27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Communications Tower on Black Mountain
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully sheweth: 1. That the Australian Post Office proposes to construct a 640-foot high solid concrete tower, housing radiotelephony-television transmission facilities, on Black Mountain in Canberra.
That in the opinion of many responsible citizens such a tower would seriously impair the beauty of this city and is likely to lessen le value of the Black Mountain Flora and Fauna Reserve.
That requests from residents of Canberra, and their Parliamentary representative, for information on the technical considerations supposedly favouring a solid tower have been refused by the Australian Post Office.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should, through its Standing Committee on the Social Environment, examine whether construction of a tower of this nature on Black Mountain is in the public interest, having particular regard to the need to preserve the beauty and environmental quality of the National Capital.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of government education services has established serious deficiencies in education, the most important areas being a severe shortage of teachers, inadequate accommodation, and, as a result, oversized classes.
That extra Federal finance is urgently required to save the government school system.
That while the needs of the government schools are being neglected, large amounts of money are being given, in various and numerous grants, to private schools.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immed iate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for State school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government school system for which the government is truly responsible.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of government education services has established serious deficiencies in education, the most important areas being a severe shortage of teachers, inadequate accommodation, and, as a result, oversized classes.
That extra Federal finance is urgently required to save the government school system.
That while the needs of the government schools are being neglected, large amounts of public money are being given, in various and numerous grants, to private schools.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for State school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government school system for which the government is truly responsible.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I give notice that tomorrow I intend to move:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report:
Construction of naval support facility, Cockburn Sound, Western Australia, HMAS ‘Stirling’.
– I give notice - I do not stipulate the time because of an arrangement - that I intend to move:
That Senator Greenwood has dishonoured the office of Attorney-General:
by making prejudicial statements about one Barry Johnston who has been charged but not yet tried on an information alleging a breach of the National Service Act, and
by involving the office of Attorney-General in a party political controversy in connection wilh that pending criminal case.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kennett Anderson) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Senate proceeding forthwith with Senator Murphy’s notice of motion relating to the Attorney-General.
– I move:
The office of Attorney-General is an ancient and honourable one. The AttorneyGeneral is a Minister of the Crown but his position is different from that of otherMinisters. His special position imposes duties and restraints peculiar to that office. Until now those duties and restraints have been well recognised and observed by a series of Attorneys-General here and in other Commonwealth countries. His modern function, apart from administrative tasks, is to uphold the public interest as an officer of state rather than as a servant of government. As Chief Justice Sir Owen Dixon said:
It is the traditional duty of the AttorneyGeneral to protect public rights and to complain of excesses of power bestowed by law.
A former Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Adrian Knox, dealt with the extent of the responsibility of the Attorney-General in law cases. He said: 1 entertain no doubt that the Attorney-General has full authority to represent the Commonwealth and to act on its behalf in all legal proceedings to which the Commonwealth is a party. By virtue of his office he is the legal adviser of the Crown in right of the Commonwealth and the proper person to conduct or defend legal proceedings on behalf of the Crown in that right, and, apart from the powers inherent in the office he is . . . entrusted with the administration of, among other matters, ‘causes’ - an expression which includes every proceeding competently brought before and litigated in a court.
A famous English judge, Lord Justice A. L. Smith, sated:
I wish to say a word or two about the position of lbc Attorney-General, because in my judgement it is of importance in this case, and his position appears; likely to bc lost sight of. Everybody knows that he is the head of the English Bar. We know that he has had from the earliest times to perform high judicial functions which are left to his discretion to decide.
Under the existing Ministerial Arrangements Order the Attorney-General is responsible for law and justice. His duties involve decisions whether to prosecute for alleged breaches of the law and whom to prosecute; whether prosecutions should be continued or discontinued: to advise whether the prerogative of mercy should be extended; in most matters to determine whether proceedings should be instituted for contempt of court when the trial of a person is prejudiced, as, for example, by statements discouraging him. In all of this, he must act in a judicial manner. This is elementary for the carrying out of his high judicial functions or. in modern phraseology, his quasi judicial duties. Party politics must be completely excluded.
The famous Attorney-General. Sir Hartley Shawcross, in the House of Commons on 29th January 1951 said: lt has never been in the rule in this country - I hope it will never be - that suspected criminal offences must automatically he the subject of prosecution. Indeed, the first regulations under which the Director of Public Prosecutions worked provided that he should intervene to prosecute, amongst other cases: ‘wherever it appears that the offence or the circumstances of its commission is or are of such a character that a prosecution in respect thereof is required in the public interest”. So, tinder the tradition of our criminal law, (lie position is that the Attorney-General and the Director of Public Prosecutions only intervene to direct a prosecution when they consider it in the public interest so to do.
I continue the quotation:
Lord Simon, w<ho was once himself a most distinguished Attorney-General, put the position very clearly when he said in debate in this House:
There is vo greater nonsense talked about the Attorney-Genera l”s duty than the suggestion that in all cases the Attorney-General ought to decide to prosecute merely because he thinks there is what the lawyers call a case, lt is not true and no-one who has held that office supposes it is.
The quotation goes on:
My honourable and learned friend then asked me how 1 direct myself in deciding whether or not to prosecute in a particular case. That is a very wide subject indeed. But there is only one consideration which is altogether excluded and that is the repercussion of a given decision upon my personal or my party’s or the government’s political fortunes; that is a consideration which never enters into account
The same view was expressed by AttorneyGeneral Hughes in Australia in July 1970 in an address to the Sydney University Liberal Club. Mr Hughes justified his non-prosecution of men who had not complied with the National Service Act and also of those who, it is said by some, had incited others not to comply with the Act, in the following terms:
Tt dues not follow that if one’s aim is (as mine is) to maintain a public order under the law, it is necessary or proper to prosecute on the basis of a sort of reflex action every breach or supposed breach of a law which operates in a context of political controversy.
He concluded his address on the emphatic note: . . an Attorney-General must always bear in mind that he has a quasi judicial discretion to exercise in deciding whether or not he will prosecute in a particular case. It is a discretion which always must be exercised without regard to party political considerations and must always be exercised According to his own judgment.
What applies to the decision to prosecute applies also to its continuance and to all the other discretions in regard to the cases wilh which the Attorney-General is concerned.
The Attorney-General must rigidly exclude party politics. The AttorneyGeneral rous! act in the interests of all citizens. He must stand against his own Cabinet, for example, in exercise of his discretion in relation to criminal proceedings. This emphasises the necessity for him to keep out of party political controversy in connection with any case. He must not intrude party politics into the consideration of any case - the reason is obvious - because it becomes impossible for him then to exercise calmly and judicially the various discretions which it may become his duty to exercise and, more important still, the public tends to lose confidence in the impartial administration of justice.
On 1st December 1925 in the House of Commons Lord Simon said:
The first and most obvious duty of a responsible Minister, if a proceeding of this sort is started-
That was a prosecution - is so to conduct himself in his public declarations as to show that his view remains as calm and unprejudiced as that of the judge himself until the Cii.se is over.
What applies to every responsible Minister applies with even greater force to the Attorney-Genera]. Whatever others may do the Attorney-General must not transgress. One of his functions is to determine whether proceedings should be instituted to protect a person facing a charge from prejudicial statements. It is part of the rule of law that persons be presumed innocent and that they should not be made the subject of prejudicial statements before their case is tried. What are prejudicial statements? The great judges have made it clear that a statement is prejudicial and a contempt of court if it tends to prejudice a fair trial - that is, if its tendency is to deprive the court of doing that which is the end for which it exists; namely, to administer justice duly, impartially and with reference solely to the facts judicially brought before it. To suggest guilt is prejudicial. But adverse comment on a party need not refer to the subject matter of the proceeding to be prejudicial. It is enough to disparage the accused. The publication of any matter indicating bad character on his part or otherwise disparaging an accused may be prejudicial. It is not the intent of the person making the statement; it is the tendency of the statement to prejudice the accused. Sometimes it is claimed that such statements are made for the public good. The great legal writer, Coke, observed:
Sometimes when the public good is pretended, a private benefit is intended.
The remark by President Nixon that Manson was guilty of the charge on which he was being tried shocked the whole world, and President Nixon apologised for that remark, lt is not necessary to impute guilt. To disparage is enough. In that event an Attorney-General should institute action to protect the accused. So it is clear that no-one should make prejudicial statements. Most of all. an Attorney-General should not do so. To do so is to dishonour the office of. Attorney-General. Does anyone dispute that? lt is clear that an AttorneyGeneral should exclude party political controversy from any connection with a pending criminal case. To engage in party political controversy in connection with a pending criminal case is to dishonour the office of Attorney-General. Does anyone dispute that?
What are the facts? In the last few days the Attorney-General has initiated an attack upon an accused person that is without precedent in the history of Australia.
He has disparaged the accused day after day in the Press, on television, on radio and in the Senate. He has improperly referred Jo the accused’s previous convictions and to a previous imprisonment. He has accused the person concerned of a contemptuous attitude for lawful processes. He has suggested the accused’s guilt. He has stated that the accused’s conduct is becoming a national scandal and that the accused is mocking the law and authority. The Attorney-General has referred to evasion and defiance of the alw. He has intruded party politics by calling upon the Australian Labor Party and individuals to join in the disparagement and prejudice by disowning or repudiating the accused. On 10th February the Attorney-General issued a Press statement in which he stated:
The Labor Party should say where it stands in respect of the refusal of its candidate for Hotham (Mr B. Johnston) to appear before the court to answer a charge of failing to obey his call-up for National Service.
Of course, the Labor Party should never have been asked by the Attorney-General to make any such statement. His statement continued:
Mr Johnston failed to appear before the District Court in Melbourne on 7th February. A warrant has been issued for his arrest and he is being sought by both Commonwealth and State Police. lt is deplorable for any Parliamentary Candidate to adopt such a contemptuous attitude for lawful processes and deliberately to create a situation where the Conn issues a warrant for his arrest.
The Attorney-General had no right to make such a statement in respect of the accused. His statement continued:
Even if the Labor Party disagrees with the policy of the Act its Parliamentary members and its candidates, like all citizens, have an obligation to observe and uphold the law. Moreover, it is unfair to those who accept their National Service responsibilities for the Labor Party to aid and support those who will neither accept their lawful obligations nor submit to the penalties for non-compliance.
What was that but imputing guilt to the defendant in a case which, for whatever reason, had not yet been tried? The statement continued:
The Federal Labor Member Dr Cass is reported to have said that Mr Johnston has the full support of the ALP on State and Federal levels. Such a statement requires Mr Whitlam (as the ALP Federal Leader) and Mr Crawford (as State Chairman of the ALF) to indicate to the people of Australia whether Dr Cass expresses ALP pol icy. Mr Whitlam and Mr Crawford have a clear duty to repudiate Mr Johnston and to disown his course of conduct.
What is that but an invitation to someone to disown, to repudiate, to disparage, to prejudice a person before a court when his case has not yet been tried? The statement continued:
Failure to do so is to give support to those-
– He is not likely to while he is on the run.
– Order! Senator Murphy is speaking to a substantive motion and he should be listened to in silence.
– Suggestions that they were not likely to do so, which I heard from the Government benches, indicate that the purpose of the invitation was in fact to intrude party politics into the consideration of this case. The AttorneyGeneral’s statement continued:
Failure to do so is to give support to those who defy the law, and the ALP as a parly seeking office should unambiguously show whether or not it encourages lawlessness.
That was a statement intended to disparage the accused. Tt is a statement which nobody should be permitted to make in respect of a person on trial and, above all, the Attorney-General should not make it. I issued a statement in reply to that statement, of the Attorney-General, and 1 will read it to the Senate. It stated:
Yesterday’s statements by Attorney-General Greenwood were a disgraceful abuse of this office.
The statements were prejudicial to the defendant in criminal proceedings for which the Attorney-General is responsible. He implied (hat Mr Johnston was guilty and had been in contempt of court. His call for ALP leaders to repudiate Mr Johnston’s ‘lawlessness’ was an outrage.
It is accepted that an Attorney-General above all should not attempt to make political capital to the prejudice of any citizen whose case has, for whatever reason, not yet been tried.
Leaving aside (he legality of Mr Johnston’s conduct, on which it would be improper for me - or anyone else - to comment, the Attorney-General’s behaviour raises issues of utmost importance. His remarks were an infringement on the rights of the accused. The law officers of the Commonwealth should not prejudice the right of any accused by suggesting his guilt, nor by asking others to repudiate him and to act against him on the basis that he is guilty. Those who wish to maintain the rule of law will bc appalled by his remarks.
Whatever might be said by others, even hy the defendant, at least the Attorney-General ought to adhere to those standards which constitute the rule of law in our community.
This Is not the first time that Senator Greenwood has made improper, prejudicial statements about a person facing trial.
One of the duties of the Attorney-General is to safeguard the rights of those accused of federal offences. One of his particular responsibilities is to determine whether proceedings should be instituted to protect accused persons from being subjected to prejudicial statements such as he himself has now made. Who is to guard us against our guardians? lt is a symptom of the decline in standards of government that the Attorney-General’s behaviour is tolerated. Any self-respecting government would remove him from office. I will raise his conduct in the Senate immediately on its resumption.
Then Senator Greenwood on 11th February issued a further statement in these terms: 1 regard Senator Murphy’s statement as intem perate and quite unfounded. If Senator Murphy reads my statement he will see thai I made no judgment on any matter before the court. An ALI’ candidate, Mr Johnston, is evading arrest. Ite refused lo register for national service and was fined.
Why did the Attorney-General have to broadcast that to the nation when not even a magistrate, before deciding the question of guilt, is told any of the antecedents of the accused person? He went on:
He refused to attend medical examination and was lined and imprisoned. He has now failed to appear in court to answer the charge of not obeying his call-up notice. The clear issue which Senator Murphy evades is whether the ALP is prepared to withdraw Mr Johnson’s endorsement and uphold (he lawful processes or whether, as Dr Cass affirms, the ALP is giving Mr Johnston full support.
That was nothing but a repetition and an aggravation of the previous prejudicial remarks that the Attorney-General had made. As honourable senators will recall, on Tuesday when we resumed he declined lo table his statement. Instead, he read it. Then it was indicated to him that I proposed to move against him. Notwithstanding this, Senator Greenwood then embarked upon a series of statements here and outside on television and radio further disparaging Mr Johnston. In answer to what I think can fairly be described as a Dorothy Dix question, he repeated much the same prejudicial statements. He went on television on 28th February and further aggravated his offence. He said:
The conduct of Mr Johnston, Mr Whitlam and the ALP generally is becoming a national scandal.
If that is not prejudicial to and disparaging of an accused person, it is difficult to imagine what would be. He continued:
Mr Johnston is mocking the law and authority and is doing it with the full support of the Victorian ALP. Mr Whitlam refuses to say whether he supports Mr Johnston in his conduct and it is time that the spotlight of public condemnation was focused on the ALP’s attitude. The issues are simple. Does the ALP believe in the rule of law and the obligation to investigate breaches of Commonwealth law and initiate proceedings for its enforcement, as its platform says, or is it prepared to condone evasion and defiance of the law? The Labor Party clearly should disown Mr Johnston. Mr Whitlam should make up his mind as to where he stands not only with respect to Mr Johnston but also the Victorian ALP. He has evaded the issues far too long.
Has it reached the stage in this country that the leader of a political party can be asked to disown a person whose case has not yet been tried? Has it reached the stage in this country that he can be asked to make up his mind about Mr Johnston when, under the rule of law, it is for the magistrate to decide this matter, not for Mr Whitlam, not for me, not for the Attorney-General, not for anyone else? How is it possible for the traditions which constitute our rule of law to continue to be observed if an Attorney-General is to be permitted to involve the Australian Labor Party in the matter of a man before the court simply because that, man happens to be a member of and a candidate for that Party, as well as a man whose case has not yet been tried?
Mr President, there is no doubt whatever that the Attorney-General has endeavoured to stir up a party political controversy in respect of the accused. His attempts may have been partly successful but they amount to a breach of duty by him. Unless the established standards of honourable conduct have been abandoned, an Attorney-General is not to be permitted to make prejudicial statements about an accused. How can it be said, Mr President, that in these circumstances the AttorneyGeneral is impartial, as the law requires him to be, towards Mr Johnston? Can anyone pretend that the Attorney-General is following out the duty which has been set out and has been observed by AttorneyGeneral after Attorney-General? In the words that I quoted earlier, is he taking the calm view, a view as calm as the judge until the case is decided? Is he taking the approach to this matter that an AttorneyGeneral should take? Is he observing the duty of an Attorney-General to exclude completely party politics from any case with which he is connected, any criminal case which is pending before the courts? The Attorney-General is not to use the conduct of any person charged as a vehicle of party political controversy. Beyond any question the Attorney-General has made prejudicial statements in respect of the accused whose case has not yet been tried. Beyond any question he has involved himself in party political controversy in connection with that pending charge. In doing so he has dishonoured the office of AttorneyGeneral.
– I second the motion.
(3.33) - The Government, and I as Leader of the Government in the Senate, will resist the motion. We will resist it wholeheartedly and in so doing will indicate our support for Senator Greenwood who holds the office of Attorney-General
– Why does not the Attorney-General speak for himself?
Sir, the point that you made about hearing Senator Murphy would, I hope, apply to me. during my speech.
– Indeed it shall.
– Senator Murphy started his speech to this motion by pontificating, if I may use that word, on the role and function of AttorneysGeneral and quoted certain authorities. He spoke of duties and restraints. He used legalism as the backdrop to what he went on to say subsequently but I am not going to involve myself greatly in that particular side because we also have legal senators on the Government side of the chamber who will respond to it in a very forthright way. It was a debating point in which he was setting the ground for what he wanted to say subsequently. I would be the first to recognise that there, is a responsibility attached to the office of AttorneyGeneral, as there is to the office held by everybody in the Parliament, be it the Prime Minister, a Minister of State or a leader of a party, whatever the party. Indeed, there, is a responsibility on honourable senators and members of Parliament to which I will refer later on.
But the proposition that holding the office of Attorney-General means that a Minister must therefore sit in the cloisters and never involve himself in anything in the field of party politics is completely unreal. This has been demonstrated in this place during the life of the present AttorneyGeneral. He has been assailed and assailed and assailed by honourable senators who sit on the Opposition side. An acceptance of Senator Murphy’s argument would mean that the Attorney-General would be required to sit in the Senate, which is a House of politics, not as a senator but as one who sits in stately splendour. I remind the Senate that in the first instance, he is here as a senator and as a member of a political party. After all, even Senator Turnbull, who appears to be seeking to interject, had a political party once. The fact of the matter is that the office of Attorney-General is a high office. Does Senator Murphy seriously suggest that within the realm of party politics in Australia, a system in which I believe and which in my view is one of the wonders of this age-
– It was once.
Is it suggested, even by Senator James McClelland, that once a senator becomes Attorney-General he should merely sit in this place, never reacting to any matter but merely passing judgments on legal matters? I suppose that when he is required to stand for election the Opposition will not oppose his re-election! Like hell it will! I am not a lawyer but I suggest that there is no need to say more on that aspect.
I do not walk away from the fact that in the case to which we are referring the Attorney-General was required to make a judgment and did make a judgment. I believe that he made his judgment fairly. The argument that was adduced in the first place as support for the motion has to be narrowed a little and has to be understood in the context of the party system which operates in Australia. In concluding my remarks on that point I suggest that honourable senators opposite should read the Hansard report of the last session and see what the Attorney-General was subjected to in this place. Was he able to remain in the cloisters at that time? No, he was subjected to a vigorous fire of the kind that we experience in a party House.
– He created those situations himself.
– He responded to them, and because he showed that he has what it takes to fight back honourable senators did not like it. I want to be fair to Senator Murphy by agreeing that it was necessary for a judgment to be made, and I accept that the Attorney-General made his judgment.
At this stage I should like to refer briefly to the motion and to reflect upon the political procedures which are being adopted in the Parliament. We are living in a political climate in which certain political procedures are being adopted. Because it is an election year these political procedures are being revealed in the machinery of government and the machinery of opposition. This situation is not peculiar to the Senate, i had hoped that the tendency to adopt these procedures would not become evident in this place, but we see them, whenever the proceedings are being broadcast, notably in the other place but also, I regret to say, in this chamber, in the use of the forms of the House and other parliamentary procedures in debates on matters of urgent public importance, motions of no confidence and debates on grievance day. A want of confidence motion was moved in the other place yesterday, and another motion is being debated there today. I suggest that an element of that character has come into the proceedings of the Senate. The forms of the House are being used to permit debates on various matters, the purpose being to take the management of the Senate away from the Government. Procedures of this kind do not add very much to the machinery of government or help us to meet our responsibilities. But these procedures are permissible within our system of government, so I suppose we must live with them. 1 suggest that the motion that we are discussing demonstrably is intended as a diversionary tactic because the judgment made by the Attorney-General flushed out certain implications in the political arena. It is for this reason and as a consequence of this that the diversionary tactic has been adopted. I shall deal with that aspect in some sort of sequence a little later in my remarks. The first portion of the motion moved by Senator Murphy states:
That Senator Greenwood has dishonoured the office of Attorney-General:
by making prejudicial statements about one Barry Johnston who has been charged but not yet tried on an information alleging a breach of the National Service Act . . .
The Attorney-General, in fact, in a Press statement that Senator Murphy himself read out, made abundantly clear and reaffirmed his view. He said:
If Senator Murphy reads my statement he will see that 1 made no judgment on any matter before the court.
That is the view the Attorney-General takes and, as we examine it on our side, we believe that he has not made a judgment at all and has not reflected upon an ultimate decision of a court in that matter. Therefore, accepting that as we do and believing that as we do, we must resist this motion very firmly.
Let me move to the second portion of the motion. I think the cat got out of the bag there, because it reads:
As we see this matter, it is because Senator Greenwood has flushed out the political implications for the Labor Party in this issue that we have this diversionary tactic today. Without giving too much emphasis to it, let me mention that we all know it is true that the Labor Party has a selected candidate for a seat in the State of Victoria for a pending Federal election. Whether or not the Attorney-General, Senator Murphy, myself or anybody else spoke about it or went around this place whispering about it, it is public knowledge through the normal processes of the media. It is also public knowledge through the media that there is a warrant out for that candidate’s arrest. It is equally true that he has been avoiding that warrant. In fact, it transpires that while a warrant has been out for his arrest, which he is avoiding - and that is public knowledge - he has actually been hosted by the State President of the Labor Party in Victoria. This is a public fact: He has been hosted by leading members of the Labor Party in Victoria and has been in their company.
Then, taking it the next step, he has been defended by the official Leader of the Opposition in the other place and Leader of the Labor Party (Mr Whitlam), even though it is acknowledged that he is evading the due processes of a warrant of arrest. That is a political fact. It is suggested that I as a Minister, the Attorney-General or anybody else cannot make reference to that, although it is written all over the newspapers of Australia? I just do not follow the logic of that at all.
Having dealt with the first part of Senator Murphy’s motion - I repeat that the judgment which the Attorney-General has made and which we accept is that he has made no judgment of guilt or otherwise on the matter before the Court - I come to the second part of the motion. I wish to deal with it a little further. I want to put the situation of an ordinary citizen. If an ordinary citizen was confronted with a person with whom he were associated and he knew that that person was evading the law in that a warrant was out for his arrest, what would that ordinary citizen do? Would he not say to that person: ‘I advise you, I suggest to you, I even plead with you as a law abiding citizen to go and meet the situation, observe the processes of the law and do not reflect upon the ultimate’. That is what I would do; it is what any ordinary citizen would do.
What would the Opposition expect a member of the legal profession to do? What would be the ethical conduct of such a man who was confronted with a situation in which someone who he knew or met or had referred to him had committed an offence? I might point out that I am dealing only in general with such a situation. What would a member of the legal profession do? What would his obligation be? Would it not be to say to such a person: Look, you have an obligation. There is a warrant out for your arrest. You must go and face up to the situation, because that is the law of the land - that is the way we live’.
I will now bring this matter a bit closer to home. What is the obligation of a law maker, whether he be in this House or any other House of Parliament? If a constituent came to you and said: ‘There is a warrant out for my arrest’, what would you as a law maker say to him? Would you not say: ‘I will do everything I can to help you, but I suggest to you that the first thing you must do is to report in because there is a warrant out for your arrest’. We could not live with any other proposition than that.
– Some have been to me and I have not said that.
I think that the honourable senator has betrayed his trust as a law maker if he did not. I repeat that if an honourable senator sils in this place, having taken the oath or made the affirmation, and someone approaches him, who in the senator’s conscious knowledge has a warrant out for his arrest, surely to God the senator would say to that person: ‘You must face up to your obligations before the law’.
– We are politicians and not policemen.
Here we have it - a nice distinction. I hope that what the honourable senator had to say will be recorded in Hansard. Let us forget the matter of substance in this situation. We have a case in which in the political sense Senator Greenwood has established that there is a person - I do not refer to the charge - who is being sought to appear before the court and who is evading the court. A warrant has been taken out for his arrest. The president of one of the Opposition’s State branches, and indeed the Leader of the Opposition in another place, avoids the issue as to whether that person is breaking the law. I think that it is a fact of life that this attitude is wrong. Therefore, in my judgment I say that Senator Murphy’s motion was intended as a diversionary tactic. I do not think that the case has been proven, or that there is a case, against Senator Greenwood in terms of the motion. I believe that Senator Greenwood made a judgment in relation to the responsibilities of the office which he holds. He made a judgment in relation to the fact that there was in the political arena a situation in which members of the Labor Party were avoiding their responsibilities as citizens in certain circumstances on the one hand and as law makers on the other.
Mr President, if you or anyone else has any doubt about what I have said I would like to refer to what the Press of this country have had to say in the last 2 days. I have with me articles which have appeared in the Sydney ‘Sun’, the Melbourne ‘Herald’, the ‘Austraiian’, the Canberra Times’ and even the ‘Daily Telegraph’. Honourable senators can read any one of these articles. Perhaps honourable senators would like me to read what they say about responsibility for the administration of the law. 1 would be happy to table any of the articles if anyone wants that. J shall read from the Sydney ‘Sun’. I shall paraphrase what is written but I have lime to read it in the totality if honourable senators want that. In one part it states:
The place for Australian political parties to change laws is in Parliament.
That is a pretty powerful comment, is it not? This is the point I am making. An editorial in the Melbourne ‘Age’ stales:
Good law or bad the National Service Act remains in force until amended or repealed. By giving support and protection to Mr Johnston, the Victorian ALI’ is assisting a man for whom an arrest warrant ha.s been issued in accordance with that law. To do this is to hurl ridicule and contempt upon the rule of law, the cornerstone of the political system which a Labor Government would be obliged lo administer and protect.
That is, if the Austraiian Labor Party ever gol into office. Because honourable senators are sitting on the cross benches, tha! does not absolve them from the responsibilities of the law. That is my addition to the editorial. We find the ‘Australian’ states:
Defending (he local ALP choice of the draft resister, Barrie Johnston. Mr Whitiam said that he had not yet been convicted of breaking the law. This is itself is a specious way of begging the question, since the whole point of Mr Johnston’s position is that he is in conscience and self-proclaimed defiance of the law.
But [hen Mr Whitlam went further. Claiming that ‘draft dodging is not a crime’, He went on to explain: ‘It is important for the public to realise we will do away wilh the draft’.
This is tantamount to the curious suggestion that once a particular political party has decided it will repeal a law, when it can, that taw somehow loses all validity.
This is the proposition the Press talks about in terms of the Leader of the Opposition in another place. He is a man not unaware of the law. if I may be permitted to say so. I do not want to go much on the point about the candidate on the run. A reference is made in the Canberra Times’ in much the same pattern. Mr President, what I am saying is not something that I have dredged up. This is the almost unanimous view of the media and people who write - not always complimentary - about the Government. But they exercise their critical vein one way and another. I suggest that what this motion is at temp: ing to do - 1 do not think that it has succeeded on this level - is to create a diversionary situation against the facts as they have emerged. In conclusion 1 say that we in government do not accept that the Attorney-General has acted in a dishonourable way at all. We believe that he has acted in a completely honourable way and within the concepts of the parliamentary procedures that we enjoy here. He has not. reflected on the matter of substance, in relation to a particular person. He has of course, referred to the relationship be: ween the Opposition and a person who is one of its candidates for an election which is lo be held. The AttorneyGeneral has reflected on the position thai the avoidance of a warrant for arrest has been condoned by the official Opposition. 1 conclude: The Government has every confidence in the Attorney-General in this House.
– I think that at this stage one should repeat the terms of the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) because I fail, and I think that anyone would fail, to detect from what has been said by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) any comprehension on his part of what is meant in the motion that has been moved. Senator Murphy’s motion states:
That Senator Greenwood has dishonoured the office of Attorney-General:
by making prejudicial statements about one Barry Johnston who has been charged but not yet tried on an information alleging a breach of the National Service Act, and
by involving the office of Attorney-General in a party political controversy in connection with that pending criminal case.
Senator Murphy has made very clear what the authorities have, repeatedly pointed out down the years regarding the role of the Attorney-General. The office of AttorneyGeneral is a quasi-judicial office. Nobody disputes that it is a political office; that the Attorney-General is a member of Parliament; that, he is a member of a ministry and that he is normally a member of a political party. But within that framework he does have a very special role.
That role was elaborated at some length by Lord Simon, a very conservative former Attorney-General of England and later Lord Chancellor of England. He made it perfectly clear in language which 1 think is accepted by all lawyers and by all those who are concerned about the Constitution, that the role of the Attorney-General must be a different role from that of other Ministers; that although the AttorneyGeneral may, and indeed does, comment freely on political matters as they come before the Parliament, he must not allow the intrusion of his political views and the interests of his political Party into the discussion of an offence which any person is alleged to have committed; and that in fact - and this has been pointed out by other distinguished Attorneys-General, not only of England but also of this country - on many occasions the Attorney-General must act as a safeguard of the rights of the citizen against the views of the Cabinet, against the views of the Government and against the views of the political Party of which he is a member.
What we say on this occasion in this motion is that the present Attorney-General has dishonoured the office of AttorneyGeneral by departing from all the accepted canons of behaviour of Attorneys-General by allowing his office to be used for the purpose of discrediting his political opponents and particularly of discrediting a person who is at present under a charge. I think that the understanding which the Leader of the Government in the Senate has of this matter is indicated in the reply which he gave to Senator Murphy’s speech in support of the motion. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson said that Senator Murphy had ‘pontificated’ in quoting the views of other Attorneys-General, of much more distinction than the grinning AttorneyGeneral who sits here at this moment, and of other eminent lawyers. He said that Senator Murphy was engaging in legalisms. The word ‘legalism’ is one. which is often used by people who wish to evade the spirit of the law. They say that something is a legalism. We believe that the right to a fair trial without prejudice is not a legalism but is an essentia] civil right. To say that it is completely incorrect for an AttorneyGeneral to make pronouncements about the guilt of a person who is awaiting trial and to object to this behaviour is no legalism but is a statement of a very deep and important democratic principle about the conduct of society. When it is departed from or when the Attorney-General or some other law officer is allowed to find people guilty without trial, this undermines the very basis of that rule of law about which Senator Greenwood trumpets so frequently in this place and elsewhere.
We have not said that the AttorneyGeneral should not speak on politics or that he should not engage in the day to day controversies, as the Leader of the Government seemed to have understood that we had. We have not said that he should not engage in very heated controversy or that he should not be political. But what we have said is that he should not allow the political opinions which he holds or the political intersts of his Party or of his Government to intrude into matters which come before the courts and in respect of which accused persons are awaiting trial. The proposition which has been put forward elsewhere by .the AttorneyGeneral and now by the Leader of the Government is most interesting. It is that because a person has been accused of some offence and that person happens to be a member of the Labor Party - indeed a Labor Party candidate - members of the Labor Party should be called upon to disown and to repudiate this person and to make derogatory comments about him. Without naming the individual to whom I now wish to refer, I would remind the Senate that just at this time there is a member of the same Party as the AttorneyGeneral, who is a member of a certain State parliament, a man who in the past admitted having engaged in a most flagrant abuse of the law and who is awaiting charge on a serious offence. We do not call on the Government to deny or to repudiate this person who recently was re-endorsed by the Liberal Party and who took his seat in a House of a certain State Parliament. But with equal justice we could do that. We could call on the Government to repudiate this person, but we do not do so. I do not intend to name this person.
If the Attorney-General were as dedicated to the law as he says he is he would repudiate this Liberal Party member of a certain State Parliament and would call upon the Prime Minister and the Premier of the State in which that man is a member of Parliament to repudiate him. But the Attorney-General does not intend to do it. He does not intend to do it because that man is a member of the political party to which be belongs. So partial is the Attorney-General and so does he dishonour the office of AttorneyGeneral that he intervenes in such matters only when he wishes to discredit members of the Opposition. He does not intervene when the person involved is a member of the political party to which he belongs.
There are various approaches which people may take to the law. There are those people who say that in all circumstances the law should be obeyed, that there should never be any deviation from the law, that the law itself is the ultimate morality and that every offence which is committed should be prosecuted. That is a substantial point of view, and I think it is a point of view which requires some consideration and some respect. There are other people who take a different point of view. There are others who say that one has to exercise one’s moral judgment in approaching any law, that one has to take the consequences of one’s actions but that one has not only the right but also the duty to oppose certain laws. If it were not for the fact that people who have played some part in the development of our history and in the development of our law had defied the law we would not have many of the laws - indeed, the most valuable laws - that we have today. If it were not for the fact that the Barons of England had broken the law in 1215 there would not have been a Magna Carta. If it had not been for the Glorious Revolution of 1688 there would not have been the Bill of Rights of 1689. If it had not been for those people who broke the law in the 13 colonies of North America in 1775 there would not have been the Declaration of Independence of 1776 and there would not have been any United States of America established out of the colonial situation in which- the people in that country found themselves at that time. If this Government had not broken international law there would not have been any Australian troops in Vietnam and this matter would have never come before the Federal Parliament.
That is one view which is taken, and I think it is a view which is taken quite often by members of the Party sitting opposite. I remember that in my late adolescence one of the heroes of the Liberal Party in 1949 was, I think, Bill Dargan. Day after day we used to hear about the heroic Bill Dargan. No doubt Senator Willesee will recall him. I think his name was mentioned frequently when Senator Willesee was first a candidate for the Senate. Bill Dargan’s great achievement was that he was a butcher in a provincial town in Queensland who refused to do what the law required him to do with his ration cards. The hero of the Liberal Party was a man who defied this terrible oppressive law in relation to meat rationing. I did not hear anybody from the Liberal Party repudiating him. I do not hear Senator Greenwood saying: ‘We have reformed. We have disowned that terrible past when we supported heroic Bill Dargan, the man who would not fill in his ration cards’.
I can remember another episode. This occurred in the period after the introduction of the Banking Act of 1947, when the late Sir Frank Clarke, who was a leading Liberal Party member of the Victorian Legislative Council and a member of the Board of the National Bank of Australasia, which is a very respectable law abiding body, made certain statements. What did the Honourable Sir Frank Clarke, M.L.C., have to say at that time? He called on young, spirited, democratically minded men to resist, physically if need be, the shocking, communist socialist laws of the Labor Government of that time which was proposing to nationalise banks. Of course, the Liberal Party does not repudiate anything of that nature.
But if we accept that Senator Greenwood does hold to the philosophy that the law must always and in all circumstances be obeyed, that everybody who has committed any offence must be charged with that offence, that the full majesty and all the resources of the law must be used to bring these lawbreakers before the courts, what about the 1 1 ,000 other people who have not complied with the National Service Act? Why are they not brought before the courts? Can the Attorney-General answer that? Is it not a fact that those people who are charged with breaches of the National Service Act are almost invariably those people who have publicly and politically declared their opposition to the National Service Act? Is it not a fact that the Attorney-General and his predecessor and members of this Government have used breaches of the National Service Act to single out and victimise individual persons, particularly members of the Australian Labor Parry, but have let the other thousands and thousands go untouched?
This is not the first time the AttorneyGeneral has raised matters of this nature. Apparently the Attorney-General is someone who is wedded to the letter and the spirit of the law, or so he constantly tells us. But why does he not inquire, if he does not already know, what are the functions of an Attorney-General? He has deliberately used his office to discredit this man Johnston before he comes to trial. He has accused him of committing an offence, and I believe that what that offence is is quite irrelevant. As Senator Murphy has pointed out, it was a national scandal in the United States when President Nixon made comments about the guilt of Charles Manson who was engaged with other persons in a most diabolical series of murders in California. The people who were criticising President Nixon for what he did on that occasion were not saying that they had some sympathy for Manson or that, if what Manson and the other persons who were accused with him were alleged to have done had in fact been done, it was somehow to be commended or at least not to be criticised. They were saying that the President of the United States should not presume to judge the guilt of a person who had not been convicted. It is a basic principle of our democracy, and of the democracy of the United States, whatever weaknesses there may be in the United States - there are myriad weaknesses in the United States - that there is a rule of law to be followed, and the President of the United States and the Attorney-General of the United States would never dream of doing the sorts of things, except by inadvertence as I believe was the case in relation to President Nixon’s comments, that this Attorney-General has done since he has held this office. When President Nixon was challenged about what he had said about Manson he did not say: ‘Those people who are criticising me are sympathisers of Manson’. He apologised. He admitted that he had made a mistake. That, if nothing else, shows the difference between the moral fibre of Nixon and that of a man like Senator Greenwood.
Senator Greenwood talks about the letter and the spirit of the law, but there is nobody who has done more to undermine respect for the law and undermine the rule of law in this country than he has done individually and personally since he has occupied this high office, which is that of the highest, law officer in the Commonwealth of Australia. This is not the first time that he has done this, if I may remind the Senate. On 23rd November last he did precisely the same sort of thing. In one instance what he did was even more ludicrous. In the course of a debate he said:
We find Mr Crawford, President of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party, going into places where the police are not permitted because he is making common cause with the resisters. Mr Hartley, the former Victorian Secretary of the ALP and the Victorian representative of the ALP Federal Executive, was demonstrating outside the Melbourne City Court last week with a draft resister.
The Attorney-General said these things about Mr Hartley while Mr Hartley was awaiting trial on a related offence. The Attorney-General, this upholder of the rule of law and order, used his high office in order to discredit Mr Hartley, in order to impugn the motives and the conduct of Mr Hartley while he was awaiting trial. Not only did he do this, he also talked about Mr Crawford entering these premises where the. police were not allowed. As my colleague Senator Poyser was able to point out, in fact Mr Crawford already had been charged with that offence and acquitted. So casual is the Attorney-General in his approach to the truth, so casual is the Attorney-General in his approach to justice, so casual is the Attorney-General in his approach to the spirit of the rule of law, so imbued with fanaticism for selfadvancement and for the denigration of the Australian Labor movement is the AttorneyGeneral that not only does he set out to discredit people who are awaiting trial but also he falsely maligns in this Parlia- meat people who have been tried already and acquitted, and never once do we find sufficient character in the man to apologise for it.
I think it should be pointed out that this is an important motion. This is not a frivolous motion. This is not the normal political type of motion. We. have had disagreements with the Leader of the Government in the Senate; we have had disagreements with Senator Wright; we have had disagreements with Senator Cotton; we have had disagreements with Senator Drake-Brockman, but we have not moved a motion relating to Senator Cotton, for example, claiming that he has dishonoured the office of Minister for Civil Aviation. We do not believe that he has dishonoured the office of Minister for Civil Aviation, whatever disagreements on policy we have had with him. This is a specific motion directed against an Attorney-General who is dishonouring his office. Not only is he dishonouring his office, he is dishonouring also the law of this country, this Parliament and even this country itself.
– lt is rather a humiliating experience to have been a member of the Senate now for a long period of years and to be confronted by this contemptible and pathetic motion which has been proposed by Senator Murphy and which has been supported in such a puerile and irrational fashion as we have seen on the part of the young senator from Western Australia who purports to have, a knowledge of Liberal Party politics from an erstwhile connection with the Liberal Party and now, of course, the sinner reformed must show himself as out-doing even Senator Murphy in sin.
Bringing the Senate back to matters of some importance, I think I can introduce my point of view today by saying that 2 principles of real importance in the government of this country are relevant to the discussion. The first is the principle of national service, and the second is the principle of the rule of law. I shall come to the rule of law in a moment. As to national service, we know that members of the Australian Labor Party have engendered a veritable paranoia in relation to this and when they hear the term ‘national service’ they go into a frantic rage of resis tance. They forget that when the original National Service Bill was introduced they did not oppose it. They forget that when in 1968 the Act was amended to provide for imprisonment in a civil gaol instead of a penalty of military service for those who resisted the call up, they actively approved and supported that amendment to the legislation which also was supported by the Council of Churches, the Returned Services League. 1 believe, and other community bodies.
The Vietnam engagement was then in progress and our men unfortunately were committee to battle duty in that campaign. I can understand, as a very arguable proposition, the attitudes which legitimately could be formed on both sides in relation to compulsory service for young men in that campaign. But now that campaign has ceased as an active engagement and our troops have been withdrawn. The type of national service we are discussing today is national service involving training for defence duty. For the, Australian Labor Party, having some pretention to persuading the people to give it power after the next election, to use a man like Mr Johnston as a carcass around which to generate a public campaign is a despicable performance for any organisation. So much for its attitude today in espousing draft resisters and opposing national service. But we then had Saint Lionel Murphy writing a new creed on the rule of law in a sanctimonious fashion that was positively revolting.
– That is not the way to speak.
– Order! Senator Wright, Senator Murphy has taken objection.
– I will withdraw the word ‘Saint’ and substitute senator and say that he paraded this decent principle in a hypocritical fashion that excites resentment and condemnation on the part of anyone who has had 12 months study of the principles of the rule of law. For Senator Murphy Q.C. to come in here and try to denigrate an Attorney-General of great understanding, principles and responsibility in this way is a disgrace to any leader of a party, however unlearned. What the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) said that excited this motion was that Mr
Johnston failed to appear before the District Court in Melbourne; a warrant had been issued for his arrest and that he was being sought by the Commonwealth and State police. The Commonwealth Police Force is an arm of the service for the administration of which the Attorney-General is responsible. Amongst his other duties it is legitimate for him to bring widely to the attention of the public the fact that the police of the community are willing to assist and are duty bound to arrest Mr Johnston.
This is where the rub comes on the part of the propounder of this motion. The
Attorney-General’s statement included these words: ti is deplorable for any parliamentary candidate to adopt such a contemptuous altitude for lawful processes and deliberately to create a situation where the court issues a warrant for his arrest. Even if the Labor Party disagrees with the policy of the Aci its parliamentary members and its candidates, like all citizens, have an obligation to observe and uphold the law.
In that respect we heard positively revolting sanctimoniousness this afternoon from a man who has imbibed the substance of the principle of the rule of law which induces everyone to abstain from prejudicial statements about persons accused of criminal offences before the courts. The Attorney-General has been criticised over a person who failed to appear before the court on summons, a person who disregarded the court process, and the Attorney-General made not a comment about the evidence. Mr Johnston did not appear before the court. It is that action which is being criticised without a word of implication as to what would have happened if Mr Johnston had accepted the processes of British justice and appeared before the court with all the opportunities of having the case heard and then making submissions to show his own innocence. The Attorney-General did not refer to this aspect in any way at all. He went on to add that Dr Moss Cass, member for Maribyrnong, of marihuana, abortion, homosexuality and national service resistance fame, had said that Mr Johnston has the full support of the ALP.
I would have thought, Mr President, that it was the duty of the AttorneyGeneral to ask about a parliamentary candidate who had defied the process of the law by not appearing to submit to the judgment of the court, after putting up his defence in a proper way. It was his duty to bring to the attention of the public that there was a party, in opposition for 23 years in this country, which was giving its support to this candidate. That is supposed to be action which is not in the name of the rule of law. The Labor Party is supporting this man who is on the run, as one newspaper states this morning; a man who is defying the elementary administrative processes of appearing before the court when the court is about to hear the case and give judgment. This party in Opposition makes him a parliamentary candidate.
Senator Murphy paraded the rule of law the next day in his public statement and I am proud of the response that Senator Greenwood thought fit to express when he said: 1 regard Senator Murphy’s statement as intemperate and quite unfounded. … An ALP candidate … is evading arrest. He refused to register for national service and was fined. He refused to attend medical examination and was fined and imprisoned. He has now failed to appear in court to answer the charge of not obeying his call-up notice. The clear issue, which Senator Murphy evades, is whether the ALP is prepared to withdraw Mr Johnston’s endorsement and uphold the lawful processes, or whether, as Dr Cass affirms, the ALP is giving Mr Johnston full support.
That statement again abstains from any prejudgment, as to whether Mr Johnston is guilty. Senator Murphy complained today of the reference in the statement to the fact that Mr Johnston had been convicted and fined for failing to register and had been convicted and imprisoned for failing to attend medical examination, ls it to be suggested that those matters are not matters of public record; that nobody can get a certificate of them by going to the registry at any time? Is anybody here pretentious enough to suggest that those matters of record are not admissible, legitimate evidence with regard to the status of Mr Johnston when he evades the call-up notice?
Mr President, I am taking too long on such matters; I want to come to the nub of the matter. Following all this contention the Labor Party arranged a conference last weekend or at the weekend before at which it secreted Mr Johnston in through a back door. In the security of the Labor Party’s privacy it allowed Mr Johnston to give a 5 minute address. These are the gentlemen whose Leader in the Senate parades before us his conception of the principle of the rule of law. The public media asked the president of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria, Mr Crawford, about it. Mr Crawford said:
I do not think we have broken the law but I am sure that, so far as the Labor Party is concerned, we are behind Barry in what he is doing and we certainly intend to stay behind him.
Later in the same interview, the interviewer said: ‘But you are breaking the law to do it”. Mr Crawford replied: ‘We are supporting his breaking of the law, yes’. Although the basis of this motion proposed by Senator Murphy is the rule of law, the honourable senator has the temerity to submit to this chamber that statement by the President of the Victorian Australian Labor Party. Is it any wonder that Senator Greenwood responded with the forthrightness that only Attorneys-General can muster? Attorneys-General are required in the discharge of their duty fearlessly to stale the facts and uphold the law. He said that such procedures and conduct on the part of the ALP were a scandal.
Senator Murphy, the proponent of this motion, comes under scrutiny first for his perversion of the decent principle of the rule of law. Secondly, he comes under scrutiny for putting forward this motion after that public statement had been made by the leader of the ALP in Victoria, a statement in which that gentleman said: We are supporting Barry and will continue to support him. He is breaking the law, but we are not’. But thirdly, there is a much more interesting aspect to this matter, i refer to a statement made the weekend before last by Mr Whitlam. It is always emphasised by Senator Murphy that we must make the distinction between the Leader of the Opposition in this place and the Leader of the Opposition in another place.
– That was the Presien rs ruling.
– It was my ruling that the distinction be made.
– Oh yes, but you had the vehement and repetitive claim of Senator Murphy for that distinction. Consequently I do not want him to escape under the robes of the President from responsibility for his espousal of that distinction. Mr Whitlam, the Leader of the Opposition in another place, said about 2 weeks ago:
We will repeal the National Service Act and, if the Senate will not accept our statute for repeal, we will not prosecute under it.
That is to say that a government, having taken the oath of office to uphold the law, would then dispense with the law and not prosecute under it. That is Mr Whitlam’s attitude. But then Mr Whitlam came out this weekend with the delightful disclosure, which even a member of a kindergarten would not take credit for, that draft dodging is not a criminal offence. Senator Murphy, having said on 11th February that he would raise this matter as soon as the Senate met, delayed until this week to do it - after the statement by Mr Whitlam that draft dodging was not a criminal offence - and he has repeated that statement at a time when the very basis of his criticism of Senator Greenwood is that in relation to a prosecution for a criminal offence the Attorney-General made prejudicial statements.
The antithesis between Mr Whitlam’s claim that it is not a criminal offence and Senator Murphy’s proposition here today that because it is a criminal offence any criticism with regard to the action is prejudicial, to my rather unruly mind bears the sinister implication that there is a design on the part of the mover of this motion to emphasise the difference between the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in another place. Such is the situation that appears from this contemptible and pathetic motion. The Leader of the Opposition has used this material in an endeavour to denigrate and criticise an honourable occupant of office, Senator Greenwood, Attorney-General. I should think that the proponent of this motion should apologise to the Senate for the contempt of the Senate which he evinces in thinking that we would ever entertain a proposition which is so unjust and unworthy.
– I am possibly the first layman to come into this debate. This is not entirely a legal question: essentially it is a question of civil rights. If we did not know the speakers from the Government side of the chamber who have spoken to this motion and if wc accepted their honesty, perhaps wc would find justification for condemning the leader of the Australian Labor Party, who is the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr Whitlam), the leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy), Mr Mos. Cass, who is the honourable member for Maribyrnong in Victoria, and Mr Crawford from Victoria. Although honourable senators have scouted all round the bush of condemnation in criticising their political opponents, no-one, from Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson down, has touched upon the resolution.
– They have not attempted to defend him.
– There has been no attempt to defend the AttorneyGeneral. The resolution that we are discussing has no bearing on whether Mr Whitlam was right, Senator Murphy was right, Mos. Cass was right or anyone- else was right - it is a condemnation of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood). Honourable senators opposite have asserted that various people have been wrong, but there has been no statement that the Attorney-Genera! is right and there has been no attempt to defend him in reply to the criticism contained in the resolution.
The resolution moved by Senator Murphy simply gives notice of an intention to move that Senator Greenwood has dishonoured the office of AttorneyGeneral. Senator Murphy made out his case to show that this happened and no-one has contradicted the case made out by him. No-one has spoken a word to show that Senator Greenwood has not dishonoured his office. Al) honourable senators opposite have ignored that aspect but have said that everyone in the Labor Party has dishonoured his office. If members of the Labor Party have dishonoured their offices, why have honourable senators opposite permitted this criticism of Senator Greenwood to go unchallenged? The criticism remains unchallenged and no attempt has been made to show that the honourable senator has not dishonoured his office.
– That is, if you delete the speeches made by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and Senator Wright.
– No. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson took the lead and rambled all about the place. He was more interested in whether 1 should report for prosecution someone who was evading national service than whether the AttorneyGeneral had dishonoured his office. Senator Murphy set out the reason why he thought the Attorney-General had dishonoured his office, namely, that Senator Greenwood had made prejudicial statements about one Barry Johnston. Has anyone said in the course of the debate that the Attorney-General did nol make prejudicial statements about Barry Johnston? The prejudicial statements were that Barry Johnston was evading arrest, was refusing to appear before the court and was in breach of the National Service Act. All those statements were made through the Press, over radio and television and in this House. Therefore it would appear that if the act of making prejudicial statements against an accused is dishonouring the office of Attorney-General, the case against the Minister has been established - subject, of course, to the defence put forward on behalf of the Attorney-General, a defence which wc have not heard so far, and the matter being given a fair trial. No-one has attempted to deny that the AttorneyGeneral made ‘prejudicial statements about one Barry Johnston who has been charged but not yet tried on an information alleging a breach of the National Service Act’.
There is a further consideration, namely, that the Attorney-General has dishonoured his office ‘by involving the office of AttorneyGeneral in a party political controversy in connection with that pending criminal case’. Every utterance by the Attorney-General has been of a nature that has brought party political controversy into this case. The Attorney-General has said: This man is evading his obligations under the National Service Act. The political party opposite is supporting him in his evasion. There is Mr Crawford from Victoria. There are the statements of Gough Whitlam’. These things are brought in to suggest that the opponents of the Government are dishonourable people because they are assisting someone who is on trial. We have come to the stage of dishonouring a person who is accused.
The question here is not whether the National Service Act should be observed. Senator Wright spent the best part of his speech justifying the Act and telling us how the Labor Party supported it in the past. That is not part of the matter we are considering now. This is not a question of whether the Act is just or unjust; it is a question of someone being accused of breaking the law of the Commonwealth. That is the sole question. Whether it is a good law or a bad law, someone is accused of breaking it, and, like every other British subject and every other Australian citizen, he is entitled to the respect of every honourable senator and every citizen of Australia. He is accused of something of which he is not guilty until such time as he has been found guilty by a court.
– But they cannot catch him.
– Until that time - even if they never catch him - he is not guilty of the offence. If it is to be left to the Attorney-General to decide whether he is guilty or not or if it is to be left to Senator Marriott to decide that, obviously he is guilty. We are told to uphold the law of the land and the judiciary. The law of Australia is based on the premise that everyone is entitled to a free trial.
– A fair trial.
– Yes, a fair trial. Therefore, Barry Johnston is not guilty at this stage of committing any breach of law of the Commonwealth. Senator Byrne corrected me on the point that everyone is entitled to a fair trial. The question is: Can this defendant who has been accused - he has only been accused at this stage - receive a fair trial? The holder of the office of Attorney-General has an obligation to provide the machinery to restrict any talk or criticism that would prejudice a fair trial for Barry Johnston. The accusation is that the Attorney-General has contributed derogatory statements that will not permit a fair trial for this defendant. The AttorneyGeneral’s job should be to examine the newspaper reports, including those of the speech by Mr Whitlam and the statement by Dr Cass, to see whether they contribute to the prejudicing of public opinion which prevents a fair trial.
During the last session of the Parliament I raised in this chamber the case of an individual in Adelaide who was on trial for the theft of some photographic equipment from the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury. I asked a series of questions about that affair because I found out that the Establishment’s security was such that certain documents, which were marked Secret’, were sold at auction. I think I raised the matter in an adjournment debate in order to show up the lack of security in connection with the long range weapons research work at Salisbury. The individual concerned was accused of being in unlawful possession of some of the material. When he appeared in court in Adelaide the judge refused to hear the case. Because of the reference that had been made to it in the Senate, he did not think it was possible at that stage for the defendant to be given a fair trial. So he adjourned the case until the next sittings of the court in order to ensure that the defendant was granted a fair trial.
I believe that there is a lot of justification for such action and that the judge should be commended for the attitude he took on that occasion. That happens on many occasions. There is the question of the prohibition of publication of evidence given before lower courts in criminal cases and whether such publication could prejudice a jury at a later hearing. Overriding all this is the machinery of either the Slate or Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department to ensure that under our system of law the defendant can be given a fair trial and that the procedure exists for him to be given a fair trial.
What we are saying on this occasion is that Barry Johnston is not guilty of any charge until such time as he is proved guilty; that it may be difficult for him to be given a fair trial; and that the action of the Attorney-General has contributed to the inability of Barry Johnston to be given a fair trial when he is tried on the charge under the National Service Act. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has quoted the reported statements of the Attorney-General and various auhorities on the position of an Attorney-General and the question of a fair trial. As to the legal definition of ‘prejudicial statement’, Jowitt’s ‘A Dictionary of English Law’ states:
Where a person, whether a party to a proceeding or not, does any act which may tend to hinder the course of justice or show disrespect to the court’s authority.
It is more important when it is the AttorneyGeneral who, whether he is a party to the proceedings or not, does some act which may tend to hinder the course of justice. Campbell and Whitmore in ‘Freedom in Australia’ give the following definition:
In order to ensure a fair trial, the law of criminal contempt makes it an offence to publish any matter concerning pending litigation which is calculated to interfere with or impede an impartial hearing.
That says that it is contempt even to publish any matter concerning pending litigation. We have had the newspapers full of this matter and we have had the utterances of the Attorney-General. What was his motive in making them? His motive was shown in his statement: ‘The Labor Party supports these evaders, these people who are evading the National Service Act, these people who are in breach of the Act’, and his linking that up with questions that were asked about Barry Johnston. Obviously the Attorney-General has made derogatory statements which could prejudice a fair trial and impede the hearing. Campbell and Whitmore go on to say:
As a general rule, an intention to interfere with or impede the course of justice need not be proved against a respondent to a contempt of court charge. The offence is one of stict liability and the respondent is guilty if it is established that the publication in question had a tendency to prejudice a fair trial.
When has anyone on the Government side, including Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, ever said that the statements made by the Attorney-General would not have a tendency to prejudice a fair trial? When have they tried to justify the statements? All the utterances of honourable senators opposite have been by way of a condemnation of the Labor Party. Halsbury in his third edition states:
Speeches or writings misrepresenting the proceedings of the court or prejudicing the public for or against a party are contempts … to constitute a contempt, adverse comment on a party need not refer to the subject-matter of the pending proceedings. It is sufficient if it is clear that the comment tends to prejudice the trial of the action.
There we see the wide possibility of contempt or prejudice to a fair trial. The contempt need not refer to the subject matter of the prosecution. It is sufficient if it is clear that the contempt tends to prejudice the trial of the action. Therefore what has been said by senators on the other side of the chamber is a condemnation of the Australian Labor Party and the National Service Act, which is linked with the question of Barry Johnston who is awaiting trial. It is a condemnation of the statements of Mr Crawford in Victoria and of the Labor Party’s electoral endorsement of Barry Johnston. What has been said by honourable senators opposite is also contempt of court and prejudicial to a fair trial.
– What, to say that he is endorsed by the Australian Labor Parly?
– Why is it not? We listened for an undue length of time to the dramatics of Senator Wright who could only say that the Labor Party supported something or other and condemned that Party. With his legal knowledge - and 1 can only accept that he was drawing upon his legal knowledge - he made no attempt to defend the Attorney-General but offered criticism of the motion. I repeat that he made no defence of the Attorney-General.
Why can the Labor Party not endorse as a candidate a man who does not have a criminal record or who has not broken the law? The Labor Party has endorsed Barry Johnston as a candidate for the forthcoming House of Representatives election. This action is the subject of condemnation because it has been stated that Barry Johnston is an evader of national service and is in breach of the National Service Act. Therefore the very suggestion that the Labor Party has done wrong by endorsing a man awaiting trial is contempt of court and prejudicial to the trial of this you nig individual. This is the complaint of Senator Murphy. The Attorney-General has a greater responsibility to look into the questions surrounding this case and should not be party to the condemnation. He has a responsibility to see that others do not prejudice any trial that this individual can get. It is reasonable to ask whether the defendant can have a fair trial in certain circumstances. If he is apprehended and brought to trial should action the same i that which was taken in South Australia be adopted? Should the case be adjourned until such time as the public remarks of the Attorney-General that have been made in this chamber are forgotten by a trial jury?
Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson seems to get very emotional when one of his members is attacked. He seems to think that he is under an obligation to defend these people whether they are right or wrong. Indeed, he obviously upholds the whole concept that it is everyone’s duty to report all law breakers, whether that person be a politician or a citizen. The honourable senator said that citizens have, the duty to report-
– He did not say ‘report’.
– I think that he did say ‘report’. The question of what is the citizen’s obligation arises here. Lord Shawcross relied on the earlier statement of the role of an Attorney-General made by Lord Simon when he himself was Attorney-General. It was as follows:
There is no greater nonsense talked about the Attorney-General’s duty than the suggestion that in all cases the Attorney-General ought to decide to prosecute merely because he thinks there is what the lawyers call ‘a case’, lt is not true, and no-one who has held that office supposes it is.
As Senator Murphy stated, there is a responsibility to institute a prosecution when it is in the public interest to do so. I think we all have an obligation as citizens to report a case to the law enforcement officers when it is in the public interest to do so. However, I would hate to think that we were under an obligation to report every breach of the law to come under our notice. For instance, should we have to report a lad who rides his bicycle along a path and who is in breach of a municipal law? Should we be running off to the police station to report him? Should we become the prosecutor in the case of a traffic breach which we see on the way home? I think that we all have and feel an obligation, when it is in the public interest, to report a breach of the law. I do not think that we would neglect our duty to report such a breach.
We on this side of the chamber do not think that it is in the public interest to have conscription in Australia. We do not think that we should have a system where, sby a decision of a lottery, men are taken out of useful occupations and given obligations to defend Australia. The Labor Party has a firm policy, which we are presenting, that conscription is only a method of running the defence of Australia on the cheap. We believe that it is not necessary. It is cheaper to conscript men rather than pay wages which would compete with those paid by industry today. We cannot see any obligation to report anyone in breach of this law. We do not think that it is a law which we can support. We say that those who do not comply with the law are at least entitled to a fair trial. We have never condemned the decisions of the magistrates. Last night I referred to Mr Nelligen, S.M., who stated that he had no alternative to giving a youth 18 months gaol. There was no condemnation of the magistrate’s action - it was condemnation of the law. The youth was found guilty and the magistrate was not given a discretion. He had to sentence the youth to 18 months gaol. He was found guilty - and possibly he pleaded guilty - after he had the right to a fair trial. However, in the case under discussion a man has been found guilty before he has had a trial. Because the Labor Party has endorsed this man, who has not committeed a crime at this stage, as a candidate for an election it is the subject of condemnation by honourable senators on the other side of the chamber. Questions, including questions of the Dorothy Dix type, have been asked and answered. The very answering of the questions is a finding of guilty against this individual before he has been tried. By answering the questions the AttorneyGeneral is not regarding this matter as sub judice. This attitude should have been adopted because this man awaits trial when he is apprehended. But now he has been found guilty in utterances from the other side of the chamber. When this is done by the Attorney-General I submit that he is dishonouring his position. We have created a complex situation, and so much publicity in relation to this matter that there must always be some suspicion as to whether Barry Johnston will obtain a fair trial on the charge of which he is accused. Because the Attorney-General is implicated and because it is doubtful whether Barry Johnston can obtain a fair trial, then the Attorney-General is guilty as set out in the motion and he should be disowned by this House.
– It is perhaps appropriate (hat at a reasonably early stage of the debate somebody should endeavour to present the attitude of the Australian Democratic Labor Party because the attitude which we adopt in this matter may well be the determinant in the vote taken in this chamber. The proposition which is before the Senate is extremely serious. I am concerned because this is the third occasion in a very short time when a similar motion has been presented to this chamber. 1 recall a motion moved against a recently deceased honourable senator, a motion moved against an honourable senator who has recently been defeated or resigned and now a motion against this honourable senator. All of the honourable senators concerned have been Ministers. This is one of the most serious matters which can come before the chamber, apart from a censure motion against or a vote of no confidence in the Government. Those motions are not altogether available in this place. This is a censure motion against a member of the Government, a member of the Executive Council and a member of the Cabinet. If charges of this nature are to be levelled they must be levelled with great circumspection and they must be supported with evidence which is virtually incontrovertible.
I know that on the occasion on which a censure motion or a vote of no confidence was moved against the now deceased honourable senator - his name will be well remembered by honourable senators here - it was led by 2 distinguished members of the legal profession. The only evidence which was tendered on that occasion might be described as inference resting on hearsay on hearsay. It was a body of evidence which would have been inadequate to sustain a charge on a simple offence. It would have been incompetent to support a charge of misdemeanour. It was totally inadequate on which to rest an indictment and monstrously inadequate on which to impugn the integrity and honour of a member of the Senate and of the Executive Council. I thought that at that time. Therefore I feel that when charges of this nature are levelled they must be levelled with circumspection and they must be supported with conclusive and compelling evidence. It is against this background that I make my few comments on the motion. 1 must say this: Whether a charge is sustainable or whether it should be sustained does not necessarily rest on the competence of the person making the charge lo sustain or on his entitlement to make it or perhaps on his own situation of delict. But it is appropriate in this context to draw attention to the circumstances under which this charge is made and the source from which it comes - the Australian Labor Party Opposition. On this charge Senator Murphy rests upon a strict reliance on the traditions and principles of the rule of law. He has demanded that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) in the function and administration of his office should have a scrupulous regard for those traditions and that observance and should always and at all times totally comply with them in every detail. That possibly is a fair proposition.
– What is the difference between ‘always’ and ‘at all times’?
– Perhaps there is no difference. There is no difference, either, in what I am going to say. But that is the basis on which Senator Murphy lays his charge against the Attorney-General. Senator Murphy says that the Attorney-General as the first law officer of the Crown should observe the entrenched traditions of the office strictly and without qualification. But the position of the Australian Labor Party in its known attitudes, its announced attitudes and its statements in this place has been that the rule of law no longer must be observed. In other words, the Australian Labor Party says: ‘We charge you, Mr Attorney-General, because you have not observed the rule of law, though we ourselves condone its breaking and its disregard and we would completely destroy it’. In that situation there must be a total lack of real integrity in the basis of the charges laid. There must be a total lack of sincerity in the presentation of the motion against the Attorney-General. That situation concerns me greatly. Without qualification the distinguished honourable senators of the Opposition who have spoken have made statements like: ‘Well, all laws do not have to be observed. One can afford to break certain laws if, in one’s concept, they would be broken’. Senator Wheeldon, himself a member of the legal profession, points to actions which resulted in the Bill of Rights and actions taken throughout history which resulted in other great reforms. The honourable senator condones the actions of those who stepped outside the then processes of the law in order to sustain their oppostion. That may be right. That may be Senator Wheeldon’s opinion. But the Opposition has consistently laid down the proposition that in certain circumstances people are entitled to step outside the rule of law.
– -Outside immoral law.
– Outside the strict law, what we call the legal law, the social law, the municipal law, the constitutional law and the criminal law. The Opposition is saying that one may step outside that law if in one’s concept one should step outside. But when the Opposition charges the Attorney-General it says that he must observe the rule of law strictly and without qualification. I want to know why there is this dichotomy in the thinking of those who charge the Minister. That is I cannot understand. If the law is to be obeyed and scrupulously regarded by the AttorneyGeneral it must be, in logic and in equity, obeyed and scrupulously regarded by everybody. Yet the Opposition considers itself entitled to advocate the stepping outside of the rule of law but is not prepared to give one inch to the Attorney-General. Is that the position of the Opposition? If so, why the double standard? That is what I want to know. If the motion moved by the Opposition against the AttorneyGeneral, that he must without equivocation and qualification observe the strict rule of law, is sustainable then the Opposition must adopt the same standard. If the Opposition abandons that standard it cannot expect the Attorney-General to observe it and cannot require him to observe it. What is the position of the Opposition? It cannot have things both ways. I say to my friends who sit on my right: ‘Which way do you want it?’ If they want to justify people stepping outside the rule of law then let them withdraw their charge against the Attorney-General if they fee that in his judgment he has stepped outside the law. But if they feel that the AttorneyGeneral should observe the law then I ask every Opposition senator who has spoken to retract their statements and say: ‘We require strict observance of the rule of law’. Which side is it to be? This chamber is waiting for the Opposition to take its stand. Personally, 1 shall bc intensely interested to see which side they take. This argument appears to revolve round the prejudicial effects of statements made hy the Attorney-General on the outcome of a prosecution which has been launched because of a violation of the National Service Act. Terms such as ‘this lawless conduct’ have been used by the AttorneyGeneral. The conduct referred to by the AttorneyGeneral obviously does not refer to the violation of the National Service Act, which is the matter that honourable senators say is likely to be prejudiced by the Attorney-General’s course of conduct. The Attorney-General says that it is the evasion of the processes of the law, the refusal to answer a summons and then the evasion of the service of the warrant of arrest which create the situation of lawlessness. The question is whether the Attorney-General has said something likely to prejudice the substantive case - that is, the violation of the National Service Act - and this has no relevance at all in the remarks which he has made. They were not directed to that matter. They can have no bearing on it. lt is a matter of fact that the AttorneyGeneral stated that this young man for reasons best known to himself considered himself entitled to disregard a summons of the court and then to evade the warrant of arrest. That is a violation of the rule of law. lt is a violation of the processes of law which he considered he was entitled to do. That may be all right. But whether the comments of the Attorney-General in any sense can have any prejudicial effect upon the hearing of a substantive case or only in relation to that matter is another question altogether.
The Attorney-General has not only duties which embrace not only this young man in question but also a responsibility in relation to the community which must be observed, too. 1 know that references were made by the Attorney-General to the position of the Australian Labor Party in condoning, encouraging or supporting - whatever verb may be used - the conduct of this young man. Has the Attorney-General trespassed not only his entitlement but also beyond his duty in making such a reference? After all, the Australian Labor Party is the Party in official opposition. It is part in that sense of the processes of government. The Leader of the Australian Labor Party is described as the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. 1 should imagine that the Attorney-General, vested with the total administration of the Commonwealth law in the technical sense, has a duty to point out to those who with him have a participation in the affairs of government their duties and their responsibilities. I think, therefore that if the Attorney-General calls on any section of the community - it may be a conservation group, the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Democraic Labor Party or any other group - to help him in the administration of the law, or at least not to frustrate him in the administration of the law, it is part of his duty to do so. I cannot see anything condign or anything improper in that being done.
This is quite a serious matter and it is one that should attract with deep concern the attention of the Senate. There are those in this place who protest concern for civil rights and hold, for example, that parties under interrogation should not be subject to pressures by police or improper entry and search by investigating authorities. I agree with all those propositions. But the Attorney-General has said that everybody must obey the law and those people must obey the law. Senator Cavanagh has so often and with such relevance and sometimes very great effectiveness raised propositions and proposed amendments in respect of regulations where individual rights have been interfered with. He has been insistent on compliance with the rule of law in the theoretical and in the pragmatic sense. He and others have been most scrupulous in this respect. Therefore, when he rises in the Senate today and says that a person can step outside the law his remarks contradict so many other attitudes that he has taken here. I want to know the reason for this fundamental contradiction. What concerns me about this matter is that it is not so much the principle as the Act which is involved. If it concerned the avoidance of a summons and an arrest warrant under a traffic Act or some other Act, we would have had none of this heat at all. The heat all stems from the very Act in question. What concerns me is that the Attorney-General may be under charge in a technical sense such as this and on technical grounds, when the real dynamic behind this motion may be what I would say is completely undue concern and an absolute oversensitivity in relation to the National Service Act; and the terms that I use are mild.
In those circumstances, I do not feel that any case has been made that could be supported by a body of competent jurisdiction properly applying its mind to the facts and to the circumstances of the situation to level these charges against the AttorneyGeneral, much less to sustain them to the point of acceptance. Although I entered the debate somewhat early it was in sufficient time to have heard many of the arguments presented. I do not feel that those arguments sustain the proposition which is now before the Senate. For those reasons I state that the Australian Democratic Labor Party will resist the motion as presented by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I rise to speak in this debate because I am amazed that in the discussion in this Senate of this motion of no confidence in the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) that Minister obviously has been gagged. The Senate has been debating this question now for some 2 hours. Most serious charges have been made against the Attorney-General. From my knowledge of parliamentary procedure, it is usual for the person so charged to be at least a very early speaker in such a debate. I now challenge the Minister to rise and defend himself and to show to the Senate that he has not been gagged. The Government obviously has no confidence in his ability to defend himself against these charges that have been put before this House by our Leader, Senator Murphy, supported most adequately by Senator Wheeldon and Senator Cavanagh. It is quite clear to us on this side of the Senate that, if the debate continues until 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock tonight the Minister will remain silent. He will remain completely silent.
Yesterday in the House of Representatives a similar motion of want of confidence in the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) was moved. Who was the first person to rise to answer that charge and to defend the. Prime Minister? It was not the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz). It was not the Treasurer (Mr Snedden). It was not any other Minister. It was the Prime Minister himself. He led in that debate to defend himself against those charges. 1 have sat here this afternoon waiting to hear the Attorney-General defend himself. It is now obvious that he must do so. The challenge is now thrown down to him to rise in his place and to answer the charges that have been made.
– Why? The Opposition must prove them first.
– Obviously, our charges are well founded. They have been made by a most eminent legal man, Senator Murphy Q.C., who has quoted chapter and verse a number of precedents in relation to the matters we are debating this afternoon. He has cited some of the highest authorities available on these matters. Not one of these authorities was challenged by any Government speaker. Senator Wright, who in his own field is a lawyer, has not challenged one of the authorities that was used by Senator Murphy. This was because they are completely unchallengeable. The Commonwealth Attorney-General must show clearly that he is completely unbiassed in any aspect of the operation of the laws of this country. Senator Murphy has shown definitely in the statements that he has read and which I do not propose to repeat because they are now recorded in Hansard that the Attorney-General is guilty as charged. He is so guilty that he is not prepared to defend himself here. He will now enter the debate because 1 have challenged him to do so. He will enter at the tail end of the debate. He will be the last wicket down because he needs the force of far more eminent persons than himself in this field to defend him first. It is an absolute traversty to find this situation occurring in this debate.
Senator Byrne, of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, talked about double standards. This amused me because there have been double standards in the exercise of the law by the Commonwealth on many occasions. I will give a simple but almost facetious example of the double standards that have been exercised by the Commonwealth Government. I refer to the question 1 asked in the Senate 3 or 4 years ago about the 100 hoteliers in Victoria who had been apprehended for watering their beer. That was almost a trivial matter, compared with the seriousness of the charges that have been made by Senator Murphy this afternoon. I asked what action was to be taken against those tax dodgers who obviously were dodging the payment of excise duty. The Minister said that no action would be taken against those law breakers. He refused to give any reason why the publicans who were making thousands of dollars out of the people by watering beer would not have action taken against them. That is the type of double standard that we have today.
I deal now with the old story that we have been hearing in this place for years about law and order and how everybody should observe, to the letter, the law of the land. 1 intended to ask the Attorney-Genral a question at question time this afternoon. It was simply this: ‘Is it a fact that the Attorney-General is one who believes implicitly that the law should be upheld at all costs? Would he have taken the same altitude if he had been the administrator of the laws implemented by Adolph Hilter and Mussolini immediately prior to and during World War 11?’ If he fellows the standards that he says we should follow now, he would have to answer yes. He Would have to say that he would have implemented fully all the laws that were completely abhorrent to society. He would have implemented the law that sent millions of people to the gas chambers because that was the law. But it was a bad law. We would not be sitting in a parliament today debating this subject if people had not disobeyed laws deliberately lo ensure the future of democracy and to ensure that democracy can exist. We have example after example of people disobeying bad laws for the right of democracy to exist and to continue.
I refer to the early history of Australia. The law breakers at the Eureka Stockade brought to this country law reforms which we revere today by having special days and celebrations to honour the brave new Australians who fought the law because ii was a bad law. Yet we are being told today that the Government can introduce any type of law it likes, by force of numbers because it has the numbers to do so. and that not only must every citizen obey those laws but, if we take notice of what the
Minister for Works (Senator Wright) said in this debate, we need law and order to ensure that these people are arrested and go to gaol for the terms decided upon by the Government. Let us be rid of this rubbish about law and order and that everybody must obey the law whether it is good, bad or indifferent. In this great democracy of ours the Government says that the law is good in every respect because a government has legislated it and put it on the statutes book. There are gerrymanders of electorates in Australia. They are bad laws, but we are supposed to obey them. For instance, in Victoria the Legislative Council has some of the worst gerrymandered seats in the world - not just in the Commonwealth but in the world. For Labor to beat the conservatives in that State it would have to poll not 51 per cent of the vote but 56 per cent of the vote. But this is good law because it keeps the conservatives in power.
The Government is enacting, quite wrongly, laws by force of numbers when it knows that a majority of people do not support the laws that it may desire to enact. So I think it is a lot of nonsense to say that we must obey every law whether it is good, bad or indifferent, that we must help the police and that we must say to the Attorney-General: T know where Senator Bishop is hiding. He went through a traffic light in the Australian Capital Territory’. It is nonsense to say that where the Attorney-General has power to prosecute we should say: T saw Senator Bishop walk across the street against a red light’. What kind of nonsense is that? I repeat my earlier challenge. I challenge the Attorney-General to defend himself. It is obvious that he did not intend to do so. It is obvious that he is unable to do so. Unless he does, that is clear proof that he has been gagged and told that he is not to speak because he cannot answer the charges that have been made by Senator Murphy.
– I listened to the rather amusing speech which Senator Poyser made. He made much of the fact that the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) has not yet spoken in the debate. I say to the Attorney-General that I am grateful to him for standing aside to permit me to speak before he does. I wonder what has been happening so far as the Australian Labor Party is concerned.
There has been a strange order of speakers on that side. There does not seem to have been much concerted support from one of the 2 sides represented by the Opposition in this chamber. I am sure that the Senate will have the opportunity of hearing the Attorney-General who, I have noticed, is making notes of the rather scurrilous arguments that have been raised against him in this debate. As he usually does, he will proceed to demolish, with a skill which qualified him adequately for his position, the argument put by the Opposition.
But let us look for a moment at the terms of the motion moved by Senator Murphy. The motion states that the Attorney-General has dishonoured his office by making prejudicial statements about one Barry Johnston who has been charged but not yet tried on an information alleging a breach of the National Service Act. Let us see what Senator Greenwood did say. He. said:
Mr Johnston failed to appear before the District Court in Melbourne on 7th February. A warrant has been issued for his arrest and he is being sought by both Commonwealth and State police.
It is deplorable for any parliamentary candidate to adopt such a contemptuous attitude for lawful processes and deliberately to create a situation where a court issues a warrant for his arrest.
That statement contains no comment about the only issue relevant to the trial, as Senator Byrne has mentioned already, and that is the question of whether Mr Johnston is guilty of an offence under section 51 of the National Service Act. As Senator Byrne has said, the matter on which the Attorney-General commented very properly in carrying out his official duty was the extraordinary and deplorable behaviour of a candidate who has been endorsed by the ALP to stand for election to this Parliament and who has thumbed his nose at the due process of law. That was the point which was being made by the AttorneyGeneral and that was the point which was overlooked entirely by Senator Murphy and by every honourable senator opposite who has spoken to this stage. I note that Senator James McClelland has not yet spoken. Knowing his legal background I assumed that he would be speaking, and I still assume that he will be speaking. Perhaps he has been gagged, perhaps not.
But if he does speak I will be most interested if he can do what Senator Murphy failed lo do, what Senator Wheeldon failed to do and what Senator Poyser did not even attempt to do, that is to explain in any way at all how there is any relationship between the allegation made about the Attorney-General and the true I acts as produced not only by Government supporters but also by Senator Murphy himself. His own facts do not support his case. How reminiscent it is of another occasion when Senator Murphy did precisely the same thing, when he behaved in an extraordinary way in relation to a present Minister who at the time represented the then Attorney-General, lt was the same sort of specious argument and the same sort of fallacious legal argument that was put forward, an argument which was demonstrated to be false, unsound and without the slightest basis either in fact or in law.
On this occasion Senator Murphy has improved, and I suppose we all can be grateful. At least Senator Murphy has his law somewhere within a semblance of being accurate. He read from a number of judgments quite accurately but beyond that it is hard to see the slightest relevance of what he said to the facts as disclosed. Let us just have a further look at the facts. All wc have seen so far in what I have read out is that the Attorney-General commented on a statement of fact that Mr Johnston had failed lo appear before the court to take his trial. The statement has nothing to do with whether he is guilty or not guilty, lt states simply that he failed to turn up and that a warrant has been issued for his arrest. In other words, he is a man who is being sought by the police for refusing to undergo his trial, not because he is guilty or anything at all but because duc process of law requires that people should have their fair trial. All this talk about his having a fair trial and his fair trial being prejudiced is so much bunkum. He is not prepared to go and have his trial, fair or otherwise. ls it suggested by the ALP that in fact he will not get a fair trial because there is something wrong with the magistrate? Is it suggested that the magistrate is biased in some way, or is it suggested that the magistrate is incompetent in some way and would be so incompetent as to be unable to distinguish between a comment made by the Attorney-General about a fact well known to the magistrate, that is that the man has failed to turn up? Surely to goodness a magistrate who made the order would know that the man had failed to turn up. Is slating that going to prejudice the man’s fair trial when the magistrate knows it already? Let us have a look at the law on this particular subject and see whether Senator Murphy can tell us in any way at all how he distinguishes this statement of law from the facts in this case. I wish to refer to a judgment of the Court of Appeal in England dealing with a question of contempt. The judgment defines contempt’ and goes on to say:
This is not an action which will be tried by a jury and. although 1 suppose there might bc a case in which the publication was of such a kind that it might even be thought that it would influence I he mind of J professional judge, it has generally been accepted-
I repeat those words for Senator Murphy’s benefit - it has generally been accepted that professional judges are sufficiently well equipped by their professional training to be on their guar.! against allowing any such matter as this to influence them in deciding the case, and it is not suggested in the present case that anything had been done to prejudice the trial of this action in that sort of way.
Senator Murphy is insulting the magistracy of Australia.
Sentor James McClelland - Can we have the reference?
– 1.965, 2 Weekly Law Reports, page 791. Senator Murphy has stated that this action of the AttorneyGeneral will prejudice the fair trial. That means that a magistrate of the State of Victoria, in this case, is incompetent lo do what the Court of Appeal in the United Kingdom expects of any professionally trained person.
– No one ever suggested thai.
Sentor RAE - That is the inescapable effect of it. Senator Cavanagh. I know that the honourable senator does not like it. but that is it. Lel us have a look at what else Senator Greenwood said in his capacity as Attorney-General. What did he say about Mr Johnston? He said:
Mr Whitlam and Mr Crawford have » clear duty to repudiate Mr Johnston and to disown his course of conduct.
That course of conduct was a course of conduct by which the man refuses to front up to a court, refuses to take his fair trial, refuses to defend himself, and refuses to comply with the due process of law. The Attorney-General also said:
Failure to do so is to give support to those who defy the law, and the ALP as a party seeking office should unambiguously show whether or not it encourages lawlessness.
Apart from Senator Cavanagh ‘s suggestion that the fact that he has been endorsed by the ALP would prejudice his fair trial, I cannot see why on earth anybody should say that that would prejudice the fair trial. Let us look at the next statement. The Attorney-General, after a very intemperate statement by Senator Murphy - the sort of statement that we have become so familiar with - said:
If Senator Murphy reads my statement he will see that 1 made no judgment on any matter before the Court. The ALP candidate, Mr B. Johnston, is evading arrest. He refused to register for national service and was fined. He refused to attend medical examination and was fined and imprisoned.
Senator Wright in addressing himself to this matter has slated already that they are matters of public record, that they are matters which would be known and that they are matters which could be referred to during the course of the hearing before the magistrate. T cannot see for one moment how it can be argued by the ALP thai that constitutes a contempt of the court in some way or prejudices in some way the fair trial of the man. ls there any other statement to which Senator Murphy or any other member of the Labor Party has made reference? I remind honourable senators that we have tried by interjection to get somebody to identify the heinous crime of which the Attorney-General is guilty by way of identification of the statements that he has made.
– I will do it for von.
– Thank you very much. Senator James McClelland will do it. Apparently it is being saved up so that, we can debate the matter for 24 hours before we find out what it is we are supposed to be debating. Let us proceed then to have a look at the other statements. In a further statement, on 27th February the AttorneyGeneral said:
Mr Johnston is being sought by police who have a warrant for his arrest issued by a magistrate. His appearance at the ALP conference was impudent.
And who does not believe that it was? Certainly almost every newspaper editor in Australia believes that it was, and I would say that the vast majority of Australians would believe that it was impudent in the extreme. It was done as a political gimmick. The whole thing has been carried on as a political gimmick. This afternoon’s performance is a political gimmick on the part of Senator Murphy. Whether or not it is for the reason implied by Senator Wright is only conjecture, but it is quite obviously a piece of political gimmickry.
But let us see what did happen. During a period of some 3 weeks there was comment about the fact that Mr Johnston would not face up to his trial, that he was evading his trial and that the ALP should do something to state where it stood on the matter. Apparently by arrangement between Mr Crawford, the President of the ALP in Victoria, and Mr Johnston, he attended a meeting of the ALP Executive in Victoria last Saturday. What did he do there? He addressed the ALP Executive. He was welcomed there and he was wholeheartedly supported not only by Mr Crawford but also apparently by all others present. So now we all know where Mr Johnston stands, where Mr Crawford stands and where the ALP stands. The only trouble is that although we may know where Mr Crawford stands for long enough to find him if we want him, we do not know where Mr Johnston stands for long enough to find him, because he is not prepared to stand and face his trial. He is a man who is prepared to avoid standing up to what the law requires and what in all other circumstances would be regarded as being the appropriate way to determine whether or not he is guilty.
– Like Senator Carrick’s shopkeepers?
– As Senator O’Byrne has reminded us, the shopkeepers of New South Wales were gaoled with monotonous regularity by the Labor Government in that State which thought it appropriate to put men in gaol for keeping their shops open.
– It is better than burning decent people in Vietnam.
– Those are the double standards which are applied all the time. I am not saying whether it was right or wrong; J am just comparing it with the other things the honourable senator has said. It is funny that there is so much difference between the honourable senator’s words and his deeds. Let us think also about the Party which was prepared to put people in gaol without trial; the Party which was prepared to close down newspapers; the Party which sent truckies to gaol for not paying their fines; the Party which has taken all the autocratic and authoritarian action that it could take whenever it has had the chance to get into office and to exercise its power. But let it be out of office, as it has been for so long, and it pretends that the rule of law is something important to it, that is, until the rule of law conflicts with its political interests and then, as it is doing right now in relation to national service, it applies double standards. How typical, how consistent this behaviour has been throughout the history of that Party.
Let me return to the matter in issue. 4f one looks at the remainder of the statement, the other aspect referred to is that on 28th February the Attorney-General said:
The conduct of Mr Johnston, Mr Whitlam and the ALP generally is becoming a national scandal. Mr Johnston is mocking the law and authority and is doing it with the full support of the Victorian ALP.
That is a statement of fact. The man deliberately went to the ALP executive meeting on the Saturday preceding that statement by the Attorney-General. He went there to mock the law. His attendance was made public so that the law would be mocked, but the extraordinary thing about it is that apparently Mr Whitlam, the Leader of the Opposition in another place, believes that the police should have been present al the ALP executive meeting so that they could have arrested Mr Johnston. That is an extraordinary statement. Perhaps again it is those double standards that apply.
– How does that exonerate the Attorney-General from the charge?
– We are not worrying at the moment about exonerating the AttorneyGeneral. Let us deal with Mr Whitlam first and then I will get on with exonerating the Attorney-General. Mr Whitlam was interviewed on an Australian Broadcasting Commission programme on 28th February. He was asked:
As of this moment, Sir, in the interim was it wise for the draft resister to appear before the Victorian ALP?
Mr Whitlam replied:
Why were not the Commonwealth police doing their job?
Why were they not there, 1 add. so that they could have arrested Mr Johnston? Perhaps, Mr Attorney, I could make a suggestion to you through Mr President that you take up Mr Whitlam on his offer and that you might like to send police officers to meetings of the ALP in future so that they could see whether any draft resisters were there.
– Or get Mr Whitlam to ring the police and tell them.
– Mr Whitlam has already offered to do that, so apparently he will not only dob them in but he will suggest as well that the police be there so that they can be caught if his information breaks down. Let us look at what has been happening and the attitudes which have been adopted by the ALP. In moving this motion Senator Murphy repeatedly failed to distinguish between the comment by Senator Greenwood in relation to the failure of Mr Johnston to turn up to stand his trial, and matters relevant to the issue of prejudicing the trial itself or matters relevant to the issues which will be the relevant issues in the trial. He failed completely to distinguish between those 2 thing-;. Of course, he had to fail to distinguish between them because if he had distinguished between them there would not have been any basis for his motion. Let me demonstrate that a little further. The argument he put forward overlooked entirely the quotation to which I have referred already as to the difference between trial with a jury and trial without a jury.
Senator Wheeldon referred to the man in the Liberal Party in another Stale who is awaiting trial, and he asked whether we were condemning that man. Of course we are not. That man is standing his trial. He is not running away from it. He is prepared to stand up to it and let due process of law take place. Senator Wheeldon then referred to Mr Dargan and talked about his being a hero of the Liberal Party in 1948 or 1949. He said that Mr
Dargan had stood out against the law. In fact I think history will show that Mr Dargan stood out against union blackmail. That is what he stood out against, not the law. He was not defying the law; he was defying the blackmail attempts of those who would force him to take actions for political purposes that he was not prepared to take. He stood up to those people. He did not offend against any law in doing so. and he may well have been regarded properly at the time as a man who could be looked up to.
– Was not the whole basis of the Vietnam business political purposes?
– Please keep out of this. Senator Cavanagh said that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson had suggested that you should report any offence. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson certainly did not do that, and on his behalf I would refute any suggestion that he did. What he did say was that it would be the undoubted obligation of any responsible citizen, if a person came to him and said: ‘The police are after me; I am wanted for something or other’ to say: ‘I will help you in any way I can but you must go and answer the charge which is against you’. That is the advice that he said would be given. There was no suggestion on the part of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson that in some way you should dob a person in as was suggested by Senator Cavanagh.
Senator Cavanagh made the point, as did Sentor Poyser, that they believed they could oppose the National Service Act because it was a bad law. If it was a bad law then why, as Senator Wright has pointed out already, did they support it? Who introduced it? Who passed it? What suddenly changed the nature of it if it was not party political problems or differences which might have changed the weight of numbers within the Labor Party and within the Caucus? Is that the explanation for what has happened? Let us look at some of the actions of the Labor Party in relation to other matters. Why did Senator Murphy have to buy into this matter in the first place? Was it not proper, if the Labor Party was so offended by what the AttorneyGeneral had said, that Mr Whitlam should have jumped into it? But Mr Whitlam has done everything, until the night before last, to make sure that he did not buy into this argument. At last he did buy into it and he really put his foot in it when he did when he made the famous statement that draft dodging - in other words, refusing to obey the law - is not a crime.
– A bad law.
– A bad law passed by the honourable senator and others.
– A bad law nevertheless.
– Then the honourable senator must be ashamed of himself supporting it. Now Mr Holding is trying to get into the act. He made an extraordinary statement when he suggested that amnesty should be given by the Attorney-General. Amnesty would be appropriate if the man was guilty of something. In fact what Mr Holding has done is to suggest that the man is guilty. The Attorney-General has never done that. This is the extraordinary part of the manoeuvres to try to protect Mr Whitlam from becoming further involved in this matter. Alternatively, the move by Senator Murphy this afternoon might have been intended to get Mr Whitlam further involved in it. One never knows what is happening in the internecine warfare that goes on within the Opposition Party.
In 1967 Mr Whitiam described a group in the Victorian ALP Executive, which obviously included Mr Crawford, as being disloyal to the ALP, disruptive of its electoral prospects and destructive of all that the Party stood for. He said further that it was disgraceful that such men should be on the ALP Executive. I remind honourable senators that the majority of those men aire still on the Victorian ALP Executive. Where is Mr Crawford today, the man who is harbouring, encouraging and supporting Mr Johnston in his flouting of the law? A few years ago Mr Whitlam was prepared to describe Mr Crawford as a man who was disloyal to the ALP, disruptive of its electoral prospects and destructive of all that it stood for and that it was disgraceful that he was a member of the ALP Executive.
– Where is Mr Crawford now?
– He is the President of the so-called reformed executive of the ALP in Victoria, as I am reminded.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Tonight we are continuing the debate on the double standards applied by the Australian Labor Party to the rule of law and the National Service Act. A motion was moved this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Murphy. That motion was unsupportable and so far no real attempt has been made to support it as such. Instead we have had argument which slurs over the basic differentiation between that which would support the motion and that which is fact. The motion. I suggest, has become in reality a motion of no confidence in the Leaders of the Opposition - that is, the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber and the Leader of the Opposition in the other place. It is a motion of no confidence related to the double standards applied by those people and their Party, a Party which is an authoritarian party in government but which when it is in opposition suggests that it espouses the principles of the rule of law. They are confused. They find it. difficult to espouse both principles. They find it necessary as a government, apparently to he authoritarian, to do the things that Senator Carrick reminded us about the other evening - to put people into gaol without trial, to put into gaol people whose crime is that of keeping their shop open after hours, to put into gaol people whose crime is not to pay some fee relating to driving a truck along a road without a permit, or whatever it may be.
– What about the ACTU?
– Yes, we have that as well. They find it difficult to follow a principle. Senator Murphy said that the Atorney-General (Senator Greenwood) had interfered with the fair trial of one Johnston, the endorsed Australian Labor Party candidate for the House of Representatives seat of Hotham. He said that the AttorneyGeneral did some things but this the evidence does not support. He said that the Attorney-General interfered with the fair trial of this man and that he condemned this man in some way. In fact there is not a shred of evidence in the statements read to this chamber which would support this charge. The person who condemned himself, the person who made no pretence whatever of being in any doubt about the situation is none other than Mr Johnston. I wish to quote for the benefit of Senator Murphy and those who have supported this motion the exact words of Mr Johnston when he was interviewed by Mr Willesee last evening on channel 9 in Victoria. He was asked:
Do you accept the fact (hat you are breaking the law?
I accept the fact that I am breaking this law and I am very proud to be doing it.
He was then asked:
But it is breaking the law and the police arc within their rights lo arrest you?
Yes the police themselves say they lune a duty to perform and I agree with them in this case.
In the same interview Mr Johnston referred to the fact that he had 2 prior convictions and that he had been to gaol. Mr Johnston said all the things which Senator Murphy alleged were the terribly heinous offences committed by the Attorney-General in prejudicing the fair trial of this man. It is perfectly obvious that the whole matter so far as the ALP is concerned is a publicity gimmick and a complete sham.
Let us see what the result was. We had Mr Whitlam commenting about draft dodging. ‘National service draftdodging is not a crime’, said Mr Whitlam. But his own Party’s amendment to the National Service Act which is at present before the House of Representatives includes a penalty of 12 months for draft dodging. That is the Labor Party’s own proposition.
– Do you mean 12 months imprisonment?
– It provides for 12 months imprisonment for draft dodging. That is the Labor Party’s proposition in a Bill which is now before the House ot Representatives. How much sham can people perform? The Labor Party comes here and says that it is justified in opposing this terrible Act, yet it is an Act which it supported in 1951, an Act which it supported when it was amended in 1968, and an Act which it now proposes to amend at its own initiative and which still includes the crime of draft dodging. Yet we have the leader of that Party, Mr Whitlam, saying that draft dodging is not an offence.
– The Labor Party’s Bill requires parents to disclose the whereabouts of their sons.
– That is a good interjection from Senator Gair.
– It was left to the Democratic Labor Party to amend that.
– Senator Gair reminds us that it was the Democratic Labor Party which was vigilant about the authoritarian attitude of the ALP as typified by the situation to which he referred. We continue to find double standards applied, as ever before, by the Australian Labor Party. The standard it adopts depends on whether it wants something or whether it is opposing what the Government has done. The one thing which is beyond doubt is that the Australian Labor Party is prepared to make a sham of this Act and of our law and our legal system, lt is prepared for political gimmickry purposes to hold to ridicule the whole of the legal system, to endorse as a candidate - admittedly he was the only applicant for the position, which shows the depths to which the Labor Party has sunk - a man whose self-confessed attitude towards the matter is this: ‘I have a compaign of legal defiance, of due processes of law and 1 am prepared to continue defying the due processes of law so long as 1 think it suits my political purposes’. If necessary, as he said last night, he would be prepared to go to gaol if he thought that served his purpose better. He has condemned himself by his own words but more importantly he has condemned Senator Murphy’s sham, he has condemned the sham of Mr Whitlam, and he has condemned the sham of the Australian Labor Party.
– Mr President, at about 3.10 p.m. today the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Murphy, moved the following motion:
That Senator Greenwood has dishonoured the office of Attorney-General:
by making prejudical statements about one Barry Johnston who has been charged but not yet tried on an information alleging a breach of the National Service Act, and
by involving the office of Attorney.-General in a party political controversy in connection with that pending criminal case.
That motion of no confidence was moved at 3.10 p.m. and at 8.10 p.m. tonight, despite the thousands of words that have been spoken by Government supporters in defence of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) on the charge of no confidence, which was moved so ably by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
– That is a matter of opinion.
Certainly. But 5 hours after that charge was laid we still have not heard one word from the Attorney-General in his own defence. I reiterate that Senator Murphy, at 3.10 p.m. today, levelled the most serious of charges that could be levelled against a Minister of the Crown in a Parliament. At 8.10 p.m. we still have not heard one word from the Attorney-General in his own defence. Had such a charge been levelled against a member of the Opposition I am sure that the Opposition senator accused would have, wanted immediately to rise in his place and take up his own defence. 1 am wondering whether leaving his defence to the last possible moment is a deliberate act on the part of the AttorneyGeneral. This evening the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, and he knows that if his remarks are broadcast at 10 o’clock instead of 8 o’clock this evening thousands fewer Australians will be listening to him.
I wonder also whether at long last the Attorney-General has learnt the lesson of keeping quiet. His public utterances over a period, particularly on the issue of conscription, have been very big vote losers for the Government parties. I suggest to the Government and to the people of Australia that one of the reasons why the Government’s popularity and standing are so low at the moment is the obsession which the Attorney-General seems to have, developed and to display publicly against people who are defying him and the Government on the issues ;f conscription.
We heard sc.* remarks from Senator Rae about double standards. I suggest that the Attorney-General has been engaged in a game of double standards. When Mr Johnston, who is to be the Australian Labor Party candidate for Hotham at the forthcoming Federal election, attended a meeting of the Australian Labor Party as an endorsed Labor candidate, Senator Greenwood not only prejudged his guilt, as was so ably proved this afternoon by Senator Murphy, but also tried to gain cheap political capital - but achieved notoriety and, 1 suppose, infamy - by launching an attack not only on Mr Johnston but also on the Labor leader, the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr Whitlam), the President of the Victorian branch of the Labor movement, Mr Crawford, and on every member of the Labor movement throughout Australia. Senator Greenwood was reported as having said on Monday that the conduct of Mr Johnston, Mr Whitlam, Mr Crawford and the Australian Labor Party generally was becoming a national disgrace. So he was not prepared to attack merely Mr Johnston, whose guilt the Attorney-General was maintaining before he had been brought to trial: he was trying also to achieve cheap political publicity by bringing into his case, which was based on law and order, the conduct of the Labor leader, the President of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party and all members of the Labor movement.
Was it a national disgrace in this freedom loving community for Mr Whitlam to say, as he did: ‘lt is not for me to gel him’ - thai is, Mr Johnston - ‘before the court and it is not for the AttorneyGeneral to assert his guilt.’ Mr Whitlam said: I am not going to assert that any man is guilty.’ 1 say quite frankly on behalf of the Labor movement that that statement by Mr Whitiam was one of the finest statements uttered by a Labor leader. He has the complete respect and support of all members of my political Party. For far too long under this Government too many people have been subjected to smears, jeers and traducement, the only reason being that they have been prepared to stand up against this oppressive and repressive administration.
What did the Attorney-General expect Mr Whitlam to do when Mr Johnston attended a meeting of the Labor movement in Victoria? 1 understand that Mr Whitlam was in Brisbane on the very day and at the very time the conference was being held in Victoria. Was the Labor leader, at the verbal request of the Attorney-General by way of Press statement - not by a direct telephone call or by letter - expected to fly from Brisbane to Melbourne and. on behalf of the Commonwealth Police, apprehend the Labor candidate, Mr Johnston? Was Mr Whitlam, after flying from Brisbane to Melbourne, expected to say to Mr Johnston: ‘Give yourself up because the Attorney-General has found you guilty’? Was Mr Crawford, President of the Victorian Branch of our Party, expected to say to him: ‘Look, Mr Johnston, the Attorney-General has found you guilty of this charge. Although you have not been tried for an offence, because the Attorney-General has said that you are guilty you should not come to a Labor conference as the endorsed Labor candidate for Hotham, offering yourself for election and asking the people to give you a mandate to represent them in the Parliament. Because the Attorney-General has spoken, you, Mr Johnston, should give yourself up.’
– I rise to order. Senator Douglas McClelland has just said that the Attorney-General declared Mr Barry Johnston guilty. I ask the honourable senator to specify where the Attorney-General said that or to withdraw the remark.
– This morning when I received notice of this motion from the Leader of the Opposition I gave consideration to matters which could arise during the debate. This is a substantive motion and standing order 418 does not apply in the normal way. Senator Douglas McClelland may make the reference and it may be denied by an honourable senator who speaks subsequently. There is no substance to the point of order.
– I say with respect to the Attorney-General that whilst he might run the Commonwealth Police or might want to go off occasionally to see Mr Ian Smith in Rhodesia, he has no influence and never will have influence on the Labor Movement. Although we might be expected to thank him for his advice that the Labor Party should disown its endorsed candidate for the division of Hotham, we completely ignore his advice. We reject completely the suggestion he has made and we remind him that whilst he might believe that he and the Government of which he is a member were born to rule this country, neither he nor the members of the Government were born to rule the Labor movement and never will do so.
Let us compare the Attorney-General’s attitude on this matter with the attitude he displayed last November when he appeared on a national television programme. Admittedly at that time he was in a separate studio from that occupied by Mr Michael Matteson, a draft resister who, 1 understand, spoke at a meeting at Sydney University this afternoon. On the occasion last November, in the gaze of millions of viewers, Senator Greenwood showed how politically gullible he is. If Senator Greenwood suggests that Mr Crawford should have given up Mr Johnston, I suppose he would say also that the journalists at the Australian Broadcasting Commission who interviewed Mr Michael Matteson on 16th November should have given up Mr Michael Matteson. 1 defy Senator Greenwood to show that he has replied to a letter sent to him by the Australian Journalists Association which he had incorporated in Hansard last Wednesday night and in which it was said that the Federal Executive of the Australian Journalists Association: . . has made no decision either on the ‘This Day Tonight’ interview with a draft resister and your immediate reaction, or the subsequent newspaper reports which included your ‘statement’ in The Age’.
The General Secretary of the Australian Journalists Association then wrote in his letter to the Attorney-General:
However, it is a basic right of journalists to report and interpret the news and when our members on ‘This Day Tonight’ interviewed a draft resister who was wanted by the police and when they did nothing to detain him so that the police could get their hands on him, they were properly performing the functions of journalists and acting properly within the Association’s Code of Ethics.
If that was not a reasonable statement by the General Secretary of the Australian Journalists Association, then I ask the Attorney-General lo say so. If that is not a different set of standards being applied by the Attorney-General from the standards he is applying to the Australian Labor Party in this case, then frankly I do not know what it is.
It appears to me that the AttorneyGeneral is labouring under a great misapprehension. He seems to think that this Government is born to rule and that therefore everyone must rigidly adhere lo and obey the laws laid down by it. If members of the Government parties have not indoctrinated the community in this regard, they certainly appear to have indoctrinated themselves into the belief that once a law is proclaimed it must automatically be obeyed and that any flouting of the law is a threat to society as a whole rather than to this Government. I wonder whether this Government will ever learn to distinguish between the laws that are fundamental for good government and those that are antithetical to order and personal freedom. If the public does not realise this distinction, then we will slide very rapidly into a repressive state, such as the situation I instanced here last Wednesday night in which Commonwealth police raided the home of a widow and her 3 daughters on Christmas Day merely to see whether her son - a draft resister - was on the premises and, according to the Attorney-General, they did that at the whim of an anonymous telephone call. I remind the Parliament that the Attorney-General admitted last Wednesday night that he would not have known about that incident - he had not been advised by the Commonwealth Police - hut for the fact that I raised it in the Parliament last week on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. He had to say then, after I had spoken, that he did not know one thing about that incident until I spoke to him earlier to inform him that I proposed to raise the subject in the Senate.
There are millions of Australians crying out for the repeal of conscription, especially now that the Government’s declared policy on Vietnam has been proven over and over again to have been wrong.
– Who said so?
The Presbyterian Assembly, the Australian Council of Churches and the Methodist Church of Australasia, amongst others, as well as the Australian Council of Trade Unions, have all called for the repeal of conscription. Professor Crawford Miller told the Presbyterian General Assembly of Australia only recently:
Australia’s conscription policy is an immoral one. . . . Conscription should be introduced only if the people a e united against an imminent threat from another country, if conscription is universal for all military-age mcn. . . .
But the issue before us is not one of conscription; it is not one of war or peace; and it is not one as to whether there has been or should be observance of the
National Service Act by Mr Johnston, the Labor candidate for Hotham, by Mr Whitlam, by Senator Murphy, by Mr Crawford or by any other member of the Labor movement. The question is whether Mr Johnston is to be tried by a magistrate for an alleged offence or to be judged guilty by the Attorney-General before he goes to trial.
I think the Attorney-General has been playing for cheap political publicity at the expense of denigrating the high legal position he holds in our community. What did Mr Chipp, the present incumbent of the seal of Hotham and colleague of the Attorney-General in the Government, have to say about this matter? He said of Mr Johnston:
He is my endorsed opponent and 1 don’t lake part in political mud-stinging.
The Attorney-General reminds me of the old story about the accused who climbed into a dock and, when asked how he pleaded, said: ‘If God be my judge, I am not guilty’. In this case the AttorneyGeneral has said: ‘He is not; I am; you are’. This motion of no confidence should be carried overwhelmingly.
– I am very conscious of the fact that Senator Murphy has moved a motion which says that I have dishonoured an office which I hold. I have listened at length not only to what Senator Murphy has said but also to what other members of the Australian Labor Party have urged, purportedly in support of his motion. I am still at a loss to know what are the grounds upon which the propositions Senator Murphy has put forward are based. For example, I have listened for the last 25 minutes to Senator Douglas McClelland. He gave no grounds to support the motion which Senator Murphy has moved. He talked about whether or not I had replied to a letter from the Australian Journalists Association some 6 months ago. He talked about whether or not the Commonwealth Police should have told me about a raid on a person’s home last Christmas Day. He talked about the Australian Council of Churches.
He then said - and be it to his everlasting shame - that I had said a man was guilty of an offence before he had been brought to court. I challenge him and I challenge any other member of the Labor Party to give chapter and verse of where 1 said that. They cannot do so. If they perpetuate this lie or this calumny,- then I think it is at least incumbent upon them to show where they get the verification for it. But they cannot do so. .1 say this because Senator Douglas McClelland has not advanced arguments in any way relevant to the motion of censure which has been moved. I have not seen in what Senator Murphy has moved anything which would give credence to the broad, sweeping condemnatory allegations from which he seeks to get publicity on the assumption that there is some case to back them. 1 do not know why Senator Murphy has moved this motion. One may suspect that it is a diversionary tactic. I think the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has given good reason for believing that it is a diversionary tactic designed to remove or alter the spotlight which has been focused on the Australian Labor Party. It may be, as has been suggested, that this is part of the internecine warfare in the Australian Labor Party in which Senator Murphy is determined to take one or two stripes off Mr Whitlam, who unfortunately has exposed himself in a way that I imagine he wishes he had not. I do not know, Sir, the reasons why this motion has been moved, but I do believe it is incumbent upon me to sustain the point I am making that there is no basis for it and to ask the Senate, as clearly and as shortly as I am capable of expressing them, to examine the facts in this matter.
The facts shortly are these: There is a National Service Act, which is part of the law of this land and which was passed in 1951 with the support of the Australian Labor Party. The Act was amended in 1968 to provide that if persons did not obey their call-up notice they were to go before the courts and there they were to be given this choice: ‘You may do your national service or if you do not you may go to gaol’ - for what was then the period of 2 years, and what is now the period of 18 months. If they declined to do their national service they were to go to gaol. That amendment came into this place in 1968 and it was agreed to by the Australian Labor Party, as the record reveals.
The National Service Act requires that there shall be a number of obligations upon young persons. Firstly it requires that when they reach the requisite age they shall register. There is a penalty if they do not register. Then, if they have registered there is an obligation to attend for a medical examination to see whether they are fit. If they do not attend that examination there is a penalty. Then, if they are selected to do national service they are obliged to attend, in accordance with the call-up notice, and to render their service. That is part of the law of this land.
I am prepared to accept readily that it is a law about which there may be controversy. Some people may say that our defence preparedness docs not require such a law. Some people may be prepared to say that they do not believe in defence preparedness and therefore ask why have the law. But we on our side of the chamber - those of us who are in government - have believed for a long time that our defence preparedness requires a law like this and unfortunate though it must be that some young people will be taken away from their normal vacations, nevertheless, the defence of this country requires it. And we have been prepared to put that issue to the people election after election. Until the people reject us that will be our policy because we have some sense of the defence of this country. I say this because the National Service Act is part of the law of this land. Whilst it is part of the law of this land no government should take the attitude that a law can be disobeyed with indifference by anybody who chooses to feel that he does not like the law and therefore does not have to obey it. 1 have said that it is part of the fabric of our society - it is the core of our civilisation as we know it - that if there are laws passed by a representatively democratic parliament in respect of which people have the choice at regular intervals under conditions of secret ballot change, then those laws ought to be obeyed. If some people arrogate unto themselves some right to choose which laws they shall obey and which laws they shall not. where is the protection to all citizens whose freedom derives from an equality under the law? This protection will be non-existent.
That is the first fact which I believe is fundamental to my approach to this subject, and 1 believe it is an approach which would have general acceptance. The second fact is this: We have currently a Mr Barry Johnston who refused under the National Service Act to register for national service and who, on his own confession, took pride in doing so. He is a person who was required to attend for a medical examination. He refused to do this and on his own confession he was proud to refuse. He is a man who now, as a member of the Australian Labor Party and that Party’s endorsed Labor candidate for the next election, has been served with a notice to attend for call-up. He has refused to answer a summons which requires him to answer why he did not attend for call-up and from what I have read is proud that he has taken this action. Those are matters of record.
He was required to appear before the Melbourne court of petty sessions on 7th February this year. He did not appear, and in accordance with law the magistrate issued a warrant for his arrest. Under the law of the State of Victoria and under the Commonwealth Police Act, State constables and Commonwealth constables are charged with a duty to apprehend that person. They are given certain powers in terms of a warrant to take steps to apprehend him. This is part of the law of the land; it is one of the facts. That an arrest warrant has been issued is a fact known, I think, to anybody who has interested himself in this subject. Mr Johnston is currently, as I put it I think accurately, a fugitive on the run from the law and is being sought by the State and Commonwealth police.
There are a number of additional facts. The first is - and, I have stated this - that he is an endorsed candidate of the Australian Labor Party fully supported, as the record reveals, by the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party and left in some doubt as to where he stands in the eyes of his leader, Mr Whitlam. He is a person who claims, because he is a parliamentary candidate, to be a prospective law maker. He claims the right to be elected to the position of a legislator. What does he expect to do if he becomes a member of the Parliament? He would expect to participate in the passing of laws and he would imagine and believe that persons subject to the obligations of those laws would be required to obey. What hypocrisy it is Ibr him to say before he is elected to the Parliament that he can choose for him self what laws he will obey but ‘please elect me to the Parliament so that I can pass the laws which everybody else will obey.’ This, of course, is an attitude which at the current time gains some support from that Party which is a master of the double standards - the Australian Labor Party.
Of course, the Australian Labor Parly is a Party which believes, mistakenly, that it. is on the verge of an election victory. The Labor Party will never become the government of this country whilst it has the policy wilh regard to the laws of this country which has been exemplified by its conduct with respect to Mr Johnston and by what has been said by its spokesmen in this place tonight. All wc have to do is lo make sure that the Australian people know and have revealed te them in all its stark nakedness the duplicity of a Labor Party which says one thing and does another.
I say - and I say it advisedly - that there has been conduct on the part of Mr johnston and those who would back him which is a calculated political device to pursue the objectives of members of a segment of the Australian Labor Party who, unfortunately, have such positions of power in. and such influence over, the whole Labor movement that they can determine what its policies will be. J can illustrate this in a way which circumstantially I think makes my case.
I said that Mr Johnston was required to attend before the court of petty sessions on 7th February. On 21st January of this year a Press conference took place. It was a Press conference, according to the report which T have from the Melbourne ‘Age’, which was called by Mr George Crawford, the Chairman of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party. It was a conference called for the purpose of publicising Mr Johnston. It was a conference at which Mr Johnston outlined some of his future plans. I quote from the ‘Age’ report which unfortunately is abbreviated. Nevertheless, the report stated:
Mr Johnston would not say it’ he would make the appearance in court on 7th February. He said that if he went lo gaol-
Of course, a person only goes to gaol if he knows he is guilty - the Hotham campaign would be fought by proxy by Labor members. Mr Johnston believes he has every chance of winning the seal but concedes il will depend on the political situation al the time.
That to me is an indication that some fortnight to 3 weeks before Mr Johnston was to appear, he knew - because the report indicates it - that he was to appear on 7th February. Mr President, maybe you will allow some Labor senator to explain this to the Senate and also to other people who may be interested: Why did the State Chairman of the Australian Labor Party call a Press conference at thai stage to enable Mr Johnston to outline his plans as to what he was going to do? I follow that with a few other facts which build up the circumstantial case. There is the decision of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party of 1971, affirmed by its Federal Conference held last year, that it gives its support expressly to Mr Barry Johnston and to Mr Tony Dalton who are 2 persons for whom the police are searching at the moment. Warrants have been issued for their arrest because they are persons who refuse to comply with the provisions of the National Service Act. At the Federal Executive level of the Australian Labor Party there is an indication of attitude. It is no wonder that Mr Whitlam is embarrassed and does not know where lo turn. In addition to that we have the statement by Dr Cass, made on the day on which Mr Johnston did not appear in court, in which he said, as I outlined in the very first Press statement I made on this issue, that Mr Johnston had the full support of the Labor Party at the State and Federal levels. After an initial pause, when I imagine he was a little reluctant to take the stand, we have had constantly on television many statements in which Mr Crawford, the State Chairman of the Australian Labor Party, has said that Mr Johnston has the full support not only of himself but of the Victorian organisation and, as he would see it also, of Mr Whitlam. We had the experience last Sunday of Mr Johnston impudently addressing the Victorian State Council of the Australian Labor Party behind locked doors and receiving a cheer as he left. These are circumstantial facts which I think build up a strong case that the Labor Party is identifying itself with Mr Johnston and with the conduct which he is currently pursuing. Of course, if I wanted further facts to add to the circumstantial case which I have here I need only refer to the conduct of the Australian Labor Party senators when speaking to the motion which has been moved here today and the general attitudes which have been expressed in support of Mr Johnston and the tactics which he is pursuing.
What the Labor Party is doing is undermining respect for the rule of law. In effect the Labor Party is saying - let us markthis for the danger involved in it is something of which we all should be aware - that a law passed by this Government is a law which people who support the Australian Labor Party and who believe in it are not required to obey. The reason why the law does not have to be obeyed is just that it has been passed by this Government. Accept that principle and we have an end to the sort of society which we know. Accept that principle and we have an end to the equal freedoms under the law which this country has fought so dearly to possess and to maintain over the past. Yet involved in what the Australian Labor Party is doing is an onslaught on something which every Australian values and believes is precious and would wish to retain. Let it not be thought that (he view which 1 express is peculiar to myself. In the newspapers of this country there has been whatI would call a remarkable unanimity of opinion about the dangers to which the Australian Labor Party policy is leading. First I shall read from the Melbourne ‘Age’. May I be permitted the interpolation that there are not many people in this chamber who would regard the Melbourne ‘Age’ as a friend of mine. But I shall quote from the Melbourne ‘Age’ because sometimes its literature is very good. The editorial of the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 29th February, when referring to Mr Johnston’s appearance at the Labor Party Council meeting last Sunday, amongst other things stated:
It provided the astonishing spectacle of a major political party feting a young man who is supposed to be campaigning for public office on its behalf while he is on the run from the law.
Later the same editorial stated:
To do this-
That is for the ALP to give its support to a man for whom an arrest warrant has been issued - is to hurl ridicule and contempt upon the rule of law, the cornerstone of the political system which a Labor Government would be obliged to administer and protect.
Do not let it be said that it is just a peculiar, isolated aberration of mine which is being attacked. It is a view which is also expressed in that language by the Melbourne ‘Age’. But it is not only the Melbourne ‘Age’. J shall refer to one of the leading newspapers in Sydney - the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. Its editorial of today, 1st March, slates:
This is no way for the Labor Party to win friends and influence people, which it badly needs to do. To hold the law up to haired, ridicule and contempt (to borrow a well-known piece of legal terminology) is a dangerous business.
And so it is. The ‘Daily Telegraph’ expresses in pithy, shorter but equally telling language the fact about this matter. It states:
Questioned about this extraordinary choice-
That is, the choice of a draft dodger as a candidate -
Mr Whitlam said that draft dodging was not a crime.
What the hell is he talking about?
If the law of the land says draft-dodging is a crime, then it is a crime.
Maybe Mr Whitlam might explain to the Daily Telegraph’ in due course what he meant. I shall quote from today’s ‘Australian’ to indicate again the character and the universality of opinion. It states:
ALP members have to understand that they cannot unilaterally declare a law invalid until they are elected into a position to do so. ALP leaders should understand that it is absurd for a party which is askingto be elected to constitutional power to involve itself in actions and statements which negate the whole basis of constitutional power itself.
The ‘Canberra Times’, in the conclusion of today’s editorial, states:
Call-up for military training within Australia is a legitimate subject for debate on grounds of general defence policy,: it is not a justification for placing the rule of law in disrepute.
Those segments of editoral opinion have been quoted because I think they illustrate that any attempt by the Labor Party to suggest that what I have been saying is some isolated, peculiar view that I hold is quite unfound. It is a view which is generally held. 1 go so far as to say that it is a view which is held by the vast majority of Australian people and the Australian Labor Party is running counter to that view. We cannot have a society where some people say that the only laws which people have to obey are the laws which they want to obey or, as members of the ALP say in their curious language: The only laws you have to comply with are the laws which meet your own personal ideas of justice.’ Senator Douglas McClelland said - this is a standard which one could never really test - that you have to make a distinction between laws which are necessary for good government and laws which are antithetic lo freedom. This is the sort of balderdash which the Labor Party comes out with because it is unable to determine the standards or the criteria by which to judge these different types of law. The simple point is that where laws are passed by Parliament surely there is an obligation on everyone to obey them.
I started off by indicating the facts. To the facts 1 have added some comments. Let us look, at the 2 grounds on which it has been alleged 1 dishonoured the office 1 hold. The first ground is that in some way I have been making prejudicial statements about one, Barry Johnston, who has been charged but not yet tried. 1 categorically deny that I made any comment whatsoever about the guilt or innocence of Mr Johnston. As has been pointed out by honourable senators on the Government side who preceded mc, that is apparent from a reading of the statement. 1 repeat what I said earlier: I challenge anybody to show where I said it. Indeed, Senator Murphy himself, in t*.e initial Press statement which he made criticising my Press statement, did not say that I had said it. He used (hat curious word; he said that I had ‘implied’ it.
It is fairly clear, I think, that a person can be guilty of contempt of court if he makes a speech or issues a writing which misrepresents the proceedings of a court, or prejudices the public mind for or against a party to an action. It would be sufficient, I suppose, if anyone could point to something which 1 had said which prejudiced the prosecution of Mr Johnston on the charge for which he is before the court. But on no construction - and 1 do nol need to elaborate this because those who have preceded me on our side have made it abundantly clear - can it be said that any of my comments misrepresented the prosecution proceedings or prejudiced the minds of the public against Mr Johnston in respect of the charge for which he was before the court. It ought not to be forgotten that Mr Johnston will not face up to the court. He has not appeared, ls that to be something about which no-one may comment?
The Australian Labor Party says that one cannot comment on that matter. Well, I think that the proposition is absolutely absurd. There has been no prejudice to the prosecution. There has been no contempt of court. There has been no disparagement of a person’s rights before t’“e court in respect of the matters for which he is charged. Where is the Labour Party getting with its double standards? 1 listened to Senator Murphy and he suggested that I had done grievous things which were wrong in terms of law standards and in terms of what ought to be acceptable conduct with regard to a person before the courts. He made the accusations against ni2. But what about other p:opie for whom he ought to have regard? Let us look at what Mr Whitlam has done, and contrast with what Senator Murphy says abou; me the silence which he has observed with regard to Mr Whitlam. Mr Whitlam, of course, is the Leader of his own Party and he is an em nent Queen’s Counsel of some 17 or maybe 20 years standing. Mr Whitlam has said in response to questions about the . harbouring of Mr Johnston by the Victorian ALP that draft dodging is no crime. On 1 he tests which Senator Murphy has raised as the basis of criticising me, what Mr Whitlam has done is lo have intervened in a pending matter. He has judged Mr Johnston and found him not guilty. He has attempted to influence the magistrate by saying: ‘Well, when the Labor Party gels to power it will repeal this law’, ls it, Mr President, a matter of ‘physician hca! thyself, or is it that Senator Murphy is not prepared to apply the same standards of judgment against his Leader, or is it that he is leaving it for me to point the contrasts in the conduct in which he is engaging? But this indicates the double standards which the Labor Party constantly adheres to and by which it seeks and will continue to seek, unless wc on the Government side and the people of Australia point it out, to delude the Australian people.
There is a further point on this question of prejudice. I am said to have prejudiced Mr Johnston who has not yet stood his trial. But what is the position of Mr Johnston himself? May T refer to what he said personally when he was interviewed on the programme This Day Tonight’ on Monday, 28th February? The very first question he was asked was this:
What happens if they catch you? I believe there is a warrant for yow arrest. What happens to you?
Mr Barry Johnston answered:
Well, if the warrant was carried out I’d be taken to court nml gaoled for the 18 months term.
Is Mr Johnston there suggesting that he is innocent or is he not admitting by his very statement thai if he goes before the court there is no alternative for the magistrate but to send him to gaol? lt is hypocrisy on the part of the Australian Labor Party to suggest thai 1 am prejudicing a position when the person involved himself has admitted that if he fronts up in court he is going lo he gaoled.
Thai is noi the only statement which was made because, on the same night. Mr Johnston appeared in Melbourne on the Michael Willesee programme ‘A Current Affair’. He was asked the question:
Do yon accept the fact ,hat you are breaking the law?
The answer was:
J accept the fact Bat 1 am breaking this law and 1 am very proud to be doing it.
He was further asked:
This is a strong principle with you?
The answer was:
The next question was:
You’re noi prepared to go to gaol for it?
I’ve been lo gaol on 2 occasions.
He was asked:
But why not this time?
The answer was:
Because 1 think that in my particular situation I’ve gol a very good opportunity to publicise what I’m doing, to show people that they don’t have to be repressed by such procedures as the National Service Aci - they can stand up and take their stand against these things.
He was further asked:
Do you think yon might get full support if you said ‘Well I’m prepared to go to gaol’ foc principle rather than hide like this.
The answer was:
I think the people realise thai I’m prepared to go to gaol on this issue.
The next question was:
Well you don’t seem lo be- you’re in biding still. You’ve been hiding 3 weeks.
The answer was:
Yes I’ve been in hiding now for the reasons I outlined before. But you know, if I think I san do the cause more good by my going to gaol then I’ll certainly do it.
In other words, he will appear before the courts if he thinks he can do the cause more good. What is the cause? Is it the cause of the Australian Labor Party, the cause of the Draft Resist ers Union of which he is the secretary or what cause?
I am accused also of being politically partisan and am told that an AttorneyGeneral should not be politically partisan. I think that, with that common sense for which he is renowned, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), pointed out the absurdity of this proposition in the first 5 minutes of what he said this afternoon. He asked how I, as Attorney-General, could sit here listening to all the mud and abuse which is flung at me time and again by members of the Opposition and be expected to be dispassionate, to sit as a judge when he administers justice, just sit here and take it. The absurdity of the proposition which Senator Murphy puts up is revealed by those striking common-sense statements.
I am unrepentant in what I have said about Mr Johnston. I would say the same in similar circumstances again and over and over again. I believe in freedom under the law and I believe that the law can be maintained only if people are vigilant to recognise the values which it has for society and the freedoms which it protects. I will persist in that statement and I will use every forum, every platform, every debate and ever> opportunity that 1 have to make sure that the people of Australia appreciate the values of freedom under the law. I will not be intimidated by the sort of comments which came from the Opposition, which intimidation I believe are part and parcel of the reasons why this motion has been moved. If that approach which I have indicated involves me in a party political partisanship it is only because those who would oppose the rule of law and freedom under the rule of law must have their attitudes exposed so that they can be subjected to the spotlight of what is involved in the attitudes which they are putting forward.
That is part of my philosophy. It is part of the philosophy of the Government to which I belong and, believe me, it is the credo of the Liberal and Country Parties which have governed this country for the last 20 years and have not imperilled or prejudiced freedom under the law in that period. I believe that that is a proud record to which we have adhered and will continue to adhere. The obligation of an Attorney-General is to uphold the observance of the law. Senator Murphy, at the beginning of his speech, quoted a number of opinions of eminent legal writers. To not one of those do I take exception. Their significance is in their selection. All are concerned with questions as to what stance the Attorney-General should take when he decides whether or not he will institute a prosecution. There is nothing in that -type of approach which determines the conduct which I should follow when I decide to make speeches, when I decide to issue statements or when I decide to exhort to people who may be listening obedience concerning the rule of law and the maintenance of public order. That is borne out by extracts to which I shall refer and to which Senator Murphy did not advert. The extracts refer to the role of an AttorneyGeneral and to the standards which he should observe.
The office of Attorney-General is an honourable one which I am honoured to hold. It. is an office which has its origins in antiquity. The King’s Attorney was the person who advised the King. Then he was the person who appeared in court on behalf of the King and on behalf of the Crown. As our society developed, as the personal powers of the King or the Queen diminished and as the Parliament and the Executive, which with the King or the Queen exercised the powers of the land, grew so the Attorney-General ceased to be the personal adviser to the monarch and became the law officer of the institution known as the government. That is the position at the moment. Fundamental in that approach is the obligation to maintain the Constitution, to uphold the laws and to bear true and faithful allegiance to the
Queen. In my assessment, that involves not the person of the Queen but the institution of which the Queen is the embodiment according to law. Law is the basis ot our society, and may we never forget it.
It has been said that the function of the Attorney-General is to ensure that he represents the whole of society. 1 refer - .1 do this because Senator Murphy engaged the Senate interestingly this afternoon with some quotations from reports - to the decision in the Attorney-General v. Harris in which it was said by the Court of Appeal, taking a wide view, that the AttorneyGeneral ‘was to be regarded as representing the whole community, the Court of Appeal rightly emphasising’ - in my view also that society has a general interest in seeing that laws are obeyed and in putting a stop to continuing and deliberate flouting of the will of Parliament’. I refer to another part of the judgment in that case. I quote from what Mr Justice Eve said. He said:
The public is concerned in seeing that Acts of Parliament are obeyed, and if those who are acting in breach of them persist in so doing, notwithstanding the infliction of the punishment prescribed by the Act, the public at large is sufficiently interested in the dispute to warrant the Attorney-General intervening for the purpose of asserting public rights and if he does so the general rule no longer operates, the dispute is no longer one between individuals, it is one between the public and a small section of the public refusing to abide by the law of the land.
Whilst that refers specifically to the ability of the Attorney-General to appear before a court and to intervene on behalf of the public to seek the court’s enforcement of laws, nevertheless it is a rule of general application in the situation in which we now find ourselves. I quote from Mr J. LI. J. Edwards’ book ‘The Law Officers of the Crown’, which is an impeccable authority in this area. I refer to what is said at page 293 of that book. It is an opinion of Lord Shawcross who did write a well-regarded treatise on the office of the AttorneyGeneral. He said:
I felt myself that that was wrong and that it was of the utmost importance from the public point of view to maintain the position that it was the duty (however personally unpleasant) of His Majesty’s Attorney-General to represent the public interest with complete objectivity and detachment, and that to refuse to discharge that duty in a particular case in which the public interest) might be suspected to conflict with the interests of certain of his friends or of his political colleagues would be tantamount to saying that the office itself was inadequate to represent and protect the public interest against whosoever might challenge it. lt was in many ways a very distasteful decision to have to make, but I hope it helped to consolidate the Attorney-General’s right and duty - and that is what I emphasise in these matters - the duty - to be wholly detached, wholly independent and to accept the implications of an obligation to protect what, he conceives to be the public interest whatever the political results may be.
I assure the Senate that I shall protect the public interest, the rule of law and the freedom under that rule of law which 1 believe to be the very heart and core of the public interest. I. shall do so notwithstanding the consequences. I suggest that currently we are faced with a situation which we have seldom experienced previously in our history. We are faced with the situation in which one of the major political parties - the major opposition party vying for office - is prepared to set at nought observance of the rule of law and it is developing around itself a cult that one. can disobey laws if one chooses, that there is an acceptable exoneration of one’s conduct and that the party to which one belongs will protect one. That, to mc, is the principle which our ancestors fought against for so long in times past. They fought to over-rule the principle that certain people in the community had particular privileges because the law did not apply to them. The equality which our ancestors sought was the most precious of al! freedoms - that is, under the law all would have equal treatment. What is involved in the Labor Party’s approach is that some people - its adherents and the people it favours - would have special treatment in that they would not have to obey the law.
I know that I have trespassed beyond the time which is normally allowed to honourable senators in this type, of debate, but Senator Murphy, Mr Whitlam and the Australian Labor Party have shown a temerity which only people and a political party indifferent to public opinion could afford to show. I believe there is a danger to the Australian community in the reckless indifference of the ALP to the laws of the land and to the observance of those laws. The temerity is that they can assist-
– The Attorney-General has mentioned that he has spoken longer than the time that is usually allowed to honourable senators. I inform him that from our side of the chamber there will be no objection to his taking whatever time he wishes to complete what he wants to say.
– 1 am indebted to Senator Murphy for that courtesy. He knew that I was about to finish. The temerity to which I have referred is the temerity of these people - Senator Murphy, Mr Whitlam and the ALP - in thinking that they can assist, protect and justify a person on the run from the law. To allege-
– The ALP will have Ronald Biggs as a candidate next.
– J am not sure about thai. They are assisting, protecting and justifying a fugitive from the law - a person on the run. Their Leader, Mr Whitlam, is alleging that the fugitive is not guilty of a crime, in defiance of language and in defiance of every reasonable concept which people would have. The ultimate temerity is that they attack me, as the Attorney-General, for challenging the Leader of the ALP to explain to the Australian people where he stands on this issue. All I have sought to do is to expose the facts. I have been careful - reference to my statements will prove this - to indicate that what 1 have been saying is that Mr Johnston is contemptuous of lawful processes and that he is a person who should face his trial. I have not pre-judged him. That is something which, no matter how much members of the Opposition might like to search the record, they will not find. I think the height of their temerity, and an indication of their attitude, is that, my having said these things which I conceive it to be my duty to say, they seek by an intimidation which amounts to a denial of free speech to prevent me from justifying my remarks, and they do it on the basis of unfounded, unwarranted, specious and fabricated legalisms. 1 am unrepentant for what J have said and I am prepared to be judged by the Senate on the basis of what I have said if Only people will look at the record.
– For the past 6 hours we on this side of the Senate have been somewhat perplexed that the self-righteous Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) who is usually so quick on the draw has taken so long to speak. If the charges which were laid at his door by Senator Murphy had been levelled at me I could not have been on my feet quickly enough to defend myself. However, the AttorneyGeneral left it to his leader to set the tone, a tone which 1 may say has never been raised even by the Attorney-General himself, of burying the real issue and regurgitating all the tired old accusations agaist the Labor Party of being a party of law breakers, as though this is some way excuses the Attorney-General, the chief legal officer of the Crown, from himself breaking the law by committing contempt of court, as I will amply demonstrate that he has done. Our mystification as to why his party kept him under wraps for so long soon disappeared when he did open his mouth because he did not take long to convict, himself out of his own mouth, as 1 will show also.
After his leader had made his lame attempt to cloud the real issue here, we had the usual apoplectic low comedy from Senator Wright who, having scaled the legal heights as a prosecutor of drunks in the Hobart Police Court, had the temerity to accuse the most distinguished lawyer in this chamber of being - I will say it in the way that he pronounced it - unlearned. If he will scour the Jaw books he will find that the name of Senator Murphy occupies an honourable place in the legal tomes of this country, which show that he has appeared in all of the superior courts of this land. 1 have had a look at most of those books and I cannot remember seeing the name of Senator Wright appearing very frequently.
We then had the curiously naive contribution of Senator Rae who demonstrated only that he does not understand the English language, as I will demonstrate also in a few moments. Stripped of his boyish debating society points he showed that he misunderstands the law by claiming that there is no contempt unless it can be proved that the conduct complained of will in fact prejudice a fair trial. In a moment or two T will show him that that is not the law.
– Who said that?
– You said it. Have a look at Hansard tomorrow and you will see the words there. From
Senator Condon Byrne we had the usual sophistry suggesting that Senator Greenwood is not guilty of any offence or at hsst of only a technical offence, because - and this was his reasoning as far as I could understand it - the Labor Party itself does not respect the law. I do not know what (hat has to do with the issue that we are discussing. At last we heard from Senator Greenwood himself. As I say, he soon made it clear why his Party had to keep him under wraps. Out of his own mouth he constantly accused - and I challenge him to look at Hansard tomorrow - this man Johnston of already having been proved guilty.
Quite apart from this legal argument, which some may consider to be a hair splitting one, 1 find something odious in the spectacle of an able bodied man who has never heard a shot fired in anger standing up here day after day and delivering sermons to the youth of this country about their obligations under the National Service Act. Tonight, of course, we have had another such sanctimonious exercise from him. He has asked for chapter and verse about his faults, and I will give it to him. One would be entitled to assume that the chief law officer of the Crown, a figure who is traditionally recognised by the Bar as the leader of the profession - a man, moreover, who is one of Her Majesty’s Counsel - would have absorbed the traditions and conventions of his high office and would attempt to act up to them. The legal authorities which are available to Senator Murphy are available also to Senator Greenwood. If he has not familiarised himself with these authorities he is as professionally under-equipped as a doctor who does not know how to use a stethoscope, and he disqualifies himself for office on that count alone. If he is familiar with these authorities but chooses to flout them, he shows his contempt for the rights and traditions which he has sworn to uphold and he disqualifies himself for office on that alternative count.
As he and the Government so obviously have failed to comprehend the rationale of Senator Murphy’s indictment, I ask the Senate’s indulgence in order to spell it out in simple terms, as is evidently necessary. Firstly, as every layman knows, let alone the chief law officer of the Crown, under our system of law a man’s innocence is presumed until his guilt has been proved. Secondly, speeches or writings misrepresenting the proceedings of the court or prejudicing the public for or against a party are contempts of court. That is a quotation from Halsbury’s Laws of England, third edition, volume 8, page 7. I apologise to the Senate for having to quote such trite law but the Attorney-General and the geniuses around him have made it necessary. The same authority states:
The question in all cases of comment on pending proceedings is not whether the publication does interfere, but whether it tends to interfere -
I hope Senator Rae is listening to this because this is the authoritative statement of the law - with the due course of justice. On the same principle it is a contempt to make a speech tending to influence the result of a pending trial, whether civil or criminal, or to deliver a sermon with the same tendency.
In passing, I suppose honourable senators who are familiar with the Pharisaical style of the Attorney-General would class most of his outpourings as sermons. Thirdly, the Attorney-General is not just an ordinary layman who may plead ignorance of the law. He is not just an ordinary politician who may indulge in polemical excesses whenever the mood seizes him, and that is every few minutes from my own observations of Senator Greenwood. He is not just a member of the Government of the day who may put party political considerations ahead of all other criteria of proper behaviour. It is accepted by legal authorities that the Attorney-General occupies a quasi-judicial office. Sir Robert Finlay, who was one of the most authoritative British Attorneys-General in the early years of this century, described the AttorneyGeneral’s office in these words:
The duty which the law throws upon the Attorney-General in regard to putting the criminal law in motion is one of the most anxious and responsible which any man could well have thrown upon him.
It is no good Senator Greenwood saying that these authorities refer only to starting prosecutions. They are the general canons of behaviour for an Attorney-General throughout his whole task in seeing that the law is carried out. Sir Robert Finlay continued: lt would be a great relief to everyone filling (he office, which I have the honour to hold, if it were left to the departments to determine whether there should or should not be a prosecution in matters relating lo the business of the departments. A decision might conceivably be arrived at on the ground of general policy, and because it was considered that, on the whole, it was desirable that the matters should be investigated. But the law has thought it right to say that before the machinery for the investigation of a crime was put into motion there should be the intervention of a responsible officer, who is answerable to this House, and that he should determine whether the case was one suitable for a criminal prosecution. That is the only question which anyone who occupies that office would consider. In discharging that duty the Attorney-General is exercising a function of an almost judicial nature.
My next point is that if this view of the Attorney-General’s role is accepted it is improper for him to comment at all on criminal proceedings once they have been commenced. It is as improper for him to do so as it would be for the judge or magistrate charged with trying an accused person. Finally, it is particularly reprehensible for an Attorney-General to seek to make any political capital out of criminal proceedings which are pending or which he may have authorised. Let me quote Sir Hartley Shawcross who has already been referred to by Senator Murphy. He said:
There is only one consideration which is altogether excluded, and that is the repercussion of a given decision upon my personal or my Party’s or the Government’s political fortunes; that is a consideration which never enters into account.
Of course, as I have acknowledged, Sir Hartley Shawcross was referring to the considerations which an Attorney-General should have in mind in recommending a prosecution. Surely the same consideration should apply once a prosecution has been launched. In the light of these principles let us cast a cold eye, an unexcited eye, on what Senator Greenwood has said. That is what we have been challenged to do during this debate. What has he said? What were his words? Let us look at them. In the first place, he has seized on the prosecution of Mr Johnston and his failure to appear in court as an opportunity to attack the Labor Party. Whatever may be the merits of the case against Mr Johnston; whatever may be the reasons for his failure to appear in court; whatever may have been said about the case by members of the Labor Party whether by Dr Cass. Mr Whitlam, Mr Crawford or anyone else, and however reprehensible, illegal or improper their conduct may have been - I do not concede that - the AttorneyGeneral, if he appreciated his proper role, would remain silent about the case until it had been disposed of.
There is nothing politically unreal about that proposition, as has been suggested by the Attorney-General and by other speakers. They have said: “This is unreal. He is a politician as .well as being the Attorney-General. How can you ask him to muzzle himself just because there are legal proceedings?’ That is a completely false proposition, lt does not involve a moratorium on debate on Labor’s role in the Johnston case. After all, there is no shortage of gunslingers on the other side. There is Senator Hannan and Senator Webster who, by the way, made an interesting interjection tonight which may not have been heard by all honourable senators. This man who has constantly challenged us to prove that an allegation of guilt has been made against Mr Johnston, interjected at one stage that we were harbouring a criminal. If that is not prejudging the case, I should like to know what is. Provided these men on the other side of the chamber refrain from suggesting that Mr Johnston is guilty, they may be as harsh as they wish about the Labor Party’s role in allegedly condoning or applauding his failure to appear before the court. But it is a different matter altogether for the Attorney-General. Once proceedings are pending against an accused, his proper attitude in the matter is one of silence.
If his offence were confined to importing political polemics into what we conceive as his quasi judicial role, reprehensible as that is, I doubt whether the Opposition would have considered his conduct so heinous as to warrant moving this motion. But of course, no matter how he and those on the other side of the House have tried to twist the meaning of his words, his breach of duty has been far more serious than this, and I shall make that clear now by quoting chapter and verse. He has publicly proclaimed the guilt of a man who is yet to be tried. To contend otherwise is to do violence to the plain everyday meaning of the English language. To nail his falsification of what he said, let us dissect the statement which he admitted to the Senate he had made. I hope that honourable senators have before them the Hansard report of Tuesday 22nd February. The crucial passage appears on page 17. After saying that the Labor Party should say where it stands in respect of the refusal of its candidate for Hotham, Mr B. Johnston, to appear before the court and answer a charge of failing to obey his call-up for national service, the Attorney-General had this to say, and I ask honourable senators, and especially Senator Rae, to listen closely:
Moreover, it is unfair to those who accept their national service responsibilities for the Labor Party to aid and support those who will neither accept their lawful obligations nor submit to the penalties for non-compliance.
This passage has been referred to by Senator Murphy, and the construction which he puts upon it is not merely the construction which any competent lawyer would put upon it; it is also the meaning which any intelligent layman would put upon it. But since the Government - I include here Senator Greenwood - disputes this construction let us examine the words again in some detail. Note carefully that Senator Greenwood does not confine himself to condemning Mr Johnston for failing to appear to answer the charge, as he so falsely and. 1 think, knowingly has said time and again during this debate. After stating that the charge against Mr Johnston is failure to obey a call-up for national service, he states that the Labor Party is aiding and supporting those who will not accept their lawful obligations.
If the ‘those’ referred to does not include Mr Johnston, the whole statement is point less. The clear implication is that Mr johnston has not accepted his lawful obligation to answer a call-up notice, that is, that he is guilty of the offence with which he has been charged but for which he has not yet been tried. The further allegations that he will not submit to the penalties for noncompliance implies that he has failed to comply with the call-up notice and is, therefore, subject to a penalty. How can there be any talk of penalties unless guilt is assumed? lt is idle to claim that the only reasonable inference to be drawn from Mr Johnston’s failure to appear is that he is guilty of the charge. It does not even matter if he has admitted guilt to the charge. That is irrelevant to what we are saying against the Attorney-General. No matter how overwhelming the presumption of his guilt, no matter even if he has admitted his guilt, no-one, least of all the Attorney-General, has the right to assert his guilt until it has been proved. As Senator Murphy pointed out - I think it was referred to also by Senator Wheeldon, and this underlines the point I am making - did anyone believe that Charles Manson, the mass killer in the United States, was not guilty? Did we not all privately assume that he was guilty? But when the President of the United Stales expressed his horror at the crimes of Charles Manson before Manson had been brought to trial there was a cry of protest all over the United States against this premature public assertion by the President of the gUilt of a man whom most Americans, as f have said, privately considered to be guilty.
I am forced by the moral and intellectual obtuseness of the Attorney-General and other honourable senators on the Government side who have participated in this debate, to restate the obvious. We are not debating whether Mr Johnston is innocent or guilty. That matter cannot properly be debated before his trial. The AttorneyGeneral’s unforgivable offence - an offence for which he boasts he is unrepentant and boasts that he will repeat - is to assert a man’s guilt before that man has been tried.
– The honourable senator is trying hard but he has not convinced me.
– I do noi think I could convince the honourable senator because he has proved conclusively here tonight that he just does not understand the meaning of words. It is interesting, by the way, to compare Senator Greenwood’s approach to law enforcement with that of his predecessor, Mr Hughes, who now, by contrast with Senator Greenwood, appears as a great libertarian Attorney-General. As Senator Murphy pointed out, Mr Hughes justified his nonprosecution of men who had not complied with the National Service Act, and also of tho o who were alleged to have incited other. noi to comply. I should like Senator Greenwood to bear these words in mind because they may .save him from further abuse of his office in the future. Mr Hughes said: lt does not follow that if one’s aim is, as mine is-
Senator Greenwood is not the only one with this aim - to maintain public order under the law, it is necessary or proper to prosecute, on the basis of a sort of reflex action, every breach or supported breach of a law which operates in a context of political controversy.
I make bold to suggest that if Mr Hughes were still Attorney-General and even if he had been completely satisfied of Mr Johnston’s guilt, that would not have concluded the matter for him in weighing up whether he should be prosecuted. The words of Mr Hughes which I have just quoted demonstrate that he is familiar with the traditions of the office of Attorney-General.
– There was an interesting part which you left out of that quotation. Read the whole lot.
- Senator Rae may read it if he likes. I have read everything that I have here. As I say, this is supported also by the lofty authority of Sir John Simon who was referred to earlier by Senator Murphy. Sir John Simon said:
There is no greater nonsense talked about the Attorney-General’s duly than the suggestion that in all cases the Attorney-General ought to decide lo prosecute merely because he thinks there is what the lawyers call ‘a case’, lt is not true, and no one who has held that office supposes il is. 1 suggest that a wise and tolerant AttorneyGeneral, acting on the principles enunciated by the distinguished line of British Attorneys-General to whom I have referred–
– Before you continue would you read the whole of that quotation.
– That is all 1 have. Senator Rae may correct me later if he likes. I ask for your protection. Mr President. I ask that I be heard in silence. I am not trying to falsify anything. If any honourable senator wishes to make a correction to any quotation 1 refer to he will get an opportunity to do so. I see the usual look of self-righteous indignation on the face of the Attorney-General who falsified repeatedly here tonight what he had said and who compounded his offence by repeating accusations of guilt in this chamber. If there is anybody in this House who is disentitled to self-righteous indignation it is Senator Greenwood who tonight condemned himself out of his own mouth.
I suggest that a wise and tolerant AttorneyGeneral, the last possible removed from Senator Greenwood, acting on the principles enunciated by the distinguished line of British Attorneys-General to whom I have referred, and whose guidance obviously was accepted by Mr Hughes, may well have decided that in all the circumstances of Mr Johnston’s case the prosecution should not be proceeded with. This country is divided on the question of national service. The war which brought it into being is over as far as this country is concerned. Australia faces no discernible threat, in the words of the Liberal’s ex-Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, for at least the next 10 years and an election is to be held in the next few months as a result of which a government will be elected which is pledged to repeal the law under which Mr Johnston has been charged. In these circumstances I do not believe that Mr Hughes would have recommended the prosecution of a candidate of one of the major political parties who was alleged to he calling in question by his own conduct a law which will be a major issue in the election in which he is a candidate.
But that observation is purely peripheral to the Opposition’s case against the present Attorney-General. Whether or not the prosecution of Mr Johnston is justified or is in the public interest, he has the right, which every citizen has. to be presumed innocent until he is proved guilty. It is monstrous. Mr President, that this right should be denied to him by of all people the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, the chief law officer of the Crown, lt is a measure of the lamentable decline of the standards of public behaviour in this country that the AttorneyGeneral can act in the way he has, that he can come into this Senate during this debate and compound his offence by repeating it. and that the Government of which he is a prominent member does not disown him as it should. This conduct is on a par with the almost daily mauling of the truth that we get from the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). It is a symptom of a government in an advanced state of decay. The Senate should have no hesitation in passing judgment on this damnable conduct by the worst Attorney-General that this country has had.
– I rise under standing order 410, having spoken to a question, to explain myself in regard to a material part of my speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood. I refer to what Senator James McClelland said about the statements of my predecessor, Mr Hughes.
– Under the Standing Orders you are entitled to rise at this juncture, when the honourable senator has just resumed his seat, and make an explanation. That right is accorded to you.
– I rise to a point of order.
– J have given a ruling. Is the honourable senator challenging my ruling?
– 1 rise to a point of order, Mr President. I assert that the honourable senator may rise to defend himself only if he has been misrepresented, not if Mr Hughes has been misrepresented.
- Senator Greenwood rose under the standing order which he quoted in order to rectify what he complains is a misstatement by the honourable senator who just resumed his seat. I must listen to determine what is the alleged misrepresentation.
– 1 quote what Senator James McClelland said from the text of the speech made by Mr Hughes:
It does not follow that, if one’s aim (as mine is) is to maintain public order under the law … it is necessary or proper to prosecute, on the basis of a sort of reflex action, every breach or supposed breach of a law which operates in a context of political controversy.
I understand that that extract was used as a quotation to differentiate my conduct from that of Mr Hughes. The full sentence is as follows: lt does not follow that, if one’s aim-
– I rise to a point of order. This is not an explanation of a misquotation by Senator James McClelland who just resumed his seat, lt is adding to the matter.
– Order! That is not a point of order. I have ruled that Senator Greenwood is entitled to make a personal explanation.
– The full sentence in Mr Hughes’ speech is as follows: lt does not follow that, if one’s aim (as mine is) is to maintain public order under the law. so far as it is possible in a community where the false principle of primacy of individual conscience over law is espoused by a large section of a political party that poses itself as an alternative government, it is necessary or proper to prosecute, on the basis of a sort of reflex action, every breach or supposed breach of a law which operates in a context of political controversy.
In the generality I agree with the statement as I have just quoted it.
– I rise to a point of order. Under standing order 410 I ask leave to refer to a matter raised by the previous speaker in this debate, Senator James McClelland, in which he suggested that I made a certain statement. He said that if I looked at Hansard I would find out what that statement was. I have looked at Hansard and have found that statement. It was not what it was represented to be by Senator James McClelland and I claim to have been misrepresented. What I said was not as quoted by Senator James McClelland. He said that I had a complete misunderstanding of the law relating to contempt. What Senator James McClelland stated was inaccurate. This is what I said:
Let us have a look at the law on this particular subject and see whether Senator Murphy can tell us in any way at all how he distinguishes this statement of the law from the facts in this case. I wish to refer to a judgment of the Court of Appeal in England dealing with the question of contempt. The judgment defines ‘contempt’ and goes on to say:
This is not the action which will be tried by a jury and although I suppose there might be a case in which the publication was of such a kind that it might even be thought that it would influence the mind of a professional judge it has generally been accepted-
I repeat those words for Senator Murphy’s benefit - it has generally been accepted that professional judges are sufficiently well equipped by their professional training to be on their guard against allowing any such matter as this to influence them in deciding the case, and it is not suggested in the present case that anything has been done to prejudice the trial of the action in that sort of way.
I went on to say that Senator Murphy was insulting the magistracy of Australia. I was asked for the reference and gave it. I did not state the law in my own view; I quoted the law from a case in the Court of Appeal in the United Kingdom and went no further than that. The babble coming from honourable senators opposite shows how they do not like to be shown up when they make wrong accusations.
– Many honourable senators in this chamber tonight would regret that Senator Murphy brought forward his motion, but it is apparent from the debate which has occurred this afternoon and this evening that certainly no Government supporter would have that regret. The last speaker from the Opposition side is a most interesting speaker to listen to. I refer to Senator Douglas McClelland.
– Senator James McClelland?
– Yes. Senator James McClelland, but I shall refer also to Senator Douglas McClelland in the course of my speech. Senator James McClelland said on a number of occasions that he would spell out for the Senate in chapter and verse the charge to be laid againstthe Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). He said that he would spell out those words which perhaps Senator Murphy and other honourable senators opposite had failed to mention. At least Senator James McClelland did attempt to inform the Senate of the words to which he took objection. Perhaps it would be worth while not only to cite the few lines quoted by Senator James McClelland but also to read to the Senate the paragraphs before and after that extract to which Senator James McClelland claimed the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) took offence. I refer to the Senate Hansard of 22nd February 1972 at page 17 where the AttorneyGeneral said:
It is deplorable for any parliamentary candidate to adopt such a contemptuous attitude for lawful processes and deliberately to create a situation where the Court issues a warrant for his arrest.
Even if the Labor Party disagrees with the policy of the Act its parliamentary members and its candidates, like all citizens, have an obligation to observe and uphold the law. Moreover, it is unfair to those who accept their national service responsibilities for the Labor Party to aid and support those who will neither accept their lawful obligations nor submit to the penalties for non-compliance.
I find it very difficult to find in those words a criticism by the Attorney-General of Mr Barry Johnston, yet it was those words which Senator James McClelland said formed the basis of Senator Murphy’s challenge to the Attorney-General. In his notice of motion Senator Murphy criticised the Attorney-General on 2 points, the first of which reads: by making prejudicial statements about one Barry Johnston who has been charged but not yet tried on an information alleging a breach of the National Service Act.
Senator Murphy did not spell out what those prejudicial statements were, nor did any of those who supported him in the debate. 1 can only say that Senator James McClelland did make some attempt to identify the words which were to be taken as constituting an offence. I believe that the Attorney-General has made no prejudicial statement which could affect the charge levelled at Barry Johnston, but he certainly did mention a political situation which was quite disastrous, namely, that the Opposition in the Australian Parliament condones the action which has been taken by that individual.
The Attorney-General has made strong comment regarding Barry Johnston’s nonappearance to answer a warrant for his arrest and has criticised that section of the Australian Labor Party - I emphasise that it is a section only - which supports Barry Johnston and gives him shelter when he is a wanted man. It is interesting to note the manner in which this matter has arisen. It arose from comments in newspapers which reported Senator Greenwood’s words. The Minister made his statement on about the 7th or 8th February and shortly after that Senator Murphy took up the cudgels on this matter on behalf of his Party. I note that no other member of the Opposition made any comment. The Melbourne ‘Age’ of Saturday, 12th February, carried the headline:
N S resister’s case was prejudiced, says Labor.
The report went on to say that the Federal Opposition was considering referring to bar associations a statement by the AttorneyGeneral. It would be interesting to know whether Senator Murphy has taken that action. Perhaps he will indicate whether he has done so. The report went on to say that Senator Murphy made strong charges that Senator Greenwood’s statements were a disgraceful abuse of his office and that one of his statements was an outrage. A report in the ‘Australian’ of Saturday, 12th February, states:
The Federal Attorney-General, Senator Greenwood, is expected to face a censure motion calling Tor his dismissal as soon as Parliament resumes on Tuesday week.
The first comment that was made in the Senate about Barry Johnston was when Senator Murphy asked the Attorney-General a question about him. Was Senator James
McClelland’s comment correct that it was improper for the Attorney-General to comment at all in relation to an individual? Apparently Senator Murphy did not think so because he asked the Attorney-General to make some comment. Perhaps that was considered to be a political matter. It is most interesting to note also that Mr Barry Johnson is not the first draft dodger whose actions have been mentioned by the Opposition in this place. Late last year in this chamber we debated very strenuously the actions of some draft dodgers who were located on the top floor of a building in the University of Melbourne. They were individuals who had not answered call-up notices. No Labour senator at that time challenged the Attorney-General with making comment which was improper in those circumstances.
When the matter involving Mr Barry Johnston arose last month we were informed that it would be raised in the Senate on the first Tuesday of the session. Strong words were used by Senator Murphy at that time, yet I regret that the Leader of the Labor Party in the Senate did not raise the matter until a week after the first Tuesday of the session. I question Senator Murphy’s motive in bringing this matter forward at this particular time. It was not brought forward on Tuesday of last week. I wonder at the reason for that. I suggest that the lapse of time was enough to enable a situation to develop whereby the Leader of the Labor Party in another place, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), could be caught up in the matter. If Senator Murphy had been genuine in his intention to challenge the AttorneyGeneral he would have done so, as was suggested early in February, on the first day of this session. Many matters of very little consequence were debated in the Senate last week. But Senator Murphy chose - I do not know whether this was his reason - to let time pass until his Leader, the Leader of the Labor Party, Mr Whitlam. had made some statement and identified himself with an action which, I. believe, is typical of the left wing section of the Labor Party.
– If you were to inquire of the leaders of the Government parties you would know differently. It was indicated to them affirmatively beforethe weekend that this motion would be moved.
– Even in those words Senator Murphy does not indicate the reason why the motion should be left until today - .more than a week after the Senate began sitting. I suggest to him that the matter was raised at this time so that it would leave quite a long intervening period during which the Leader of the Labor Party in the House of Representatives would make a statement on this matter. I am very pleased to see Senator Murphy smiling. It is the first time he has smiled during the whole of this debate. Once Mr Whitlam bad become involved, the move was made in the Senate. (Quorum formed.)
Before the quorum was called I pointed Out that by not moving this motion earlier Senator Murphy left sufficient time for Mr Whitlam to become involved in this matter. Much of the argument in this place has related to the comments made by Mr Whitlam. Indeed, he is the one who has been under challenge, if anyone has been. It is quite interesting to note, as other senators have done, the comments that have been made in the editorials of various newspapers in the last day or so. If one were to take note of them, one could not bc otherwise than impressed by the fact that this matter was mentioned by Senator Murphy on 12lh February, when he gave an indication that he would, raise it immediately the Senate resumed. But it was left until Mr Whitlam had lime to make some quite damaging statements, probably in an attempt to placate some of those who are within the left wing of his Party. That is not purely a comment of mine, although I certainly endorse it. It has been made by some leading newspapers. It is interesting to note the editorial in yesterday’s Sydney Sun’. Under the heading ‘Hit and Run Politics’ it states:
The place for Australian political parties to change laws is in Parliament . . .
Not shaking the legal structure that allows them this opportunity.
– This was read out 10 minutes ago.
- Senator Wheeldon from Western Australia, who called a quorum when only 5 members of his Party were in the chamber although they are the ones who are supposed to be challenging the Attorney-General, says that these mat ters have been mentioned previously; but we on the Government side have listened to tedious repetition by members of the Opposition. It is very interesting to note that all the members of the Opposition who have spoken in this debate, other than Senator Douglas McClelland, I believe, would be quite proud to stand up and be counted as left wing members of the Labor Party. I do not know whether I am wrong in that assertion. Some of the honourable senators who have spoken may wish to deny my assertion. We have heard from Senators Murphy, Wheeldon, Cavanagh, Poyser and James McClelland. Senator Douglas McClelland in this instance has aligned himself with the attitudes of the left wingers within his Party. 1 mention that only because it is interesting to note that at least one newspaper-
– Mr Deputy President, I rise to order. I find the exception of Senator Douglas McClelland by Senator Webster offensive. I think Senator Douglas McClelland does too. 1 ask that it be withdrawn.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - The point of order is not upheld.
– The leading article in today’s ‘Australian’ is headed ‘Strange, Illogical and Dangerous’ and starts with the words:
Mr Whitlam has gol himself into a strange illogical and potentially dangerous situation in his reaction to the draft resister Australian Labor Party candidate in Hotham, Victoria.
It really spells out the situation that has been brought about. Again I refer to the time Senator Murphy allowed to elapse, I believe, so that Mr Whitlam would be caught up in this matter. The leading article mentions these 2 points. It says, among other things, with reference lo the statement by Mr Whitlam:
This is tantamount to the curious suggestion that once a particular political party has decided it will repeal a law, when it can, that law somehow loses all validity. One would have thought that Mr Whitlam, himself a lawyer, would have understood that the acceptance of that sort of principle eventually threatens the whole legal basis of organised society.
– Who said that?
– This is from the leading article in today’s ‘Australian’. I know the attitude Senator Wheeldon will take. He will bc delighted that Mr Whitlam has been brought into this matter so that he himself can speak on it. This leading article goes on to say:
If the Labor Parly insists on sticking to this lack, to placate its left wingers, it may so disenchant the electorate that it commits the equal absurdity of throwing away an election which up to now has looked already won.
The left wing within the Labor Party finds some justification for its action. I cannot help thinking that Mr Crawford, the President of the Victorian Branch of the Labor Party, who was castigated and criticised so much by Mr Whitlam last year, has embarrassed Mr Whitlam very much by the action he has taken. 1 believe that, whereas some credibility was being given to the Labor Party within recent months, the Party has been completely divided by the matter on which Senator Murphy has brought forward this motion. I reiterate that, with the exception of Senator Douglas McClelland, all the Labor Party speakers in this debate would be proud to call themselves left wingers - and laughing left wingers, if I may say so. I believe that the result is quite disastrous for the Labor Party, lt cannot go to the electorate as a respectable party, suggesting that it is a body capable of making laws for Australia and at the same time making the statement that Mr Whitlam has made, namely, that it does not intend to enforce a particular law because it will be repealing that law or somebody else may repeal it at a particular time. The basis of the challenge to the Attorney-General reveals, I believe, the sinister attitude of the leftists within the ALP. I think Senator Murphy should make the point clear .ft at it was he who first raised the name of Barry Johnston in this place.
– What do you mean by that?
– J know that the honourable senator was nol here while Senator James McClelland was speaking, but Senator James McClelland suggested that it was improper at any stage to make comments about an invididual who may be coming before a court. But Senator Murphy was the first person lo raise in this chamber the matter of Barry Johnston and at that stage he intended that the name of Barry Johnston would come up for debate.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has indicated that draft dodging is not a crime. He has indicated also that after the next Federal election there will not be a draft. I wonder whether this is true Labor Party policy.
– Yes, that is right. Now you know.
– Well, it appears that it is the true Labor Party policy. However, my reading of the policy is that the Labor Party does not intend to press for the call-up of those who oppose an undeclared war. That is the wording of your policy, Senator. I do not know whether it is the anxiety of the left wing, as expressed by Senator Wheeldon, to make it clear to the electorate that in no circumstances would the Labor Party in office ever have a policy whereby individuals would be called on at any stage to train in the country’s defence. But that is what is being indicated.
– No. f do not think that you have understood.
– And that is where the honourable senator would stop because he certainly would not be able to explain. Where does the Australian Labor Parly really stand on national service? I had considered that there was a definite division of view within the Australian Labor Party. There had been those who had been expressing the view, with perhaps some basis for it, that individuals should not be called up and that they should not have to serve in Vietnam. The Labor Party curried favour with those who objected to service. The Labor Party has supported their nonregistration for national service. But the situation today is that Barry Johnston, or anyone else who may be called up is called up purely for training purposes. It is this fact which the electorate of Australia should take closely to heart. The electorate should remember also that under a Labor government there would be no training in this country whatsoever. Such a state of affairs would be disastrous. But I believe that the Labor Party will reverse that policy before the next election is held. In order to have some credibility in formulating a defence policy Labor will certainly have to reverse its policy on conscription. I suggest that
Labor Party members as well as the Australian electorate should study their policy because this is, in my opinion, a most serious matter.
Senator Murphy and his followers in this chamber -I include all Labor senators - have made it clear from today’s debate that they have no basis for their challenge to the Attorney-General, although they have said on a number of occasions that they will spell out in chapter and verse what they have against the Attorney-General. They have been unable to convince me or any other Government supporter that there is any basis to their challenge. They have been unable to give credibility to any one of their complaints about references which the AttorneyGeneral had made to Mr Johnston. I think that on that basis their case has fallen down completely.
The purpose of Senator Webster’s contribution has been far from clear. Indeed, I thought he had picked up the wrong notes because what he said had no relevance to the debate. I shall get back on to the track again and remind the Senate of the subject matter of this debate. Senator Murphy’s motion was worded in the following terms:
That Senator Greenwood has dishonoured the office of Attorney-General:
by making prejudicial statements about one Barry Johnston who has been charged but not yet tried on an information alleging a breach of the National Service Act, and
by involving the office of Attorney-General in a party political controversy in connection withthat pending criminal case.
I do not think that honourable senators can have any doubt about the purpose of this debate, but for the enlightenment of those who have forgotten some of the matters which Senator Murphy raised while introducing this motion I would like to quote some of the main points of his speech. He said that the office of AttorneyGeneral is an ancient and honourable one. I believe that the debate today has proved that this ancient and honourable office has been dishonoured.
Senator Murphy said that the AttorneyGeneral is a Minister of the Crown whose position is different from that of other Ministers. But during the course of this debate the Attorney-General (Senator
Greenwood), as he tried to justify his position, claimed that he was no different from any other Minister. I believe that he is afflicted with an obsession that seems to be quite common, not only amongst the people of his political persuasion in Australia, but also in other parts of the world.
– Do you feel that you are making heavy weather of this, Senator?
– No. I would just like to point out that Senator Greenwood - or Senator Grimwood as he is known by some honourable senators - is part of the society in which we have been living for 20 years - a society of double standards. Senator Webster quoted the double standards repeatedly - those of deception, false propaganda and cynicism, and a belief that one can fool most of the people most of the time.
Senator Greenwood and other Ministers cynically believe that it is the numbers that count. They believe that they can use the Australian Democratic Labor Party or any other means during an election campaign to gain power and that the power thus granted to them allows them to embark on anything to any limits. They believe that they can justify their actions by claiming they were given a mandate under a certain set of conditions. This has tended to make a farce of Parliament.
The people of Australia were fooled completely by the propaganda that led us into the Vietnam war. The reasons for this debate and the degrading of the position of Attorney-General can be traced directly to the falsehoods and the deception that led the people of Australia to believe that we were justified in legislating ourselves into the Vietnam war. The Pentagon Papers have proved to the people of America - and this was proved later, after the truth seeped through our propaganda and censor’s machinery, to the people of Australia - that the authorities in the United States lied. They have proved also in turn that the authorities in Australia lied to the Australian people about the exchange of letters. The people of Australia have never been told that the authorities of the United States sat round a table and plotted the overthrow and assassination of Ngo Din Diem in order to get a change of Government so as to be able to continue American policy in Vietnam.
– The Central Intelligence Agency was involved.
– Of course the CIA was involved. This was admitted in the Pentagon Papers. So we have a basts of deception on which the Attorney-General is now trying to build up. He has succeeded to the position wherein he continues his long line of deception. His predecessors created it for him. Sir Robert Menzies and his successor Mr Harold Holt created this situation for him. Harold Holt disappeared from the scene as did L. B. Johnson because they realised that they had been sucked into this living lie which had been sold to the people of the United States and Australia. The whole idea of national service is against the will of the Australian people. They did not know the circumstances behind this legislation. Traditionally they have been against conscription. They have always demonstrated this through the years. Tonight by way of interjection 1 reminded the Senate of objections against conscription dating back to the First World War. This objection is ingrained in the Australian people. You can get the best men voluntarily. You bring out the worst of men by conscription and compulsion.
– That is a bit unfair to the national servicemen.
– The national servicemen have had no option. They have been the birthday boys so that the Government could get conscripts to send to Vietnam on the cheap. The Government gol them at a time when they had no vote.
– They refuse them the vote now too.
– That is right. Not only that, but the Government got these men on the cheap because they are unmarried. The Government does not have to pay the lousy pittance it is paying ex-servicemen from the first and second World Wars. The Government is receiving complaints about that. But it chooses these 18-year olds because it gets them on the cheap. It pays them the least amount possible because these men have no dependants. These birthday boys are picked out of the barrel of death. This is the type of Government which talks about the rule of law. What hypocrisy! What utter contempt of the people it is governing. There is law in that. It is complete deception. Yet the
Government wonders why young people throughout the country go out and demonstrate against this law. Throughout the western world, particularly in the United States and Australia, there is a reaction from young people who in Australia are prepared to go out in the streets and tell the Government that this is an unjust law of which they do not approve. Yet what do we have? In the United States we have examples where troops come out and mow the young people down and there are bashings and the type of thing we have here in Australia when these people are demonstrating against a bad law. I make the point that Senator Greenwood represents and illustrates this fanaticism which has been built up in the minds of reactionary people. Senator Greenwood has all the hallmarks of the people who built Germany to the state which led it to its own destruction.
– The honourable senator does not have any hallmarks.
– Senator Marriott smokes too many, that is why he is too thin. This fanaticism of Senator Greenwood and his colleagues has been born of the political ideology which says that power comes out of the numbers. Some people say it comes out of the barrel of a gun. But it has been the philosophy of this Government that if it can deceive the people at election time it can protect the status quo by any methods at all, particularly deception. Today we see the hounding of a man by the Attorney-General of this country. He and his colleagues have tried to get away from this charge. Senator Murphy, during the course of his remarks said: What are the facts? He went on to state exactly what he meant. I shall quote what he said, bell, book and candle. He stated:
Senator Greenwood and his colleagues cannot contradict that the attacks, the imputations and the insinuations which have been made by the Attorney-General are without precident and are unbecoming the AttorneyGeneral of this country. Senator Murphy continued:
He has disparaged the accused day after day in the Press, on television, on radio and in the Senate.
No-one can contradict that. We have heard Senator Greenwood. We have read of him saying this. On television we have seen him disparaging the accused. After all, as we were reminded, this man is innocent in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of anyone - by Senator Greenwood - until he is proved guilty. Sentor Murphy also drew attention to the fact that the AttorneyGeneral had improperly referred to the accused’s previous convictions and to a previous imprisonment. He also accused him of a contemptuous attitude for lawful processes. Is this the action of an impartial man, a man holding the highest legal office in the land, a man who, once he is appointed to the high position of AttorneyGeneral, should be beyond the nit picking of politics. This is virtually what Senator Greenwood has been engaged upon - nit picking for miserable political purposes.
– It is better than nit picking.
– The honourable senior would be an expert, because 1 have never seen a better nit except in the park win re the monkeys are. The AttorneyGeneral, too, has referred to evasion and defiance of the law. He has intruded party politics by calling upon the ALP and individuals to join in the disparagement and prejudice by disowning the accused. I shall quote from an article written by Gavin Souter in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ last year. He said:
What made Senator Ivor Greenwood a Liberal?
Later he said:
Ivor Greenwood says that he came to his political position through religion . . . ‘The most important thing in this world is the individual soul’ . . . ‘To me it was the natural thing to move into a political ideology where you endeavour to strengthen the individual personality and responsibility and call upon individuals to act on their own initiative.
This is the whole principle involved here. These men of conscience like Barry Johnston have chosen in their own way to follow the dictates of their conscience and of their own soul. Senator Greenwood is supposed to be a man of religion. He believes that he wishes to strengthen the individual personality and to call upon individuals to act on their own initiative. Yet over the recent period his actions have been such as to stifle the right of a person to have a conscience and to condemn him as being guilty before he has been properly tried. Gavin Souter goes on to state that the Attorney-General had a distinguished start at the Bar. At one time he shared chambers with 2 other Scotch College old boys. One of his former colleagues said:
Ivor is a fair lawyer, I think a good lawyer . . . But in my view he’s also a nitpicking lawyer. Some people, of course, would say a lawyer’s lawyer. He is very pedantic in the committee area.
In that area he was very active both legally and politically. From 1963 to 1968 he was honorary secretary of the Law Council of Australia and from 1952 to 1968 he was on the State Executive of the Victorian Liberal Parly. Onwards and upwards! From 1966 to 1968 he was one of the Victorian party’s four vice-presidents, and in 1968 he was chosen to fill the Senate vacancy caused when John Garton transferred to the House of Representatives.
Senator Greenwood was a strong Gorton man until some weeks before the Prime Minister’s downfall. He became disenchanted, however, moved in strongly behind Mr McMahon and won the new Prime Ministers gratitude with some timely help in Melbourne.
His reward came quickly. In March, at the age of 44, he was appointed Minister for Health. When the Attorney-General’s portfolio became vacant in August, there was some speculation that Mr McMahon would offer it back to Mi Hughes, a figure of roughly the same political texture as Senator Greenwood in almost all respects except his feelings about Mr Gorton. It went to Senator Greenwood.
Further, I quote Senator Greenwood’s views on the death penalty. This article states:
Senator Geenwood’s views on the death penally have changed little since he came to the Senate. His speech opposing the Death Penalty Abolition Bill last month was almost identical with the one he delivered in a similar debate 3 years ago.
– From what is the honourable senator reading?
– I am quoting from an article entitled ‘The making of a Minister,’ from the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. The article was written by Gavin Souter. 1 think that this is the most quotable quote of all:
Only 3 weeks before his appointment as AttorneyGeneral, Senator Greenwood shocked some of his fellow barristers with an address on ‘The Lawyer As An Investigator’ at the Legal Convention in Melbourne. He said that the power to compel answers (presumably even self incriminating ones) ought lo be fundamental at company and other public investigations.
Generally’, he said, ‘we are too tender atom the rights of individuals who, in circumstances of apparent, wrongdoing, can claim that they are not obliged lo answer questions. 1 do not see why, taking the proposition to its ultimate the security of the State should be imperilled because a person is able lo remain silent - when prima facie he is capable of giving relevant information.
So, we have here Senator Greenwood, the man of the church, the superstar. On the other hand he says that the most important thing in the world is the individual soul.
He also said:
To mc it was the natural thing to move into a political ideology where you endeavour to strengthen the individual personality and responsibility and call upon individuals to act on their own initiative.
So we see this contradiction in the personality of the Minister who holds the exalted position of Attorney-General. Senator Greenwood is so contemptuous of this debate that he chooses not to remain in the Senate. He does not wish to hear the debate. I see that he has now returned to the Senate. He finds that this is the place where he should be.
This matter has been canvassed quite widely. I believe that Senator Greenwood stands condemned because he has dishonoured the Oil iCe of Attorney-General. I believe that he could redeem himself partly by pledging to the Senate that no longer will he take part in the persecution and prejudicing of the case of Barry Johnston, that he will withdraw i he warrant for bis arrest and, in doing so, will show a little, bit of the quality of mercy and of judgment that traditionally has been exercised by Attorneys-General down through history. At the present time this honourable position stands in danger of criticism and being degraded. I believe also that because of his political obsessions Senator Greenwood has brought into the position of Attorney-General something which has not been present in that position before but his immaturity in handling his ministerial portfolio and his immaturity in parliamentary matters are showing out in this case. Even if he has the numbers to defeat this mo:ion, if nothing else resit’ ts .1 am certain that these facts having been exposed in public will make him mend his ways considerably.
– I am glad that some Opposition senators are now present in the chamber to support the motion moved by their Leader, Senator Murphy, because it is not so long ago that Senator Wheeldon from Western Australia had to call a quorum because only 5 Labor members were present.
– That is not right at all. Senator Webster drove them out. The honourable senator has not been here supporting his side. Nor have other Government senators. That is why the quorum was called.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! Senator McLaren will cease interjecting.
– If I may proceed: One of the facts which will be recorded in Hansard is that a quorum was called because sufficient Opposition speakers were not present to support the motion that was moved by the Leader of the Opposition. One of the interesting things which Senator O’Byrne said in the first part of his speech was that the best, men are obtained from volunteers but that in conscripts lesser persons are enlisted. 1 do not know whether these remarks apply to those who were called up in the Citizen Military Forces in the last war and to those who have been in Vietnam on national service.
– Where are your Vietnam medals?
– I do not think men in either of those categories were any less men or less soldiers than the volunteers. If any member of the Opposition believes that, he should get up and say so. I feel a bit sorry for Senator Murphy because, since I was re-elected to the Senate, he has had 3 goes at motions of this type directed at 3 different Ministers. On 14th August 1968, he introduced a lack of confidence motion in the late Senator McKellar with respect to the Mooney affair. I will not say any more than that except to repeat what I think Senator Byrne said: That attempt flopped, and flopped shockingly badly because it was based on a case of inference upon hearsay upon hearsay. But Senator Murphy did not learn his lesson. A year later almost to the day, on 20th August 1969, he introduced a motion against Senator Wright - this time in the form of a censure - relating to the Pratt affair. That motion was bunglingly mishandled at the time because Senator Murphy did not know his law. Therefore, he could not succeed against Senator Wright because he did not know what he was talking about.
Tonight, a couple of years later, Senator Murphy has plucked up enough courage and has forgotten what happened on 20th August .1969. He started his speech with a long dissertation on the law. As my colleague. Senator Rae, pointed out, Senator Murphy made no attempt to link that dissertation with the facts in issue. On this occasion, the motion is not in terms of lack of confidence or censure; it alleges dishonour. Perhaps on another occasion Senator Murphy will use some other tactic. My colleague, Senator Greenwood, whom 1 am very proud to support in this chamber tonight, posed the question: Why has this motion been moved? I think that it has been moved Cor a very simple reason, lt has been part of the Labor Parly’s campaign in this place for the last 4 years to ‘get Greenwood’. If honourable senators opposite are honest they will say that they have deliberately set out to get Greenwood.
What has been his crime? His crime has been that he has exposed the weaknesses of the ALP. He has attacked the Opposition unmercifully. He has flicked it on the flank and he has made honourable senators opposite whinge, cry and yelp night after night. Honourable senators opposite really dislike him because he has been able to stir them. That is as simple as it can be.
– Listen to him.
– He does carry on.
– 1 do nol mind their shouting. I am getting the same kind of effect that Senator Greenwood has always been able to get. I have always admired bini for that. I have been jealous that he has been able to produce such a result. I hope that. I can produce the same result tonight. What has been the basis of the Opposition’s attack tonight? Senator James McClelland should be ashamed of himself. He could not support his argument in law or on the facts, so he indulged in a vulgar, personal abuse of Senator Greenwood. Senator Keeffe chipped in with his corny interjection: ‘Where are your Vietnam medals?’ 1 have always felt that those who talk about their war experience do so in inverse ratio to what they did. Generally those who did the most talk about it the least. Those who tried to make some kind of contribution do not spend the rest of their days sneering at others who, for various reasons, may not have been able to do anything. It is a pretty cheap political gimmick to sneer at a man for what he did or did not do in the war. It is pretty corny and pretty cheap. If that is the best that the Opposition can come up with, its attack must fail. Why did the Opposition attack Senator Greenwood today? It did so for the simple reason that he has flushed out Mr Whitlam.
– I think that is the right expression. It has hurt. Mr Whitlam has been projecting himself as a safe right wing, almost Liberal kind of man. Opposition spokesmen have been saying that there is nothing wrong with Mr Whitlam, with his new hairdo and all the rest of it and that he. is safe. The last thing that he would want to happen to him would be to be caught up with his own left wing and to be exposed on this issue of where he stands In respect to obedience of the law. Senator Greenwood’s crime during the last 3 weeks was that he sought Mr Whitlam’s views on the subject. I think we should forget all the nonsense about whether what the Minister has said is contempt or not. Why are not members of the Oppositon honest enough to say that they thought this was an opportunity to gel Greenwood because Greenwood hurts them? 1 hope he continues to hurl them. There has been an awful lot of phoney law quoted at various stages tonight. I am grateful to my colleague Senator Durack, who does know something about the law, for supplying me with a quote from Volume VIII, Third Edition, of Halsbury, pages 10 and 11. I hope that Senator James McClelland will read this passage which deals with contempt. The quotation is this:
It is probable that the publication will substantially interfere with a fair trial. The applicant-
This is important - must show that the publication complained of is clearly intended or at least calculated to prejudice the pending trial. The court will take into consideration the circumstances of the case-
Let us look at the circumstances - especially the conduct of the parties-
Nobody from the Opposition alluded lo that- and whether the proceeding is genuine-
How genuine has Mr Johnston been - or brought merely to provide immunity from further attacks.
I wonder whether the proceedings today have been an attempt to silence Senator Greenwood from making further attacks on Mr Whitlam and the Labor Party. The High Court, which was comprised of a very distinguished bench, in the case of John Fairfax and Sons v. McCrae, which is reported in 93 Commonwealth Law Reports, page 351, said that there must be shown a ‘real and definite tendency to prejudice’.
– A tendency.
– A real and definite tendency, unless my colleague has given me the wrong quotation. I do not think he would do that. We on this side do not do that.I think we should take that statement into consideration when we are looking at the law. Tonight a lot has been said about a fair trial. I think Senator Rae’s quotation from the Court of Appeal in England - he gave the reference - illustrated that point. I am amazed that the Labor Party is so interested in a fair trial. Tt wants a fair trial Tor certain persons. I want a fair trial for every person. 1 wonder how often a person charged before a trade union gets a fair trial. What about the records of the fairness of trade unions in dealing with their members? 1 can well recall a speech made in this chamber one night by Senator Cavanagh when he revelled in quoting Jack London’s description of scabs. One would never get a fair trial from a person who can revel in Jack London’s description of a scab.
– Your father would have believed that description even if you do not.
– No, he would not.
– Yes, he would.
– I think I knew him slightly longer than you did.
– The Labor movement knew him, too.
– I think I knew him better. You would not have known what the Labor Party was like when my father was a member.
– I earned my living honestly. That is more than you can say. If you had worked with your hands in industry you would have done a better job than you did.
– I am glad to know that Senator Mulvihill is of the firm opinion that lawyers do not earn their living honestly. His Leader, 2 of his colleagues in this place and his Leader in another place are lawyers.I doubt whether they will thank him for saying that they do not earn their money honestly.
– You started it and you will always get it back.
– You have triggered off again and you should not do that.
– You could not make the position of Government Whip, and that is what has stung you.
– This is whatI was talking about earlier. We have heard similar attacks on Senator Greenwood most of the night. When one has not an argument one descends to vulgar, personal abuse. If that is the best that the Opposition can do it should not bring forward motions of this kind. I can understand the disappointment of the Opposition at this stage. Today is 1st March. Members of the Opposition set the hare running, but they did not know what to do with it because it turned on them and bit them. They came into this place today expecting to do all kinds of things to the Government, but the motion has backfired. They have been rubbished in the debate from start to finish. They have nol been able to win on the law, the facts, the evidence or the philosophy. They have not been able to win on anything today. I am very pleased that the debate is coming to a conclusion - not that I and, I think, all my colleagues would not have wished this to continue, but I think, in fairness to the Attorney-General, it should be concluded. I hope that the Senate will exonerate and support him as we on this side of the Senate will do. I am disappointed that Senator Murphy should have moved the motion. I am further disappointed that, having moved it, he did nothing to substantiate the basis of his motion.
– in reply - In closing the debate I wish to refer to some of the statements that have been made by Government members. One of the most pathetic suggestions was that the motton was brought because somehow the Australian Labor Party was divided on the issue. The fact is that the decision made by the ALP last week was a unanimous decision. We decided to move this motion. I informed the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) and Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson that I intended’ to move it. lt came on today because we arranged that the Sand rig Orders would be suspended to bring it on today. Day afer day the AttorneyGeneral added to the statements which were made by him. He spoke on this matter on the Thursday in the Senate. He spoke on it on the Friday night. He spoke on it again last Monday night, and I am not sure whether he spoke on it again yesterday. That suggestion was, I think, abandoned by Senator Withers, who was the last speaker in this debate and who suggested that really the motion was being brought in order to damage the AttorneyGeneral, that somehow the Labor Party wanted to destroy the Attorney-General, and thai this was the real motive for bringing the motion before the Senate. What is the position? I will repeat the terms of the motion. It states:
That Senator Greenwood has dishonoured the office of Attorney-General:
by involving the office of Attorney-General in a parly political controversy in connection with that pending criminal case.
I have heard this debate going all day but have not heard anyone say yet that it is not a dishonouring of the office of AttorneyGeneral for the Attorney-General to make prejudicial statements about a person who has been charged but not yet tried. I have not heard anyone say that it was not dishonouring the office of Attorney-General il the Atorney-General involved the office in a party political controversy in connection with a pending criminal case. Of course, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said, the Attorney-General is a political person. No-one from this side of the chamber has ever suggested that he is not entitled to engage in political controversy. He can engage in this sort of thing. He can debate the National Service Act with us. He can debate our attitude to it. He can debate all the issues that come on either inside or outside the chamber, but there are certain restraints upon him. Those restraints are that in connection with a criminal case he is not to introduce party politics and he is not to make prejudicial statements about any person who is on trial. It has been demonstrated beyond any question that in fact the AttorneyGeneral has made prejudicial statements about, the person Barry Johnston. I read those statements to the Senate this afternoon and they were prejudicial to Barrie Johnston. 1 read this portion of the Attorney-General’s original statement:
Even if the Labor Party disagrees with the policy of the Act its Parliamentary Members and its Candidates, like all citizens, have an obligation to observe and uphold the Jaw.
A little earlier in the statement the AttorneyGeneral had referred to Johnston. The statement continued:
Moreover it is unfair to those who accept their National Service responsibilities for the Labor Party to aid and support those who will neither accept their lawful obligations or submit to the penalties for non-compliance.
This afternoon 1 went on to say:
What was that but imputing guilt to the defendant in a case which for whatever reason, had not yet been tried?
What was the effect of the AttorneyGeneral’s statement? It clearly imputes guilt. What else could it mean? The AttorneyGeneral is saying that this man will neither accept his lawful obligation nor will he submit to the penalty. What is that but saying that he is guilty? Tonight we heard the Attorney-General compounding and aggravating what he had said earlier in this statement. He said: ‘Why, the man got on television and said, “If I go back to court I will probably go to gaol”.’ The AttorneyGeneral tells us that this virtually amounts to a confession of guilt on the pari of the accused person. What right has the AttorneyGeneral to get up here and say this? What right has he to say that this man’s words amount to a confession of guilt? Not only is the Attorney-General debarred from imputing guilt, like other persons, but also he is debarred from making disparaging remarks about a person who is on trial.
I do not know whether honourable senators noticed that he was very careful to avoid dealing with the fact that I put to him in the strongest terms, that he had made disparaging remark after disparaging remark about this person. He did not question the law which I stated this afternoon, that it may be equally prejudicial for one to make disparaging remarks about an accused. Leaving aside altogether the question of imputing guilt to this man, to dis- parage him can be prejudicial also. What has the Attorney-General done day after day but disparage this man. There is one thing that is clear and it ought to apply to all citizens and, above all, it must apply to the Attorney-General who is in that special position which was referred to by Sir Owen Dixon. He said that it is the traditional duty of the Attorney-General to protect public rights and to complain of excesses of power bestowed by law. Instead this Attorney-General has invaded the rights of this accused. He has disparaged him. He said that his conduct is a national scandal. He has accused him of defying the law, of contemptuous conduct and a whole gamut of things. Day after day he has disparaged this person, referring to his previous conviction, to his imprisonment. It is no answer to say that subsequently the person himself has gone on television after all these thingswere said by the Attorney-Gcneral and said: ‘Yes, it is true about these things.’
What right did the Attorney-General have to set out to issue public statements about this man in order to generate the matter into a national controversy? It is the very opposite of what his duty is. Why did he do it? Because he felt - he is laughing away about it there now - that it would help the fortunes of his political Party. He has made that abundantly clear tonight by saying in effect: ‘If you go on like this it will not help you in an election.’ That is the whole purpose for his actions in this matter. He has taken this issue and said: ‘I am the Attorney-General. I can make something of this that will help my Party. Our fortunes arc on the decline. If I get hold of this case and if I start talking about this defendant, and he is a Labor Party man, and if I build it up and use it as a vehicle to attack the Labor Party, we can do some good out of it.’ He thinks he has done some good. Well, he may have or he may not; time will tell. But there is no doubt that on the authorities which he has not been able to question his actions are a breach and a dishonour of his duties as Attorney-General. The Attorneys-General of all times have said they must not intrude party politics into the consideration of a matter which is before the court. Beyond any question that is what the present Attorney-General has done.
I feel that the facts of the matter are very clear. The Senate operates on the basis of numbers. However, it is not a matter of what the numbers are; it is a matter of what the truth is and what the justice of the issue is. Whatever the vote may be and whatever numbers the Government and its supporters, the Australian Democratic Labor Party, may have, those who have considered this matter are aware that the Attorney-General has in truth sought to use his office to introduce party politics into this matter. He has succeeded in making this the subject matter of party political controversy. He has defamed the accused whose case has not yet been tried. He has disparaged him. Therefore he has made prejudicial statements and, in the terms of the motion, he has done both those things which it is dishonourably for an Attorney-General to do. Therefore he has dishonoured the office of AttorneyGeneral.
That the motion (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise tonight because of what 1 believe to be an injustice that has been suffered by a lad who has been called up for national service. I preface my remarks by saying that during the past couple of days some notes have passed between myself and Senator Wright who, in this chamber, represents the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch). Senator Wright has been good enough to give me an explanation of the Department’s attitude on this matter and I do not propose to take advantage of any of the comments in the official correspondence. However, I. believe that this matter should be ventilated but, in fairness to all concerned, I shall not mention the name of the firm in question nor of the (ad whom I believe has been wronged.
From the day this lad commenced his apprenticeship there was premeditation on the part of the employer in that he said that he would dismiss the lad when he was called up for national service. That. I submit, is a breach of the Act and I ask the Minister to take the necessary steps to prove the sincerity of the employer in this case. When the lad commenced his apprenticeship he was told that when it was completed it was likely that there would not be any work for him. How could any employer anticipate that in 5 years time there would not be any work for the apprentice who had then completed his apprenticeship? That in itself, to my way of thinking, is a suspicious start to the whole episode.
In about September 1971 when the lad’s period of apprenticeship was drawing to a close, the employer called him into his office and stated that he doubted whether there would be sufficient work to keep the lad going when he completed his apprenticeship but that he - the employer - would look at the situation when the lad registered for national service and when he had had his medical check. The lad accepted that. On 26th January 1972 he completed his indenture. At that time he had not had the report of the medical officer from the Department. He was not put off work at that time. Bear in mind that he had been told that he would be put off on completion of his indenture. I think all honourable senators would know that an apprentice serves his indenture for a stipulated period at the end of which the employer can dismiss him immediately or, alternatively, the lad can leave on the day on which he completes his apprenticeship. There is no suggestion of a week’s notice of termination of employment on either side. I repeal that the lad completed his indenture on 26th January 1972 and was not dismissed. A few days later he received notification that his medical record was clear and that he was to be called up in April. On 18th February, approximately 22 days after the lad had completed his apprenticeship, his employer dismissed him. 1 know that there were circumstances which will enable the employer to say that he was trying to get the lad a job with another firm. I repeat that, in my firm belief, had the lad’s medical report not been satisfactory, he would not have been dismissed at all. The employer would have kept the lad in his employment.
What are the circumstances that face the lad? I believe he was dismissed from his employment because he was called up for national service and he cannot get a job anywhere. He was sent to another firm by the Department of Labour and National Service and that firm refused to employ him, notwithstanding the fact that it is advertising for a tradesman of this lad’s calling. Why did it happen? It happened because the firm knew that if it employed the lad, he would be its responsibility when he completed his national service. I have no criticism of the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service. I think f know their personal views on this matter. They submitted a report to the appropriate authorities who said that there was no case. No-one will ever convince me that there is not a case for the employer to answer. This has happened before. I have been informed that this has happened in other areas of employment and on each occasion the Department of Labour and National Service has been able to influence the employer to take back the lad concerned. However, on this occasion, this employer stands firm. He said that he has consulted his legal adviser, which suggests that there may be some doubt about the action that he took, and he has been told lhat he was quite within his rights.
I repeat that 1 believe the Department of Labour and National Service should test this case by making the employer state on oath where he stands in this issue. I know of another recent case within the same trade where the employer went to a lad a week before he was to complete his apprenticeship and said to him: ‘1 believe you should resign straight away’. The lad said: ‘Well, I am still an apprentice and I will have to see my parents’. He went home and saw his parents who said to him: ‘You will do nothing of the kind. You are an apprentice and you will complete your period of indenture’. So he returned to work and informed his employer. At the end of the week when the lad completed his indenture his employer immediately sacked him. Why was this done? lt was done because the lad had been called up for national service. I just mention this for the information of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) who knows nothing about this second case, but 1 shall make his officers in Brisbane aware of the circumstances.
It appears to me that there will be a concerted effort by some employers within the industry to which I have referred to get rid of lads when they are called up for national service. I do not need to remind you, Mr President, or the Minister of the provisions of the Act and I hope that the Minister, knowing the details thatI have supplied to him and knowing the details which have been supplied to him by the Department of Labour and National Service, will test the bona fides of this firm by prosecuting it under secton 54b of the Act. The Minister will agree that the Act is quite explicit. Even if the Department is not successful this action at least will indicate to employers that they are not to do these things to lads who are called up for national service.
I conclude on that note and hope that the Minister will do all in his power to influence the Department to prosecute this employer under section 54b of the Act so that he can come out into the open and let the court determine the bona fides of the dismissal. I believe he cannot prove his case. Even if he was in this position legally, what is the moral situation? We arc representatives of the people and we have heard much today and tonight about national service. Surely it is our responsibility to give absolute protection to lads who are called up for national service. We cannot doso until such time as the employer in this case proves his bona fides. 1 repeat thatI do not think he can do so.
This is not a threat and I do not want the Government to regard this as such, but workers on the job in this industry are most irate about what has happened. The union has talked to them and has prevailed on them to see what we can do. If the Government does nothing about it the union cannot be held responsible for the actions of the mcn. In these circumstances I stand here and say that I would support every move they make to try to bring this employer before the court to prove that he is not penalising a lad because he has been called up for national service.
– I would like to draw the attention of the Senate to a question asked on 22nd February by Senator Wriedt, my colleague from Tasmania, of the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman). Senator Wriedt asked:
My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Did a committee of inquiry recently investigate allegations of mistreatment of a Launceston Royal Australian Air Force trainee? If so, what are the committee’s findings and when will they be tabled in the Parliament?
The Minister for Air answered:
On hearing of this occurrence through the Press, I set up an inquiry into the matter. I have the report before me at the present lime and I am hopingthat I will be able to make a statement to the Senate later this week.
Yesterday the Minister replied to the question previously asked without notice by Senator Wriedt and I want to ask the Minister whether lhat reply takes the place of the statement on the report that he had before him when he answered the question on 22nd February. Does that answer to the question represent the statement that he promised to make to the Senate? I would like also to make some remarks about the answer given to Senator Wriedt. The reply to his question was as follows:
On 22nd February Senator Wriedt asked me a question relating to allegations of mistreatment of a Launceston Royal Australian Air Force trainee. I now have the following reply to Senator Wriedt’s question:
Allegations were made last month of improper treatment of a RAAF apprentice, James Peter Jacob, at RAAF ‘Laverton’, during his period of service in the RAAF from 4th January 1972 to 10th January 1972. As a result of these allegations I directed that a RAAF court of inquiry be set up and this was convened on 12th January 1972 to investigate and report on the allegations. In particular the court was required to investigate allegations that Apprentice Jacob was subject to improper treatment in the apprentice living-in quarters at Royal Australian Air Force Base
Laverton’ on Sunday, 9th January 1972, and to inquire whether Air Force procedures in relation to Apprentice Jacob were inadequately or improperly followed and whether any circumstances indicated that he was not treated in accordance with Air Force Orders and acceptable Air Force procedures. 1 should perhaps at the outset emphasise that the RAAF does not and will not tolerate any physically violent, degrading or bullying behaviour towards any of its members, especially its junior members, and there are strict instructions forbidding personnel to take part in initiation ceremonies. The court of inquiry has taken evidence on oath from officers. NCO’s and airmen at the RAAF School of Radio, from ex-apprentice Jacob and his father, and from officers at RAAF Laverton’ and Headquarters Support Command, and the court’s reports and findings are now to hand, including a covering report and comments by the Air Officer Commanding, RAAF Support Command.
In relation to its inquiry, the court has established that Apprentice Jacob was subjected to the following:
The court ascertained that the majority of first year apprentices were required to participate in these events or incidents, and that whilst some apprentices did indicate mild resentment at their participation in the above events, the larger majority considered them to be horseplay or good fun. I should inform the Senate that Apprentice Jacob first reported tor duty to the RAAF at Laverton’ on 4th January 1972 to commence his training as a member of No. 26 Radio Apprentice Course. The day after he arrived he informed RAAF Radio School authorities that he had made a mistake in joining the RAAF and wished to be discharged. Whilst arrangements were under way to effect his discharge from the RAAF, which took place on the 10th January 1972, the events which I have referred to earlier took place on the 9th January 1972.
During the course of the inquiry the court became aware of reports of improper incidents and procedures concerning other apprentices at RAAF School of Radio. As a result the terms of reference of the court were extended to investigate these reports. As a result of these further inquiries the Air Officer Commanding Support Command has advised me that certain initiation practices were imposed on first year apprentices by second year apprentices at RAAF School of Radio despite specific orders to the contrary and that disciplinary action is to be taken against a number of leading apprentices.
The Air Board has expressedits concern to me on the position and has assured me that existing orders and instructions which prohibit initiation ceremonies or happenings of this nature willbe repromulgated and that it will be re-emphasised in the strongest terms to all concerned that these practices will not be tolerated. The Board has also assured me that apart from these incidents at the RAAF School of Radio, there is nothing to suggest that such practices are in operation at other RAAF training units.
I have accepted these assurances of the Air Board and whilst one cannot be sure that isolated instances will not arise in the future, I can assure the Senate that the matter will be closely watched and that firm disciplinary action will be taken should it be necessary in the future.
I should like to make this comment: Firstly, the Minister has not tabled the report of the court of inquiry and he has not made any specific statement about it. I suppose that we can take this answer to the question as being the statement that he said he would make. But the facts of the case are that these findings of the court of inquiry are completely inadequate when one considers the reason why the court of inquiry was set up.
It has been pointed out that Apprentice Jacob was forced to make the bed of a second year apprentice, that he was asked a question relating to personal habits, that he was required to pay respect to second year apprentices and so on. What actually happened is described in a report by John Hayes, and it is supported by James Jacob himself. Other evidence will be coming to me, but this report states:
Second-year RAAF cadets at the Laverton (Vic) base tried to make a Launceston apprentice admit that he was a pervert and illegitimate, the youth said yesterday.
The apprentice . . . said the cadets ill treatment frightened him so much that he took an empty bottle to bed in case he was attacked.
The morals of the second-year cadets are very low,’ Jacob said.
I can’t say just how low they are without shocking everyone.’
I should mention that this boy has informed us (hat not only was he personally humiliated and assaulted by the threat that his private parts would be painted and interfered with but also that he was deeply hurt about this treatment. The report continued:
Jacob was discharged from the base last Monday after a career in the R.A.A.F. lasting just 10 days.
Jacob said that he felt that the cadets would single him out for special attention in the future because he had refused to -
Admit he was a pervert and a bastard;
Make other derogatory remarks about himself: or
Leap around the barracks like a frog.
Jacob said his refusal to do these things made the cadets angry.
He said he feared reprisals and took the empty bottle lo bed to use as a weapon is necessary. “ The cadets’ suggestions had put me in such a mental state that I was ready to belt off anybody who came near me,” he said. “ I was so deeply disturbed that, honestly, I was going to go over the wall. “At one stage the cadets called us all out, made us strip and then hosed us all down. “ I could put up with this, but not with all the other indignities as well.”
He said the experiences at Laverton had completely disillusioned him. He had wanted to be an airman for as long as he could remember.
He was in the Air Training Corps at St Patrick’s College, Launceston, for three years before joining the R.A.A.F.
- » e *
He said that even before the bastardisation at Laverton began, he had doubts about having joined the Air Force. “Just after I was kitted out I looked around the base and said to an officer, ‘I don’t think this will suit me; I think I’ve made a mistake.’ “I think he knew I had made up my mind thaI I wanted to get out. “ Then some other new apprentices started coming in and I made a few friends and things didn’t look so bad. “But then the scond-year apprentices came in and that was when the trouble started. “They began by making me stand up every time they came into the barracks. o * * * “They wanted me to say, ‘Excuse me, leading apprentice’, every time I passed them. “1 saw no reason why 1 should say this. “After all, they’d only been in the Air Force less than two years themselves and had no real seniority. “They tried to make me stand up and say derogatory things about myself - to say that 1 was a pervert and a bastard. “I refused. “You’d expect a bit more from second-year cadets than a childish attitude like that. “So I just said to them, ‘No, I won’t be in it*. “I then went to a sergeant and got permission to ring home. “I told my parents that I wanted to get out, otherwise I’d go A.W.O.L. sooner or laterprobably sooner. “I was called into the commanding officer the next morning. “I told him I wanted to get out and he agreed.”
This report by Mr Hayes appeared in the Launceston ‘Examiner’ on Friday, 14th January. My reason for raising this matter tonight is that the form of report presented by the Minister in answer to a question on this subject is completely inadequate to answer the charges made. I believe that in this case there has been an appeal from Caesar to Caesar and that those who supplied the Minister with the report have nol given him all the facts.
I suggest that the only way in which this matter can be cleared up is by making the report available either to the Senate or to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) on a personal basis - whichever the Minister wishes. There is a precedent for action of this kind. The Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) tabled in the Parliament a confidential report on bastardisation in the Navy in Western Australia. A report on bastardisation at Duntroon was presented in the House of Representatives by the Minister for the Army. Therefore the report on the incident involving Mr Jacob should be made available and also we should be made aware of the details of the incident and evidence that was presented to the court of inquiry and later made available to the Minister. I am certain that the Minister would not tolerate such a flimsy cover-up as this report indicates. I hope that early action will be taken in relation to this incident involving this young man who has been scarred for life by the indignities that he had to suffer during his very short sojourn in the Royal Australian Air Force.
I have had some experience of the morale and conduct of people in the RAAF. They have been of the very highest order. The practices to which I have drawn attention should be stamped out very quickly. There is nothing in the report to indicate that the so-called senior men at the school who have been engaging in these practices have been in any way reprimanded or punished. The whole setup of the school should be subjected to very close scrutiny. Had this type of thing been reported beforehand by the NCOs instead of being tolerated by them, an inquiry would not have been necessary. The whole matter needs proper ventilation and I hope that the Minister will have another look at it and clear it up because at present it is very much under a cloud.
– I support the representations made by Senator O’Byrne. I agree with his comments about the reply furnished by the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) to Senator Wriedt’s question. The Minister, in his reply admits that the practices have taken place and says that they will not be tolerated. I think a report to the Senate is warranted about the steps the Royal Australian Air Force will take at Laverton and other places to prevent a recurrence of those practices. The Minister, in his reply, said:
During the course of the inquiry the court became aware of reports of improper incidents and procedures concerning other apprentices al RAAF School of Radio. … As a result of these further inquiries the Air Officer Commanding Support Command has advised me that certain initiation practices were imposed on first year apprentices by second year apprentices at RAAF School of Radio despite specific orders to the contrary and that disciplinary action is to be taken against a number of leading apprentices.
Then follows an assurance that the Air Board will take such action as is necessary by promulgating again instructions against those practices. The Senate is assured that they will not happen again. .Senator O’Byrne has already stated that this case has been highlighted in Tasmania. The Press has carried large headlines about the circumstances which warranted the boy’s release from the Air Force. It is obvious that the Air Force agreed that the circumstances were such as to warrant the release of the boy on the application of his father. lt has been clearly established that the practices adopted at Laverton were improper. Tonight we are concerned about whether some machinery should be established to ensure that they will not recur. I am concerned not only about Laverton but also about Wagga Wagga and other training centres. Laws and regulations are made to ensure that airmen have the right to certain procedures in order to obtain justice, but in such an organised Service it is often impossible to implement those procedures.
During World War II there was a system of welfare officers. The Minister might well examine whether more welfare officers should be given the task of seeing that in training establishments the practices which have taken place are prevented. The responsibility goes further than the Air Board and local commanding officers. It extends to the welfare section of the Air Force which should possess enough strength and prestige to approach a commanding officer and say: ‘These sorts of things ought to stop’. That was so during World War II.
We would like the Minister to consider whether he should report further to the Senate on the result of the promulgation of new instructions or the re-emphasising of old instructions at Laverton and other places at which Air Force recruits are trained. I support Senator O’Byrne’s comment that the Air Force is a good Service. It offers great facilities, but young people joining the Service should be assured that they can train under the best conditions. Perhaps the Minister for Air might consider to what extent the welfare section of the Air Force could be instructed to examine current conditions at Laverton and other places. Once this information has been gathered we ought to be told how effective the new instructions are as they apply to young people. I say that in supporting Sentor O’Byrne with the idea simply of ensuring that what has happened in the Army at Duntroon should not happen in the Air Force, because the Air Force is an important Service. Young people who join the Air Force can be equipped with new techniques and new responsibilities. But local arrangements should not be made by any trade group or other category of people which might adversely affect young people who want to join the Air Force.
May 1 summarise what I have said. The Minister should request the Air Board to give him specifically the results of the promulgation of new instructions and secondly he should instruct welfare officers to visit these training areas to ensure thai measures are not adopted there which are not consistent with the. traditions of the Air Force.
– I wish to refer to a statement which arose out of a matter which I raised in the Senate last night in connection with the imprisonment of . Robert William Martin on Friday, 25th February. During
Senator Cavanagh’s remarks relating also to Mr Martin’s imprisonment, Senator Webster interjected with a statement that Robert William Martin would be sitting in the gutter if he was not in gaol. What was the implication behind this scurrilous remark? It was nothing less than that Senator Webster considered Mr Martin a ne’er-do-well and one not fit to take his place in the society of this community. I want to refute that implication in its entirety and to inform the Senate that until his trial Mr Martin was gainfully employed on a fruit block earning an honest living and paying his way in the community.
I want also to inform the Senate that after being sentenced to 18 months gaol on Friday last Robert William Martin was most insistent that he should not receive any special treatment. Courageously this young man is determined to stand by his firm conviction that his actions are right and proper. I deplore the statement made by Senator Webster, as do thousands of South Australians whom I represent in this Parliament. In fairness to Robert William Martin, his parents and all who have been associated with him Senator Webster should apologise for his uncalled for remarks.
– I wish to refer to the comments made by Senator McLaren. If I have done any injustice to Mr Martin or if I have in any way upset Senator McLaren I apologise for the comments 1 made. The matter to which the honourable senator has referred arose during the debate last evening on the motion that the Senate adjourn. In the first instance Senator McLaren raised the matter concerning Mr Martin. During his speech both he. and I had some interchange of comment. The matter was taken up again later in the debate when Senator Cavanagh was speaking, lt is interesting to note what took place. My mind is not quite clear as to what exactly took place - Senator Cavanagh may recall the point - but at page 296 of Hansard Senator Cavanagh is reported as saying:
Did Mr Martin choose to go to gaol?
My recollection is that, having regard to the fact that an individual was refusing to undertake national service and also the fact that Senator Cavanagh was putting the proposition that the Government was forcing an individual to go to gaol purely because he refused to undertake national service, the thought came to my mind that this matter could be likened to the case of Senator Georges sitting in the gutter.
I would oppose Senator McLaren’s contention that 1 was suggesting he was a ne’er-do-well because that would indicate that I was thinking Senator Georges was a ne’er-do-well, and that is not so. I feel that perhaps the remark I made is not quite correctly recorded and 1 say that for this reason: If any comment was made it was probably made nearer to the comment by Senator Cavanagh which I have quoted. When some time had elapsed, I recall, Senator McLaren raised his point of order. If I did throw in an interjection at the time it was certainly not recorded by Hansard at the time of my interjection because Senator Cavanagh did not take up the point. Furthermore, Hansard questioned me at the end of the evening as to whether I could recall the words I used. I gave Hansard no satisfaction because I did not recall the words. I feel that Hansard has taken the words that Senator McLaren suggested I had used - Senator McLaren will agree that he may be a little hard of hearing at some stages - and wrote into the. report that I had said that Martin would be sitting in the gutter if he was not in gaol. I do not remember making such a definite statement but that is what appears in Hansard; I had not noted it until now. I give my apology to Mr Martin, if it has upset him, and I give my apology to Senator McLaren.
– As the statement at which umbrage is taken was raised while 1 was speaking last evening, I do not want to arouse emotions any more than they are but I would like to put the matter on record. During most of the addresses .1 make in the Senate, as during the course of my address last night, Senator Webster repeatedly interjects. Knowing the level of the interjections that come from that quarter it is rarely that I even listen or reply to them.
– You did not reply last night, did you?
– The absence of my reply last evening was for the reason that I did not think the interjection was worthy of a reply. I have not seen Hansard and do not know what is reported in it but the discussion which followed the interjection last night, whether the interjection is in Hansard or not, justified the reporting of the interjection to which 1 did not reply. Senator McLaren jumped up to raise a point of order and claimed that the remark that was made was improper. He repeated the remark: ‘]f Martin was not in gaol he would be sitting in the gutter’. At that time you, Mr President, ruled that there was no point of order. But the raising of the point of order justified, in my opinion, the inclusion in Hansard of the interjection. Senator Douglas McClelland who has been maligned tonight by Senator Webster in another statement then asked: Who is this low down member of the Senate who would say such a thing?
- Senator Cavanagh, you know that you cannot revive a discussion that took place earlier in the evening.
– I realise that, but I am so aggrieved at the injustice that has been done to my colleague in the Senate that it is playing upon my memory. It may have been a deliberate attempt to malign this man, who comes up for preselection, before the proud Party of which he is a member. As a result I obliged Senator Douglas McClelland by assuring him that there was only one man in this chamber sufficiently low in his utterances to describe the great, heroic lad from the Murray Bridge area as someone who would bc sitting in the gutter if he were not in gaol. I named Senator Webster. The whole discussion would indicate that the interjection was made. Tonight I appreciate that Senator Webster has taken the altitude that he is sorry about the matter, which was prompted not by any knowledge of Mr Martin but with a knowledge of what Senator Georges did on one occasion. I think this is worthy of explanation. From time to time there have been repeated interjections from Senator Gair that Senator Georges is a man who is notorious in Queensland for sitting in the gutter. 1 think the fact of the matter is that Senator Georges is an honourable senator from Queensland who is notorious for sticking to principles which he believes to be correct.
– I rise to a point of order.
– What is the point of order?
– The honourable senator has made an unfair remark about me to which I take objection. The same comment was made last evening. I ask the honourable senator to withdraw the remark that there is only one honourable senator in this chamber so low as to make such a remark. The remark should have been withdrawn last night. I ask that it be withdrawn and eliminated from the Hansard report and 1 ask the honourable senator to apologise.
– Senator Cavanagh, it is a late hour and everyone is tired. You< are a very judicial, magisterial man. I think you will recognise that perhaps that was an unfair remark.
– I think so. If Senator Webster objects to my saying that there was only one senator so low after the debate today, 1 will withdraw the remark that there was only one senator so low and leave the matter at that. There may be more in the chamber. The only thing I can say is that today Senator McLaren in his effort has made approaches. Certain benefits were offered under Labor governments to someone who is unfortunately imprisoned under an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament, when the State Labor Government feels compelled - and is constitutionally bound - to imprison the individual. The result is that this high, noble individual has said that he does not want any special privileges. He said: T defied the Act in the belief that the Act was wrong. I do not want any representations for privileges to be made on my behalf.’ 1 think history will record that this is one of the greatest and bravest young kids who has ever gone to gaol in defiance of something which he believes is wrong and unjust.
– Although Senator Cavanagh has referred to a matter of national service 1 do not feel that the dignity of the House calls upon me to refute the subversive remark by which he ended his tedious submission to the Senate. I rise only because of references made by Senator Milliner early this evening during this adjournment debate. Through some misunderstanding I was under no impression that this matter was to be raised. I feel it is unfortunate. I was left with the impressions as a result of an exchange of notes that this matter would not be raised. Therefore I have no other papers with me except the letter that I wrote to Senator Milliner today. I do not feel that the matter has been adequately mentioned in the Senate on the basis of anonymity on which Senator Milliner dealt with it.
The honourable senator concluded his remarks by referring to the termination of the apprenticeship of an apprentice who in, I think, April is to commence national service training. I do not think it is sufficient to leave the matter on the basis that there is discontent among his fellow employees and that, if satisfaction is not gained, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) and his Department will be responsible for any action the unions lake and that action will be supported by Senator Milliner. I regard those remarks as completely irrational, unfounded and very imprudent.
The other thing I want to say is that a rending of the letter to which reference has been made will show that a very careful examination was made of the matter to which Senator Milliner referred earlier and to which he drew my attention last week by way of a note. In the meantime - in the matter of a week - a very careful examination was made of the situation which occurred in Brisbane and I gave Senator Milliner full particulars of that investigation by way of a letter today. He has now suggested tonight in his contribution to the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate that I should urge a prosecution of these employers in order to make them aware of their obligations.
What I want to say in that respect is that I. will yield place to no-one in my insistence that employers carry out such obligations as are associated with national service and give justice to those of their employees who are required to enter upon national service. The very least any employer can do is to carry out his obligations under the National Service Act not to terminate or prejudice the employment of one of his employees either by way of a reduction in that employee’s salary or an impairment of his conditions simply because that employee is required to enter upon national service training. I say that that is the very least obligation that an employer is asked to undertake. If there is any case where there is a contravention of that provision, I would go on record as saying on behalf of the Minister for Labour and National Service as well as myself that there would be a prosecution to enforce that obligation. But it would be contrary to everything that has been accepted by either side of the House today as principle to adopt the suggestion that one should prosecute an employer in a case where a departmental investigation has shown that there has been no contravention of the Act. A further investigation may be warranted but the launching of a prosecution at present certainly would not be warranted. In order not to detain the Senate at this late hour of the night, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the letter I sent to Senator Milliner on this subject.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)
Minister for Works Parliament House Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 1st March 1972
Dear Senator Milliner,
I refer to your recent note concerning a national serviceman, Gordon Clifford Curtis, whose case has been brought to your attention.
Let me say at the outset that it is firm Government policy to ensure to the extent possible that no man should suffer unavoidable hardship or restriction in connexion with his employment because of his national service liability.
There are comprehensive provisions in the National Service Act, and the Defence (Reestablishment) Act, binding on all employers which afford protection to a registrant in his existing employment and provide for his reinstatement in employment and facilitate his resettlement in civilian life after service.
The relevant provision in Mr Curtis’ case reads, and I quote: “ Section 54b - (1) An employer shall not penalise or prejudice in his employment an employee for the reason that the employee is, or may become, liable to render service under, or to comply with any requirement of, this Act, whether by reducing his salary or wages, dismissing him from his employment or in any other way “.
On making enquiries I find that Gordon Curtis registered for national service as required with other men in his age-group. He sought and was granted successive deferments of call-up to enable him to complete an apprenticeship in photoengraving with the firm of Press Etchings Pty Ltd of Brisbane. He successfully completed his indentures in January of this year. Preparatory to callup for national service he was required to report for medical examination on 24th January, 1972. He attended, was examined and found fit for service and notified to this effect on 14th February and that he could expect to be called up in the Army intake commencing in April 1972. Mr Curtis was notified of his dismissal from his employment with Press Etchings Pty Ltd on 17th February. 1972. He claims that the reason for his dismissal was his liability for national service.
In endorsing Mr. Curtis’ indentures on completion of his apprenticeship his employer on 26th January - as you will appreciate well in advance of any result of the national service examination being available - stated quite clearly that, while now qualified as a tradesman and meeting the “ full employment standards “, Mr. Curtis was advised to move on from the Company and seek wider experience in order to “ round off “ his basic training. This as you may know, is not uncommon: indeed it is a longstanding practice with some firms not to re-engage apprentices on completion of this indentures, in the belief that newly qualified tradesmen gain by getting wider experience in industry. Mr. Curtis’ continuation as a tradesman in the firm in which he had served his indentures was not considered to be in his own best interests.
Mr Curtis did not, however, leave his employment with Press Etching Pty Ltd because of discussions which had taken place, on Mr. Curtis’ initiative, and as a result of which he was being considered as an employee of an associated firm located in Townsville named Press Etchings (North Queensland) Pty Ltd. As you will gather from the latter firm’s title it is a separate and distinct legal entity from Press Etchings Ply Ltd of Brisbane. Due to legal requirements with regard to the employment of tradesmen and apprentices this matter could not be pursued on the contingency that Mr Curtis might be available in the near future and it was agreed with him that his actual employment with Press Etchings (North Queensland) Pty Ltd should await the result of his medical examination for national service. His agreement to this condition is specifically mentioned in a statement which Mr Curtis made to the Department of Labour and National Service in Brisbane on 18th February, 1972.
I have explained the precise protection afforded to men in Mr. Curtis’ position. Mr Curtis’ existing employment in February this year was with Press Etchings Pty Ltd. He had been advised in January on completion of his indentures with that firm and quite separately of any consideration of his liability for national service that he should seek employment as a tradesman elsewhere. As mentioned, he was held-over in employment pending clarification of his national service position on the contingency of an engagement with an associated, but separately incorporated, printing firm located in Townsville. His dismissal from Press Etchings Pty. Ltd, in this case, was in pursuance of advice given to him on completion of his indentures and was not related to his national service liability. His non-employment with Press Etchings (North Queensland) Pty Ltd, on the other hand which was clearly related to his acceptance for national service was not in breach of the provisions made in the legislation which seek to protect men in their existing employment. Mr Curtis has never been in the employ of Press Etchings (North Queensland) Pty. Ltd.
The Department of Labour and National Service in Brisbane has investigated this mutter closely and I should mention that in the course of doing so a firm assurance was obtained and confirmed that on completion of his periodof national service, or at an earlier dale if for any reason he should become available sooner, Mr. Curtis would be accepted for employment with Press Etchings (North Queensland) Pty Ltd for the position which was previously discussed with him. I see this assurance as a measure of the particular employer’s attitude in this whole matter. 1 trust that this will answer the queries which you have about this case.
-I have adopted the course of incorporating that letter in Hansard in order to draw to the attention of any honourable senator who is interested in this matter that it slates in logical and clear terms that the departmental investigation up to date has shown that any termination of the apprenticeship was not by reason of an obligation under the National Service Act and, in addition, that an undertaking has been obtained from an associated firm that when this young man is finished with his national service obligations he will be accepted by that firm for employment in the position that had been previously discussed with him. 1 have placed that letter on record for every honourable senator objectively to consider.
– First, 1 thank Senator O’Byrne, Senator Bishop and Senator Wriedt for their interest in the matter that they have raised. 1 say categorically, to them that I have very strong feelings about physically violent, degrading and bullying behaviour in the Royal Australian Air Force. Following the incidents at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, 1 made it quite clear to the Chief of the Air Staff that I wished all officers, NCOs and airmen in the Air Force to understand my feelings on this matter. Orders were promulgated throughout the RAAF to this . effect. It was because of the reports on the matters which Senator O’Byrne read tonight that I directed that an RAAF inquiry should be held into this matter.
A court of inquiry was appointed. Evidence on oath was taken from officers, NCOs and airmen at the RAAF radio school; from officers, NCOs and airmen at Laverton; and officers from the headquarters of Support Command in Melbourne.
Evidence was taken also from ex-apprentice Jacob and from his father. A copy of all the evidence submitted to the court, together with the findings of the court, then were sent to the Air Officer Commanding Support Command in Melbourne who added his own comments to the evidence and to the court’s findings and sent the material on to me. I have read all the evidence, the court’s findings, and the report of the Air Officer Commanding Support Command. I have discussed this matter with the Chief of the Air Staff and with the head of my Department. I have has assurances from the Air Board, as the report sets out, that orders will go out again to all bases saying that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated and particularly it will not be tolerated amongst the younger apprentices. I have the assurance of the Air Board that this will be done. As 1 say in the last paragraph of my statement, while 1 have these assurances we cannot be sure that, from time to time, other incidents will not occur. I hope that they will not.
I say to Senator O’Byrne that I appointed the court of inquiry. The evidence and the findings of that court have been sent to me. I have lifted out of those findings of the court practically the whole of my report. So, what honourable senators read in the findings is more or less what is in that report. I turn to the procedure that 1 took in the Senate when presenting my statement. I had promised Senator Wriedt, in answer to a question on the first day of the current sessional period, that I would try to give him the information that he was seeking. I thought that, by doing it this way, because he is a senator from Tasmania I was probably doing the right thing. If I have failed to do the right thing, I apologise to the Senate. Unfortunately, when I came to read my statement, Senator Wriedt was called to the telephone. Because he was not here, I was asked by the Senate whether I would incorporate my statement in Hansard. This I did. But I made copies of it available so that one was sent to each honourable senator.
Having said that, I turn to some of the points that Senator Bishop raised. I recognise the points that he mentioned and I take them aboard. The present practice is for any airman to be able to approach his superior officers, right up to the Air Board level, to put his grievance. If the Air Board does not uphold his redress of grievance, he can then address it to the Minister for Air. In the case of officers, they can then go to the Governor-General. Since I have been Minister for Air I could not count on my two hands the number of times I have appeared at the Executive Committee to put redress of grievance on behalf of an officer or airman for some reason.
– What about the welfare officers?
– Every airman has the opportunity to go to the padre or to the welfare officer to put his point. Senator Wheeldon will tell the honourable senator that, from the experience he has had with the case he took up with me on this matter. We do everything we can. Finally, I say that every wife or mother or father or someone else on behalf of the serving airman has the opportunity to write to me. I receive on my desk every day letters from wives, mothers or fathers asking me to look into some sort of problem that the airman might have. It might be a problem con-: cerning a posting or some small personal problem that the airman might have with the RAAF. I believe, backed by my experience as Minister for Air, that every airman has the opportunity to air his grievance. As far as I know, and as far as I can ascertain by examination of the problems that have been put before me, every airman has had a pretty fair go. If such a. person does not think he has had a fair go, he can get someone to take up the case on his behalf and I will certainly have a look at it. I will leave the matter at that. If members of the Opposition believe that they would like to take up specific points of my report with me, I will be glad to have a discussion with them to see what I can do. But, in response to the request of Senator O’Byrne, I do not believe that I could table the findings of the court on the evidence that was given. The honourable senator might say that I should do that. If he wants to take that action. I am agreeable to looking into the matter to see how far I can go.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 March 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720301_senate_27_s51/>.