Kisch arrived in Fremantle on 6 November 1934 on the P&O liner RMS Strathaird.
The ship was promptly boarded by representatives of the Federal Government who refused Kisch entry to Australia on the ground that he was "undesirable as an inhabitant of, or visitor to, the Commonwealth".
Kisch professed to be deeply hurt and was sure that things would be put right once he was given a chance to explain. He was scrupulous, however, in denying his membership of the Communist Party of Germany.
Kisch was required to stay in the custody of Captain Carter on board the Strathaird as it proceeded through Australian waters via Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Attorney-General Robert Menzies prosecuted the Lyons Government's case against Kisch
On 12 November 1934, large groups of Kisch supporters gathered in Melbourne and the Strathaird was surrounded by boatloads of Kisch well-wishers. The International Labour Defence (another Münzenberg Trust front) engaged Melbourne barrister Joan Rosanove, who, with a group of Kisch supporters, went aboard the Strathaird and initiated a habeas corpus action.
The Melbourne court hearing the action delayed any immediate decision on Kisch, leaving him in custody aboard the Strathaird as it departed the city.
|Egon Kisch in Melbourne 1934|
The next day, the issue rose to national prominence when Labor MP for Batman, Frank Brennan rose in the House of Representatives to accuse the Lyons government of cowardice. He asked why Kisch's right to speak in Australia was being restricted just because the Lyons administration disagreed with him.
In response, the Attorney-General Robert Menzies pointed out that every civilized country had the right to determine who should or should not be allowed in, and that, since Kisch was a revolutionary and since revolution involved violence, he was not to be permitted entry.
High Court Justice Evatt authorised Kisch to visit Australia, finding that the Lyons Government had failed to list the reason for Kisch's exclusion in their order
As the Strathaird made its way up Australia's east coast to Sydney, supporters of Kisch took his case before High Court Justice Evatt, who found that the Federal Government had incorrectly excluded Kisch from Australia because they had failed to list in their order the advice received from the British Government. Evatt released Kisch and ordered that he be free to visit as long as he respected the laws of Australia.
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