18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 3 p.m., andread prayers.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement reported to have been made during the week-end by the Minister for Transport in which the Minister is reported to have said in regard to the
Privy Council appeal on the Government’s banking legislation -
Irrespective of what the decision may be, once Labour has spoken and said that the banks are to be nationalized the issue is bepond doubt. The only question is when are we to be able to achieve nationalization. is that statement in line with a statement attributed to the Minister for Supply and Development in April of this year that the Banking Act would be brought into effect by referendum or by other means if the High Court held that legislation to be. unconstitutional? Did these statements have the full approval of the Cabinet; and do they reflect government policy? Does the statement by the Minister for Transport mean that lie Government intends to proceed with the socialization of. banking activities in complete disregard, of the Constitution?
Mr. CHIFLEY.^! nave, not seen, the statement to which the Acting Leader of the Opposition has referred. On a previous occasion when replying to a question’ om government policy I said that the Government, will carry out its. policy by constituitional. means.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That, the House, at its- rising, adjourn’ to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
ATTITUDE of the’ United States of America.
-Has the Prime Minister seen a statement in the Sunday. Sun. that other copies, of the so-called confidential document, produced in the Parliament last week, by the Leader of the. Australian. Country party were, distributed in Australia, and that, at least one copy of the document was- held by another person in Canberra when that right honorable gentleman rose to speak on the matter ? Can the Prime Minister inform the House of the. name of tie other person concerned and whether he has any information yet about how such a document came to be in existence in Australia ?
– I did not see the statement in the Sunday Sun to which the honorable member has . referred. I have taken the opportunity to read the Hansard “ fiat “ containing the report of: the speech made by the Leader of the Australian Country party. Any information I gave on this matter was not to be discussed publicly. I indicated last week that I would adopt my own method of ascertaining what information can be obtained, and, later, I shall have something to say about the matter generally. I shall not deal with it in detail at this juncture.
– Has the Minister for the Army seen reports, that a policy of secrecy has suddenly been adopted in relation to the work, of the Australian War Crimes Court at Hong Kong ? Are the capital and other sentences imposed by the court still being, carried out? Is it correct that the work of the court is proceeding in secret because of the. fact, that it is Labour’s policy to abolish capital punishment ?
– I have not seen the reports. To my knowledge, the courts are- carrying out their duties as usual. I noticed’ a few days’ ago that three criminals had been- sentenced to- death and that the sentences had been carried out. J can supply no further information on the subject than that.,
Australians in Jappan - -Militia
– Has the Minister for the Army seen an article which appeared in the Sydney Sunday Sun of the 3rd’ October, stating that Australian troops with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force were to be returned to Australia for the Royal’ visit next year? Is he aware that the article suggested that British Commonwealth Occupation Force troops taking part in the Royal visit celebrations should- be given some form of distinction in their uniforms, such as white web,bing equipment and British Commonwealth Occupation Force colour patches? Oan the Minister inform the House whether there is any substance in a. previous, report from the same correspondent that. British Commonwealth Occupation Force troops were to be brought back to Australia to make “a brave showing for the Royal visit “ ?
– There is absolutely no truth in the statement that Australian troops serving in Japan are being brought back for a specific purpose. The policy governing the return of Australian troops with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force was laid down long before the Royal visit to Australia was contemplated. United Kingdom and Indian troops with the occupation forces have already been withdrawn from Japan, and the New Zealand troops still in Japan will be withdrawn, I think, by midNovember. No distinctions will be made between any branches of the services during the Royal visit to Australia next year. I assure the honorable member authentically that the Australians who will return from Japan between now and December will be men who signed on for specific periods and whose terms have expired. Very few of those men will be still in the Australian Regular Army next year.’ There are at present 12,000 members of the Australian Regular Army and 11,000 members of the Commonwealth Military Forces in Australia, and we shall be able to obtain from amongst those troops all the men we shall require for ceremonial parades. Anybody who saw the recent tattoo in Sydney will admit that we have plenty of soldiers in Australia capable of carrying out the ceremonial procedure necessary for any parades that will be held during the Royal visit.
– I ask the Minister for the Army to inform me what amount of money has been expended by the Government so far on the newly established militia? Will he also state how many recruits have been enlisted, and what is the per capita cost of advertising?
– Offhand, I am not able to say how much money has been expended to date on the newly established militia, but I point out that the militia is not a very costly force compared with the Australian Regular Army. Approximately 11,000 men have been enlisted into the militia since the 1st July last, and that figure must be regarded as being satisfactory, since the recruiting campaign has been in operation for only two months. I shall ascertain the per capita cost of advertising, and supply it to the’ honorable member as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether the new Trans-Australia Airlines Convair aircraft are at present grounded so that- stiffeners can be built into their wings. If so, is that evidence of bad designing,, and does it disclose negligence on the part of officers who were sent to the United States of America in order to supervise the preparation of Convair machines for Australian conditions ?
– I cannot say whether the Convair machines are grounded at present. On the advice of the manufacturers, parts were sent to Australia, to replace other parts, and the alterations are in process of being carried out, if they have not already been accomplished. The policy in Australia, in relation to Convairs and all other aircraft, is to observe all the specifications laid down by the manufacturers regarding loads and conditions of use. We shall continue to pursue that policy. I assure the honorable member that the suspicions which he entertains about Convair machines have been entirely refuted by performances. He will be glad to travel” in them when the opportunity arises.
– Is the PrimeMinister aware that a London-bound Qantas Constellation aeroplane has now been held in Sydney for three days because of servicing: difficulties? Is it a fact that the Government has refused to allocate sufficient dollars to Qantas Empire Airways to permit that company to secure anything like the quantity of spare parts that is essential to the conduct of the service? Is it also a fact that, because of* such refusal, Qantas is compelled to make four aircraft do the work that should bedone by eight? Does the Government regard the saving of dollars as of more importance than the safeguarding of thesafety of passengers? If not, will thePrime Minister take immediate action to allow Qantas Empire Airways a sufficient allocation of dollars to obtain all the spare parts that it needs?
Air. DRAKEFORD. - It is correct that there have been some delays with the Constellation services operating from Sydney to London largely owing to the fact that the period has arrived for the issue of certificates of air-worthiness to aeroplanes of this type as they have now been in service for twelve months. In addition, minor troubles have arisen which have caused delays. It is far better to have delays prior to the aeroplanes starting out on their flights than afterwards, along the route. The Government has adhered to that policy. The Australian services, particularly those operated, by Qantas, have a reputation equal to that enjoyed by airlines in any other part of the world, for safety and precision in operation. Qantas Em,Dire Airways is operating a twiceweekly service to London with four planes, which are doing all that is required efficiently. A first-class service is being provided. “We hope to have a fifth Constellation operating on that route shortly. There is no need to have eight aeroplanes on this service. The four planes are not being called upon to do the work of eight planes. The company made representations through me to the Government for an allocation of dollars for the purchase of spare parts, and, as far as it was possible to do so, that allocation was met in the interests of the safety and efficiency of service.
– According to a report in the Melbourne Herald last Monday, the Victorian Minister for Housing, Mr. Warner, expressed the view that the building industry is at its peak and that soon we can expect a slump which will continue into 1953. Will the Minister for Works and Housing inform me whether the Australian Government contemplates taking any action so as to ensure that a recession in the building industry shall not occur?
– I am not able to agree with the statement attributed to the Minister for Housing in Victoria that the building industry is at its peak. Even if that industry began to experience a recession, a safeguard is provided because the National Works Council, at its last meeting held in August, approved of a works programme involving the expenditure of between £569,000,000 and £600,000,000. Works to the value of nearly £300,000,000 could be undertaken immediately if manpower and material were available. Having regard to the volume of constructional work to be undertaken, I do not consider that the building industry is at its peak, and the honorable member may rest assured that steps have been taken to meet a recession in the building trade.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that manufacturers of radio receivers have already been deluged with many thousands of cancellations of orders from retailers, as the result of the announcement of the Government’s policy on frequency modulation? Is he also aware that the manufacturers have stated that they can see no hope for frequency modulation unless the commercial stations are also licensed? As the radio manufacturing industry is an important arm of the nation’s defences, will the Government take early action to give to that important industry assurances that will enable it to maintain existing plant, and plan for expansion, by providing for the full range of existing services on the new broadcasting band?
– This happens to be one of the occasions on which I can say that I have read a newspaper paragraph to which an honorable member has referred when asking me a question. In this instance the statement was made by a representative of the radio manufacturers’ organization, and the thought occurred to me that irrespective of any action that the Government might, take, an intimation that frequency modulation was to be introduced would create a similar set of circumstances and engender the same fears in the minds of radio manufacturers of ordinary radio receivers. I am not able to give the assurance for which the honorable member for Reid has asked. When frequency modulation develops to the same degree as it has in the United States of America, no doubt some changes will be made in radio receivers. I shall cause inquiries to be made of the technical officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department to ascertain whether there is any evidence to show whether, in the event of the introduction, of frequency modulation, it would be a long time or a short time before it became necessary to replace or alter the present type of radio receivers. I understand that the PostmasterGeneral has said that such action would not be necessary for a considerable period. The Government, however, cannot give any guarantee in regard to scientific developments and their possible effect upon certain articles.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture seen a statement attributed to the Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board that wheatgrowers will have to pay cash for their cornsacks this year? If that ruling is to be enforced, growers will have to make the necessary financial arrangements for the purchase of sacks, which are now very costly, some time before the sacks will be delivered to them. In view of the fact that the Australian Wheat Board will eventually take over the assets of the wheat-growers, including the cornsacks, does the Minister consider that it is fair to ask the growers to pay cash for their sacks, and does he approve of the policy laid down by the Australian Wheat Board?
– I have seen the statement by the acting chairman of the Australian Wheat Board that wheatgrowers will have to pay cash for their sacks. Over a long period of time there has been political and other opposition to the passing by the Commonwealth and State Parliaments of legislation that would enable the board to know ‘early enough -whether it would be authorized to handle the incoming wheat -crop. At the moment, the board does not know whether legislation will be passed to empower it to do so. It is, therefore, not in a position to send cornsacks to wheat-growers, because it would have “no security for them.
– The board holds £11,000,000 of the wheat-growers’ money.
– The honorable member for Indi has been one of the chief opponents of the Commonwealth wheat plan. It is true that the board holds a certain sum of money which belongs to the wheat-growers, and an undertaking has been given that it will be refunded to them. I point out to the honorable member that some of the Australian wheat-growers who had no wheat in the pools affected have no claims upon any of that money, and I suggest that the honorable member for Indi would be no more likely than is the Australian Government to send out goods for which he had no security. If either the honorable member for Indi or the honorable member for Bendigo suggests that the Government should send out cornsacks without security, there is something wrong with their monetary instincts.
– Will the Prime Minister move to have the language of official correspondence shortened and simplified? The United Kingdom Government set an example in this connexion by commissioning Sir Ernest Gowers to write a book entitled Plain Words: A Guide to the Use of English. This book has been published by His Majesty’s Stationery Office to assist officials who have to write letters to the public and to one another. It is a powerful counter to the growth of “ officialese “,. which, in the words of Mr. Leon Gellert “ clothes the simplest facts with fustian, fogs language and chokes ideas “. Will the right honorable gentleman confer with the Public Service Board to see whether a similar campaign could beconducted in Australia? Could theboard’s new efficiency experts take up this matter? -I point out that rough calculations show that, by replacing “ officialese ,r with simple English, 92 typists could proceed with other urgent work and that each year 228,000 quarto sheets of papercould be saved, as well as oyer 200,000- man hours which are at present spent in puzzling out. the meaning of official wording.
Mi-. CHIFLEY. - I knew that a book of that type was being published, but I have not had an opportunity to read it. The .honorable mem- ber for Eden-Monaro has taken an interest in this matter, and in view of his claim that the simplification of public documents would reduce considerably the amount of paper and work necessary for their preparation, I shall ask the Public Service Board to examine the matter.
– Some time ago the Minister for Immigration caused certain Australian women who had been working for the United States of America in the Philippines to -be returned to this country. Others who did not return went to work in the United States of America. I. ask the Minister whether in a renewed attempt to have these women compulsorily returned to this country, he has cabled to the United States of America asking that they be dismissed from their jobs? Has he also taken steps which will Lead ultimately to the extradition of these women? If so, what other steps has he taken? Are some of the women working at. the Indian. Legation at Washington? Has the Indian Legation cabled to the Minister asking him to leave the women where they are? Is the Minister prepared to accede to this request? Finally, what is the difference in the Minister’s mind between Australian women going overseas and working where they like, and. Communists like Thornton, James and Lockwood going abroad and working where they like?
– I think I saw a report on a subject like this in the Melbourne Herald last week. Unlike the Prime Minister, I do sometimes read newspapers.
– Then there is a difference between you.
– Only a minor one. Lt is not a major difference like that separating the honorable member and myself and” the honorable member and my esteemed leader.
– Order ! The Minister must confine himself to answering the question.
– The story that appeared in the Melbourne Herald and which has been, retailed to this House to-day by the honorable member for
Henty, is founded on a stolen document. That is not the only incident, of course, involving a stolen document. I am making certain inquiries in regard to that matter. The Indian Legation at Washington has not sent any cables to me.
– Perhaps the cables have not arrived yet.
– The cable service of the Australian Government, unlike that of the Liberal party, functions perfectly. The position of the Australian women to whom the honorable member has referred has already been explained several times. The American Government- took the women from this country under an agreement, and it is obliged to send the women back Several of them have gone to America and have been stranded there. They have appealed through their parents to the Australian Government to repatriate them. That probably will be the fate of quite a number more. There is one distressing case in which an Americanofficer is involved, and I have not the slightest doubt that the Australian Government will be expected to meet the cost of bringing the woman back to this country. The American Government knows our wishes. It entered into the agreement voluntarily, and we expect it, as we would expect any other government, to carry out its obligation. I do not propose to say any more about the matter until I find out who is tampering with cables passing between Australia and the United States of America.
– In view of widespread interest in various government schemes to overcome the lag in home building, will the Minister for Labour and National Service inform me whether the Government has already closed or intends to close, special building construction classes established under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme?. I refer particularly to such classes in Tasmania.
– The Government has not closed any classes in Tasmania and has no intention of doing so except where all selected applicants have been trained-
There was a period when, in some parts of Australia, there was a slowing-down of the intake into such classes because of the fear that the flow of building materials would not be sufficient to ensure that the trainees would be able to secure positions at the end of their training period. That position has been gradually overcome in Tasmania and all such classes are running well at the present time. About L9,900 trainees in the building and allied trades in the Commonwealth who have ‘finished their course are at work in industry and about 3,100 are still in training. Originally four groups of classes were formed in Tasmania which were located at Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie. It was later found convenient to amalgamate the classes at Devonport and Burnie, so that there are now three groups of classes in Tasmania. Such classes are not running to full capacity because of a. dearth of applicants for training. That itself may be a good sign indicating that all exservicemen are satisfactorily placed in employment. I repeat that no classes have been closed down, except where all selected trainees have been trained and that the Government has no intention of closing any.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to celebrations known as the Six-hour Day celebrations which took place in Sydney yesterday? Did some Ministers of the right honorable gentleman’s Government take part in these proceedings and does their action in doing so indicate that the Government’s aim is a six-hour day? Will the right honorable gentleman say whether he favours a six-hour day? If he does not, will he make a clear statement to the contrary?
– I have not seen any account of the Labour Day celebrations in Sydney yesterday, but I may have an opportunity of reading about them tonight since the honorable gentleman has drawn my attention to it. The decision about the hours to be worked in industry is one for the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. It is not a matter for this Parliament to deal with. By legislation passed by this Parliament such matters as the determination of hours to be worked under federal awards is entirely a matter for the court.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister, arising from a letter that that right honorable gentleman wrote to me on the 27th September last. It consists of two pages of closely typewritten foolscap, and deals with the Human Rights Commission. In the course of the letter the Prime Minister stated -
It is to be noted that Article 10 (2) of the Draft Declaration on Human Eights provides that ‘”’ .Every one lias the right to leave every country including his own”. Article 1H of the draft provides that “ Men and women of full age shall have the right to marry and to found a family. . . .”.
In view of the fact that Australian girls who were employed by the American authorities overseas have been prevented from remaining overseas, or that at least every effort is being made to force them to return to Australia, does the Government intend to oppose the right of persons to leave every country, including their own, as the Draft Declaration provides? Article 13 of the Draft Declaration provides that -
Men and women of full age shall have the right to marry and to found a family.
Is the Australian Government also opposed to the implementation of that provision? I point out that a young Australian soldier who married a Japanese girl in Japan has already been returned twice to Australia and is, I understand, now being brought back a third time. Does the Prime Minister subscribe to the opinion that there should be one code of human rights for the peoples of the world but another, and more restrictive code for Australian citizens ?
– The honorable member had previously asked a question about this matter, and although I usually confine written replies to one page of type, I went to considerable trouble to furnish an answer which occupied two pages of type, and which, I thought, covered all the matters raised by the honorable member. However, since the honorable member has indicated, in the speech which he has just made, that he is not satisfied with my reply, 1 shall make a further attempt to amplify the subject and to answer all the points which he has raised.
– Can the Minister for Works and Housing say whether any approach has been made to the Department of Works and Housing by Sydney firms concerning the importation of prefabricated houses from Sweden? Is he aware of any similar approach having been made to State housing authorities, ;incl, if so, with what result?
– I have been inundated by offers from agents of Swedish « n d Finnish firms to supply pre-cut or ready-cut houses. Under the housing agreement between the Australian and State Governments, the Commonwealth’s part is confined to the provision of finance. The States are responsible for the purchase of building materials. It will be realized, therefore, that the Commonwealth could purchase only a small number of prefabricated houses or a small quantity of housing materials in comparison with the States. The Commonwealth has imported two sample prefabricated houses, and allowed six others ro be imported free of duty. I have referred all other approaches to State governments. So far as I am aware, New South Wales is the only State which lias actually imported houses. The Government of that State is at present endeavouring to import further samples of prefabricated houses and will investigate the costs involved in comparison with local building costs in order to determine whether further importations would be justified.
– Can the Treasurer say what amount of money was collected in petrol tax for the financial year ended the 30th June, 1948, and how much was allocated to State governments for road construction and maintenance during that period?
– Although I cannot inform the honorable member offhand of the exact amount collected from petrol tax during the last financial year, I know that the amount to be made available to the States during the current financial year will amount to approximately £7,300,000. That amount will include not only direct grants but also special grants for the construction and maintenance of roads in sparsely-settled areas. That sum does not, however, include a special grant to be made from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to promote road safety. I shall obtain the information required by the honorable member, and furnish an estimate of the grants which will be made to the States during the present financial year.
– Is the Minister for Air aware that 150 former members of the Royal Australian Air Force recently held a meeting at the University of Melbourne, at which the following resolution was passed -
That this meeting of former members of the Royal Australian Air Force, now students at this university, endorse the proposal that a Melbourne University Squadron be formed as part of either the Citizen Air Force or the Perma”ent Air Force Reserve.
Can the Minister say whether the Air Board has any knowledge of the proposal? Since the Royal Australian Air Force provides for an establishment of only 400 citizen members, and the Melbourne Squadron, of 100 citizen air force personnel, includes only six pilots, will the Minister favorably consider the request contained in the resolution which I have just read? I point out that the incorporation of university students in the citizen air force is in -accordance with the practice followed by the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom.
– I have not seen any report of a meeting of former members of the Air Force studying at the University of Melbourne concerning Royal Australian Air Force matters. I am aware that the strength of the citizen air force throughout the whole of Australia, under the Government’s defence plan, is to be 400. I am prepared to consider any comments that may have been made by the university students concerned, but I assure the honorable member that no communication has been sent to me by them on the subject.
– With reference to the proposal that a new form of oath of allegiance shall be administered to persons adopting Australian nationality, or Australian citizenship, or whatever may be the appropriate term, in which the person concernedwill be required to swear, among other things, that Iwill faithfully observe the laws of, Australia and fulfil myduties as an Australian citizen, the Minister for Immigration will, on behalf of the Government, say that it is intended that people in government occupations, particularly members of the Australian Parliament, shall also swear faithfully to obey the laws of Australia ?
Mr.CALWELL.- The form of oath to which the honorable member has referred is contained in the second schedule to the Nationality and Citizenship Bill which I had the honour to introduceinto the Parliament lastweek and which relates to British nationality and Australian citizenship. Thebill contains no refenence to Australian nationality. If the honorable member had listened carefully to my second-reading speech he would have noted that the bill proposes to establish an Australian citizenship because all other dominionparliaments and the British Parliament itself have established separate citizenships for the areas under their control. In the legislation of all the Dominions there is maintained a common bond of British nationality. The oath willbe administered to persons who are awarded a certificate of Australian citizenship. It has nothing to do with anything else that may happen in Australia, and it certainly has nothing to do with members of the Australian Parliament.
– It differs from the oath contained in the British act.
Mr.CALWELL. - Yes, but only to the degree that we have established a new citizenship in Australia, and we believe that persons adopting Australian citizenship should include in their oath of loyalty to the King a self-imposed obligation to observe the laws of this country.
– Having taken theoath, if they break the law they will commit perjury?
– The honorable member may place what interpretationhe likes upon what people do who break an oath, just as members of the Government place what interpretation they like upon the way in which certain members of this Parliament have broken their oath in recent times by handlingstolen documents.
National Fitness Council
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that the Victorian Government, acting on legal advice, has directed the National Fitness Council that it must pay no part of the Victorian Government’s grant for national fitness to the Eureka Youth League,because of the Communist affiliations of that body? Has the Australian Government yet been informed of the Victorian Government’s decision? Will the Government also take action to ensure that no part of the Commonwealth national fitness grant is paid to the Eureka Youth League,or any other Communist body ?
– I saw a statement in a newspaper relating to this matter, and read it. I shall refer the balance of the honorable member’s question to the Minister forHealth.
Land Settlement ofex-Servicemen.
– Havingregard to the fact that the war has beenover for more than three years, and that the Commonwealth has participated in schemes for the land settlement of ex-servicemen conjointly with all of the States, will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction inform the House whether it is the intention of the Commonwealth to establish any form of soldier land settlement in the Northern Territory? If so, is it likely that many years will elapse before such a scheme is implemented? If it is not the Government’s intention to introduce a scheme of soldier land settlement in the Northern Territory, will the Minister make a straight announcement along those lines, so that the many ex-servicemen who are anticipating such a scheme will know where they stand?
– The objective of the Australian Government in taking part in schemes for the land settlement of ex-servicemen” conjointly with State Governments throughout Australia, is the re-establishment of ex-servicemen. In the Northern Territory, over which the Commonwealth has control, there are many difficulties. The amount of assistance which would be required by exexservicemen settling in the Northern Territory would be very much greater than that required by such men who settle on the land in the various States. The capital required by an ex-serviceman in Victoria and also the amount of expenditure by the Government would be much less than in the Northern Territory. The settlement of ex-servicemen on- the land in the Northern Territory is very closely linked with the system of leaseholds of very large areas which were granted by previous governments.
– And which were renewed by the present Government.
– Owing to the obligations in regard to leases that were entered into by previous governments, it is not easy to make suitable areas available in the Northern Territory.
Incident at Genoa.
– Has the Minister for the Navy yet received any report upon the fracas which occurred at Genoa between British and Australian sailors and Italian dockside loafers, in which one British sailor was killed and a considerable number of sailors was injured? If he has received such report, what is its purport? If not, will he ensure that compensation is paid to the relatives of the British sailor who was killed. If the fault was with the public of Genoa, or if the Italian Government was implicated, will the Government consider refusing landing permits to Italian migrants?
– I have not yet received a report upon the incident to which the honorable member has referred. The matter he has raised in the second part of his question will be considered.
Jot. CALWELL (Melbourne - Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration) [3.46]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 194’6, which came into operation on the 30th December, 1946, vested in the Minister for Immigration an overriding legal guardianship in respect of all immigrant children who come to Australia other than with, or for the purpose of living under the care of, their parents or relatives. The object of that act was to ensure that any immigrant children brought to Australia were properly accommodated and cared for until they reached twenty-one years of age. The Australian Government, in encouraging and assisting child migration, by making contributions towards passage money, by financially assisting with capital expenditure for their accommodation, and by paying child endowment to organizations caring for the children, accepts a responsibility which does not end with the arrival of the children in Australia.
The most important consideration is how the interests of immigrant children can best be served, and at my request, officers expert in child welfare administration recently reviewed the act and recommended certain amendments to it based on experience gained in the past twelve months in dealing with the immigrant children who came here. It is now proposed that these recommendations, which provide the Minister for Immigration with certain increased powers shall be embraced in the act.
Briefly, the amendments provide for - (a) the Minister to act as the legal guardian of the estate as well as of the person of any immigrant child; (6) an immigrant child, prior to leaving Australia, being required to first obtain the consent in writing of the Minister; and (c) the Minister to have power to approve of a private individual as a custodian of an immigrant child. That the Minister, as the legal guardian of the person of an immigrant child, should also be the legal guardian of the estate of that child is an amendment which provides for not only the safeguarding but also the receipt, disposition, management and control of property of an immigrant child until such time as he attains his own legal status. Such an amendment should commend itself to all honorable members.
The second amendment is intended to safeguard similarly the best interests of the immigrant child. Under the proposed amendment the consent of the Minister cannot be refused, unless he is satisfied that the grant of the consent would be prejudicial to the best interests of the immigrant child. This amendment will ensure that children shall not be taken from or induced to leave Australia without the permission of the Minister as their legal guardian.
The final amendment has been proposed as the result of careful consideration given to methods by which the flow of immigrant children into Australia may be increased. With the movement of immigrant children confined, for very desirable reasons, to those who are channelled through “ approved organizations”, such as the Fairbridge Farm Schools, Dr.Barnardo’s Homes, Northcote Children’s Farm School, and church bodies, the opportunity will arise for these children to be placed out with private individuals, either on a permanent basis or with legal adoption in view. It is, therefore, felt that the Minister should have the power to approve of a private individual as a custodian of an immigrant child, in addition to an authority or organization to which custodianship is at present limited. The purpose of the act is to ensure that immigrant children shall be provided with the care and supervision which they would normally expect to receive from their parents or nextofkin. The amendments now proposed will enable this to he done to a greater degree than has been possible under the existing act.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harbison) adjourned.
Mr. DEDMAN (Corio - Minister for
Defence, Minister for Post-war Recon struction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) [3.50]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Audit Act provides the legal machinery to implement the financial provisions of the Constitution in relation to the receipts and expenditure of the Commonwealth. In ensures not only that the receipts and expenditure shall be brought to account under a uniform practice, but also that proper audit procedure shall operate to secure accuracy in accounting. The Audit Act No. 4 of 1901 was one of the earliest pieces of legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. It, laid down a simple system of public accounts while at the same time safeguarding the public interests. In the intervening 47 years it has been amended on nine occasions, but only in 1906 and 1920 were amendments of a major nature effected. The four minor amendments since 1920 were of no consequence in the financial procedure and, therefore, it will be appreciated that this measure is the first comprehensive attempt to review our audit and accounting procedure for 28 years.
The fact that the last substantial amendment of the principal act followed a world war and that the present bill ensues on the termination of another world conflict is not without significance. The 1914-18 war found us unprepared to cope with complete efficiency with the rapid increase of the receipts and, more particularly, the expenditure of the Commonwealth. Hence, the Royal Commission on Navy and Defence Administration made several recommendations which were implemented in the Audit Act of 1920 in the direction of improving both audit and accounting procedure. In order to handle effectively the still greater expansion of the finances of the Commonwealth during the recent war, measures had to be adopted which the exigencies of the abnormal period dictated. The Treasury Regulations were completely revised in 1942. Comprehensive Treasury Instructions in manual form were issued to all departments in 1943. By National Security Regulation and otherwise, methods were devised to meet difficult situations which arose from time to time. It is now proposed to incorporate these emergency measures in the Audit Act. Following a critical examination of the present provisions of the act by the Treasury in close collaboration with the Auditor-General, other necessary improvements will be effected and some provisions, essential when the Commonwealth was in its infancy, are now being discarded as having long since served their purpose.
Seventeen of the 41 clauses of the bill concern audit procedure. Their purpose is to add nine new sections to the act, to omit one section as being redundant and to amend eleven others. Twentythree clauses relate to accounting procedure. They add four new sections to the act, omit two sections and the fourth schedule as unnecessary and amend sixteen other sections. One of the more important clauses relating to audit procedure provides for the enactment of National Security (Supplementary) Regulation 136 which was found necessary in 1945 to give the Auditor-General access to accounts, books, documents or papers which relate to expenditure. In view of the difficulties which then arose, it is deemed imperative that the provisions of that regulation be continued by appropriate provision in the Audit Act.
It is proposed to include specific provision in the act to make clear beyond any reasonable doubt that the AuditorGeneral is responsible for the audit of all accounts of the revenue, expenditure and stores of the Commonwealth, subject, of course, to the exercise by him of his decretionary powers under the act to dispense with detailed cheeks where the circumstances, in his opinion, warrant that course. For this purpose, three sections will be added on the lines of the relative provisions in the United Kingdom and Canadian acts. It was the intention of the 1920 act to give the AuditorGeneral full discretionary power as to the extent of his audit where he is satisfied that an adequate system of internal check is in operation. Some doubt has arisen about whether the legislative provision then made actually gives this discretion. This doubt is being resolved while, at the same time, not taking away from the Auditor-General any portion of his responsibility to the Parliament.
It has been the practice of the AuditorGeneral for some years, though this is not required by law, to include in his annual report references to audits, examinations and inspections carried out by him under other acts in relation to Commonwealth authorities. This practice will now be placed on a statutory basis. To facilitate the accounting procedure during the war, particularly in relation to the marketing of primary products, it was necessary in 1940 to issue the National Security (Guarantee) Regulations to enable the Treasurer to guarantee to the Commonwealth Bank moneys loaned for the purpose of goods or work essential for securing the defence of Australia. Although, on the present peace-time footing, the link between the defence of Australia and the purposes for which guarantees have been given is fast weakening, the necessity for guarantees still continues. The use of the Commonwealth Bank in trading activities in which the Commonwealth responsibility to the public is recognized by giving guarantees to that bank rather than by the expenditure of public moneys which would later be recovered provides a practical form of accounting. Its purpose, principally, is to assist the primary producer in obtaining finance in anticipation of the sale of his product overseas. It is, therefore, proposed to give the Treasurer authority to issue guarantees to the Commonwealth Bank in respect of loans for the purposes of the Commonwealth. The Treasurer will report all guarantees to the Parliament, and details will be furnished, annually in the budget papers.
The act provides that the Treasurer shall issue a quarterly statement of receipts and expenditure in relation to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, Loan Fund and the Trust Fund. Since 1930, it has been the practice of the Treasury to issue a monthly statement of the receipts and expenditure of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the expenditure of the Loan Fund. This statement, issued on the tenth day of each month, has supplanted in the public interest the quarterly statement, which takes five weeks to prepare. It is now proposed to make the monthly statement statutory and to supplement it with one additional statement in more detail for each half-year ending on the 31st December. The present, provisions of the Audit Act in regard to a trust account, when it has been established, limit the Treasurer’s authority to two actions, namely,, to close the account on the completion of its purpose and to pay any balance to revenue. Trust accounts are established to facilitate accounting procedure, and many of them are in the nature of working or trading accounts. They are financed from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or the Loan Fund, and they accumulate additional funds from their trading activities. Provision is now being made to permit any balance on the closing of a trust account or any unrequired balance in a trust account to be credited to revenue or loan in accordance with the nature of the appropriation which originally provided moneys in the trust account. This provision does not give the Treasurer any authority to dispose of moneys which have been received from any person for credit to a trust fund.
It has always been regarded as being within the inherent prerogative or discretion of the Treasurer to write off amounts due to revenue but not recoverable and also the value of stores which are deficient. It has been his practice for many years to delegate these powers to Ministers and, within limits, to senior officers of departments. These powers are now being placed on a statutory basis. In five sections of the act, authority is vested in the Governor-General in Council to make decisions regarding matters of accounting procedure. Whilst these may have been of some import in the early days of the Commonwealth, it is more appropriate and convenient nowadays that they should be placed in the hands of the Treasurer. A suitable amendment will be made in each case. Many of the proposed amendments to the act are of a machinery nature and therefore their purport is more appropriate for explanation in the committee stages of the bill. The bill will bring up to date and improve an, accounting procedure which, subject to the Executive, gives the Treasury effective control of the finances of the Commonwealth, and, at the same time, it will strengthen the AuditorGeneral in his independent position to ensure the correct accounting of those finances. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.
Declaration oe Urgency.
– I declare (a) that the Estimates of Expenditure are of an urgent nature; (Z>) that the resolutions preliminary to the introduction of the Appropriation Bill are urgent resolutions; and (c) that the Appropriation Bill is an urgent bill.
Question put -
That the Estimates be considered of an urgent nature; that the resolutions be considered urgent resolutions; and that the Appropriation Bill be considered an urgent bill.
The House divided. (Mb. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the time allottedfor the consideration of the remainder of the Estimates, the resolutions, and the stages of the Appropriation Bill, be as follows: -
– The proposed allotment of time will reduce the consideration of the Estimates to an absolute farce. One of the functions of the House of Representatives is to act as the custodian for the public of govern mental expenditure, but its authority is being rapidly whittled away. Honorable members will be allowed only nineteen and a half hours in which to discuss the Government’s proposals for expending £509,000,000 during the current financial year. How can we possibly analyse the Estimates adequately insuch a limited period?For example, the Department of External Affairs, the Department of the Treasury, the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of the Interior must be disposed of in three hours. During this financial year, the estimated expenditure of the Treasury alone will be approximately £7,500,000. For the Department of Works and Housing, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of Trade and Customs, the Department of Health and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, a period of three and one-quarter hours has been allotted. The Department of Works and Housing alone is committed to an expenditure of approximately £11,500,000. Expenditure on national defence will be approximately £172,000,000, and we shall be asked to approve of the vote after considering the Government’s policy for only a few hours. The Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, PapuaNew Guinea and Norfolk Islandwillhave to be disposed of in one hour. I invite honorable members to consider precisely what is likely to happen. The Chair invariably gives first call to a Government supporter and second call to an Opposition supporter. If each of those speakers takes the time permitted to him, no other honorable member will have an opportunity to express his views on the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, Papua-New Guinea and Norfolk Island before the guillotine operates. Only one representative of the Opposition will be able to deal with the maladministration in Papua-New Guinea. As I stated at the commencement of my protest, the proposed allotment of time will reduce the functions of this chamber to an absolute farce. The AuditorGeneral has made it perfectly clear on a number of occasions that some governmental expenditure is wasteful. Indeed, this Government is not capable of controlling the expenditure of more than £500,000,000 without incurring waste, yet when the Opposition has an opportunity to direct attention to this important fact, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) will permit only a very limited discussion. The action of the Government deserves the most severe condemnation. The Government is notorious for the lavish manner in which it spends the excessive amounts which it collects from taxes. Receipts from taxes have never been so high as they are now, and industry is being stifled by the oppressive taxation, but the Opposition is to be denied the right to point out the injustices. At the time of the election in 1946, the Opposition represented nearly 50 per cent, of the electorate. To-day, the Opposition represents nearly three-quarters of it, but is denied the right to protest on behalf of the people against excessive taxes.
– Order! The Acting Leader of the Opposition has exhausted his time.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) has protested against the application of the “ guillotine “. This chamber has already devoted three days to the consideration of the Estimates for the Parliament and the Prime Minister’s Department, and has not yet agreed to the proposed vote for the last-named. If that rate of progress were to he continued we should require between 50 and 60 days to complete the consideration of the 39 divisions in the Estimates. Obviously, the Government cannot allow that. Government supporters are most anxious that the bills contingent upon the passing of the Estimates shall be passed so that age and invalid pensioners, war pensioners, widows and other recipients of social benefits may receive without undue delay increased payments. Every day’s delay in the approval of these Estimates will result in a delay of a week or a fortnight to pensioners and other people who are expecting to receive benefit from the budget. They should not be deprived of getting promptly what the Parliament wishes them to get. Honorable members opposite are not worried about war widows or any other widows. They are not worried about age pensioners or anybody else. They are only concerned with using the Parliament as a stage on which to make unfounded and baseless charges against this Government to the nation. They are only concerned with using the Parliament as an instrument of propaganda, and that cannot be allowed.
Let us see what honorable members opposite did when they were in power. When the Estimates were before the Parliament in 1935, the proposed vote for the Department of the Interior was disposed of in two minutes. The present Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) had spoken for only two minutes on that item when the late Sir Archdale Parkhill applied the “gag”. No discussion was allowed at all on the proposed vote for the Defence Department, although the department, was in those days, as it is now, a most important one. Immediately the Chair called the proposed vote for that department Sir Archdale Parkhill applied the “gag”, and the committee could not discuss the expenditure of a single penny on the Defence Department. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) spoke upon the proposed vote for the Department of Trade and Customs, which was then being administered by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White). That honorable gentleman was tolerant enough to allow the honorable member for Werriwa to speak for one minute, and then he applied the “gag”. Yet honorable members opposite now protest because the Government proposes to allow nineteen and a half hours for the consideration of these Estimates. They repeat the same old story, parrot fashion. It has been written out for them at the Liberal party head-quarters in this capital. They each want to exercise their right to speak for half an hour, which is the period allowed under Standing Orders. Turning again to the debate on the Estimates in 1935, the discussion on the proposed vote for the Department of Health lasted three minutes. The honorable gentleman who is now the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) spoke for three minutes on that item, and then the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) applied the “gag”. On the proposed vote for the Department of
Commerce, the former honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the late Mr. Green, spoke for one minute, and then the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) applied the “ gag “.
– –What does it prove?
– It proves that the whole vote on that occasion was disposed of, not in nineteen hours, but in less than ten minutes. Everything was “ gagged “ through. Notwithstanding that, honorable members opposite now protest that the Government is acting rashly in asking Parliament to dispose of the remaining items in nineteen hours. If the proposal is agreed to, it will mean that at least seven days will have been devoted to discussing the Estimates, in addition to the fortnight which was devoted to a general debate on the budget. If honorable members opposite cannot say all that they have, to say in that time, having equal opportunity with honorable members on this side of the chamber to receive the call from the Chair and equal time in which to put forward their point of view, they can have no point of view that is worth putting forward. All that they want to do is to delay the transaction of business by the Parliament. Why should they wish to delay the payment of increased benefits to pensioners, widows and other beneficiaries under our social security system?
– Order ! The Minister has exhausted his time.
– I protest against the discourtesy to which I have been subjected in connexion with the question that is now before the Chair. As the Leader of the Australian Country party, I was not informed that this matter was to come before the House nor was I supplied with a copy of the proposed time-table. On behalf of my party, I protest emphatically against what I consider to be very shabby treatment.
The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) had the audacity to compare the Estimates for 1935 with the present Estimates, which provide for a record expenditure. The Parliament is being called upon to consider a record proposed expenditure of £526,000,000, £509,000,000 of which is to be derived from revenue and £17,000,000 from loans. That is a record for this Commonwealth. The Prime Minister and Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has added another record to his list. The Government is asking us to agree to this record expenditure in the record minimum time of approximately twenty hours. That is scandalous treatment. Honorable members are trustees of the people, yet they will be compelled, by force of circumstances, to find this sum of £526,000,000, which the Parliament will be asked to vote after giving the matter such scanty consideration. We are being called upon to consider the proposed votes for nineteen departments of State, including the Defence Department. Surely that department requires more than passing consideration in the circumstances in which the world finds itself to-day. In addition to the Estimates for those departments of State, we are being asked to consider, in this record, scanty, unreasonable and dictatorial time of twenty hours, the affairs of two most important business undertakings - the Commonwealth Railways and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. We are also being asked to squeeze into this time-table the consideration of heavy expenditure in connexion with the territories of Australia. The Estimates for these territories alone require for their consideration the full time that it is proposed to allot for the consideration of the gigantic Estimates that have been placed before us. Further, we are being asked to consider subsidies and payments to the States and to the primary industries of Australia. The economic welfare of this country depends largely upon our rural or primary industries, yet we are being asked to approve of this scanty time for the consideration of them, f lodge an emphatic protest at this shabby treatment of the Parliament and the Australian people.
– The House has listened to a strange outburst by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). The right honorable gentleman complained that the Government proposed to limit the discussion on the proposed vote for the Department of
Defence, and referred to the troubled times in which we live. The years between 1937 and 1940 were years in which we were moving up to the outbreak of war and include the first year of the war. The Lyons-Menzies Government, which was in power at that time, applied the guillotine on six occasions. During the period of the next Parliament, when the Curtin Government was in power, the guillotine was not applied at all. Honorable members opposite have referred in their speeches on the budget to war service homes, among other things. There has been a great outcry about insufficient homes being constructed for the people of this country. During the regime of the administration which preceded the Curtin Government, when the Labour party, which was then in opposition, wanted to discuss war service homes, the Government applied the “gag” and allowed no discussion of the matter at all. Honorable gentlemen opposite ‘“‘protest too much “. At a time when there was widespread unemployment and an abundance of materials in this country, the then Opposition in this Parliament was not permitted even to discuss war service homes. The debate was “ gagged “. The man who applied the “gag” was Mr. R. G. Casey, now the president of the Liberal party, who is aspiring to the Prime Ministership of Australia. He put the “ steam-roller “ over the Opposition on that occasion, and prevented discussion of the provision of homes for exservicemen. The next item on the Estimates on that occasion was “ Territories of the Commonwealth “, and once again the “ steam-roller “ was applied to the Opposition. When “ Refunds of Revenue” came before the committee, and the present Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan), then a private member in opposition, had spoken for only four minutes, once again Mr. R. G. Casey applied the “ gag “, thus terminating further discussion of the subject. Similar tactics were employed throughout the discussion of the Estimates. As the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) has said, the time allowed for the discussion of all the departments on that occasion was approximately a quarter of an hour. On this occasion, the general budget debate lasted for a fortnight, and already the Estimates have been under discussion for several days, yet the Government is condemned for introducing a time-table allowing, not just another nineteen and a half minutes, but another nineteen and a half hours, for the consideration of the remainder of the proposed votes.
.- The burden of the Opposition’s protest against this limitation of time is that it will not permit a fair debate of the proposed votes for all the departments. The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) in his “ soap-box “ style misled the House by recounting occasions on which, some honorable members were allowed to speak .for only one or two minutes. . It has been necessary on some occasions in the past to work to timetables. I was not able to gather from the Prime Minister’s mumbling speech just what time has been allotted to the various departments under the proposal now before the House, but it appears that before the end of this week we must deal with the whole nineteen departments, involving a total expenditure of approximately £500,000,000. Obviously all honorable members who wish to speak on the many matters involved will not have an opportunity to do so. In the past some Ministers have abused their prerogative in the debates on the Estimates. A Minister may rise at any time and secure the call, and last year discussion by private members on some departments was completely eliminated because certain Ministers, including the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), spoke ad lib. to shut out criticism. The Minister for Information has sought to make people believe that the payment of pensions would be delayed by permitting a full discussion of the Estimates. That is not true. The matters that the Opposition wishes to bring under discussion are of the kind to which I referred in a question that I asked a fortnight ago. I asked the Prime Minister why he had misled the public in his budget speech by stating that pensioners, including age and invalid pensioners and ex-servicemen, would have their payments increased by approximately 10 per cent. I proved to the honorable gentleman that the most deserving ex-servicemen, which include those suffering from complete and permanent incapacity-
-Order! The honorable member is not entitled to discuss that matter now.
– Questions of great importance relating to certain departments have been asked but not answered. The time permitted for the discussion of the remainder of the Estimates will not allow reasonable opportunity for criticism’ or discussion of the many anomalies that are apparent. This Parliament is ceasing to be a deliberative assembly. It is becoming just a cheap talking house. All the real business of the country is “ fixed up “ in the caucus room. The decisions of caucus are bludgeoned through Parliament by the weight of numbers. Opposition amendments are never accepted. Ministers came into the House to-day with statements all ready prepared to smash down any opposition that we might raise to the curtailment of the debate. There is one way of putting all this right - by holding an election. This Government is ou t of step with the people in its attempts to foist alien philosophies upon a British community. It will be swept from office. That is the clear duty of the people. The Opposition has a duty and responsibility in this Parliament, but its rights are being stifled by the Government. I hope, that very soon the people will have a chance to speak. I have no doubt that, when that time comes, men like the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), who for years have sat on the treasury bench, and have degraded the Parliament, will be swept from office.
– I rise to order. The honorable member’s reference to the Minister for Transport is objectionable to me and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I ask the honorable member for Balaclava to withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I have listened with astonishment to the protest of the Opposition at the very liberal time allowed by the Government for the remainder of the debate on the Estimates. It has been well said by one of my colleagues that any delay in the approval of the Estimates by the Parliament will mean a delay in the payment of increased pensions and other social services provided in the budget. One could understand the Opposition’s protest, perhaps, had honorable members opposite demonstrated during recent, months, or, in fact, since this Parliament first met, that they had available at anytime sufficient strength to make good use of all the time that has been allowed to them to debate a variety of subjects.. But let us have a look at the division list recorded in this chamber a few minutesago. The Opposition could muster only eighteen members out of a total strength, of 29.
– The Government had1 only 28.
– I appreciate that, but it is the Opposition that is protesting that it is being deprived of its right todebate the Estimates, when, as a matter of fact, there are eleven absenteesfrom its ranks, leaving only eighteenhonorable members to attack what the Opposition is pleased to call the “ nefarious practices “ of the Government.
– There are 22 absentees from the Government side.
– But they are supporters of Labour’s beneficial legislation. We claim that our legislation is effective, and that in the circumstances it is not necessary to muster the full strength that the Opposition should always have at its command. I find that the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), the oracle from Warringah, the man who comes to this chamber about once a week, which is what has happened during his membership of this Parliament, condemns the Government and leaves by the next train or aeroplane for Sydney tocarry on his private business- -
– I rise to order. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether it is permissible, in this debate on the timelimit for the Estimates, for an honorable member to make a personal attack on another honorable member?
– The matter under discussion is the adequacy of the time-table. If honorable members wish to deal with other matters that have directrelation to that matter they are entitled to do so, but they may not debate irrelevant matters or make unparliamentary attacks on other honorable members.
– The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) towards the end of both the last session and at the beginning of this session was conspicuous by his absence. He comes into the Parliament infrequently, delivers an attack on the Government, and then departs for the delightful scenery in the vicinity of his electorate. I have been informed on reliable information that the honorable member has envious eyes on the new electorate of Barkly where thegoing is better than in the electorate of Indi. There are also other notable frequent absentees from attendance in this Parliament, when important Estimates such as those being dealt with to-day, are being discussed. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) is absent from the present debate. He apparently does not desire to avail himself of the opportunity to attack this Government on what some other honorable members would term its lack of appreciation of the electorate of Moreton.
– Where is the honorable member for Watson?
– The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) fails to distinguish between the duties of the Opposition and those of the Government. The Government is always convinced that its legislation is beneficial and always has the numbers to ensure that its legislation secures a passage through the Parliament. The duty of the Opposition is quite different. Honorable members of the Opposition are supposed to be watchdogs.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 257b.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 1125), be agreed to.
The House divided. (Me. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply: Considera tion resumed from the 1st October (vide page 1112).
Proposed vote, £2,878,400.
Upon which Mr. Fadden had moved, by way of amendment -
That Division No. 10. - Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, £1,873,000 - be reduced by £1,000,000.
– I rise to speak on the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) that the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department be reduced by £1,000,000 as a protest against the Government’s failure to maintain the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in such a way as to ensure that the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States will make available to Australia secrete which are now denied to it by them. As honorable members realize, the amendment arises from, and is made necessary by, the revelations which the Leader of the Australian Country party made in this Parliament concerning a certain document relative to a meeting held in London which the Prime Minister and British Cabinet Ministers attended, and which the Prime Minister referred to as, in effect, a meeting of the British Inner Cabinet, and also concerning certain revelations that were made at a meeting of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on the 6th July last.
During the debate which has taken place, neither the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman), nor any other Minister who has taken part, has asserted, or attempted to adduce any proof, that the statement made by the Leader of the Australian Country party was incorrect. Indeed, none of them even questioned the accuracy of that statement. The London Times of the 9th July last stated that the Australian Prime Minister was present at a meeting held at No. 10 Downingstreet on the 8th July, and the report went on to state that the Australian Prime Minister afterwards conferred with the British Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, and other Ministers of the British Government, and that there was a general interchange of views, particularly on economic matters. A report which appeared in the London Times of the 13th July last stated -
A meeting of the Cabinet was held yesterday morning at 10 Downing-street. … In the afternoon the Prime Minister had a talk with Mr. Chifley. ‘ There will be another meeting of the Cabinet to-day. Mr. Chifley also talked yesterday with Mr. Alexander, Minister for Defence, and Sir Ben Lockspeiser, Chief Scientist to the Ministry of Supply.
Honorable members will recall that the last named gentleman visited this country after the recent visit of Sir Percy Sillitoe, who is the head of M.I. 5, the important British security section. On the 14th July the following report appeared in the London Times; -
Mr. Chifley’s programme yesterday included further separate talks with Sir Stafford Cripps, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Mr. Hector McNeil, Minister of State; and the British authorities interested in the development of the rocket range in Australia.
A report from London which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 10th July, 1948, stated-
The Australian Prime Minister, Mr. -Chifley, had important talks with senior British Ministers this morning on foreign affairs and British Commonwealth Defence. The talks occupied the whole of the morning. They ranged from the British situation to the British-Australian research in guided projectiles. . . .
On the 14th July the following report, which had been transmitted from London the preceding day, appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald: -
Mr. Chifley during the day saw senior members of the British Ministry and discussed rocket range development and South-East Asia affairs.
On the 19th July the Sydney Morning Herald contained the following report : -
Mr. Chifley said that as a result of his visit there had been certain developments on the scientific side of defence. He had had certain discussions with leading British scientists, one of whom, Sir Henry Tizzard, would visit Australia in October.
It is clear, therefore, that these matters were discussed by the Prime Minister during his recent visit to England, and it is significant that neither the Prime Minister nor any other Minister has denied that the Government of the United States will not pass on to Australia any secret military or nuclear information. The Government of the United States is dissatisfied with the present security precautions in- this country. It fears that the essential secrets which it is preserving, not for aggression but for the defence of ordinary men and women, and poor people in the cities, including the fathers and mothers of families who cannot afford to leave the cities in war-time to escape atomic bombs, will find their way into enemy hands. The Government of the United States has decided, because our security system is so full of holes that vital information may be passed on from Australian sources to the potential enemies . of the democratic nations of the world and that it cannot trust the present Government of this country with military or nuclear secrets for fear that they may leak out. I think that the United States Government was very wise in making that decision. It certainly cannot afford to take risks in such matters.
Since neither the Prime Minister nor any other member of the Government has denied the charges made by the Leader >of the Australian Country party, we must believe those charges to be true. The only attempt made by the Government to :refute the charges is contained in the ^speech of the Minister for Defence, who tried to mislead honorable members by asserting that United States legislation prevented the release by that country of any atomic information whatever. When he was “ bowled out “ by the revelation that the American legislation related only to information concerning the industrial use of atomic energy, the Minister withdrew the defence which he had attempted to raise, but his withdrawal does not alter the fact that he tried to mislead the committee and the people of Australia. Therefore, I say that one red herring after another has been drawn across the trail by the Prime Minister and his colleagues.
The Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence stated that no secrets have leaked out and that nothing has “got away “. They went further and said, in effect, “ We guarantee that no secrets whatever have leaked out from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, or from any other body in Australia which might have possession of secret information “. How could they give such an assurance ? They gave that assurance in the most casual fashion, knowing that it could not possibly be true, and in the knowledge that what happened in Canada may easily have happened here. We recall, that Mr. McKenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister, and the members of his Government were not prepared to accept the information given to them by Gouzenko,* of the Soviet Embassy, when he first brought the documents to the Canadian
Government. However, when the Canadian Government examined the documents, it was so impressed that it brought the British Prime Minister to Washington, where the documents were examined by Mr. Atlee and President Truman. An important conference followed to decide what action should be taken. Because of the’ rotten spy system which had permeated all the Canadian bodies concerned, members of that Government knew nothing of what was happening until Gouzenko produced his documents.- The Prime Minister had adopted an attitude similar to that at first adopted by the Canadian authorities. He has made the definite statement that no information has escaped. In the present state of world affairs any honorable gentleman occupying the position of Prime Minister who makes such a rash statement does not deserve to continue to hold that position.
It is clear that the Government of the United States of America was not, and is not, satisfied that the precautions taken in Australia are adequate to prevent the leakage of secret information, and that, in consequence, it is denying to the Australian Government information which might be of the greatest possible benefit to this country for its defence.
– That is not true.
– The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) says that that is not true, but he has never shown himself anxious to defend the rights of Australians when they clash with those of his friends of Soviet Russia. Therefore, I say that in Australia there are traitors and people such as those to whom the Prime Minister has referred as “ followers of a political philosophy “, who are protected by the Government. I refer to members of the Communist party. Members of that party were the fifth columnists in Canada. They were the people who obtained a sample of uranium 235 for the Russian Embassy in Canada in order that it might be sent to Russia. Only the other day one of the leading lights of the Communist party in Australia, Mr. Burns, said that if this country became involved in war with Russia, the
Communists of Australia would fight on the side of Russia against their native land. Notwithstanding the making of that statement, and others of similar character, the Prime Minister tries to mislead the people of Australia into believing that the trend of occurrences in this country is not similar to that in other countries. How can the right honorable gentleman be so rash as to say that there has been no leakage of information, when he does not know whether or not leakages have occurred? Obviously, he is protecting those people of whom h<» is so fond, and for whom he has shown such great friendship during his whole political life. We have been told that nothing has occurred in Australia similar to that which occurred in Canada; yet this morning’s press discloses that the British Labour Government, led by Mr. Clement Attlee, has found it necessary to make a purge of the Public Service in that country. A report which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning stated -
Latest on the list are the three technicians unci one experimental officer at the Postal Department’s Dollis Hill research station in Willesden
A few days ago the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) referred to the employment of a Communist in the Postal Department in Melbourne. We have heard of other instances of Communists being employed by that department, and there is grave doubt whether the security of our postal and telephonic communications is all that it should be. If the Prime Minister investigated some of the happenings in his own electorate, particularly the activities of the Communists in the Katoomba branch of the Australian Labour party, he would do much better than he is doing by sitting in this chamber and giving rash undertakings. The report in the Sydney Morning Herald continues -
The Daily Express says to-day these suspensions are the first round-up by the security agency, M15, in the field of communications.
That is the security organization whose chief, Sir Percy Sillitoe, was in Australia. The Prime Minister said that he had received no written document on this matter from the British Government and that consequently the document referred to by the Leader of the Australian Coun try party (Mr. Fadden) was either obtained wrongfully or was a forgery.
GOVERNMENT Members. - Hear, hear !
– Honorable members opposite say “ Hear, hear ! “. I say that there was a third alternative. It was possible that the Prime Minister, immediately after attending the Cabinet meeting in London, did what many Ministers and many other people do after they return from important conferences. He immediately dictated to his typist or secretary an aide memoire so that he would not have to depend on his memory of what took place. That practice is generally adopted. If the Prime Minister did not dictate such a document, he may have received a copy from one of the British officials who was reported to be present at the meeting in his official capacity. I believe that, apart from parliamentarians, four officers were present in a secretarial capacity. The Prime Minister should have questioned the people to whom he passed on the report before he made his accusations in this -chamber. I assume that he passed it on to at least two people, the High Commissioner for Australia in Great Britain, Mr. Beasley, and the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). He should inquire from them whether they passed the document on, and how many Australian officials outside the Prime Minister had knowledge of and access to it, before he made his accusation of leakage from the British Cabinet.
– Who said that there was a document?
– The existence of the document was commonly talked about in Canberra. Reports based on it were sent out apparently by a very high authority here. I had Sent to me this morning a copy of the London Sunday Dispatch of the 25th July, 1948-
– Who sent it?
– “Who sent it? “. asks the “bull frog” from Brisbane.
– Order! The honorable member for New England must address the Chair and must refer to other honorable gentlemen by their constituencies.
– I am sorry for offending, but it is annoying to be so rudely interrupted when I am trying to make the position clear by quoting from a reputable London newspaper. Under the heading “Secrets kept from Australia,” the Sunday Dispatch stated -
The United Status of America is insisting that atomic research information supplied in Britain must not be passed on to Australia, says Reuter’s Canberra correspondent, quoting “ usually reliable sources “.
Reuter’s is looked upon throughout the world as one of the most responsible and accurate of the press agencies. In fact, Reuter’s may be said to be the .official press agency of the British Government and, to an agency like Reuter’s, “ usually reliable sources “ means ministerial sources, as everybody who has exercised ministerial authority well knows. The newspaper article continued - lt is thought that one reason for this is the refusal of members of Australia’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to maintain secrecy on such information.
Allegations have been made in the Australian Parliament that some persons associated with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are Communists or Communist sympathizers.
Sir Percy Sillitoe, an intelligence chief of the British War Office, is said in the Canberra message to have reported unfavorably on Australian security precautions.
That bears out exactly what the Leader of the Australian Country party has said. It proves that this information was released by ministerial authorities in Australia to the most accurate press agency in the British Empire.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The Leader of the Australian Country party deserves the thanks of the nation for attempting to bring to a sense of duty members of this Government who are false and recreant to the oath of office which they took when they assumed office. Finding that this incident is reacting against it, members of the Government are making all sorts of allegations against people who use what they term “ secret documents “. Knowing very well that this document could not have been secret when the Government itself was issuing matter of that kind to the press, realizing that the people of Australia are waking up, and knowing that the security of this country is deeply and dangerously involved because the Government will not do anything to ensure it, the Government attempts to get out of its difficulty by “ crawfishing “. I say what I am about to say with a great deal of sadness, because the Prime Minister of this Commonwealth only a fortnight ago referred to me in this chamber as “ a. very old friend “. It is very hard to have to tell the truth about a man who claims to be an old friend ; but if I have to choose between my duty and a very old friend I shall not hesitate to do ray duty. The leopard does not change his spots. The Prime Minister is a man who, in 1917, took his hand off the throttle of his locomotive and, for all he cared, left his fellow Australians on the battlefields of France deprived of food and ammunition. I know, because T was in France at that time. After the terrible disasters-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! That has nothing to do with the vote before the committee.
– Breeding and heredity leave indelible marks on men and animals alike. A ram or a bull does not change its hereditary characteristics as it grows old. Just as the Prime Minister was prepared recklessly to endanger the lives of many citizens of the Commonwealth in 1917, so to-day, for fear of splitting the Labour movement, which he regards as the holiest thing in his life, the right honorable gentleman is afraid to deal with the Communists and to root thora out of the political and industrial organizations which they dominate throughout the Commonwealth. He refuses to take the necessary action to root out the fifth columnists and the enemies within, and so convince the people of the United States and Great Britain that we can be trusted with their defence secrets. To-day the people of those two great nations do not believe that we can be trusted. The defence of this nation and the lives and homes of its people are endangered by the cowardice of the man who to-day is Prime Minister ‘ of Aus-, tralia.
– I assure the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) that I did not endanger the life of anybody in 1917. I was not on duty when the transport strike occurred in that year. As this debate has centred on the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research it may bo well to place on record how the council comes to be situated administratively as it is to-day. The legislation under which the council was established was introduced, not by this Government, but by a. previous government. The provisions of that act cannot be altered except by an amendment of the act. In other words, the council cannot be brought under the control of the Public Service Board, as are other departments, because of the very nature of the provisions of the act. I repeat that that legislation was introduced by a conservative government. Some years ago, I considered whether the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be placed under the control of the Public Service Board, but it was pointed out to me, as no doubt it was pointed out also to the Minister in a previous government who introduced the legislation, that because scientific matters were slightly different from ordinary Public Service matters, it would be very difficult to administer the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research under ordinary Public Service control. That aspect of the matter has been examined on several occasions. I also had discussions with officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research because that body was growing very rapidly. It now controls about 5,000 employees. Not for many of the reasons stated in this chamber, but for administrative reasons, I considered there was some justification for bringing it under the Public Service Board, but leading officers of the Council for Scientific, and Industrial Research raised many objections to that course being adopted, and I agreed with their contention.
I stress that the leading officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research were appointed, not by this Government, but by previous conservative governments, and that if there is something wrong with the structure of the council it is because of the special legislation which was brought in by those previous governments. The attack on Sir David Rivett is one of the most discreditable incidents this Parliament has ever known. This public servant has done magnificent work for Australia. His loyalty and integrity have never previously been questioned in this country and the scientists of the world hold him in the highest esteem. I repeat that this Government did not appoint him ; he was appointed by a previous government. In conjunction with the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) I have often examined the provisions of the act to see whether they should be amended. I make it clear that whatever defects exist in the administrative side of the council, or in the capacity of its leaders, they have not been brought about by any action of this Government.
– Has the right honorable gentleman not the power to amend that act?
– Yes, and I have often given thought to the desirability of sp doing. I have discussed that subject with other Ministers and with Sir David Rivett, but I understand the difficulties that exist, particularly in relation to scientists. I want it to be clearly understood that the structure of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is the creation of another government, which’ also appointed the leader of that organization.
– Hear, hear!
– That appointment is one of which I thought honorable members opposite would have been proud ; instead they have in this chamber slandered a man of fine character.
The honorable member for New England can be assured that I did no dictating to anybody about anything in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, I did not discuss with the High Commissioner, Mr. Beasley, in London, or with the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), any of the problems that were dealt with in London. When I was in London the Minister for External Affairs was in Australia, and Mr. Beasley was not present at any of the conferences. The honorable member can disabuse his mind of the idea that anything I might have given to anybody in London was likely to be given to the press or anybody else.
I shall now deal with an aspect of this matter that really disturbs me. From time to time I have heard about the possibilities of Communists stealing information for foreign powers, but I am amazed at the attitude of members of the Australian Country party in this chamber, in conjunction with the de facto leader of their party, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). I largely absolve members of the Liberal party from what I am about to say, because I have not heard the same said by them. I am neither admitting nor denying anything about Cabinet meetings, and I have made it perfectly clear that I do not intend to disclose what any British Cabinet meeting to which I was invited discussed or did not discuss. T shall refer to a statement made in this chamber by the right honorable the Leader of’ the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). I repeat what I said last Friday, that if his document was true, he quoted from a stolen document, and if it was not true, the document was a complete forgery. It had nothing to do with London at all. In this connexion, I refer honorable members to the “flats “ of last Friday’s debates in this chamber. The document purports to relate to a meeting of the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and had nothing to do with the British Cabinet. There is not the slightest indication that reports of discussions in London between myself and the British Prime Minister or other Ministers of the British Cabinet have leaked out from the United Kingdom. I have told Mr. Atlee that I believe there has not been the slightest leakage from the United Kingdom. If the right honorable Leader of the Australian Country party vouches for the authenticity of the statement that he read out in this chamber on Friday, which purports to be a record of a private meeting of the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on certain defence aspects, I repeat that, if it is true it is a stolen document. I have heard a great deal about searching in this country for people who are pre- pared to 3teal documents, or to deflect some public servant from the path of honesty and duty, and I think it is a very regrettable thing that in this very Parliament there are people who, if not personally prepared to steal documents, are willing, through their satellites, “ stooges “ or supporters, to steal information from documents marked “ confidential “ and to disclose such information. Thus the Commonwealth Investigation Service, while continuing its efforts to tighten up the security of the country, now has thrown upon it the additional task of supervising the activities of members of the Parliament who are prepared to use stolen documents of a secret nature in order to gain some party political advantage.
– Will the Prime Minister elaborate that statement ? It implies a threat, and the right honorable gentleman should say what he means.
– In case there is any mistake about the matter, I repeat that members of the Parliament have been prepared to quote from documents which they know are either stolen or forged.
– What are they?
– In this instance it did not matter what they were. The action taken by those involved is entirely discreditable. The Commonwealth investigation officers will not be remiss in their task of ensuring that public documents shall be safe from not only the Communists, but also others who are prepared to use them, not in the national interest, but solely in order to gain some paltry party political advantage, not caring to what degree the country may be thereby discredited.
– Let the right honorable gentleman get his Ministers to tell the truth to the nation.
– Those are the facts. Can any member of the Parliament who acts as a “ fence “ for a thief, because it is not much less than that - -
– Does the Prime Minister remember the Winkler case ?
– I am speaking for myself.
– The Prime Minister was a member of the Opposition executive at that time.
– I am not speaking about Winkler, or anybody else. I am talking about the state of affairs existing in the world to-day when members of the Opposition claim as, indeed, we ourselves claim, that it is absolutely essential that no documents relating to matters of security or defence should be available to anybody except only those whose duty it is to handle them. That is the responsibility of the Government; but the Leader of the Australian Country party said, “Somebody sent it to me”. How does he expect any sensible citizen in this country to believe that if he gets a. document of this kind he does not know that it has been either stolen or forged? We are not children, and the public are not children either. It is either of two things.
– What about the third possibility ?
– The honorable member for New England is talking about atomic energy research. That is a civilian activity and has nothing to do with defence. We have not engaged in either atomic research or the manufacture of atomic bombs in this country. Therefore, that subject does not come into this matter. I shall keep the honorable member for New England on the track for a little longer because he seems to be rapidly getting off it. This attempt to gain confidential information which should be known only to the Government does not apply to all members of the Opposition. It seems to me that it is confined to a limited field - certain members of the Australian Country party with its de facto Leader, the honorable member for Reid. That brings us to what is to me a very unfortunate position, that is, that the Government becomes obliged to supervise even the activities of some members of the Parliament. If they are prepared to take such documents, or more important still, if certain public servants are prepared to give them information-
– That is a rotten thing to say.
– That is the only source it could come from. Therefore, I can only say that in future I should think that no decent public servant in this country would care to be seen talking to the kind of people who quote from what, on their own confession, is a stolen document. That is not a satisfactory state of affairs.
– A lot of rot !
– I have tried to bring to the Parliament some sense of tolerance in dealing with this sort of matter. It has always been my desire in these fights to be under Marquess of Queensberry rules. I have to observe those rules, but if honorable members opposite propose to adopt tactics of this sort, aided by the honorable member for Reid - if they propose to adopt “ Rafferty’s “ rules. - very well. The honorable member for Reid has been a notable exponent of “Rafferty’s “ rules ; but I, also, having been reared in New South Wales politics, will not be averse in such circumstances to observing them also.
I shall not go into details at this juncture. I only say with the deepest regret that the national interests, the interests of the people of this country, are not helped very much by some - not all - members of the Opposition inducing somebody who is in charge of certain documents to give them access to such documents. I am taking their own statement that the documents in respect of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are genuine and deal with what is supposed to have happened in Australia. If some members of the Opposition are prepared to engage in that sort of thing, how can they expect to get a Public Service above reproach? With the Government, they should be the first to say that no member of the Public Service should ever be induced to disclose the contents of any document in a way that would react to the detriment of the national interest. Although this matter i$ being sifted very thoroughly, the results of the Government’s investigations will not be used to the advantage of the Government or of any party, because such action would only be to the detriment of the interests of the country. We shall not be a party to doing anything that would be to the detriment of the nation. Whilst there may be differences between us in respect pf politics and administration, we have too great a love for our country to do that. I promise the Parliament that this matter will be thoroughly sifted. I have already gleaned some interesting facts concerning those who have been associated indirectly with members of the Opposition. I said earlier to-day that this inquiry will be pursued by the Acting Attorney-General (Senator McKenna), who is in charge of the Commonwealth Investigation Service. He is a lawyer, and is quite capable of sifting the evidence that has already been obtained or may be obtained later. But whatever the Government does with regard to the matter it will not do anything to bring the people, the Parliament or the country into disrepute.
.- We have just seen the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) stirred, apparently with deep emotion, by the fact that he and bis Government have been unmasked. That is apparent from his defence. For weeks past he has contradicted newspaper reports that the Government of the United States of America has refused to reveal certain information to the Australian Government because of lack of confidence caused by the presence of Communists in certain Australian departments. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) endeavoured to refute those allegations and the Prime Minister denied them, but when the right honorable gentleman was finally confronted with a document and asked whether it was authentic, he put on a display of the most righteous indignation, talked about his love for his country, decried the love of others for their country, and suggested that the most traitorous things were being done by those who wished to expose the weaknesses of our defence system in the event of war with Russia. I have heard nothing more humbugging and hypocritical in this Parliament than the speech just made by the Prime Minister. We, on this side of the chamber, have tried to insist that the security of Australia shall be of paramount importance and not the subject of partisan bickering. In fact, I suggested recently that while the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was in London, he ought to be co-opted to attend the Imperial defence conference with the Minister for
External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), in the same way as Mr. Attlee was co-opted by Mr. Churchill to attend the Potsdam Conference, in order that we might be able to frame and pursue a continuing policy on international affairs. For example, in the United States of America, Mr. Truman and Mr. Dewey enunciate identical foreign policies, even though they represent opposing political parties. I suggested that the Leader of the Opposition ought to attend the conference in London, as a possible successor to the Prime Minister after the next general election, because the defence of Australia is a matter which should be above party considerations. The only answer to my suggestion was a scoffing rejoinder by the Prime Minister that perhaps the Leader of the Opposition might not occupy his present position at the time of the next election - a paltry, belittling reply on a matter of the most outstanding importance. To-day, the right honorable gentleman paraded his grief because a document had been stolen and transmitted to people who should not have been permitted to see it.
That document revealed that the information supplied to the Parliament by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence during the last two or three weeks was false. What they claimed to be facts are not in accordance with the truth. We, as members of the Opposition, have a right and a duty to expose to the people the weaknesses of our defence, system, particularly in the light of the alarm which they cause in the United States of America, upon which country we must lean in the event of a conflict. Therefore, I say that all this talk by the Prime Minister, with a sob in his voice, about duty to one’s country is mere deception. He rebuked the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) for putting a certain document before this Parliament, in a . manner that was reminiscent of Uriah Heep. The right honorable gentleman then made a personal attack upon the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), who, day in and day out, has questioned him about the positions held by leading Communists in the Public Service and the granting of travel facilities and t priivileges to Communists, in spite of their insidious white-anting of government instrumentalities. The honorable member for Reid hae even named certain Communists and referred specifically to their activities. But all of his questions have been answered evasively by the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman tried to draw a red herring across the trail this afternoon by crying about his exposure, and talking about the morals of the Opposition, and their sense df ethics and duty. He talked freely of his own merits arid said how deeply he would regret having to descend into the gutter to direct investigators to inquire into the private lives and business affairs of other people. Such underhand inquiries are already being pursued on behalf of the Government against members of the Opposition. A “Gestapo” has been appointed to investigate their personal affairs! As the result of the exposure of his untruthful statements about the defence of Australia, the Prime Minister now declares that he will consider putting the Commonwealth Investigation Service on the trail of members of the Opposition in order to learn the names of public servants with whom they are in contact.
He proposes to scrutinize the record of every one of those public servants. In other words, he is going to be a Stalin in an Australian way on the pretext that he loves his country. His love for his country is not greater than that of members of the Opposition who have fought for their country. I do not decry Ministers and Government supporters who have fought for Australia, but I remind the Prime Minister that bo has no monopoly of patriotism. Just because the Leader of the Australian Country party and the honorable member for New .England (Mr. Abbott) have revealed certain facts from a sense of public duty, be is not entitled to declare that they have any less regard for their country than he has. The duty of all parties at this Hark period in the world’s history, when the clouds of war are lowering, is to unite in the common interest. The Liberal party, the Australian Country party and the Labour party ought to join together in framing a unilateral foreign policy in line with that of Great Britain and the United States of America. Whether we wish it or not, we must aline ourselves with our friends and our allies. The Prime Minister has not once condemned the aggressive tactics of the Communists, either in Australia or overseas, although the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and his representatives have repeatedly drawn attention, at the Paris Conference and elsewhere, to the belligerent attitude of Russia. Why is that so? The reason is obvious. He is endeavouring to pander to the Communists in Australia, upon whom he and his supporters rely for support in order to be elected to power at election after election. That is the truth.
– The Communists account for only a few thousand votes.
– If they have only a few dozen informers in key positions in government departments, they can sabotage the entire Australian defence system in the event of war. These facts have been stressed by the honorable member for Reid week after week in a series of questions directed to the Prime Minister. Yet nothing is being done about such men who acknowledge allegiance to Russia and could virtually immobilize many of our services if war broke out. We have heard only canting talk about patriotism and stolen documents in an attempt to draw a red herring across the trail. Neither Australians nor Americans will believe it and whether or not the Minister for Defence again contradicts all the facts that have been brought forward, the people of Australia will not accept his explanation.
– The only new matter which has been introduced in this debate since I spoke last Thursday is the statement by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), who quoted from what is alleged to be a document that has come into his possession. I want to make quite clear what the nature of this alleged document is. It is not a letter written by me. It is a communication alleged to have been sent to him–
– It is not such a thing. It is the minute of a meeting.
– It is a communication which purports to be a summary of something which I am - alleged to have said at a meeting of the executive committee of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It would be quite easy for me either to affirm or to deny the authenticity of the document, but in so doing, I could be giving away valuable information to the enemies of this country.
– That is what they want the Minister to do.
– Of course it is. My experience of this kind of matter began long before the Leader of the Australian Country party became a member of this chamber. Having been a King’s Messenger, I know what steps should be taken in order to ensure the security of documents which are placed in any one’s care. One of the favorite methods adopted by one’s opponents, whether they be those who are seeking information from a King’s Messenger or a Minister of the Crown, is to put questions to him, challenging him to deny or affirm the truth of certain allegations. I do not propose to be placed in that position. However, I do propose to dispose of the arguments which members of the Opposition have advanced in relation to the security of Australia in defence of scientific research. Let us be quite clear about this matter. It is unfortunately true that, whenever anybody mentions research in these troublous times, people immediately think of defence research. The plain fact of the matter is that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has nothing whatever to do with any defence research projects at all. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison), in beginning his speech, said that the Government should state what connexion the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has with the range for testing guided weapons and atomic research. The answer is that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has nothing whatever to do with the range for testing guided weapons. There is not a single document in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research relating to that project, and there is not an officer of the council who is engaged on it. Let me briefly describe to honorable members what has happened in relation to defence scientific research. I propose to distinguish between defence scientific research and research conducted for purposes other than defence. At the end of World War I., it became apparent that one of the best methods of providing adequate defence for this country was to expend money on defence scientific research. Consequently, through the Council of Defence and with the approval of Cabinet, a sum of £33,500,000 was allotted for defence scientific research over a five-year period. That matter is dealt with by the Council of Defence and Cabinet. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research does not come into the picture anywhere.
– Who engages in the research ?
– In the Defence Department, a special section was set up to deal with defence scientific research. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has nothing whatever to do with it.
– In what places did the Government seek the scientists?
– As Minister for Defence, I have a complete knowledge of what is happening in the Defence Department. Money is allocated for defence scientific research projects-
– Who engages, in those projects ?
– One of the projects, which has been undertaken, is the range for testing guided weapons. I repeat that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has nothing whatever to do with the range for testing guided weapons, and I also repeat that the Council for Defence, which lays down the policy for the expenditure of money on all defence scientific research projects has never asked the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to undertake any research whatsoever into defence projects.
– What about bacteriological research? Answer that!
– I am telling the committee that the Council for Defence, the Defence Department and I, as Minister for Defence, have never addressed to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research a request that it undertake research in connexion with guided’ weapons, atomic energy or anything else.
– What about bacteria.?
– If the Council forScientific and Industrial Research is not engaged in any defence scientific research project., how can it be said that anybody is suspicious of that body in relation to defence research projects?
– What about bacteria? Will the Minister either deny or confirm that?
– Does the Leader of the Australian Country party say that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is doing anything in relation to bacteriology from a defence, aspect?
– No, because the United States of America will not let it,
– There is absolutely no truth in the right honorable gentleman’s statement. This country has only limited scientific resources at its disposal. The Council of Defence and Cabinet have approved of a certain defence scientific research programme being undertaken. We are carrying out the work with which we are best equipped to deal, and for which we have the scientific resources. No limitation has ever been placed on the information which we obtain from other countries in relation to those defence scientific research projects that we have decided to undertake. The Leader of the Australian Country party has suggested that the United States of America is denying us information about bacteriology. There is not an atom of truth in his statement.
– All right.
– The assertion of the right honorable gentleman is like many other statements which have been made in this debate. Members of the Opposition generally are prepared to make the wildest kind of statements, which are absolutely without foundation.
– Fancy the Minister saying that!
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition referred to Dr. Makinson, who is in the physics department at the Sydney Univer sity, and, at that point, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) interjected, “ The Minister should know that Dr. Makinson was once on the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Dr. Makinson was never on the staff pf the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
– He was, and the. Minister knows it.
– Of course he was.
– I asked my officers this morning whether he had been on the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and they answered that I could say he had not been.
– He was employed.
– I mention that merely to show that members of the Opposition are prepared to make the wildest statements without any regard whatever for the truth. I shall now continue with my account of the steps that have been taken to deal with defence scientific research matters in this country. It is true that discussions took place between officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Council of Defence about how we could best use the scientific resources that are at our disposal in Australia for defence scientific research. No details of any research problems that were to be undertaken were discussed. What was discussed was merely the broad general question as to how we could best use the scientific resources of this country for defence scientific research purposes. It is true that at that meeting Sir David Rivett, speaking for the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, made certain statements. I propose to quote from a letter that was written by Sir David Rivett to Sir Frederick Shedden, the head of the Defence Department, so that I may place on record Sir David’s views on this matter. I do not say that they are acceptable to the Government, but I wish to place them on record because a great injustice has been done to Sir David Rivett. This is what he had to say about the use of our scientific resources -
Briefly the position may be summarized as follows : -
If present international conditions are such that for the safety of the country all or part nf the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s power is’ essential for defence work, the organization is available just as it was in the last emergency. [f present conditions do not justify such
Motion, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should continue along its statutory peace-time path. Such work, both fundamental and technological for the benefit of primary and secondary industries, does not require (and for success must avoid) the type if organization for secrecy that is essential in any lines bearing on war technology. ft is for the political and military authorities to determine and tell us what the present position is. We do not possess the knowledge on which correct judgment on defence emergencies must be based. [f, as we earnestly desire in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, it is decided that we keep to our immense programme of peace-time non-secret industrial effort, on which in the long run the country’s strength will largely depend, war science and technology should logically be placed under defence control in separate, suitably recruited and guarded laboratories, field stations’, &c.
The Defence Committee has drawn attention to the acceptance by the Government of ‘ a wider responsibility for defence research and development in accordance with the strategic development and redistribution of the resources “f the British Commonwealth and has rightly concluded that greatly increased scientific resources are required. With this we are in entire agreement, and urge that these additional requirements for defence purposes strengthen the case for the suggested organization under defence control, lt is a question of high policy, as the Defence Committee states, as to the extent to which separate defence research establishments should be developed.
To set up such an organization under the Department of Defence, Department of Supply, or whatever may be the appropriate authority, will be a lengthy task.
There will he an intervening period during which every section of Government, including, the “Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, must do all that it can to assist in the building up of staff, accommodation and equipment for defence science, and in carrying out work of immediate urgency. If the Defence Committee and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research agree in recommending to the Government that this special authority for defence research be set up, then there will, in our opinion, be no difficulty in coming to an agreement as to the extent and manner in which the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research can assist in this interim period.
Insofar as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research can help (and some of us think it well to give a warning that our potentialities have been gravely exaggerated) there should be full discussion between the appropriate executive people to determine co-operat- rive measures…..
It is not true that Sir David Rivett adopts the attitude that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will not do any secret work. He takes the view that, in certain circumstances, such as if war is imminent and the Government feels that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be called upon to do these things, it will do them, as it did during the last war. AsI have already said, it did work of a highly secret kind then, and there was not a single leakage of information from it during the whole of that period.
Let me return to the point that I made earlier. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has never been asked to undertake any defence scientific research. It is, therefore, quite clear that there cannot have been any leakage from it with regard to defence scientific research projects. It has never been asked to undertake them and has never, in fact, undertaken them. As I said earlier, £33,500,000 was set aside for defence scientific research work. The first project that the Government decided to undertake was the guided weapons range project. Research work in connexion with that is undertaken by a. special section of the Department of Supply and Development, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has nothing whatever to do with it. With regard to certain other defence research projects that are under consideration at the present time, when a final decision has to be taken as to where the research work in connexion with them is to be undertaken the Government will decide either that it should be undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research with appropriate security measures for the safeguarding of information, or in a new or enlarged section of the Department of Supply and Development. On Tuesday last, long before the matter was raised by the Opposition, I obtained the approval of Cabinet to the transfer of a division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to the Department of Supply and Development so that a particular form of defence scientific research work may be undertaken in that department, where proper security measures can be put into effect. A bill for that purpose will he brought down before the end of this week.
With regard to scientific research work that is not connected with defence, there may be some arguments in favour of making it completely secret. That is a question which will have to be decided in the future. When the problem arises, it will be brought to the Parliament. Et may be said that every kind of research work has some relationship to defence. It may be said, for example, that the investigations with regard to parasites that are now being made by the Division of Economic Entomology may ultimately have a bearing upon defence because they may result in the discovery of a parasite which could, in certain circumstances, be of value, from the defence stand-point. Does the Opposition suggest that, because there is a very remote possibility of some discovery of that kind being made in the whole field of scientific research outside strictly defence projects, there should be a complete blanketing of all information from all the divisions of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research ? That is a question to which the Government will probably have to give an answer very shortly. When it comes up for discussion in the Parliament, as it will do, I shall be very interested to hear what honorable members opposite have to say about it. The whole of this question has arisen, as I said earlier, because members of the Opposition have made wild and unfounded charges against the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) explained that the organization of the council was something for which the Opposition was responsible when it formed the government of this country.
– There is no reason why the employees of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research ‘should not have to take an oath of loyalty.
Mi-. DEDMAN.- The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) was responsible for the legislation under which the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was set up. ‘ The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) nods his head to indicate that that is true. The legislation that was brought forward by the right honorable gentleman made no provision for the taking of an oath of loyalty. He introduced the Science and Industry Research Act in 1926. He made no provision for an oath of loyalty then, but he now complains that members of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research do not take such an oath. I said quite frankly the other day in this chamber that I was not satisfied with the methods of making appointments to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. That matter is being examined. Once again we shall see what the attitude of the Opposition will be when appointments of this kind are brought to the notice of honorable members. Under the original legislation introduced into the Parliament by the right honorable member for Cowper, the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research makes recommendations to the Minister with regard to all appointments, except appointments to the executive itself. The Prime Minister has explained that certain leading members of the executive were appointed by the Opposition parties when they occupied the treasury bench. Surely when an executive of three - or five members as it has been during the last two or three years - makes recommendations to the Government- as to who should fill certain positions in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Minister can assume that those recommendations will not require any very great examination by him to determine whether or not the individuals concerned should be appointed. The present executive of five members, including Sir David Rivett and Dr. Richardson, recommended the appointment to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of a man named Rudkin, and another named Pomeroy. Those were only two of a large number of recommendations made to me by the executive. I did not know that either of those men was a member of the Communist party until the matter was raised in this chamber. As soon as it was raised I took certain steps, and I can guarantee to members of this chamber that since that time, no member of the Communist party has been appointed to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. However, as I explained last week, there are people known as “ fellow-travellers “, and it is difficult sometimes to decide whether a person who holds rather radical opinions, but has high qualifications for a job should be appointed to it, or rejected in favour of some one else whose qualifications are inferior. It is not fair to put any Minister into the position of having to approve of appointments of that kind. The responsibility for rejecting a recommendation by the executive for the appointment of the person who is best qualified to fill a job, merely because he has a certain political outlook, should not be placed on the shoulders of any Minister. I say again to this committee that that matter is receiving the consideration of the Government, and soon legislation will be brought down to deal with it. In the meantime, I have shouldered the responsibility and have taken my own steps to ensure that no member of the Communist party shall be appointed to any position in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
The Acting Leader of the Opposition asked two questions when he first raised this matter. He said he wanted to know what the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research had to do with the guided weapons testing range, and what it had to do with atomic energy. I have said that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has nothing to do with the range. It is true that provision is made in the Estimates for an investigation of nuclear energy which is being undertaken by the University of Melbourne under Professor Martin. There are one or two officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research attached to that team. However, the team is not in receipt of any information on atomic energy from overseas. It has never been offered, has never sought, and has never received, any information from overseas on atomic energy.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department has. expired.
Question put -
That the division proposed to be reduced (Mr. Fadden’s amendment) be so reduced.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. H. P. Lazzarini.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question put -
That the proposed vote be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. H. P. Lazzarini.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 6.10 to 8 p.m.
Proposed vote, £977,000.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £3,898,100.
Proposed’ vote, £590,700.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vote, £1,449,000. (Ordered to he considered together.)
SirEARLE PAGE (Cowper) [8.1].- The four departments, the estimates for which are to be considered together and dealt with in the next three hours, are departments which concern the external security, financial security, and internal security of Australia. The Department of the Treasury has the function of spending more than £500,000,000 in the current financial year. The Department of External Affairs has the responsibility of making contacts throughout the world to ensure that Australia’s security shall be unimpaired. The Attorney-General’s Department, and the Department of the Interior, have the responsibility of ensuring that there shall be no sabotage carried on inside Australia. The estimates for these huge departments, which deal with these extraordinary functions and operate over such a wide range, are to be dealt with inside three hours, because at the end of that period the Government’s ruthless “guillotine” will fall on the debate. It is unfortunate that the “ guillotine “ should be due to fall on a day when, for the first time in Australian history, an Australian gestapo has been established. The Labour Government, which is too cowardly to supervise the Communists in its midst, is nevertheless apparently sufficiently active to supervise the activities of the members of this Parliament. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifiey) has stated that there will be supervision over all their activities, their movements and contacts with various public servants. That seems to me an extraordinary statement to be made in this Parliament, because, after all, public servants are not merely government servants. They are the servants of the public. During the long period in which I haveserved in this Parliament,vhether in Government or in Opposition, I have always understood that the services of these public servants would be most freely available to members of the Parliament. On the occasions when I have been a Minister, I have repeatedly urged the officers of departments of which I was the ministerial head to make contacts with members of different parties in order to make certain that they were fully informed of matters of public interest. It is scandalous for the Prime Minister to suggest that all the members of this Parliament will be placed under this extraordinary supervision, and that endeavours will be made to find out what their ordinary activities are. I do not care two hoots about what is done in that connexion in respect of myself, because although they could possibly frame me, there is nothing in my private or public life of which. I have the least cause to be ashamed. I shall act and speak in the future exactly as I have done in the past. Despite this Government ukase, I shall speak freely and openly to every one to whom I think I ought to speak in the public interest.
There would be something to be said for the application of the “ guillotine “ to a. debate of this nature if the Government’s intention were to save time. Its real intention, however, is to prevent criticism and to rush those important matters through in the shortest possible time. Already honorable members have seen that under the allotment of time only one hour was available for the Prime Minister’s Department. During that hour two Ministers spoke, both taking their full time, and there was no opportunity for any other member of the Government side to speak. More time should be allotted for debate on these matters so that they may be properly discussed. One of the reasons for the shortening of the time of debate is that the Government is afraid to reply to the accusations that have been made by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) during his speech on the Estimates. The Government is endeavouring to draw red herrings across the trail in an attempt to make the public believe that there is a different issue before the people of Australia than the real one. The entire discussion this afternoon from the ministerial side of the chamber was intended only to establish an alibi for the Government. Members of the Government have said that certain documents were either forged or stolen, and that individuals employed in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research were not public servants and therefore were not under Government control. The latter is a most extraordinary statement. If public servants are required to take the oath of allegiance, there is no reason why individuals employed in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should not also have to take the oath. The real issue in the present debate is not whether there i3 a leakage of information, but whether the security of this country is being preserved. I say that the action of the Leader of the Australian Country party in bringing before this Parliament information that made him believe there was grave distrust in America and Britain regarding Australia’s reliability as a recipient of information about nuclear energy research activities was the act of a patriot, and would have been the proper act of any public-spirited citizen. We know what would happen to the ordinary administration of the country if some one informed the authorities that he knew the whereabouts of a murderer who was at large and the authorities answered, “We know somebody is having his throat cut down the street, but we must obtain information about it from some reputable source. We can take no notice of what you say.” That proposition, which is on all fours with the Government’s attitude to-day, is too stupid to bear thinking about.
I turn now to the Department of External Affairs, which is one of those whose estimates are to be considered during the next three hours. Australia has had contacts all over the world and there are many countries in which it is directly represented. Is it suggested that our public servants in those countries, for whose salaries and expenses certain sums are voted by this Parliament, should not send information to the Government that effects the security of Australia, no matter where such information comes from? They would be untrue to themselves and failing in their duty to Australia if they did not do so. That is the whole object of their presence in other countries. The most urgent question, which affects every nation in the world to-day, is whether the secrets of the atomic bomb shall be made available toSoviet Russia. Surely it is reasonable to ensure that Australia, at any rate, will be in a position to pull its whole weight in this connexion. Consider the position which has been brought about in Europe in the last three years because of Russia’s efforts to obtain possession of the secrets of the atomic bomb. That country has continually placed obstacles in the way of peace, in Germany and ha6 obstructed allied control and the development of that country. Whenever- there has been a slackening of the tension because of the possibility of Russia reducing its demands, the whole world has breathed a sigh of relief; but Russia has invariably gone back on any indication which it has given of a desire to moderate its demands. Because of that, and because of the activities of Russia’s satellite countries, and of members of the Communist party in Australia, Siam, Malaya and the East Indies, it has become more and more necessary to prevent knowledge of developments in this country from passing to Russia. It is the duty of every Australian to ensure that any information which he possesses does not escape to potential enemies. Trusted servants of the Government must be, like Caesar’s wife, beyond reproach, and they should be regarded as incapable of betraying their country. If any of those officers proves recreant to his trust and some one furnishes information of suspicious behaviour on his part, the informant should not be blamed but, on the contrary, should be praised for his efforts to safeguard the national security.
If the secrets of the atomic bomb are given to Russia we do not know when war may come. At the present the western democracies are in a favorable position because they possess a monopoly of that knowledge, and that is the real reason why the present uneasy peace continues. What is the real issue involved? It is whether the Australian Government, which the United States of America and other great countries rightly suspect of laxity in security precautions, whether that laxity bc due to ineptitude, incompetence or cowardice, should be entrusted with such a great secret as that of the atom bomb. The most serious calamity which could befall us would be the leakage of defence information from Australia to Russia, and to prevent any such leakage we must unite all our efforts. I should think that every member of the Parliament, irrespective of the political party to which he belongs, would approve that view. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) said that no Communists were being engaged by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research now, but that is not sufficient. There should be a purge, such as that which is occurring in the United
Kingdom, Canada, South Africa and the United States of America, and the Government should get on with the job now.
Because the Opposition parties, when they were in office, established the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and appointed the original staff of that institution, it is suggested that they did something evil. This afternoon the Minister tried to make it appear that we had done something dangerous, whereas we are proud of having appointed men who have done such splendid work during the last 25 years. Furthermore, we are convinced that the system of appointing staff which was adopted at that time was quite suitable. The council wanted to obtain the services of really capable scientific workers for urgent research work, and it was decided to facilitate the recruitment of research workers by placing the staff of the council outside the ambit of the Public Service Board, so that the council would not be subjected to the circumlocution which confronts Commonwealth department when they desire to engage staff. Although such a system functions satisfactorily in normal times, some departure must be made during abnormal times, such as the present “ cold war “ through which we are passing. There is nothing to prevent the Government from introducing some simple legislation designed to ensure the loyalty of members of the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, such as that which provides for an oath of allegiance to be administered to servicemen in time of war. I regard it as a slight on members of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research that their activities should be separated from those of other Australians engaged on research work. Members of the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are worth their salt, and I am convinced that if they were put on their honour not to reveal information we should obtain their utmost co-operation, and would not have to resort to more complex safeguards. If the present system of differentiating between research workers engaged bv the Council and those engaged by the Government in defence work in the matter of responsibility for preserving secrecy continues, the position will become exactly analogous to that which arose during the wai* concerning the employment outside Australia of members of the Australian Imperial Force and the Australian Military Forces. Because some members of the service had volunteered for overseas service, whilst others had been conscripted for service in Australia and adjoining territories, General MacArthur often did not know whether or not he could employ Australian troops in operations. It is essential that every one engaged on research work shall be completely trustworthy, and the employment of scientists on research work for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will not prevent them from making contact with other scientists engaged on secret defence work. It is the easiest thing in the world for scientists to exchange vital information.
I turn now to the financial security of the country. The Prime Minister said that my record at the Treasury was pathetic, but I shall point out some of my achievements. The present Treasurer obtained the benefits of some of the reforms which I introduced many years ago. He was good enough to say that during the war–
– The right honorable gentleman is in order, and he may continue.
– Some of the reforms which I introduced still operate in the preparation of treasury statements. For example, pages xiv and xv of the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ending the 30th June, 1949, contain summaries of the amounts to be expended. The first part relates to the administration of the various departments, the second part to the conduct of business undertakings, the third part to the administration of the territories of the Commonwealth, and the fourth part to payments to or for the States. The fifth part, which relates- to primary production, self-balancing items, has been added since. I altered the form of presenting the accounts in 1926 in order to enable members of the public to see at a glance the details of the major items of governmental expenditure, and presentation of the accounts in the amended form has simplified the task of any one who seeks to inform himself of the details of public expenditure. That system has been followed by all Treasurers for the past 22 years. Nevertheless, the present Treasurer has succeeded, as Professor Copland pointed out recently, in concealing information regarding some hundreds of millions of pounds. Because of that concealment, less and less parliamentary control is exercised over the huge volume of government expenditure, and the Treasury has obtained more and more control. That is precisely the development which I endeavoured to prevent when I redesigned the form of presentation of the public accounts.
Turning to the reduction of interest charges, we ask ourselves what is the biggest factor in reducing interest rates? Of -course, the answer is the National Debt Sinking Fund, which I established in 1923. The budget papers show that the total amount of Commonwealth debt paid off, because of the existence for 25 years of the National Debt Sinking Fund, is £192,000,000 for the Commonwealth, and £124,000,000 for the States, a total of £316,000,000. The Treasurer knows that the contributions to the National Debt Sinking Fund amounting to from £15,000,000 to £20,000,000 annually have enabled him to control the price of government stocks in a manner that otherwise would not be possible. Because of the existence of the fund the right honorable gentleman is able to keep interest .rates down, especially when new loans have to be raised.
I propose now to deal briefly with the Financial Agreement and the Loan Council. The Financial Agreement was so well thought of by the people that although the Labour party fought against the principles of such an agreement for five years, when the proposal “was submitted to a referendum of the people it was .endorsed by a majority of four to one in each of the six States. Even when legislation to give effect to the agreement was brought before the Parliament, members of the Labour party tried to Interfere with the will of the people by opposing it. The Financial Agreement made possible unified control of Commonwealth and State finances and, later, the finances of local governing authorities. As a result of that agreement interest rates and loan raisings have been controlled and Australia was placed in a better position to meet the exigencies not only of the financial and economic depression but also of World War TI. The Treasurer has stated that the Opposition parties were forced out of office because they were unable to borrow money. That is not so. We were able to borrow money but the rates charged in the world’s markets were, in our opinion, much too high, but not .because we had expended too much money, and as I shall prove. In 1922 the public debt of the Commonwealth amounted to £353,653,421. In 1929 it amounted to £374,1.83,908. Although, during the period 1922 to 1929 the public debt of the Commonwealth increased by £20,530,4S7, during that period an amount of £5S,000,000 was expended on public works, of which £25,000,000 was expended on the Post Office in respect of which expenditure sinking fund payments of 30s. per cent, have been made ever since. Most of the £58,000,000 was expended on reproductive works of a national character, including the construction of a standard gauge railway line between Grafton and South Brisbane, and the extension of the Central Australia railway to Alice Springs. The statement in the budget papers relating to the Australian public debt carries a footnote stating that since 1926 the public debt includes £7,597,783 representing portion of loss borne by the Commonwealth in respect of soldier land settlement, and £10,924,322 representing the London debt of the States taken over by the Commonwealth in adjustment of its indebtedness to the States for transferred properties. The position therefore was that £5S,000,000 had been spent on works and the actual debt contracted had increased by £20,500,000. During the last seven years the Treasurer borrowed approximately £1,500,000,000 for war purposes. How was it possible for the right honorable gentleman to raise such a large sum of money? It was possible not only because of .the reforms which I have mentioned but also because the structure of the Commonwealth Bank had been so altered by me in 1924 that that institution was able to act as a central hank and to control the credit and currency of the nation. It is remarkable that the form which I gave to the Commonwealth Bank in 1924 was not altered until 1945 when World War II. was actually ending. During the whole of the intervening period the structure and functions of the Commonwealth Bank remained unchanged. The Government has brought down all sorts of measures to support its policy of security of employment. One example of the manner in which Government policy is making Australia financially insecure in the matter of employment is provided by the Commonwealth Air Roads and Works Act. In 1926, and again in 1937, we made agreements with the State governments for ten-year periods for the construction and maintenance of main roads. This Government has made, not a ten-year agreement, but an agreement of only three years’ duration. Since the recent agreement was made this Government has provided an additional £1,000,000 for road purposes, but the further proposals of the Government as announced by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) are by no means clear to me. I am not certain whether or not the Government intends to adopt a suggestion which I made about four years ago that the Commonwealth should make available to the States for this purpose an additional £5,000,000 and that this £1,000,000 is to be a part of it. I fear not. The aspect of security which I am most concerned about, however, is our security from a defence stand-point. We shall attain that security only if we have in office a government which is regarded by our allies, especially our great ally, the United States of America, as trustworthy: one which ensures that its Public Service shall be staffed with trustworthy men and whose policy leaves undisturbed those desirable features in Australian financial policy of the past which enabled us toovercome successfully the difficulties not only of the financial and economic- depression but also of the war from which we have but recently emerged.
.- During the last few days of the sittings we have had two apologies for their political lives from two prominent and right honorable gentlemen from the Australian Country party. On Friday wo had a long dissertation from the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) in defence of his action in quoting in this chamber from a document purporting to be a record of a meeting of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) with the members of the British Cabinet. The Leader of the Australian Country party has defended his financial policy over a long period of time. I propose to devote most ‘of my attention to the right honorable gentleman’s defence of his action. The choice that honorable members have before them is his defence of his action in reading the document and drawing public attention to a security matter - and whether that was a correct- discharge of n public duty as a member of this chamber - and the thesis that has been advanced by spokesmen on behalf of the Government that the reading of the document in the Parliament was an incorrect action from every stand-point, including the stand-point of security. Everything other than those two alternatives is, in essence’, a side issue. I propose to concentrate on the main issue.
– Is the fact a side, issue?
– In his defence the Leader of the Australian Country party quoted previous instances of the reading of secret documents. His speech on this subject was a rambling one. He concentrated for a part of his time on the impropriety of honorable members on this side of the chamber making reference to h former Treasurer, Mr. R. G. Casey, when Mr. Casey was not here to defend himself.
– I did not say that.
– If the right honorable gentleman will rea.d the Hansard report of his speech he will see that he stated that Mr. Casey had no chance to defend himself. Mr. Casey is in a position to get far more publicity than is any member of this Parliament as, almost, every week the right honorable gentleman, who was formerly Treasurer, is quoted at length in the press. Having deplored that action on the part of government supporters the Leader of the Australian Country party went on to cite the action of a man who is dead. I refer to the former right honorable member for Fremantle, the late Mr. John Curtin. The Leader of the Australian Country party drew an analogy between the action of Mr. Curtin in revealing, in committee, information which was given to him by a public servant named Winkler, in relation to the expenditure of £4,000 on a particular piece of security work in which the right honorable gentleman was engaged
– The honorable member should stick to the truth. The amount, was £300.
– I accept the correction; it was in an expenditure item of £4,000. But even if I am wrong it does not affect the issue. Mr. Curtin revealed that information in the Parliament. The Leader of the Australian Country party, in his rambling speech, drew an analogy between that action and his recent action in this chamber.
– On this occasion, supporters of the Government only claim that the document was stolen; the other document was stolen.
– I am not debating whether it was stolen or not but, even on the words of the Leader of the Australian Country party, there were several differences between his action and that of Mr. Curtin. In the first place we are indebted to the Leader of the Australian Country party for telling us that Mr. Curtin, before he made his statement, consulted the then Prime Minister. There was no sudden action on his part when he revealed something that he had found out through what we must regard as irregular channels. The second vital difference between that action and the action of the Leader of the Australian Country party is that it was not a security matter. The knowledge that. £300-
– I rise to order. In my speech a . few days ago I dealt with the security matters that were disclosed in the document supplied by Winkler. The report of my speech will prove that. The disclosure .related to a matter which was of a highly secret nature affecting security.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - That is not a point of order; it is more in the nature of a correction.
– The issue was the bribery of trade union secretaries, but this is an issue relating to the defence of Australia and the United Kingdom, and I. am very glad that I have got the right honorable gentleman on the raw in establishing my point. The actions of the late member for Fremantle and the present Leader of the Australian Country party are not identical. The previous revelation does not establish a defence for the present action. Let us consider what security is. I do not in any way blame the Leader of the Australian Country party for mentioning that he had a document or for stating that the security services are unsound because it was possible for him to obtain a document. I do not think there is anything improper about his obtaining a document through irregular channels. The mere fact that he got it is a sign of weakness in the security service. If he had merely risen and stated that he had obtained it, there would be no cause for any complaint about his action. The only doubtful aspect of his action was that he rose in the chamber and read it, and as a result its text will be broadcast in addition to being printed in Hansard. That is r,he real indictment of the Leader of the Australian Country party. Security work consists, in the main, of preventing isolated items of information, which can be pieced together, from falling into the wrong hands. The head of the present American intelligence service, when discussing this aspect of security in a recent article in the New York Times Magazine said in quoting Rear-Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency for the United States of America -
Whatever the effect of the current “ spy scare “ on the Thomas committee, it is probably causing more amusement than excitement in the circles that really deal with intelligence, ft has long since been a commonplace that In telligence is not a beautiful countess in a slinky gown, playing the boudoir circuit for military secrets. Somewhat less common is
Hie fact that neither is it a clever man in a garret, transmitting information by microphotography which reduces a page of typescript to the size of a pinhead. The real business of Intelligence in the modern world is conducted by gentlemen of respectable antecedents and great foxiness, who sit around all day working jigsaw puzzles.
Something over 90 per cent, of the pieces they assemble come from publicly printed sources.
He went on to give a series of examples of isolated pieces of information being pieced together to establish points that foreign countries desired to know. He furnished American, Japanese and German examples. The Leader of the Australian Country party, in reading out the full text of a document, has, in my opinion, done a great disservice to this country.
– What security information has been let out?
– It is of no importance to say that there is not, within that document, information of a direct secret character.
– Of course there is not.
– It is of importance only from the aspect that the United Kingdom and the United States of America are concerned about our security measures. The knowledge that the information was broadcast will put people who are ill disposed towards, this country, on their guard. The publicity given to the document relating to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, if it be a genuine document, is a warning to any person in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research who may be evilly-disposed, as the right honorable gentleman suggested, was possible. There can be no doubt that the members of the Opposition who have raised this matter and pressed it, and made sure that it has had the utmost publicity, have done a disservice to the Australian security services.
The estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department provide for increased expenditure on security work, and I am sure that most honorable members of this chamber, having regard to the darkening international situation, will welcome that. But there have been very few signs that the Opposition has been concerned about security. They have been more concerned about underlining press assertions in the United States of America and Great Britain that Australia is not to be trusted with security information. It is a very interesting proposition to advance. One has only to study the files of most American -journals in the Parliamentary Library to see that perhaps the United States of America itself has reason to be concerned about its own security services. The latest issue of Time, for instance, includes a long series of articles on revelations at the hearings of the Un-American Activities Committee of the United States House of Representatives, which examined a “number of American scientists who had been involved in atomic research .and were suspected of supplying information to Russia. One gentleman passed on a formula which was vital in connexion with the production of atomic bombs. The article states -
The committee’s other case centered on Yugoslav-born Steve Nelson, a Communist party stalwart, one-time chairman of its San Francisco chapter. The committee, with rare restraint, did not identify Nelson’s contact, an atomic researcher at the University of California. It reported that “ Scientist X “ had gone to Nelson’s home one night in March, 1943, had read to Nelson a “complicated formula “ which Nelson copied down. Several days later, Nelson got in touch with the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco, met Vice Consul Peter Ivanov on the grounds of St. Francis Hospital. There, said the report, “ Nelson transferred something to Ivanov. … If the matter transferred included the formula that Scientist X had given Nelson - and the inference is irresistible that it did - it was a formula of importance in the development of the atom bomb “. A few days later, the report said, a Soviet Embassy official went to Nelson’s home, gave him “ten bills of unknown denominations “. The committee recommended that Nelson be prosecuted for espionage and cited for contempt of Congress. It said that the testimony of “ Scientist X “ who swore that he had never known Nelson, would be turned over to the Attorney-General.
Many other instances are cited also, before the Un-American Activities Committee of the Congress of the United States of America. It is very flattering to Australia, of course, for it to be assumed that we are the centre of such attention. By comparison with the rest of the world, our defence research is not of the utmost importance. Honorable members opposite have referred to the rocket range. I understood that it was well established that most of the leading German scientists engaged in rocket research had fallen into the hands of the Russians immediately after the war. So far as Australia is concerned, the conduct of rocket investigation is mainly in the hands of British scientists, since it is an Empire project. The Opposition has not been able to cite a single instance of the leakage of defence information through the agency of Communists or others employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Not one of the persons who might be suspected of being a Communist is engaged upon work which has any defence significance whatsoever. That point cannot be stressed too often. It will not, of course, receive any publicity in the press, which has been giving full prominence to every reference to the subject by members of the Opposition. One of the suspects mentioned by the Opposition has been engaged during the last six months in research into glue used for sticking pieces of wood together. Actually, the Opposition has not been able to point to a single instance of the leakage of security information of the kind associated with the name of Nunn - May, in England, or referred to before the Un-American Activities Committee of Congress in the United States of America.
I turn now to the Department of Externa] Affairs. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), who has recently been elevated to the position of President of the United Nations Assembly, is, I think, deserving of congratulations from all sections, of the Australian public for the honour which has been accorded to him. I cannot help thinking that if the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) were here we should 1.ave heard from him some courteous reference to this appointment, but, as has been pointed out, the decline of parliamentary manners has been most noticeable in recent times. The Minister for External Affairs, as President of the United Nations Assembly, will have the difficult task of presiding over the deliberations of the Assembly while it is considering the Berlin crisis.
I congratulate the Government upon its decision to participate in the effort to feed the people in the suburbs of Western Berlin by allotting Australian aeroplanes and Australian pilots to assist in this work. This action is consistent with the constructive policy of the Government in its attitude towards the United Nations ever since the end of the war,, and also with its efforts to achieve genuine co-operation with the Government of the United Kingdom in all efforts designed to restore Europe, such as Unrra relief,, and child welfare.
– At (first, I thought that we were to be treated to an outburst of righteous indignation by the- honorable’ member for Fremantle ,(Mr. Beazley)’. Indeed’, he did try to work himself up fa a pitch of indignation- about a Certain matter to which reference was made during an -earlier- debate-. It was- interesting to note the reaction pf the- honorable member when having set out tO’ chastise the Leader of the Australian1 Country party* (Mr. Fadden-)- for what he had done; he suddenly remembered that Bis own party stable- was- not too clean - that there were, in fact; circumstances1 associated’ with the behaviour of some members’- of the Labour party which wooli not” bear close investigation. I could’- imagine him suddenly thinking; “ I have to go carefully here because I must remember that a previous representative of the electorate of Fremantle, the late John Curtin, read in- this- chamber certain personal cablegrams- which passed1 between1 himself and’ Mr. Churchill’ regarding’ the> appointment’ or Mr: Casey “’. He also remembered; I ha-ve no doubt, tha* there was another matter about1 which- lie had” to be careful; too. There was a certain- highly placed public servant; M’r. Winkler, who passed1’ on information’ of a’ highly confidential nature to Mr. Curtin, who revealed it to- this House-.
– Highly scandalous !’
– Of course, the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward’) is an authority on scandal’. His’ own hands are not clean. He disclosed- in this House the- contents of a Cabinet minute, which is- as most secret1 document. However, enough of him-. I’ propose to concentrate on some one of substance, so I return to the honorable member for Fremantle. It was interesting to watch the reaction of the honorable gentleman when his mind suddenly adverted to the fact that the Government itself was most culpable in that respect. His speech then tailed off ineffectually”.
Under these Estimates we are asked to make provision in respect of the Commonwealth Investigation -Service. This afternoon we heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) threaten members of the Opposition in an effort to intimidate them and to prevent them from speaking freely on matters of national importance. On matter’s vital to the community, he has been subject to serious exposure by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). That honorable member did not participate in the debate, and, so far as I know,- he had nothing whatever to do with the documents in question. But the Prime Minister, apparently, said to himself,. “ I will now prevent any further exposures against this Government by a general, form of intimidation”; and he dragged in- the honorable member for Ken% and. said,, “ He is one honorable member I propose to look over “. Then lie pointed across the chamber to members of the Opposition who had been ruthless iri their exposure” of the” Government’s’ weakness” in its handling’ of matters df national moment; and sought to- intimidate them and other honorable members” on this’ side of the chamber also by a threat of the same” nature. The Minister for Defence” (Mr. Dedman) rose in his place following- a demand made by me for a statement relating- to the Council for Scientific and’ Industrial Research in which I drew attention to a certain controversy in- the press in which it had’ been freely stated that the United States- of America was not prepared to hand over’ defence information to the Australian- Government for’ fear that a leakage would take place. The Minister sought to- mislead the people on that’ grave matter’ of security. He said that there was not a scintilla of truth in that statement; that the press and’ the Opposition had combined to create that” impression1; and he sought by misrepresentation and misleading- statements to lilli the public into a false sense of security. However, members of the Opposition possessed information which proved that the Minister was not speaking the truth, and that information was made available to the House and to the country in the national interest. It is essential for the security of this country that the weakness of the Government and the Commonwealth Investigation Service should be exposed. Honorable members opposite made no excuses when the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), when he was Minister for ‘the Army, made a statement at a secret session of the Parliament with respect to the defences of Australia, and subsequently the present High Commissioner to the United .Kingdom, Mr. Beasley, who was then member for West Sydney, gave the fullest publicity to that statement because, he said, it was his duty to act in the interests of national security. He said that publicity should be given to the state of our defences at that time. The Leader of the Australian Country party felt himself no less obliged, in this instance, to expose the Minister for Defence when the latter sought to mislead the public by making untruthful statements.
The efficiency of the Commonwealth Investigation Service has been questioned in this chamber. We know, at least we hope, that the Government does not desire to protect Communist disruptors and saboteurs in this country. We hope that some honorable members opposite are sufficiently decent to admit that the Commonwealth Investigation Service is entirely inefficient and so weak that it cannot supply the information which would enable the Government to take the necessary remedial action. The crux of our attack is that the Government should ensure that the Commonwealth Investigation Service will be brought to a level of efficiency so that it can act effectively in respect of matters vital to the welfare and security of the nation, and ‘ thus enable the Government to get on with the job if it be courageous enough to do so. However, I have grave doubts on that point. It is proposed to increase the staff of the Commonwealth Investigation Service from 144 to 192, whilst the pro- posed vote for that service this financial year is £73,600. That service is one of the most important units in the Commonwealth Public Service. It is vital to the security of the country and should at least give us confidence that Australia shall be protected against leakages of defence information and against industrial unrest planned by Communists. When we compare the expenditure on the Commonwealth Investigation Service with the proposed vote of £139,700 for “ Patents, Trade Marks and Designs “, can we wonder that Communist saboteurs are prepared to snap their fingers at the Government? Can we wonder at the Government’s failure to obtain records which would be available to it through an efficient investigation service? The Prime Minister might well investigate the activities of some of his Ministers, who sought to destroy the parliamentary institution by bringing into existence a Supreme Economic Council. Those are the disruptors of this country. Those are the people who will destroy our national institutions’. Let the right honorable gentleman investigate also the activities of certain Ministers who have figured in certain court cases; and that observation applies also to some of their colleagues. Members of the Opposition can stand up to any investigation. The Prime Minister will find much riper fruit if he concentrates upon those in his immediate vicinity. Let him also have a look at some of the disrupt;ors to whom the Government is only too pleased to grant passports to facilitate their visits overseas, and representatives of Communist organizations whose expenses it seems willing to pay. Let him concentrate on those people and he will combat disruption in Australia more effectively than by attempting to prevent the Opposition from speaking its mind. Let him make the Commonwealth Investigation Service something really worth while. He can do it, because he has the pattern of an efficient security service by ‘ which he can be guided. I do not blame the present, staff for the inefficiency of the service. I have had some experience of it. I blame the Government for its inefficiency. If the Government is sincere in its” desire to protect this country against leakage of vital information, to put down industrial unrest and to “ tab “ the Communists who are destroying our national assets, he has his pattern in the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America. That bureau is completely free from government interference. It is in charge of a man who has been appointed solely to get results. He virtually writes his own expense card, and his primary duty is to ensure the security of that country. He draws his officers from those he can trust - persons who have some status and prestige in the community. That is the kind of security service we require in Australia instead of the present service whose staff includes a substantial number of expolicemen who act along police force lines. We want an investigation service which will really produce the goods. All the talk from the Prime Minister this afternoon falls on deaf ears. We know from experience what such an investigation is likely to bring about. We lui ve had the example of a royal commission appointed by a Prime Minister to inquire into statements made by one of his Ministers, and we remember that that Minister pleaded . the privilege of this Parliament and walked away from the inquiry, explaining afterwards, “ I did that because the terms of reference of the royal commission would not give me what E wanted “. Subsequent events proved that the information which he accused the Opposition of revealing had been supplied to his Prime Minister, who had taken the necessary action. The honorable gentleman was not prepared to give evidence before the royal commission because its terms of reference were not what he wanted. One would have thought, from what he said, that the terms of reference had been drawn up by the Opposition instead of by his own Prime Minister. To-day, when an exposure has been made to prove that a Minister has definitely and deliberately misled the people, the Prime Minister attacks honorable members who have been a thorn in the side of the Government and have revealed its misdemeanours and its weakness in failing to attack the Communist menace. The right honorable gentleman says that he will have the affairs of members of the Opposition investigated. He hones that this will intimidate them and prevent them from speaking their minds in the interests of the nation. I say to members of the Opposition that, if they allow themselves to be intimidated by any such threat, they are not Worthy of the positions which they occupy in this Parliament. Our job as an Opposition is to expose the weaknesses of the Government to the people. Our duty is to point out where the Government has fallen, and is falling down on its job, to give examples of failure, to quote chapter and verse and, if necessary, to present to the people all the information that is available to us so that we can give the lie direct to any Minister who seeks to lull them into a false sense of security m these grave and anxious times.
The Government should give serious consideration to the re-organization of the Common wealth Investigation Service. It should make the service 100 per cent, efficient. Governments of other countries have taken such action. To cite an example, current reports reveal that, in the United States of America, as the result of the drive against Communists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 85,000 government employees nave been checked for Communist sympathies and that recently the Grand Jury indicted twelve leading members of the Communist party in America, including the general secretary, the national chairman, the organizational secretary, and the educational secretary. Those men were charged with
Unlawfully conspiring together with other persons to organize the Communist party of the United States, a society or group, to teach and advocate the overthrow of the United States Government by force and by violence.
That was the result of a complete investigation. In Australia, we have honorable members who have identified themselves with such objectives as the overthrow of this Parliament and its replacement by a supreme economic council. Yet the Prime Minister has’ the temerity to level charges at members of the Opposition! Honorable members on this side of the chamber have proved their loyalty. They have fought and bled for Australia in more than one war. They have not walked away from their locomotives in times of great stress. They have not been conscientious objectors in times of war. They have not thrown open our territories for others to defend instead of doing so themselves. They have not described Winston Churchill as “the mad dog of politics”, whom they would not trust, nor have they criticized the British Navy as an “ evil thing “. The observations which I have quoted have been made by the honorable members on the government side of the chamber. I say to the Prime Minister, that if he wants to make his security service effective, his investigations should start on his own doorstep.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) has again introduced irrelevant matter, but, as he has done so, it is as well that- the committee should be informed of the facts regarding the incidents to which he has referred. The honorable gentleman has never earned a reputation for telling the truth, either inside or outside this Parliament.
– I have not been in the police courts, anyhow.
– If the honorable member had had his deserts, he probably would have been somewhere else. He should have been in a concentration camp. The honorable gentleman parades himself as a super-patriot and twits members on the Government side of the chamber by saying that members of the Opposition have bled and suffered for their country. It would be very interesting to know where the honorable .gentleman did his bleeding, because I understood that during World War I. he did most of his service in a quartermaster’s store and that during World War II. he was a liaison officer running between the Australian forces and the United States forces. He paraded in the country like a picture-book soldier with all sorts of colours on his uniform, but in fact he was only a messenger boy. The honorable gentleman spoke of a decision made by the Labour party in 1921 to set up a supreme economic council in Australia. Let us come a little closer to the present, and ask the honorable gentleman whether he has severed all his connexion with the New Guard movement that was estab lished in Australia to overthrow constitutional government.
– I never had any such connexion.
– The records of this Parliament will show that for years the honorable member was accused of being a member of the New Guard, an accusation which he did not deny until recently. Probably he denies it now only because all the records of the New Guard have been destroyed. Everybody who knows anything about the activities of the New Guard movement is well aware of the honorable member’s close association with it and of the fact that, in the days when it operated, he did not deny that he was actively interested in it. Therefore, we can take with a .grain of salt his declarations that he is a great democrat. He wants investigations to be ma,de. Let me tell him that honorable members on the Government side of the chamber are not afraid of investigations. The honorable gentleman made some reference to a royal . commission which was affected by the Curtin Labour Government following statements which I had made, and said that any one would imagine “ that the Opposition had fixed its terms of reference. The honorable member should ask the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) whether the late Prime Minister telephoned him when he was in Sydney and discussed the terms of reference of the royal commission with him. Furthermore, if the honorable member will examine the records of the Parliament, he will find that I protested about the terms of reference before the commission began its inquiry. There is ample evidence on record from authoritative sources to justify the charges which I made. Those charges were not based merely on my opinions. General MacArthur had something to say about “ the Brisbane line “ strategy, too. Did he lie about it? When Lieutenant-General Gordon Bennett returned to Australia he made some reference to “ the Brisbane line “ strategy, and said that his exposure of it was unpopular in certain quarters. He has never named thosequarters, but we have a strong suspicion where the exposure was unpopular. Sir Leslie Wilson, the ex-Governor of
Queensland, has talked about “the Brisbane line” strategy since his retirement and return to Great Britain. Mr. Hanlon, the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Cooper, the ex-Premier of Queensland, and the late Mr. Dwyer Gray, formerly Treasurer of Tasmania, all knew that “ the Brisbane line “ strategy existed. There is plenty of evidence on record to show not only that “ the Brisbane line “ strategy existed, but also that the present Opposition, which was then in power, devised this plan whereby it was proposed to hand over large areas of Australian territory to the Japanese enemy without firing a shot. What great patriots they are ! I shall expose the purpose of the present discussion, and reveal why honorable members opposite harp about the dangers of communism. They know that they cannot win the next election by criticizing the record of achievement of the Labour Government, and, therefore, they must raise a side issue. They have seized on communism, and constantly refer to the great danger that it presents. There are 21,000 members of the Communist party in Australia. In my opinion, the greatest danger to the people of Australia, and to their welfare, lies in the class with whom members of the Opposition were associated, the New Guard movement. Ask the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) about the New Guard, because he was Premier of New South Wale3 when the police raided its head-quarters, and seized its plans. Its objectives did not include defeating the State Labour Government at the ballot-box. It planned to seize certain members of the Labour party and imprison them in the Berrima gaol, which many honorable members pass on the road from Canberra to Sydney. Those forces had their “ basher “ gangs, and certain members of the Labour party were beaten up. That was the New Guard. The Acting Leader of the Opposition poses as a great Australian patriot who stands for the preservation of democratic government in this country. What is the record of the political party, of which he is now Acting Leader, in securing this country against aggression? Even anti-Labour journals said, when the Labour Government took office in 1941, that it was starting two and a half years behind scratch in arranging the defences of Australia. The reason was that the anti-Labour Government which preceded it had not made proper preparations. The anti-Labour Government had not mounted a single anti-aircraft gun north of Brisbane, and the records disclose that no real effort had been made, and, indeed, there was no intention to defend that part of Australia. No plans had been formulated to evacuate the unfortunate civilian population. Honorable members who represent Western Australian electorates will confirm that statement.
– I rise to order. I do not -mind listening to the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) make this speech for the umpteenth time, but I point out that the Estimates which the committee is considering are those of the Department of External Affairs, the Department of the Treasury, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and the Department of the Interior. I submit that the Minister is not in order at this juncture in discussing the defence of Australia. At a later stage, I shall be quite happy to hear his speech on this subject, and, if necessary, I shall make it for him.
– Order! I ask the Minister to relate his remarks to the four departments which are now under consideration. The committee has been discussing security measures.
– I do not need any reminder, because I am dealing with security. It must be regarded as essential to the security of this country that no fascist organization like the New Guard shall again be permitted to establish itself. I have raised this point because the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), when replying to a question a few days ago, said that there was evidence that this movement had been resurrected or resuscitated, and that the Commonwealth Investigation Service was inquiring into its activities. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) is fascist-minded. It is quite true that the un-Nordic-looking member may not yet have stripped a Jewish maiden and beaten her, but he is quite capable of it. There are other honorable members whose views are similar to those of the honorable member for Henty.
As I stated earlier, the Communist party in Australia has 21,000 members. The Communists have not a majority of members in any trade union. The majority of unionists in every industrial organization are supporters of the present Government, and honorable members opposite raise the cry of communism because they do not want to -fight the next election on this Government’s record of achievement. They desire to create the right atmosphere, the war atmosphere. After hearing honorable gentlemen opposite, a listener could be excused for believing that we had actually declared war. It is about time that somebody raised his voice to emphasize the necessity for maintaining world peace, instead of talking about the inevitability of war. “What a great prospect it would be for the people of this country if the Opposition parties, believing that war was inevitable, were returned to the treasury bench. That doddering old war-monger, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), again wants to see the youths of this country conscripted and marching forward to foreign battle-fields. All I can say is that the mothers of this country, who rear the boys who go to war and lose their lives, will probably have something to say about members of the Opposition, who talk of the inevitability of war.
Honorable members opposite say that the Labour Government cannot be trusted to take proper measures to ensure our security. Such measures are better entrusted to the Labour Government than to the Opposition parties. Shortly before Japan entered “World War II., certain members of the anti-Labour government which was then in office attended a function at one of the legations and became so intoxicated that one important member of that government had to be put to bed by two members of the Japanese Legation. Is that an example of the things that the Acting Leader of the Opposition wants investigated? We shall welcome any investigation. The honorable gentleman has tried to sidetrack the issue by talking about the inevitability of war. He has also spoken about royal commissions and terms of reference, and has mentioned what has been described as a stolen docu-
Mr. Word. ment. I do not know whether such a document actually existed. The honorable gentleman also referred to the Winkler episode. I have not the same opinions about Winkler as some honorable members have. I do not know what Winkler’s motives were. No evidence was produced anywhere to indicate that Winkler had been paid to hand the information to certain members of the Parliament, but I believe that one important fact should be plainly stated to the Australian people. The information which Winkler made available showed that the anti-Labour government of the day was using public moneys in an attempt to bribe trade union officials to sell out the interests of their trade union organization. Now, however, members of the Opposition advocate the taking of strong action against Communists and unionists who are not preserving industrial peace. I say, without any fear of what members of the Opposition may think about it, that if information falls into the hands of an honorable member which, in the interests of the public, should be disclosed, he should not be deterred from doing his duty by the consideration of what some one else may think of his action. A few days ago, my name was mentioned in connexion with the disclosure of the contents of a letter that had come into my possession. I am not ashamed to admit that I disclosed the contents of the letter in this chamber. I believe that I did a service to the Australian people by enabling them to know what the then Treasurer, Mr. Casey, who is now the president of the Liberal party, was doing. Australian taxpayers had been asked to provide the money for the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems in Australia, and they believed that the investigation would be fair and impartial. But the contents of the letter, which fell into my possession, disclosed that the then Treasurer was “ doctoring “ evidence. Does any honorable member opposite feel proud of the fact that a member of the Liberal party engaged in such practices? I disclosed that information to the Parliament, and I am not ashamed of it. The consideration of public interest also applied when I exposed the defence strategy of the anti-Labour parties. Had the antiLabour government remained in office, this country would have been occupied by the Japanese. When the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) was Minister for the Army, he told honorable members at a secret meeting of the Parliament–
Opposition members interjecting,
– Why are members of the Oppositionlaughing? The war has finished. The Japanese have been defeated. What I am about to say cannot be of any use to them now. I would point out to the Opposition that it is not likely that any member of the Labour party will follow the example of a member of the Liberal party in asking the Emperor of Japan to come here for the purpose of apologizing to the Australian people for having allowed his country to enter the war. The Japanese were defeated because this Government, together with our allies, took effective action. What was the condition of Australia’s defences when the anti-Labour government was in office? The then Minister for the Army, Mr. Spender, informed honorable members at a secret meeting that if one division of Japanese troops had landed on the Australian coast, it could have overrun the whole of our territory, because we did not have the means to resist it. The present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who is now overseas, glowed with pride when he talked of the Wirraway aircraft that his Government had provided for Australian airmen, but those Wirraways were only trainer machines, and it was simply criminal to send Australian boys into the air in them to fight against the efficient Japanese Zeros. Those are the actions of which the honorable gentlemen opposite claim to be proud. They wanted to send Australian troops to every part of the world except that in which the troops were urgently needed for the defence of their own country. It was a Labour government that brought the troops back to participate in the successful defence of Australian territories.
I can understand the concern and agitation of the Leader of the Australian Country party. The right honorable gentleman said earlier in the discussion that he thought that somebody was setting a trap for him. It is evident that some one wants a change in the leadership of the Australian Country party, because the right honorable gentleman obviously did not refer to a member of the Labour party. There is great dissension and intrigue in the ranks of the anti-Labour parties to-day. Honorable members opposite have not yet decided whether the right honorable member for Darling Downs is to be retained in leadership or whether some one else is to be their leader. According to recent reports, the right honorable gentleman has decided to contest a constituency other than Darling Downs at the next general election. He may be opposed by another member of the Opposition, and as a result this log-rolling and string-pulling is taking place. Doubtless, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) would like the Leader of the Australian Country party to be deposed. The ambition of the honorable member is to be the Leader of the combined Opposition, but he is afraid that if, after the next general election, the right honorable gentleman leads back to the Parliament an increased number of Australian Country party members he may find himself in the position of leader of the third and smallest party in the Parliament, if he leads it at all, or he may be merely its Deputy Leader. It was because of this intrigue in the ranks of the anti-Labour parties that the Leader of the Australian Country party said that he believed a trap had been set for him. I regret to say that he fell into the trap and that he does not know how to extricate himself from it. The proper and sensible thing for the right honorable gentleman to do would be to admit that he was fooled by some one who trapped him and apologize to the committee for having delayed its deliberations.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was greatly concerned because the Prime Minister said that there was to be a security check of certain members of the Parliament. What are honorable members opposite afraid of, and why are they protesting?
– Gestapo !
– When the anti-Labour parties had control of this country they had dossiers relating to certain members of the Labour party. We knew that the dossiers existed. On several occasions, I had the pleasure of examining a few of them, but I was never lucky enough to secure the one that referred to myself. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are not worried about dossiers, because we have nothing to hide. We are not afraid of our activities being examined. I referred recently to a doctor. Probably the Acting Leader of the Opposition can supply me with his name. This poor innocent must only recently have joined the Liberal party, because apparently he really thought that it was a liberal party and did not know that he had joined a party consisting of conservatives and fascist-minded people. He attended one of the Liberal party conferences and said that, in view of all the talk of graft and corruption in the public life of this country, he would move that the affairs of every member of the Parliament be examined by the Auditor-General in order to allay public suspicion and uncertainty. I do not know whether the motion was seconded, but it certainly was not carried by the conference. His suggestion was perhaps not a bad one. It might be a good thing for the people of Australia to know the source of the income and interests of every member of this Parliament so that they may judge whether a member is merely serving those interests when he adopts a certain attitude in the Parliament. I should not be afraid of any examination being made of my own affairs, and I certainly should not, like honorable gentlemen opposite, run away from any such investigation.
The Opposition is trying to make a great deal out of nothing. Honorable members opposite, in talking about security, have referred to the ex-member for Swan, Mr. Mountjoy. Have honorable members made a charge against Mr. Mountjoy? Have they suggested that he has been responsible for any leakage of information about the activities of the organization with which he is now serving ? Let us have something specific. Instead of hurling insults, let them say directly whether they believe that Mr. Mountjoy has been guilty of disclosing information to any country that might be regarded as a potential enemy of Australia. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has not taken any part in the discussion, because he knows that if he speaks he will have to say something in defence of his brother-in-law, Sir David Rivett, whose reputation has been maligned and whose patriotism has been impugned. That “ super-patriot “ the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), who attends here about once a fortnight in an effort to justify drawing his payment as a member of Parliament, has admitted that when he was Minister for the Army his German brother-in-law was arrested by the security forces one night, that he was telephoned and asked for a reference, and that, on his recommendation as Minister for the Army, the brother-in-law was released without any proper investigation having been made. The amazing part is that while Philip Raoul Hentze was released from internment, Max Pohl, another German, was interned because of his association with him. Pohl was interned because of his association with Hentze, but Hentze, on the recommendation of the then Minister for the Army, was given his freedom. The public of Australia are able to judge to whom they should entrust the security of this country. There are honorable members on this side of the chamber who are experienced in defence matters and have administered defence departments. They are capable, not only of determining these questions but of maintaining secrecy with regard to discussions and decisions. On one occasion the right honorable member for North Sydney was taken to task for making a statement to the press arising out of information that he had secured as a member of the Australian Advisory War Council, which was a body that was sworn to secrecy. There was an action impending against the Japanese in the South-West Pacific, and the right honorable gentleman, who could not resist the opportunity to get some publicity, rushed to the press to make a statement. He knew full well that the action was impending and that if information about it came into the hands of the Japanese before it commenced the information would be of great value to them. We know that the anti-Labour press of this country does not worry about security or the adequate defence of Australia when it can turn information to its own advantage or the disadvantage of the Labour Government. We know of occasions when Sir Keith Murdoch used his position with the Government to secure information, which he then used for the advantage of the string of newspapers that he controlled and for the purpose of attacking the Labour party.
In conclusion, I repeat that honorable members on this side of the chamber are not afraid of any investigation. If there is to be an investigation, however, let us take the lid off everything. Let us have a complete investigation, and one that will let the public know the full facts. On previous occasions when I appealed for this to be done the leader of my party said, “ Why rake over the ashes of the past?”. He did not want disclosures to be made, because it is quite true that when discreditable things are brought to light they undermine the confidence of the people of this country in their parliamentary institutions. That was the right honorable gentleman’s object in asking the question, “ Why rake over the ashes of he past?”. However, if we are to have an investigation, I say that it should be a full and complete one, so that the people of Australia may be made aware of the whole of the facts.
.- Ohe has to pay a tribute to the fluency of the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), but that is the only tribute that one can possibly pay to him. Any member of the Parliament could have made his familiar ranting speech, for we all know it by heart, forwards or backwards. I have been hearing this diatribe ever since I have been a member of Parliament. It never varies except that occasionally the Minister embellishes it with some new personal insults. He just selects a record from his cabinet, starts it, and plays it for 20 minutes or 45 minutes, according to the Standing Orders governing the particular debate. The phraseology is well worn, and one listens vainly for a new word. To-night, the Minister’s bitter personal reflections on men who have served their country well, reveal him once again as a larrikin Minister in whom the Government can have little pride. He said, “ Let us take the lid off. Let us look into the private affairs, of all honorable members “. It was a speech such as that which led to theappointment of a royal commission by the Minister’s own former leader,, the late Mr. John Curtin. The Minister claimed on that occasion that he had full information on the undefended condition of Australia,, and he made his infamous statements about “the Brisbane line”. He knew these things of his own knowledge. He had evidence of purloined and secret documents. He was not a member of the War Cabinet or the Advisory War Council, yet he claimed to have those documents. His own> Prime Minister challenged him and said “ I know nothing of the Brisbane line “.. The Prime Minister ordered a search in the Defence Department,- and announced in this Parliament that nothing had been revealed, and that nothing had ever been reported to him of the alleged “ Brisbane line “ plan. However, he did appoint a royal commission so that his Minister would have an opportunity to prove his statements. But what did the Minister do? This man who occupies the time of the Parliament by insulting men who have served their country had his royal commission,, but he ran away from it. He said, “ I claim the privilege of Parliament. When I declared I had seen a secret document I was speaking in the Parliament “. In the speech which led to the appointment of the Royal Commission. the Minister said all the things that he has said again to-night, plus a few more, but when he had his opportunity to prove them he scuttled for cover. He is not worth powder and shot, and I do not propose to waste powder and shot on him. His ranting speech is not worth anything.
I turn my attention now to the circumstances of this farcical debate. We are supposed to be debating the Estimates- of four departments. The names of the departments were kept secret at first because we could not understand the Prime Minister’s mumbling. We voted on the allotment of time without knowing the precise nature of the proposals. It is as well that the people of Australia should know that the Opposition was compelled to vote on the motion for the application of the “ guillotine “ without knowing what they were voting on. It was not until the vote had been taken that we came into posses- sion of a piece of paper which revealed what we had voted on. We discovered that in three hours we were expected to discuss the proposed votes for the Department of External Affairs, the Department of the Treasury, the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of the Interior. Obviously such a proposal is farcical; but the speech of the Minister for Transport and the more important and weighty speech of the Prime Minister, who is held in high regard by many Australians, have revealed the attitude of mind which considers it proper that governmental authorities should be employed in this country as they have been employed in dictatorship countries, to investigate the affairs of the Government’s political opponents. The Prime Minister said that he would have this done, and the Minister for Transport supported his leader’s statements.
– What is wrong with that if there is nothing to hide?
– I was under the impression that Australia was a democracy, and that a democratic parliament was the place where the Opposition, without having sufficient numbers to impose its will, performed the function of criticizing the proposals of the Government. Because we have got under the skin of this Government, its leaders are attempting to intimidate us by threatening an investigation of the affairs of Opposition members, particularly members of the Australian Country party. If our criticism of the Government members has been so powerful that it has revealed them as a gang of fascists who are prepared to adopt gestapo methods in an attempt to intimidate their political opponents, this debate has been well worth while, because the people of this country have been given an opportunity to look behind the mask. They have seen that this Administration, which poses as a democratic government which is truly representative of the workers, is at heart the same type of democracy, and the same type of workers’ representative, as the government of their friends the Russians. I remind the committee in that country no political opponent dare open his mouth. That is the condition to which this Government seeks to reduce the Opposition; but it will not succeed. Let that be clearly understood.
Why has the discussion of the Estimates been reduced to a few hours? The Prime Minister did not give any explanation of his motion for the declaration of urgency, but the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), in his customary imprudent manner, said that the Opposition was only using its opportunities in the Parliament to disseminate political propaganda. If that is the honorable gentleman’s view of the Opposition’s criticism, I shall not quibble about it. We are here as His Majesty’s Opposition to criticize the Government, and apparently we are to be silenced because we are exercising our rights too powerfully and too dangerously for the comfort of the Government. We are to be questioned on our private affairs. I assure the Government that what we cannot say in the Parliament we shall say outside of it. We shall expose the Government’s motives. There is no urgency in administration which demands the curtailment of this debate. The discussion is being truncated because of the Government’s fear that the Opposition will reveal the facts. We shall not be deterred by any disgraceful threats that may be made to us. These threats are given point by this attempt to besmirch Opposition members one by one. Attention has been directed first to the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), who has made a powerful speech in criticism of the Government, and no less a person than the Prime Minister himself has sought to besmirch my leader’s reputation.
– Tell us where the document came from.
– Let the Prime Minister tell us whether or not the Opposition’s claims are true. In all the juggling of words, not one honorable member opposite, from the Prime Minister down to private members, has said whether or not what my leader said was true.
– The honorable gentleman will hear about that later.
– The Government, first, is attempting to besmirch the Leader of the Australian Country party by saying that he has revealed some aspects of security which could endanger the safety of the country. Secondly, the Prime Minister, in a clever, cunning and unscrupulous speech, has attempted to portray the Leader of the Australian Country party as a man who would suborn the Civil Service. Let us examine the whole matter. There has been a great deal of discussion about secrets revealed by the Leader of the Australian Country party. 1 shall read what he said, so that honorable members will not forget it. He challenged the Prime Minister or the Minister for Defence to deny that the Prime Minister told a British Cabinet meeting held at 11.30 a.m. on the 8th July last at No. 10 Downing-street -
That lie understood the United States authorities were reluctant to communicate to Australia certain specially secret information about the progress of research and development on atomic energy. This reluctance might be due, in part, to their belief that the Australian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was not fully under control of the Australian Government.
How much do these two sentences aid Australia’s potential enemies ? How much do they affect Australia’s capacity for defence? The statement clearly reveals that the only persons hurt by it are the members of the Government. That is the reason for the Government’s attempt to smother the Opposition. The statement continues -
And it wau true, that in a public speech delivered some months previously the head of that council had stated his view that his organization should not concern itself with secret work.
That fact had already been published and no harm was done, therefore, by its repetition. But the Government has attempted to envelop the statement by the leader of the Australian Country party in an atmosphere of camouflage and misrepresentation, which I am now tearing aside. The statement continues -
Mr. Chifley was most anxious to remove any impediments to the free exchange of secret information about atomic energy development between the governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Australia; and he was prepared to make any reasonable adjustments which might be necessary for this purpose in the constitution of the scientific organizations serving the Australian Government in this matter.
Does that statement help our potential enemies or damage our defences? What is behind the Government’s attitude? The clever, unscrupulous and cunning politicians on the Government side have attempted to portray what the Leader of the Australian Country party said as something damaging to the security of the country. The words which provoked the artificially emotional speech of the Prime Minister late this afternoon were -
If necessary hu would be prepared to arrange that the scientists engaged on this work should for.m part of a regular government department and. undertake the corresponding obligations in respect of official secrets. He would be glad of an opportunity to discuss this matter with the appropriate United Kingdom Minister.
That is the end of the quotation.
– Read the whole of it
– It is no good honorable members on the Government side trying to pretend that there is more to be quoted. We are used to such cunning pretences. What I say tears aside the pretence that something improper has been done by the Leader of the Australian Country party. The Prime Minister, experienced as he is, knows that he has a weak case and so has attempted to create the impression that the Leader of the Australian Country party is suborning public; servants to reveal information. If there is any subject which I would have expected the Prime Minister to avoid, it is that subject.
Some years ago a civil servant named Winkler for some unknown reason carried a secret document from the then Acting Prime Minister, Mr. Fadden, to the then Leader of the Australian Labour party, Mr. Curtin. I have here a photostat copy of that document, which has already been produced at a royal commission. Winkler’s own heading in the document is “ Munitions “. The document deals with’ a secret cable sent by the then Acting Prime Minister of Australia to the Prime Minister of Great Britain concerning munitions. That, while Australia was at war, is what Winkler carried to Mr. Curtin, who did not reveal it until he had consulted the executive of the Australian Labour party. Who were the members of that executive? They were Mr. Beasley, Dr. Evatt and Mr. Chifley. They are the men who authorized and -directed Mr. Curtin to reveal what “Winkler had purloined. One of them now has the hide to charge the Leader of the Australian Country party with suborning public servants. The Government is playing the age-old trick of cunning politicians, of trying to camouflage its own ill deeds. Members on the Government side know every facet of the art of suborning people. There are Ministers - in the Government who are assisted by officials who were suborned from my political organization, the Australian Country party. The chief organizer of the Australian Country party was offered higher pay from the Government side, not to become a public ser- vant, but to become a liaison officer to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard). The result is that whenever I or my leader makes a speech in this Parliament, the former chief organizer of our party is at hand to furnish the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture with whatever propaganda can be produced in reply to what we say. Another individual, who was the editor of my own party’s journal, was offered higher pay to go into the employ of the Minister as a public relations officer, and is the Minister’s political assistant. Yet members of the Government talk about suborning. They themselves have a long record of suborning, and I could continue to give honorable members instances of men who have been plucked out of the Australian Country party and paid up to £2,000 a year or more by this Government.
– It would appear that they were “fed up “ with the Australian Country party.
- Mr. Jock Garden was a liaison officer-
– Was he in your party, too?
– This Government and its Ministers stand condemned on their own record.
– The honorable member for Indi is the world’s greatest squealer.
– Government members have attempted to justify the use of a secret document by the late Mr. Curtin, the present Prime Minister and other members on the Government side, on the ground that it revealed some dealings with trade unionists. In their view, any dealings with a trade unionist in an attempt to limit the influence of Communists in a Communist-controlled union were sacrosanct. They regarded it as intolerable that the government of the day, in war-time, should attempt to protect the country against the machinations of Communists, but to-day, when war threatens us-
– The Minister for Transport is like Mr. Henry Wallace in the United States of America; he sees no danger from Russia. Even if the Minister for Transport perceives no danger from Russia, that is the source from which most civilized countries apprehend danger. But when members of the Opposition in this chamber attempt to reveal the nature and degree of the menace from Russia, they are accused of doing something terrible, that should not be done. The speeches delivered by the Prime Minister, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and other supporters of the Government amount to an attempt to fasten some responsibility on the Leader of the Australian Country party. Of course, members and supporters of the Government are simply trying to avoid reference to the real issue, and we all recognize that as the oldest political trick in the calendar. The real issue before the people to-day is the influence of Communists’ in this country. The Leader pf the Australian Country party will, I have no doubt, expose in this chamber the menace of communism and he will be suPpOrted by every member of the Australian Country party in his campaign against the attempts of Communists in this country to undermine our security. I remind members of the committee that the Australian Country party is the political party which led public opinion in Australia, in banning, the Communist party. That has been the policy of the party for two years. We have since been’, joined by our colleagues of the Liberal party, and I notice that influential elements of the Australian Labour party -are already getting ready to fall into line. I hear honorable members opposite pretending to laugh. It is all very well for them to indulge in silly giggles, but the agenda of a recent conference of their party contained notice of a. motion by the Australian Workers Union, which they will riot laugh off, to ban the Communists. The country is menaced by the Communists, and the truth is that the political leader’s of (lie Australian Labour party are frightened of their political lives and so will not interfere witu the Communists. The Prime Minister himself could not obtain endorsement as” an official Labour candidate at the’ next general election if he “ bucked “ the Communist’s, because the coal-miners in the constituency which he represents influenced by their Communist controlled union would not vote for him at the party pre-selection ballot. A. similar observation might be made pf the majority of the members of the Australian Labour party in the Parliament. That is the simple explanation of their reluctance to ban the Communists. If one has to choose between his own political prospects and those of his party, on the one hand, and the security of the country on the other, the present state of affairs indicates that honorable members opposite place their party and personal interests before those of the nation. We say that that is” a disgrace to the government of any country,- and as long as we- are permitted to raise out voices in this so-called demo cracy to expose the present Government’s fear of the Communists, we shall do so. We shall not cease to battle on every forum that we can obtain to change the Government so that we shall be able to give effect to our policy, which includes the banning df the Communist party as a subversive and treasonable organization. We would root out the Communist elements from all . sections of governmental activity;. The Minister for Defence had the effrontery to declare to-day that no Communist will be appointed to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in the future. Is he silly, or does . he think that we are silly? There is not the slightest doubt that any Communist who desires appointment to a government position will be given, a dispensation’ to resign from the Communist party in order to become eligible for appointment. The Minister is not game to declare that he will take steps similar tq those taken by the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, to root out the Communists from the Public Service. Such action is necessary because I have .no’ doubt, and members of the present Government have no doubt, that there are Communists employed in positions where they constitute a threat to the security of this country.
– I desire to ma’ke a personal explanation.-
– Does the right honorable’ gentleman claim that he has been misrepresented ?’
– Yes. The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), who immediately preceded the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) in this debate, said, in the course of his speech, that while I was a member of the Advisory War Council, and while the Japanese were threatening Australia, I disclosed a matter which was vital to the interests of this country. There is not one word of truth in that allegation. I held the position of Prime Minister and also Commonwealth Minister for a longer -period of service than any other honorable member. I have been a member of the Privy Council and a member of the Parliament longer than any other honorable member ; and I have faithfully observed all the oaths by which I am bound. I have never transgressed or offended, by word or deed, or never disclosed cabinet or war council secrets, or done anything to violate the spirit or the letter of my oaths’. I repeat that the allegation of the Minister is absolutely untrue.
– The committee, which has already discussed and agreed to the Estimates for the Parliament and the Prime Minister’s Department, is at present discussing the Estimates for the Department of External Affairs, the Department of the Treasury, the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of the Interior. Although members of the Opposition have had a great deal to say in this debate, their remarks have been confined almost entirely to documents, communism and certain other matters related to communism. They have said nothing whatever concerning the Department of External Affairs, the Department of the Treasury, or the Department of the Interior, but have concentrated entirely upon that section of the Department of the Attorney-General, which is responsible for the national security. The Opposition has demonstrated that it is bankrupt of leadership, of ideas and even of the capacity to criticize constructively. The Opposition has revealed itself to the Parliament and to the people as a political rabble. Its members simply make violent speeches on one topic, and no amount of explanation or assertion on the part of members of the Government can deflect them from repeating the same story that the country is under’ the domination of Communists, and that the Government will do nothing to remove Communists from positions in Commonwealth departments where they allegedly can exercise an inflence over the defence policy of the nation and over the research work of the nation. The truth is that there is not one Communist in the Defence Department or in any position of authority in any of the armed services, and that members of the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research who are known to be Com munists - and there are not many - are concerned only with plant entomology and other subjects equally remote from atomic research. They are no more connected with defence research work than a draftsman’ engaged in the Patent Office is concerned with the work of the War Office in London. Nevertheless, the allegation of Communist control is a good “ line “ ; members of the Opposition have been told by the press of this country that it is a good “line” with which to win an election. Of course, the Opposition has nothing substantial on which to base criticism of the Government. It cannot find fault with the work of Ministers or of departmental heads, so its members concentrate on the line of attack which they have “flogged” day after day and hour after hour. They have impressed no one, but in their reckless efforts to make a case they have produced two documents - at least the papers which they have produced must be regarded as documents in the legal sense. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has said, if they are documents that belong to a government department, they are stolen documents; if they are not genuine documents, they are forgeries. The Prime Minister has said that that is a serious charge to lay against any responsible person. It is of no use for members of the Opposition, in their attempt to extricate themselves from a position in which they deliberately placed themselves, to say that on some other day son]e member of the Australian Labour party did something similar. Even if that were true, two wrongs do not make a .right. Even if it be true that the late Mr. Curtin used some information which he received, and the Government of the day criticized and condemned the Australian Labour party at that time for’ his action, even by analogy, that does not justify honorable members opposite in doing what they did to-night. There is only a seeming analogy for the late Mr. Curtin took the document which he received to the then Prime Minister, whereas the Leader of the Australian Labour party (Mr. Fadden) did not take the document he obtained to the present Prime Minister. That is the great distinction that must be stressed. I feel sorry for the Leader of the Australian
Country party because of his foolishness in this matter. This is not the first time people have offered to a member of the Parliament the use of a secret document. Years ago when the late Mr. Anstey was the honorable member for Bourke, I remember him saying that during “World War I. a public servant offered him a document but that he chased him from his door. He thought it was a trap and he did not intend to use information obtained in a surreptitious way. Those people who brought this information to the Leader of the Australian Country party have done wrong to this country. They have acted traitorously. They have acted in a way which will not promote, but will endanger the security of this country. By their action, and what has happened subsequently through the disclosure of the document in this chamber, they have acted in such a way as to cause an impression to be formed in the minds of those responsible for the safeguarding of the secrets of the United States of America and Great Britain that this country cannot be trusted unless the government can prove to their satisfaction that the fears created by the speeches of honorable members opposite arc unjustified. Why should any government in this time of difficulty and international crisis be concerned with anything but a desire to protect the interests of Australia? The Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) and the Acting Attorney-General (Senator McKenna) have all assured honorable members and the country that the Commonwealth Investigation Service is protecting the interests of Australia against any persons of any political complexion who would attempt to steal documents or would endanger the security of Australia in any way. The people who have produced these documents, be they genuine or forgeries, have done a very grave disservice to Australia. Members of the Opposition should help the security officers to track them down. I hope that whatever action the Prime Minister takes to track this disclosure to its source will not be frustrated by any failure on the part of members of the Opposition to cooperate with him to the greatest possible degree. This afternoon the Prime Minister singled out the Australian Country party for his criticism. He was very generous to the Liberal party. He might have mentioned that the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) had quoted from the same document as had been used by the Leader of the Australian Country party.
– He is not to blame for that. I gave him a copy of the document.
– He is blameworthy in that he used the document when he had no right to do so. I dispute the right of the Leader of the Australian Country party to use the document in the Parliament. He did not promote the safety of Australia by using it, for the purpose of those who gave it to him was to embarrass the Government. There is a great difference between the motives of the two set? of people concerned. Ever since we have been in committee on the Estimates members of the Opposition have been striking out in all directions, besmirching the reputations of men, and even going 10 the extent of attacking men who were appointed to positions in the Public Service of the Commonwealth when they themselves were in office. They have even attacked Sir David Rivett. They read us a lecture saying that the speeches made by honorable members on this side of the chamber are offensive and immediately they make the most offensive and vituperative speeches attacking Ministers and other honorable members on this side of the chamber. In his attempt to excuse his party for the wrong it has done the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) went so far as to say that we had even stolen one of the officers of his party, the editor of its newspaper, by offering him more money. I see nothing wrong with the editor of any newspaper changing his job. I certainly see nothing wrong with the editor of a newspaper published by the Australian Country party deciding that he has had enough of the party and getting into another organization in which he will feel happier. I have had the experience in reverse. A capable officer of the Department of Information, Mr. Ulrich Ellis, left the department to become associated with the former Leader of the Australian Country party, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). Mr. Ellis was a very good officer and I bear him no grudge for haying decided that he would work in association with the right honorable gentleman. He is a very capable man, and if he feels that he will serve his own interests or serve the cause to which he is attached better by working in association with the right honorable member for Cowper than by continuing to work with the Department of Information, good luck to him. This is a free country. Surely we have not reached the point where we can conscript a man to work for a political party merely because at some earlier time in his career he joined a political party organization and became editor of its journal. The gentleman to whom the honorable member for Indi has referred is Mr. Mills. I bold him in the same high esteem as I hold Mr. Ellis. When they are sitting in the Parliament in opposition, many people make very foolish speeches, but when they get away from the Parliament they take a more detached view and become more reasonable. The nearer they are to the scene of affairs the more irrationally they behave. If one meets them outside politics they are quite decent fellows who talk normally, as any good Australian should, and if one meets them while working with parliamentary committees, they will cooperate in every way.
– Is the honorable gentleman psycho-analysing himself?
– I am psychoanalysing members of the Opposition. Give them a gallery, especially a press gallery that will report their speeches, and they behave like people who are a little berserk. It is extraordinary that the best tributes to this Government are paid by Opposition members. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has recently been around the world. He was in Berlin. When he returned to Australia he told this Parliament a story of his visit to Berlin. Time, however, prevented him from leaving Berlin. He had not arrived back in Australia when Mr. Deputy Speaker told him that his time had expired. When the honorable gentleman came back to Australia he made a broadcast over national station 2FC. The typed text of the broadcast was headed “ Transcription of broadcast given by the Federal member for Parramatta, Mr. Howard Beale, M.H.R., 2FC, 10.30 p.m., 6th September, 1948 - Impressions of Berlin “. “In the course of his broadcast, the honorable member said -
Everyone has been very cheered by Mr. Chifley’s offer of air crews. Incidentally, hia short visit to Berlin and his speech while there, have been greatly appreciated, and ha.ve given a sane impression of Empire solidarity.
From the irrational speech of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), who made an extraordinary outburst, one would imagine that the Prime Minister is the worst Prime Minister this country has ever had. I contend that he is an honest and very sane man, who does his best at all times, and spends himself with great enthusiasm to discharge the obligations of his high office with dignity, credit to himself and benefit to the Australian people. The honorable member was so anxious to make a case for himself and his party in an effort to get the whole lot of them out of the awful mess into which they have landed themselves by using stolen documents, that he threw considerable mud at the Prime Minister, in the hope that some of it would stick. The Australian people are not so foolish as to be impressed by that sort of thing. Honorable gentlemen opposite should get a bit up to date in their politics. There is not really a very great difference between the two Opposition parties. They emphasize their differences from time to time, but I think the difference between the Liberal party and the Australian Country party is the difference between the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic - both consist of stone-age men. They are at least many generations out of date, and that is putting it mildly. All the attacks they have made here today ha ve been made in a laboured, heavy way which has not benefited their cause. Honorable members opposite have talked about wastefulness in governmental expenditure, but the most wasteful thing that the Australian Government does is to pay them their salaries. They give nothing in return, except to cast all sorts of aspersions and make all sorts of attacks on honorable men. There is nothing wrong with the set-up of the
Attorney-General’sDepartment. It can watchsubversiveactivitiesinthis country nowas well asever before. There was a time,a long while ago, when the Opposition parties were inoffice in thisParliament, and they have neverreallygot used to the fact that they are out of office. They seem tobearaperpetualgrudeagainstthe people of Australia for refusing toaccept them at their own valuation. Whilst they havealotofhatesamongstthemselves, theyhaveonethingincommoninthat theywearaChifley-wrinkledbrow.This Governmenthasthemworriedbecauseit is doing such , a good job. We know the storyoftheOpposition.Whenwarbroke outin1939,J.B.Miles,theleaderof theCommunist party, said that in the event of war with Russia , tbe Communist party wouldfight for Russia if that countrywasattacked. Although we were then at war, theMenzies Government did not prosecute Mr. Miles , and did notban the Communist party. Furthermore, it did not make any attack on theparty in the first twelve months of the war.
Mr.Hughes. - They werebanned.
– But not until twelve months after the war started. During that time they were saying things similar to the statement of Mr. Miles I have quoted, but they were not prosecuted orinterned.In1940theGovernmentof which the right honorable member for North Sydaiey (Mr. Hughes) was a member did ban them after the period which the Communist party called the “ phoney “ war. When Russia came into the war nine months afterwards, and while they were still banned, the honorable member for North Sydney, who was still the Attorney-General, said, “ I say to mycomrades of the Communist party, welcome, brothers, welcome ‘ “. They were still banned, yet they were “ comrades”.
– Now they fight for Russia.
– What did the Government of the day do when it banned them? It simply said that the Communist party no longer existed. Its newspapers were suppressed and its machinery seized, but they still published newspapers through an underground pres.Communists functioned as “progressive Labourites “, orsome thing of thesort. I hadan opponent who called himselfa “progressive Labourite “ but he was a member ofthe Communist partybefore that time, andstill isamember of that party. Ifa party isbanned the thing must at leastbe donehonestly; its.leaders mustbe imprisoned,and its documents seized. Theanti-Labour government of the daydid neither onething nor the other; itdidnotban them, nor did it notletthem function openly. This Government removed the banfromtheCommunist party. Listen ing to honorable members opposite one would think thatallthe Communists in Australia areto be found in the trade unions,butthat isnotso,and honorable members oppositeknow that to be a fact. Thelast timeIhad a Communist opponent was in 1943. That was also the last timethat the Leader of the Opposition(Mr.Menzies)had a Communist opponentinhiselection. I representan areawhere one-sixth of the population comprises age and invalid pensioners, and where there are sub-standard houses whichare built on pocket-handkerchief allotments with 14-ft.frontages. On the other hand the Leader of the Opposition represents an area where houses are built on allotments with frontages of 40 feetor50 feet, and there is plenty of light and air. The houses in that area are built of brick and the maternal mortality and infantile mortality rates are among the lowest in Australia. Economic conditions there are good by comparison with the other side of the river that I represent, and yet only 5,000 votes were cast for the Communist candidate who opposed me, whereas 8,000 votes were cast for the Communist candidate in Kooyong. The Communist who opposed the Leader of the Opposition got the votes of a lot of the intellectuals or pseudo-intellectuals. Honorable members opposite talk about rooting Communists out and depriving working men of their positions, because they are Communists, but we do not stand for that. Many people in the community, who were educated at the principal public schools of Australia are spreading poison in the drawing-rooms of this country.
There are various ways of tackling communism. This Government has dealt with the matter in a way which is identical with the way -in which Great Britain and the United States of America - the homes of free enterprise and rugged individualism - have dealt with it. Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland, South Africa, and New Zealand have adopted similar methods. I recently read an article entitled “ The Menace of Communism “, by Norman Cowper, which was published in the Australian Quarterly. I understand that that gentleman is a Sydney lawyer, and is not a member of the Australian Labour party, r am informed that he does a lot of legal work for some of the big Sydney newspapers, and he may even be associated with the Liberal party. In his article he dealt with communism objectively, and gives as his view that -
There should be incessant propaganda against communism, but for Heaven’s sake let it be fair, temperate, well-informed, and intelligent. The dangerous recruits to communism are young idealists with independent minds. It is to them that persuasion should he directed, and its quality should accordingly be high.
There should be no suppression of the Communist party unless it becomes an illegal association under the present criminal law: that is to say, unless it is proved to be preparing for or inciting to violence, not in some hypothetical circumstances in the distant future, but in the present. There is no warrant for a law directed against the Communist party, for it would be the product of panic and contrary to those freedoms, of speech and of association, on which our civilization partly rests. [ think this is the view of a good many people. No person who views this position at all sensibly can dispute the accuracy of that opinion. There are Communists in Australia and they always will be here in some form or other, whether they belong to the Communist party or not. There were Communists in this country before there was a Community party, and there will be Communists in Australia when the Communist party has gone into the limbo of forgotten things. There are dissentient forces always operating in the community. The great right of all people in English-speaking countries is the right of free speech, and there will always be people who desire to give voice to some theory which they hope will help to improve conditions in society. Their remedies may be nostrums; their prescriptions may be those of quacks; but, nevertheless, they have a right to say what they want to say. It is only when people, whether Communists or not, resort to violence, or start a movement for the overthrow of society by revolutionary means, that governments are justified in interfering. If war came, no one could complain if his affairs were looked into on justifiable grounds. No one could object to society taking steps to protect, itself, but those who advocate the adoption of panic measures are adovcating something which is foreign to the ideals of Australians, and is calculated to undermine our democratic institutions. By their references to certain stolen or forged documents, honorable members opposite are trying to create panic in the community. We must deal with, those documents. I am not concerned just now with the criticism directed by honorable members against various government departments; that can be answered by the Ministers responsible. The thing that matters is, where did those document’ come from? It is an offence under the law for any one to steal, or to receive, or to sell, or knowingly to disclose the contents of confidential government documents. If some one, not a member of the Parliament, had so disclosed the contents of confidential government documents, he would be liable to prosecution under the Crimes Act. The Prime Minister was justified in warning those who have transgressed against the law, whether they be public servants or not, that, the security arm of the Government will reach out to them, and that they will be prosecuted under the law. From time to time, I have heard honorable members opposite demand the launching of prosecutions against persons for alleged misconduct, but they have significantly refrained from advocating the prosecution of the persons who stole or forged the documents quoted by the Leader of the Australian Country party. However, the Australian public know the position by now. They know that the Opposition, in an attempt to make out a case, has used stolen or forged documents, and the average Australian does not stand for that sort of thing. The people expect members of the Parliament, whether they be in Opposition or whether they support the Government, to comport themselves according to the highest standards of parliamentary behaviour. They expect members of the Parliament not to use or misuse confidential documents which should be in the exclusive possession of the Executive and those charged with the defence of the nation. The happenings of the last few days have not been blotted out of the public memory. Since the documents were quoted in this chamber, the speeches of honorable members opposite have been in the nature of excuses for what was done, rather than attacks upon the Government. Every speech has been an attempt to get the Opposition out of its difficulty, and those attempts have been so weak, so unconvincing and so irrational that I have no doubt that the majority of the people believe that the Opposition, rather than the Government, has something to explain. The Government has done a good job for the nation during the seven years it has been in office, and I am convinced that it will continue in office for many years to come. The Opposition will not get the Government out of office by revealing the contents of documents which, by their very nature, are obviously secret. The Government has assured the people that their interests are being guarded, and that they may sleep peacefully. Australia is in no danger, whether from the right or from the left. A watchful eye is being kept upon those who might do anything to destroy democratic and constitutional government.
.- I t is true, as the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) said, that, in a recent radio broadcast. I said that the action of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) in promising air crews to assist in the Berlin air lift was appreciated abroad, and gave a fine impression of Empire solidarity. I do not apologize for saying that, because it is true, and in that broadcast I was concerned with telling the truth. I was not seeking a party advantage, and if the Prime Minister did something that was of advantage to Australia, there was no reason why it should not be mentioned by a member of the Opposition. I could have said many other things when I was abroad, things not in praise of the Prime Minister or of the Government, but I put my party politics behind me when I left Australia. While I was away, I said nothing which reflected upon the Prime Minister or upon any of his Ministers, as I might well have done. That, I believe, is a proper principle for any one to observe when he leaves his country. However, now that I have come back, I can say that the action of the Prime Minister, appreciated as it was, would have been still more appreciated if he had done certain other things, and refrained from doing certain things, which have placed Australia in a very bad light. Therefore, I ask honorable members not to assume that, because I spoke in the way I did of the Prime Minister there were not other matters associated with his policy which I could have criticized. When a man goes abroad, he is under a certain obligation to present a favorable picture of his country, but in this chamber, where both sides of every question may be stated, I have no hesitation in saying that, on my return, I found the strongest possible evidence that the present Australian Government was making a rotten job of some of our relations with other countries.
A little while ago, we were treated to a diatribe from the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). The most appropriate comment upon the Minister’s speech was made by the Prime Minister. As the Minister rose to his feet and commenced his spate of hatred, the Prime Minister was coming down the centre aisle of the chamber. He paused for a moment listening to the speech of the Minister for Transport, then turned on his heel and left the chamber, and he stayed outside until the speech was over. I do not blame him! The speech of the Minister was the same old fustian with which we have become so familiar. I have been in this House for only two years, but I have heard him grind out that speech ten or fifteen times. It is the same garbage, the same mass of hatred, the same spewing forth of lies, the same dragging out of ancient history about which no one cares the snap of the fingers, the same old creaking story of the New
Guard. We heard also the story of some one marrying, for money. Well, the Minister himself did not marry for money; he got his money in more mysterious ways. Once more we heard the story of “ the Brisbane line “, and the alleged unpreparedness of the country when the war broke out. The Minister for transport ignored the statement of. Mr. Curtin in 1941, when he said -
I have to pay tribute to the Government which preceded my own for the constructive work they did in defence, and for the foundations* they laid.
Notwithstanding that categorical statement he trots out the same old story - this country was impotent and unprepared; the previous government had done nothing to protect the interests of the people; then he gives us “Nelson’s Three Hundred”, the famous inquiry into the Winkler case. The same old pack of lies! I happen to know something about the royal commission of inquiry into the Winkler case, because I was a counsel in it. I give the lie direct to what the Minister said, and the royal commissioner, Justice Sir Halse Rogers, gave the lie to him in his findings. Yet the Minister trots out, day after day, the same old creaky story.
– The honorable member is not game to read what the royal commissioner said.
– There is a well-known advertisement for Lifebuoy soap which I commend to the Minister for Transport, “ Even your best friend won’t tell you “. Some of the Minister’s1 best friends^ if they have the hardihood to do- so, should take him into a corner and tell him that the people of Australia do not give a snap of the fingers for the rubbish he is continually dragging out of the past. It is obvious that the people laugh about it. One hears them in the streets, “We heard’ Ward the other night. Why go on digging” up that ancient history? What has it to do with events’ to-day? “ But we still hear from the Minister his hackneyed speech^ the same old speech worn and- threadbare, with never a variation. He still trots it out. It is’ his stock in trade.
– I shall be telling it to the people up in Parramatta shortly.
– The people of Parramatta would regard the Minister as an interesting curiosity. Then we have with bini the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell). The terrible twins ! Boanerges, the twin sons of thunder and of blackmail and hate, which they spew forth in the Parliament whenever they get a chance. Last night, also; when the Government was “ in a spot “ both Ministers teamed up in their usual form. Their best friends should take them aside and tell them that the people. of Australia- are not interested in their claptrap.
I rose primarily to join in the protest by my colleagues against the action of the Government in applying the guillotine to restrict the consideration of these Estimates, which involve a proposed expenditure of £500,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money. I protest against that action because it is a negation of democracy. [Quorum formed.’] I thank the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) for calling for a quorum. I shall- be satisfied so long as the Minister for Transport remains in the chamber to hear what I say, because I hope that an occasional word may permeate his cranium: and make a faint impression upon him. However, I am not optimistic on- that score. He is grinning away in his place; but it will- not do him any harm to- know that, in addition to the large number of people at present in the galleries, thousands of Australians are listening to me, and all of them’ will agree that the action of the Government in applying the’ guillotine to restrict the Consideration of Estimates involving an expenditure of £500,000,000 is’ an utter negation of democracy. Of a’ total period of three hours we have another 25 minutes, that is, until 11 o’clock, to discuss proposed votes of nearly £1,000,000 for the Department of External Affairs, nearly £4,000,000 for the Department of the Treasury, and’ oyer £590,000 for the Attorney-General’s Department. Those are three important departments, and not a shred of urgency exists in this matter. It is true that the budget debate has been going on for a couple of weeks and that every honorable member accepts that debate as an opportunity to deal with any matter with which he is concerned.
However, it is also true that the Parliament proposes to sit until the end of the year. In those circumstances, an extension of the present period by two weeks would not really matter. It would enable honorable members to analyse the Government’s proposals more thoroughly and to inf orm the people how their money is being expended. However, the Government is rushing through these Estimates in a few hours.
I observe the usual inflated expenditure in respect of the Department of External. Affairs. We have representatives here, there and everywhere all over the world. In most instances the expenditure for our legations and embassies is rising, and the taxpayer is being forced to dip deeper and deeper into his pocket to finance representation of dubious value or no value at all. That brings me to the two handy perennials, our legations in Chile and Brazil. We are expending £17,100 for the magnificent advantage of maintaining, a legation in Brazil.
-And in dollars, too.
– Yes; and we are expending £11,200 on the maintenance of a legation in Chile. We hawe to find that sum also in dollars These hardy perennials crop up year after year. We were told last year that they were likely to go. We know how they came. They were established as a part of a bargain which the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) struck with those two small nations in order to win their support for his manoeuvring at Lake Success in the early days of the United Nations organization. The Prime Minister admitted that fact in a comment in his budget last year. So far from these two legations having been established for any useful or diplomatic purpose, they were established in order to persuade the governments of those two countries to give the Minister for External Affairs support for some manoeuvring he was carrying on in the United Nations organization. These two legations are still being maintained, although it is quite obvious from the Prime Minister’s comment last year that he does not regard them as being of any value at all.
– Change the record.
– I hear the Minister for Transport interjecting in his usual merry fashion. I do not know what he is saying; I do not care. What he is saying is of no value to the Parliament or the country anyhow. This business of diplomatic representation. in Brazil and Chile is an illustration of the lobbying tactics which have become a recognized part of Australian international politics and which were commented upon in the press recently, when the Australian Minister for External Affairs was standing for the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly. It was saidthen that the Minister was carrying onthemost gigantic lobbying campaign inthe history of international politics. As a part of the bargain which he made, we are still paying, out of the taxpayers’ funds, £17,000 a year for representation in Brazil and £11,000 a year for representation in Chile.
I turn now toconsideration of the proposed vote for the Attorney-General’s Department. I do so because of a speech made this evening by the honorable for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) . I listened to the broadcast of the honorable member’s speech last week because I was absent from this chamber when it was made, and I listened with some appreciation. In particular, I listened to some remarks he made about Sir David Rivett, because I felt some sympathy with the point of view which he expressed. I considered that Sir David Rivett was a good Australian, and, although I did not agree with the comment which he had madein his presidential address last year and which was under attack in this chamber, I could well understand his attitude - the attitude of a scientist who wanted science to be free for all persons and all nations. I disagreed with some of the implications of his address, but I respected his point of view, and that was put forward reasonably, I thought, by the honorable member for Fremantle. But to-night I heard the honorable member in different vein. To-night I heard him endeavour to reproduce the form of his previous speech, but he failed to do so because he had a different sort of brief. To-night he had a case which was not a good one, and, therefore, he was uncomfortable and I found his speech unconvincing. He tried to convince this committee that the issue before it was whether or not the alleged disclosure of what happened between the Prime Minister and British Cabinet Ministers at No. 10 Downing-street was a breach of security. That was the brief he had to carry and that was the case he attempted to argue, and it seemed to me that he failed to make but his case because he had an unarguable brief. The speech was unconvincing for the clear reason that that is not the issue at all.
The ‘ real issue which this committee has been debating for the last few days - and it cannot be repeated too often - is : Why is it that the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States have expressed their doubts and disapproval of Australia’s security arrangements? That is the real issue in this debate. It came up in an accidental way, first from the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) and then from the Leader of the Australian Country party. To anybody who can think straight, it is quite obvious that this issue has nothing to do with alleged secret documents. What is really at stake is the grave disturbance in the minds of all thoughtful Australians as to the reason why the responsible governments of Great Britain and the United States of America are not prepared to trust Australia. There is no doubt about that being the position. That has been proved in this chamber. We know for instance that Sir Percy Sillitoe came to Australia, and then went back to London and expressed dissatisfaction with Australian security measures.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– We know it. It has never been adequately denied. It has been asserted again and again in this Chamber, and I assert it now. It is obviously true. We know also that the Minister for Defence, who is also in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, made a statement to the executive of the council in which he stated that the United States Government was dissatisfied. That statement was read out in this chamber, and, if he says, as he did this afternoon, “ I am not prepared to confirm or deny that that statement was made”, on some mythical ground of security, or defence, or not being entitled to disclose the minutes of proceedings of the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, that is tantamount to an admission that such a statement was made. It is obvious to anybody of any thinking capacity that the Minister did say to the executive of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research that the British and American governments were not prepared to give secrets to Australia because they were disturbed about possible leakages from various places - perhaps from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Nobody in this chamber will believe the Minister if he rises and denies that that happened. This afternoon we tried to force him to deny or admit it, and he kept on saying that he would not do either. I suppose that he will deny it now that it has been pinned on him. ‘That will he in accord with his previous record’ of denial one minute and admission thenext. The Minister has not a good reputation in this Parliament for consistency in his statements, and I say that he will not he believed if, a.t this late stage, he denies something that he was not prepared to deny this afternoon.
I am showing how small bits of evidence can be pieced together soas to establish, as a matter of proof, that the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America are dissatisfied with Australian security arrangements. There is not a shadow of doubt that the Prime Minister, when in England, did discuss this matter with the Attlee Government, or certain members of it, at No. 10 Downing-street. He has said that he will not admit or deny it. It has been asserted, and a document has been read, yet he is not prepared to rise and deny that such a discussion took place. Obviously anybody who pieces these things together will reach conviction that it is a fact that America will not trust us and that the British Government told the Prime Minister so. That information was passed on by him and discussed here in Australia. Now, why do these governments not, trust us? It is partly due - perhaps without justification - to the peculiar position of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It is a government department, yet it is not regarded as a government department, although it is under the control of a Minister. It has amongst its officers some very peculiar persons. It is true that there has been publicity about that. It may be that Mr. Rudkin, who’ has been described in this Parliament as a convicted traitor during the war, occupies no position of great power or responsibility in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It may be that Mr. Mountjoy, although his brother is an acknowledged Com>munist, is not himself a Communist and that his utterly unwarranted presence on the executive committee of the council is of itself not conclusive. I do not know. It may be that all the other persons whose names have been mentioned who have been appointed are not of very great significance. But when all of these appointments are fitted together there can be little wonder that the Government of the United States of America, which is deeply concerned with secrecy and has had plenty of experience of espionage is entitled to be chary about passing on confidential information which might get out through that channel. Whether it is completely justified or not. the fact is that there is a prima facie reason for the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America objecting to Australia being supplied with secret information.
There is another reason, and that is the Commonwealth Investigation Service itself. I have some knowledge of that organization and its officers. During the war, I worked with several of them. I know them, I like them, and I respect them, but any organization which is dealing with extremely able and clever Communists must be extremely well equipped. It is not sufficient that the officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Service should have had merely a routine training, as the present members of that organization have had. I make that statement without any desire to be disoffensive to them because, as I stated, I know some of them, and I like and respect them within their limitations.
However, I believe that Australia needs a cleverer investigation service than it has at present. I refer the Minister for Defence to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has been developed in the United States of America over the years. It is highly organized, and the members of the staff are very clever and experienced.
– The Federal Bureau of Investigation is having its troubles.
– The honorable member for Herbert makes my point for me. Even that very clever organization, with all the money and equipment that it has at its disposal, has its troubles. ‘How much more is that true of Australia, which has a much less adequate organization than the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We are dealing with something entirely new in our experience. All honorable members will agree with me when I say that Communist infiltration here is much cleverer than any organization which we have encountered in the past. I can also mention the organization in the United Kingdom known as MI5, the celebrated department which deals with subversive organizations and highly secret matters. MI 5 has a fine background, and when it is recruiting staff it does not take a policeman from here and a clerk from there. To my own knowledge, some of its officers have first-class academic records. During World War II., some of them were professors of the classics or university dons, who had been taken from Oxford and Cambridge to outwit the enemy by being clever enough to think ahead of him. I mention them in order to indicate that the United Kingdom Government, in a period of deadly national stress, considered it good enough to call on the cleverest people in the country. That is exactly what we need in Australia. If we are not able to secure such men here, we should get them from abroad, because we are dealing with something entirely new in our experience. In the Commonwealth Security Service we have not men with sufficient brains and experience to outwit the Communists. Persons with the necessary brains and experience may be available in Australia.
If they are, we must obtain their assistance. We urgently need them in the investigation service. The real point behind the criticism of Sir Percy Sillitoe, and the anxiety of the United Kingdom and Australian Governments, is that we have not men with the necessary brains in the investigation service. Another reason for anxiety is the absence of proper supervision of this service. It comes within the control of the AttorneyGeneral, but where is the AttorneyGeneral? At present,- he is prancing around Europe. He is absent from Australia for long periods. If this highly trained and experienced lawyer were doing his job in this period of danger to Australia, he would be at his desk in Canberra supervising the work of this department. Alternatively, while he is absent abroad-, a Minister with the requisite experience, training and seniority should be doing the Attorney-General’s job, and no other job. In the present difficult times, the absence of the right honorable gentleman from Australia is a disservice to this country.
– The Attorney-General is doing a big job abroad.
– I am aware that he has been elected President of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
– A most important job.
– I agree with the honorable member for Herbert, but I contend that the Attorney-General would be rendering better service to Australia if he were administering his department in Canberra. At the moment, I am more concerned with the interests of Australia than with anything else. Perhaps, therefore, the most powerful reason of all why the United Kingdom and the United States of America are dissatisfied with Australian security measures is that they do not trust this Government and the supervision it exercises.
– Order! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
Mr. DEDMAN (Corio - Minister for Defence, Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial
Research) [10.55]. - When the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) began his speech, I thought that he might make some interesting statements, but with the exception of a few remarks at the commencement, he did not deal with the Estimates for the four departments which are now under consideration. He reverted to the discussion on security measures which began during the consideration of the vote for the Prime Minister’s Department. The honorable member said that wherever he went overseas he heard criticism of the part which Australia was playing in international affairs.
– I did not say that at all.
– The honorable member did say it. I heard him.
– The honorable member for Parramatta said that wherever he went he heard criticism of the Government.
– How does the honorable member reconcile that statement with the fact that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has been elected to the office of President of the General Assembly of the United Nations ? That is an example of the ridiculous statements which members of the Opposition have made in this debate. The honorable member for Parramatta proceeded to criticize the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs and complained about useless expenditure on legations in South America. He added that he had noticed that the estimated expenditure had increased year after year. As an instance, he selected the Australian legations in Brazil and Chile. Had he examined the Estimates he would have seen that the proposed expenditure on both of those legations has been considerably reduced, because not long ago the Australian Government decided that for the greater part of this financial year it would not have a Minister stationed in either of those South American States. Expenditure on those legations will be reduced, and not increased, as the honorable member stated. For example, last year the expenditure on the legation in Brazil was £29,000; this year the estimate has been reduced to £17,000. Lastyear the expenditure on the legation in Chile was £18,000; the estimate for this year has been reduced to £11,700. In instancing those two particular legations the honorable gentleman made a completely untrue statement. [Quorum formed.] Before I conclude, I desire to make a few observations in regard to documents. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) quoted from a document in this chamber. A few moments ago,I wasnear to the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) when he was making his speech, and I saw the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) hand to him a number of documents. I noted thatamong them were some photostat copies, and not original documents. If the righthonorable gentleman is so much concerned with security and leakages of information, why doeshe not come to the Government and say, “ I obtained these documents in this particular way “,so that the Government can trace from where they come?
– I desire to correct the Minister. The photostat copies that I gave–
– Order! The right honorable gentleman must resume bis seat.
Mr.DEDMAN. - The honorable member for Parramatta said a few moments ago, and it has been stated in the press of this country without any authority or foundation for the statement, that Sir Percy Sillitoe, upon his return to the United Kingdom, made a bad report on security arrangements in this country. I say that that statement is a deliberate falsehood.
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Department of External Affairs, Department of the Treasury, Attorney-General’s Department and Department of the Interior has expired.
Question put -
That the proposed votes be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. T. Sheehan.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Australian National Airlines Act - Third Annual Report, and Financial Accounts, by the Australian National Airlines Commission,for year 1947-48.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Transport - R. A. Bickley.
Lands Acquisition . Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes -
Applecross, Western Australia.
Gloucester, New South Wales.
House adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
The following answer to a question was circulated: -
I now advise the honorable member as follows : - 1. (a) As the papers are of a purely departmental character it is not proposed to table them. Catalina flying boats were advertised forsale at the fixed price of ?1,000 each. Among purchasers of aircraft at this figure was Mr. Kennedy, Cronulla, New South Wales, who purchased one machine.
Residues of Catalina Aircraft at Lake Boga were offered for sale by tender and as stated in my reply to a previous question on this matter by the honorable member for Reid ( Hansard, 4th June, 1948), nine aircraft were sold to Mr. C. H. Campbell. Mr.- Campbell’s tender was signed by him personally and contained no reference that it was submitted on behalf of other parties.
Mr.G. T. Chippindall - Chairman.
Mr. H. F. Richardson ; Deputy chairman.
Mr. H. C. Newman ; Treasury representative.
Mr. C. Godhard.
Mr.R. H. Nesbitt - (Acting member during the absence of Mr. Richardson ) .
Mr. Schrieber received . ?3 3s. per monthly meeting and the Treasury representative receives an allowance approvedby the Public Service Board to cover additional respon sibilities. Apart fromthese no fees are paid to the chairman or other members. All members are however paidthe usual travelling allowances when meetings are held away from their head-quarters.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 October 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19481005_reps_18_198/>.