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Tuesday, 19 September 1972
Page: 896

Senator McMANUS (VICTORIA) - I direct a question to the Attorney-General concerning the question asked previously by Senator O'Byrne in which he named persons who were in the employ of the Commonwealth, said that they were unworthy to be in that employ and asked for action to be taken against them. Because an important issue of civil rights is now involved, is not the appropriate action for the honourable senator to take in such a case to place the evidence before the Public Service Board for investigation first rather than to blacken the character of these persons in the Senate where the senator concerned has the protection of privilege and the people concerned have no power to defend themselves?

Senator GREENWOOD - I think that Senator McManus's question is indeed timely. It is very easy when feelings are aroused and there is a sense of apprehension in the community for people to fling about accusations on the basis that they are helping the situation in some way. I cannot believe that Senator O'Byrne is helping the situation if he is prepared to make accusations without evidence to back them. His interjection during the course of Senator McManus's question: 'They are throwing bombs around the place', highlights the problem to which Senator McManus directed attention. Everybody in this community has the right to have his reputation preserved. If allegations are made against someone, if he is accused of crime, then I believe that the persons who make those allegations and accusations should be prepared to substantiate them. No person ought to be deprived of his reputation or his liberty except in accordance with the processes of law by which charges are levelled in the courts and the courts determine guilt or innocence. That is a fundamental ' principle of which 1 think we should never lose sight, notwithstanding the apprehension we have and the fear we have experienced as a result of what happened last week. I think it is deplorable that accusations of the character which have been made can be made without any evidence to back them because they, in their turn, cause frustration and resentment which add to a feeling of lack of well being which we want to avoid.

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