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Tuesday, 7 December 1971
Page: 4158

Mr JAMES (Hunter) - I have been inspired to comment on this matter because of the submissions made by members of the Australian Labor Party, particularly that of the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). The Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) has been kind enough to give me a brief period to speak so I will endeavour to curtail my remarks. I probably could say some things of interest to the House, but in my desire to oblige the Minister I will not do so. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) is most concerned about the reform of the criminal code and this is to his great credit. If Australian society and members of Parliament are not alerted to the problems of crime in our country today they never will be in the future because I think we must all accept the fact that crime is at an all time high. I do not think the figures relating to unsolved crime have grown to the extent that newspapers are saying they have. By that I mean that they have always been high and that the police departments of the different States have hidden the true figures. An incoming commissioner of police has inherited and continued a system whereby the true crime figures have not been disclosed. Honourable members may recall that 18 months or 2 years after I came to this Parliament I disclosed that the true crime figures in New South Wales were not being reported to the Government. That statement was frowned upon and I was criticised by some of the Labor members in the State Parliament for saying this. But time has proved that my statement was correct.

On the questions of abortion and homosexuality, I believe that if a gallup poll was taken - one may have been taken already - we would find that the overwhelming majority of Australians wants reform in these fields. Like the honourable member for Oxley, before I came to the Parliament homosexuality to me was something repugnant and nauseating. But having learned and read considerably about this subject since I have been here, I appreciate now that one of the foulest crimes that can be committed - one that is so prevalent in our society in regard to homosexuality and abortion - is blackmail. This was prevalent in our mother country, Great Britain, particularly in relation to homosexuality, as was proved by the Wolfenden report. It was found in Great Britain that unfortunates who had this weakness or frailty in their character- I say the same problem exists here - had been blackmailed for 20 or 30 years. One has to appreciate, I repeat, that the blackmailer is the most offensive type of person in the community. We know that too often the offence of blackmail--

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock - Order! Perhaps it is partly my fault in the sense that when an honourable member moves a motion in the House the Chair tries to be kind and to allow him a little latitude in mentioning subject that are outside the actual motion that he has moved. He is followed by the seconder who goes on to do exactly the same thing. Then the Chair finds itself in a difficulty in that the debate - which, I point out, in this instance relates strictly to the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable a motion to be moved relating to the appointment of a select committee - develops into a debate on the subject matter of the motion. So I ask the honourable member for Hunter to limit his remarks to the actual motion for the suspension of Standing Orders that is before the House.

Mr JAMES - Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. When the axe fell on me I was, I thought, following a line similar to that taken by the honourable member for Oxley. As you have explained, you did allow previous speakers to widen the scope of their remarks, but I realise that you must bring me back to the motion before the House. I suppose there will be another opportunity for me to relate to the House some experiences that I had in 22 years of investigating serious crime. However, I appreciate that the matter before the House relates to the suspension of the Standing Orders to permit a motion to be moved for the setting up of a select committee to investigate and report upon the proposed draft criminal code for the Commonwealth Territories. I agree entirely with the submissions made by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory that such a committee should be set up with the object of introducing the reforms so urgently needed in connection with matters of crime that affect our society in the Australian Capital Territory and the other Territories of the Commonwealth. Let us hope that when the report of such a committee ultimately eventuates we will beable to give a lead to the States in modernising criminal codes throughout the Commonwealth. That would be of great benefit to society in general. I support the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory in his attempt to have a select committee appointed.

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