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Wednesday, 3 November 1971
Page: 2978

Mr JAMES (Hunter) - I hope my contribution to this debate will be worth while. I endorse the remarks of the honourable member for Prospect (Dr

Klugman) about the infant mortality rate in the Northern Territory. The Public Works Committee, on which I serve, visits the Northern Territory frequently. I think the credit for exposing this infant mortality rate must go principally to the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) who, by cross-examination of several witnesses at a Public Works Committee inquiry in Alice Springs, elicited this information for public knowledge for the first time. That showed the shocking infant mortality rate at Alice Springs and what was occurring at the Alice Springs hospital. The Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) is undoubtedly aware of the expensive and justifiable alterations that are about to be made to the Alice Springs hospital. These are being made because the increasing infant mortality rate was chiefly attributable to overcrowding and cross-infection in the children's ward at the hospital.

My principal submission in this debate concerns the Minister's responsibility to administer the Australian Capital Territory Police Force. I believe, as I think every honourable member does, that it is the duty of every country which exchanges diplomatic relations with other countries to give full protection to the embassies and the embassy staff of those countries. Twice daily when Parliament is sitting I pass the Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I understand that the Minister is responsible for 2 police officers being stationed outside that embassy for 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I am not suggesting that those guards should be withdrawn, but I am suggesting that they should be provided with some comfort during the cold winter nights. As we know, the night temperature in Canberra drops to 16 or 18 degrees. The 2 police officers still have to perform their duties diligently because they would virtually suffer dismissal if another bombing attack occurred on the Soviet Embassy when they were on duty and the perpetrators escaped. The reputations and the jobs of the police officers are in jeopardy. Whilst to a bystander this might look like a simple job, for those young constables it is a job that carries a heavy responsibility, especially should anything happen and the evil-doers get away.

I do not know whether the Minister has any alternatives in mind or whether the Commissioner of Police has suggested any to him as to how long this protection of foreign embassies is to continue. I believe that the Soviet Embassy was bombed on 4 or 5 occasions. I say this in all seriousness: It is to the everlasting disgrace of our judicial system that the perpetrators of this bombing of the Embassy on the last occasion were given a minor sentence of 18 months gaol. A first offender, commonly referred to as a clean skin, usually receives 3 months remission of a 12 month sentence. Then he invariably receives a good conduct remission on top of that, and an early parole period. So I venture to say that these 2 young hooligans who had motored across from Western Australia will probably be released from gaol after 8 to 10 months. If ever an insult was thrown in the face of a major world power it was thrown by our judicial system here in Canberra.

Mr Irwin - I rise to order. The judiciary is being attacked.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.

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