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Wednesday, 23 May 1973
Page: 2507

Dr KLUGMAN (Prospect) - I rise to speak for only a few minutes. I did not realise that this piece of legislation was to be taken through all its stages today. I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Government for bringing in this piece of legislation. I am one of those people who under the previous legislation would have been deportable from this country. I have certainly been one of those who has organised and moved appropriate resolutions either in the Australian Labor Party or in connection with the Council for Civil Liberties, emphasising that it was necessary to remove this legislation from the statute book. I thought it was a regrettable piece of legislation as long as it stood. The honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) pointed out that the previous Government had only 23 years to remove it from the books and he said that it had always wanted to do so.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I said that on 8 November 1971 the previous Government said it was going to remove it.

Dr KLUGMAN - Until then, apparently the previous Government wanted to threaten people with deportation, as it had previously done when it threatened trade union leaders with deportation because they were involved in what the Government liked to call 'illegal strikes' which meant, of course, every strike in this country.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That was in the 1920s.

Dr KLUGMAN - The same kind of political parties were in government. The previous Government realised only in 1971 that there were a significant number of people in the population who objected to being treated as second class citizens. Suddenly the previous Government woke up and at least promised the people to do something about it but, in fact, it did nothing about it in all the time it was in office. It did not take this Government very long to carry out what in fact has been Labor Party policy for quite a number of years. As soon as we had the opportunity to do so we brought in this piece of legislation. I agree with the honourable member for Parramatta that many other amendments are required to the Crimes Act but many of them are what I would call 'political amendments'. They concern questions such as whether it should be possible to declare organisations illegal and whether it should be possible to prosecute people for taking part in what the Government of the day declares to be an illegal strike. 1 am one of those who believe that none of those things have a place in a democratic society.

I reiterate that I should like to congratulate the Government as a whole and the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) who is at present overseas for being so quick in carrying out the recommendations to eliminate any possibility that people would be deported from this country in addition to any other punishment that may be inflicted on them. I think it is important that the provisions of this piece of legislation, which apparently will be passed today and which will no doubt receive royal assent within the next few days, are made known to the migrant population because I agree with the previous speaker in this debate who said that there has been concern in the migrant population during the last few months arising out of so called Croat happenings.

Personally I think that all the concern was misplaced. The House may recall that even before the Attorney-General made his statement in the Senate I took the opportunity to ask the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) to give an undertaking, firstly, that no naturalised Australian citizen would be deported, and secondly, that even nonnaturalised Australian citizens convicted of some crime would not be deported to any totalitarian country if they had some political reasons to fear a return to that country. The Minister for Immigration gave that undertaking. I think that it did not receive as much publicity in the migrant population as it should have received. This was a great pity. I can understand the fear of Croats or anybody else who has strong political differences with the government of the country from which they have come at the possibility of being deported back to that country. They know how they would be treated. They might well finish up in gaol for the rest of their lives and in some countries they might even be executed.

We have had cases recently where police in Sydney have gone to houses for a variety of reasons. I do not know the nature of the warrants and I do not want to discuss that. As a result of those visits people have been charged with offences including resisting arrest. In one case against a person whose name I have forgotten - he is either a Yugoslav or a Croat - evidence was given not only by the man but also by the police that he was worried that he would be sent back to Yugoslavia. He got himself involved in a minor scuffle with a policeman and as a result of that scuffle it was alleged that he bit the policeman's finger. He was acquitted of the main charge which I think was one of having explosives in his possession but he was sentenced to 3 months gaol for assaulting police. I will not canvass that case any further because I have contacted the solicitor concerned and he has told me that there is an appeal pending on the severity of the sentence. But I think that does illustrate that there were people in the community who panicked and if they were not aware of what our policy was the panic probably was justifiable because of the possibility of being sent back to Yugoslavia or to some other totalitarian country.

I therefore commend the Government on bringing in this repealing legislation. I should like to ask the Government to try to publicise in the migrant community the effect of this Bill so that the migrants - certainly naturalised migrants - can be quite sure that they will not be deported from Australia and that they will not be sent back to any country which they fear. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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