NAZI and other war criminals have been allowed to live comfortable lives in Australia thanks to "fickle and cynical" government morality, according to a Jewish community leader.
"There has been a gross distortion of decency, allowing fugitives to take the places of refugees," Jeremy Jones, director of international affairs for the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, said at a book launch in Sydney on Sunday.
"Australian governments, though commission and omission, have been complicit in allowing torturers, murderers and architects of the most gross inhumanity to live in peace and without fear of consequences in Australia," Mr Jones said.
He said there was no political will to chase the hundreds, if not thousands, of war criminals who came to Australia after World War II, partly because the Government wanted "good anti-communists".
Unlike the US, Australia did not ask the right questions, so immigrants did not have to lie, which later would be grounds for deporting them, Mr Jones said.
Even now Australia had not prosecuted or extradited a single person for crimes against humanity, though perpetrators had come here from Europe, South America and Asia.
Last week the High Court upheld the decision not to extradite Charles Zentai to Hungary to face allegations of war crimes on the grounds that such an offence did not exist at the time. Mr Jones said the decision seemed to show "an awful lack of will, let alone morality".
"Australia held itself up as a place where a person could forget his or her past, and this was twisted and manipulated into a rationalisation for allowing criminals to escape prosecution."
Mr Jones was launching The Road to the Menzies Inquiry: Suspected War Crimin-als in Australia by the late Leslie Caplan, a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.