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Wednesday, 12 April 1972
Page: 1054

Senator HANNAN (Victoria) - I direct my remarks to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) who is the Minister in charge of matters of security. One unfortunate result of the fact that the more responsible daily newspapers do not publish in Melbourne on a Sunday is the fact that over a period of time the field has been left to other operators, certain - I repeat 'certain' because it does nor apply to them all - of whom have no morals, no ethics and no credibility whatsoever. The outright leader in the van of this type of gutter journalism is unquestionably the Review' which, selling for 30c, has as its Chairman of Directors one Gordon Barton whose political activities seem well equated with the type of material which the journal carries. I am not a regular reader of this undergraduate type of journal but my attention has been drawn to an amazing article on pages 698-9 of the issue of 8th- 14th April. It is headed 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' and purports to give a factual account of the activities of Croatian migrants and their organisations in Australia. The article is not signed and is so full of lies, half truths and distorted propaganda statements that it is not possible in the adjournment debate to traverse it in detail.

I have vigorous objecion to physical violence used to promote a political argument. I disapprove of Croatian extremists in the same way as I disapprove of Communist thuggery anywhere, and especially the barbarity of the Vietcong. However, all Croatian migrants in this country have been smeared with the fascist tag by this scurrilous journal - an allegation which is thoroughly unfair and unjust. Without a scrap of evidence members of the Croatian community have been convicted by this journal, and certain members of the socialist Left of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria, of being fascist terrorists.

To come to a concrete and specific set of examples I will limit my remarks to an incident about which I am fully informed personally. I refer to the case of Father Kasic referred to in the article. Father Kasic is a Croatian Catholic priest in charge of a parish at Clifton Hill, Melbourne. I know him to be intensely devoted to his pastoral duties, to possess a strong love of his mother country and to be firmly opposed to the evil of communism. He is also a client of mine. The Review' to which I referred states:

The Reverend Father Josif Kasic was named in the 'Catholic Worker" (February 1963) as one of the main spokesmen for Catholic fascism (whatever that may be) in Australia.

I interpolate here that anyone who is prepared to accept the 'Catholic Worker' as an authority on Catholic matters or work or fascism or anything else would be well advised to examine the validity of that authority.

Senator O'Byrne - What is his mother country?

Senator HANNAN - I quote again from the 'Review.'

Opposition senators interjecting -

The PRESIDENT - Order! The Government senators listed to Senator Cant with the silence and the attention which Senator Cant's speech entitled him to and I would be grateful if other honourable senators would extend to Senator Hannan the courtesy that was accorded Senator Cant.

Senator HANNAN - The 'Review' continues:

The same man was subsequently accused of being a fascist by Captain (sic) Marjan Jurjevic and a libel suit issued by the Church against Jurjevic was eventually withdrawn when the Reverend Father refused to enter the witness box.

I want to nail that lie. What are the facts? Father Kasic has denied categorically any association with fascism or nazism and his character has been vindicated by his ecclesiastical superiors. I was the solicitor handling that libel case for Father Kasic; it was not on behalf of the Church. The facts are these: On 13th May 1964, the Australian Broadcasting Commission conducted a live, as opposed to taped interview with Jurjevic on Channel 2 in Melbourne. In those days Jurjevic was not calling himself 'Captain*. In the course of his remarks Jurjevic falsely alleged that Father Rasic was deeply involved in the fascist movement, was a terrorist and a war criminal. Within a few days Father Kasic issued a writ against Jurjevic and the ABC for libel. The matter dragged through the court, from the Supreme Court to the High Court of Australia, and was finally withdrawn upon the ABC making a handsome cash settlement and giving a written apology. Because of the terms of settlement I am not allowed to disclose the amount. It is a contemptible lie to say that the writ was withdrawn because Father Kasic would not enter the witness box. He had completely vindicated himself, and by this stage Jurjevic was being legally represented as a pauper by the Public Solicitor. What point would there have been in refusing the ABC settlement?

The basis for the complaints against Father Kasic are made in substance by the gallant Captain Marian Jurjevic. Let us examine the record of the man who has produced these unfounded allegations and who is at present being so tenderly nurtured by Dr Jim Cairns and other members of the Labor Party in Victoria. My information comes from statements supplied for the legal brief for the libel action by Jurjevics' brother-in-law, Zumberasky, and his friend, Semiga. Jurjevic himself 10id them this. Jurjevic was born in Dalmatia on the Croatian coast in a town called Korcula in 1917. In the early stages of World War II he served in the Croation Domobran, which was the section of the Army used for home defence. About the beginning of 1943 Jurjevic escaped from the Domobran and joined the Nazi German armed forces. This was because at about this time some units of the Croatian Army had been loaned to the Germans for fighting on the Russian front. So he went to the German Embassy and, with the assistance of a Nazi officer, left the Embassy wearing a German uniform and went to Hamburg for training. He then served in the German Merchant Navy, which was a semi-military organisation, and was therefore a thoroughgoing Nazi collaborator. He returned to Croatia twice during 1944 still wearing a German uni form. His claim to have served with the British Navy during the war is simply untrue. This is the man who goes about prattling of war criminals and Nazi collaborators and has become the darling of the socialist Left in Victoria.

There is a good deal of evidence from the Yugoslav Croatian community that Jurjevic has threatened some of his compatriots who disagree with him with deportation when the Labor Party comes to power, lt looks as though they will be staying here for a long time. There is a widely held belief in the Melbourne Croatian community that the bomb which recently exploded at his Carlton flat was put there by himself. I return to the 'Review* which further states:

Kasic served a total of 6 years in 2 Yugoslav prisons before coming to Australia to take charge of the church at Clifton Hill.

The inescapable inference from this sentence in its context is that he was guilty of war crimes. Let us examine the so-called crimes which were tried before a secret court martial. I have here a translation of the alleged crimes for which this Catholic priest received a 6-year sentence. I interpolate here that being a priest was his main offence. The court martial was held on 22nd May 1954 at Nis. He was found guilty, amongst a number of other piffling allegations, of the following heinous crimes: Firstly, he said that the quarrel between Tito and Stalin was only political. To say that was a crime. He said, secondly, that Cardinal Stepinac was the head of the Church and that no matter what was said he would respect him. It is an extraordinary thing to regard his saying that as a crime. He said: 'There is no democracy in our country but there is in America'. That is again a crime. The next is a gem. He said he disliked the speeches made by Comrade Raukovic and Comrade Tito in October 1953. Imagine what honourable senators opposite would think if one of them were prosecuted for saying that he did not like the speech made by Comrade McMahon last month. One has only to recite the facts to see how absurd they are. Gilbert and Sullivan never thought of anything as fatuous and nonsensical as this type of criminal proceeding which is used by this journal - words almost fail me - in condemnation of this man. The fifth charge was that the Italians had the support of the West and would retake Trieste and Italy would support a Ustashi Croatian Party.

The sixth charge was that he said he would rather die than live like a slave. The seventh charge was that he said that Comrade Popovic is only Secretary for External Affairs because he is a Serb. The eighth charge - and this is really the star turn of the entire indictment - was that after the clash with Italy in October 1953 he told a joke with enemy content. This is the joke which was a crime in Tito's Yugoslavia. He said that Tito stood under his own photo which was hanging on the wall and asked it "what will happen if we lose the war with Italy?' The picture replied: if we lose they will take me down and hang you'. Telling that joke was a crime. The ninth charge was that he referred to the expulsion of some nuns from Skopse and said: 'This is the freedom the Government guarantees - one thing is written and the other thing done'. These and a few other piffling items are what brought Father Kasic a sentence of 6 years' strict imprisonment, plus one year's loss of citizens rights, whatever that may mean in a communist country. God only knows what that means in that country. He had to pay costs - j do not know what the coinage is worth- of 9850 din

Of course Father Kasic is anticommunist. If this unjust sentence was not enough, he saw his father murdered by Tito's communists because he would not teach in a communist school. Of course he is anticommunist. He saw his cousin roasted on a spit like an animal because he opposed communist policies in Yugoslavia. Of course he is anti-communist. He saw his Bishop thrown into a 3-ft pit half full of petrol. He saw a match thrown in afterwards.

Senator Cavanagh - You are making up stories now, are you not?

Senator HANNAN - The honourable senator will have to do a lot better than that to rebut this. As a matter of public importance my plea to the Senate and to the Attorney-General is that all Croatian migrants be not smeared as murdering terrorists by Jurjevic and his political asso ciates of the Australian Labor Party and that those Croatians who want to make their homes here, in peace, whilst retaining their love of homeland, be allowed to do so without the persecution of Tito's agents or any agents provocateurs.

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