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Wednesday, 12 December 1973
Page: 2696

Senator HANNAN (VICTORIA) - I wish to direct a question to the Attorney-General because of his concern with human rights. Does he recall that this year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by members of the United Nations? Is he aware that one of the signatories, the Soviet Union, celebrated its ratification, in October of this year, with hundreds of new arrests and closed trials within its own borders and within the captive nations which the Soviet Union occupies? While this Senate has already expressed its view on the treatment of the Soviet Union's own dissidents, I ask the Minister whether he is aware that a particularly brutal and repressive persecution by the Soviet Union is now taking place in the Ukraine. Will the Government sponsor a resolution at the United Nations requiring the Soviet Union to live up to its membership obligations by releasing all prisoners of conscience in the Ukraine and in other captive nations? Whilst I regard it as unreasonable to expect this Government to act as the moral policeman of the world at the United Nations, I ask: Will the Minister and his Government show at least as much interest in the welfare of the Ukrainian and other captive nations of whose people we have hundreds of thousands here as it does in the welfare of Rhodesian Africans of whom we have none?

Senator MURPHY - It is true that the Soviet Union was a signatory to the famous Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I am not aware of the specific matters to which the honourable senator is referring. I know that there have been general allegations about such matters. It is not within my province to investigate them or, indeed, to comment on matters which are really matters of foreign affairs. I suggest, though, to the honourable senator that it might be appropriate for Australia to put its own house in order and for him to address his attention to some of the infringements of human rights that occur in Australia. The honourable senator referred to prisoners of conscience. Was he not a member of the previous Government which kept many young Australians in prison as prisoners of conscience, that is, those who refused to have anything to do with the disgraceful war in Vietnam?

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