18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the. House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I desire to inf orm honorable members that) as a result of a recent decision of the Government to amend the- Supply and Development Act 1939, consideration has been given to the question of the future functions of the Department of Supply and Shipping and the Department of Munitions, and, in order to bring about a better grouping of the activities of these departments, a re-arrangement of administrative functions has been. decided upon. Accordingly, the approval of the GovernorGeneral in Council was sought to abolish the two departments referred to, and to establish in their stead, a Depart- > ment of Shipping and Fuel and a Department of Supply and Development. The Department of. Shipping .and Fuel will be responsible for shipping, including stevedoring labour and operations, coal production and distribution, liquid fuels and petroleum products, ‘and relative matters. The Department of Supply and Development will deal with the procurement of supplies, the manufacture of munitions, mineral resources, disposals and shipbuilding. The administrative control of jute and flax has been transferred to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. His Excellency the Governor-General has been pleased to approve my recommendation that Senator Ashley be entrusted with the administration of- the Department of Shipping and Fuel, and Senator Armstrong with that of the Department of Supply and Development. Iii this chamber, the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) will represent the two new ministries.
Soviet Legation in Canberra - Eligibility of Communists fob Official Position’s - Influence on Film Production.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for External Affairs to the fact that members of the Opposition have made allegations in this House that the Soviet Legation in Canberra is a centre of Communist activity in Australia. Has he investigated those allegations, and if so, with what result? If not, will he have investigations made, and will he particularly inquire as to whether one of the vehicles used by the Soviet Legation in Canberra is fitted as a panel van, and is used exclusively for the distribution of Soviet propaganda? If be finds this to be a Fact, wist actoin does be propose to take?
Dr- EVATT.- .The imputation that the Soviet legation is a source through which Communist propaganda is being spread in Australia’ is, in my’ belief , -without’ any foundation. With regard to- the use of a vehicle, such as was suggested by the honorable member in the last part of his question I know nothing whatever. The honorable member for Barker, who is interjecting, is an expert on this subject. He once referred to the number of officers in the Soviet legation. He was, I think, 400 per cent, out in his reckoning. I am- inclined to believe that the vehicle to which reference has been made is one of the metaphorical vehicles of propaganda.
-I desire to ask the Attorney-General a question without notice, -and by way of introduction I refer him to regulation 106 (&) and (c) issued under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. This regulation provides that the rules of an association ‘ may provide that a person shall not be eligible to be a candidate for any office if there is reasonable ground for believing that, within twelve months prior to the date of bis nomination, he wag a member of any body which advocates or encourages the overthrow by force ®r violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of a State. Is it a fact, as reported in the Tribune, which, I understand, may be regarded as the official ‘ Communist organ in New South Wales, that militant unions have made representations to the Attorney-General to have this regulation, which was first introduced by the Menzies Government, withdrawn so . as to free the unions of any such limitation? If suda representations were made, what was the result? Does the Government propose to amend the regulation in response to the pressure exerted by Communists and militant labour leaders in New South Wales?
– - No representations of any kind have been made to me in this connexion. The regulation simply gives a registered organization authority which it may exercise at its discretion, and at first sight it seems to me that no exception can be taken to the regulation.
– the attention of the Minister for Information been drawn to statements made in the Canadian House of Commons regarding alleged Communist activities in the Canadian Film Board, and the. action taken by the British Government to dispense with the services of the - f former . Director ‘ pf the Canadian Film .Board, Mr.’ Grierson because of bis Communist activities? What action .was taken to investigate the background of the former Director of the Film Division of the Australian Department of Information, Mr. Ralph Foster, and the present Director, Mr. Stanley Hawes, both of whom came from Canada on Mr. Grierson’s recommendations ? Was any information sought, on thesubject from the Canadian SecurityService? Was a contract entered into* with Mr. Hawes to pay his salary in Australia free of income tax? Is theFilm Division at present engaged in-, making a film for the- Department, of Civil Aviation? Did the unit,, under Mr. Hawes’s personal control,., recently take pictures in Northern Australia, including the guided weaponsrange site? Was a person named Mr. Douglas Glass given permission to accompany the party during the flight to» Northern Australia to act as a still photographer, while the official still photographer of the Department of Information was excluded on the ground that the aircraft had a full complement of passengers? Is Mr. Glass a visitor to* this country, on unofficial and unspecified, business ? Was any check made .with the British Security Service prior topermitting him to take aerial pictures in. . strategic areas?
– All I have to say is that’ some person has been pulling the- ‘ honorable member’s log.
– Will the Ministerrepresenting the Minister for Shippingand Fuel discuss with his colleague thedesirability of ensuring that adequatesupplies of coal are made available in South Australia ? Has his attention been drawn to the fact that the maintenance of industry in that State depends on the timely arrival of ships and’ rail transport carrying coal supplies ? Will the honorable gentleman take steps to ensure that in the event of a breakdown occurring in any collier en route to South Australia the industries of that State will not be left without supplies of coal?
– I snail discuss with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel the subject of shipping facilities for the transport of coal to South Australia. In fact I discussed the matter with him this morning. I am expecting some additional information later. When it is received I shall make it available to the honorable member.
Supplies ob1 Sugar.
– It has probably come to the Prime Minister’s notice that this is the third year in succession when, at this period, strikes have held up supplies of sugar for the processing and the canning of fruit. These strikes have resulted each year in great losses to canners and fruit-growers alike. The trouble has occurred this year owing to Communist-inspired holdups on the waterfront Will the Prime Minister state what action he proposes to take to ensure that sufficient sugar will be made available to enable canning f raits to be processed, as this is the critical time of the year for the fruitscanning industry ?
– I am aware that industrial troubles have arisen on the waterfront. I do not know, however, that during .the last three years industrial trouble ‘has arisen particularly during the fruit season .and I have not heard that any fruit has been wasted as the result.
-nard Corser. - Much fruit has been, wasted. The present position has been brought about .as the result of the strike ‘on the “waterfront in Sydney.
– It may be true that there has been a shortage of refined sugar but there has not always been a shortage of raw sugar. Canners have experienced difficulties, and perhaps some fruit has been wasted as the result of their inability to obtain refined sugar. 1 assure the honorable member that nobody is more anxious than fe the Government to prevent industrial troubles.
– What about the loss?
– I have heard many forecasts made in this House as to probable losses of primary products. It was said that tens of millions of bushels of wheat would be lost for one reason or another, that crops could not be taken off and that potatoes could not be dug. I have yet to learn of a definite instance of any primary product not being fully harvested and fully marketed. I know that difficulty has occurred in the supply of sugar for canning purposes, but I am not aware of the loss of any fruit.
– This is the third year in succession that trouble has arisen.
– I have dealt with that aspect. The Government does all it can to prevent industrial troubles from holding up production.
Payments to Stabilization Fund - International Wheat Agreement
– In view of the recent announcement of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture that payments by wheat-growers to the Wheat Stabilization Fund from the 1945-46 and 1946-47 harvests would be refunded, I ask him when it is expected that the refunds will be made to the growers ? What was the total amount paid to the stabilization fund by the Australian Wheat Board in -each of .the years mentioned? How much a bushel will be refunded to each grower ? Have any payments been made to the fund by the Australian Wheat Board in respect of the 1947-48 sales?-
– No payments have j et been made to the Wheat Stabilization Fund in respect of .the harvest this year. It is not possible to assess the tax payable until next January, .and,, consequently, money will not be .payable into the fund until then. When it was announced that the tax collected in respect of the 1945-46 crop would be refunded, it was specifically stated that approximately ls. l-£d. a bushel would be refunded before December this y«,aT. No date was specified for the making .of the refund in respect of the 1946-47 crop, but, as soon as possible, the
Government will decide when that tax will be repayable to the growers.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether the State governments were consulted about the terms of the International Wheat Agreement? Has the Australian Government informed the State governments of the contents of the agreement ? Have wheat-growers’ organizations throughout Australia been consulted about it? In view of the fact that it has been announced that the terms of the agreement will be debated in this Parliament at an early date, will the Minister immediately make available, at least to members of this Parliament, copies of the agreement?
– The State governments were not consulted about the International Wheat Agreement. As the honorable member is aware, the responsibility for entering into an international agreement of any kind is solely that of the Australian Government. From, I think, 1939 Australian Governments of various political complexions endeavoured to become participants in an international wheat agreement, hut I do not know of any occasion upon which the State governments were consulted. Prior to 1947, when an attempt was made to negotiate an international wheat agreement, the Wheat Growers Federation of Australia indicated that it supported the principle of such an agreement. The federation knew that an Australian Government delegate was attending an international conference convened recently to secure an agreement, and did not signify that it was opposed to it. There has not been sufficient time to seek the opinions of the Australian wheatgrowers on the International Wheat Agreement but a bill to ratify it will be brought down to this House within two or three weeks, and an opportunity will be given fully to debate it. Prior to that, .wheat-growers and other interested parties will, no doubt indicate whether or not they require this Government to ratify the agreement. I anticipate that they will consider it to be a most desirable agreement, for it will give them comparative security for five years. I have to-day sent a copy of the agreement to the
Minister for Agriculture in Victoria. As soon as further copies come to hand I shall he glad to make them available, to all other State governments.
– When, in a recent broadcast from Horsham, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture toldwheatgrowers that they now had reason to adopt a -more optimistic attitude, was the honorable gentleman basing his statement on the yearly fall in the price of wheat under the International Wheat Agreement, on the millions of pounds that the wheat-growers will lose on existing contracts if the agreement be ratified, or on the fact that the Government intends to return to the wheatgrowerssome of their own money?
– My statement was based on the fact that for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth we have an era of five years’ security, during which wheat-growers will he able to sell their product at a figure either over or a fraction under the guaranteed price of 6s. 3d. a bushel, a figure never previously sincerely or honestly attempted by any other Government in Australia.
Citizen Military Force - Australiansin Japan
– Can the Minister for the Army tell me what progress has been made in the establishment of the Citizen Military Force of 50,000 men concerning which an announcement was made last autumn? What has been done to enlist men and how many men have been enlisted ? What administrative arrangements have been made for the training of the force?
– It was stated that the training of the Citizen Military Force would commence on the 1st July this year. Volunteers will he called for on that date. We are training officers and non-commissioned officers for that force. In most cities officers and non-commissioned officers can be seen training every week-end.
– How many men have been recruited ?
– I will obtain that information for the honorable member. I assure him that there will be an ample staff to commence training on the 1st July and that arrangements are well in hand.
– Lately, it has come about that Australians serving as members of the occupation force in Japan, who contracted marriages with Japanese in the expectation that they would be able to bring their wives to Australia, have been prevented from doing so. I may state that I have no opinion as to the validity of such marriages, but I ask this question of the Minister for Immigration: While the action of the Government conforms with the White Australian Policy, how does it conform with the principle of the legality and permanence of marriage, which is the basis of our common law?
– The decision that Australians serving in Japan were not to contract marriages with Japanese women was made by the Department of the Army. I think the rule laid down was a very salutary one. As to whether the parties to such marriages as have taken place are validly married or not in the eyes of members of a Christian community, I am not in a position to say. I am not a theologian, but I believe that in facing up to some of those problems I am as good a theologian as are most other people. For 47 years our general immigration policy has prevented the entry into Australia of persons married to Australians if those persons are subject to certain restrictive provisions of our immigration laws. There is a particular objection to the presence of Japanese in this country. I believe that I express the opinion of 90 per cent, of the people of Australia when I say that as long as there continues to live in this country any relative of any person who suffered at the hands of the Japanese, no Japanese man or woman will be welcome to come here.
– Recently the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, said that the Department of Commerce and Agriculture had grossly misused its power in not allotting to South Australia any of the order for 5,000,000 cases of apples received from the United Kingdom this season. I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture when South Australia was exempted from the Commonwealth apple and pear acquisition scheme? Was exemption requested by the Government of South’ Australia? Has South Australia and other States which were also exempted, had advantages from payable local and interstate markets that were not available to Tasmanian and Western Australian growers ? Has it been necessary for the Australian Government, which represents the taxpayers, to find large sums of money each year to make acquisitions in Tasmania and Western Australia? Was the Premier of South Australia correct in stating that the Australian Government desired to make a profit out of apples acquired in Tasmania and Western Australia? Has the Minister any information that would throw light on the reason why the Premier of South Australia has adopted his present attitude on this matter ?
– At the request of the Government of South Australia, the apple and pear growers of that State were exempted from the operations of the Apple and Pear Board from the 1943 season onwards. In Tasmania and Western Australia the acquisition of apples and pears has been continued at the request of the governments and growers of those two States, and substantial losses have been incurred by the Australian Government because of the lack cf export markets. South Australia and other fruit-growing States on the mainland, with the exception of Western Australia, enjoy a very buoyant and payable market both intra-state and interstate. The statement attributed to the Premier of South Australia that the Australian Government was allowing the export of Tasmanian and Western Australian apples acquired at a cheap rate, in order to make a profit, is untrue. The fact is that the Australian Government has already intimated to the apple-growers of Western Australia and Tasmania that, notwithstanding past losses, the profits which accrue this year from the export of 3,000,000 cases of apples to the United Kingdom Government will be distributed among the growers of the two States in proportion to their deliveries to the
Apple and Pear Board. As to why the Premier of South Australia should make such an allegation, I can only say that it is a piece ofblatant propaganda calculated to misguide the people of Australia.
– Recently, the Queensland Government announced officially that the planting of grain sorghum on the Darling Downs is only 40 per cent, of last year’s figures. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me what steps, if any, the Australian Government is prepared to take in order to encourage an increase of production, particularly for export purposes?
– For a considerable part of the war period, the Australian Government gave a guarantee in respect of the production of a specific number of feed grains within Australia. Because of the expiration of its war-time powers,the Government has not seen fit to guarantee a price for those grains for the forthcoming year. Therefore, the hazards of the overseas market must be risked by the producers of such grains. As to ensuring a payable price for these grains in Australia, the right honorable gentleman will recollect that not so long ago the Australian Government asked the people at a referendum to grant marketing powers to the Commonwealth Parliament.
– What was the decision of the people on that occasion?
– The opponents of the Government’s proposals, led by the Leader of the Opposition, advised the primary producers of Australia to vote against the granting of these powers. Had those marketing powers been conferred upon this Parliament, it would have been possible for the Australian Government to ensure uniform marketing conditions and payable prices in accordance with the demands of the market within Australia.
Locomotive Enginemen’s Claims
– Discontent is growing among the locomotive enginemen of South Australia at what they regard as the long-drawn-out delay in obtaining a decision from the Conciliation Commissioner on the claim which they made last year. Can the Minister for Labour and National Service give me some idea when these men, who have always been loyal to the Arbitration Court, may expect a decision?
– It is true that an unusually long delay has occurred in obtaining a decision in this case. The Chief Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. Rowlands, to whom the case was assigned last year, died before he had completed it; consequently, it had to be referred to a new commissioner, Mr. Murray Stewart, who has not yet been able to give a decision. That is not due to any lack of effort on his part. He is sitting to-day to hear the general railway cases and has set aside Friday next as a special day on which to deal with the locomotive enginemen’s case. I am certain that a decision will be given by the end of this week.
– As a result of thee recent industrial unrest in Queensland, there is a great accumulation in Sydney of cargo consigned to Queensland. Will the. Prime Minister give favorable consideration to making more ships available as soon as possible for operations on the Queensland coast to carry this cargo that is so badly needed in Queensland?
– I have discussed this matter with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, and everything will be done to ensure that shipping is made available. However, that cannot be done readily because of the general shortage of shipping.
– I draw the atten- tion of the Attorney-General to a statement in to-day’s press by Mr. Keith Percival Bath, who was arrested and imprisoned as a member of the Australias First Movement, and was later released, and declared by the judge who inquired into the matter, to be a pearson upon whose loyalty no reflection could be cast.
In this statement, Mr. Bath says that he sued the Australian Government for £25,000 damages because both his business and his reputation had been ruined. He points out that the Australian Government has taken a technical point in the defence, claiming that, as more than four years have elapsed since the damage was sustained, the Statute of Limitations applies, and the Commonwealth cannot, therefore, be held liable. Mr. Bath points out that the fact that so much time has elapsed is largely the fault of the Commonwealth itself, because of delays which have occurred in bringing the matter before the court. Does the Attorney-General believe that the Commonwealth is entitled to take a technical point against a citizen who is seeking justice against it in the courts?
– The case of Mr. Bath was one of those known as the Australia First cases. In 1942, some members of that organization were interned on the order of the then Minister for the Army. Later, in the same year, the cases were reviewed, and some persons were released. Mr. Bath’s detention was of comparatively short duration. The matter was ventilated in this House, and the Government decided that the detentions should he investigated by a royal commission. A judge was appointed to inquire into whether the internments had been right, and what compensation should be paid to those who had been wrongfully detained. The judge reported in Mr. Bath’s favour.
– -Who appointed the judge?
– The Government appointed him. He was Mr. Justice Clyne, of the Commonwealth Bankruptcy Court, and his impartiality in a matter of this kind is beyond question. The honorable member does himself a disservice by such an imputation. Mr. Justice Clyne reported that Mr. Bath had been wrongfully interned, and recommended that he be paid compensation.
– A few hundred pounds.
– I think the amount was £500. He received this amount, and also all the costs of his defence. In those circumstances I believe it to be proper that the Commonwealth should be free from further litigation, because it has voluntarily remedied the injustice which was done. Therefore, I accept full responsibility. Mr. Bath has been exonerated by the finding of the commissioner, and he has received substantial compensation. I hope that the honorable member will not be a party to discussing, in this House, a matter that is still before the court. I take it that he is not doing so.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service say whether it is a fact that a strike has occurred at the Pyrmont sugar refinery? Is it true that there are only small supplies of sugar for domestic use in the various States ? If so, has anything been done to settle the dispute?
– Yes, it is a fact that a dispute has occurred at the Pyrmont sugar refinery, and that some of the men are on strike. It is also true that there is a shortage of sugar. There always is a shortage of sugar; it seems to be the policy of the company. Although the dispute is purely a State matter, my department has co-operated with the appropriate NewSouth Wales department in an endeavour to settle it. I discussed the matter with Mr. Bell em ore, in Sydney, this morning. He told me that the matter has been taken in hand and that, as a result of our action, Mr. Justice Webb had the parties before him this morning, and it is hoped that a settlement will be reached speedily.
– On the 16th March, an advertisement appeared in the Centralian Advocate, published in Alice Springs, which reads as follows : -
Lands fob Pastoral LeasingSituated in Barkley Tablelands District. fourblocksarenow open for leasing on the BarkleyTablelands . . .
The approximate location of the blocks is indicated in the advertisment. Will the Minister for the Interior assure the House that cattlemen who enlisted in the armed forces before the 8th December, 1941, will be given a preferential right to ballot for those blocks as is done in soldier settlement schemes operated by the various States? Will the honorable gentleman also assure the House that, after unsuitable applications have been culled out by the Land Board, the ballot will be conducted in public by the visiting land court, as was recommended in the Payne-Fletcher report of 1936, or in open court by the Director of Lands in Darwin ?
– Applications for the allotment of leasehold land to be leased in the Northern Territory are invited in accordance with the terms and provisions of the Crown Lands Ordinance governing the. Northern Territory. Ex-servicemen who possess the necessary experience and capital to develop the areas are accorded preference in the allocation 0f such lands. The provision that an applicant shall have the necessary experience and capital is a wise precaution which is taken to protect the interests of the ex-servicemen. If the number of applicants remaining, after unsuitable applicants have been culled out, is still greater than the number of blocks offered, an open ballot is conducted to determine to whom the leases shall be granted.
– Will the Minister for Immigration do what he can to speed up the transfer of Baltic workers from Victoria to Tasmania as the fruitharvesting season in Tasmania is already naif over and many orchardists, particularly those in the West Tamar district, are still awaiting allocations of these men who were expected to arrive in the middle of March?
– I shall do as the honorable gentleman suggests and attend to the matter immediately.
– Has the Government, as reported in the press, been asked by the United Kingdom Government to expedite -the construction of the guided weapons range in Central Australia? Will the Minister for Defence indicate whether progress on the work has been according to schedule, and whether, in view of the ominous international situation, the Government proposes to revise the Australian defence programme, which was based on a ten-year period without war?
– The progress being made with our defence programme is constantly under review by the Government. That applies to the guided weapons range in Central Australia. 1 am assured by the Minister for Shipping and Fuel that arrangements for the construction of the range are going ahead satisfactorily. A meeting of the Defence Council is to be held this month at which the whole of the defence programme will be reviewed. No doubt, after that meeting, a statement will be made in the House covering defence proposals generally.
– Did the United Kingdom Government ask that the work be expedited?
Sydney Visit of the Lord Mayor o.f Melbourne.
– The Prime Minister has made several statements about the scarcity of petrol. Has the right honorable gentleman read in the Sydney newspapers references to a trip made to Sydney at Easter by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, who travelled from Melbourne in a £5,000 Rolls-Royce, which he used to make his official calls and indulge in “ junketing “ in Sydney. In the “ Granny “ column of the Sydney Morning Herald, a newspaper which dearly loves a lord and frequently criticizes what it regards as unnecessary use of petrol, the writer grows ecstatic about the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, for the following paragraph appeared : -
When the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Sir Raymond Connolly, travels, he is expected to do so in a manner befitting the Queen City of the South.
He is in Sydney now - provided with Melbourne’s £5,000 Rolls-Royce, which flies the city’s flag of a red cross on a white background.
The car has been adapted to give enough head-room in the back seat for the Lord Mayor’s plumes.
But he’s on holiday and not wearing ‘em.
Was it not unfair of the Lord Mayor not to give residents of New South Wales country districts a sight of his plumes careering through the countryside at 90 miles an hour? Does the Prime Minister consider that for the Lord Mayor to travel 1,200 miles to Sydney and back in a motor car that consumes petrol at the rate of 8 miles to the gallon was a fair thing? If a special licence was issued to enable the Lord Mayor to obtain petrol for that purpose, does the right honorable gentleman consider that that was reasonable in view of the shortage of petrol?
– I did see a reference in the newspapers to the fact that the Lord Mayor of Melbourne had visited Sydney in an expensive motor car. Although I realize that the lord mayor of a capital city must be fittingly transported within that city, I think that to drive in such an expensive motor car from Melbourne to Sydney and back was at least indiscreet. I think the Lord Mayor of Melbourne needs saving from his friends who gave .such publicity to his visit. The answer to the honorable gentleman’s question is that a responsible man .such as the Lord Mayor of Melbourne ought to assist the Government as far as possible in curtailing the use of petrol.
– Are migrants from displaced persons’ camps and other Europeans coming to Australia on landing permits subject to a “ triple security screening “ ? Does this screening indicate whether such persons are Communists and, if so, what action is taken? Do all British migrants, including naturalized British subjects who went to Britain before the war, undergo any security scrutiny? Does such scrutiny, if any, indicate whether the person concerned is a Communist, and, if so, what action is taken ?
– People being brought to Australia as displaced persons from camps in the British and American zones of Germany are not issued with landing permits. They come in under a certificate of exemption. They are bound to serve the Commonwealth, and they make a voluntary agreement to do so, in an occupation and locality for at least one year or, generally, two years. The triple security check is made first by the Americans, then by the British, and then by an Australian team. The officer originally in charge of the Australian Military Mission was Brigadier T. W. White. He was a brigadier at Tobruk, and is a distinguished soldier. The present head of the mission is Brigadier Gallaghan, who was a prisoner of war in Malaya. I have complete faith in the officers of the Australian team, who exercise whatever care they think proper. They have unfettered control over the whole matter of security. Anybody they pass I accept. Anybody they reject I do not allow into the country. A person who becomes a British subject by the process of naturalization acquires the same rights and privileges as are possessed by a natural-born British’ subject. Naturalized British subjects are not subjected to any more tests or restrictions than natural-horn British subjects would be subjected to. They are entitled to all the rights and privileges of citizenship. We would not discriminate against them in any way. That applies to naturalized British subjects who went to Britain before the war and now wish to return to Australia.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services a question relating to the Mount Margaret Aborigines Hospital, which is situated near Morgans, about 200 miles north-east of Kalgoorlie, in Central West Australia. An application was made almost a year ago for it to be recognized under the Commonwealth hospital benefits scheme, but, so far, nothinghas been gained. It is a native hospital, doing a much-needed work. I understand that the Minister for Social Services has refused to provide free treatment for these people, claiming that the legislation is intended - I use the Minister’s own words - to “ provide free treatment to qualified persons occupying bedsin public wards in public hospitals, and to afford assistance to qualified persons occupying beds in approved private hospitals, or in non-public wards in public- hospitals “. Is it possible for these aborigines to be regarded as “qualified persons ” i By what means can the hospital be brought under the Commonwealth hospital benefits scheme ? Failing all else will the Minister consider an amendment of the act so that hospitals in this class shall receive financial assistance from the Government ? Will the Minister give special consideration to this particular problem of native welfare?
– The statement by the Minister for Social! Services which the honorable member read to the House correctly interprets the act as it- stands’. A1J people have the right; of hospitalization in public, wards free of charge. Patients in non-public wards o-f public hospitals; and in private hospitals deduct the a,mount. of the hospital benefit contribution front the charges levied!. Private hospitals may apply to* be “ approved “ for the purposes of the- scheme. Nearly 99 per cent., of the private hospitals in Australia have been approved. The process of ap>proval’. of private hospitals in order’ that they may come under the1 scheme is. carried out ky the Commonwealth and State health authorities. The only reason that I cam assume, for the hospital referred to1 by the honorable member not being eligible for the benefit is that, it has not been approved by the health authorities of Western: Australia or accepted as approved by the Commonwealth health authorities. I will ask the Minister foat Social Services, whether it ia necessary to amend the act- in order that the- hospital])
Kef-erred to. by the honorable, member may be approved’..
Mr.-.. HOLT. - I direct the attention; of the1 Attorney-General to the- successful appeal by” Mr. Goldberg- im what has been termed the “ Kearns© Luggage1 Case “.. In pa>rticu’l’ar-. J invite the right honorable gentlemans attention- to the comment by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales;, m which - I quote- the substance of his- words - he said’ that it was curious,, to say the least of it, that Mr.. Goldberg had! been selected for1 prosecution. I ask the AttorneyGeneral; whether he has’ given consideration to- this1 comment; whether he has considered the institution of proceedings against any other persons involved in this incident; whether any departmental action has been taken against any Commonwealth officers who were involved in the incident; and, generally, whether he has any further information which he can give to the House on the subject?
– I am not aware that any action has been taken or is projected against any officer of the Department of Trade and Customs. However, I am glad that the honorable member has asked me a question about the comment made by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales-. The justification of that comment will appear from what I am about to say. When the honorable member for Wentworth raised, this matter in the House, and a debate ensued upon it, the Government requested’ the Acting Solicitor-General and’ the ComptrollerGeneral of; Customs, Mr. Kennedy, to make a recommendation as to what course should be pursued. Suggestions and imputations had been made against. Senator Keane, who had died a considerable time before this- matter arose, and also against his wife. This special committee was instructed to make a full report as to what proceedings should be taken against any person or persons, and that was done. The committee recommended to the Government that the only person against whom any evidence could be presented was the defendant against whom the’ proceedings were taken. Those proceedingswere launched’ in express accordance with the” recommendation, the view of the committee being- that there was no evidence against any other person’, including Mrs. Keane or any departmental officer. That shows that there’ was nothing” curious a>bout the matter: The question before the Supreme Court of New South Wales was whether the conviction of Mr. Goldbergby the magistrate was warranted on the evidence. The Court considered that there was: insufficient, evidence to warrant the conviction1. The information before the officers who* advised the prosecution was- really not- before the court at all. Therefore;. I say, in answer to the honorable member for Fawkner, that the com’ment was quite unjustified. The prosecution was’ launched: in accordance’ with the1 recommendation of the committee, and the conviction against Mr: Goldberg was set aside. There was no evidence whatsoever to warrant the institution of criminal proceedings against any other person. Any departmental action that might be taken in connexion with the case is. entirely a matter for the Department of Trade and Customs, and I am not able to give to the honorable member an answer on that aspect.
– Replying recently to a question concerning the treatment of the wives of deported Malayan seamen, the Minister for Immigration said that the Government was prepared to send to their menfolk not only wives but also de facto wives. Will the Minister inform me whether it has. now become the settled policy of the Government to treat de facto wives on the same basis as legal wives in all matters involving Government administration?
Mr.CAL WELL. - I do not recollect having said anything other than that the wives and children of deported Malayan seamen would be sent to Malaya when their husbands were ready to receive them. I did not promise anything in regard to de facto wives. Indeed, I do not regard them as wives at all, and do not believe that they are entitled to any consideration. However, I shall examine my previous answer to the question relating to deported Malayan seamen, and, if necessary, I shall make a. statement on the matter at a later stage. The policy of the Government in all cases relating to Indonesians, Malays and others is to send the wives and children to the husbands when they are ready to receive them. A de facto wife is just a concubine and is not entitled to any rights.
– I give notice that tomorrow I shall submit a motion of censure of the Government.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority of the members of the House-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition moving forthwith the motion of want of confidence of whichhe has given notice for the next sitting, and that such motion take precedence of all other business until disposed of.
Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong- Leader of the Opposition [4.1]. - I move -
That in the opinion of this Houses - (a). Communist activities in Australia are subversive.
Communists in Australia have fomented widespread stoppages of employment, sought to weaken the authority of the industrial law, and inflicted misery and loss upon thousands of citizens.
There is good reason to believe that Australian Communists act in the interests of a foreign power.
Recent events in Europe have proved that Communist minorities in countries outside the Soviet Union are organized so as to overthrow by force majority rule in those countries.
The Government has failed to take any adequate stepsto attack Communist activities in Australia or to prevent the employment of Communists by the Commonwealth. And that, by reason of the above, the Government deserves the censure of this House.
This motion refers to a subject which is perhaps of as great current importance in Australia as anything that could be imagined. It has become necessary to set down a motion on this point, because during the last few months the position of the Communists has not remained static, and there is no reason why the policies of governments, or indeed of oppositions, should remain static in relation to them. Abroad, we have seen, in recent months, most alarming developments. I know that from time to time we are adjured not to refer to them as “ alarming “, but that does not prevent them from becoming alarming. These developments abroad have been intimately associated with the activities of Communists not only in the Soviet Union, but more particularly in countries which are outside the Soviet Union, whilst at home, during the period from the closing weeks of last year untilthe present time, we have witnessed at least two major industrial dislocations notoriously fomented and encouraged by Communists. One of these industrial dislocations occurred in Victoria, and the other in Queensland. The Australian Government, through its chief spokesman, has been content to shrug its shoulders and say that “ communism, after all is only just another political philosophy”, and it has been left to the Liberal-Country party administration in Victoria and to a Labour administration in Queensland to roundly defeat the Communists on the first occasions on which they have been fought by governments in Australia for a few long years.
I indicated in my opinion certain affirmative propositions of fact, and they have been selected with some care, because I dc not want to raise controversial facts. My colleagues and I desired to select five propositions which were, in substance, beyond argument. If anybody doubts whether they are beyond argument, I shall say at once that all the witnesses whom I shall call in support of this indictment come from the other side of politics, and not from the side which I represent. What is the first charge? It is-
That Communist activities in Australia are subversive.
These activities are calculated to overthrow, ruin and destroy. That is not a political philosophy. Subversive activities are not to be discussed in terms of a philosophy ; they represent a programme of things to be done. Does any member of this House doubt that Communist activities are subversive ? It was to the credit of a great number of people connected with the Australian Labour party that some time ago there was established an Australian Labour party industrial group, designed to fight the Communists in the trade union movement. That industrial group held an annual conference on the 4th April, 1948, in the course of which it adopted a declaration, which I commend to those who say that communism is just another political philosophy, stating that the Communist party
Mined at the armed overthrowing of Australian democratic government and adding that the party’s policy was to set up a totalitarian regime.
Those are not words used for the first time; they have a familiar ring in our ears. They are far-reaching words, representing a piece of testimony from the heart of the Labour movement to the effect that communism is subversive in the fullest and most sinister sense of the term. The chairman of that conference, Mr. Junor, cannot be accused of any trafficking with honorable members of the parties on this side of the House. I commend his words to those who believe that this problem just stays put, that it does not matter, and that it will be as insignificant in five years’ time as it is now. He said -
This conference opens in the shadow of fastmoving events of the most sinister character. You have the responsibility of crushing the insidious attempts of these red fascists -
That is an expression I first heard from the mouth of the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) - to discredit the system of arbitration and conciliation. The Communists want a return to the law of the jungle because they are a party of bloody revolutionists who can thrive only on misery, starvation, strife and bloodshed.
Those were not the words of some reactionary. They did not fall from the lips of some tory, or somebody who could glibly be accused of being a fascist. They fell from the lips of a man occupying the responsible position of chairman of an important Australian Labour party industrial group. It will hardly be pretended by anybody on the Government side of the chamber, and certainly not by anybody on this side, that the proposition that Communist activities in Australia are subversive is not abundantly justified.
What is the second allegation? It is -
Communists in Australia have fomented widespread stoppages of employment, sought to weaken the authority of the industrial law, and inflicted misery and loss upon thousands of citizens.
I imagine that I shall hardly need to produce evidence to support that charge. It is notorious to all the citizens of Australia that that is a mild, conservative understatement of what might be said about Communist activities in the industrial field. The latest group « of people to suffer misery and privation as a result of the activities of the Communists were thousands of honest citizens in the State of Queensland.
If, in preferring this indictment of the Government, I must produce a witness, I call the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who quite recently made a singularly robust statement on this matter. He will perhaps permit me to say that I have at times thought he was a little disposed to equivocate on this matter, but he did not do so on this occasion. Perhaps the moving shadow of events is beginning to touch him. On the 22nd March last, the honorable member for Hunter is reported to have made a statement in which he uttered the most caustic comments on the activities of the Communists in fomenting strikes on the coal-fields. He pointed out that a strike would cause a national crisis and would probably involve thousands of workers in loss of employment and deal a shattering blow to the trade unions and the Labour movement in Australia. He went on to say -
Judgment should not be accepted from a definitely anti-Labour industrial organization which accepts its policy from Russia, whose concern it is to cause trouble and to retard the progress of other nations towards economic recovery. These people have grasped at the Queensland strike to further their policy. They are trying to wreck Labour and socialist governments and any other organization that stands in the way of their political aims.
Those are strong words. Again I emphasize that they are not mine. Here is evidence from the very heart of the Australian Labour party. These words may fall a little strangely on the ears of those who havejust been told, not for the first time, that the Government does not propose to take any action against these people, but to the public, they will not throw any particularly new light on matter the public is miles ahead of the Government at Canberra.
I might call Mr. Hanlon, the Labour Premier of Queensland. I have no doubt that one of the first things he would say is that people who underrate Communist activities in Australiaand who think that they do not constitute an industrial and social menace are woolly-headed “ saps “. Mr. Hanlon has shown a degree of back-bone during the last few weeks that has, I am happy to say, given rise all over Australia to the most pointed comparisons between back-bones in Brisbane and wish-bones in Canberra.
– The boneless wonders !
– The third allegation is -
There is good reason to believe that Australian Communists act in the interests of a foreign power.
If those words were the lightly chosen words of one of the more irresponsible members of the Australian Labour party, I should disregard them. My witness on this count is the Attorney-General. I shall endeavour not to keep him in the box for 22 days, but only long enough to say 22 words. The right honorable gentleman published not long ago a handsomely printed pamphlet called Hands Off the Nation’s Defences. To be exact, it was published only in 1947. It contains a resolution passed by the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour party on the 14th May, 1947. That resolution not only finds a place on the inside cover of the pamphlet, but also is honoured by being incorporated in the text of the pamphlet. Therefore, the right honorable gentleman is my witness on this matter. I quote the passage - A resolution of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour party congratulated the Government on the firm stand taken, and added - “ It is apparent that the propaganda recently issued by the Communist party in connexion with this undertaking is for the sole purpose of defeating the Australian defence policy in the interest of a foreign power “.
If I have even a remote understanding of the meaning of words, I would say that that was a charge of treason; and, indeed, the right honorable gentleman, who is eminently accustomed to consider and weigh the meaning of words, was so impressed by the treasonable nature of what was being put forward by the Communists that he not only introduced and put through this House a bill directed against their activities - I refer to the approved Defence Projects Protection Bill - but he also prepared and published a pamphlet in defence of his action. Here, in the opinion of the Deputy Prime Minister, was at least one conspicuous example within the last twelve months of Communist propaganda designed to assist a foreign country. Let us not be mealy-mouthed about it. This propaganda was designed to assist the Soviet Union and to weaken, if necessary to the point of defeat, the defence preparations of this country.
The fourth point in the motion is as follows : -
Recent events in Europe have proved that they are organized so as to overthrow by force majority rule in those countries.
It is a curious feature about us - a feature that has been observed in other democracies, notably the United States of America - that we are always a little bit disposed to watch what is going on in other parts of the world, and to say complacently, “ It can’t happen here “. The history of the modern world is full of examples of those who have gone down to destruction because they thought, “ It can’t happen here “. They thought that if they looked the other way, or, so to speak, tucked their heads under their wings, they would be safe.
On the day before the House adjourned for the Easter recess, the Prime Minister tabled a paper .which had been compiled in the Department of External Affairs. It was presented to the House under the name of the Minister for External Affairs. There will be another opportunity to say something about this paper, the great bulk of which contains matters which are not relevant to the matter I am now discussing, or, perhaps, to any other matter. However, I can call the Attorney-General once more to support the proposition that, outside of the Soviet Union, the history of the last two years reeks with proof that Communist minorities are actively organized to destroy, by sudden action, by coups d’etat, majority rule. Let me draw the attention of honorable members, to some passages in the paper compiled by the Department of External Affairs, beginning at page 129. There is a general preface headed “ The Balkan Treaties and Alliances “. “When I. read it my mind goes back to the fact that, two years ago, when there was a debate in this House on foreign affairs, the Minister for External Affairs said - I quote his own words from Hansard of the 21st March, 1946 -
Having no clear evidence to the contrary and having, during the last four years, come to know some of Russia’s greatest statesmen, I take the view that the Soviet Union’s policy is directed towards self-protection and security against future attacks. In my opinion, her desire is to develop her own economy and to improve the welfare of her peoples.
I refer to that passage of two years ago. not for the barren satisfaction of demon- strating how unsound the right honorablegentleman’s opinion turned out to be, but. for the reason that it shows conclusively, when we compare it with others in the most recently issued statement prepared under the authority of the Minister for External Affairs, that events havemoved with a vengeance ; and that things have’ gone so fast and so far that his opinion regarding the bona fides of theCommunists has been completely reversed. Yet those events have not stirred the Government to take any action against, exactly the same kind of menace in Australia. I quote the following passage from the statement of the Minister forExternal Affairs: -
The economic and political co-ordination of the countries of eastern Europe within the Soviet orbit has continued.
And then he goes on -
The conclusion of these agreements isostensibly designed to increase the industrial production of eastern Europe, and to rationalize the utilization and distribution of available resources.
Ostensibly! Now, let us see what hashappened, as described in a few short, pungent phrases, in those Europeancountries in which ‘ there have been at some stage or other Communist minorities, such as those which Commonwealth security officials have investigated and1 declared to be negligible because they consisted of only 20,000 members. All those eastern European countries went through the stage in which the Communist minority was “ negligible “. I now proceed to describe events in those countries, not in my own words, but inthe words of the Minister for External Affairs. I quote from his statement -
In Bulgaria, Mr. Petkov, the leader of the opposition Agrarian party, was arrested on 6th June, tried and condemned to death despite protests by the United Kingdom and theUnited States of America Governments to both, the Soviet and Bulgarian Governments. On 26th August, the Bulgarian National Assembly dissolved the Agrarian party. On 4th December, Bulgaria acquired a new constitution inspired by that df the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and on 9th December, the Prime Minister, Mr. Dimitrov, formed a new cabinet with a majority of Communist members.
Honorable members can see the pattern. There is a party representing a sturdy agrarian population, a party whose members have stuck to the idea of democratic freedom, and opposed to this there is a militant minority of Communists. There is a sudden stroke by this militant minority, an accusation of conspiracy against the Agrarian party, the leader of which is arrested and executed. I observe that the Leader of the Australian Country party is following me in this matter.
– I am ahead of the right honorable gentleman.
– We now come to Roumania, where events are described as follows: -
In Roumania, the United Kingdom Government protested in June against the arrest of many citizens, some of whom had no political affiliations. In July, at the Government’s request, the National Assembly dissolved the Opposition National Feasant party on the grounds of illegal underground activity.
Right through this narrative there is apparent the horrible technique which Hitler introduced in 1938 - the same excuses, the same manoeuvring, repeated and repeated over and over again. The statement goes on -
Dr. Mann, a leading Roumanian politician and the leader of the National Peasant party, was arrested, together with eighteen other members of his party. He was tried and found guilty of treason, of instigating armed rebellion, of seeking to flee the country, and of plotting with foreign governments to overthrow the regime. Dr. Manu was sentenced to solitary confinement for life. . . .
On 3rd and 4th February, the United Kingdom and United States of America Governments presented notes to the Roumanian Government protesting against the continued denial of fundamental human rights in violation of the peace treaty. The British note, drew attention to the suppression of the Opposition parties, the ban on the opposition press, the continuation of illegal arrests, and the fact that many prisoners had died in detention after being held for months without specific charges being brought against them.
On the situation in Hungary the document states : -
On 31st May, the Prime Minister, Mr. Nagy, resigned as a result of disclosures by the Soviet military authorities of his implication in an alleged conspiracy. In reply to protests by the United Kingdom and United States of America Governments requesting information on the charges against Mr. Nagy, the Soviet Government maintained that this was a matter which concerned Hungary alone.
They started it, and then it was no longer their business. This is the oldest technique in history. As a matter of fact, the Smallholders Group in Hungary had commanded a majority in theHungarian Parliament, where the government was democratic. Nevertheless, after the Communists had got to work,, and an election was held - a false electionof the kind with which we have been familiar ever since Hitler began the practice - the Smallholders vote was reduced to approximately 15 per cent, of those cast, while the Communists, with 22 per cent., emerged as the strongest party in the Parliament.
We now come to Poland, the fifth country on this melancholy list. TheMinister for External Affairs discusses the matter in these terms: -
In Poland, after the trial of members of the National Peasant party and other prominent Poles in August and September, on charges of espionage, Mr. Mikolajczyk, the Peasant party leader, was compelled to flee the country.
The last example is Czechoslavakia, which, for the second time, has gone into the maw of a dictatorship. I have heard some very strong things said by honorable members opposite during the last few years about the “ Men of Munich “, but I want to say to them that appeasement out of weakness is immeasurably more pardonable than appeasement in spite of strength. Discussing Czechoslovakia, the Minister for External Affairs says -
It may be useful to recall in outline the events which, opened the way for the Communist seizure of power in Czechoslovakia. On 20th February, twelve Czechoslovak Ministers who were members of the People’s party, Czechoslovak Socialist party and Slovak Democrat parties refused to attend a cabinet meeting, asserting that they would not consent to attend any future meeting of the Government until they received assurances that decisions annulling the appointment of Communists to certain high positions in the police force would he implemented.
The decision had been made. They wanted it implemented.
Later all twelve Ministers submitted their resignations to President Benes. Subsequently, in a statement published by the Communist party, the non-Communist parties were accused of subversive tendencies and of provoking a crisis which was a threat to the security of the Republic.
On the 21st February, the Prime Minister, M. Klement Gottwald, in an address before a public meeting, offered to reconstruct the Government if requested to do so by the President.
I shall not read the whole of this extract - it becomes tedious to read extracts which are too long. As every honorable member knows, it was only a matter of a few days when the Communist-dominated government was proclaimed. That was the event which, of course, was followed by what I regard as the cold-blooded murder of Jan Masaryk. Let us talk in realistic terms. Who believes that if Jan Masaryk did ‘Commit suicide, his suicide was a voluntary act? Jan Masaryk, a man who had succeeded a most famous and notable father, and who, in his own right, deserves a place in the history of European freedom, in plain terms, was done to death in his own country. All that I am giving to honorable members, except that last interpolation, I am quoting from the statement by the Minister for External Affairs.
What happened next? The Government of the United States of America, the United Kingdom Government and the French Govern- ment decided upon the issue on the 26th February of a joint declaration. I do not know whether Australia was invited to concur in this joint declaration, nor do I know whether it represents the views of the Australian Government. The declaration read -
There you have it. Six European countries, each with its own history, some of them with histories that go back to far earlier periods than the history of any Russian union, in the sense in which we understand that term. In every case the same technique has been used : the fighting minority, the all-too-frightened majority, the sudden strike, the violent attack upon the rulers of democratic bodies, and ‘ the setting up of some form of totalitarian government which exists by force and by terror. It is proper that everybody in Australia should want to know whether the Government agrees with these views. Does the Government agree with this attitude so publicly taken by Great Britain, France and the United States of America ? There is no real evidence that it does. Despite this accumulation of events, the Government still continues to clothe with all the respectability of the law that group of people in Australia who are the exact counterparts of the groups who in Hungary, Roumania and Czechoslovakia did these things to which I have referred.
There is little wonder that after the four charges to which I have referred, every one of them abundantly established out of the mouths of Ministers or out of the mouths of Government supporters, this motion should conclude by making a fifth charge which is that the Government has failed to take any adequate steps to attack Communist activities in Australia or to prevent the employment of Communists by the Commonwealth. We are accustomed to being told that the Government has the matter under observation and that the security officers are watching the activities of these people. Watching them ! The people of Australia have been watching them; they have been paying for these activities - paying through the nose in the loss of production and in loss of trade. It is cold comfort to the people fo be told that the Government is watching the activities of the Communists. We ask : “ What has the Government done about them ? “ The answer is, “ Nothing “. A .security report has been mentioned in the press - I do not know whether we shall- have an opportunity to see it here - which, it is said, shows that the number of Communists in the Civil Service is negligible. If the expression “ Civil Service “ is used in some narrow or technical sense that might, for all I know, be true, though I doubt it ; but if by the term “ Civil Service “ is meant all those bodies of employment which are under the Commonwealth - our naval dockyards, our ordnance stores, our munitions factories, our post offices, and all sorts of activities that have to do with communications, nobody but a child would believe the statement that the number of
Communists is of no significance. On the 29th March, a week ago, the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron) - if he is still the Postmaster-General, and I am not too sure on that point - was present at a deputation in which some very p’ertinent words were uttered by a. gentleman who enjoyed no less a name than Ward - Mr. J. Ward, of the Postal Workers Union. Mr. Ward said at this deputation that there were people too frightened to speak about the pressure groups inside the unions, that if Russia declared war against us Australian postal communications would not be secure. He said that he wanted to tell the Postmaster-General, who was also a delegate, that there were Communist cells in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department which had access to communications. He went on to say, with a flourish that gave me some little pleasure, that the Postmaster-General had his permission to indicate that state of affairs to my colleague, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison). Is it not true that we have Communist cells in factories that are concerned with making munitions, in places that, in the event of war, would be providing supplies for the nation, and in our communications services ? Does any one doubt that we have a few rather queer, even if recently converted, people in other departments more closely associated with the policies of this country than the activities to which I have referred? What has the Government done about it? It is watching them. On all these matters it holds a watching brief. It says, “We shall keep our eye on them “. There is a demand rising in Australia that the Government should cease its watching from afar and get busy on this matter. It must not be thought that the people of Australia share the extraordinary comfort of mind which the Government possesses. It must not be supposed that there are not hundreds of thousands of people in Australia whose hearts are racked with fears that there might once more be war in the world. One does not allay their fears by merely saying, “Do not talk like that”, or by pretending that everything is all right. Surely we have learned from the bitter experience of the recent past that strong peace-loving nations must talk the language that is understood by nations that are also strong but do not love peace. The best way of preventing war is not to run away from the problem, or to pretend that there is no problem here, or to suggest that in the event of another struggle these people who get so much publicity in Australia will not constitute another fifth column, one from the north, one from the south, one from the east, one from the west, and one in Madrid. They will, undoubtedly, be the fifth column. I say not only on behalf of the Opposition, but I believe also on behalf of the overwhelming majority of the people of Australia, that, having regard to these unanswerable and established facts, the Government, just as it has incurred the censure of the people, deserves the censure of this House.
– I listened very carefully to the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). The right honorable gentleman has uttered what purports to be a denunciation of a great social evil in this community, but, in a speech of more than 40 minutes’ duration, he did not make one suggestion as to how that evil should be cured. The press has done him a grave injustice. The press, for some weeks now, has carried announcements that at last the right honorable gentleman ha3 been weaned or forced - I presume forced - from his previous views in regard to communism. One would, accordingly,’ have expected him to-day to have taken the high’ jump at the suggestion of the Australian Country party, and plump for the banning of the Communist party ; but he did not do so. In a speech lasting for more than 40 minutes he did not say. one word about banning communism, nor did he make one single suggestion as to how Communists should be dealt with. This talk about Communists and what the Opposition would do about them is not new. I was interested, when I heard that, this motion was to be made, to look back over the records of the Opposition parties.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order! There is far too much interruption. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was heard in silence; and I insist that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) also be heard in silence. Any honorable member who interjects will be dealt with by the Chair.
– Talk of the sort indulged in by the Opposition parties nowadays was also common in the days of the Bruce-Page Government. I do not remember what tag was attached to Mr. Bruce’s party. It has had as many aliases as have been adopted from time to time by the Communist leaders Opposition members talk about. It is interesting to read some of the statements made in 1925 by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce. They are strangely like some of the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition to-day. Speaking at Dandenong on the 9th December, 1925, Mr. Bruce called on the people of Australia to support him and assist him in destroying “ this viper “, referring to the Communist party, “ that has raised its head in our midst “. If that was true, why did he not do something about it? That statement is similar to statements which have appeared in the newspapers in the last few days. This is another extract from that speech -
The Labour Council of New South Wales constitutes 120 unions. Yet the Communist party is in control of the executive committee. Of twelve members of the executive eleven are members of the Communist party, and they control, these twelve members, 120 unions and the policy of each union.
The Bruce-Page Government was returned to power. One of the partners in that coalition, which made many statement on what it intended to do about Communists, is a member of the House to-day. But between 1925 and 1928 nothing at all was done about communism. In 1928, when Mr. Bruce delivered his next policy speech, precisely the same things were said. Addressing the same electors at Dandenong, Mr. Bruce said -
Defiance of our laws is deliberately fostered hy these extremists with the object of undermining our existing free institutions, and preparing the way for the fantastic idea of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. To the people of Australia I say on behalf of the Government that we will fight these insidious efforts to undermine our social, political, and industrial systems.
We will use every power we possess to maintain the Constitution, the authority of the Parliament, and to ensure the fullest observance of the law.
One would think that that was written as a manifesto of the Liberal party last week. I direct the attention of the House to the utter political hypocrisy of the Opposition on this matter. For the last 23 years honorable members opposite and their adherents have been talking about the drastic steps they will take to combat communism, but they have not done more than talk. The statements I have quoted are contained in printed documents issued on behalf of the Opposition; they are not something that I have conjured up in my mind. I come now to “ Shootemdown” Thorby, who, I understand, was deputy leader of the Australian Country party in 1940. At that time he said he was going to play merry hell with the Communists. The press had certain interviews with him. The result of those interviews makes interesting reading. One report is headed “ Thorby’s plan to wipe out the Reds “. I assume that the newspapers that published his comments were friendly - that is if he had any friends. Anyway, I assume that the newspaper that published the following comment by Mr. Thorby, on the 6th January, 1940, was politically friendly towards him : -
I will wipe out the Australian Communist party pretty soon.
He went on -
I have got all my plans made … I have 100 per cent, support from the Australian Country party.
For quite a while after that the Australian Country party participated in the government of Australia, but although its deputy leader had made those striking statements about what he was going to do to the Communists, it did nothing to convert his words into action. Despite the fact that the Government had a majority in both Houses, not a single thing was done to shift one Communist out of the position of secretary of a trade union.
– “We interned a few whom the Labour Government let out.
– I have heard about the internments and I will make some reference to that subject later. We have lately read in the press what the Leader of the Opposition would do in conjunction with the Australian Country party, but he has baulked at the high jump to-day. He refused, to take it and ran round it. He was not game to take the jump. So that there shall be no mistake about the attitude of the Australian Labour party towards communism and Communists, I will have something to say about the matter later. I am making these quotations from speeches and comments by responsible men in the two opposition parties to show the complete hypocrisy of people who say that this and that ought to be done about Communists but have never done anything about them. In the 40 minutes’ speech we heard from the Leader of the Opposition to-day he did not make one suggestion, of what he would do to put down communism. il have no doubt that had Mr. Thorby been let loose with a machine gun he would have done something about Communists; but apparently there was a strong restraining hand on him. In the meantime he has been eliminated from this Parliament.
Other speakers on this side of the House will deal with industrial happenings in Queensland and elsewhere, but I propose to make a few plain statements on communism generally. Unfortunately, a flood of communism has swept Europe. Communism is rife not only in countries that are under Communist domination but also in the countries that are still democratic. That is the fruit of hundreds and hundreds of years.
– Is the Prime Minister trying to justify communism?
– No. I do not attempt to justify it at all. But I repeat that it is the fruit of hundreds and hundreds of years in which 80 per cent, of the people lived in the direst poverty. That is why the world has to suffer communism to-day. The soil in which communism has flourished was fertilized by people without any idea of democracy. From one extreme the people have swung to the other. There are Communist elements in most countries. Twenty-five years ago the Communists were supposed to be confined to common people, manual labourers and people of that character, but to-day communism has become something in the nature of a religion and has drawn into its ranks many intellectuals. They are classed as Com munists, fellow travellers, and cryptoCommunists by those who see in the movement, as I do, the grave menace to democracy that communism presents. But the evil will not be cured or the blight upon the world removed by the sort of loose talk that goes on in Australia and other countries. I cast my mind back to five years ago, when, as Treasurer, I said to the then Prime Minister, my late lamented colleague, John Curtin, “ War or no war, I believe that every government has to stand up to the task of ensuring social security to the people-,, because, if it does not, I fear that, with the end of the war, the great mass of thepeople will be gravely dissatisfied and wonder what the war was fought for if” they are left with only poverty and! misery and no security “. With the help and advice of my colleagues in the Australian Labour movement, I launched tha system of social security that we enjoy to-day. In the previous 40 years, when, for most of the time, the anti-Labour parties were in power - the Labour party had few years in office - not one social service enactment was passed by the Australian Parliament.
– Who introduced invalid and old-age pensions in 1908?.
– That is the only exception.
– What about child endowment?
– Before the honorable member for Fawkner introduced child endowment, the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act was the only piece of social legislation enacted by this Parliament. I know why child endowment was brought in. It was a political bargain between the Government and the employers of this country to prevent an increase of the basic wage. I know the history of that move. I do not blame the then Government, but for whatever reason child endowment was introduced, it was a very fine thing. Whatever motive lay behind its introduction, it bore good fruit. I mention that because the only way in which to defeat communism is for the democracies of the world to be really democratic.
Much has been said about the suppress sion of minorities. According to press reports, the Leader of the Opposition made some rather scathing comments about my statement that the Australian Labour party would not lend itself to the banning of a political party, because it held a certain political philosophy. The Australian Labour party is entirely opposed to the principles of communism, including its economic theories for the management of a country, and its attitude towards religion. I speak for the Government as well as for myself when I say that we completely abhor the principles of communism for the attainment of the party’s objectives. However, I shall never support any policy which is designed to deprive minorities of the right of expression unless - :I qualify that statement - those expressions are subversive, seditious or in some way detrimental to the safety of the country.
– If that be so, the Prime Minister’s course is clear.
– I remind honorable members opposite that not one English speaking country, with the exception of Canada and Australia in war-time, has placed a ban upon the activities, political or otherwise, of the Communists.
– Great Britain is carrying out a purge of the public service.
– I have been waiting for that interjection. It was bound to come sooner or later. I shall place on record the statement of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, on this matter.
– When was this statement made?
– I quote from the Hansard report of the House of Commons, dated the 15th March, last - 1 desire to make a statement in regard to certain matters of employment in the Civil Service.
In answers to questions on the subject of the transfer or dismissal of certain Government servants, I have said that there are certain duties of such secrecy that the State is not justified in employing in connexion with them anyone whose reliability is in doubt.
Experience, both in this country and elsewhere, has shown that membership of, and other forms of continuing association with, the Communist party may involve the acceptance of the individual of a loyalty, which in certain circumstances can be inimical to the State.
It is not suggested that in matters affecting the security of the State, all those who adhere to the Communist party would allow themselves thus to forget their primary loyalty to the State. But there is no way of distinguishing such people from those who, if opportunity offered, would be prepared to endanger the security of the State in the interests of another Power. The Government has, therefore, reached the conclusion that the only prudent course to adopt is to ensure that no one who is known to be a member of the Communist party, or to be associated with it in such a way as to raise legitimate doubts about his or her reliability, is employed in connexion with work, the nature of which is vital to the security of the State.
The same rule will govern the employment pf those who are known to be actively associated with fascist organizations.
I should emphasize that this action is being taken solely on security grounds.
The St;bte is not concerned with the political views, as such, of its servants, and as far as possible alternative employment on the wide range of non-secret government work will be found for those who are deemed for the reason indicated to be unsuitable for secret work. It may, however, happen that it is impossible to find suitable employment elsewhere in the Civil Service for individuals with specialist qualifications- referring to persons like Professor Haldane - and in such cases there may be no alternative to refusal of employment or dismissal.
I do not propose to read all the questions which members of the House of Commons directed to the Prime Minister in the course of this statement, but I do desire to read a question by Sir Ian Fraser, whose loyalty nobody dc nbts. Sir Ian asked -
In applying the restriction in the Government service, and as far as it affects the British Broadcasting Corporation and the country generally, will the right honorable gentleman advise that it shall be kept within the very narrow limits related strictly to security? Otherwise, does he not think that it is an unaccustomed and difficult course on which he may be embarking?
No Communist made that statement. I invite honorable members opposite to listen carefully to Mr. Attlee’s reply -
– Why does not the Prime Minister do that here?
– Order !
– One good thing about the honorable member for Balaclava is that he is an excellent prompter. , If I happen to overlook something, which I really desire to say to the House, he is bound to remind me of it.
– Order ! I think that the Prime Minister is now encouraging the honorable member for Balaclava, to interject.
– I apologize if I am offering any encouragement to the honorable member in that respect. I have been asked to explain what action the Government is taking against the Communists. The Government has not waited for this clamour and for what I may describe as this wave of hysteria which is sweeping through the world and which could lead to the grave consequences of war, when a little coolheadedness may avoid it. The Government has always considered that, in matters involving security, all persons entering the public service, should be checked; and all members of the public service, even though they may not have been engaged in security work, have been subject to close scrutiny. I give to the country a complete assurance that so far as the Commonwealth Investigation Service and the State police forces can detect, no person whom Mr. Attlee’s description fits, is engaged in vital security work. The Government did not wait for the present clamour, which has been raised in the press, or for any other agitation before taking steps to safeguard the country. The Australian Labour party is completely opposed to the principles of communism. Let us be quite honest about this matter and admit that within the ranks of every political party there are people out on the wings who are extremely radical in their views. That, incidentally, is the only reason why there is a Labour party to-day. There would never have been a Labour party if there had not been in the community radicals - democratic radicals - who loved their country and fought for what they believed to be. in the interests of the majority of the people. The men who formed the Australian Labour party had to contend with the bitterest opposition, with talk of “ socialism “ and the “ red tiger and it was even alleged by their opponents that they advocated the breaking of the marriage tie. However, in the face of all that opposition they triumphed, and the history of the Parliament, and particularly that of the last six years, proves that. When this country was confronted by the gravest peril in its history - and I ask members of the Opposition to turn this point over in their minds - the people of Australia entrusted the administration of the country’s affairs, not to a conservative party, but to the Australian Labour party, which really represents the people. If any political party was ever condemned at the bar of judgment in its country’s hour of trial it was the conservative parties opposite. Tens of thousands of people who had never voted for a Labour candidate in their lives .voted Labour at that juncture. They said, in effect, “In a. great crisis these are the only people who can do the job effectively”, and the people of Australia virtually expressed the same opinion when they voted at the last general elections.
For some time the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) went around stunned at the thought that a political party could win an election without making promises. Still less did he believe that an election could be won on performance. There are loose-tongued people in the community who make most provocative statements. They may be Communists, and they may not. I have listened carefully to the speeches made at various time by the honorable member for Barker and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) and if I had read their utterances in a book without knowing the gentleman concerned, I should have thought that they were fascists. However, I am acquainted with them, and I know that, in fact, they are simply lambs in wolves’ clothing. I know that they are not as they sound. Indeed, I must congratulate the honorable member for Barker as being an absolute artist in provocation. During the war I had to listen to speeches from the honorable gentleman concerning Hitler and other people who were opposed to us. If those speeches had been made by a Communist or a Labour man he would have been living behind barbed wire to-day.
Many aspects of law and security are involved in the present debate and I shall leave them to be dealt with by thee Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). However, there are some matters which I wish to make quite clear to honorable members and I intend to emphasize them before concluding my speech. Members of the political party to which I belong have as much love for this country and the safety of its people as have the members of any other political party. Honorable members opposite should not think that they possess a monopoly of love of country. Members of the Australian Labour party have always been independent in their regard for the welfare of the people. We have consistently advocated changes designed to improve the lot of the mass of the people of this country, and I think that that is proved by our political record. I remind honorable members that the -Australian Labour party has again and -‘again received the endorsement of the ]people. At the same time I wish to make it perfectly clear that that party’s principles are diametrically opposed to those of communism. I do not intend to weary the House by reading the text of resolutions adopted by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party, but year after year that body has expressed, on behalf of the Labour movement in Australia, its strongest opposition to the Communist party. As I said previously, it is true that in every political party, including the Australian Labour party, there are radicals and militants. However, many of those people are perfectly honest and quite sincere and have no association with Communists. Honorable members opposite cannot blame the Australian Labour party for that. Seated immediately behind the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) is an honorable member who is personally very decent. No one would contend that he is the type who would seek to govern the country with machine guns or to enslave men, but on the fringe of the political parties opposite are the slave-drivers, the “sweaters”-
Opposition members interjecting,
– Let me correct myself in case I have given a false impression. I say that behind honorable members opposite are a number of people, the old die-hard conservatives, the old tories, the low wage advocates, the “sweaters”, the rack-renters, the “ money-bags “-
– Is the right’ honorable gentleman serious?
– I say to the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) that in the town in which he lives, or in the one in which I live, I can indicate the men who subscribe to the funds of political parties and I can tell him what political parties they support.
– We can indicate a few who subscribe to the Australian Labour party’s funds.
– Behind the political parties opposite are objectionable people, whom- honorable members opposite would disown and whom the Leader of the Opposition would disown. In the same way there are on the fringe of the Australian Labour party men who are quite sincere, but quite radical and militant, whose views could easily be misinterpreted as expressions of disloyalty.
I have seen a great deal inside the industrial and political Labour movement, and I have read some history. I shall not have another opportunity of speaking during this debate, but for the benefit of any honorable members opposite who may advocate the imposition of a ban on minorities, I wish to emphasize that I have never known of any minority movement in history that has not grown stronger by repressive action. Let me emphasize that never is liberty more easily lost than when we think we are defending it. My recollection embraces the history of quite a few minority movements. Some were religious, some were political and others were national in aim. Strenuous efforts were made to repress many of them, but in almost every case they grew stronger by repression. I have said in this House before that the people will not finally accept brutal, repressive action. We can overcome communism in only one way. Communism can only be beaten by improving the conditions of the people, because bad conditions are the soil in which it thrives. There is talk of gaining political advantage or positions in Parliament, but to me liberty is far more important than (hat. I should not be- a member of this Parliament to-day if some tolerance had been extended to the men who took part in the strike of 1917. Ali that that harsh and oppressive treatment did, a& far as I was concerned, was to transform me, with the assistance- of my colleagues, from an ordinary common engine-driver to the Prime Minister of this country. If an example of what harshness can do is required, my presence in this Parliament should be sufficient.
– Then the right honorable gentleman is only here for vengeance.
– This- Government will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to encourage the trade unions to prevent their control by Communists. The unions have got to do that themselves; it is their task. From the political and defence points of view, the Government will do everything possible to provide that neither Communists nor fascists are associated with the work of ensuring the security of Australia. “We shall not begin to chase shadows. If a ban is imposed on the Communist party, it will merely change its name, as it did in Canada, and go on in exactly the same way. “We are going to fight communism m the open.
– The right honorable gentleman is not going to fight it at all. What is he talking about?
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has the most lamentable record of any Minister in the fight against communism.. I have been endeavouring to read his speeches on this subject and as honorable members will realize, that is somewhat of an ordeal.
– It is an ordeal for the Prime Minister to read anything.
– We know what the Government in which the honorable mem ber was a Minister did in the matter of the Crimes Act. If there are persons in this country who are seditious, treasonable or subversive, there are laws under which they can be dealt with, and this Government will deal with then
Mr. FADDEN (Darling DownsLeader of the Australian Country party)
Australian Country party and myself wholeheartedly with the motion of censure before the House. The Prime Minister’s effort adequately and appropriately to reply to it was lamentable. He made excuses for the existence of a party which, if he had any sense of Ms responsibility as the custodian of the safety of Australia, he should recognize as being a menace to the future welfare of this young nation. Any one who listened to the right honorable gentleman’s reply must’ have recognized that the Communist menace stands out as distinctly as the beam of a light-house in the night, or as clearly as the red light on the hill that the Prime Minister apparently cannot discern or is not courageous enough to endeavour to extinguish. Surely the right honorable gentleman and those who sit behind him will not endeavour to convince themselves, rauch less, the people of Australia, that there is no menace- in Australia of the same kind as- that which is menacing the lives, freedom, and hopes for the future of the people of Europe and of the world generally. The right honorable gentleman said that the Government had this matter in hand, that it had conducted investigations and had obtained reports on it and had traced the activities of the Communist party in the Public Service. That reminds me of the country fire brigade with an up-to-date fire engine which used buckets of water with which to put out fires.
The Prime Minister stated that communism is to be expected in countries that have given scant consideration to the well-being of their people, and have allowed them to suffer poverty and privation. Even if that were true, it would not provide any excuse foi- the existence of communism in Australia. In season and out of season, the Australian Labour party “ skites “ that, under- the control of the present Government, Australia is to-day in a better position than ever before. The right honorable gentleman cannot have it both ways. He cannot say that we are entering into the golden age and that this Government is serving the people better and more wisely than any of its predecessors have done or any of its successors are likely to do and at the same time make the excuse that privation, poverty and the absence of proper social services have led to the existence of communism here.
During the last few weeks there has been abundant evidence ‘n Queensland of the existence of revolutionary communism. In that State a government of the same political complexion and brand as the present Australian Government has been in power for 30 of the last 33 years. Oan it be asserted, using the Prime Minister’s argument, that communism is justified in Queensland to the extent- to which it has recently exerted itself, and under circumstances in which this Government did not lift a finger to help to solve the problem that was bringing misery upon a million of our citizens ?
The right honorable gentleman went back to the dark and dismal ages - to 1917. If any evidence was required of his apathy in regard to communism, surely he let the cat out of the bag this afternoon when, by inference, he showed some sympathy for Communists by saying that he would not lift a finger to suppress freedom of expression unless that expression was subversive or seditious. Does the Prime Minister or the members of his Government require any more evidence than was presented this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) of seditious utterances and subversive activities by the Communist party in Australia? The Leader of the Opposition proved beyond any doubt at all to any reasonable person that the Communist party is seditious and subversive in both its expression and its actions. Surely the Government does not need any more evidence of the evolution, growth and menace of communism in this country than has been provided by the events in Queensland during the last few weeks and by the events in Victoria a few weeks earlier.
The Prime Minister began his speech by asserting that the Bruce-Page Government in 1925 did nothing to combat communism. I would remind him that it was the Bruce-Page Government which amended the Crimes Act and made it th, effective instrument that is now avail able to the Attorney-General to deal with the circumstances that exist in this country to-day. But that law has not been applied in any way whatsoever. I remind the Prime Minister that it was the Menzies Government that placed a ban on communism in June, 1940. It was also the Menzies Government that gaoled the two Communists, Ratliff and Thomas; but it was the Labour Government which released them, and it was the Labour Government which, at the instance of the present AttorneyGeneral, lifted the ban against communism on the excuse and pretext that the Communists had given a promise that they would be “ good boys “ in the future. Those pledges have not been kept in any respect. Has the Attorney-General, who is the custodian of the law in this country, lifted his finger to take effective action to deal with the Communists who by their actions have violated the terms and conditions under which the ban wa<* lifted against communism?
The Communist party has used Australia, in the post-war years, as a testing ground to prepare its members for the revolution, in which they hope to secure power for themselves and all associated with them. It is not a mythical statement to say they believe in “ bloody revolution “. There is evidence of that in the force, brutality, and disregard of the law which has- been exhibited in Queensland in recent weeks. Communists, who -are self-confessed traitors and assert that they are proud of it, have infiltrated’ into key positions not only in the industrial field, but also in the Public Service of this country. That is a fact which cannot be denied or countered by a mere statement in this House. It is well-known that the Communist party has its cells in many important government departments of this country. I challenge the AttorneyGeneral to produce the report with regard to the activity of a Communist who is an interviewer in the Rationing Departmentin Queensland. I challenge him also to lay on the table the reports received of the general activities of Communists in Queensland, not only in industrial movements, but also in the Public Service. The Communists have even exerted control of this country’s foreign policy. For several years Communists have placed a completely illegal ban on Dutch ships and the Government has not lifted a finger to end this gratuitous insult to one of our allies during the recent war. Dutch nationals fought side by side with Australian soldiers at a time when Russia was collaborating with Nazi Germany and was negotiating a five years’ neutrality and friendship pact with Japan. Ships under Dutch master* were responsible for saving many Australian lives in the Pacific and especially around the Japanese infested islands adjacent to our shores. At the height of the war the Labour Government lifted the ban on the Communist party and it has allowed the Communists, ever since, to take control of the transport and shipping services of this country, to the detriment of Australia’s reputation, both internally and externally.
Time and time again Communist leaders of key unions such as those of the miners, waterside workers, iron workers, and other industrial workers have instigated a series of stoppages in this country with the object not of improving the conditions of the workers but- of disrupting industry, retarding production, and hindering post-war recovery. The same thing has occurred in every country where the Communists have secured a footing. Communist leaders in Australia have been given frequent trips abroad at the expense of the Australian taxpayers and they have gone with the Government’s blessing and with the right of entree with a governmenttogovernment status. They have had the opportunity to visit places where they can report . on Soviet activities in Australia to their Soviet masters overseas. They have thus received wordofmouth instructions because instructions by other means are too dangerous for conveyance. Waterfront dislocations in Australia during the last few years have been an open scandal and everybody knows it, yet the Government has done nothing to remedy the position, although this country should be taking its fair share of general responsibility for the relief of the starving peoples of the world.- The truth, of course, is that the Government has succumbed to a form of industrial blackmail and has strengthened the Communists by appeasement after appeasement and by submission to Communist demands. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of the taxpayers’ money has been spent by the Government in such a way as to increase the prestige of Communist control. The unions which are noticeably so controlled, actually boast of the terms and conditions that have been obtained as a result of communistic influence. Meanwhile housewives run short of potatoes, while cargoes rot in the holds of idle vessels ; expensive ships lie at anchor everywhere, their holds crammed with materials needed to complete houses, and good Australian exservicemen have to live under conditions almost akin to those of the jungle where they fought for the liberty of this country. Streamlined arbitration machinery has been evolved to deal with waterfront conditions, and a panel of conciliation commissioners has been provided, yet waterfront conditions continue to deteriorate and to become more and more chaotic at the expense of the law-abiding people of this country. Communist activity in the mining industry is serious, since we need coal to boost production. It is a sorry fact that while nearly 15,000,000 tons of black coal was produced in 1942-43, at the height of the war, nearly a million tons less was produced last year.
The Communist party has placed its members in key positions in the industrial and governmental activities in this country, and these potential revolutionaries are a serious menace to the country and a decided help to any Communist activity. Their poisonous doctrines are preached to every group within their grip. These Communist advocates lecture external affairs cadets, and they have received appointments to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and in the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, where they are in a position to advise soldiers in Japan on post-war conditions in Australia. They have been traced to the Rationing Commission, where they occupy positions as interviewing officers who have direct contact with the public. They also represent us at international conferences where they have full opportunity to distort the Australian point of view. We have all read the statements made by Mr. Sharkey the other day in India about the White Australia policy.
Despite the example of post-war Europe and Asia, despite the .findings of a royal commission in Canada about the activities of Communists in that country, despite the reports of congressional committees in the United States of America, and tho complaints made from time to time by members of this Parliament, the Government has shown complete indifference to the activities of disloyal elements in the Public Service. It has been guilty of the most culpable negligence in allowing these red elements to gain a foothold, and in shielding them from the just retribution which their disloyalty warrants. Thu Communist party is allowed to pursue it* traitorous .and treasonable way in Australia unhindered by ‘government restriction of .any kind, and unhampered in it« criminal activities by prosecution under relevant Commonwealth statutes.
The people of Queensland are now abls to sympathize with the Dutch because, while the railway strike and waterside strike were in progress, transport in that State was subject to the same sort of interference from Communists as has Dutch shipping for so long. Queensland was blockaded just as effectively as if a state of war prevailed. All shipping was idle, with consequent hardship ‘on thu people. ‘The ban imposed on the -import and export of goods, and on the loading and unloading of ships, did not arise out of .any dispute between -employer and employee. It resulted from the action -cif the Communists in grabbing at .an opportunity to enhance their prestige, as they thought. It was asserted by the Communist leaders who controlled the strike that it was not a sympathy .strike, but a strike in protest against legislation which the wharf labourers did not like, .although the legislation had been passed by the Parliament of Queensland, and assented to by the King’s representative. In other words, the .strike constituted a show of force against the democratically elected representatives of the people by a group of red agitators in control of a body of dupes on the waterfront. The Communists threatened to cause disruption throughout the whole of Australia, and to blockade every Australian port, if one of their number was apprehended and imprisoned for the contempt of court of which he was adjudged guilty.
In Queensland, cargoes of primary products had piled up for months past. For instance, ‘over 1S’0,000 tons ‘of sugar, ali from last year’s harvest, and worth about £3,500,000, was held up. The sugar was needed for the British market, and for southern States where white sugar is practically unprocurable. Crushing prospects for the coming season are gravely menaced. The dairying industry fared little better. Over ‘5,000 tons of butter, worth £1,250,000, piled up in cold stores along the Queensland coast. This butter was .also destined -for Britain. An illfated sorghum consignment of 1’6.00 tons, and 4,000 tons of maize for which France will pay over £500,000 are also held up. This should now be on its way to Europe to feed people who are half-starved. The wool industry, upon which Australia ‘ relies so much for maintaining dollar balances, has also been gravely affected. Over £.Z,500;QQ0 worth of wool sold in Brisbane at the February auctions cannot be exported. The scheduled .sale of a further 100,000 bales has been delayed, and growers will have to wait for payment until it is shipped. About 500,000 tons of beef is in store ^awaiting shipment, and further quantities, which could have been made available in each of the months of February and March for export, -are still in the paddocks. The total value of these surplus primary products piled upon the wharfs and in stores,, in Queensland alone, awaiting the good graces of the Communist .bosses before they can be shipped, is between £10^000,000 and £12,000,000.
However, that is only part of the story. The position regarding imports into Queensland was just as grave. Up to last week, -over 15,000 tons of cargo destined for Queensland ports was offloaded in Sydney from overseas vessels alone. At one time during the week, no fewer than eight overseas ships carrying essential cargo for Queensland refused to call at Queensland ports during the strike, and were diverted to southern ports. Included in their cargoes were such essential goods as tractors, farming equipment, tinplate, motor parts and motor bodies. Two -overseas ships, which Queensland waterside workers would not unload., had to be removed to Sydney, and their cargo was sold in the southern States. The figures which I have cited do not include the normal interstate cargoes of which Queensland was also deprived by the action of the watersiders. It can be understood, therefore, that the people of Queensland will not appreciate the statement of the Prime Minister today when he sought to brush aside the suggestion that Communists constituted a menace to Australia. The Prime Minister said that he did not believe in banning minority parties and that, in his opinion, the philosophy of the Communist was such that it should not be interfered with or suppressed. The exfuse is always made, that if effective action is taken, say, under the Crimes Act, against the Communists, it will only make martyrs of them, and drive the organization underground. According to that illogical process of reasoning, it would not he wise to take action against any body of criminals because it might result in driving crime underground. If the Attorney-General is sincere in offering that excuse - I will not accept it as an explanation - he was paying a poor compliment to the Commonwealth Security Service by admitting, in effect, that it is incapable of dealing with the position should the Communist menace be driven underground. That is certainly an admission of defeat, and of inability to enforce the law. According to the argument of the Prime Minister, it would appear that a number of German exprisoners of war could form a branch of the Nazi party in Australia without any objection being raised by the Labour party, and that a group of Italians would be entitled to establish branches of the Fascist party in this country. The Ku Klux Klan has a political philosophy, so there would, presumably, be no objection from the Labour Government if that organization decided to commence activities in Australia. The Black Hand Society of Sicily dabbled in politics. Therefore, to be consistent, the Labour Government would not be able to ban it in Australia. The main reason why all those organizations deserve to be banned is because they are only incidentally political organizations. Their real object is to use brute force to destroy the very laws and institutions which allow them to flourish. The Communist party is a revolutionary party. Make no bones about that! It is only incidentally a political party.
We believe in the Four Freedoms; but, sometimes, conflict arises between the freedoms themselves. If freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom of religion can be guaranteed only by curtailing freedom of expression, then, any sensible man would not burke the issue as the Government is doing. The Government claims that the Communist party stands for a political philosophy. Imagine a state of affairs in which a number of Japanese in Australia set up a branch of an organization and called it the Black Dragon Political party. Assume that their rules compelled members to overthrow the Australian Commonwealth by the physical force of a bloody revolution. If those Japanese, when established, took control of our major trade unions, declared and carried out an effective ban on American shipping and blockaded one of the Australian States for many weeks, would the Government continue to allow them to flourish just because they called themselves a political party, and, therefore, in the view of the Government expounded a political philosophy? Yet, the Communists are doing these very things daily, unmolested by the Government. They are thus endangering the lives of the citizens of this country, and damaging our welfare externally and internally. The Government can no longer side-step this important issue. The overwhelming majority of Australians demand from the Government such resolute action as will restore public confidence, quell industrial unrest, increase production and restore the living standards of the community. The Government is face to face with the Communists this time; and Labour must make a straightout declaration of its attitude towards the Communist party. The Government can no longer bypass the issue. It must declare whether it believes the Communists, or whether it recognizes the Communist party to be a menace and will effectively deal with it. Up to the present we have had no declaration from the leaders of the Government as to where they stand in the face of this indisputable menace that threatens, not only Australia, but also the British Empire. I put it to the Attorney-General that he should declare unequivocally whether the Government believes the Communists, or whether it believes that communism is a real menace in Australia, as it is in other countries, and should say what the Government intends to do to deal effectively with this menace.
Sitting suspended from 5.SS to 8 p.m. “ Dr. EVATT (Barton- Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs) [8.00]. - The motion of censure before the House’ is one of great importance and accordingly must be seriously considered. This afternoon we had three speeches on the subject of the motion; first the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), then the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and finally that of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). I shall take leave to refer to them a little later, but I should like to say immediately that the speech of the Prime Minister covered the whole field of the subject-matter of the motion before the House in a way which must have appealed to every honorable member. The right honorable gentleman dealt with the relationship between the Labour movement, and the Communist party, proving conclusively that for 20 years or more there has been extreme opposition in methods and organization and in eligibility for membership between the Labour movement and the Communist party. He showed that throughout . a long period ‘before the outbreak of World War II. the attitude’ of the Labour party towards communism had been clearly defined; that Labour not merely opposed the Communists but also enforced a machinery rule that no person who was a Communist could belong to the Labour movement. However, it was not to that aspect of the Prime Minister’s speech, weighty though it was, that one would attach the greatest importance. The very greatest importance attaches to that portion of his speech which dealt with this subject as ‘a matter of principle, and it is as a matter of principle that I ask the House to regard the subject of the motion now before it. It is not merely a matter of this Government stating its opposition to communism and the two Opposition parties opposite stating their general attitude towards communism.
What we have to consider is how best we can tackle a subject of this kind in a democracy like Australia. One must see correctly what is involved in it. The motion before the House consists of five propositions but contains no positive suggestion for any action. The Leader of the Opposition simply concludes his motion by making a charge against the Government that it has failed to take any adequate steps to attack Communist activities in Australia, but he does not say what steps should be taken. The reason for that we shall soon discover. In my view, what has occurred between the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country party is that they have agreed upon the terms of a common motion because this motion represents the lowest common denominator of what they can agree upon, and they can agree on nothing positive whatever. The Leader of the Australian Country party has been consistent in his attitude towards communism. During the 1943 election campaign he advocated the deportation of Communists from this country. He did so again before the 1946 elections ; but on neither occasion did he meet with much support from the people of Australia, because such a proposal has only to be examined to show that it would cut right across fundamental freedoms in this country. 1 shall not refer to the views of the Leader of the Opposition on this subject in order to criticize him, but rather to suggest to the House that the right honorable gentleman does not believe in what is called the banning of the Communist party. He did not suggest this afternoon as a section of the pi-ess has been suggesting, week after week for the last four or five weeks, that a ban should be imposed upon the Communist party. He has always taken the lead in opposition to any such proposal. He had every opportunity to state his views, but the terms of his motion did not suggest that such a course should be taken nor did he advocate it during his speech. As the Prime Minister suggested, when the Leader of the Opposition was faced with the opportunity to make a positive proposal, he was able to offer nothing of a tangible character. However, the Leader of the Opposition is not to be criticized for his failure to impose a hail, if in fact he does not believe in the’ imposition of such a ban. What would be involved in the banning of the Communist party? To place a ban on the Communist party means that it would be necessary to pass a law providing that people must not approve of Communist ideas or objectives, and that it shall be a criminal offence for people to hold or to express views in favour of communism or to have dealings with other people who favour communism. Just imagine the extraordinary difficulties and injustices which might occur in the administration of such a law. Such a ban was certainly put into force by the present Opposition parties while they were in office during the war and it was continued at a time when Soviet Russia became an ally of Great Britain. “For months after the day that Germany attacked Soviet Russia, and. Mr. Churchill announced to the people of Great Britain that Soviet Russia was an ally in the war against Hitlerism and fascism, the ban was continued by the present Opposition leaders. Indeed, not until a Labour government had taken office was the ban removed. A few prosecutions were launched while the ban operated and certainly two men were interned. They had already been prosecuted and convicted and had served their sentences; but after their sentences had expired they were interned. In the circumstances,, it was proper for the Labour Government to rescind those internment orders because united effort against a common enemy could not be achieved while actions of that kind were allowed to continue. I make no apology, nor does the Government, for what was done. It is true also that, during the war period, the Communist party gave certain undertakings with regard to the maintenance of production. The Leader of the Australian Country party has said that those undertakings were dishonoured, but that is not so. My colleagues in the Ministry who have had to deal with great industries such as mining will agree that during the war period those undertakings were honoured. That is the history of the matter. Still earlier, a government of which the present Leader of the Opposi- tion was a member proposed to impose a ban upon the Communist party under the Crimes Act. In time of war, of course, such* action can be taken under our defence power, but in time of peace it is necessary to proceed through the Crimes Act. A court order is required, and before such an order can be issued, a case must be proved. To that end, proceedings were commenced in 1935 or 1936, but were abandoned by the then AttorneyGeneral, and no further action was taken. The inference to be drawn from the action of the present Leader of the Opposition on that occasion, and from his public expressions of opinion until recently, is that he does not believe in that method of countering a doctrine to which he, like members of the present Government, is opposed. I only wish that all the people of this country could have heard the speech made by the Prime Minister this afternoon indicating the objections to the proposition that is now advanced by the Opposition. The right honorable gentleman pointed out that it was almost impossible to fix an end to repressive legislation. Let us assume that a law was passed, that it surmounted the hurdles which confront Commonwealth legislation of that kind, and that it was enforced with the object of eliminating the Communist doctrine from the community. The passage of a law does not eliminate opinions. It is not possible to stop people from holding individual views. Step by step, we should be driven to excesses which eventually would revolt the people of this country. It is said that the Communist party would be driven underground. That would only mean that the Communists would not openly call themselves Communists. It would not mean that they would be forced physically to seek refuge in some special part of the Commonwealth. They would still be possessed of the same views and they would still meet. To have any real effect, punishment by imprisonment would have to be followed by detention in concentration camps, and, if we were really serious in our belief that the Communists were a perpetual menace to the country, Ave should have to go farther and endeavour to send them out of the country altogether, or to terminate their existence. There could be no other end to such legislation. “We should be driven from one step to another. The diaries of the man who was perhaps the greatest protagonist of views like these have been published recently. He was a little man, Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s chief propagandist from 1933, or earlier, until his death with Hitler in 1945. These diaries are revealing documents, worthy of study by anybody who wants to know what it) basic to our democracy - the things for which- we must fight and the things against which we must fight. There is “an interesting entry in Goebbels’s diary in 1942, made at a time when the government of this country in its hour of greatest peril had, as the Prime Minister said this afternoon, been entrusted to the Labour party, led by John Curtin. Goebbels said - 11ie Fuhrer fully endorses my anti-Bolshevik propaganda. That is the best horse we now have in our stable.
Of course, the horse was not running so well in 1942. Hitler had expected his troops to overrun Great Britain in 1940, but they had failed. In 1941 he had launched his attack on Russia, believing that the campaign would be over by the end of the year ; but it was not, although undoubtedly’ the Soviet forces had very nearly gone under. Hitler had tried to divide the Allies, which had united against German and Japanese fascism and militarism, but had failed, and now the best horse that he had left in his stable was anti-Russian propaganda. Goebbels also wrote -
He also approves of my tactics in letting the Bolshevik reports of victories go out into the world unchallenged. Let Europe get the creeps; it will regain its senses all the sooner. Besides, our anti-Bolshevik .propaganda is the apple of discord in the enemy camp.
And So it is in many respects to-day. It is the spirit of Hitler, Goebbels and the other international gangsters who caused “World “War II. that is latent in repressive legislation. Goebbels’s diaries make Hitler’s tactics quite clear. He started first with the “reds”. They were sent to concentration camps. They were a small but powerful section of the community. Then- he tackled members of the race which has been repressed by so many nations, the Jews. They, too, were sent to concentration camps. Then, becoming bolder, he turned “his attention to the trade union leaders and socialists. They were not Communists* but they were a menace to all the things that nazi Germany stood for - force and the promotion of militaristic and capitalistic interests generally. After that, the church leaders had to go, first the Catholics because they were a minority, then the Lutherans. Repression follows repression, and if a great democracy like Australia were to start on such a campaign, it would very soon be reduced from something of which we are all proud to something of which we should all be ashamed. That does not mean for a moment that I have any sympathy with communism. Earlier to-day the Prime Minister quoted the British Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, as saying that posts vital to security could not be entrusted to individuals holding extreme views. We are speaking now of communism, but there are people in this country whose views a-re equally violent in the opposite direction. I have been asked to-day to table in this House reports on Communist activities, but if I were to do that I should cover not only this table but a dozen others also. These documents are the property of the Commonwealth Security Service and they cannot be published. I could also table an equal or greater number of documents dealing with Fascist movements at present active in this country. But that cannot be done. The security service exists as a preventive and precautionary organization to protect this country against any danger that may come upon it suddenly. This afternoon the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) asked me a question about a person who was wrongly interned for a few months during the war. An inquiry was held and he received compensation. The point of the honorable member’s question was that he should receive more compensation. I am not criticizing the attitude taken on the matter by the honorable member or any other honorable- member, but when men were interned during the war against Japan, it was done to ensure the safety of this country. The only thing that -could be alleged against the Labour Government are not that it was too tender but that it was too tough and that the operation of the security service resulted in an injustice. Does any Australian think the Labour Government does not put the interests of Australia and the -British Commonwealth before the interests of any other country? Not one member of the Opposition really believes that it does not. But this propaganda grows like a snowball. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said, the part played by Communists in industrial stoppages1 and the policy of the Communist party are antithetical to the policy of the Australian Labour party, which has set up machinery for the settlement of disputes by arbitration. If we are just, we shall not attribute every industrial stoppage to Communists. These things occur as a result of many different factors. I was astonished at some of the remarks of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr.Fadden). I do not for one moment doubt his sincerity that he believes in what he advocates, but when it came to the point, the democratic spirit and ordinary humanity of the right honorable gentleman would prevent “him from doing the things he recommends when in opposition. I say that quite deliberately. I have studied the summary prepared for the press of the speech of -the Leader of the Australian Country party. It attributes to him this statement about the people of Queensland, which I suppose, will appear in the newspapers, although I did not hear him make the statement in the House -
Queenslanders have not forgotten the lack of consideration which they received during the war. The northern State was in the main the advance base for the American army for years, and its citizens had to endure deprivations, hardships, and shortages unknown in the other States.
I do not believe that that is the view of the people of Queensland. Queensland was the front line of Australia in the war against Japan and the people of Queensland, knowing that they were in the front line, did a magnificent job for Australia in the war. The right honorable gentleman was referring of course, to the recent Queensland industrial dispute, which lasted so long and did so much harm to the community. I agree with some of his comments, but the right honorable gentleman also said -
Queensland is still receiving the same lack of consideration and scant courtesy that it received during the war years. This state of affairs became acute during the past few months.
I think the right honorable gentleman, in making those remarks about the dispute was far afield from the motion before the House.
The Leader of the Opposition quoted from my paper on international affairs and accepted my statements there to show what is a fact, that in eastern Europe in one country after another a Communist government has been installed’ without the consent of the people. We know that. That is what we are fighting against. Carried to its logical conclusion, the policy of the Leader of the Australian Country party would establish a police state in which violence would be done by the Government without reference to law, justice or the courts. That is what we are fighting against. We shall not best show our disapproval of police states by creating a police state in our own country, or by means of laws of the kind that have been suggested.
I was struck by the fact that neitherthe speech of the Leader of the Opposition nor that of the Leader of the Australian Country party contained any positive proposal. That is significant. It seems to suggest that instead of this motion being a positive proposal for legislation, it is a propaganda instrument directed against the Government. The Government can stand up against propaganda. This is a fundamental issue. The Leader of the Opposition is wrong. The people of Australia do not want a police state. They detest communism, but do not believe in special legislative measures to deal with it. I contrast what is now proposed with what the Government did when there was an agitation to declare black the defence pro- ject known as the guided weapons testing range. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the fact that the Government introduced the approved Defence Projects Protection Act. That law was justified. It was passed by the House unanimously. Thus the Parliament deals effectively with particular subjects by passing laws relating to those subjects. The punishment is made to fit the crime. Butit does not pass laws declaring that certain political opinions shall not be held by people or that persons of those particular opinions shall not associate. One suggestion is that Communists shall not be permitted to associate and that if they do so they are to be treated as criminals.
– It is a criminal conspiracy.
– It is a criminal conspiracy if it is proved to be. If sedition can be proved, court proceedings may be taken. But one does not hear such suggestions. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is consistent. Other honorable members are following him. In 1942, in the middle of the war, he advocated some such thing as is now advocated by the others. But his views are on the extreme right. Let us consider what happened in the Queensland industrial stoppage. The law took its course. Some Communist leaders were charged with offences and were punished by the ordinary courts. That is how to deal with this matter, if there is an offence against the law.
Rather indirectly, but in a way that merits observation, the Leader of the Opposition introduced a more serious matter in relation to the Soviet Union. I do not dissent for a moment from some of his views. Even in international affairs, if countries are guilty or supposed to be guilty of actions that deserve condemnation, I do not think that condemnation should be reserved. But the stage may be reached when propaganda replaces argument and ascertainment of the facts. I fear that in respect of some parts of the right honorable gentleman’s speech that can be said. He referred to the fear of the people of another war. I do not desire to anticipate anything that may be said on another occasion, but one must be careful not to use the evils of communism in Australia merely as a means of inciting towards war abroad, because that involves very important questions that must be separately and carefully considered. So that is the position. We heard the Leader of the Opposition make no positive proposal and the Prime Minister indicated that it is a fundamental matter of principle. The prin ciple is that unless a positive breach of the law is alleged or proved against-. people, one should not ban people because of their general political views. The Communist party comes within that classification. The Communists must bedealt with as individuals, not as a party. Should any instances of breaches that could be proved come to the attentions of the Government, they would beso dealt with. No such case has ever been brought to my notice. Further, this is not merely a matter of the general democratic outlook of thiscountry. It is vital to democracy itself. I use against the Leader of the Opposition the very examples he put to the House. We cannot follow the examples set by the regime of Hitler, the regimeof fascism and, in some respects, the regimes in Eastern Europe. We are against totalitarianism under whatever name it may be paraded or may parade itself. We stand for political freedom and our method is to let the ordinary law of the land operate. So far as the security service is concerned, I repeat what the Prime Minister said this afternoon - that it is an efficient organization able to deal with extremist bodies, either of the right or of the left, and able at a moment’s notice to do its duty in any future eventuality, as undoubtedly it did its duty during the great crisis of” World War II. when the Japanese threatened this country and when our security was entrusted to a Labour government. It is still in the same hands, and we shall continue to safeguard the security of Australia and of every man, woman and child in the nation.
People should not allow themselves to be misled by propaganda of the kind that has been used in this debate without the support of one positive proposal representing any common view of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. The very word “ liberalism “ stands for political freedom. The great fighters for liberalism in Great Britain, like Gladstone, would regard with scorn such a proposal as that put forward by the Opposition. The attempt to apply the Coercion Act to Ireland and to put Irish leaders in gaol, not because they had been guilty of any offence but because it was thought to be in the best interests of the country to try and silence them, led to the growth of the Irish nationalist movement and, step- by step, to the temporary alienation of Eire from the United Kingdom. That is what political coercion does. To-day, people who at last understand what Gladstone and the Liberal party stood for are taking steps to restore good relationships between Eire and the United Kingdom. Communism can be suppressed, not by coercive methods hut in open encounter. We can deal with communism by applying the famous maxim of the great English poet and philosopher, John Milton : “ Let truth and falsehood grapple. Whoever knew truth to be put to worse in a free and open encounter ? “ Let the encounter he free and open. The Communist party will be dealt with by the methods of which the Labour movement in Australia approves and which it has adopted ever since its foundation in the ‘nineties.
.- I do not intend to devote a great deal of my time to endeavouring to answer the case put by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) or that put by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). The Minister fr r External Affairs talked a great deal about fascism, Hitler and Goebbels, and he took us all around the world, but only once or twice did he touch lightly on affairs here at home. He made great play on the alleged differences between the Liberal party and the Australian Country party with respect to their attitude towards communism. As he rightly said, there was a difference of views between the parties on this side of the House some time ago. The Australian Country party has long been in favour of outlawing the Communist party and of taking positive measures to discourage its growth, whereas, as honorable members are well aware, the Liberal party some time ago maintained that all political parties, among which we then included the Communist party, were entitled to hold their political beliefs and conduct their political affairs without hindrance of the law. Times have changed, and so, of course, has the attitude of this party. If the Minister for External Affairs doubts this, I remind him that his own opinions on this subject have changed, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out this afternoon. Only two years ago, the Minister declared in a report that he was quite satisfied that the Soviet Union would be fully occupied in developing itself peacefully and internally without any thoughts of foreign aggression. Advancement of the Communist ideology within the union, he considered, was the primary consideration of Russia. The right honorable gentleman would not pretend for a moment that such is the case to-day. We on this side of the House certainly do not think so.
The Australian Country party has always believed that we should take positive steps against communism, and the Liberal party has now reached the stage at which it also believes that such steps should he taken. The Minister for External Affairs asserted that the. Leader of the Opposition does not believe, as does the Australian Country party, in banning the Communist party. That that is very far from the truth is shown by a statement which was issued by the Leader of the Opposition on the 11th March, 1948. I shall read- it, because it sets out the attitude of this party -
Recent events have made it clear that Australian communism is treasonable, antidemocratic and destructive. In view of the gravity of the international situation and the vital importance of Australian production and transport, Communist activities can no longer be tolerated. The Parliamentary Liberal party has therefore decided to advocate and support a complete ban upon the Communist party and all other organizations which are Communist in aim or methods or are, in substance, controlled by communism.
That statement gives the lie direct to what the Minister for External Affairs has said about the Leader of the Opposition. J further say that, if the right honorable gentleman were not in favour of banning the Communist party and putting its members outside the law, he would not stand where he does to-day in the esteem of the Liberal party and of the Opposition in this Parliament. The Minister for External Affairs made great play on references to the police state, repression, and all that sort of thing. Nobody seriously believes that we favour a police state or would repress anybody. When we had the power to do so we did not exercise it. All we ask is that reasonable measures be taken to check communism in this country - measures such as those which have been taken in the United States of America, in Great Britain, and in Canada. We do not ask for a police state, and the Government and its supporters well know it. We ask for something which we have stated quite plainly in a way which can be understood by everybody.
Only two members of the Government have taken part in this debate so far. Nevertheless, it is already obvious that there has been a considerable change of the Government’s attitude since this subject was debated here last year. Then, it was the habit of the Government and its supporters to deny that communism existed as a menace in this country at all. They completely glossed over and poohpoohed the idea. One Minister at that time described communism as being “ next door to Christianity “. He spoke of the “ Christian Communist “, a phrase which I believe he will live greatly to regret. That was the general attitude of honorable members on the Government side of the House. They said there was no danger here at all. Because of that view, the Government did nothing about this state of affairs. Now, at last, we have made a little progress because the Government and its supporters at least do not deny the great influence of communism in Australia and in the world at large. Of course, it would be quite useless for them to attempt to do so because, since the last debate on the subject took place in this House, we have seen the melancholy progress which communism has consistently made in Europe and countries which have been so foolish as not to take positive steps to defend themselves against its menace. Recently in Queensland, disruption and dreadful suffering have occurred as the direct result of agitation whipped up by people like Rowe and other members of the Communist party. Honorable members opposite can pretend no longer that communism does not exist as a great menace in Australia to-day. To do them justice, they do not conceal their feelings. A few days ago, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), with whom we are seldom in agreement, said exactly what he thought of communism, and warned the workers of Australia where the Communists were taking them, and what would happen to the Australian Labour party. The Minister for External Affairs, in the’ statement which he submitted to the House on international affairs, recognizes precisely the same tendency in foreign; countries. But whilst honorable members opposite admit the growth of the evil, here, they are not prepared to do anything to combat it.
I propose to deal in detail with the third and fourth paragraphs of the motion, which read -
The view that recent events in Europehave proved that Communist minoritiesin countries outside the Soviet Union areorganized so as to overthrow by forcemajority rule in those countries, is not put forward only by members of the Opposition. Everybody should be aware of this situation. Any person who reads thenewspapers knows the facts. Any onewho takes the least trouble to keep himself abreast of international news from day to day realizes the truth. I ask: Isthere any reason to doubt that Communists in Australia are organized, and have exactly the same objectives as the Communists in European countrieswhich have been overrun? Can any onedoubt - giving this subject a local application - that persons like Thornton and’ Sharkey go abroad to attend Communist conferences in exactly the samerole as people like Gottwald, the Premier - of Czechoslovakia, and Dimitrov, the Premier of Roumania went abroad in: order to obtain a knowledge of the method of Communist teaching and Communist administration? Men like Thornton and Rowe are in exactly the same position in regard to Australia as the Communistswho have attained power in various European countries. Does any one doubt that those young Australians who, with theapproval of this Government, recently: went to Yugoslavia, intended to learn under Russian tuition the technique of” organizing a Communist revolution such.. as. has proved so successful in four or five European countries, with the direct object of trying similar action here? In Australia,, the Eureka Youth Movement, and the Young Communist League, are actively, conditioning the people for the state of affairs which has already overtaken so many other countries. No one;,, least of all honorable members who support the Government will doubt that that is the correct position of communism in Australia.
The Prime Minister offered a feeble defence for his policy of inaction. He said, “naively enough, if he believes it, that he regards communism as purely >. political party. What awful nonsense ! The Communists have never been a political party. For twenty years communism has functioned in. Australia, but a Communist candidate has never won a seat in. the Parliament of the Commonwealth, has never polled a sizeable proportion of the votes, and will never do so. In no country have the Communists polled a sizeable proportion of the votes when the people have been free to vote in accordance with their own wishes. The policy and teaching of the Communistsare not. designed to achieve democracy through the workings of democracy ; they seek to attain power through force. It is foolish for any one to imagine that politics is their *metier and method.. The Communist, party in. Australia is inexactly the same position in respect of Russia as the Nazi Bund in the United States of America was in respect of Germany before World. War II. In a public statement recently in Melbourne, the- Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell.) said that the suppression, of political parties and. movements hardlyever leads to their extinction. To-day, the Prime Minister expressed a similar view. Both speakers appeared to believe that the- suppression of a. political party leads to- its strengthening rather than to its- weakening and undoing. Somewhat rashly, the Prime Minister said that history showed that his thesis has nearly always been correct. I ask: Does history show anything of the’ kind? Of course it does- not! What is happening to-day in Czechoslovakia, and Roumania ? In those countries the democratic parties are being suppressed, and. driven under ground. Are they flourishing and increasing their strength because they have been suppressed? Does anybody suggest that through their internal strength, they will ever be able to throw off the yoke of communism? They will not! The only course open to us is to suppress the Communists not in the way in which they would suppress us, but to take active steps to prevent them from spreading as they have been able to do during the last few years.
– What active steps does the honorable member suggest?
– I shall describe them in a moment.
– We are hanging ou every word.
– I must make a further reference to the speech of the Prime Minister-. It must have been one of the most amazing speeches that any Prime Minister- of Australia has mad,: One of the phrases which he used’ must have remained in the minds- of his listeners. He explained that he entered’ politics primarily, and later became Prime Minister because of the bitterness which entered, into his- soul through the treatment which he received, in 1917. I propose to make a few com ments- on that statement. First, I am not greatly surprised to learn that that was the right honorable gentleman’s motive in entering politics, because this Government, to- an increasing degree, has whipped up bitterness, class- warfare and disagreeableness whenever the opportunity has presented itself. This has been ohe of the outstanding characteristics of the- right honorable gentleman. Thisafternoon the only thing- that he did effecttively was once again to bank the waning fires of class-consciousness and hatred in the hope of avoiding a proper reply to the contentions- of the Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister said that 30 years ago he resolved- to enter politics because of treatment which had been meted out to him.
– The honorable member is distorting what the Prime Minister said.
– The honorable mem.ber for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) knows that what I have said is correct.
In his broadcast to his constituents he is most active in denouncing the Communists. Is he prepared to take a similar stand in this House?
– Let us see how the honorable member for Eden-Monaro will vote.
– Order! These interjections must cease.
– Fortunately for Australia, everybody is not actuated by similar feelings of bitterness to those which drove the Prime Minister into politics. With great self-pity, he dwelt on his harsh treatment. While he was enduring his hardships other Australians were dying at Passchendaele - one of the greatest and most costly battles in the world’s history. Honorable members opposite may scoff and jeer, but that is the truth. It is fortunate for him that the survivors did not recall the strikes which were organized in Australia while they were fighting in France for this country. I do not say that the Prime Minister is a Communist; but any Communist who heard the right honorable gentleman’s speech this afternoon must have taken great heart and been most gratified. Of course, no action will be taken against the Communist party. That party is always to be within the law, and I suppose its members will continue to be assisted by the Government as they have been in the past. I say quite deliberately that they have been assisted; they have been granted buildings and telephone extensions ; to my certain knowledge they have been given petrol; they have been given passports to go abroad, and those passports have been issued almost en masse to enable them to attend international Communist schools. I realize how difficult it is for the Government to come out into the open and adopt a strong attitude and denounce the Communists, because in the past the Communists have been amongst its most ardent supporters. At the same time I realize that nowadays Communists find little favour with what we might call the great mass of labour, as opposed to the organized political party. The labouring people in Queensland, and their wives, have little cause, I should imagine, to sympathize with the Com munist party. However, on the hustings: Labour and Communist candidates go> very tidily in tandem. Members of theGovernment may laugh, but it is a fact,, as evidenced by happenings at the last general election, and it is obvious that at. the next general election members of the Australian Labour party and the Communist party will again run together. Obviously, the Communists will be political Labour’s greatest supporters. It is quite easy to tie up a policital campaign on a referendum with that sort of philosophy.
– Order ! The honorable member cannot tie up the referendum with this sort of philosophy.
– As I have said, I donot believe for a moment that the great mass of Labour people feel any sympathy with the Communists, but I do say that the Government has been pro-Communist in its attitude and actions, and it is because of the benevolent treatment which the Communists have received from it that communism has acquired such power in the land. It is . time that the Government realized that it is more than a “ Government of Caucus “ or of the Australian Labour party, and that its real function is to act as a government for the whole of Australia. The great mass of Australians to-day demand some sort of protection from the Communist menace, and that is borne out by the recent utterance of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). A recent Gallup poll disclosed that the majority of voters are in favour of positive measures being taken to ban the Communist party. If the Government will consult ex-servicemen’s organizations it will find that every one of them is prepared to support the imposition of a ban on Communists. Even the trade unions, despite the many drawbacks which exist to the free expression of opinion in their ranks, have come out openly and expressed themselves against the Communist party. They favour action of some kind being taken against the Communists, including Communist leaders of trade unions.
The attitude adopted towards Communists by the Australian Labour party reminds one of the case of the Earl of Buncle in The- Magpie- Pudding. In case honorable members have forgotten The Magic Pudding, I shall outline the circumstances. The Earl of Buncle was on one occasion in very great trouble, and he was saved from his difficulties by a character called Sam the Sailor. But when the whole affair had passed over did the Earl of Buncle demonstrate his gratitude to Sam the Sailor and give him his niece in marriage? No, he did not actually do that, but what he did is recounted in the book as follows: - “You are a noble fellow,” said the Earl of Buncle, “ and here is us. for your trouble. Any time you are around our way, just give a ring on the back door and there will always be a feed for you on the kitchen table and a few bob.”
That is exactly the position obtaining between the Australian Labour party and the Communist party to-day. Members of the Communist party have been “ around the back door “ pretty often, and they havealways found a “ feed on the table “ and a “ few bob “. The motion before the House is a straight-forward proposal. The imposition of a ban on the Communist party is a concrete issue in the country to-day, and the broadcast of this debate will be listened to with great interest. People are waiting to see what the Government is going to do. Members of the Government party cannot have it both ways; they cannot condemn the Communist party as they have done, exposing all the evils of’ the organization, and at the same time refuse to take any steps to combat it. The present moment represents the parting of the ways for political Labour ; it must either face up to the Communist menace, or admit that it is in favour of communism. If it is not prepared to take the least step to check the development of communism the people of Australia will not require any further proof that Labour is the political party which has been responsible for its growth and that it cannot bring itself to curb it.
.. - The motion at present before the House is a delayed action explosion. Just before the House suspended its sittings at Easter members of the Australian Country party wanted to move a motion for the adjournment of the House inorder todiscuss com munism. However, members of the Liberal party thought that the moving of such a motion so soon after the conversion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) on the matter of the imposition of a ban, would embarrass the right honorable gentleman too much. Therefore, a little more time was allowed to elapse, and another three weeks went by, in order that the right honorable gentleman might be presented as one who had always supported the imposition of a ban on the Communist party and really desired Communists to be suppressed with the full rigour of the law. However, the motion of the right honorable gentleman and the speech which he delivered showed no real desire on his part to impose a ban on the Communist party. All he mentioned in his motion is the necessity for “ adequate steps “ to be taken. However, he does not define what he means by “ adequate steps “ nor has any of his supporters. All that honorable members opposite say is : “ We must have some action against the Communist party.” The Communists, in their misguided way and with their wrongly based philosophy, at least stand for something positive; and one cannot defeat a positive ideal by a policy of negation. We cannot simply say, “ We shall suppress communism because we do not like the ideas on which communism is founded.” If we want to beat the Communists we must do something more than rail against them. We cannot hope to beat them by “Red-baiting “ ; we can defeat them only by removing the evils which give rise to communism. It is the traditional policy and belief of the Australian Labour party that capitalism is the cause of the world’s evils, and the political party to which honorable members on this side of the House belong came into existence as a protest, in our time and generation, and in those of our forefathers, against a syste based on class and caste and privilege. So long as we have the evils of capitalism operating in the country we shall have people who put forward all sorts of nostrums, quack remedies, and proposals to cure the ills of society. However, between the Australian Labour party and the Communist party there is an unbridgeable gulf; we have proclaimed it time and time again. We on this side of the House belong to the political party which the Communists have sought to capture. The Australian Labour party is , the party that the Communists have sought to destroy. The very fact that to-day it is the Government of Australia., with the numbers it has in both Houses of the Parliament, is evidence of the failure of Communist propaganda and of the sturdy common sense of the Australian people when confronted with a choice not only of Labour .against communism but also of Labour against any other political philosophy. The Australian Labour party has been attacked ever since the Communist party came into existence and began to put up its own candidate in opposition to selected Labour candidates. There was a time in the early days of the Communist party when its leaders said that the best advice they could give to their ‘Supporters was to follow the advice of Lenin, that is, to support the Labour party in the same way as the rope supports the condemned person. The philosophy of the Communists is that the Labour party must be eradicated before they can make any advance towards the seizure of political power. They want to remove the Labour party in order to present the people with an alternative between themselves and capitalism in the raw, but they will never achieve that purpose -so long as the Australian people have an opportunity to vote freely at elections and to be guided by .their own consciences when determining who shall govern this country. All the railing and the campaigns in the newspapers and elsewhere are inspired, and in fact financed, by people who do not like certain aspects of the legislation that has been introduced into this Parliament, notably the bank nationalization legislation. They make direct and indirect attacks upon us because they hope by that means to destroy the people’s confidence in us.
All the arguments that have been used to-night are stale arguments that have been used in this Parliament time and time again. I have in my hand a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald of the 1st June, 1945. It contains the report of a speech delivered by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) when he launched one of his earlier censure motions on the subject of communism. The Sydney Morning Herald reports the right honorable gentleman as having .said on the occasion of that debate -
The rise to power .of the Australian Communists is the most disturbing feature of our domestic affairs.
He said that in 1945, and he said the same thing to-night. He has been saying it for a long time. Honorable members opposite think that the people are prepared to believe them, but the right honorable member for Kooyong made that statement three years ago, and the Australian Labour party has won an election since then.
Upon that occasion the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) was not silent. He said -
The tin-cut «f communism cannot be lightly dismissed. The scope of industrial disturbance is limited, but growing. t
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) said -
The Government is worthy of -censure for its spineless handling of industrial matters. The Government has capitulated to .strong Communist pressure .groups.
Honorable members opposite are like a phonograph record .; they will all make the same speech to-night and to-morrow. The same thing will be said over and over again in the hope that -iteration and reiteration will convince some people that there must be some truth in what they say. That is the famous Hitler technique, which was to keep on repeating stories and blaming certain people for certain actions, so that perhaps a number of people would be convinced. On the occasion of the same censured debate the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said -
It is Communists who run political Labour, which in turn runs the country.
That nonsense did not delude the people in the election of 1946, it does not delude them in 1948, and it will not delude them in 1949.
I repeat that in order to remove the evils of capitalism and communism the people of Australia must support the only political party that can remedy the troubles from which society suffers. Honorable members opposite are not concerned about the troubles of society. They are hungering to get back to the bad old days when about 10 per cent, of the population was unemployed and could be used to break down working-class conditions and standards. They have forgotten the “ new order “ about which they talked while the war was on. It is never mentioned now. If we are to ‘avoid the -growth of communism in our midst we must take steps to ensure that every person in the community shall receive economic and social justice. When there is full employment, when every man has the food he needs for himself and for those dependent upon him, and when every person in the community has a house in which to live, there will be no communism,, because communism thrives on discontent and human misery.
If there were Communists in the depression years, who made them? Was it not the parties opposite which, when they comprised the government of this country, compelled the workers to starve themselves back to prosperity? I know the history of most of the Communists in this country and most of them joined the Communist party because they were out ‘of work and saw their families suffering. I know of people in the Labour party to-day who were Communists for a period hut left the Communist party and are now strong supporters of the Labour party. They are bitter opponents of communism, and ad’e bitterly attacked by the Communists. They were depression Communists. Communism grew in strength in this country during the depression years and will grow again if another depression is forced upon us either by international financiers or the stupidity of the people in electing antiLabour governments. The only way in which to protect society against “ isms “ that would disturb the existing order is by the continuous introduction of more and more legislation that will guarantee a fair deal to everybody in the community. That is all that the average person wants. He does not want much. He only wants a wa;ge on which he can live in decency, enough money to educate his children, a house to live in, security for his old age and security against the contingencies of illness and the like. The legislation that this Government has in troduced progressively, month after month and year after year, h ashelped to destroy the very soil in which communism thrives and flourishes.
I suspect that the Australian Country party is behind the whole of this campaign. It has -been agitating throughout. Australia for suppression of the Communist party. To be effective, a. ban must mean suppression. That would mean that most members of the Communist party - and they number only 15,000 now, although it was not so long ago that they numbered 28,000 - would have to be interned and maintained under guard. That would involve the community in the expenditure of millions of pounds a year and would divert man-power from productive work. Where in the English-speaking, world can one find any precedent for such action ? The governments of Britain and Canada are not suppressing the Communist party. In Canada the Communist party is not allowed to function openly, but in the Canadian provincial and federal legislatures there are people Galling themselves Progressive Laborites who aTe in fact members of the Communist party and are known to the authorities as such. One of them, a man named Rose, was sent to gaol because he was guilty of treasonable activities. Any member of this community, whether or not he is a member of the Communist party or a member of parliament, who is guilty of treason, ought to be in gaol. In Canada they sent Rose to gaol, not because he was a Communist, but because he was a> traitor. In Great Britain the Communist party flourishes openly, and it apparently has not done the things that some honorable members opposite suggest the Communist party is doing in this country.
According to a report in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 19th March, Mr. R. G. Casey, who is not unknown to honorablemembers opposite, said, “ All parties in England are very awake to the lively menace of communism. I believe it would he right to say that the danger here in London is well in hand “. Mr. Caseyis .not worrying about what is happeningin London, an-d his word should beaccepted by honorable members opposite..
Many of the dreadful things that are said about what the Communist party is going to do in this country are so much nonsense. Communists in Australia are not in a position to do any harm, and even if they were, we have a competent security service which would protect the community. That service does not devote itself entirely to a scrutiny of known Communists; it has also records of persons who support honorable members opposite. The Police Department in New South “Wales probed some apparently inoffensive women’s organizations which were afterwards described by the late Commissioner of Police in that State as neo-fascist organizations engaged in an attempt to resurrect the New Guard. This country does not want extremes of any kind. It can settle its own affairs in a spirit of reason, and not in a spirit of hate or vengeance or of wild hysteria.
Honorable members opposite know they have no record with which to go to the country. Their war record was hopeless; their, pre-war record was hopeless; and their post-war performances are equally uninteresting. And so, they have to start a “ hate “ campaign, or a “ fear “ campaign, realizing that it is probably true that the strongest emotion that actuates the human heart is fear. Knowing that fear affects the masses, whereas love affects only individuals, they have employed psychologists who spend their time wondering what stunt they can work, what slogan they can employ to influence the masses. They remember the effectiveness of such slogans as “ Hang the Kaiser “, and “ Make Germany pay “ with which Lloyd George won an election in earlier years.
The strength of communism in this country is not such as to inspire the fears which honorable members opposite would have the people believe. What has been said during this debate about other countries is like the flowers that bloom in the spring; it has nothing to do with the case. This House is asked to pass a motion of censure on the Government because recent events in Europe have proved that Communist minorities are nourishing in many countries. We have nothing to- do with what is going on in Europe. Anything done in this country cannot affect the course of events in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, or Austria. We can have our individual opinions about the use of terror as a political weapon. There is not a right-thinking person in the community who does not despise the use of terror as a political weapon. I believe that the murder of Nicola Petkov by Demitriov was a shocking event and so was the assassination of Mikailavitch by Tito. It was a return to barbarism, an evidence of a primordial instinct unworthy of a twentieth-century civilization. Those things cannot be justified by any reasoning. As I have said, things that happen in those countries are not the responsibility of this Parliament, and it is stupid in the extreme to drag in the events ‘ in Europe to try to make a case against communism in Australia.
The Australian Country party is blackmailing the Liberal party in this House and in every other parliament in Australia, and is attacking communism in order to divert attention from its own ineptitude and its failure to produce a positive programme to meet the needs of the people. According to this morning’s Melbourne Sun, the Leader of the Country party in Victoria, who is also Deputy Premier of that State, said at a Country party conference yesterday -
Unless the Victorian Government- in which the Country party holds half the seats - dealt effectively with the menace of communism, the Country party was not prepared to stay in the Composite Ministry.
That does not indicate a strong united front against communism. Certainly the Leader of the Opposition did not speak with any great enthusiasm when submitting his motion, but he had to express the views of a number of his supporters -
– It was a unanimous decision of our party.
– I oan well understand that the Leader of the Liberal party might disagree with a unanimous decision of his colleagues and still be right. The Leader of the Opposition was dragooned into submitting this motion because the Australian Country party is engaged in a campaign of political blackmail throughout Australia. It has never done anything else. It has no philosophy, no ideology; it is only a “ rump “ party which uses its power for the purpose of getting office and perquisites for its members, and disregards entirely its election promises if they stand in the way of the personal aggrandizement of its members.
– It is a party of syndicalists.
– That is so. Members of the Australian Country party might even more aptly be described as “ philosophical anarchists “.
If we are to make this country great, we must first redeem our promises of the war years. When that has been done, communism will not be able to thrive and so retard Australia’s development. During the war years, when lives and property were endangered, honorable members opposite, who stand for the rights of property, talked a great deal “about a “ new order “. I could regale the House with statements made by the Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister about the “ new order “ which would follow the war. The Melbourne Herald, of the 12th June, 1941, had large headlines - “ New Order After War, Says Mr. Menzies - Social Inequalities Disappearing “. If it were true that social inequalities were disappearing, the danger of communism was” disappearing also. The census of 1933 revealed that 20 per cent, of the people of Australia owned 80 per cent, of the country’s wealth. In other words, 80 per cent, of the people were in economic bondage to the other 20 per cent. Is it any cause for wonder that some people advocate violent methods to destroy a state of society which does not permit the mass of the people to own their own homes? On another occasion the then Leader of the Opposition said -
We have scarcely realized what the immense effect of carrying all the burdens of this war must be on the whole of our industrial, financial and social structure, and for myself - I make no bones about it- I have not the faintest interest in the restoration of the old order.
That was Mr. Menzies in 1941-
I have not the faintest interest in the status quo. People who imagine that at the end’ of the war, we shall shrug our shoulders and go back to the old privileges and comfortable living have a lot to learn. There can be no restoration of the status quo.
This campaign is only part of an attempt to restore the status quo - a state of society that produced all the ills from which this country suffered; that caused the depression with all its attendant evils; that led to a falling of the birth-rate, the effect of which is so obvious to-day. The restoration of the status quo would mean malnutrition, which in turn would lead to an increase of the scourge of tuberculosis. All these things came out of the depression years. As people found employment under this Government during the war so communism, to the same degree, weakened. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride)-
– He is a capitalist.
– Well, he is a very wealthy man, and I do not blame him for fighting for his interests. If I had a fraction of his wealth, and were similarly minded, no doubt I should do the same as he is doing, but I belong to the great mass of the people who have nothing to sell but their labour. I do not believe that a few people in the community should control the means of production, distribution and exchange, but I do not blame the minority who exercise this power for trying to defend their interests. However, I believe that the interests of the mass of the people should be served. If it is true, as is unfortunately the case, that in many instances Communists are in control of trade unions, no action by a ‘government can remedy the position. The remedy is in the hands of the unionists themselves, who should attend their union meetings and take charge of their own affairs. If the great mass of unionists are too apathetic ; if they want to go to the races or to amuse themselves in other ways while other people get them into trouble, they must pay the penalty. I believe in the right to strike, and this right is upheld by the Labour party, but in these days the number of strikes should be reduced to a minimum. There ought to be very few strikes, because arbitration machinery has been set up to enable claims to be heard speedily. Unfortunately, there are stupid strikes, and there are strikes with a. political aspect. Those evils cannot be cured by anything which this Parliament may do. The unionists should take their own -affairs in hand. The trouble in Queensland was not a Communist-inspired strike at its inception. The railway workers in Queensland had legitimate grievances, just as the tramway workers in Melbourne had legitimate grievances early this year. Later, the Communists entered the field, and tried to fan the workers’ discontent, and use it for their own ends. It is for the workers themselves to throw off their apathy, and take an intelligent interest in what is going on. If they do this, the. control of unions by Communists will be as impossible as is the control of this Parliament by Communists. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) said that the Communists had never been able to win an election. Generally, the Communist candidates even lose their deposits. That is proof that, at heart, the Australian people are right. The common sense of parliamentary representatives elected on an adult sufferage can be depended upon to deal with a menace of any sort. A government representing a majority of such elected representatives has led the people through difficult years in the past, and can be relied upon to do so in the future. Members of the Australian Country party declare that something must be done about Communists, and then, in the most scandalous and vilifying fashion, accuse every member of this party of being a Communist. They even say that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) is a supporter of communism. Mr. McDonald, the Deputy Premier of Victoria, was mean enough, and contemptible enough and dirty enough at a conference of the Australian Country party the other day to declare that if the Prime Minister was not a Communist, he was the Communists’ best friend. The Prime Minister is worth a whole paddock-full of McDonalds, and his name will be remembered with honour long after Mr. McDonald and every other member of the Country party throughout Australia have been forgotten. No member of the Labour party is a Communist. The Labour party has no association, direct or indirect, with the Com- munist party, or with any other political party. It groups all those who vote against Labour among the opponents of Labour. The honorable member for Henty said that when the referendum was held the Labour party would travel in tandem with the Communists. I know that the Communists are trying to destroy the confidence of the people in the Labour party over the matter of prices. I have here a Communist party poster depicting the Prime Minister, and bearing the title : “ Wanted for Robbery “. That does not look as if the Labour party is associated with the Communists. The Communist party has a most unfortunate habit of embarrassing, not of assisting the Labour party.
– Then why doesn’t the Government reciprocate?
– We treat the Communist party in the same way as wo treat the two parties to which the honorable’ member for Barker (Mr. ArchieCameron) has belonged. I do not know whether the Australian Country party was any more sorry to lose him than the Liberal party was to get him. At any rate, we have always had to contend with the opposition of the Communists at election time. They have not concentrated on anti-Labour candidates while leaving Labour candidates alone. Generally, they have attacked the Labour party in industrial areas in earnest, while making one or two token attacks upon the candidates of other parties.
We have heard a lot, by interjection and innuendo, to the effect that the Russian Legation in Canberra i3 associated with the dissemination of Communist propaganda in Australia. I believe it to be true that the conduct of the Soviet Legation in Australia is as correct as that of any other Legation in this country. Honorable members opposite- who, a few years ago, were in the habit of attending functions at the Russian Legation, have a lot of squaring-off to do- if they believe that what they are now saying is: true. If it is true now, it must have been true then. They are only fooling themselves if they try to persuade themselves that the Government has reason to believe that the Soviet Legation has done anything to spread communism in Australia. It is the stupidity and cupidity of capitalism that baa spread communism. In the political and economic sphere, I do not believe that there is any short way to salvation. I believe in the evolutionary method. I believe that those who can persuade a majority of the electors of the wisdom of their policy have the right to govern. In a democracy we have this paradox - that the people have a right to go wrong. If they make mistakes in their choice of representatives they will repair those mistakes at the next election. The people made a lot of mistakes when they kept returning anti-Labour governments to power, but. the anti-Labour parties have now been out of power for so long that they have forgotten what the inside of a ministerial office looks like, and they will remain out of power for a long time to come. The- way to solve the problems of this country is for the people to continue in office the Labour party which is the party of sanity, and to refuse to listen to the siren voices of those who believe that a policy of hypocrisy and hysteria is an alternative, or satisfactory substitute, for sanity in politics. The destinies of Australia are perfectly safe in the hands of an Australian Labour Government.
– I do not propose to reply to the speech of the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell’) ; I shall reply to that of his Leader, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), because- both adopted the same line, the Communist line. They appeared as specious pleaders for the Communist party. They devoted the whole of their speeches to whitewashing it and denying its effectiveness in Australia. They tried to lead the people of Australia to believe that the Communist party is very small numerically and has no effectiveness whatever in Australia.
The Prime Minister’s first comment upon the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies)’ was that the opposition panties had not offered any suggestions to the Government as to what it should: do to control the Communist menace. Yet the Minister- for Information in Bis speech said’ that. the. workers themselves should! throw off Communist control of: the trade unions. That is one phase- of Communist activity about, which we complain bitterly; bat the Government, which always declares that it is opposed to- the Communist party, has failed to give any help whatever to trade Unionists to get rid of Communist control. On the contrary, it has appointed Communists to high positions. For instance, it has appointed Mr. Healy to the Stevedoring Commission, and allows him to remain a member of that body although he has betrayed the trust the Government reposed in him. While a member of the Commission which was created to prevent strikes, Healy proceeded to Queensland, where he incited trade unionists to take part in strikes in protest against legislation passed by the Hanlon Government. Tonight we must- not mince matters ; we must say plainly that what is happening in the world’ to-day is that Soviet Russia through the Communist party is waging an undeclared war on the democracies. Just as - the Leader of the Opposition in his speech, this afternoon cited the testimony of various, witnesses to substantiate his case, I remind honorable members of what the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) said in his monumental report on external affairs presented to the House just before it adjourned for the recent recess, with regard to the revival of the Cominform in Europe last year. He pointed out that immediately the Cominform was revived Communist-inspired strikes broke out in Italy and France. He could have added in many other countries also,, because strikes in their most virulent form broke out in Australia, particularly in Queensland, where the recent transport strike involved the State in a loss of £20,000,000 and caused unprecedented poverty among the people and. a. serious decline in the ordinary standard. of living, which will probably- take many $ears to recover… Therefore, it is useless, for the people of this- country, to listen, to. honorable members opposite who. are defenders of communism. We- .have, to pay regard to. what the Communists’ themselves say about what they ace doing. I quote the following statement from evidence given by Igor Gouzenko, before the Canadian Royal Commission which inquired into Soviet spying- activities, in. Canada.. The commission in its. report, stated* that in its opinion Gouzenko’s evidence was thoroughly reliable. He said -
Holding forth at international conference!) with voluble statements about peace and security, the Soviet Government is simultane.ously preparing secretly for the third world war. To meet this war the Soviet Government is creating in democratic countries, including Canada, a fifth column, in the organization of which even diplomatic representatives of the Soviet Government take part. . . .
To many Soviet people here and abroad it is clear that the Communist party in democratic countries has changed long ago from a political party into a fifth column in these countries to meet a war; into an instrument in the hands of the Soviet Government foi creating artificial unrest, provocation, &c.
That is the position in Australia to-day. The Communist party, on the evidence of its own literature and activities, looks to Russia for its instructions and obeys them absolutely. Therefore, I say that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Information are doing their country a great disservice when they refuse to face up to this menace, which threatens the existence of Australia and democracy as we know it in the Commonwealth to-day.
The Prime Minister complained that since 1925 statements have been made by members of the Opposition parties concerning the danger of . the Communist menace. He referred particularly to statements made by Viscount Bruce when the latter was Prime Minister of Australia. All I have to say on that matter is that Mr. Bruce, as he then was, displayed far greater foresight than the Prime Minister or any of his colleagues displays to-day. In 1925, Mr. J. S. Garden was one of the leading Communists in Australia. In fact, he was the founder of communism in this country. We find that the same Mr. Garden was employed in the service of the present Goernment during the war years, from 1940 until last year, in a most confidential position in the Ministry of Labour and National Service. He was appointed to that position by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) when the latter waa Minister for Labour and National Service, and he was continued in it by the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway). The Prime Minister also complained about the attitude of the Opposition parties in criticising the Communist party in 1929. Sharkey in his Outline History of the Australian Communist Party says that the Communist party did not put up any candidates at the general elections in 1929 but supported the Labour party at those elections. Did the Labour party exhibit any unwillingness to accept the support of the Communist party in those days? Certainly not; and although, today,, honorable members opposite pretend to deny any association with the Communist party Labour candidates are only too willing to accept the support of Communists when they believe that it is to their advantage to do so. Sharkey also points out in his book the strong position which the Communist party still held at that time, 1944, in the miners’ organizations. The Prime Minister claimed that Viscount Bruce did nothing to deal with the Communists, yet we find that Mr. Sharkey complains bitterly about what Mr. Bruce did when he amended the Crimes Act to deal with the Communist party as one of the most dangerous menaces to Australian life. We can go right down the list in order to show that the Prime Minister’s charges are unfounded. On the contrary, the evidence reveals that there has been the closest affiliation during the last 20 years between the Communist party and the Australian Labour party. The Prime Minister then said that there was no mistaking his party’s position with regard to communism. After listening to his speech this afternoon I am sure that honorable members will agree that there can be no mistake at all about the Government’s position with respect to Communists, which is that the Government does not intend to do anything at all to hamper the Communists or to embarrass them in their work in Australia.
The Prime Minister declared that communism arises primarily as the result of the conditions existing in a country. Communism has existed for many years in Russia. Does the right honorable gentleman say that conditions in Russia have kept the Communist party in existence? We know, of course, that the Communist party survives in Russia only by means of bloody purges. That is clear to those who have read The Dark Side of the Moon, written by Poles taken to Russian internment camps in 1939-40, / Chose Freedom by Kravenchko, and other books which give reliable accounts of conditions in Russia. It is believed that from 10,000,000 to 15,000,000 political prisoners have been placed in concentration camps in Russia, because they had the courage and honesty to try to express their views. In Russia there is no freedom of expression.
– Slave labour!
– Yes ; slave labour which is used to bolster up the Communist state. The Prime Minister was incorrect when he said that communism is brought about primarily as the result of conditions existing in a country. His claim is refuted by recent happenings in Czechoslovakia, a democratic country where the greatest measure of political freedom was enjoyed by the people and, to a large degree, socialism had been put into practice in many factories. Does the Prime Minister say that the conditions which existed until recently in Czechoslovakia were so terrible as to cause communism to arise naturally in that country? It came into being only because a very well organized minority of the people in Czechoslovakia terrorized the Government and brought about its fall by threatening to use the armed forces of Soviet Russia to invade Czechoslovakia as Hitler had done on an earlier occasion. The same tactics are being employed in Finland, one of the most advanced democracies in the world. Finland to-day is fighting for its very existence, but because of its military weakness and lack of population, it will undoubtedly go the same way as Czechoslovakia.
In a very bitter speech this afternoon, the Prime Minister sought to instil class hatred in the minds of the people, to divide Australians against Australians, and to make the people believe that they were no longer brothers ready to fight, for the defence of their country should the need to do so arise. The right honorable gentleman said that the Communist party had in the past been only a very common sort of party which had not attracted intellectuals but that some intellectuals had recently joined its ranks.’ I do not know what difference there is between intellectuals and other men. God made us all the same and draws no distinctions between us. Let us, however, have a look at some of the intellectuals who have been attracted to the Communist party. One of them is Alan Nunn May, a distinguished British scientist, who had such a love for his country that he betrayed its secrets during the war. He was responsible for collating information in Canada relating to the construction of the atomic bomb, and for handing to Colonel Zabotin, of the Soviet Legation, a sample of uranium 235. Another was Professor Raymond Boyer, of McGill University, who was sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude for his traitorous act. There is also the gentleman appointed by the Minister for Defence to the plywood branch of the timber research conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Melbourne, Mr. Arthur Rudkin, a graduate of the University of Perth, who was convicted during the war of publishing information which might be of use to the enemy. Rudkin was an extremely lucky young man to have had such a mild charge preferred against him. Having regard to the nature of his offence he might have had to face a much more serious one. Rudkin when an air raid precautions warden devised a scheme for causing confusion among the people should gas be used in warfare. His purpose was to create discord. In a letter to a man named Dean, secretary of the Communist party in Western Australia, he gave details of this scheme and of air raid precautions. When Dean was arrested this information was found amongst his correspondence and it was discovered that he had been passing this and other information to J. B. Miles in Sydney, who was in communication with the Comintern, then established at Vienna, because Russia at that time wa9 an ally of Germany. Thus, defence secrets in time of war were passed from this country to an enemy State. These are the intellectuals whom the Prime Minister boasts were attracted to the Communist party. The right honorable gentleman said that every government has to embark on a social security programme. Could any political party remain in existence if it did not support a social security policy for the peopled But there is no Security, social or otherwise, in Soviet Russia. Is there any security in a country in which, at midnight, at 3 a.m. or at the breaking of the dawn, a knock may come on the door of any man’s home and the father be torn away from his family and transported to a political prison in Siberia, or he shot without his family knowing anything of his fa’te? Is there any security in ti ‘country in which mothers may be torn away from their families in the night and gaoled for having committed no greater offence than to have criticized the ‘Governments? The Prime Minister talked with has tongue sD deeply embedded in his cheek that it is ‘a wonder his words were understandable. The light honorable gentleman said that he would’ not support ‘any policy designed to deprive minorities of the right of expression, except such express sion .as- may be subversive or detrimental ito the country. He says that he agrees with Mr. Atlee, the Prime Minister -of Great Britain, that some occupations are so secret that the State should not employ in them any one whose reliability is in doubt. The facts belie his words. Neither the right honorable gentleman nor his ‘Government has any regard for the security of our defence secrets. Consider the case of N. Sheppard, secretary -of the Lithgow branch ‘of the Communist party, -who is employed as a metallurgist engineer i&t the Surad! Arms Factory .at Lithgow, in which position, I understand, he has access to all the confidential information of that factory. When I ‘asked a question about him in the House I received the extraordinary reply from the Minister by letter that he was the secretary df the Lithgow branch of me ‘Communist party and was employed at the Small A<rms Factory in that town, but as the factory was engaged 70 per cent, on civilian wor-k he would have little opportunity to “exercise subversive activities if he desired to do so. Did any one ever bear such a “ cock-and-bull “ story as that? To say that the Government & protecting the security of this nation when it is so reckless in its disregard for caution in the selection of its employees is an insult to the people.
I observe that: the Minister ‘for Defence (Mr. Dedman) has come into ‘She House. He “is the first Minister to bet present in the House for an hour or more, and I trust that he will take notice <of what I am saying. The Prime Minister also said that the Labour party opposed the Communists and would not admit- them to its ranks. How truthful is that statement;? Bruce Millis, who was head of the Communist party at Katoomba as far ‘hack as 1-942 and remained in party membership, became acting secretary of the local branch of the Australian Labour party in November, 1946, and continued in the branch until he was expelled in June, 1947. Katoomba is in the Prime Minister’s own electorate. The right honorable gentleman -must have known that Millis was a Communist and that he was a member of the Katoomba Branch of the Australian Labour party. There are letters and .sworn -declarations in existence which show that the Katoomba Branch was in correspondence with Mr. John Stewart, the general secretary of the Australian Labour party, in Sydney for several years .before Millis was expelled. If the Prime Minister will accede to the Opposition^ request for a royal commission to inquire into communism, I .shall be prepared to produce copies of those letters, and of thedeclarations vouching for their authenticity. The declarations are -those of people who attended an inquiry held at theTrades Hall in Sydney with regard to this matter Jong before 1947. If the Prime Minister has honestly -expressed his views let him appoint a- royal commission and find out how the Communists riddled his own Katoomba Branch of the Australian Labour party.
Whilst declaring that th’e principles of communism were opposed to those of the Australian Labour party, the Prime Minister claimed that it was the radicals on the- edge of the party who put the life -and spirit into it. But let us -have a look a’t what Mr. Sharkey says in his history -o’f the Australian Communist party with regard to these left-wing radicals o’f whom the Prime Minister spoke so affectionately. Mr. Sharkey quotes a letter from”the ‘Communist Internationale in Russia to the ‘Communist party in Austraslia, incorporating the following passage from a resolution carried at the 1928 Australian Communist party conference -
We must riot lose sight of the fact that the way to the Communist party leads through this left-wing.
It is these radicals on the fringe of the Labour movement “who are the conduits which bring communism into the Labour movement. It is no good looking to the workers to clean up the trade unions unless they are given a lead and assistance by this Government. In one of the most class-conscious utterances I have ever heard from the Prime Minister in this chamber, the right honorable gentleman spoke of the people behind the Opposition as “ sweaters “ and “ slave drivers “. It is time that the people of this country knew that what is behind this Government is the hammer and sickle. I do not say that all members of the Labour party are under this influence, because I know that the Labour organization includes many fine men who are making a great effort to weed out the Communists. The Prime Minister claimed that banned minorities always grew stronger, but apparently Mr. Sharkey of the Communist party does not agree with that, because on page 56 of his history he says -
Despite 1he fact that the party consolidated and showed healthy growth in the illegal period and the party press appeared regularly, the ban hampered the work of the party.
Honorable members opposite know that suppression of the Communist party would hamper its work, and they do not want its work to be hampered. They like working with the Communist party. They thrive on it. Mr. Sharkey continues -
Contrary to the opinion of romanticists and leftists, the Communist party has no desire for illegal conditions of work.
The Communists do not want to be banned. They want to be free to publish their newspapers because they know that at least they will continue to receive a priority over other organizations for the supply of newsprint.
The Prime Minister said he did not intend to chase shadows and that communism was not a real menace. He claimed that the Opposition was actuated purely by political motives in raising the matter in this House. Apparently the right honorable gentleman has forgotten that many honorable members on thisside of the chamber and on the Labourside have fought for their country on thebattlefields of the world. To-day, even, as in the times of war, members of theOpposition parties are fighting for their country’s existence. It is pleasing to know that there are men in the Labourmovement, many of them holding responsible positions, who do not regard theCommunist menace as lightheartedly as. does the Prime Minister, who sees nothreat to Australia’s survival; nothing to. fight, and treats the Communists only in a spirit of brotherly love. I bring to the attention of the House the remarks of the Queensland Premier, Mr. Hanlon, when he arrived in Sydney by air to-day to try to get some relief for the people of Queensland who in the past few weeks have been buffeted, ruined”, and almost starved by the Communist strikein that State. After being menaced by Communists at Mascot, Mr. Hanlon said -
They are representatives of a foreign organization that lias to be cleaned up in Australia. This demonstration is a compliment to me. I have never served any country but Australia in my life-
I remind honorable members that Mr. Hanlon served as a soldier in the First World War- and a protest by the agents of a foreign power shows that I am doing my job.
Gouzenko told the Canadian Royal Commission that the Communist party was the agent of Soviet Russia - I shall not mince my words and I am not afraid to say whose agents the Communists are - and was working throughout the world to bring about a Communist dictatorship. The programme that is being followed by the Communists in Canada and the United States of America is virtually the same as that operating in this country.
Mr. Sharkey talks of the politicalization of strikes, by which he means strikes that are not for economic purposes but for political purposes. We have had a splendid example of such a strike in Queensland. Its aim has been the smashing of the Hanlon Labour Government, and the destruction by Communistcontrolled trade unions of the industrial life of Queensland and of the Commonwealth generally.
Recently, Rupert Lockwood wrote an article in the Tribune putting forward the story that the former Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister, Masaryk, committed suicide because he was so shocked by the criticism of his friends in the democracies for joining a Communist government in Czechoslovakia and participating in the second rape of Czechoslovakia early this year. The truth is that Masaryk died because he could not stand what his country was suffering and would suffer in the future under communism. Lockwood’s story did not even spring from any well of intelligence in the office of the Tribune because, two or three days later in his oration at the funeral of Masaryk, the Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia, Gottwald, put forward the same story. It came from a central source. The Communist band is playing throughout the world. The orchestration is perfect, and the conductor sits in the Kremlin at Moscow.
.- This is the second debate on the subject of communism that we have had in the last seven or eight months and many questions have been asked from time to time, chiefly by Opposition members, on the same subject. On the last occasion, we discussed the Commonwealth Literary Fund and certain members of the Opposition, notably the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), took the view that no grants of money should be given to any person of Communist persuasion for literary purposes. On that occasion, many members of the Liberal party supported what was in general an Australian Country party motion. They did not declare how literary grants were to be prevented from going to the Communists. That could have been done only by appointing an intelligence officer who could check the politics of every author who applied for a grant. They were, of course, not politically courageous enough to follow the logic of their demands to that point, but if their demand that no Communist should receive a literary grant meant anything at all, it had to mean political surveillance of authors. On that occasion we did not have the benefit of the presence of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). He was a member of the board that made a grant to an ex-Communist. The other two members of the board, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), defended the action of the board in making that grant. The third member, the Leader of the Opposition, was conspicuously absent, though he was as responsible for policy as any one else. On this occasion, however, we have had the opportunity of hearing the right honorable gentleman. It has been well known for some years - the right honorable gentleman has made no effort to conceal it - that he opposes on high grounds of civil liberty a ban upon the Communist party. In a press interview, he made the statement, “ If strikes are illegal, and a Communist foments a strike, he should be punished for that illegal act; if a Communist is a traitor, he should be punished for his treason, but to place a ban upon a person because he belongs to the Communist party, without having to pin on him the fact of having done an illegal act, would be a travesty of civil liberty”. He went on to speak further of the Communist party when he told the country that it would be unwise to treat the party as a unit of people all of equal outlook and that it would be unwise to ignore the fact that it had in its fringe people who believed it to be a genuinely radical party and a hard core of people whom he regarded as likely to be agents of Russia. He made it clear that in his opinion an overall ban of the party as a whole without differentiation would be a travesty of justice. We heard nothing this afternoon that suggested he had found anything that had led him to depart from those views. We heard nothing to show that he subscribed to the policy of banning the Communist party newly enunciated by the Liberal party. In fact, no speaker on the Opposition benches has advocated an actual ban. We have heard vague generalities like , “ firm measures “ and have had the usual volley of abstract nouns from the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), but nothing in any way specific about what honorable members opposite would do about the Communists. However, we did bear from the Leader of the Opposition that events in Europe had led him to change his opinion. He quoted from the summary of events in Europe prepared by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). The right honorable gentleman did not go so far as to say that he had changed his opinion and would ban the Communist party, but he did deign to tell us that he has changed his opinion. He said that tolerance had been shown to be unwise in Poland, Roumania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria, countries that are now commonly regarded as being in the Russian Hoc, economically and ideologically welded to Russia. Of course, the examples he chose are the ones that refute his argument. He drew an analogy between tolerance of Communists in Poland and Bulgaria, which, he said, enabled them to get into power, and tolerance of Communists here. One has only to analyse the history of eastern Europe to realize that his was an utterly false submission. There was no tolerance of Communists in Poland from 1920 to 1945. The Governments of Pilsudski and Colonel Beck maintained a complete ban on the Communist party. There was no tolerance of Communists in Bulgaria under King Boris. It was an illegal party. Why, even the democratic Peasant-Agrarian party was illegal. The Government of Admiral Horthy did not extend tolerance to Communists in Hungary. The Government of Czechoslovakia extended tolerance and if anything discredited ordinary liberal forces in Czechoslovakia, it was the events at Munich. I do not criticize any government for the policy applied at that time, but I speak of the state of opinion in Czechoslovakia where they had proportional representation, and under that system very few Communists entered the Czech Parliament. But the west repudiated Czechoslovakia. I do not know that any specific commitments to Czechoslovakia can be visited on the Government of Great Britain, but a specific commitment to Czechoslovakia was entered into ‘by France, and, however one may justify the policy of 1938, from the Czechoslovakian middle-class point of view and that of the Czech man in the street, France - betrayed Czechoslovakia, and that Czechoslovakia was abandoned to Germany.
Mr. White interjecting,
– I said at the outset that I am not quarrelling with the policy. Perhaps it was a matter of “ needs must when the devil drives”, but it did not help western democracy in Czechoslovakia, and no one with the slightest degree of realism would imagine that it did. The position that developed during the war was that upon Czechoslovakia there was visited the most fierce repression. There was no tolerance of Communists. The Communists in Czechoslovakia during the German occupation took in many ways leadership of the underground ; they played at least an active part in the underground. At an election held under the control not of the Communists but of others in Czechoslovakia, the Communists polled 3,000,000 of 7,000,000 votes. It is extremely likely that at another election the swing would be in the other direction. It may be true that the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia will ensure that there shall be no further free elections, but the fact remains that Russian forces were the first to enter Czechoslovakia and to liberate most parts of it, except the extreme west, which was liberated by the Americans. The Russians gained great prestige and the Communists won the greatest number of seats in the parliament. So the story that tolerance has produced communism in eastern Europe is emphatically untrue. The reactionary governments of eastern Europe suppressed communism and, indeed, democratic parties. Honorable members opposite have mentioned Italy. To-day we fear that in Italy a Communist government will emerge from elections not conducted by the Communists. The diplomacy of the United States of Amenca over Trieste and other questions has been directed towards assisting the non-Communist parties of Italy. If the Opposition’s theory about iron repression is true, why do we fear communism in Italy? The Communist party was illegal there from 1920 onward:. It was suppressed by the fascist stormtroopers, or whatever they were called. Yet communism has (bobbed up in Italy as a powerful (political force. If any recent history bears out the theory that iron repression will produce its opposite it is the history of eastern Europe. The eastern European countries did not get Communist governments because of any previous tolerance that had been extended towards Communists. They were, in the main, occupied by the Red Army, and the Russian occupying authorities sponsored governments favorable to themselves. That is the explanation of the emergence of communism in eastern Europe. To say that there is any analogy in Australia to-day between occupation by a Red Army or a long period of iron repression is, of course, completely false. The analogy which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) drew between Australia and eastern Europe was false from beginning to end, and he was conscious of this falseness in what was one of the most uncomfortable speeches that he has made in this House - a speech which was a repudiation of the genuine liberalism which we know him to have by comparison with many of his followers.
We heard the Prime Minister speaking this afternoon about the measures that have been taken in Great Britain for the exclusion from key positions in defence industries of persons, including Communists, who, in the view of the Government of the United Kingdom, are unreliable. I want to say at the outset how completely that story has been distorted in the Australian press. We have seen many cartoons of the Prime Minister of Australia, allegedly very sleepy, out of harmony with the British and American Governments. We are supposed to believe that there has been a widespread attack on civil rights in Great Britain and the United States of America, and that we ought to do as the governments of those countries have done. In point of fact, the removal of unreliable persons from key defence positions is something that ought to be going on all the time everywhere. Why Mr. Attlee should specially need to speak about it seems to me to be rather a mystery, because one would imagine that the British security service would do that in the ordinary routine of its activities. What is being done in Great Britain is being completely distorted. During the war, when the Communist party was opposed to the war and when France had banned it, the Government of Great Britain - a conservative government which called itself a conservative government and did not pretend to be liberal as do many honorable members opposite - did not ban the Communist party. At that stage in Australia - which was not 22 miles from Dunkirk - a ban was maintained upon the party. In other words, the traditions of civil liberty in Great Britain are very deep.’ It is interesting to hear the parties which, in general, most emphasize British traditions in this House so readily abandoning that tradition which has been built up in Great Britain.
A great deal of romantic talk emanates from the Opposition parties about the ban which they placed upon the Communist party when they were in power in 1940 and about the effectiveness of that ban. It is about time that this humbug was exposed. In 1940, as now, Communists had captured many important unions in Australia. The Menzies Government declared the Communist party an illegal organization. But we did not hear that Mr. Thornton went to prison, that Mr. Healy went to prison or that Mr. Phillips or any of those gentlemen went to prison. In the main, the operation of that ban was carried out in a most cowardly manner. Obscure people of no real significance, loud-mouthed “ leftists “ as one might term them, were imprisoned. Nobody who was the leader of any key industrial union was put into prison. One key industrial union which was led by a Communist in .1940 was the miners’ federation. It was led by a man named Nelson. But he did not go to prison. He was the recipient of an appeasement monetary grant from the Government of the day. There was a policy not of repression but of buying off. That fact was established by a royal commission under Mr. Justice Halse Rogers. We know that the fund was allegedly for the purpose of combating subversive organizations, but we know in fact that sums were paid over to individuals. I shall not make any irresponsible criticism of that policy. France had fallen at the time, and it was imperative that industrial production should be stepped up.
The policy of buying off might have been, in the circumstances of the crisis, the best one open to the government of, the day. But at least the people who engaged in that policy ought to refrain from consistently posing as strong men when they are speaking about the problem of dealing with communism.
A great deal has been said about communism and its support for the Labour party. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) began by saying how the Communists supported the Labour party and ended by saying how their aim was to destroy the Queensland Labour government. There appears to be some element of contradiction in the argument. The honorable member did not resolve it, but we never have expected him to resolve any of the contradictions that he produces in this House from time to time. In this connexion, I want to say one thing: that, in the central writings of the Communist party, in Lenin’s own writing, and in particular in a major work on party tactics which he called Left-wing Communism and Infantile Disorder, he said, “ We (the Communists) should support social-democratic and labour parties in the same way as a rope supports a hanging man. They are more dangerous than conservative parties in that they deceive the workers “. He added that the first fight should be to win working-class support, and then the party could deal with the conservative forces very easily. The Communists acted on that theory in the country where, in the past, social-democracy was strongest. The Social-Democratic party of the German Weimar Republic and of Imperial Germany was an extremely powerful political party and, in 1931, the Communists voted with the Nazis to overturn the social-democratic ministry of Prussia. Because of that action more than any other, Hitler was able to rise to power. The destruction of socialdemocratic parties is a declared aim of the Communist party. Those who can see the unfolding of events in Eastern Europe can see that to-day.
A great deal has been said of the international connexions of the Communist party with Russia, and from time to time we have heard statements by members of the Opposition that officials of the
Russian Legation at Canberra - I will not mince words - are engaged in fomenting strikes and encouraging treasonable activities in Australia. Statements along those lines have been made by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), and, by way of interjection when the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) was speaking, we learned that the profound mind of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) had come to that conclusion, too. If that were an established fact, there would be one’ answer to it, and that would be to severdiplomatic relations with Russia immediately. Any honorable member whobelieves such statements should rise in thisHouse and advocate the severing of diplomatic relations with Russia straight away. That would be the logical outcome of such a belief. If. the Russian Legation is a source of trouble in Australia we should rupture diplomatic relations with its government. I am astonished by the lack of moral fortitude on the part of members of the Opposition who, in making these irresponsible statements, do not proceed to the logical conclusion. What are we to infer from the fact that the honorable member for New England, the honorable member for Richmond and the honorable member for Warringah have made such statements concerning the Russian Legation? We can. draw several conclusions. We can conclude that members of the security service have been so irresponsible as to go and speak to private members of this Parliament and tell them what their investigations have found. That would be how the honorable members would get their information. If that were so, then there would be some grave deficiency in the security service. Furthermore, if the information had been obtained in that way, there would be some grave deficiency in those honorable members which would cause them to reveal the facts in this House, because the only effect of their statements would be to put the Legation on its guard if it were engaged in such activities. Of course, the honorable members did not get their information from such a source. They got it from their malicious imaginations. The fact that their statements were made at a time when there was already enough real cause for tension is a measure of their utter irresponsibility. In a situation of international crisis it is imperative that malignant lying should not add to troubles that may genuinely exist. On this occasion, there is no other description that can be given to the activities of those honorable members than .”malignant lying “. The fact that they have not been “ game “ to draw the conclusion of their own arguments and ask for the severance of diplomatic relations, is a sign that they are conscious of the untrue nature of their statements.
From time to time, we hear utterances about the loyalty of officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. This organization is one of the institutions for which the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) can take the utmost credit. He sponsored the Science and Industry Research Act, and was responsible for the setting up of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which has done vital work in the furtherance of Australian industry. The conditions of the setting up of that organization were that it should publish abroad its findings, engage in industrial research, have no right .to take out patents, and, in conformity with the theories of the free interchange of scientific ideas, freely disseminate its scientific findings. Since by law it can have no secrets, in consequence no secrets can be betrayed from that organization. Honorable members have read of the discoveries of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in its various publications, which are available in almost every class of senior schools in Australia. The Science and Industry Act which, as I stated, was sponsored by the right honorable member for Cowper, precluded the organization from having secrets; so that the continual stories of betrayals of secrets by the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are bogus, as are most of the other arguments put forward by members of the Opposition.
Honorable members opposite, wjp have participated in the debate, have dealt extensively with the reply of the Prime Minister to the submissions of .the Leader of the Opposition. In particular, they characterized as sentiment his belief that conservative governments had been largely responsible for producing communism. They dismissed the idea that tolerance is the best means of combating communism. Before the outbreak of World War II., the Communist party of France was a relatively powerful body. It controlled a group of seats in the vicinity of Paris which were popularly known as the “ Red Belt “. The Communist party of France opposed their country’s participation in World War II., and for that reason, the Prime Minister of the day, M. Daladier, banned the organization. Its members continued to oppose the war effort, and when France was attacked in 1940, they pursued what Lenin called a “policy of revolutionary defeatism “. Of course, the French Communists were not th, only persons in France who pursued a policy of defeatism, revolutionary or otherwise. The conservative forces of France did the same thing, and the result was that a portion of France was occupied by Germany. From this situation, there emerged a predominately conservative party, led by Marshal Petain, whose activities of collaboration so completely effaced the memory of what had been the Communist policy of 1940 that after the cessation of hostilities and the record of the Communists in the resistance movement and elsewhere had become known, the Communists came back with great# augmented strength. So, wherever conservatism has gone to its logical conclusion and has suppressed communism as its opposite, as was done in eastern Europe and Italy, and as is being done in Spain, we have always seen a great increase of the Communists’ power. If the Franco dictatorship in Spain were to fall, who doubts that it would he replaced by communism ? Who doubts that the policy of repression strengthens those against whom it is directed? Who doubts that when a party is prevented from coming out into the open and showing its inadequacy, it will increase its strength, especially if the policy of the Government is weak? That has been true of repression in all countries.
– Then, we can expect a resurgence of democratic forces in the Balkans !
– I accept the logic of that interjection. If repressive governments of a Communist character were not supported from abroad and could not pursue any kind of constructive policy, I have no doubt that they would fall. But the predecessors of those governments did not develop any democratic ‘traditions which could be applied against the Communists. Whilst that statement is not true of Czechoslovakia, it is true of other countries in eastern Europe.
In this debate, members of the Opposition have completely departed from the traditions of Anglo-Saxon democracy. They revealed a similar attitude in a debate on the Commonwealth Literary Fund. The only member of the British Empire which lias banned the Communist party is the Dominion of Canada. I remind the House that the Government of Canada is a Liberal government, and that the core of its strength is in Quebec, where the French Canadian tradition is entirely foreign to the British idea. It is from there that the demand for the suppression of the Communist party and other radical groups has mainly come. The Communist party was banned long before the events revealed by the royal commission, and the effect was that it reappeared under other names. The member of the Canadian Parliament who was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for his association with the Communists was described as a “ Progressive.” If he had stood as a member of a legal Communist party it is extremely unlikely that he would have been elected. When the Communist party was banned he stood under another political designation and was elected. That, in general, has been the effect of declaring a party illegal.
Honorable members opposite have not stated clearly that they favour the banning of the Communist party. They have adopted that as a policy, but they are rather chary of advancing it. The explanation is that originally they were opposed to political suppression, and will gradually strengthen their attitude so as not to make it appear too sharp a break from their past liberal professions. However, they have not established that the banning of the Communist party is effective, and have completely misrepresented the degree to which the surveillance of the Communist party has been practised in the United States of America and in Great Britain and other member States of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Australian Government in still adhering to tolerance can at least show that the Communist party, in the open, is losing increasingly the confidence of the Australian public. At the Victorian elections in 1943 the Communist party polled 38,0*00 votes, and at the following elections two years later 17,000 votes. The same decline of the Communist vote was to be observed throughout the Commonwealth. In the circumstances, the Government can fairly claim that the policy of tolerance which is within the parliamentary and democratic traditions of English speaking countries is not one which has led to any dangerous upsurgence of communism in Australia, where, indeed, conditions do not favour its growth.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Falkinder) adjourned.
The following paper was presented : -
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act - Annual Report by the Trustees for year 1946-47.
House adjourned at 10.29 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice - ‘
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1
e asked the Minister for Re patriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
In view of the publicity given to this matter, it is desirable for me to .say that the State secretary of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia., New South Wales branch, wrote to me on .the subject of the article on page 2 of the Sun (Sydney) of 1st March, 1948, in which allegations were made against the staff of the Repatriation Department in Sydney. The secretary of the league stated in his letter to me that whatever allegations were made by the League Pensions Officer should have been made to the league secretary, i.e., himself. The secretary went on to say that he would then have been in a position to make immediate representations to the Deputy Commissioner, who had never refused to hear complaints by the official representative of the league. He said goodwill and a spirit of co-operation had always existed between the New South Wales branch of the league and Mr. Carswell in the mutual endeavours to serve the interests of ex-service men and women. According to the secretary’s letter, the State president of the league curtailed a visit to Melbourne to permit of his immediate return to Sydney to preside at a State executive meeting whereat the allegations were listed for discussion. The State executive met, I have been told, and all present expressed regret that the Deputy Commissioner dor Repatriation and his staff had been embarrassed by a foolish statement;, and at the same meeting it was resolved to inform the Repatriation Department that the Returned Sailors,. Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia entirely dissociated itself from the statement which appeared in the press. The secretary of the league concluded his letter to me with the following words : “ I have to say, sir, that we have every confidence in Mr. Carswell and his staff, particularly the seniors and section heads, who are so hard-worked arid yet have always found time to give courteous attention to any matters represented to them. I join my executive in hoping that the effects of this unfortunate incident will not react to the definitely excellent relationship which has existed with the New South Wales branch of the commission “.
s asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer” to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
3 79.5 per cent, of Australia’s contribution is payable in dollars - a sum of $543,423. Australia’s total contribution is 1.97 per cent, of the United Nations budget for 1948.
g asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 to 4. This board is not an Australian Government body, but a private organization representative of the majority of the plywood and veneer manufacturing firms throughout Australia. The board arranges the distribution and marketing of plywood and veneer produced by its members. The Australian Government is not represented on the board.
Re-establishment : Kangaroo Island Transport Facilities.
Mr.Chifley. - On the 27th February the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked a question regarding transport facilities to Kangaroo Island in connexion with the land settlement of ex-servicemen there. I have had this matter examined, and find that the necessity for adequate facilities, when ex-servicemen have been settled on a large area of Crown land on the island, has not been overlooked. I understand that in 1946 the South Australian Parliamentary Committee on Land Settlement reported that it had been assured by Coast Steamships Limited that the shipping service to Kangaroo Island would be augmented as soon as additional freight was offering, and that all requirements occasioned by increased production would be met. In September, 1947, the provision of amenities and facilities for land settlement was considered at a conference ofCommonwealth and State regional planning officers. In the case of the Kangaroo Island project, the South Australian Parliamentary Committee on Land Settlement had drawn attention to the need for roads, educational facilities, transport, marketing facilities and the advisability of providing an abattoir and refrigeration plant. The State representatives agreed to examine the matters raised and report the result of the inquiries.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice. -
– The Minister for External Affairs will supply answers to the honorable member’s questions in the course of the; debate on the international situation which is to begin to-day.
y. - On the 5th March, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
Will he ask the Australian Ambassador in Washington, to forward copies of this report by .air mail to Canberra for the information nf honorable members?
A statement on the international situation was tabled on the 11th March’. The information which the honorable member seeks in questions 1 to 6 may he found in that statement. With regard to question 7, ‘ I refer the honorable member to replies given in answer to a number of questions on this subject asked during the last sitting of the Parliament.
d. - On the 27th February, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) asked whether any decision had as yet been reached regarding payment of a subsidy of 4d. a gallon on whole milk for human consumption as requested by the Government of Tasmania. A decision was conveyed to the Premier of Tasmania by letter on the 25th February. This reaffirmed the basis of subsidy advised in August last. Details of its operation are left to the Premier.
y. - On. the 18th February, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked a question concerning the importation of silk and nylon thread, and further to my reply on that occasion, I now desire to inform the honorable member as follows : -
All raw silk imported into Australia since the war has been obtained by the Government direct from Japan. Supplies of raw silk sufficient to meet hosiery manufactures arc expected to be available from Japan under the provisions of. the ‘agreement designed to balance Japanese exports to the sterling area with sterling area exports to Japan. Japanese raw silk will therefore be purchasable for sterling. In the circumstances, therefore, it is considered that dollar credits should not be made available for the purchase of nylon yarn for use in the manufacture of hosiery. The hosiery industry is importing nylon yarn from the United Kingdom. Total shipments for 1947 aggregated 63,398 lb. and it is anticipated that shipments during 1948 from the united Kingdom will approximate that figure. Nylon hosiery is also =being imported from the United Kingdom in relatively small quantities.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 April 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19480407_reps_18_196/>.