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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 1870

Senator CARRICK (New South Wales) - This Senate is not and cannot be a court of law. If it seeks to be it is in my judgment acting quite wrong and outside its true purpose. The facts are that tonight this Senate has tried - and I think we are all at fault in this to a greater or lesser extent - to put forward information and assert it or allege it as facts, and then decide according to our prejudices - I use the word in the sense of prejudgment - whether some people have acted rightly or wrongly. The simple fact is this: In a magistrate's court in Sydney tomorrow a man who was arrested under the name of Robert Wood will, if proven to be Robert Wood, undergo the normal processes of law and experience the consequences should he be found to have committed a breach of the law. That is a simple fact of half the incident today.

That law, as Senator Hannan has rightly said, is a law properly made in this Parliament and unanimously adopted by the Parliament and, as such, has to be upheld. Let me make it clear that, like Senator Turnbull, I believe in the National Service Act. I believe in the penalties it imposes. I have been heard to express very strongly in this Parliament my views that our duty is to uphold the rights of both majorities and minorities. As Senator Hannan has said tonight, if the man Wood has strong religious views he should have used the recourse available to him under the law. It is a pity that he did not. It may well be that he had decided not to protest against the National Service Act but to protest against the rule of law. I do not seek to prejudge him. That is a matter for the process of law. That is a matter for evidence.

I deal now with the man Shanley. I am in the happy position of knowing nothing of what happened, except what has been spoken of tonight. There may or may not be a legal process issued tomorrow either by the Crown or by Shanley. When that is known, we will be in a better position to deal with the matter. For example, it is understood that certain attendants have averred that a man said that he was Wood. That is a matter to be determined, not inside the Parliament. I understand that a Senior officer of the Senate, the Usher of the Black Rod, had certain duties, but that is not a matter for this chamber to judge. A lot has been said tonight of the innocence or otherwise of a man. Let me take the heat out of the debate by saying that the protection of natural justice is no monopoly of anyone in this chamber. I say to honourable senators, in low key, that if the man Shanley feels that he is aggrieved, whether or not he is able himself to seek the natural process of law, I, as a member of Parliament, will ensure that he gets full help, if he feels he needs it, of good legal advice to undertake the process of law. There is no bombast in that statement. If the man feels that he has been aggrieved, let him say so. Let him produce the facts, and we will see that he gets good legal help to do so.

There are third parties and fourth parties involved in this case because what we have been on again tonight is an excursion to denigrate the police. Let nobody in this Parliament deny that.

Senator TURNBULL (TASMANIA) - 1 did not denigrate the police.

Senator CARRICK - I did not say that you did.

Senator Little - We have not beard the police story yet. We have heard Shanley's statement.

Senator CARRICK - I think the honourable senator will agree with me that we have not heard the police story. Why do honourable senators opposite seek to prejudge the police? I have said that we are here to discuss 3 things. Tomorrow in a magistrate's court a man named Wood, if he is Wood, will stand his trial in the proper course.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Senator Greenwood has determined the facts, according to his statement.

Senator CARRICK - In my view, all of us have been guilty of prejudging. Tomorrow if the man Shanley feels that he has evidence, let him come forward to any one of us. I have proffered myself. I have no monopoly at all. All of us are here as ombudsmen of the individual. If he or his friends feel that he has evidence, I or others will be here in Canberra. Let them come forward.

Let me make clear that there are third and fourth parties to this. I will not stand in this place and hear people denigrate the police, prejudge them and make a mockery of them. The police exist in this community to carry out the lawful processes that this Parliament exists to make. When members of the Opposition denigrate the police, they do not harm the police; they harm the Parliament and, through that, they harm democracy. There is a final body of people which makes the judgment and it is the community. The community makes its judgment when the proper processes of law have taken their course and the facts have been heard. The great mistake we have made tonight is to consider that we are all amateur Perry Masons, that we all can come in here, some of us with divine prescience or pre-knowledge and remarkable briefing on this matter, and feel that we can turn this into a trial by law. The day we do this will be the day we do a disservice to Parliament and to natural justice. Let there be no doubt at all that as far as I am concerned, and I hope I speak for all honourable senators on my side of the House, if any citizen in this country feels that he has been denied natural justice let him come forward, produce the evidence and we will help him to get the full recourse of justice under the law.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I wish at this point to indicate my considerable disquiet, which was reinforced by something which Senator Carrick said, as to whether the Senate should continue this sort of discussion. I have been concerned for some time about this. I made inquiries to determine whether a charge had been laid because if it had a discussion of this sort could clearly be prejudicial. There is still a possibility that some action may be taken so I suggest that both sides of the Senate have traversed this discussion as far as it would be wise to do so. I suggest at this point that we turn to the subject that Senator Mulvihill has for discussion.

Senator Wheeldon - Mr Deputy President, 1 wish to advert briefly to this matter and I assure you, insofar as I am able, that 1 will not say anything prejudicial to anybody. If it appears to you that I am, I will be speaking only briefly.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I call Senator Wheeldon.

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