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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4259

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Mackellar will come to order. I am ruling in his favour this time. The honourable member is speaking of what the consequences of the operations of a clause could be. I think he is close enough to the Bill to be in order.

Mr WENTWORTH - I know the tension under which the Minister is operating at the moment and I know how much he dislikes the truth about this. Would he withdraw the word 'paranoid'? Would he mind?

Mr Enderby - I said the utterances were paranoid.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I think the honourable gentleman should continue his remarks.

Mr WENTWORTH - Very good, Sir. The Minister apparently is not ashamed of what his Communist friends in East Germany, with whom he is making up so carefully-

Mr Enderby - On a point of order. I have no Communist friends in East Germany, 1 have no friends in East Germany, I do not know anyone in East Germany.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The Minister may make a personal explanation later.

Mr WENTWORTH - I mean the Minister's political friends, because the Government is making up to East Germany as hard as it can. Apparently the Government does not want to examine the shame of the Berlin Wall. It does not want to examine the fact that it is a criminal offence punishable by the strictest penalties of the law for one of the innocent inhabitants of East Germany to want to go to West Germany. The Government is quite happy to make friends with a country which has this kind of barbarous legislation. It makes a great fuss about violence in relation to civil rights which occurs in many countries, but it does not make any fuss about the violence in relation to civil rights which occurs in a communist country. It is quite happy to negotiate with East Germany. This Government does not encourage the postal clerks to go on strike and ban the mail to East Germany. Yet the things which East Germany is doing are very much worse than the things for which the Government encouraged postal clerks to go on strike. This is an example of the double standard of the Government. Because there is this double standard I am saying that we cannot trust the Government with the kind of discretionary power for which it is asking under this Bill.

The Government has 2 proposals in this obnoxious clause. As I have said, the first proposal is to accept just an undertaking of some kind without requiring it to be put in writing, in a treaty or in a law. The second proposal is the more important. Instead of requiring the innocent person to be returned to Australia, under this Bill the Government will allow him to be exported to another communist state and to be tried in that other communist state for some alleged political crime. As I have said, some of these communist states are pretty tough. The things which they consider political crimes are things which we in Australia would consider to be the very merest and proper expression of freedom. I say that particularly because these states are erecting around themselves a kind of gaol, of which the Berlin wall is part. This Bill will help those countries to reach out, pluck people from Australia and put them behind the walls of that communist gaol. This is a most serious matter. It is made more serious by the published expressions only about 8 or 9 months ago of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) in this matter of the deportation to a communist country of those people who offended the communist authorities. We still have the same Attorney-General and I am afraid that he is still of the same mind.

Then there is the third point of allowing the Attorney-General to have a discretion which he could not exercise because of our courts but which now can be exercised because the man is out of the jurisdiction of our protecting Australian courts and our protecting Australian system of justice. The provision allows him to be charged with any other extradition crime. Again I point out that although an extradition crime seems to be a serious matter - and in general it is and should be a serious matter - the definition of extradition crime given in Schedule I of the Bill which is before the House at the present moment includes some offences which in some circumstances we would regard as quite frivolous. So the fact that this is to be an extradition crime is no protection at all. I come back to the 3 points I have made. Each one singly is important. Together they are cohesive, coherent and conclusive. Perhaps the Government did not realise what it was doing when it introduced this amending Bill. Or perhaps it did.' I do not know. I cannot read the Government's mind in that regard but I can understand, quite plainly, the effect of the clause in this Bill now before the House.

As I understand the situation this Bill has been passed by the Senate. What this House does with it will make it law. The Government has an unquestioned subservient and slavish majority in this House and if the Government wants to use its numbers to do an unjust thing, in this case the Senate will be unable to give any protection to the people of Australia. Normally the Senate does stand as some kind of protection against a bad Bill. However this Bill has passed through the Senate. Perhaps it was passed there before its implications were realised. I think that that may well be so. However it would not be right for me to traverse the proceedings in the Senate. This Bill has passed through the Senate and the Government can use its numbers to pass it here. If the Government wants to insist on this clause as it stands it will become law. There is no point in honourable members on this side of the House thinking that we can prevent it; we cannot.

I ask the Government to maintain the old law. There really is no reason why the old law should be changed. It is good enough. Why should we not have the protection of people being entitled to come back to Australia instead of being sent to some other communist country? Why should not the country concerned at least provide the protection of a treaty or a written law in place of some kind of amorphous and unspecified undertaking? Would the Government accept the word of a Communist country in a matter like this? We know how often communist countries have violated this principle and how keen they are to tell their cwn citizens: 'Look, you are under our control and there is no way out'. I ask the Government not to let us participate in this communist crime. I ask it to look at this clause again and let us leave the Act as it is. I ask the House not to press for the passage of clause 9 of this Bill. I thank the House for having listened for so long.

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