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Tuesday, 3 December 1974
Page: 3056

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - I do not desire to prolong this debate to the extent where one is unnecessarily emphasising points, but I do believe that the Senate has to make a significant decision in this respect. We would be, by conscious decision, reversing the pattern of some 50 years in this country if we were to remove from this legislation a requirement which was initially instituted as an act of patriotism. If we do that I think that we should do it knowingly and with a sound reason behind it. I do not believe that that sound reason has been given. I would regret to see its departure. I do not think that the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) and I would have any basic difference in the general concept that we would each espouse that we want to see developed in this country a spirit of nationalism and a sense of loyalty of the Australian people to that nationalist ethos. I believe that an oath of allegiance helps to serve that general spirit. Irrespective of whether one calls it patriotism or something in modern parlance, I think that the concept that persons who are in the Public Service should swear an allegiance to the Queen of Australia, her heirs and successors according to law, and promise to do their duty by her aids the concept of an Australian nationalism.

If the argument were as to the language in which the oath of allegiance is being taken, I can imagine that there might be differences of opinion but I think that that particular argument was raised during the debate on the Citizenship Act last year and that that issue has been resolved. We acknowledge that the particular oath which is now to be taken is an oath not to the Queen of the United Kingdom, Australia and her other dominions. The oath which is now taken and which is proposed in the amendment I have moved is to the Queen of Australia, her heirs and successors according to law. Why should that oath not be taken? I think that the basic proposition, having regard to the pattern of the past 50 years, is for those who want to remove the oath to show good reason why it should be removed. I remain unpersuaded that any such reason has been given.

I ought to mention that according to a note which the Parliamentary Library supplied to me British civil servants, whilst they are not required to take an oath of allegiance, are nevertheless required to sign a document incorporating an oath of allegiance with certain statutory requirements of the Official Secrets Act and that a form of oath or allegience is demanded of the United States civil servants. So the argument ought not to be regarded as being concluded by the fact that in Britain no oath or affirmation of allegiance is required. I do not think that the argument with regard to the States is an argument which ought to carry weight. After all, the Public Service of a State is the Public Service under which the government of a State of the Commonwealth is carried on, which is different in character from the government of the nation. lt may seem a little strange, in the light of arguments which have taken place in this chamber over the last couple of years, that I should be arguing the cause of an oath of allegiance to the nation and Senator Murphy should be saying that because the States do not have an oath of allegiance it should be good enough for the Commonwealth not to have one. lt is interesting that in relation to this argument the positions might have been somewhat reversed.

Senator Milliner - What about if Her Majesty is Queen of Queensland?

Senator GREENWOOD - I think that Senator Milliner is endeavouring to distract me from my argument. I might just as well reply: Why do you not say a word in favour of that magnificent concept which is the Treaties Commission which the Queensland Government has now enacted and which I think has the most innovative and sensible provisions which any state has passed since Federation in regard to our implementation of international treaties? Some praise could be given to the Queensland Government for what it has done in that area.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Mulvihill - Order! I think that the Committee should come back to the amendment before it.

Senator GREENWOOD - I simply say that the argument raised that because the States do not have an oath of allegiance there is no need for the Commonwealth to have an oath of allegiance ignores the fact that the patriotism involved in the oath is a patriotism directed to the nation. One would not expect it to be so obviously required in the case of an oath of allegiance to a State Public Service. An argument has been raised with regard to the position of migrants. I feel that we desire people who are resident in Australia and who are desirous of becoming employed in our Public Service to become naturalised citizens. There is a provision in the legislation, to which there has already been reference, under which persons who are not naturalised and who are migrants can become members of the Public Service provided that, in the opinion of the Governor-General, there is no detriment to the national security. I think those are the words. Accepting that there is that gateway that will enable exceptional cases to be covered, why should not the general proposition be that the Public Service is open to natural born or naturalised Australian citizens, people who are prepared to take the oath of allegiance? That is what we are striving to achieve by this amendment. I believe the Committee would be wise, in the interests of the nation, to accept the proposition.

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