see that such laws are repealed.

The state will be avenged by my two year term in gaol.

Suggest corrections