19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie Cameron.) - took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– On Thursday night the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked me for a ruling on on incident which took place during the debate on the motion for the adjournment on the intiative of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I rule that the honorable member for Lalor was quite in order in replying to press reports of an incident that had occurred in committee. In any event, his position was covered by Standing Order 71 and procedure as set out in May’s Parliamentary Practice, 14th Edition, at pages 426 and 427, dealing with reference to prior debate.
Another matter to which I wish to refer is the conduct of the House on the motion for the adjournment on Thursday and Wednesday of last week. I simply Bay that in future I do not propose to allow a running fire of interjections such as took place on those two occasions. Certain, interjections that I- did not hear were reported in the press; and they do no credit to the Parliament. It may be recalled that the’ proceedings after the motion for the adjournment has been moved are not broadcast. In future, if the House becomes unruly I shall act under Standing Order 304 and adjourn the proceedings till the following sitting day.
On Wednesday night the honorable member for Dalley made a remark to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender). I misunderstood the remark. The honorable member referred to the Minister, I thought, as “ a dumb lawyer “, but I mistook the first consonant of the adjective for the third. In any case, the remark was entirely out of order and should a similar offence occur the offender can expect to be dealt with.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. I resent what you have just said concerning myself. I made no remark of the kind that you have attributed to me. I asked the Minister for External Affairs, who was in charge of the House at the time, whether he intended to refer to a matter that concerned myself.
– And I said “ No “.
– I resent the innuendo.
-I do know that the honorable member’ made such a remark. IC was reported in the press but was excluded from Mansard upon instructions.
– Press reports have been published to the effect that Australian initiative and activity were not sufficiently in evidence at the meeting of the South Pacific Commission held recently in Fiji. Can the Minister for External Territories inform the House whether there is any substance in that suggestion ? “Will he, at a suitable time, inform the House of the results of the proceedings of that important meeting of that commission in which honorable members on this side of the chamber have been closely interested since its establishment several years ago?
– In the course of my statement on foreign affairs I said that the Government placed equal emphasis to that of the preceding Government upon the need for the commission, and upon the importance of its work. It was reported in the newspapers that observers had made certain remarks. I do not know who the observers were, but I have an idea that if their identity were disclosed it might throw some light upon the criticism. It was suggested that Australia’s representation at the conference should have been stronger. Australia has two representatives on the commission, the Senior Commissioner, Mr. Halligan, Secretary to the Department of External Territories, and Dr. J. W. Burton, Senior. The latter represented Australia at the conference. Mr. Halligan was unable to attend, not because of any lack of interest, but because he was touring the territories with me, and dealing with some of the very matters that were discussed by the commission. Afterwards, it was necessary that he should be here to collate the information obtained, and to discuss the action that we proposed to take. I understand that the recent meeting of the commission was the first that he has not attended. Dr. Burton, in my opinion, is a man with wide experience. He was assisted by Dr. Gunther, Director of Public Health in the Territories of Papua and New Guinea, and by Mr. W. C. Groves, Director of Education, as well as by executive officers of the Department of External Territories and the Department of External Affairs. I assure the honorable member that the Government displayed no lack of interest in the conference. The importance that we attach to the activities of the commission is shown by the fact that Australia makes the largest contribution towards the cost of that body. This Government will continue to take the same interest in the affairs of the commission as has been taken in the past.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture consider giving employees in the flourmilling trade direct representation upon the Australian Wheat Board? The flour mills in my district have been very adversely affected by the reduction of milling activities, which has led, in turn, to a scarcity df bran and pollard. The employees in the milling trade feel that they have a right to direct representation on the board.
– I recognize the interest and the concern of the employees engaged in the flour trade. However, the composition of the Australian Wheat Board is determined by statute, and is unalterable except by an alteration of the law. As a matter of fact, the act already provides for the representation of employees on the board, and I was under the impression that the present representative of the employees was drawn from the flour-milling trade. However, on that point I am open to correction and I shall make a check on that point. When the matter of representation on the Australian Wheat Board comes up for review I shall consider the proposition put forward by the honorable member.
– In view of the need to encourage tourist traffic in Australia, will the Treasurer consider granting a rebate of Commonwealth estate duty on the magnificent gift made by the late Mrs. Adelaide Constance Belt of £5,000 and 10 acres of valuable land at Lansdowne Terrace, Walkerville, to establish a tourist caravan park and picnic ground?
– The matter will receive the consideration it deserves.
– In the Anzac Pact, Australia and New Zealand agreed to accept responsibility for certain regional zones of defence responsibility, including some islands adjoining areas now under the control of the United States of Indonesia. In view of the change of sovereignty in Indonesia since the Anzac Pact was drawn up, will the Minister for External Affairs inform the House whether there has been any discussion between Australia and New Zealand recently on regional defence plans, and whether any alteration has been made to the original defence plans as set forth in the pact? Also, as the whole of New Guinea has to be considered in relation to plans for the defence of Australia, is any further information available regarding the situation in Dutch New Guinea ?
– The Anzac Pact, as I understand it, did not define any areas of defence responsibility for Australia and New Zealand. My recollection is that it merely postulated, within the framework of world security, when established, that there should be a defence zone based on Australia and New Zealand. Only within that framework and only on that postulation was any zone of responsibility to be worked out. I think that I am correct in saying that, within the zone contemplated by the Anzac Pact, there was not any area which is now within the dominion or control of the Republic of Indonesia. For that reason the Anzac Pact has not been reframed 1 can inform the honorable member that there has been very close consultation with New Zealand on all matters which affect our general security in this area. I should like to be able to state to the House the position in relation to Dutch New Guinea much more clearly than it has previously been indicated; but I am satisfied that, in the interests of Australia, it would be unwise at the moment to do more than say that the Government is almost daily watching this matter. The Government is by no means inactive and the honorable member may rest assured that the interests of this country are being safeguarded.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the claim of organizations of ex-service men and women in Queensland, and in other States, that because value is being taken out of the £1 instead of being put back into it, the amount of war gratuity payable to ex-service men and women next year will not be worth the amount originally promised them? In view of the already depreciated and progressively depreciating -value of the Australian £1, will the right honorable gentleman promise that all war gratuity payments will be increased by 50 per cent, on the date upon which they become payable next year?
– The matters referred to by the honorable gentleman are under consideration by the Treasury and by the Government generally.
– I address a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Was the Commonwealth of Australia represented at the conference convened for the purpose of considering the better management and improvement of grasslands which began in Paris on the 3rd May? If not, will the honorable gentleman obtain a copy of the report of the proceedings of the conference and make it available to honorable members?
– I do not know whether or not the Commonwealth was represented at the conference to which the honorable member has referred. If the Commonwealth was represented at the conference, I shall secure a copy of the report of the proceedings and make it available to the honorable gentleman and to any other honorable members who are interested, and perhaps, also, arrange for its publication. If the Commonwealth was 11Ot represented, I shall ascertain whether it is possible to secure a report of the discussion, and if I am able to do so, I shall likewise make it available.
– In view of the frequently published statement that there is likely to be a serious shortage of cornsacks for the coming harvest, is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to make a statement relative to the position, which will indicate the action the Government is taking to ensure that ample stocks of cornsacks will be made available to meet demands?
– A very difficult problem exists, and could become acute, in relation to the supply of cornsacks for the wheat harvest and for other purposes for which such sacks are used. This problem arises primarily out of a dispute between Pakistan, where raw jute is grown, and India, where the jute is fabricated into hessian and cornsacks. I hare been attending to this matter and have been kept informed on it. The Australian trade representatives in India and the Australian High Commissioner in India also have been concerning them- selves with the problem. The Jute Con- troller, who is an official of my department, has been sent to India and Pakistan to negotiate for the purchase of jute and fabricated cornsacks and to secure export quotas for the maximum quantities possible. I can assure the honorable member that every possible step that the Government can think of is being taken in connexion with this matter. The Australian Wheat Board is in constant consultation with me and the officers of my department in relation to it and I am distinctly hopeful that our efforts will result in the avoidance of any serious shortage of cornsacks when harvest time comes.
– Can the Minister for National Development inform the House whether experts of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have been able to discover any economical means of destroying paspalum grass, which is causing considerable concern and expense to local governing bodies?
– I understand that there are two schools of thought concerning paspalum. This grass is regarded as a nuisance in metropolitan and suburban areas, but in many country areas it is regarded as a very useful pasture species. I am not aware that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is doing any work in connexion with paspalum, but I shall make an inquiry on this point and will advise the honorable gentleman on the matter as soon as possible.
– Did the Treasurer make a statement recently to the effect that there was room for only one antiLabour party in Federal and State politics and that within a year the Liberal party, the Country party, and the Australian Country party would amalgamate? Did he also say that when such amalgamation, for which he was working very hard, took place-
– I am not sure that the question has anything to do with the administration of any government department. The honorable gentleman should relate his question to some government department and to some administrative problem.
– I had practically finished my question, Mr. Speaker. I was going to ask whether when he made the statement he also said that when such an amalgamation took place he would become Prime Minister?
– I have no intention of answering propaganda questions.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Interior been drawn to a statement reported to have been made recently by the Minister for Lands, Mr. Sheahan, in the New South Wales Government, to the effect that delay is being caused in the settlement of soldiers on the land by the failure of the Australian Government to convene a meeting between the Commonwealth and New South Wales representatives in order to negotiate a new agreement which has been necessitated by the recent High Court decision? If this statement by the New South Wales Minister for Lands is correct, what action does the Minister propose to take on this matter?
– My attention has been called to the statement made by th New South Wales Minister for Lands, but I have been unable to ascertain- the basis for his remarks. The facts are that as soon as the High Court judgment was given this Government consulted its legal advisers and had an amendment framed to the present agreement which would validate it. The Prime Minister communicated with the Premiers of both the principal and the agent States pointing out the difficulty that had arisen, and asking whether they would be prepared to accept the amendment that was suggested. The right honorable member asked them also to examine their own State legislation to ascertain whether it needed amendment. Until recently the Australian Government had bad no reply from the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Hanlon, but he has now replied that the High Court judgment did not affect the Queensland legislation. The Premiers of the other principal States - New South Wales and Victoria - replied that they had other questions that they would like to discuss. Upon receipt of that information, the Prime Minister again communicated with the Premiers asking them whether they would be prepared to attend a conference to discuss various proposals. Unfortunately, owing to the number of State elections pending it has not been possible to arrange a date suitable to all Ministers; but, in addition to that, the fact was made plain to the Premiers of all States that there need be no impediment to land settlement asa result of the judgment as the Australian Government would make money available, as it has done in the past, under a different law. I am unable to see where any hold-up in land settlement has been, caused or why the delay should, have taken place.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation concerning the War Service Land Settlement Agreement. It relates particularly to the financing of ex-servicemen who desire to enter the dairying industry. In view of the need for increased production of milk, can the Minister advise the House whether more generous financial assistance can be made available towards the purchase of dairy farms than was provided by the previous Government or has yet been provided by the present Government ?
– I am unaware of any change in policy in respect of assistanceto dairy-farmers or other settlers under the ex-servicemen’s land settlement scheme. However, I shall inquire into the matter in order to ascertain whether there is any real need for greater generosity and whether the Governmentcan agree to extend the assistance at present provided.
– Following upon the question of the honorable member for Hume concerning the land settlement of ex-servicemen, I ask the Minister for the Interior whether it is a fact that in the allocation of fencing materials to ex-service settlers under the War Service Land Settlement
Agreement, it is the custom to give priorities to those who have ‘been settled directly under that scheme? Is it also a fact that those, who without cost to the Commonwealth, settle themselves upon the land, are denied those priorities with grave disadvantage to themselves? Is ittrue that in a number of cases these self.settling ex-servicement have waited years for wire and wire netting? If these are matters of fact or if they have not been brought to the notice of the Minister, will the honorable gentleman look into the position from both the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth-cum-State angles with a view to seeing that the allocation of materials is placed upon an equitable basis so that those who have shown a commendable desire for self-help in their cwn rehabilitation will not be denied reasonable assistance in securing priorities?
– The complaints made by the honorable member have not previously been brought to my attention, but I shall have immediate inquiries made to ascertain whether there is anything that the Government can do to ensure that soldier settlers receive equitable treatment.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a statement published in the metropolitan press this morning in all Australian capital cities in relation to a statement attributed to the Resident Minister in London, Mr. Harrison, which appeared in the Australian press about the 19th April last. That statement of the 19th April read as follows: -
The Minister for Defence, Mr. Harrison, said to-day -
It seems to me- that until we display that ruthlessness that was responsible for building the Empire in early days - a ruthlessness equal in its intensity with that of guerrilla fortes opposing us - there can be no peace in countries threatened by Communist infiltration
Has the Resident Minister advised the Prime Minister whether that is a correct report of what he said? If so, will the right honorable gentleman advise his colleague to stop making such unfortunate and improper comparisons-
-Order ! The honorable member is making comment. He may ask a question. He should not comment upon what the Minister is reported to have said.
– If the Prime Minister will advise his colleague to stop making such unfortunate and improper comparisons-
– Order ! I have just told the honorable member for Hindmarsh that he must not make comment on what the Minister is reported to have said. He is asking for information, or should he.
– I am not making comparisons, with due respect. I am merely asking whether the Prime Minister will stop his colleague from making such statements-
– That is all right.
– Particularly as the expression of such antiBritish sentiments can be used by Communist forces against the defenders of democracy and “Western civilization?
– As to the first part of the question I was not aware that there was any reference to the subject-matter in the newspapers to-day. If there was, I have not seen it.
– I have seen it.
– I accept that, but I have not seen the references. I shall give myself the pleasure of looking at them. I am in constant communication with my colleague and we exchange views on many things.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. In view of the fact that intense dissatisfaction was aroused among primary producers, particularly meat, butter and egg producers, by the failure of the previous Government to consult with producers when negotiating agreements or marketing arrangements with importing countries, will the Minister give an assurance that in future the producers, who are the owners of the products, will be consulted through their organizations in connexion with any marketing agreement or arrangement which is contemplated.
– I can say unequivocally that, when marketing arrangements are contemplated, 1 shall consult any organized primary industry and acquaint myself with its views before making any decision or formulating any marketing policy. The wheat industry, as an illustration, can be readily consulted because it is a well organized industry. Other primary industries may not be so well organized, however, and perhaps the best that could be done for them would be to consult a marketing board with a majority of producer representatives amongst its members. That is the course that I would follow. In relation to the more detailed matter of negotiating sales, the appropriate marketing board will be permitted to conduct the negotiations, where that is possible. Conditions attaching to any such arrangement would be that there should be no Treasury liability and no opportunity for any commercial representative on the marketing board to take business advantage of knowledge gained in the course of the negotiations. The Australian Wheat Board makes its own selling arrangements. The Australian Meat Board is in a different situation. Meat sales are made by public auction, and the membership of the board includes commercial representatives. Therefore, that board is asked to express its views in relation to any price negotiations but its members are not acquainted of the subsequent trend of negotiations for the reason that I have mentioned.
– Did the Treasurer read in last Thursday’s press a statement to the effect that the Federated Taxpayers Associations of Australia intend to ask the Government to abolish the sales tax in respect of many items? Is there any truth in the assertion by the associations that sales tax does not take into account the inability of individuals to pay and is falling with undue severity upon small income earners? If the Trea- surer agrees with the assertion, will he examine the organization’s proposition with a view to abolishing sales tax on all commodities that are in general use by citizens in the lower income groups, or will he continue to answer questions on this subject, according to his hitherto unvaried practice, by saying that this is a matter of policy and that he does not intend to make a reply at this stage?
– I have seen reports of the deliberations of the Federated Taxpayers Associations. T am also aware of the continued advocacy by this body of the elimination of certain taxes and the reduction of other taxes. The incidence of sales tax is being investigated at present, and any decisions that are made will be embodied in the Government’s budget proposals.
– In the review of taxation that is at present being carried out will the Treasurer ensure that adequate consideration is given to the matter of concessional allowances in respect of expenditure incurred in the nonprofessional treatment of spastic children?
– The point raised by the honorable member does not concern the special committee that has been appointed to survey the incidence of taxation and to make recommendations in connexion therewith, but i3 a matter of Government policy that will be resolved in due course-
– I desire to address a question to the Prime Minister. As recipients of compensation and invalidity payments and persons of pensionable ago in receipt of small incomes are taxable under the Social Services Contribution Assessment Act, will the right honorable gentleman consider the advisability of introducing legislation to amend the taxation laws in order to exempt from tax the incomes of those persons up to the amount of the permissible income under the legislation which governs the payment of invalid and age pensions?
– I shall direct the attention of the Treasurer to the fact that that question has been asked.
– In view of the Prime Minister’s reply to my question, I now ask the Treasurer whether he will consider the introduction of legislation to amend the taxation laws in order to exempt from taxation the incomes of persons of pensionable age and the recipients of invalidity payments up to the amount of the permissible income under the legislation which governs the payment of invalid and age pensions?
– The honorable member for Darling has been a member of this House long enough to know that the question which he has asked involves Government policy. That policy will be declared in clue course.
– Many requests have been made by individuals and organizations for the appointment of a taxation officer at Broken Hill. Will the Treasurer consider the appointment of a permanent taxation officer there?
– Requests have been made for the appointment of taxation officers at various centres throughout Australia. The matter is being investigated. I shall inform the honorable gentleman in due course of the Government’s decision.
– Has the Minister for the Interior given any consideration to the alteration of the present status of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council in order to make it more effective and more representative of the people’s will? Is the honorable gentleman giving consideration to the need for setting up a wholly elective legislative council for the Australian Capital Territory or a more representative type of municipal administration, as advocated in the Cole report that was submitted to his predecessor in office ?
– The Cole report is being examined by an inter-departmental committee, which has not yet reported to me. I assure the honorable member that I am concerned that the advisory council, or whatever form of council may exist in the territory, shall give the greatest benefit to the people of the territory. I am giving the matter continual consideration.
– by leave - I inform honorable members for their assistance, particularly at question time, that, during the temporary absence of the Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. White), those departments will be administered by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey).
PRIME Minister’s Second-reading Speech.
– I ask for the leave of the House to make a short statement. I realize that we are still within the 35 minutes’ re-broadcast period which normally is devoted exclusively to questions, but the statement that I wish to make relates to a lengthy list that I quoted in my second-reading speech on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 of Communists who were office-bearers in certain unions. I have found, on having the list examined, that three or four corrections are necessary and the House will agree, I am sure, that such corrections should he made during the re-broadcast period, and, therefore, become effective. It is for that reason that I seek leave to make my statement at this juncture.
– Is leave granted?
– I rise to order.
– I am asking whether leave is granted to the Prime Minister to make a statement. I do not know of any point of order that the honorable member can raise on that question.
– I am raising a valid point of order, as you will realize, Mr. Speaker, if you hear me. The Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee has decided that only questions shall be included in the re-broadcast period. The House itself has endorsed that decision, and I do not see how the Prime Minister can get round it.
– That is a matter for the House.
Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong - Prime Minister). - by leave - In my secondreading speech on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, I read a list of 40 or 50 names. My purpose “was to show that certain Communists also held office in some key trade unions. Certain complaints have been made, and following investigations, I take this first opportunity
– That shows how unreliable the information supplied to the Government was.
– The leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) may make that comment in due course. He will see what it amounts to when I have made the corrections. I remind the right honorable gentleman that had I not cared to make the corrections, they could not have been ma de.
– We would make them for the Prime Minister.
– The first correction relates to a man named Hibbens, who was described, or was thought to have been described, in my speech as the South Australian president of the Building Trades Federation. I do not think he was so described, but the language may have been a little obscure. Therefore, I make it clear now that the presidency held by Mr. Hibbens was not that of the Building Trades Federation, but of the Builders’ Labourers Federation. That is a purely technical difference. Secondly, that office is not at present held by him. He did hold it at one time but does not hold it now. Mr. J. Flanigan was described in the list as the South Australian president of the Australian Tramway and Motor Omnibus Employees Association. He no longer holds that office. His present office in that union is that of delegate to the Trades and Labour Council. Therefore, at the date on which I read the list, his description in it was erroneous. Mr. F. Ticehurst was described in the list as the president of the Newcastle branch of the Transport Workers Union of Australia. A subsequent investigation has shown that Mr. Ticehurst is not, and has not been, president of the Newcastle branch of that union and that his name, therefore, should not appear in the list. The fourth correc tion concerns Mr. W. A. Beale, who was described in the list as the Western Australian secretary of the Shipwrights and Ship Constructors Association of Australia. The correctness of that description is not challenged, but Mr. Beale has himself denied that he has been a member of the Communist party during the last ten years, and I have also had a communication from the federal secretary of his union. I therefore desire to say that these matters will be the subject of further investigations. Most of them are quite trifling, but I desire to have complete accuracy. The fifth is the case of one Bishop, who is described in my list as the Queensland secretary of the Metal Trades Federation. He in fact ceased to hold that particular office in 194S, and therefore at the time of the list being read he was not actually the Queensland secretary of the Metal Trades Federation. He is now in fact organizer of the Queensland branch of the Federated Moulders Union.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether all the information concerning prominent Communists that he gave when moving the second reading of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 was supplied to him by the security service ? If so, and having regard to the drastic penalties which are provided in that legislation, will he have that organization overhauled, as it may quite conceivably make a similar mistake in future?
– I am sure that the honorable member for Dalley will understand my meaning when I say that I am not prepared to disclose the sources of information, but in case he attaches undue importance to the fact that there are five emendations - most of them very small - to be made in a very long list, I may tell him at once that one or two of the mistakes at least were not made by those who were supplying the material to me, but, I rather suspect, were made by myself.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, shortly after the Cabinet was selected, he made a statement that all his
Ministers would be required by him to surrender any directorships that they held ? If that is so, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether it is a fact that the Minister for External Affairs, a retiring director of the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company (Australia) Limited, submitted himself for re-election at the meeting of that company on the 31st March last and was re-elected to the directorship? If the matters that I have stated are facts, will the Prime Minister indicate whether a special exemption ha? been granted to the Minister for External Affairs in connexion with this matter?
– I did not make any such statement as that attributed to me by the honorable member for East Sydney. I made no statement on that subject-matter at all. To the best of my knowledge, information and belief, there is no member of the Cabinet who is at present acting in the capacity of director of a public company. One or two of my colleagues who are concerned with private family investments naturally carry on their activities in connexion therewith, but so far as public corporations are concerned, I am not aware of any one of my colleagues who is actively concerned with a board or who is carrying out the duties of a director. The fact that they are not so concerned represents a purely volun-_ la ry act on their part.
– Is the Treasurer aware of the effect on the national economy of the abnormally high price of wool, and, if so, does he agree that that is one very obvious cause of the prevailing inflation? Will the right honorable gentleman consider appreciating the value of the fi Australian to that of the fi sterling, and thus ensure an adjustment of wool values? Will the Minister also undertake to give some attention to the price of wool and also to other commodities that are sold at high-level prices and profits, and so give the alleged sins of omission and commission of the workers a well-deserved rest?
– I respectfully advise the honorable member that matters of policy are not discussed at question time.
– I address a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture concerning the price of eggs, which was recently substantially increased in Melbourne. By way of explanation, I mention the alibi that is repeatedly offered by the present Government to explain its failure to fulfil its electoral promises to put value back into the £1, which is, of course, that communism is to blame for increased living costs. I now ask the honorable gentleman specifically:
– In answer to the honorable member’s designedly humorous question I merely say that since he is, I understand, a former member of the Victorian Parliament, I should have thought that he would be aware that the egg board to which he referred is a State instrumentality and not a Commonwealth one.
– Will the ‘ Minister acting for the Minister for Defence inform me whether the present system of voluntary enlistment is providing a sufficient number of recruits for the Royal Australian Navy, the Army and the Royal Australian Air Force to increase the personnel of those three services to what is considered to be a safe level? If it is not, will he inform the House of the action that the ‘Government is taking to strengthen the three services?
– The voluntary system has been very disappointing in respect of the number of recruits that it has produced. Any action that may be taken to increase the personnel of the three services is a matter of Government policy, which will be announced in due course.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs give the House an assurance that the delegates whom he has invited to the forthcoming Commonwealth Economic Conference on South-East Asia, which will be held in Sydney, will all be “ vetted “ for security purposes? Will he also give an assurance that no dollars, which are in short supply, will be expended on the importation of French champagne for the entertainment of those delegates ?
Question not answered.
– Some time ago, I asked the Minister for Health whether the Government would help to make the training and conditions of nurses more attractive by providing scholarships and by other means of assistance. The right honorable gentleman replied that a conference was being held between the Commonwealth authorities and certain other persons with that objective in view. Will the Prime Minister ‘inform the House of the decisions that were arrived at by that’ conference, and when they will be put into effect?
-In the temporary absence of the Minister for Health, I shall treat the honorable member’s question, if I may, as being on the noticepaper. I shall have it referred to the Minister for Health, and ask him to provide a reply.
– In the absence of the Postmaster-General, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government intend? to eliminate the independent news service now being conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Commission or to restrict it in any way?
– That is a matter of policy that will receive proper consideration by the Government at the right time.
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for East Sydney. Will the right honorable gentleman give an assurance to the House that the provisions of the Australian Broadcasting Act that oblige the Australian Broadcasting Commission to conduct an independent news service will be observed, and that no attempt will be made to curtail that service or to alter the present method of presentation of news by the Australian Broadcasting Commission unless an amendment of the act is agreed to by the Parliament?
– I hope that I shall be excused from making a statement upon a matter to which I must confess that I have directed no attention whatever and upon which, therefore, I have formed no view.
– As some Ministers have refused to answer questions on the ground that they involve matters of policy, will the Treasurer say when the Government is likely to make a statement of its policy in relation to increases of age pensions and ex-servicemen’s pensions, the putting of value back into the £1 and the revision of the taxation laws of the Commonwealth ?
– Statements upon the matters to which the honorable gentleman has referred will he made in duc course and in accordance with customary procedure.
– I direct the attention of the Prime Minister to his statement during the last general election campaign that if the parties who support the present Government were returned to power he would speed up the production of home3 in Australia? I ask the right honorable gentleman whether the Government has taken any step, either alone or in conjunction with the States, to speed up the production of the homes that are so urgently needed in this country, other than to send a factfinding mission overseas to investigate the possibility of importing prefabricated houses?
– The Minister for “Works and Housing will answer the question.
– A great deal has been done by the Government to improve the housing position in Australia. The basic cause of house construction not proceeding faster than it has done in the past is the shortage of coal, a commodity that is used in the production of bricks and of approximately three-quarters of the materials that are used in houses. The building industry is now consuming over 1,000,000 tons of coal a year. The Government is directing its attention to the stimulation of coal production in thi3 country and, as a short-term measure, to the importation of coal on a reasonably large scale. It is also endeavouring to increase the supply of labour for the building industry and has reduced import duties upon prefabricated houses and components used in them that are in short supply in Australia. It is in constant consultation with the State Governments. A conference of representatives of Commonwealth and State housing authorities is being held in Melbourne to-day. Those actions, together with the despatch overseas of a fact-finding mission to investigate the possibility of importing prefabricated houses, represent a vigorous attack upon all aspects of the housing problem that are within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth.
– Is the acting Minister for Defence aware that dissatisfaction .exists in Western Australia as a result of the action of the Australian War Graves Commission in re-interring in an annexe of the Hollywood War Cemetery the bodies of certain civilians of another nationality who lost their lives in Broome during the war? Will he have this matter investigated with a view to removing the grounds for the dissatisfaction?
– That matter had already been drawn to my attention and I obtained a report on it from the Australian War Graves Commission. I was informed that the areas in which civilians were interred are quite distinct from the war cemetery itself. I am not aware whether any further complaints have been received but I shall have further inquiries made.
– As it is understood that certain blocks of shares were purchased by the Chifley Government at the time of its efforts to nationalize banking in this country, will the Treasurer inform the House what it is proposed to do with such shares?
– The shares which were acquired by the previous Administration in connexion with its effort to nationalize the banking system of this country are being gradually disposed of.
– I ask the Minister for Works and Housing a question that is supplementary to a question already asked by the honorable member for East Sydney this afternoon. Will the Minister say whether any investigation has been made, coincidental with a survey made by his department of the possibilities of expanding the building industry particularly in New South Wales, regarding the number of brickyards that were bought out and dismantled before the last war by the brick combine so as to avoid competition and keep up the prices of bricks? In view of the Minister’s optimistic view regarding the securing of labour for that industry will lie have an investigation made, particularly in and around Sydney, of the number of brickyards that were bought out for the purposes that I have mentioned ? Will he say whether it is possible, perhaps in collaboration with the New South Wales Government, to have those brickyards re-opened and re-equipped with machinery?
– I have no information regarding the first part of the honorable gentleman’s question but I shall have inquiries made and if any useful purpose will be served I shall be very glad to inform the honorable gentleman of the result.
– Has the Prime Minister any views to give to the House on the result of the Tasmanian general election that was held last Saturday?
– Order ! That subject has nothing to do with the business of the Australian Government.
– If I may answer the question-
– The question has been asked and the right honorable gentleman may answer it if he so desires.
– Is it a matter of policy?
– As a matter of fact it is in a sense a matter of policy. I consider that the result of the general election in Tasmania has provided the most final proof, if proof were needed, of the good sense that lies behind the bill to amend the Constitution in relation to the Senate that I introducedlast week.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In 1941 I had the honour as a member of the Menzies-Fadden Government to place before this chamber the first measure to be adopted by the Parliament providing for child endowment. Therefore, I particularly welcome this opportunity to present this legislation which provides an important extension of the child endowment scheme to the first child in every family. Child endowment has become a popular and soundly established social service. Those of us who assisted at its birth already have good cause to be proud of the baby.
In my second-reading speech on the 22nd March, 1941, I dealt fully with the place which the endowment scheme would occupy in our social services programme and discussed the reasons that had influenced the Government in fathering the scheme at that time. Child endowment, I then claimed, could rightly be considered to be a profitable national investment. While we did not expect any spectacular increase in the birth rate to follow the legislation, we claimed that to the extent that endowment relieved economic pressure on families it would encourage a higher birth rate.We believed that some reduction of mortality among children and improvement in their welfare and quality could be expected. The relevant vital statistics covering the period since endowment was introduced in 1941 indicate that those expectations have been amply realized. In 1941 the crude birth rate, that is the number of births per thousand of the population, was 18.94. By 1948, after a steady progression in the intervening years the number of births per thousand had increased to 23.08.
The same period reveals a marked improvement in infantile mortality rates. The infantile mortality rate of 25 per thousand live births for 1949 was the lowest yet recorded for any year in Australia. It compares most favorably with the mortality rate of 40 per thousand in 1941, whilst, again, there has been a steady decline in the mortality rate during the intervening years. I emphasize those figures because I believe that all honorable members will applaud them. The heartening aspect of them is that there was a steady decline in the infant mortality rate from 1941 to 1948. It may be of interest to honorable members to know that although last year we had a record influx of approximately 168,000 migrants, “baby” was still our best immigrant. In 1949, births totalled approximately 181,000 whilst the average for the three preceeding years exceeded 180,000 compared with an average of 120,000 births per annum from 1936 to 1940. As we noted in 1941, we did not expect that the provision of child endowment would have a spectacular effect upon the birth rate but, at least, we are able to claim now, as we claimed then, that the provision of child endowment in bringing relief to families would encourage births. The latest statistics reveal the remarkable increase recorded in recent years, and I am sure that every honorable member welcomes that development.
When the original legislation came before the Parliament, it received the unanimous support of all parties and I take leave to quote the following passage from the second-reading speech of the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. John Curtin, which I believe retains a significance for us in our consideration of the present bill : -
With thi3 bill, we are, for the first time in the history of this country - except for the Maternity Allowance Act - writing into the statute-book our realization of the national significance of family life. That is not a mere platitude - that means something. There never has been any doubt of the value of the services, infinite in variety and extent, which the family renders to the nation. Primarily, it is the source of national continuance; it has supplied the human material indispensable for the production of the means of subsistence; it provides for the replacement of the old and dead, and is the sole guarantee for the redemption, in the future, of those obligations which previous and present generations have found it desirable to incur in order to enjoy the fullest obtainable measures of security, comfort and civilization. At the present time, we find ourselves engaged in the most terrible war ever known. Vast sums are being expended in the defence of the country against external aggression. Great liabilities are being incurred and we are passing a great proportion of those liabilities on to those who come after us. We are incurring this expense primarily to protect ourselves, but also conscientiously to hand the country on to those who come after us. Because the national burden will thus be larger than it would otherwise have been, the only guarantee for the redemption of our obligations in the future is to ensure the existence of a fit and physically virile population to sustain the burden which will be the legacy of future difficult times. Therefore, every contribution we can make to the improvement of the health and welfare of the children now growing up is a definite contribution to the stability of the national structure in the years to come.
I make no apology for quoting at such length from Mr. Curtin’s speech on that occasion, because what he said then was the essence of the Child Endowment Act 1941 which we now seek to extend in important directions under this measure.
As honorable members are aware, the bill comes before this House in a very different form from that in which it was introduced by the Government in the Senate. The bill, as introduced in the Senate, gave effect to the Government’s decision, in fulfilment of its pre-election promise, to extend child endowment to provide for the payment of endowment of as. a week for the first or only child under sixteen years in every family. Under the existing law, child endowment is payable at the rate of 10s. a week for each child, in excess of one, under sixteen years of age in a family. The policy to be followed by the Government in this matter was made public by the present Leader of the Government in his policy speech delivered on the 10th November, 1949. I quote the following extract from that speech : -
Child Endowment was first instituted for the Commonwealth by the Menzies Government in 1941. Its problems are closely associated with the amount and structure of the basic wage. That wage is at this moment under complete re-examination by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, whose decision we cannot anticipate and have no desire to influence. But the financial difficulties of family life must be eased.
We therefore state our proposals in the alternative: If the basic wage, whether increased in amount or not, remains on the same foundation as at present, we will give some extra help to families by providing an: endowment of 5s. per week for the first child;, under sixteen years, the second and subsequent children continuing to be endowed, as at present, at 10s. per week. If the foundation of the basic wage is altered and its amount is. calculated by reference to the needs of ». married couple without children (am! we have noticed that such a basis has been suggested then we shall of course provide endowment- for the first child on the 10s. rate.
That statement of policy is perfectly clear. It was widely discussed - and, indeed, criticized - by the Labour party during the election campaign. It formed an important element in the programme endorsed by the Australian people at the general election. The Government intends to implement in this measure its election undertaking in the specific terms promised at that time.
Up to the present there has been no alteration in the foundation of the basic wage, and the Government therefore proposes to honour its promise to pay endowment for the first child at the rate of 5s. a week. If, subsequently, the court in its wisdom sees fit to alter the foundation of the basic wage by taking into account in its calculations the needs only of a married couple without children, then the Government will immediately introduce amending legislation to increase the rate of endowment for the first child from 5s. to 10s. a week.
Under the original provisions of the bill, an additional 5s. a week would have become payable from the 20th June, 1950, to every one of the 650,000 families now receiving endowment., In addition, endowment of 5s. a week would have become payable from that date to 450,000, new families in which there is at present only one child under sixteen years of age.
Honorable members will be aware that the Opposition in the Senate, by the use, or misuse, of its majority, amended the Government’s bill in two important respects: First, by increasing the proposed rate of payment for the first child from 5s. to 10s, a week; and, secondly, by inserting provisions directing the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and other wage-fixing authorities to disregard child endowment in determining the basic wage or any other wage or salary. The full substance of the second amendment will be found in clause 3 of the bill. The Government will not accept these amendments, and at the committee stage it will submit further amendments to restore the bill to its original form. It becomes necessary, because of the attitude adopted by the Labour party during the election campaign, and its subsequent action in amending the bill in the Senate, to say something on the question of the basic wage in its relation to child endowment. In doing so, I remind honorable members that the determination of the rate and scope of child endowment is within the control of Parliament, whereas the determination of the basic wage is entirely a matter for the Arbitration Court. I also remind the House that endowment is paid not to the wage-earner, but direct to the mother.
The Commonwealth Arbitration Court in its 1934 judgment said that the object of its investigations should be independent ascertainment and prescription of the highest basic wage that could be sustained by industry. This formula was again followed in the judgments of 1937 and 1941, although the passages in the judgment made it clear that the court, in seeking to determine the highest wage that industry could afford to pay, would have due regard to the “needs” of an average family. Criticism offered by the Labour party during the election campaign, and in the course of debate in the Senate, found some sinister significance in the fact that the provision is being made for payment to the first child at a time when the Commonwealth Arbitration
Court is hearing an application for a. substantia] increase of the basic wage. 2fo doubt it will be put forward by members of the Opposition in. this House, just as it was in the Senate, that the Government’s purpose in bringing in this measure was to bring about a reduction of the basic wage. I emphatically deny that charge. The compelling motive ii’ our decision to provide endowment for the first child was, and is, a genuine desire to give this measure of financiaassistance to those with family responsibilities. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said, when delivering his policy speech as Leader of the Opposition in “1946, it . expresses our belief that the family is the most precious of all social units. I venture to say that not one mem her of the Opposition honestly believes that the Government brought in this bill with the deliberate object of reducing the basic wage. Efforts have been made to give colour to this charge by alleging a connexion between our announcement of the extension of endowment to the first child and the basic wage hearing. The follow ing facts should serve to destroy completely any suggestions of that kind.
In my second-reading speech in 1941, I faced quite frankly the proposition that the introduction of child endowment might lead to a reduction of basic wage rates. I denied that it would have th: effect and my view was adopted by the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Curtin, who said, as recorded in Hansa/rd Volume 166, page 417 :-
It is necessary to deal with the problem of family allowances, regardless of the wage determined by any arbitral authority. Whether the authority should fix the basic wage high or low, so long as it took into account the family which is accepted as the standard, or determined upon some special unit of its own selection, so long would it happen that families whose- members were larger than the standard or the average would suffer some disadvantage in their own households. Therefore, what we are faced with is not the problem of the minimum wage-, or what is the status of labour as a class, but what is the degree of disparity between the family life of this country, as we find it in many instances, and that of the standard or average family in receipt of the wage which the courts or other authorities declare to be the minimum. So there is no relevant connexion between wage-fixing as such and a system of family allowances.
Later in the same speech he repeated this opinion, and I quote from Hansard at page 41S -
There is no relevant relationship between the wages fixed by arbitral authorities in Australia and a system of family allowances.
Although the legislation of 1941 received the close scrutiny of the leaders of the Australian Labour party, and the Australian Council of Trades Unions, which had its two leading figures of that day in the persons of the late Mr. Crofts and Mr. Monk in Canberra while th, legislation was being debated, not one of them at that time expressed any concern, at the possible effect on the basic wage, and the bill received, I repeat, the unanimous endorsement of the Parliament. Nor was any such concern voiced at any time in the succeeding years despite the fact that two increases had been made in the rate of endowment by Labour governments. It was not until the proposal to pay endowment to the first child was featured in the policy speech of the then Opposition parties that this sinister significance was dramatically attributed to it.
A short examination of the place occupied by this policy item in the history of the Liberal party will immediately destroy any charge along those linos. The Liberal party was formed in 1945, and its first approved statement of federal policy adopted the proposal to pay endowment to the first child as part of its social security programme. In the policy speech delivered by the present Prime Minister, as Leader of the Opposition, in the 1946 election campaign, he said -
We now propose that endowment be extended to the first child.
There was no basic wage case hearing at that time and had the Liberal party been returned to office it would most certainly have given effect to that policy statement, just as it is now doing. Nor were criticisms at that time directed against this item of policy on the ground that it would affect the basic wage. On the contrary, the Australian Council of Trades Unions, on the eve of the 1946 election, made repeated representations to the then Prime Minister to include endowment for the first child in his own social service programme. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who was at that time president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, will recall the incident when a strongly worded telegram from the Australian Council of Trades Unions was addressed to the then Prime Minister, the present Leader of the Opposition, demanding that this be done after he had rejected a first request.
– That was Communist policy.
– It was an official request made by the leaders of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, including the honorable member for Bendigo, who would repudiate the implication that he had any Communist sympathies. I am quite certain that Mr. Monk, who was associated with the protest, would also repudiate a suggestion that he was influenced by Communist pressure when he asked for the endowment of the first child.
– The Communistcontrolled unions exerted the most pressure.
– -If the import of the honorable member’s interjection is that the honorable member for Bendigo, then president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, and Mr. Monk, then secretary of the organization, acted as the willing mouthpieces of Communists in certain unions to bring pressure to bear on the Prime Minister of the day, all I can say is that that view would not be generally accepted by Opposition members. My sole purpose in stressing these facts is to establish beyond challenge the good faith of honorable members who sit behind the Government, and of the Government itself, in relation to this issue. When this proposal was formulated no claim was before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for the variation of the basic wage. The Chifley Government, I repeat, itself made two increases of the rate of endowment payment. The first was from 5s. to 7s. 6d., and the second from 7s. 6d. to 10s. If there is any validity in the argument that these payments would affect the basic wage, it applies with equal force to the increases then made, but the Opposition has utterly destroyed its own line of argument by moving an amendment in the Senate to increase the endowment payment for the first child from 5s., as proposed by the Government, to 10s. True, as an afterthought, it introduced an extraordinary amendment directing the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to disregard child endowment in the determination of the basic wage. The Opposition knows that this is merely a belated endeavour to cloak its change of front on this question. It knows perfectly well that such a provision would almost certainly be declared unconstitutional. There is little doubt that if the amendment remained in the bill the finding of the Arbitration Court on the basic wage would be challenged on constitutional grounds. That would only serve to delay the implementation of the new basic wage. It might even result in the determination being set aside, thus leading to further proceedings, and probably long delay, before a final decision could take effect. The Government believes that it would be a dangerous and mischievous1 process for the Parliament to attempt to coerce or influence the court’s decision. The determination of the basic wage is a matter entirely for the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and for it alone. The action of the Opposition in amending the bill iti the Senate to increase the amount of endowment for the first child from 5s. to 10s. a week is a complete somersault on its previous attitude to this question. On several occasions during its eight years in office the Labour party resisted requests by Opposition members, and by official leaders of the trade unions, for endowment of the first child. The merits of the case have not been altered; the only change is that Labour, now in Opposition,, desires to embarrass the Government. Its attitude to-day is a sorry contrast with the co-operative approach of the Labour party of 1941.
The provision of endowment for the first child will not only assist the onechild families, but will also add to the incomes of all families in which there are children under sixteen years. It will be welcomed by Australian mothers as a measure of relief from the economic pressure associated’ with the rearing of children. The additional endowment of 5s. a week which the Government hopes will be received by the mothers of families will, of course, not be subject to. any means test, and it will be paid in addition to any other payments for children at present received by parents from governmental sources. Such payments are, for instance, the pension of 47s. 6d. a week paid to civilian widows with one or more children under sixteen years, the allowance of 9s. a week paid to the wives of invalid pensioners for one child under sixteen years and the additional benefit of 5s. a week paid to persons receiving unemployment, sickness or special benefit for one child under sixteen years. The endowment will also be paid to war widows, wives of war pensioners and wives of service pensioners who have one or more children under sixteen years, in addition to the pensions and other allowances paid to them by the Repatriation Department. It will also be paid, in addition to other Commonwealth payments, to qualified persons with one or more children under sixteen years who are receiving living allowances under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme, the war service land settlement scheme, and business re-establishment schemes.
I mention also that the bill contains a concession to claimants for child endowment in respect of the time allowed for lodgment of claims. At present, if a claim is lodged within three months after the date on which eligibility arises, full arrears are payable. The bill, pro.vides for the extension of this period to six months, so that a claimant will suffer no loss of arrears of child endowment if she lodges her claim within six months after the date on which she becomes eligible. At present an institution is allowed one month in which to lodge a claim without loss of arrears. The bill extends the period to three months. As honorable members are aware, it was the Government’s intention that payment of endowment for the first child should commence as from the 20th June, 1950, the first payment to be available on the next four-weekly pay-day, which is the 18th July, 1950. Owing to the great amount of administrative work involved, it would not be practicable to make payments before that date. By that time approximately 660,000 families will be receiving endowment on the present basis, and to these will be added 450,000 new families, making a total of 1,110,000 families that will receive endowment, and the number of endowed children will rise by 1,110,000 to approximately 2,240,000. Having regard to the magnitude of the task, it will, I am sure, be appreciated that the commencement of the new payments has been arranged for the earliest date possible in the circumstances. After allowing for natural increase and for migrants, it is estimated that the cost of endowing the first child will be approximately £15,000,000 for the financial year 1950-51. This will bring the estimated total cost of child endowment for that year up to £46,250,000.
In conclusion, I point out that whether the 1,110,000 mothers who are expecting this benefit as from the 20th June, 1950, will actually receive it from that date, now depends upon the attitude of the that, when the bill is returned from this Labour party to this bill. It is the Government’s intention to stand firm by its election policy in this matter, but it hopes House to the Senate in its original form, Labour members there will see the unwisdom of their attitude, which can only have the effect of depriving over a 1,000,000 mothers of the benefit of the additional £1 a month which we have assured them they will receive.
– Not half enough!
– The Labour Government, of which the honorable gentleman was a member, had eight years in which to do something about endowing the first child of a family, but it failed utterly to do anything about the matter. -For purely propaganda purposes the Opposition now seeks to embarrass the Government in this way. For the reasons I have indicated, neither we nor the people of Australia arc likely to be misled by the method of approach to this subject adopted by Opposition members. The Labour Government repeatedly rejected our requests for the endowment for the first child when it was in office. Now, when the responsibilities of office no longer rest upon the shoulders of Labour members they try by devious means to gain public support for their new policy on this matter.
I commend the bill to the House. In view of the need to put in train without delay the necessary administrative action to ensure that payments shall be made on the date proposed, I urge honorable members to give the bill a speedy passage.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 4th May (vide page 2224), on motion by Mr. Spender -
That the following: paper be printed: -
Foreign policy - Ministerial Statement, 9th March, 1950.
.- I think that the majority of honorable members of this House are quite aware that an independent foreign policy is the luxury of a great power. Australia is a secondclass power and the first plank of its policy must be to choose its friends wisely and, having chosen them, to gain their goodwill. Australia’s first concern must be for the countries of the Pacific. At the same time it is vitally concerned with what is taking place in Europe and with the Atlantic powers. Any collapse of the United Kingdom or the Western European powers brought about, for instance, by any expansion of Soviet Russia would lead to the economic collapse of Australia and the disintegration of this country’s defences. I remind the House of this because in view of the events that are now taking place in southeastern Asia the vital concern of Australia with what is happening in Europe may be forgotten.
In the last 20 years there has been a revolt in Asia against the west. The supremacy of the white man has gone and there has been an emergence of independent nations which have formed their own governments although those governments are not yet stable. Conditions in China, India and Indonesia have changed completely and those changes will affect about two-fifths of the total population of the world. There has been in Asia a marriage of national independence with revolutionary socialism.
Mr.Calwell. - I thought it was communism, not socialism.
– I said “revolutionary socialism “. We now see the stormtroopers of communism- if that phrase is more acceptable to the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) - fighting the bureaucrats they have put into power. Nobody can say what is going to be the outcome of this development.
What is to be Australia’s attitude towards these new nations - co-operation or antagonism ? I believe that in choosing the course of co-operation, under the Spender plan, the Government has chosen wisely. Co-operation is possible in four ways - economically, culturally, technically and diplomatically. Australia’s great power and influence in the Pacific lies in the fact that it is known throughout the world as neither an imperialist nor an agressive nation. For that reason Australia has the confidence of the coloured races of Asia to a greater extent than has any other white nation. However, a policy of economic cooperation is most unlikely to achieve any positive results until a long time has passed. The countries of Asia have populations totalling thousands of millions of people who are under-nourished, under-clad and, politically, almost unconscious except in a nationalistic way. How can any sense of well-being be brought to the people of those countries by economic cooperation except over a period of many years? I think that Australia could achieve more in a limited space of time by technical co-operation than by economic cooperation and it could also help culturally.
The points I have just raised are longterm problems. There are also short-term problems such as the question of Dutch New Guinea. I do not think that the claims of Indonesia on Dutch New Guinea should be under-estimated. These islands to the north of our continent are our shield. (Quorum formed.~ I believe that the importance of this question is amply recognized by the Government.
Another short-term problem concerns Malaya. Malaya is of the greatest strategical importance to Australia but, up to date, the whole burden of the defence of Malaya has been borne by the United Kingdom which is strained economically and militarily by commitments in other parts of the world. Australians must prepared to play their part in the Malayan conflict. Even if only for the sake of their own interests, Australian:must assist in maintaining order and securing the future of Malaya.
The key to the whole Asian problem lies in China. All one can say with any degree of confidence regarding China is that the future is ominous. At present, the Communist forces in China are gaining ground at the expense of the Chinese national spirit and if that movement continues the spread of Chinese communism southwards seems certain.
After China, Japan is the most important country in the Pacific. It is impossible to conceive any stability in the Pacific without a stable Japan. I am very conscious of the feeling which the very mention of the word “ Japan “ rouses in the breasts of Australian citizens whose memories of the bestialities and cruelties suffered by prisoners of war at the hands of the Japanese are still very vivid. This situation must be seen in its right perspective. Japanese cruelty should be compared with German cruelty during the last war. I ask honorable members to remember the cruelties and mass slaughter of human beings in Dachau, Auschwitz and Belsen where millions of people were violently done to death in lethal chambers. Yet to-day Germany is being ushered back into the comity of nations and Germans are being brought to Australia as immigrants. This attitude to Germany may be inspired by expediency, but the fact is that’ we cannot treat two nations in the one category differently. Memories of Japan’s record in World War II. will be with Australians 100 years hence, but in much less time than that events will shape a course in Asia and Japan. As a matter of common sense, our memories should provide us with some sense of caution in the future treatment of Japan.
No doubt honorable members are deeply conscious of what happened in Germany after World War I. I can speak with some degree of authority on the subject as I spent ten years in Germany after the first world war until 1930. Germany was helpless and disarmed at that period but suddenly, after ten years, the world saw the German nation rise to become a strong military power and almost conquer the world. If that could be done with Germany, it could happen with Japan. There are close analogies between the two countries. Both are strong, efficient and aggressive nations with warlike people who are easily led. Both are necessary to the stability of the continents with which they are associated and both have suffered unutterable defeat in the wars through which they have passed. The analogy stops there, because there are also many differences. After World War I. Germany was disarmed and a so-called democratic government was set up under the new Weimar constitution. Otherwise, Germany’s structure and interests were unchanged. Its army was transferred into the Reichswehr of 100,000 men. The German air force was dissipated, but the disbanded influence of the hierarchy of the old Prussian countries remained. The judiciary and the teaching profession were unchanged and the big industrial combines continued to function. Above all, the Allies were responsible for converting a loosely connected Reich or country into one closely knit nation under the Weimar constitution. The government was centralized in Berlin and from that city the country was ruled with a rod of iron.
Before World War II., Japan functioned very much in the same way as ‘ Germany, but there has been a change since the Allies took control and the United States of America introduced its reforms.. The entire civil structure of Japan has been changed. The army, air force and navy have been abolished. The civil service has been transformed and most of the old officials have been removed. In the teaching profession, many of the 500,000 teachers have been purged although a large ‘ number still remains. Industrial combines have been disbanded or smashed. In Germany a democratic cap was put in place of the Prussian pickelhaube and all that Germany had to do when the time was ripe was to take the cap off and replace the pickelhaube. In Japan the head as well as the hat has gone. That is the essential difference. Honorable members have expressed doubt about the Zaibatsu. The Zaibatsu comprised the big combines run by large and powerful Japanese families. Each firm’ was an industrial empire of itself, spread horizontally as well as vertically, and covering the whole range of commerce, industry, banking and insurance. The Zaibatsu have been disbanded. Some banks continue to operate under limited control pf some members of the Zaibatsu families who also have some manufacturing and steel works, but mostly these vast conglomerations have been scattered to the winds, and I do not think that they present any grave danger for the future.
I shall conclude by putting forward two alternatives that can be adopted when dealing with the Japanese peace treaty. Australia’s opinion may not have much weight and there is no doubt that the United States will carry the day in framing the peace treaty, but Australia must know its own mind and what it wants. That would give it some chance of getting what it desires. The first alternative is to impose the treaty the hard way to keep Japan down. After World War I. the popular cry was “ Keep Germany down “, and the Treaty of Versailles was a hard one in a sense. It was supposed to keep Germany in subjection for fifteen years. My own view is that it would be a good thing to keep Japan down for fifteen years, but I put before honorable members the observations drawn from experience. Why did the treaty that was imposed on Germany fail? Was it because Germany became too strong and intimidated the allied” force, or was it simply that the allied powers became too tired and weak and desired no longer to carry on the post-war control? If the Treaty of Versailles had been in force between 1930 and 1935 and the Rhineland had still been occupied, there would have been no World War II. The Allies left the Rhineland because the nations that had occupied it were too tired and were not willing to maintain their troops abroad at heavy expense. The same thine; may happen with Japan if the Allies do not maintain their troops there. But who would supply the troops? To-day, only five years after the war, Australia is able to raise only a few more than 2,000 men for the occupation force.
– And it is about the only member of the British Commonwealth that has troops in Japan.
– That is true. To my mind that eliminates the possibility of enforcing a very hard peace. (Extension of time granted.’]
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I direct your attention to the state, of the House.
– I rise to order.. A quorum was formed les3 than fifteen minutes ago.
– It is not necessary to wait for fifteen minutes. The bells will be rung. (Quorum formed.]
– The second alternative is to make a reasonable peace with Japan, a peace that is just but which take3 into account the danger of a resurgence of Japanese militarism. Having visited Japan last year and having studied the developments that have occurred in that country since then, my impression is that there is good ground for hoping that -Japan will develop a form of democracy, though not necessarily the same as that which we have in Australia. Democracy takes different forms according to the peoples which adopt it, and we should not expect an eastern country to accept the same forms of democracy as we have in Australia and elsewhere. Nevertheless, I believe there is in Japan, and has been for some years past, a large expanse of liberal spirit and that, as time passes and the old militarists die of old age, the rising generation, educated by modern standards, will adopt democracy in some reasonable form. Such a plan depends upon two requirements. First, the allied powers must maintain some form of supervision over Japan - not necessarily military control, but civil control perhaps backed with military force. Of all countries in the world, Japan is one of the easiest to control because its economy is absolutely dependent upon imports. Any control over sources of imports must, therefore, effectively control Japan. The allied powers could readily maintain some form of control of that nature. Secondly, supervision must also be exercised inside Japan, possibly by a few selected ad visers acting for the allied powers according to the present system, but without an occupation army. By this means, I believe that we could achieve some stability in Japan and therefore in the Pacific. Our interests demand that we have a stable Asia, and I can imagine no stability in Asia without a stable Japan. Therefore, I hope that the first objective of the peace treaty will be to establish a reasonably democratic and ?table regime in Japan. Such a state of affairs would be for the good, not only of Australia, but also of other countries in the Pacific region.
– This debate, which was initiated two months ago by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender), has been of great interest to all honorable members. Many speakers have discussed the situation in Asia at length but have failed to make constructive suggestions concerning Australia’s foreign policy. I believe that the Government should know the views of all honorable members in relation to the foreign policy that it should pursue. I am glad that the Minister, in stating the basic features of his policy, referred particularly to the maintenance of peace in south-east Asia, the safety of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth, the fostering of close relations between Australia and the United States of America, and the continued support of the purposes, principles and machinery of the United Nations. The honorable gentleman said -
Our first and constant interest must be the security of our own homeland and the maintenance of peace in the area in which out country is geographically placed.
That was an admirable statement of the first principle of foreign policy. We should find ourselves in a very difficult situation if we attempted to adopt a warlike attitude towards any other nation. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has spoken of the numerical weakness of our occupation force in Japan, and earlier to-day we were told in answer to a question that there had been a disappointing response to the Government’s appeals for voluntary enlistments in the armed forces. Those facts indicate that Australia is not in a position to be belligerent, and therefore our foreign policy should be designed to influence other countries to aline themselves with us in the cause of peace. Australians generally are peaceable and do not look for trouble, although they have responded magnificently whenever it has been incumbent upon them to take up arms in a good cause. In the light of our relative weakness, we should strive to foster international relationships that will preserve peace.
I also agree with the Minister’s statement in relation to the United Nations. Two or three years ago, when discussing international affairs in this House, 1 declared that Australia’s first consideration should be the British Commonwealth of Nations and that its support of the United Nations should take second place. I was gratified to hear the Minister echo that declaration in his recent statement. We are living in a time of changed international relationships. The honorable member for Flinders said that the authority of the white man was passing. I do not altogether agree with that. I believe that to-day, the world looks to the white races for a lead. The days when armed might dominated the international scene and militarily powerful nations were able to impose their will upon their less fortunate neighbours are receding. The honorable member for Flinders has pointed out that, to the north of this country, there are 1,000,000,000 Asiatics who are seeking a new status. Tears ago, those people did not come very prominently into the picture and their chances of dominating white races were remote. Australia relied for its security upon the British Navy, and upon assistance from the United States of America if necessary. Under that protection, we were able to go ahead and develop this country as we thought fit. The position to-day is quite different. Armies and navies do not count so much. The big ‘consideration is economics. That is recognized in what is now known as the Spender Plan for South-East Asia. Speaking at the Colombo conference, the Australian Minister for External Affairs said that the world had an obligation to raise the standards of the Asiatic people, and that only by raising those standards could the spread of the Communist ideology be curbed. The growth of communism has been dealt with adequately in the course of this debate, and I do not propose to spend much time discussing it.’ However, there is general recognition that something must be done to raise the living standards of the people of Asia, because, unless we do that, communism will eventually reach down to this country. We should be thankful indeed that, so far, communism has not presented a problem in India or Pakistan. The people of those countries have shown no general disposition to embrace the Communist ideology. This is due, I am convinced, to the influence exercised by Great Britain during its period of sovereignty. British administrators inculcated in the minds of those who to-day control India and Pakistan some respect for democracy. We should endeavour to exert a similar influence over other Asian countries. That could be achieved, I believe, by promoting amongst Asiatics the belief that, with our assistance, they can do something to lift their living standards. To a nation of 8,000,000 people the task of raising the living standards of 1,000,000,000 Asiatics seems, at first glance, to be immense, particularly as in some respects our own living standards are by no means adequate. I believe therefore that the primary purpose of our foreign policy should be to seek a common understanding with other people of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and with the people of the United States of America. In the world to-day there are two ideologies. First there is the Communist ideology supported by Russia, and, secondly, the democratic ideology - some of us may question just how democratic it is in some countries - of which the United States of America is the champion. The aim of the democratic countries must be to improve the conditions of peoples who otherwise might be tempted to embrace communism. The honorable member for Flinders who spent ten years in Germany during the military occupation after World War I., told us how, in a little over twenty years, that country was able to rise from a defeated nation to a powerful nation, ready once again to threaten the world. We should not endeavour to impose a harsh peace treaty upon Japan or any other defeated enemy country. Any policy of ruthless repression which will result in unemployment, starvation, and hopelessness amongst a defeated people can only breed a desire for revenge, as any student of human nature will agree. When a person is oppressed, even by a member of his own family, that person will some day try to even the score. Therefore I urge the Minister to avoid oppression in the application of Australia’s foreign policy. We should not be bent upon exacting the last penalty from a defeated people, or upon their permanent subjugation. We should try to show them that, in our way of life, there is something worthwhile; that in this country we have great ideals for which we have striven over the years, and that we would like other countries to have the benefit of them. When I visited the United States of America about three years ago I attended in Washington two meetings of the Ear Eastern Commission. The United States representative occupied the chair, and in attendance were representatives from eleven nations including Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Russia and China. They dealt with the .Far Eastern position in general, in an attempt to solve the difficulties that arose in the Pacific area after the last war. When listening to the debate I gained the impression that permeating the minds of the delegates was the ageold feeling of international distrust. What impressed me most was the attitude of the delegates to a simple recommendation being put forward by one nation. Another delegate would look at some word of it with suspicion, and a third would consider it in an entirely different way from that of the originator. In one case a report, which appeared perfectly open and above board to me, had to be referred back, to be dealt with on another occasion because some one thought there was a catch in one particular word. On that occasion I thought that the objection was totally unnecessary. The people of Australia have been born to wide open spaces and far horizons and that has given them a broad outlook generally, and particularly in connexion with their dealings with other nations. Let us try to imbue other people with our own broad outlook so that they will see the fallacy of squabbling over small matters, and will approach their relations with other nations in a free and tolerant spirit.
Our trade policy is intimately related to our foreign policy. We cannot discusforeign policy from the point of view of military strategy, or ideology, without bringing into the debate our trade policy. In past centuries it was really trade that made the nations of the world great. At the time that Spain was a great power its greatness was founded not on what it produced, or on its art or culture; but upon its strength. It was won by the sword. But the old days of conquest are a thing of the past. A nation does not become great to-day by the strength of its right arm. A great, nation to-day has reached its eminence by the broad view of its people and leaders. When the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) was Minister for External Affairs I spoke of his broad outlook. I said that I did not agree with all his ideas, but that the quality that impressed me, and most people in foreign countries, was his broad outlook. He had an idea of bringing some sense of equity to the world. He wanted all people to have their proper place in the sun. That is why so many of the small nations, who had no hope of maintaining their integrity against their greater neighbours, applauded his policy and decided that he was a man that they could follow.
The Minister for External Affairs and his representatives, at any conferences or gatherings dealing with foreign affairs, should show quite clearly to the representatives of other nations that Australia has a broad outlook on foreign affairs. They should make it clear that Australians do not look upon themselves as superior to other peoples but they do consider themselves to be people who possess something worthwhile. We have a bright and good country, and laws that are generally good so far as the welfare of the people is concerned. Although Australia is a small country it has been able to build up something that should influence the future of the world.
In the limited time available I have tried to indicate to the House that this country should take a broad view in all its foreign affairs.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– In the time available to me I shall have an -opportunity of directing my remarks to only one aspect of international affairs, but it is one which I believe to be of -great importance and interest to the Australian people. It has a direct connexion with world communism and the policies followed by the Government of Soviet Russia to-day. I refer to the so-called peace congresses which have been held in various parts of the world. One was held in Australia, in April, and it gained a great deal of publicity. A great degree -of capacity and skill was shown in its organization. I make it clear to the House, and through the House to the people of Australia, that the so-called peace congress in this country has followed the same pattern which has been employed in other parts of the world. I make the charge that the Soviet Government has deliberately adopted this campaign, and that it bas perverted one of the noblest ideals of men - the maintenance of peace - as a cloak for its own designs and to conceal its own expansionist manoeuvres. I hope to establish that proposition from the material that I shall place before the House.
It is generally recognized that Soviet policy, particularly in the west of Europe, is now aimed less at influencing the policies of governments directly, than at winning away from the governments of the west as large a proportion of the population in each country as may be practicable. It is to-day essentially a policy that is directed not so much at governments as at the public. Foi this purpose it depends, first upon a system of highly skilled and disciplined organizations in the shape of the Communist party in each country, and international Communist controlled bodies like the World Federation of Trade Unions and the World Federation of Democratic Youth. Associated with those highly disciplined bodies is the publicity that is spread abroad through the Cominform organization. In this context the Kremlin and the western Communists set much store by the so-called peace campaign. The Congress of Intellectuals for World Peace at Wroclaw, in September, 1948, inaugurated a series of hand-picked propaganda rallies. In April, 1949, a world congress of “ partisans of peace” was convened in Paris. There a permanent committee was set up. It is interesting to read the list of well known personages, notable Communists from all parts of Europe, and, indeed, from Asia, who composed the membership of that committee. Each of the organizations whose representatives sat on that committee had organized a whole system of peace propaganda through its own channels, and that was especially the case with the World Federation of Trade Unions. Many peace congresses of the Australian pattern have been held in other countries. The peace campaign and the branding of western governments a9 warmongers are an essential part of the general campaign against western recovery, and must he regarded as the counterpart, in the field’s of defence and general, propaganda, of the industrial strikes against the Marshall plan and other western proposals. Undoubtedly the object is to weaken the defence effort of the democratic countries by fomenting discontent against defence measures and by organizing and encouraging pacifist sentiments of whatever origin. It makes a subtle appeal to scientists and other intellectuals connected with atomic energy and all forms of defence research, and it provides a useful screen for the Kremlin’s own manoeuvres. I direct the attention of the House particularly to a passage that appeared as early as 1945 in the Soviet History of Diplomacy, which states -
To the same group of examples of the concealment of predatory ends behind noble principles also belong the instances of the exploitation of the idea of the disarmament and pacifist propaganda in the broad sense of the word for one’s own purposes. From time immemorial, the ideal of disarmament has ‘been one of the most favoured forms of diplomatic dissimulation of the true motives and plans of those governments which have been seized by such a sudden “ love of peace “.
It is clear that Russia has, in fact, anything but peaceful aims, as I shall show by certain facts which I shall put before the House shortly. However, even if Soviet practices -were not convincing, we can find basic pronouncements in the leading text-books of Communists. For instance, in On the Problems of Leninism we find the following passage : -
We are living not merely in a state, but in a system of states, and the existence of the Soviet Republic side by side with imperialist states for a long time is unthinkable. One or the other must triumph in the end. And before the end supervenes a series of frightful collisions between the Soviet Republic and the bourgeois states will be inevitable. That means that, if the ruling class, the proletariat, wants to hold sway, it must prove its capacity to do so by its military organization. . . .
That was said by Lenin in 1919, and although honorable members may say that it is outdated now, it is clear from Stalin’s essays in On the Problems of Leninism, which were first published in 1926, which are an obligatory study in all Soviet schools, and compulsory reading for Communists throughout the world as a guide for both theory and action, that Russia still entertains the same ideas. From time to time extremely frank statements to the effect that the Soviet’s longterm strategy remains the same continue to be made. For instance, a uniformed major of the Soviet military administration in Berlin, in the course of a series of lectures on “Bolshevik Strategy and Tactics “, delivered in May, 1949, said this -
Seen against the background of that statement what is the present situation in Russia and its satellite countries? I shall produce some details that were published in the last issue that I received of the well-known American publication Life. I do not claim that figures it cites are official, but most honorable members have some knowledge of Life, Time and Fortune, which are all published by the same syndicate, and I think that they will agree that Life is a responsible journal that attempts to set before the public the facts, favorable or otherwise, of any matter that comes under its notice.
The issue to which I have referred includes a table which sets out side by side the armed strength of the United States of America compared with that of Soviet Russia, and also shows the proportion of the national income of each country that is devoted to armaments. The tabulation shows in the first place that 25 per cent, -of the national income of Russia is devoted to defence, whilst only 6 per cent, of the income of the United States of America is so expended. The tabulation goes on to show that Russia has 9,000 combat aircraft, compared with 3,300 in the United States of America, and 8,000 transport planes, compared with 5,600 in the United States of America. Russia produces annually 7,000 planes, against 1,200 produced by the United States of America. Russia claims that it has an army of 2,600,000 men, compared with the United States army of 640,000 men. Incidentally, I can confirm the comparison of military strengths from an official source to which I have access, which states that there are 4,000,000 men under arms in Soviet Russia to-day, so that the estimate of comparative military strengths of the two nations given in Life is conservative. The tabulation ako shows that Russia has 125 infantry and airborne divisions, as against nine in the United States of America; and 30 armoured divisions against three in the United States of America. Russia has 270 submarines, against 74 in the United States of America; and 127 surface vessels, as against 164 in the United States of America. The article that accompanies those statistics makes the following comment : -
Some of the facts confronting the United States of America, and all mankind, are summarized in the column on the left of this page. They are terrible facts, adding up to the single, elemental, vital fact £hat Soviet communism is committed to the destruction of the free world.
Certain other facts mentioned by the journal, which I believe could be substantiated, also indicate the degree of military and defence activity going on inside Soviet Russia. What has been the recent history of that country? In September, 1941, the Russian Government, in common with the democratic powers, signed a resolution that it would seek no aggrandisement, territorial or other. However, since then it has acquired over 100,000 square miles of new territory, inhabited by more than 21,000,000 people, whilst through Communist elements that have acted as its instruments, assisted in some instances by the presence of the Russian Army, it has brought nearly all the countries of Eastern and Central Europe under its complete domination. It has supported Greek rebel forces against the lawfully elected government of that country. In Korea it directed troops of the North Korean police State to invade South Korea. We, ourselves, have clear evidence of its activities, particularly in China and in South-East Asia.
Mi1. Curtin. - I rise to order. Is the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) reading an official statement or making a speech?
– That is not a point of order.
– As a new member, I seek your guidance. Is a member permitted to read a speech?
– A member is not permitted to read bis speech, and the Minister is not doing so. He is quite in order in referring to notes, and he may proceed with his remarks.
– I confess that I have referred extensively to notes which have been compiled from official material. On a matter of such moment I think that the House will agree that there should not be any room for error by leaving such important facts to the accuracy of my recollection. However, after stating the facts, I am endeavouring, in many instances, to add my own comment. When the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) has been a member of this House for a little longer he will realize that it is not beyond my capacity to speak without referring to notes. However, on this occasion I am seeking to inform the House, not so much of my own views, as of facts that would not normally come before members of the public or even members of the Parliament. I do not need to dwell at any length on the imperialist, expansionist policy of Soviet Russia in recent years. But when we are examining the bona fides, the validity, the good faith and the truth or otherwise of the peace offensive that has become inch a marked feature of Soviet propaganda and activity in recent years, we must test it against a background of the policies that have been adopted by Soviet Russia outside its own boundaries, and by the enormous advance of war preparation that is proceeding inside that country at the present time.
I return to the peace offensive and its relation to Australia, and, in particular, to the link with the Australian peace congress. Last November, a report was presented to the Cominform by one, Suslov, who at that time was the Propaganda Secretary of the Communist party of the Soviet Union and who had formerly been a member of the Central Executive hi the Communist party. Suslov showed the kind of organization to which the peace campaign should be directed, and that has an important bearing for us in Australia, because many well-meaning people, who may entertain the highest ideals, have been gulled by the noble professions that have been put forward by the spokesmen for this peace campaign into giving their support on the platform from the pulpit and in the press, and into working actively in support of the campaign. My purpose to-day is to show that the peace offensive is directly linked with Soviet Imperialist and expansionist policy, and is directed in this country by the Australian Communist party. Suslov stated in his report to the Cominform -
Particular attention should be devoted to drawing into the peace movement trade unions, women’s, youth, co-operative, sport, culturaleducation, religious and other organizations, and also scientists, writers, journalists, cultural workers, parliamentary and other political and public leaders who act in defence of peace and against war.
He then gave instances of the practical work of the World Federation of Trade Unions - a body which has been outlawed so far as our own trade union movement i° concerned, but on which such notable Communist trade union leaders in Australia as Ernest Thornton and E. V. Elliott are still active. Suslov referred to the part played by the trade unions in the organization of strikes against the North Atlantic Pact, and by popular bodies for peace and so forth. I have here the lengthy report that he presented to the
Cominform last November, but I shall not weary the House by reading it.
One earlier development in Australia will have some dramatic interest for honorable members. The House will recall that a raid was made by security officers on Marx House in July, 1949. One of the documents secured at that time was extremely interesting. [ have a photostatic copy of it in my hand. It dealt directly with the organization that the Communist party was putting into the peace movement, and showed, should there be any doubter left in this community, the direct connexion between what happened in Australia in April when the peace congress was held, and the driving force behind it, the Australian Communist party. The document is entitled, “ Re Discussion on Peace Movement “ and reads as follows : -
There have been a number of calls for peace conferences, some limited to State spheres are already being organized. In Queensland the Legion of Ex-Service Mcn and Women are organizing a broad State-wide conference, in South .Australia a Peace Council already exists. There was also a call, far too ambitious of course, from the New Housewives conference in Sydney for a national congress on peace to which overseas visitors should be invited. No doubt this can be straightened out. There has also been a fair amount of peace propaganda developed.
What is required is some organization that will undertake to popularize widely the Paris Peace Congress, make a call for and organize it. nation-wide peace congress.
The aim must be to organize a peace congress based on the aim of the Paris Congress, as widely representative of peace sentiment in Australia as possible, having strong connexions with the basic sections of the working class.
I direct attention to the following pregnant passage: -
The problem is how to get to those sections nf the people interested in peace who in the present situation would not respond to a call made by the Left working class movement.
In an endeavour to overcome this position the discussion decided that there should be developed in “Melbourne a. committee of citizens along the lines proposed by -I. R-, which he had amended as a result of his discussions with you. Extension of time granted.’]
I thank the House for its courtesy. The initials “ J. R.” are believed to refer to John Rodgers, the director of AustraliaSoviet House, which had a good deal to do with the organization of the Peace
Congress. His rooms were used extensively for organizational purposes. Thedocument continued -
This is conditional on all members of such committee definitely pledging themselves to the Paris Declaration and there being a core on the committee who can be relied upon to stand up to the barrage that will be launched against the committee as soon as activity commences.
This committee will proceed to establish committees in the various States to assist it to popularize the aims of the Paris Congress and mobilize support for a national peace congress. The«e committees should also be broad but should involve a number who are already active in peace organization in the States.
So long as the above approach is accompanied by a very bis peace drive and the development of widespread peace activity bv all’ working class organizations from now tiU the congress takes place, it should be possible to ensure that when the actual congress assembles its composition should he of a character that will ensure that its policy will be sound and that the leadership elected by congress also will be satisfactory.
It was fe’t that this was the he»t vav to proceed under the circumstances to achieve what we want. Whether it will be achieved or not depends noon the ability of the Left to develop propaganda and activity for pence from below, above all among the working class
– Has that document a signature?
– No; it was one of thedocuments that were obtained by the peaceofficers. I do not know whether I have any more information about it, other than that it was marked, “ Secretariat for Attention “.
– A routine order?
– I do not desire to exhaust the patience of the House, which has been good enough to grant me an extension of time. I set out to show that a definite link existed between international communism, as planned bv the Kremlin and directed by the Cominform, and the peace offensive that produced peace congresses in various parts of the world, including Australia. Indeed, a great deal of the responsibility for the organization of the peace congress in this country was accented by and its drive was developed by the Australian Communist party. I contend that, in such a country as this, there is no need to impress upon the citizens the need for world peace. “We all believe in that ideal. No honorable member seriously imagines that a drive or urge for war is likely to develop in the democratic countries. We have no desire for territorial aggrandizement. Indeed, we have no desire other than to develop our own countries, peaceably if we may, and to give to our people the greatest measure of security, and social and material advancement of which we are capable. Yet when we wish to make the provision that we deem proper for our own security here, we are confronted with the difficulty of Soviet Russia, which has demonstrated its determination to expand its territory, and its influence, on a maximum scale. Its leaders have not at any stage abandoned their own belief in the eventual necessity for world communism and their own confidence that world revolution for communism will ultimately triumph. That is the country which, at a time when its own defence preparations and activities have reached unprecedented levels, is indulging in a spurious peace offensive. I do not believe that war with the Soviet Union is by any means inevitable. I hope that our generation will not suffer the tragedy of three world wars occurring in its life-time. Nobody in the democracies would promote a third world, war, but if we are to preserve peace we must be fully aware of the dangers that threaten us and make ourselves so strong and secure that those who would threaten the democracies will know that they can do so only by hazarding their continued existence. I have presented these facts to the Parliament in order that we may be better informed of one aspect of Soviet policy and propaganda.
– The very fine statement on foreign affairs presented by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) covered a wide field, and I have no criticism to make of it, but it is very disappointing that nothing positive or encouraging has emerged from the wealth of speeches to which it has given rise. So far, the debate has been of a negative nature. The speech of the Minister fo’ Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) revealed a defeatist attitude. The honorable gentleman, having said that we all love and want peace, went on to say that we should have nothing to do with bogus organizations that are organizing peace conferences and agitating for peace. One of our failings is that we have permitted organizations in which we have no faith, and which indeed we believe to be bogus, to take the stage in connexion with peace movements, whilst we have ourselves done nothing to further the work that, in our hearts, we believe we ought to do.
Never before have the people of the world needed and desired international peace more urgently than now. I am certain that the peoples of all countries, with one possible exception, want peace and freedom from fear - one of the four freedoms that we had hoped would be achieved by this time - but five years after the end of the second world war, at a time when treaties of peace with our late adversaries have not been concluded, we are admitting that a third world war is almost inevitable. The governments of the democracies should take the lead in efforts to secure world peace and should not vacate the field in favour of persons who are actuated by motives other than a desire for peace. I believe there is some truth in the suggestion of the Minister for Labour and National Service that some peace organizations are spurious. It was stated in the press this morning that Mr. Trygve Lie, tie Secretary-General of the United Nations - that is not a bogus organization - has said that this is the time to make a final effort to secure international peace. He believes that 1950 is a vital year. Mr. Trygve Lie is making a very laudable effort to secure peace, and everybody hopes that he will be successful. I appeal to the Minister for External Affairs to examine, in consultation with his colleagues, the wisdom of making, on behalf of the people of Australia, a statement expressing the Australian Government’s whole-hearted support of the efforts of the SecretaryGeneral. If the Australian Government declared that the people of Australia want international peace more than anything in the world and if the governments of other countries of the British Commonwealth made similar declarations in respect of their own peoples, as I am sure they would if the problem were discussed with them, that action would help Mr. Trygve Lie considerably in his effort to secure, st any rate, some period of international peace. Instead of complaining of bogus organizations organizing peace movements, we should do something ourselves.
The peoples of the world have recognized since the days of Napoleon that war is brutal, ruthless, and ghoulish. I believe that they have recognized now that it is also futile and a form of international vandalism. No country now hopes’ to gain anything from war. It destroys every country that wages it. There are no victors; every country must be defeated. The remarks of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) reminded me of a conference that I attended in the Savoy Hotel, Perth, in 1917. Commonwealth security officers were present, because it was thought that the delegates might say something against recruiting or against the war. W e carried a resolution asking the British Prime Minister and the French Premier not to impose penal indemnities upon the defeated foe because we believed that the imposition of such indemnities would harm the countries that imposed them more than the countries upon which they were imposed. In “World “War I., the Gormans were defeated on the battlefield, and subsequently, we imposed penal indemnities upon them. “We received from Germany £20,000,000 worth of coal and other commodities a year in which Britain had an export trade. Our own coal-miners were left to starve until the next war broke out because we could get coal from Germany as reparations.
– That will not happen this time-
– The honorable member for Flinders was in Germany with the occupation forces after World War I. He is a distinguished soldier and he knows what he is talking about in this regard. I think he will admit that the effect of the policy of the Allies after World War I. was to put Germany upon its feet quickly. Its machines were soon working at full capacity and its industrialists made use of the latest inventions, but our people in England and other countries were walking the streets because it was easier to get from Germany as reparations the goods that we wanted than to manufacture them ourselves. I trust that we shall not do that this time.
I hope that the Government will heed my appeal. I urge the Cabinet to con sider the wisdom of helping Mr. Trygve Lie to make a success of this last effort to secure some period of international peace. Over 30 years ago Norman Angell wrote a book in which he said that war would prove to be a great illusion and that countries that waged war would destroy themselves at the same time as they destroyed their opponents. That has now been proved to be true. We should not cease to strive for peace ourselves because the members of some bogus organizations are tramping round the country to further their own objects and persuading thousands of good people to join them. It is always possible to get persons to attend peace conferences. If the Minister for External Affairs asked the churches of Australia to-morrow to join in a great peace movement, no religious denomination, no matter how big or small, would not support him wholeheartedly. But we have left those other people to give a lead instead of giving it ourselves. I appeal earnestly to the Minister for External Affairs to discuss with his colleagues in the Cabinet, as soon as possible, the desirability of making a pronouncement on behalf of the people of Australia to the effect that we are wholeheartedly behind this last effort to establish international peace. I am sure that if he does so he will win. the admiration of the people of Australia, who are so sincere in their desire for peace everywhere. It might be said that we have already had all sorts of international conferences to attain world peace, but I am sure the Government will not throw cold water on what Mr. Trygve Lie is doing. We have had the Casablanca, Yalta, Teheran. Quebec, and San Francisco, conferences, and we had the peaceful slogans and statements that emanated from a ship in the Atlantic on board which the Atlantic Charter was formulated. We also have the Four Freedoms. We have seen those slogans put in pictorial form and hung in offices, but, nevertheless, their force is petering out and they are becoming mere slogans, like Wilson’s “ fourteen points “. They will vanish altogether unless we do something positive. The principles enunciated by the four national leaders who met at the conferences that I have mentioned, which filled us all with hope and enthusiasm, are now being whittled down. They all will go into the political dust like Wilson’s “ fourteen points” if we do not do something to prevent it. I know that the achievement of world peace is a tremendous problem and that we are only a small nation ; but we are not so small a nation that the rest of the world takes no notice of our views. No Prime Minister of Australia in the last 40 years has made a statement on international affairs that has not been heeded with interest overseas. The right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) was listened to with great attention abroad while he was Prime Minister of this country during World War 1. At all the imperial conferences that have been held since then the Prime Minister of Australia, whoever he has been, has more than held his own at the council table.
I am sure that the Australian Government, of whatever political colour it might be, could arouse the attention of the world in this matter. Nobody would care about the political colour of the Government that took the action that I have suggested. I should like the Minister to make, on behalf of the Government, the statement that I have suggested, hoping and praying that the efforts of Mr. Trygve Lie will be fruitful. Surely that would be a worthwhile action. The destiny of the world might not be altered by whether or not the Government adopts my suggestion, but I am sure that the cause of peace would be forwarded by such a declaration which would give moral support to those who are attempting to achieve international amity. Other countries would follow our lead. I am certain that the Minister could negotiate with the other nations of the British Commonwealth so that a common statement might be produced on behalf of the whole Commonwealth, and that such a statement would make a great impression upon people of authority all over the world. The Minister has said in his statement, and quite rightly, that the Government s object is to achieve peace in the Pacific zone. But we cannot have international peace anywhere unless we have it everywhere. It has to be a one-world peace to be worthwhile. I believe that Mr. Trygve Lie is hoping to achieve such a peace and I am sure that his efforts are worthwhile. I am sure that there is no ex-serviceman in Australia, even among those who were in the hands of the Japanese, who would not want to join in the effort to attain international peace. Ex-servicemen do not want their sons to have to go to a future war. The only section of the community that is making any move is this bogus organization whose leaders know that the time is right for their purposes. They are in the position to gain recruits among people who earnestly desire peace by saying, “ Join us. The Government will not take any action, nor will the Liberal party or the Labour party. We are the only party that will do it “. We are leaving the field to it. That is the reason for the cold war. The Russians have every one else retreating while they occupy the stage. If we took the stage the people would take notice of us. A fortnight ago we saw a number of people in Canberra in connexion with a delegation. Many of those people do not want to follow the Communists but are following them because nobody else will give them a lead. I spoke to one minister of religion on that occasion who informed me that he knew he was in bad company but that he could not get any one else to give a lead so he had joined an organization that would do so. I hope, therefore, that the Government will do whatever it can to give the people of this country a lead. No matter what political party is in charge of this country the Australian Government has a good name in the eyes of the world, and if we make an effort such as I have suggested it will bear fruit. Let us support those who are genuinely striving for peace. I am 9ure that if the Minister asked the other nations of the British Commonwealth to join in the declaration that I have suggested he would assist this last effort by Mr. Lie to achieve international peace.
– It has been said that the object of the foreign policy of any nation is the preservation of peace and its way of life. The principles of foreign policy do not change, but in this changing world to-day the policy itself has been in a state of flux for some time. That applies with the same force in relation to the British
Commonwealth as it does to any other nation in the civilized world to-day. An example of that fact is that for nearly half a century the foreign policy of Great Britain was based on the principle of the necessity to maintain British sea power to protect Britain’s far-flung Empire. That principle has changed with the advance of science, the improvements in methods of transport, and the introduction of modern methods and implements of war. All those factors have forced this vital change in what was previously for so long a changeless policy. That applies equally to Australia, but there is also another vital point that has changed in relation to this country. I refer to the assurance of isolation that we enjoyed in the past. To-day, due to the changes that I have just mentioned in Britain’;? policy, Australia no longer has the assurance of the isolation that existed before the last war. Happenings in Europe or other parts of the world now have a definite bearing on the life of Australians, and must, in turn, have some definite influence on our foreign policy, because we must always remember that a foreign policy influences, and i9, in turn, influenced by, domestic policy. A nation is merely a group of individuals which reflects the thoughts, minds and lives of its component members. I consider, therefore, that our foreign policy is itself basically determined by the minds, thoughts and lives of the individual Australian people. “We should never overlook that factor. So far as Australia’s position in the Pacific is concerned we have two fundamental factors to which we must give definite consideration. The first of these is in relation to defence, and the second is economic in nature. Both enter strongly into our foreign policy. Two primary considerations must have their place in our foreign policy and must be viewed in relation to our understanding of our place in the British Commonwealth. They are our friendly relationship with the United States of America and our newly developed friendly relationships with certain independent Asian nations that have recently arisen in the nearby Pacific.
Let us turn now to the East. I shall trace briefly the picture that presents itself in the Pacific sphere and examine the conclusions to be drawn from thesituation that exists in the Ear East,, particularly South-East Asia. I shall, deal first with “ that unhappy land “, China. Its history throughout the ageshas been one of conflict to a far greater degree than can be said of many other countries. In modern times China has never gained stability. Whilst on the one hand it is noted for its cultural family life, on the other hand it is confronted with the ever-present spectacle of famine. We can appropriately describe Chinese politics as the politics of the rice bowl, because, basically, they are related to the problem of feeding the hundreds of millions of Chinese, for which task the country has never been adequately equipped, at certain periods during which it has not been ab’leto import many of the necessaries of life. Those facts during the period of modern history have had a definite influence upon China, which has been open to exploitation by other nations including, one must admit, certain Western nationsas well as some of its neighbours. It hasbeen said also that China has the capacity to absorb any ideology that may be thrust upon it, eventually moulding eachideology to the Chinese pattern. Whether China will eventually assimilate theCommunist ideology only history will tell. However, that possibility offers food for thought.
Immediately after the recent war and as the result of the “ Chinese affair “’ that had been conducted for many yearspreviously by the Japanese, China was wracked by internal strife. It was in a state of absolute chaos. At that timethe Nationalist Government was confronted with the insurmountable problem, of restoring stability. Thus the country offered a splendid breeding ground for communism and during the last few years the Communists have skilfully turned that situation to their advantage with theresult that the Nationalist forces under Chiang Kai-Shek have been driven off’ the mainland and are now taking their final refuge in Formosa. The whole of the mainland of China is now controlled by the Communist forces under Mao Tse-Tung. They have advanced to the coast of China and gained control of major ports on the Pacific ocean not far removed from the Australian coast. That fact presents a grave problem for Australia. The Communist forces have now sent out their feelers and at any time we may expect a Communist invasion of the Nationalists’ last stronghold of Formosa. Such an attack is inevitable, and it is generally acknowledged that the Nationalist forces there must eventually capitulate to the Communists.
A comparatively short distance from China are the islands that compose Japan where a population of over SO 000,000 lives in an area that is not nearly so large as the State of Victoria. One of the great problems confronting the Allied occupation authorities in Japan is what the future of Japan is to be. “We cannot indefinitely hold down 80,000,000 people. Basically, we must recognize that the Japanese economy must be rehabilitated and that the Japanese must again be given a place in the sun. “We must approach realistically the problem of whether Japan should be re-armed as a buttress against the advance of communism in the Pacific. “We are aware of the attitude of the United States of America to that problem. However, whilst we can appreciate the value of re-arming Japan as a buttress against communism in the near future, at the same time we must realize that in tho more distant future a re-armed Japan will again be a threat to Australia. Those are the points that we must consider. In view of the high birth-rate in Japan, something must be done immediately to rehabilitate the Japanese economy; and we must immediately face up to the problem of whether or not Japan should be re-armed.
A very interesting situation has arisen in the French Union of what was previously known as Indo-China and is now known as Vietnam, which includes Laos and Cambodia. The established Government of Vietnam, which is recognized by France under French Union administration, is being opposed by the Communist forces, the Vietminh. Those forces are receiving assistance from the Chinese Communists. That fact is of great significance because it is the first indication of contact between the Chinese Communists and Communist sympathizers in
South-East Asia and marks the commencement of the expansion of the Chinese Communists into other territories. Although Mao Tse-Tung has emphatically denied that he intends to allow his forces to enter Vietnam we know that elements of them have been operating with the Vietminh and that certain technicians have been drafted for service in Vietnam. Considerable quantities of war materiel are being sent across the border from China. That means that the movement against the established Government in Vietnam is being positively supported by the Chinese Communists, who in turn are receiving assistance from Moscow, which has supplied approximately 20,000 technicians for what is expected to be the Communists’ final attack upon Formosa. All these facts have a vital bearing upon Australia’s foreign policy. We must remember that the State of Vietnam has been officially recognized by the United States of America, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, whereas the rebel Vietminh forces have been recognized by the People’s Central Government at Peiping and as recently as last week by the Soviet Union. Thus, at this one point, there is a line-up of forces, and the front line of the Communist advance in South-East Asia is at the present time on the border of Vietnam.
In the Philippines, the pattern is similar to that in other South-East Asian countries. Communist agents are using a rebel organization known as the Huks, which was previously a guerrilla forceraised to fight the Japanese. Unfortunately, after the war, they retained their arms, and kept their organization intact,, and Communist agents have taken full advantage of the presence of this organization to gain a footing in the Philippines. Manila, the capital of the Philippines, has been threatened with invasion by the rebel forces, which are already on the outskirts of the city. Within the next few weeks, further action may be expected. Last week, the President of thePhilippines declared that the Government was prepared to accept the challenge of the rebel forces, and would take action to clean them out entirely. However, a similar statement was made by him a. few months ago, and we are forced to doubt the wisdom of granting independence to the Philippines- so soon. The United States of America might have done better to retain control until it was certain that the country was ready for self-government. The same idea holds good in regard to several other countries in the East.
We now come to Thailand, which is one of the few reasonably stable countries in the Ear East. It was fortunate throughout the war in maintaining a stable government. Although the country was occupied by the Japanese and controlled by Japanese advisers, the Government continued to function in a normal, democratic way, at least insofar as any government in that part of the world can be regarded as democratic. During the war, the people of Thailand sympathized with the Allied cause, and did much, under-cover work to assist the Allies. I remember distinctly seeing a notice on the central railway station in Bangkok during the recent war. which warned the Japanese to move round only in groups of three or more, lest they be assassinated by Thai bandits. That was an indication that the people generally were hostile to the Japanese. Since the war, the Government of Thailand, by a discreet move, has handed back to Malaya certain territory which had been added to Thailand by the Japanese. Nevertheless, a Communist force is operating in the hill country in Thailand near the Burmese border, and difficulty has been experienced in dealing with it.
Burma retained its independence after the war, having been given virtual independence by the Japanese. The country is split into three factions - the Government, which controls only part of the country, the Karens, and the Communists. The Government has been trying to co-operate with the Karens, who are anti-Communist, but so far without any great success. The situation in Burma is ideal for the advancement of Communist ideology, and the Communists are taking full advantage of it. In the past, Burma was the major supplier of rice to India and Pakistan, but during the last two years supplies have been practically cut off because of the insurrection. Burma is also an oilproducing country, and several refineries operated there, but exports of oil have practically ceased. The cutting off of basic food supplies because of the insurrection in various countries has raised the spectre of famine in India, and has increased the burden on the British Commonwealth which must find food elsewhere for the peoples under its .care.
The situation in Malaya is obscure, and it is very hard for the public to understand what is going on. The terrorist forces are estimated to number between 5,000 and 7,000, and they are being engaged by a division of troops, assisted by a security force of between 70,000 and 100,000, so far, without decisive results. Those who are familiar with the country, know how difficult it is to carry on military operations there. (Extension of time granted.] As in the Philippines, so in Malaya, large guerrilla forces, which had been raised and equipped to’ operate against the Japanese, remained intact. In Malaya they consisted principally of Chinese, and when the war ended no effort was made to disarm them or to give them some recognition to help them to feel that they had done a good job. A great mistake was made in leaving intact the guerrilla force, which was trained and armed by Great Britain during the war. The significance of Malaya to Australia lies in the fact that it is the forward security line for this country, and our foreign policy should be framed with that fact in mind. Malaya lies astride our main air and sea routes with other parts of the British Commonwealth. The matter of prestige is also involved in the Malayan trouble. Malaya is a part of the British Commonwealth. It is British territory, and events there will vitally affect British prestige throughout the whole of the Ear East.
The next place to be considered is Indonesia. If Malaya may be regarded as Australia’s front line of defence, Indonesia is virtually the back door for Communist activities. Communism is on the march in Indonesia. Mass meetings were held in various parts of the country on May Day, and fiery speeches were made in favour of an Asian union; that is, a union of all Asian nations from the borders of Australia to the coast of India. At most of the meetings photographs of Stalin and Mao TseTung were displayed, not those of Soekarno or Hatta. There seems to be little doubt that communism is spreading in Indonesia, where the central government at Djakarta exercises but ineffective control over the territories of the federation. There have been minor insurrections in the Moluccas and the Celebes, where the people are objecting to the domination of the federal government. In other words we have to watch closely the threat of communism in the United States of Indonesia, which is virtually on our doorstep. Much has been said about Dutch New Guinea, which is vital ro the security of Australia. We must watch closely the position that is developing there. The deductions thai can bn drawn from these remarks are: First, if we fail to realize the threat to the security of Australia caused by the advance of communism through the Far East we shall be in a position analogous to that of a man who is walking backward towards a precipice. We have to face that threat squarely and make certain that the people realize that the march of communism endangers our security. We must pledge ourselves to certain beliefs. We must uphold the United Nations and endeavour to implement its principles. Secondly, we must populate and develop this country. By populating and developing this country to the greatest possible degree we can make our best contribution towards the preservation of world peace and stability. Thirdly, we must endeavour to conclude a Pacific pact or an agreement between British Commonwealth countries in the Pacific and the United States of America, and, if possible, other friendly Pacific nations. Above all, we must have complete faith in Australia and its great future, for in the words of the old Hindustani saying, Yeh mere kismet hain, “ This is our destiny “.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Jeff Bate) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 27th April (vide page 2007), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Motion (by Mr. Spender) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) from concluding his speech without limitation of time.
– There is one thing, Mr. Speaker, that the Labour party, the people of this country and honorable members of this Parliament have always held very dear, and that is the right of free expression of opinion. The legislation that we have before us to-night abandons that principle. It proposes to introduce provisions into the legislation of this country which are foreign to all provisions which other countries, including our allies during the last war, have thought advisable to introduce into their legislation. The great countries of America and the United Kingdom have had precisely the same problem to deal with as we have had in Australia but have thought it unwise and unjustifiable to introduce any legislation of the character that is before us at the moment.
It is perfectly true that legislation was introduced into the Canadian Parliament some time ago which banned the Communist party, but no attempt was made on that occasion to do what this legislation proposes to do. As a matter of fact, the present Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. St. Laurent, has made it perfectly clear that he does not believe that this type of legislation can do anything to combat communism. Mr. St. Laurent is a very distinguished politician of the British Commonwealth. Speaking in the Canadian House of Commons on 3rd May - about a week ago - he said -
I believe communism has lost ground in the last few years. I would be sorry to see it become a crime to hold opinions unless one did something in consequence of those opinions to threaten the security of the state. A sort of witch limit is being practised in the United States but it has not created a very favorable impression upon the Canadian people.
I ask honorable members to note the next point particularly. Mr. St. Laurent said -
I have been preaching for many months that the best method of combating communism is to make democracy work as a system, benefiting no classes or groups but benefiting all members of the population.
That is an expression of opinion by one of the most tolerant, broad minded and notable politicians of the British Empire.
Not only does the legislation before the House provide for the banning of communism and, in effect, curtail the free expression of opinion in this country, but it also strikes at the very heart of justice. It opens the door for the liar, the perjurer and the pimp to make charges and damn men’s reputations and to do so in secret without having either to substantiate or prove any charges they might make.
I witnessed one of the most pathetic occurrences in this Parliament when, after hearing a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the first citizen of Australia, ten days ago in which he named certain persons, I found that to-day he has had to correct the statement. The Prime Minister’s speech was broadcast to the people of Australia and he had a great audience. Yet, during that speech, he made statements which in the course of ten days, have been proved to be entirely incorrect in some particulars. My comment is not on the individuals concerned but on the information that was supplied to a Prime Minister of this country by somebody - I do not know whom - and which he himself has had to correct by making another statement on the matter.
Various types of movements have been inaugurated in different countries for the furtherance of some particular idea or objective. The Prime Minister of India, Pandit Nehru, has said that nobody can impale an idea on the point of a bayonet. I do not think that anything truer than that could be said by anybody who surveys the position in regard to communism and the results of communism. Pandit Nehru was a member of a minority movement and he spent over ten years in gaol because of his ideas. To-day, he is an honoured guest of kings and presidents and notables throughout the world. Other members of minority movements were Liquat Ali Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Mr. Patel, of India. A great number of other distinguished men could be included in the list. In Southern Ireland fighting has raged over what the people believed to be a just cause on the rights or wrongs of which I make no comment. But despite the banning and the repression which they suffered, the wishes of the people were put into effect by a conservative government in the United Kingdom. There is no instance in history of legislation which has been directed against what might be called minority or other movements having succeeded. What happened in China is known to all honorable members. Hundreds of millions of American dollars were poured into China with no effect.
This type of legislation has brought about one of two things. Either it has paved the road to totalitarian government or it has sown the seeds of destruction for the political party that introduced it. Honorable members of the Opposition have expressed the opinion, which I shall amplify, that communism, although pernicious and dangerous, as many believe - and correctly believe - cannot be driven underground but can only be defeated by a democracy proving that it is a democracy. I think that the Prime Minister claims that there are something less than 100,000 people who voted for the Communist party at the last election in this country of 8,000,000 people. I could not vouch for its accuracy, but I have seen a newspaper report that only 80 people voted for the Communist party in the recent Tasmanian election. What does this legislation propose to do? It proposes to deal with approximately 89,000 people who have expressed, through the ballot-box, their preference for communism in a population of 8,000,000. I have never believed and never will be convinced that movements can be suppressed in the way that is proposed. I have always believed that if movements are to be fought, they should be fought in the open. This bill does not propose to do that. The most dangerous part of the measure is not the direct action against communism but the provisions of the bill which, as 1 have said, open the way for liars, perjurers and pimps to damn the reputations of individuals. Without having an accusation made against them in direct terms, such individuals might have their reputations as well as their livelihood destroyed.
The Government parties made this question of communism and their proposal to ban it part of their policy at the last election and immediately prior to it. There is no question about that, nor is there any question that some of the most slanderous political lies against members of this party were associated with that general election campaign. I have taken the opportunity of perusing a speech madesInce the last general election by the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) in the Queensland election. I shall read a paragraph from it later. As a result of misreporting by the press, some of the statements attributed to the right honorable gentleman may have a meaning different from that intended by him, but to me they appear to be completely and utterly irresponsible. In those statements the Treasurer seeks to show that the Labour party itself is the forerunner and the opener of the way for communism. A similar line has been followed for some time, and I shall ask whoever is to speak on behalf of the Government in this debate to make it perfectly clear where the Government stands in its charges regarding the Labour party’s association with communism.
There are a great number of people in this country who conscientiously and sincerely believe, with every justification, that there is great danger in communism, not only to the social structure but to their own spiritual beliefs. Those people are completely sincere. Another section i?s prepared to cash in on that for poll.tical purposes. Quite callous themselves about any effect on individuals that may follow, they take advantage of the fear complex that can be created. There is a third section which is concerned only with how it can make profits from a community. That section is opposed to communism or, in fact, to any radical idea? because it believes that any radical movement will impair its capacity to make profits. If those people could make mon’ profits under communism than they could under capitalism, they would embrace communism with both arms. There itno question - about that.
Opinions differ on the best cure for communism. A great number of people sincerely and honestly believe that communism may spread unless drastic action is taken against it, and the Government has capitalized on that belief. I do not doubt that the majority of the people who believe that drastic action of some character should be taken against Communists and the Communist party do not understand fully the implications. Due deference has to be paid to that point of view. There is no better way to disillusion anybody than to try out the cure which is a remedy in their opinion for the evils facing the community. This bill goes much farther than the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) gave the people to understand he would go in the policy speech on which he and his Government were elected. It is only right that I should read sections of . that speech because I think honorable members, perhaps, have not studied the speech or the bill to the same extent as I have done, and they might not understand that the Prime Minister’s speech conveys an impression far removed from the implications and possibilities of the measure before the House. In his policy speech, the Prime Minister said -
Communism in Australia is an alien and destructive pest. If elected we shall outlaw it. The Communist party will be declared subversive and unlawful and dissolved. A receiver will be appointed to deal with il3 assets. Subject to appeal the Attorney-General will be empowered to declare other bodies substantially Communist; to follow the party into any new form, and attach illegality to that new association.
I emphasize the phrase “ subject to appeal “. Anybody reading that would certainly think that anybody who was declared would have the right to hear the case against him stated and consequently would have a full and complete right of appeal. This bill does not provide that. Continuing the right honorable gentleman said -
No person now a member of the Communist party shall be employed or paid a fee by the Commonwealth: nor shall any such person be eligible for any office in a registered industrial organization.
That last paragraph about communism is quite clear. The phrase to which. I direct attention again is “ subject to appeal”. The right honorable gentleman continued -
The laws with respect to sedition or other subversive activities will be reviewed and strengthened. Conviction under such laws will disqualify from employment under the Crown or from office in a registered organization.
The portion that I have quoted makes perfectly clear what the Prime Minister intends to do regarding Communists except in relation to the right of appeal. The Opposition proposes to deal with that point later at length. I also direct attention, to the further implication in this bill that individuals as well as organiza-tions may be declared under, this measure, and that the onus of proof of the- inapplicability of the declaration shall rest entirely on the individual or organization so declared. I heard an honorable member of another party say, “Hear, hear ! “ I shall later read to him the opinion of persons who are quite- as competent to define justice as he is. I claim that this legislation goes much further in its implications, possibilities and probabilities than does any promise which the right honorable- gentleman made at the last general election. I was shocked last week when the Prime Minister, speaking a9 the chief citizen of the country and the leader of this House, upon a bill that had nothing to do with communism, took it upon himself, in reply to an interjection, to besmear and attempt to damn members of the Labour party. He said afterwards that his remark had been jocular. If so, it was a very grisly sort of jocularity. What appalled me at the time was that supporters of the Government, who talk about liberty and freedom, laughed loudly when an accusation was made against a fellow member of this Parliament. The implications of the right honorable gentleman’s statement cannot be escaped. It is of no use for him to assert that it was made in an off-hand way. One does not call men names which I cannot mention now because they are of an unparliamentary character and expect people to believe that it was done in a jocular way. No one has a right to attempt to damn a man publicly and privately by casting aspersions upon him in this House. I could understand somenew member or some irresponsible member making a statement of that kind, but,, when the Prime Minister did so, his remarks seemed to me to open up limitless possibilities of people being penalized,, and, indeed, crucified,, under this legislation. It is proper that I should repeat what was said on the occasion, to which I refer, because it is important to have the matter on record. In reply to what the Prime Minister had said about the Senate, the honorable member for East -Sydney (Mr. Ward) commented -
The. right honorable gentleman could declarea couple of the Labour senators.
– Was that a jocularcomment ?
– It might not havebeen.
– The ..right honorable gentleman never objects to anything that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) says. The honorable gentleman can make any remark that he likes,, and there is no complaint from the right honorable member.
– I did not make any remarks when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was making his secondreadingspeech.
-Order ! The Leader of the Opposition has the floor.
– It is all right, Mr. Speaker. The truth hurts. That is why honorable members opposite squeal. In reply to the interjection by the honorablemember for East Sydney that I havequoted, the Prime Minister said -
I am obliged to the honorable member for thesuggestion. I can think of at least one Labour senator whom it would be easy to declare.
The report of the exchange then continues -
– The Fuhrer has spoken.
– I can think of one member of this House who might escape only by the skin of his t:et;i.
I interjected then and said that thePrime Minister was on dangerous ground, and the Prime Minister replied -
I agree - on dangerous ground.
At that stage there were loud laughsfrom honorable members on the Government side of the chamber. Perhaps such things happen automatically. Honorable members may have been trained to laugh whether we are talking of injustice or of some frivolity, but I was appalled to know that they would laugh at one of their colleagues having the finger pointed at him and having his character blackened by the leader of the National Parliament. The report from which I have been quoting continues -
– 1 agree - on dangerous ground. If this is dangerous ground I suggest to the rr ‘.it honorable gentleman that he might restrain hi? interjectors but, of course, the problem does not arise because-
– T suggest that the right honorable gentleman should not make threats.
– I never make a threat that I. do not carry out.
If anybody can construe the Prime Minister’s statements as anything but a very grave reflection upon the reputation of members of the Labour party, he must be a very dense and unintelligent person.
Most people sincerely believe that something ought to be done about communism, but I think that they suffer from a great illusion. They will be disillusioned if this legislation is put into effect. History has taught us what will happen. I do not. believe that penicious movements can be fought by any means other than those that have been suggested by the Prime Minister of Canada, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, General MacArthur, the Supreme Commander Allied Powers in Japan, and also President Truman of the United States of America. Many notable people hold the same views on this subject, and I am not ashamed to stand in their company.
– Is the right honorable gentleman going to vote against the motion for the second reading of the bill ?
– If the honorablemember will leave me alone, I shall deal with that question in my own time.
– “ Mr. Facing Both Ways “.
– I leave that sort of thing to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who seems to try to face in every direction at once. Nothing of a subversive character, either in word or in action, has any support or will have any support from the Labour party. I want to make that fact per fectly clear. I also want to emphasize the fact that there is no kind of subversive action or utterance that cannot be dealt with already under the Crimes Act or under other laws of the Commonwealth or the States.. Any suggestion to the contrary is completely false. A Labour government proved that when it took action against certain persons for what it deemed to be subversive statements. This bill goes far beyond the issue of subversive statements. I am trying to apply the correct designation to such offences. I am not referring to what somebody may say in secret about somebody else. I am speaking of offences in respect of which charges can be made before a judge or a magistrate in a properly constituted court and substantiated by evidence. Subversive activities of any kind can be dealt with under the Crimes Act or under other existing laws of the Commonwealth and the States. This bill goes a great deal further than those laws, and I believe that people who support it will be completely disillusioned because the processes for which it provides have never succeeded anywhere in the world. Communism cannot be destroyed by legislation of this character.
The Opposition does not propose to oppose the second reading of the bill.
– Is the right honorable gentleman in favour of the bill then?
– I thought that I had given a very clear and sincere expression of my views. I do not want any honorable member to think that I believe there is any virtue in repressive legislation. I have stated my views on this subject many times. I have declared them from every platform in the country. The belief that I hold has never been disproved in history, and until it is disproved I shall continue to hold it. Having spoken about communism generally, I wish to cut a clean line as far as subversive activities are concerned.,
Conversation being audible,
– Honorable members opposite should keep quiet when the Leader of the Opposition is speaking. Some of them are carrying on a loud conversation deliberately.
– I do not mind a little noise.
– This is pretty hot. Conversation is being carried on right in front of the Leader of the Opposition.
– I did expect the same courtesy that my colleagues and I extended to the Prime Minister when he made his second-reading speech on this measure. I asked members of my party to remain completely silent while the eight honorable gentleman was explaining thi? provisions of this bill, which we believe to be of the greatest importance to the people of this country. I was endeavouring to make it quite clear that the Labour party would never support subversive activities or sabotage and has never done so in the past. We demonstrated that quite clearly by prosecuting certain individuals who had made subversive statements. We propose to leave to the Government the task of proving that legislation of this kind can be made to work, and can produce the results that honorable members opposite claim it will produce. Therefore, we do not propose to contest that portion of the bill which deals with known Communists. However, we do intend to amend, if possible, provisions that we regard as a complete negation of the principles of human justice and liberty. I do not wish to occupy the time of the House unduly. I have no doubt that many honorable members will wish to speak on this measure and from what the Prime Minister said earlier to-day, I gather that the time available for the ‘consideration of this measure will not be unlimited. We do not intend to oppose clause 4 which relates to the dissolution of the Communist party. However, in the course of this debate we shall give our “reasons for believing that legislation of this type cannot succeed. Clause 5 applies to “ any body of persons, corporate or unincorporate, not being an industrial organization “. This clause does not seem to provide any right of redress against accusations. An accused organization, will have no right of appeal to a court, and by that I mean not only the High Court, but also a Supreme Court of a State, or whatever may be the appropriate judicial authority. This injustice could be rectified simply if an obligation were placed upon the Government to lay a specific charge against an organization, and thus give it a chance to defend itself before a judicial authority. Other aspects of clause 5 will be dealt with in detail by subsequent speakers, and I shall not go into them now. The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) will point out the gross injustice, from the legal point of view, that may be done under this provision. Nothing could be more hateful than witch hunting, which gives to liars, perjurers, and informers, opportunities te make statements without being called upon to substantiate them in a court of law. Under this measure, an organization which is the subject of a secret accusation will not have the right of appeal, because no specific charges will be made against it.
Clause 9 is an even more serious abrogation of the principles of justice because :t deals with individuals. Here again, no specific charges will be made, and except for a very limited right, an ind:vidua will not have an opportunity to disprove an allegation that is made against him. The onus of proof will be on him. He will have to prove to a court or to the world that he is not guilty. Listen to this provision - (2.) Where the Governor-General is satisfied that a person ls a person to whom this section applies and that that person is engaged or is likely to engage, in activities prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth . . the Governor-General may, by instrument published in the Gazette, make a declaration accordingly.
I ask the House to note the words - that person is engaged, or is likely to engage,
Who can say whether a person is likely to engage in activities of any particular kind? Some biased, prejudiced, partisan witch-hunter may want to attack somebody he dislikes merely because of his political convictions. This is nearly as bad as the provision of clause 5 which relates to organizations, the policy of which is “ influenced “ by somebody or other. I do not know what is meant by that, but I do know that many people have been influenced at various times by statements by honorable members opposite which later have been admitted to be wrong. In considering clause 9, my mind goes back to an incident that occurred last Thursday night la?t when the Prime Minister was moving the second reading of the Constitution alteration measure now before this House. If charges can be made by the Prime Minister against members of the Parliament, which besmirch their reputation, how will the humble and innocent citizen fare when some person who does not have to disclose his identity or to substantiate his charges, gives secret information which may lead to action under this measure?
The Treasurer, in speeches that ho made recently during the election campaign in Queensland, sought to prove to the people of that State as he did during the federal election campaign, that the Labour party was closely allied with the Communists and was paving the way for communism.
Government Members. - Hear, hear!
– I am glad to have the assurance of honorable members opposite that what I am saying is correct. According to a press report, the Treasurer, speaking at Warwick on the 26th April, said -
A fact which is not generally realized is the way in which the platform of the Labour party provides for paving the way for the Communist regime.
Government Members. - Hear, hear!
– Again I am glad to hear that admission by honorable members opposite. The Treasurer continued -
This platform makes specific provision for every step that is needed for a small group to impose its will unchallenged on the entire State.
The ground has been prepared and conditions arc ideal for the Communists to take over in a situation in which no constitutional means would remain of preventing them from putting their programme of anarchy into effect.
Now where does the Government and the Prime Minister stand in relation to the matter of whether or not Labour members of Parliament or persons other than Communists are intended to be covered by this act? If the Prime Minister is honest he will say at once that there are members of the Labour party who may be declared under this bill, even though they are not Communists. He will either say that or he will have to tell the people of this country, if he wants to remove the impression that he created in his recent statement, that he recognizes at once that no Labour man and no Labour member is likely to be declared under this bill. I suggest that the Prime Minister cannot say that. Labour members or other people will not be declared, because if he did he would at once show the limited scope of the bill and the extent to which it can be used. Does he intend that it may be used not only to declare illegal Labour members and members of Labour leagues and organizations but also to declare honorable members sitting on this side of the House? If he does not intend that then he should withdraw that implication and at once declare that the bill will not cover any such persons as I have indicated.
I return to the question of onus of proof. That is a most important matter and is one of the foundation stones of British justice. Viscount Sankey, Lord Chancellor of England, in the Woolmington appeal case heard by the House of Lords and reported in 1935 appeal cases, at page 481, made a very valuable statement about this matter. He said -
Throughout the web of English criminal law one golden thread is always to be seen, that it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the prisoner’s guilt subject to what I have already said as to the defence of insanity and subject also to any statutory exception. If at the end of and on the whole of the case, there is a reasonable doubt, created by the evidence given by either the prosecution or the prisoner, as to whether the prisoner killed the deceased with a malicious intention, the prosecution ha» not made out the case and the prisoner is entitled to an acquittal.
In that case the crime was murder. Now I ask honorable members to listen carefully to the next part of the Lord Chancellor’s statement. It is as follows : -
No matter what the charge or where the trial, the principle that the prosecution must prove the guilt of the prisoner is a part of the common law of England and no attempt to whittle it down can be entertained.
I remind the House again that what I have just quoted is the opinion of the Lord Chancellor of England in that particular case.
The Committee on Civil Liberties, in a’ report to the Canadian Bar Association, said about this particular matter, with which it dealt very fully -
The accused is presumed to be innocent of the crime charged against him. The presumption of innocence exists in every criminal case and extends to every person and corporation accused of any crime and it applies to every element of the crime charged.
It is a presumption both of fact and of law, is founded on the first principles of justice, and is intended, not to protect the guilty, but to prevent, so far as human agencies can, the conviction of an innocent person.
My last reference on this aspect of the subject is to the American Constitution. That document makes perfectly clear the matter of freedom of speech, the rights of the people in regard thereto, and the question of redress.
The next matter that I turn to is the extraordinary provision in this bill with regard to seizing and breaking into premises and so on. That is clause 20 which reads -
An authorized person shall at all times have full and free access to, and may, if need be by force and with such assistance as is necessary, break open, enter and search, any house, premises or place in which he suspects that there is any property of, or documents or papers relating to, an unlawful association and may search any person found in the bouse, premises or place and may take possession of, remove and impound any property, books (including documents or papers) in the house, premises or place, which the authorized person is satisfied belonged to that association.
After reading that I ask honorable members to turn back to the definitions in this bill. There it will be found that - “ authorized person “ means a peace officer appointed under the Peace Officers Act 1925 or a person declared by the Attorney-General to be an authorized person for the purposes of. this act;
Under that clause, an authorized person can be an ordinary police officer. If such an officer is walking down the street and feels that he might be entitled to break into certain premises, then without a warrant from any responsible officer such as a magistrate, he can walk into any person’s house. He can even break into such a house, seize and examine and check any documents and question any person in that house. There can be no possible justification for that sort of action. We shall certainly seek an amendment of that clause to provide that an authorized person shall be a person authorized by the Attorney-General, and that no house or place shall be searched except on a warrant from a magistrate.
I shall now quote to the House the fourth amendment to the American Constitution. This will indicate how important is the question of entry of a citizen’s home by an ordinary police officer. The fourth amendment to the American Constitution reads -
The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Under clause 20 of this bill an office)’ is to be given a completely free hand. I add that there are hundreds of such officers who will be enabled to walk into any citizen’s home, or even break in, if they choose to merely suspect something. Honorable members on the Government side may mumble about the matter as much as they like, but the plain facts are as I have stated them to be. This claus: is completely wrong in principle. The fact that a warrant is not needed before any particular place can be searched is completely against the tenets of British justice. Under this measure every house in every town will be open to the peace officers to walk into. Surely honorable members will agree with me that if there is any sense of justice left in the community then some protection from this sort of thing should be given to the citizens of this country. The other matter to which I shall refer briefly concerns the sale of literature. A man might unknowingly violate the law in that connexion and find himself subject to a penalty.
The Opposition proposes to move amendments to certain provisions of the bill, including clause 5 and clause 9. I shall not detain the House by reading them, because they are fairly lengthy. Clause 9 deals with “ declared “ persons, and I regard that particular provision as one of the most monstrous that has ever been introduced to the Parliament of this or any other country. Sub-clause (3.) contains an extraordinary provision for a so-called right of appeal to the High Court. A man in Darwin or Alice Springs might be “ declared “, and he would have to come all the way from there to one of the capital cities, drag his witnesses down and pay his own expenses. Furthermore, the onus of proof of his innocence would rest completely upon him. That provision could ruin a completely innocent individual. We therefore propose to ask the Government to amend the provision to include a right of appeal to State supreme courts as well as to the High Court, and also to provide that if a charge against a person is not proven costs shall be awarded against the Government. An accusation might be made against a man cutting telegraph poles away in the country. How could he possibly avail himself of the so-called “ right of appeal ?” Of what use is the right of appeal to the ordinary man and woman against a proposal like that? There is no possible chance of redress, and even if he were given a reasonable opportunity to appeal against the declaration he would not have the money to prosecute an appeal. I repeat that I regard clause 9 as a monstrous attack upon- the liberty of the individual and upon the principles of justice.
– Just as it was during the war.
– It is a fact that certain legislation provides that upon averment prosecutions can be launched. However, we must remember that the averment provisions of this bill can result in imprisonment.
– That is completely untrue. There is not one averment provision which applies to imprisonment.
– Up to five years’ imprisonment is provided by a number of clauses of the measure.
Mr. Menzies interjecting,
– The Prime Minister seems to think that he has discovered a point. Concerning the interjection made a moment ago by an honorable member opposite about prosecutions based on averment for breaches of customs and taxation laws and matters of that kind, the fact is that during the war some unsatisfactory cases occurred. However, the averment regulations were not originally introduced by us, and, in any event, when we find a grave injustice being perpetrated there is no reason why such an injustice should be continued. The point I make is that it is a far more serious thing to deprive a man and his family of their liberty and reputation by a declaration such as is proposed in this bill than it is to use the averment device to prosecute a man for a taxation offence or something of that kind, I do not think that there is any comparison between prosecutions based upon averment in such matters and the making of such a declaration as is proposed in this bill. However, I shall allow the legal fraternity to deal with that aspect of the matter. The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) can deal with that provision much more adequately than I can.
I have made it clear where we stand in regard to communism and those engaged in such activities, or, rather, I should say in regard to known Communists, because the definition of a Communist contained in the bill could include any one at all. According to the definition given in the bill - “Communist” means a person who supports or advocates the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism as expounded by Marx and Lenin.
That brings me to an interesting point. Not long ago the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) addressed a question to the Prime Minister about this matter, and I shall repeat the text of his question and of the Prime Minister’s answer to it. The honorable member asked the following question : -
I draw the attention of the Prime Minister to advertisements which have appeared in the daily press and also to statements which have been made by members of his Government to the effect that the policy and the objectives of the Australian Labour party are the same as those of the Communist party. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he will repudiate those statements or if not whether he intends to include in his foreshadowed legislation #a proposal to ban the Australian Labour party as well as the Communist party?
I think that the Prime Minister’s reply was very important as indicating what he had in his mind. This is what he said -
What is to be contained in the Government’s legislation will be made known in due course … As to the first portion of the honorable member’s question, I shall tell him, since he asks me, that I see no distinction whatever between the ultimate objective of the Communist party and the ultimate objective of the socialist party-
Government supporters interjecting,
– I notice that honorable members opposite all come up and bite straightaway, so, apparently, the view of the majority of those who sit behind the Prime Minister is the same as that of the Prime Minister.
– I said, “ultimate objectives “.
– All that the right honorable gentleman does by his interjections is to commit himself deeper. In his reply to the honorable member’s question the Prime Minister continued - but I have always been prepared to assume, in favour of the socialist party- a very gracious concession by the right honorable gentleman - that it did entertain some difference of method. In other words, it proposed to achieve its objective-
I emphasize the word “ objective “ because it is mentioned in the bill. The right honorable gentleman continued - by constitutional means whereas the Communists proposed to attain theirs by revolutionary means. That is a distinction which, once conceded, makes it difficult for me to understand, and always has made it difficult for mc to understand, why the socialist party should be so tolerant of revolutionary methods- so, apparently, the Australian Labour party is very tolerant of revolutionary methods - since they are the one thing that distinguishes the one party from the other.
During the debate we shall hear a lot of talk about the “ objectives “ of communism as expounded by Marx and Lenin. The Prime Minister says that the objectives of the Communist party are precisely the same as those of the Labour party.
– He said nothing of the sort.
– In this instance I happen to be quoting from Hansard, not from a newspaper report, and therefore, Mr. Speaker, on your behalf I vouch for its accuracy.
– The right honorable gentleman cannot do anything on my behalf.
– I shall state the matter very calmly and plainly before I conclude my speech. Every statement that has been made on this matter, includ ing pronouncements by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, tries to convey the impression to the electors of this country that the objectives of the Labour party and of the Communist party are precisely the same. It is perfectly true that the people of Queensland laughed at the Treasurer during the recent State election campaign, and returned the Labour Government with a bigger majority than ever before.
– The people of Queensland did not do that at the Commonwealth election on the 10th December last.
Ma-. CHIFLEY. - The electors of Queensland did not have time to find the Treasurer out during the last Commonwealth election campaign, but they have found him out since. I could read many quotations from his speeches in which he told the p’eople of Queensland that the election of a Labour government would definitely bring communism to their doorstep. However, the electors of that State took no notice of him. I have tried to make this point in all seriousness because it is a terrible indictment of honorable members opposite. They try to laugh it off. Perhaps they are behaving automatically when they do so, because they have been trained to laugh on particular occasions such as this. I can forgive private members for becoming exuberant about this matter, but I point out that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Australian Country party, in their speeches during the last election campaign and again in speeches in this House, have shown determination to couple the Labour movement with the Communist movement, and have stated that the objectives of the Labour party and Communist party are precisely the same. If they have courage, why do they not say straight away that the Labour party is subject to declaration under this bill and that any member of the Labour party-
– Is the Leader of the Opposition supporting or opposing the bill?
– Order !
– Why do not the Prime Minister and the Treasurer say that any member of the Labour party who preaches any of those objectives is liable to be declared? I put a very simple question-
– A very weak argument.
-Order! There are too many interjections.
– Suppose a member of the Labour party stands on a platform and advocates socialism. Is that a part of the teaching of Marx? If the Labour man does that, is he liable to be declared on the ground that he is preaching the objectives which are set out in some of the pamphlets by Marx? I should like to know whether the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Kekwick) will answer that question.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! The Leader of the Opposition is entitled to a hearing, and I ask honorable members on both sides of the chamber to refrain from interjecting.
– I have referred at some length to the onus of proof, the importance of the liberty of the subject and the right of a person to know the charge that has been made against him, because they are outstanding features of the freedom of a democratic people. I believe that the Government cannot defend on any ground the provisions of this bill that affect the freedom of every man and woman and their right to receive justice. I have told the House frankly my views about those particular matters. I am able to appreciate, as does the Labour party, that many people feel strongly about the Communist party, but I believe that they will be sadly disillusioned. I have a clear recollection that the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Hollway, who was elected two and a half year.s ago, promised the people of that State that he would do great strokes about communism, and I remind the House that his Government was not subject to constitutional limitations in that respect. Incidentally, while I am referring to the Constitution, may I comment on the strangeness of the thought that the Commonwealth may use its defence power to ban the Communist party. I recall that some time ago, the High Court considered that once hostilities were ended, the defence power began to expire. I do not know how that opinion may be reconciled with the view that the Commonwealth may use the defence power as its authority for legislation to ban the Communist party, and I notice that some doubt has been expressed about the whole matter. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), who is interjecting, evidently considers that a new war has commenced, thereby providing a basis for the constitutionality of this bill. However, I do not propose to deal at length with that matter. I was recalling that about two and a half years ago, the present Premier of Victoria, Mr. Hollway, informed the electors of that State that if he were returned to office, he would do all sorts of things to the Communists. I need not deal with the subsequent events, other than to comment that there were certain prominent Communists in Melbourne before Mr. Hollway became Premier and that although the Government of that State is not prevented by the Constitution from banning the Communist party, the Browns, the Thompsons and other prominent Communists are still in Melbourne and that Mr. Hollway is still promising to do all sorts of things to them.
The Prime Minister and the Treasurer have attempted to lead the people to believe that this bill will bring industrial peace. I point out to this House and to the people that industrial peace is not achieved by measures such as this, and that industrial disturbances are not always caused by Communists. The greatest strikes in the world occur in the United States of America, and the men who are in charge of them are Mr. John Lewis and other outstanding persons who have no Communist associations. The Communists have not been associated w’ some of the strikes that have caused the greatest disruption in Australia. T deplore the failure to abide by arbitration, except under the gravest circumstances, but I believe that strikes will not be stopped by legislation of any kind, because the right to strike is something which the trade unionists of this country or any other country will not give up. Mr. John Lewis, who is the president of the coal-miners’ organization in tin United States of America, has won ail their greatest victories for them, and, as
I have stated, he has no Communist associations.
The Prime Minister has referred to the report of Mr. Justice Lowe in which it was stated that there are only 12,000 or 14,000 Communists in Australia. Evidently the Government considers that it requires a new steam hammer, in the form of this bill, to crack the Communist nut. The right honorable gentleman also pointed out that only 89,000 persons voted for Communist candidates at the last general election and stated that the Communists’ power was due, not to their numerical strength, but to the positions that they occupy in the trade unions. Has the Prime Minister ever considered why the Communist leaders, of whom he has spoken, have become officers in the trade unions in Australia and in other countries? According to Mr. Justice Lowe, there are only 12,000 or 14,000 Communists in the Commonwealth, and as they are dispersed throughout the States, their numerical strength cannot be responsible for their election to positions in trade unions. The fact of the matter is that, in many instances, they have proved to the members of the organizations to which they belong that they are efficient, and that they have been able to get benefits for workers when others have failed to do so. I know that to be true in regard to the miners in my own electorate during the last 30 years. I shall not attempt to examine the ways in which the Communists have achieved that reputation, whether by strikes or through arbitration, but I should like to know whether the Prime Minister considers that 12,000 or 14,000 Communists throughout Australia can, by their own efforts, elect some of their number to high positions in trade unions, where they become so powerful. Of course, the whole idea is complete nonsense. The right honorable gentleman indulged in a great deal of showmanship, and, incidentally, he treated the House to some excellent rhetoric in his second-reading speech, but that does not get away from the fact that those men have been able to gain positions in the unions by one or two ways. The first is through the apathy of members of the organization who should be opposed to communism and who should take active steps to oppose it, because I believe that that is the only way in which the unions can rid themselves of their Communist leaders. The second is the ability and energy of those particular men, who take advantage of the apathy to which I have referred.
I apologize to the House for having occupied so much of its time, but before I conclude, I should like to summarize the main principles in which the Labour party believes on this issue. We propose to press a number of amendments to this bill. I remind those people who believe that this bill will suppress communism that no other country has been able to do so by legislation of this kind, and I have no doubt that many Australians will be completely disillusioned about it. We are prepared to concede that the Government has complete legislative authority to implement its promise in regard to communism, but we are not prepared to allow it, without opposition, to imperil the liberties of persons in this country who are not Communists and have no association with Communists. To do that would be completely to abrogate the principles of justice.
– This bill deals, not with the activities of individuals, but with a conspiracy against this country - a conspiracy designed to destroy, in the interests of a foreign power, the system under which we live and to destroy it by any mean9, fraudulent or revolutionary. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) must forgive me when I say, having listened to his arguments, that I should have had more respect for him if he had had the courage to say what he really meant; that is, that he is opposed to the whole of the bill. He said that the Labour party proposes to support the motion for the second reading of the measure because it believes that the Government had a mandate from the people. That came rather strangely from the right honorable gentleman. T wonder why he did not adopt the same attitude when the recent bank bill was being considered by his party.
In order to ascertain precisely the. nature of the opposition to this measure by the Labour party we shall do well to examine the reasons that have been given for its intention to support the motion for the second reading. It is clear from what has been said that the Labour party is engaging in a political manoeuvre. Being opposed to this legislation it is seeking to destroy the bill, but it has not the courage to say so openly. The Government received a mandate from the people on two matters other than communism. They were on banking and child endowment. It the Opposition were consistent, it would have supported the motions for the second reading of the measures relating to those matters. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stated in clear and unmistakable terms in the policy speech that he delivered on behalf of the present Government parties that if those parties were returned they would introduce the banking legislation that has in fact been introduced, yet honorable gentlemen opposite for weeks sought to prevent the passage of that legislation and have threatened that it will be killed in another place. I mention that matter because it is as clear as daylight that in respect of this bill the Labour party was presented with a dilemma.
Where does it stand in regard to communism? Although the Leader of the Opposition spoke for over an hour, he did not say where he stood in regard to communism, except that he was opposed to it. Every argument that he advanced would support him in opposing the bill wholly. His arguments were an apology for communism. Every one of them is an argument that the Communists are now advancing in support of their contention that this legislation should not be passed. The right honorable gentleman said, in substance, “ This measure will drive the Communists underground, and history shows that those who are opposed by legislation such as this come to power at some time in. the future “. Did he mean that the Communists will come to power in this country ? Did he mean that he is going to oppose communism? If so, in what way does he propose to do it ? At no time did he give any indication that either he or other members of the Labour party are aware of the terrible consequences to Australia that may follow if the Communist party is able to achieve its objectives.
It is well that we should understand precisely the kind of problem with which we are confronted. The Communist party is not a handful of men who, in unconnected ways, are advancing a political philosophy. It is a closely knit and efficient organization designed to destroy this country. I was surprised when the Leader of the Opposition, in making the apology that he did for communism, conveniently forgot what he said about it only last year. He did not attempt to meet the powerful case that was made out by the Prime Minister. Therefore, we.must accept the recitals in the bill a* having been established. So that thepeople may know the issues in this case,. I shall read three of those recitals. The.first is as follows: -
Whereas the Australian Communist party,, in accordance with the basic theory »J communism . . . engages in activities? or operations designed to assist or accelerate the coming of a revolutionary situation, in which the Australian Communist party, acting as a revolutionary minority, would be able to seize power and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat:
Does the Labour party dispute the truth of that recital? The second recital to which I shall refer reads -
Whereas the Australian Communist party also engages in activities or operations designed to bring about the overthrow or dislocation of the established system of government of Australia and the attainment of economic, industrial or political ends by force, violence, intimidation or fraudulent practices:
Does the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) concede the truth of that recital? Let there be no humbug about it. Either it is true or it is false. If it is true, a civilized society is entitled to take every action it can take to prevent it3 destruction by the Australian Communist party. The third recital to which I wish to direct attention reads as follows: -
Whereas the Australian Communist party is an integral part of the world Communist revolutionary movement, which, in the King’s dominions and elsewhere, engages in espionage and sabotage and in activities or operations of a treasonable or subversive nature and also engages in activities or operations similar to those, or having an object similar to the object of those, referred to in the last two preceding paragraphs:
The people of this country are entitled to know precisely where the Labour party stands in relation to those allegations. Either it agrees with them or it does not. If it does agree with them, let it have the courage to say so. If it does not agree with them, let it have the courage to say to what extent it does not agree. If it does that, we shall know the nature of the emergency with which the country is confronted and the steps that must be taken to protect the country.
The Leader of the Opposition must forgive me ‘when I say that he indulged in what seemed to me to be political hypocrisy when, in the nature of a challenge to the community, he spoke of the defence cf liberty. The defence of liberty on whose behalf? On behalf of men who wish to destroy liberty in this country? Honorable gentlemen on this side of the House, no less than the members of any other political parties, stand for the liberty of the subject; but the liberty of the subject must give way to the challenge of conspirators who are seeking to destroy this country internally and are, as I understand it to be conceded, working in the interests of foreign power. Let me remind the House of a statement that was written by the right honorable member for Barton in a Labour party hand-book. The right honorable gentleman quoted a resolution of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour party, congratulating a Labour government on its firm stand in relation to the defences of this country. He then wrote some words that ought to be written deep into the heart of every member of this House. They are -
It is apparent that propaganda recently issued by the Communist party in connexion with this undertaking is for the sole purpose of defeating the Australian defence policy in the interests of a foreign power.
I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he has receded from that view. Does he dispute the recitals in the bill? If he does dispute them let him make quite clear the extent to which he does so. Let us deal with the problem that confronts us. Communism is not only a problem that strikes at the liberty of every individual in the country. It also strikes at the established system of government and at the religious beliefs of all Christians. This evil in our midst must either be dealt with or left alone. The Leader of the Opposition has said that there i3 at present sufficient legislation on the statute-book to enable the Government to deal with all treasonable acts. Is that so? If the right honorable gentleman has any understanding of the nature of the Communist conspiracy he knows very well that the Communists carefully avoid criminal acts by individual Communists. Each Communist fits into the Communist mosaic. Each of them can commit an act with which he or she cannot be criminally charged, but in combination all such acts constitute a conspiracy by the Communists to carry out, by whatever means they have at their disposal, the final Communist objective of gaining control of this country by non-parliamentary, revolutionary or fraudulent means. How shall we deal with that conspiracy? That is the very gist of the problem that confronts the democracies to-day. We cannot deal effectively with the Communists who engage in that conspiracy by the ordinary process of charging individual Communists with breaches of the criminal code. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Sharkey was charged and sentenced, but with what result? Did the legal action against him put a stop to the Communist conspiracy ? Of course it did not ! Charges against Communists who have been guilty of breaches of the criminal law have not stopped the conspiracy. That conspiracy exists to-day and cannot be mea.sured, as some people have so foolishly suggested, by the number of Communists in this country, or by the number of people who vote for Communist candidates in general elections. It is a conspiracy that is carried out by highly organized personnel operating under the directions of a central staff that in turn takes its orders from a foreign power. When we see the condition of the world to-day and the struggle for peace that is now taking place, with the democracies endeavouring to find some bridge between themselves and Russia, and that in other countries such as Canada, South Africa and England, members of the Communist party are prepared to engage in traitorous conduct and to sell their own countries “down the drain “ in the interests of a foreign power, are we to be satisfied by being told, “ Sue them for some subversive utterance “ ? An examination of this bill against that background leads to the obvious conclusion that extraordinary measures must be taken to deal with an extraordinary situation. That is what this bill seeks to do. In what way does the Opposition seek to challenge it? Honorable members opposite have said, “Why, in this bill you are breaking down the liberties of the subject “. I have not heard from the Leader of the Opposition any suggestion to show how we could maintain the principles of the bill in their entirety and yet reframe it to meet the great danger that confronts us. No, lie meandered on about the liberty of the people that could be destroyed because individuals could be charged with being Communists. He has suggested, rather fantastically, as an examination of the bill will show, that a member of the Labour party could be “ declared “, with consequences that do not appear to arise from the bill as far as I can see. What the right honorable gentleman was attempting to do was to drag a red herring across the trail so as to lead the public into the belief that this bill, which is designed to destroy the chief enemy of society, is really designed to destroy liberty in this country.
I propose to deal with, certain aspects of the bill, but it is not my purpose to elaborate in any way the case for dealing with the Communist conspiracy that’ was so magnificently advanced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he introduced the measure. All I wish to do at the moment is to deal with the specious arguments that have been advanced by the Leader of the Opposition. Let me say now, that if any amendment were submitted by’ the Opposition, which was not designed to water down in any way the vital principles for which we stand, such an amendment would he examined. But if amendments submitted by the Opposition are designed to destroy the whole value of this bill, they will be rejected out of hand by the Government.
Government Members. - Hear, hear!
– I turn now to an examination of the bill. First I shall examine precisely what the bill seeks to do, and the exact nature, of the “ onus of proof “ about which we have heard so much. There is nothing new in this kind of legislation. I find it rather extraordinary that the memories of honorable gentlemen opposite are so short that they have forgotten the terms of the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act 1949 that was introduced by the Chifley Administration. I am sure that the right honorable member for Barton will forgive me for reminding him of what he said about that measure which, as honorable members will recall, sought to freeze the funds of trade unions and to prevent organizations or individuals from supplying those unions with funds to carry on a strike that the then Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) described as a Communist-inspired strike designed to destroy and disrupt this country. I remind the Labour party of what was published in relation to that strike on the 4th July, 1949. One newspaper advertisement which appeared at that time over the name of the then Prime Minister read -
This strike was planned months ago by the Communist section of the miners’ leaders. They did not want the claims to be dealt with by arbitration. Miners! Do not bo misled by Communists who want to wreck the arbitration system.
Another advertisement read -
Britain .and the Dominions face crucial problems in the very near future. Miners! Stand by your own country. Miners! Stand by Britain. Do not be misled by Communists who want to destroy the democratic way >f life.
That was the view of the present Leader of the Opposition last year.
– He has not withdrawn it.
– He has been dribbling around and about it, if he has not withdrawn’ it. He has not had the courage to face up and tell the people of this country, “ I believe that communism is a desperate challenge to our way of life “. What he has said is, “ There is only a handful of them. You need not bother about them. See what happened at the elections. They never poll any large number of votes, so you need not do anything about them “. He has forgotten what he said last year. I am convinced that his attitude in this House to-night is not a matter of principle but is a political manceuvre designed to destroy the bill and to make it appear that the Labour party stands for the principle of liberty. Let us see how those great Labour party advocates of liberty expressed themselves only last year. Section 11 of the National Emergency (Goal Strike) Act, a measure which was introduced by the right honorable member for Barton, reads -
Where an organization has committed an offence against this Act, every person who, at the time of the commission of the offence, was a member of the committee of management, or an officer, of the organization or nf. a branch of the organization, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence . . .
I emphasize: those last nine words1 - . . unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he- used all due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence, and shall, upon conviction, be punishable by a fine not exceeding One hundred pounds or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both.
Section 12 of that act reads -
In any prosecution for an offence against this Act, a payment or receipt, or a promise to make a payment, shall, unless the contrary is proved, be deemed to have been a payment or receipt, or a promise to make a payment, for the purpose of assisting or encouraging directly or indirectly, the continuance of the. strike.
Let us examine precisely what that meant. It meant that if anybody paid any money or promised to pay, then the mere promise to pay was sufficient to lay the foundation of a charge against other persons who merely happened, to be members of the organization from whose funds the money was paid, or on whose behalf the promise to pay was made, unless those persons could prove that the promise to pay, or the actual payment, had been made without their knowledge. That legislation was designed to .meet the Communist menace, and, obviously, as the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) knows now, as he knew then it was essential in such circumstances to depart from the primary rule that the prosecution must prove up to the hilt what it. alleged. Explaining that the officers of an organization were responsible for its actions, the right honorable member for Barton said -
Clause 11 lays down a principle that is well recognized in legislation of this character.
Yet, the Leader of the Opposition said that the measure now before the House destroys the whole principle of British justice! Fantastic statements of that kind are mouthed by honorable members opposite not because they believe them to be true, but merely because they desire to incommode the Government in carrying through legislation which they themselves have not the courage publicly to resist. The right honorable member for Barton continued -
After all, an organization cannot be prosecuted or suffer any personal loss.
If an individual happened to be a member of a committee, or of a branch of a committee, he also was deemed to be guilty unless he could prove the contrary. When one examines this legislation, one finds that it does not go nearly so far as that. The right honorable gentleman added -
Under this clause where an organization has committed an offence against the measure the officers are deemed to be guilty of the offence unless proof is given, in the case of an offence alleged against an individual, that he did not know of it. that is to say that it was committed without his knowledge, or, if he did know of it, that he used due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.
Has the right honorable member for Barton forgotten what he said on the occasion to which I am referring? Did not the legislation which he introduced then depart from the ordinary rule which the Leader of the Opposition contended to-night to be the irrefragable rule of British justice? In the section of the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act to which I have just referred that principle was infringed because the conspiracy that the Government sought to deal with was a Communist conspiracy, just as is the conspiracy with which we are dealing now. It is well that I should refer to some very wise observations that were made by a gentleman who was a legislature, a judge and also as GovernorGeneral of this country.
– Be careful !
– It would be wise for the honorable gentleman to listen to what I am about to read, because if he ia concerned about destroying communism he will see that the quotation bears directly upon the problem which now confronts this country. I refer to the case of
Williamson v. Ah On, C.L.R., volume 39, in which a person was charged with being an alien and had to prove that he was not an alien. In his judgment in that case Mr. Justice Isaacs said -
How, then, can this nefarious and dangerous practice be nullified where it escapes detection at the time of entry? The only method so far found effective in which a legislature can provide for such a case and secure obedience to its enactments of immigration is to throw the burden of proof as to membership of the community on the suspected person.
If that applies in the case of a suspected alien in this country, how much more does it apply to a person charged with being a party to a conspiracy against this country? The learned judge continued - -
A nation has the strongest right to trust its executive officers who are administering the law to be both vigilant and careful to form, wherever necessary, a fair and honest prima facie opinion as to the citizenship of any person within the territory, and to accuse no one Of intrusion except upon strong moral grounds for believing the fact. If such an opinion, however, exists, the public have a right where the nature of the case requires it, to call on the suspected person by such procedure as the legislature makes lawful to satisfy a judicial tribunal as to the actual fact.
That is precisely what this legislation does -
That seems to me only elementary self protection and to be inseparable from any self’ governing constitution. I must confess to some surprise that it is necessary to justify it. For, otherwise, persons who are criminals, anarchists, public enemies, or loathsome hotbeds of disease, may, by secret or fraudulent entry into the country and being sheltered for a time by their associates, defy and injure the entire people of a continent.
Relating the circumstances to a Communist conspiracy, those words bear directly upon the problem with which we are now dealing. Later, when speaking about the nature of the burden of proof, the learned judge said -
One governing principle can, I think, bc gathered from the decisions, and it may be thus stated: - “The burden of proof at common law rests where justice will be best served having regard to the circumstances both public and private.
I draw attention to the words “Where justice will be best served”. During the war when men were interned because their activities involved the security of the country and they had to justify them’ selves before a tribunal did members of the Labour party who exercised those powers take any objection to that principle? Indeed, the right honorable member for Barton, himself, was called upon to exercise that authority in respect of such internees. Here We are confronted with a similar set of circumstances. W-i are in a state of internal war because we are confronted with a Communist conspiracy in this country. We must take up the battle or the Communists will destroy us. The learned judge continued -
There are some primary and general rules, and these are sometimes required to give way in presence of special circumstances. Judges have, by a process of reasoning, evolved these rules and subsidiary rules which in essence are judicial legislation, and which now govern all judicial tribunals as firmly as if enacted by statute. The broad .primary principle guiding a Court in the administration of justice is that he who substantially affirms an issue must prove it. But, unless exceptional cases were recognized, justice would be sometime frustrated and the very rules intended for the maintenance of the law of the community would defeat their Own object. The usual path loading to justice, if rigidly adhered to in all cases, would sometimes prove but the primrose path for wrongdoers and obstruct the vindication of the law.
If that was not good law, it was certainly good sense. It is well to examine this legislation in order to see precisely what is meant by it. The Leader of the Opposition said that he had no objection to clause 4, which reads -
That declaration in itself does not affect individuals, but the Leader of the Opposition became very upset about clause 5. (Extension of time granted.’] Clause 5’ begins-^
The clause then goes on to deal with organizations which are affiliated with the Australian Communist party, and in which a majority of the members of the committee or board of management are members of the Communist party, or advocate the principles of communism. The clause then goes on to say - (2.) Where the Governor-General is satis1 fled that a body of persons is a body of persons to which this section applies and that tin! continued existence of that body of persons would be prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth or to the execution or maintenance of the Constitution or of the laws of the Commonwealth, the GovernorGeneral may, by instrument published in the Gazette, declare that body of persons to be an unlawful association.
That was designed to prevent the Communists from doing the very thing they intended to do. They had intended, if the Communist party were banned as such, to change to some other organization. Thus, two conditions have been laid down in the bill for taking action - first, that the organization proceeded against is a subversive body and, secondly, that its continued existence would be prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth. Action against such a body is to be taken by Cabinet, acting through the Executive Council, because action by the Governor-General - in-Council means that a body of Ministers of the Crown must judge and act. Is it to be imagined that such a body of Ministers would act simply to bring political opprobrium upon the Opposition ? Obviously, it would act only in cases of emergency. The next complaint is that a person in respect of whom a declaration is made has no right of appeal. This is not so. It is provided that such a person may apply to the High Court to set aside the declaration on the ground that he is not a person to whom the section applies and, in sub-clause (4.) of clause 9 it is further provided -
If, upon the hearing, the applicant satisfies the High Court that he is not a person to whom this section applies, the High Court shall set aside the declaration.
I leave aside the question of an amendment to give a right of appeal to some other court, in the Northern Territory, for instance. Such an amendment might be reasonable. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) would have us believe that an organization, which is the subject of a declaration, must prove up to the hilt that it is not such a body. That is sheer nonsense. If a person is charged with being a Communist, he may go into the witness box in the court and say, “I am not a Communist”. If his evidence is accepted, then any suggestion that he is a Communist is destroyed, and be is regarded as having satisfied the provision.
– If his evidence is accepted.
– Tes, if he goes into the box and denies that he is a Communist. The Communists are object ng to having to go into the box and defend themselves, and it is strange to hear their arguments endorsed by members of the Labour party. The Communists say, “ Why should a man have to go into the box ? “ I reply that, if a man is not a member of the Communist party, what has he to fear? If a man is able to go into the box and say, “I am not, and never have been, a member of the Communist party”, what has he to fear? We know, of course, that the Communists want to bring to bear their well-known tactics of intimidation, so as to dry up the sources of information, and thus be free to carry on their conspiracy against the country.
I do not wish to take up the time of the House by quoting extensively from court judgments, but there is one judgment by Mr. Justice Jordan which is much to the point. He said -
The only effect of an essential fact being peculiarly within the knowledge of the other party is that very slight evidence of it may be regarded as sufficient to prove it, if the other party adduces none in rebuttal.
Thus, the very slightest evidence would be sufficient to prove prima facie a charge that a man belonged to a subversive organization, because the facts would be peculiarly within his own knowledge. If the man charged refuses to face cross-examination so that his activities may be examined, it can only be because he is afraid, just as the Leader of the Opposition was afraid to declare precisely where he stood on the subject of dealing with the problem of communism. All that is necessary is that the person charged shall bring evidence to support his denial, just sufficient to tilt the scales. It will not be necessary to satisfy the court beyond reasonable doubt. He can satisfy the court merely by tilting the scales. As I have said, it is strange that we should hear members of the Labour party in this House, when opposing the bill, peddling the very arguments which the Communists themselves have used ; yet the Labour party is trying to make the people believe that it is defending the cause of liberty. However, I must proceed, because I have not an indefinite time in which to speak-
– And a good thing, too.
– I can understand the attitude of the honorable member, because the whole argument of the Opposition has been destroyed, and he does not like that. Clause 9 applies to persons who are members of unlawful associations, or who are Communists. Is the mere fact that a person is a Communist sufficient to bring him under challenge? No. He must be a person whom the Governor-General in Council - and that is Cabinet acting through a sub-committee - is satisfied is engaging, or likely to engage, in activities prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth. Such a person may go into the witness box in court and say, “ I never was a Communist “.
Mr.Clyde Cameron. - Will that be sufficient ?
– Yes, quite sufficient if he is believed. I am sure that the honorable member for Barton will not contest that. If he is not believed, it will be because he is a person who cannot be believed on his oath. A man who is not a Communist has nothing to fear from this legislation, but the man who is a Communist will be caught up. Reference has been made also to the right of search. The Leader of the Opposition waxed indignant about officers breaking into a man’s home and seizing his documents. I remind the Leader of the Opposition of the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act, whichwas passed in June last year, only eleven months ago. . Opposition members should be able to remember that far back unless their memories are failing.
– Order! The honorable member’s extended time has expired.
– I desire to move that the honorable member for Warringah be granted a further extension of time.
– The Standing Orders do not provide for further extensions of time to be granted unless the Standing Orders have first been suspended.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to with the concurrence of an absolute majority of the members of the House -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) from concluding his speech without limitation of time.
– I heard only one dissentient voice when the motion was put. I thank all honorable members but the one dissentient for their courtesy. When the provisions of Section 10 of the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act 1949 are recalled to the minds of the people they will know how much humbug surrounds the argument advanced by the Leader of the Opposition that, because this Government decided to incorporate in the measure now before us powers of search, it is breaking principles and established customs. Section 10 of that act readsas follows: - (1.) The Registrar, or a person authorized by the Registrar to act under this section, may, for the purpose of ascertaining whether there has been a non-compliance with any of the provisions of this Act -
Thus, any person authorized by the Registrar under the legislation introduced by the Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister, no matter who that person was, had power to enter any premises - and note these words - “ with such assistance as he considers necessary”. Wherever he thought he could get evidence he could, in the following words of the section: - (c)require a person to produce or deliver to him, in accordance with the requirement, any such books, documents or papers in the possession or under the control of that person ;
The penalty prescribed for noncompliance with the provisions of the section is £100 or imprisonment for six months, or both. It is fantastic that the Leader of the Opposition should come into this House and pretend that it is wrong for the Parliament to grant this Government such a power when a similar power was contained in Ms own legislation designed to deal with a part of the same Communist conspiracy. If any reasonable amendment to clause 20 is proposed, which will still leave us with the power of search and power to obtain evidence when necessary, I think I can speak for the Prime Minister by saying that no objection will be taken to it by the Government; but we are determined not to sacrifice any principle which will give us power to destroy this conspiracy against this country. I venture to say that when the people have heard the views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition they will realize that for the first time a political party is in office as the government of this country which has the courage to deal with this problem. This Government is determined to deal with it. Although the Government stands on the principles it has enunciated, if the Opposition submits an amendment which does not affect those principles the Government will be prepared to consider it on its merits. “We shall not be misled by the suggestion that because the Labour party realizes that the Government has a mandate on this matter Opposition members do not propose to oppose the second reading of the bill. The Labour party has sought desperately to find some way in which it can destroy this bill to which the Leader of the Opposition is bitterly opposed, and at the same time make it appear that this issue is one on which the Labour party can attract the attention of the people. The bill will commend itself to the people of this country and our action in introducing it will be approved by them.
– I had arranged with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) that for himself, and bis deputy, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), extensions of time should be granted, but having regard to the Stand- ing Orders of which you have just reminded me, Mr. Speaker, I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) from concluding his speech without limitation of time.
Question resolved in the affirmative with the concurrence of an absolute majority of the members of the House.
.- During the course of my remarks, which I do not expect to extend beyond the length of time occupied by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) I propose to deal with some of the outstanding features of this legislation. I commence my remarks by saying that, over and over again during the long period in which Labour governments were in office in this country, first under Mr. Curtin and then under the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), there were occasions on which we had to take the strongest possible action against the Communist party of Australia. The Minister for External Affairs has referred to one or two of them, but for a very different purpose. I want to indicate what those occasions were in order to make a point that is fundamental to the criticism of this legislation by the Leader of the Opposition on behalf of the Labour party. The first occasion, which was a very striking one, was in relation to the guided weapons testing range, a defence project in South Australia. A number of people - and the Communist party played a very prominent part - advocated that that work should be boycotted by the people of Australia on the grounds, either that it would interfere with the lives of the aboriginal population in the area, or that it was a move in a war against the Soviet Union. Both claims were completely untrue. The boycott threatened to spread and the government of the day introduced to the Parliament a measure to deal with the problem. The measure was the Approved Defence Projects Bill,’ which embodied a principle that, broadly speaking, should be adopted in all our dealings with bodies of the character of the Communist party. It provided that if attempts were made to boycott the project, or any other project declared by the Governor-General, such attempts would constitute an offence against the Commonwealth. It did not in any way interfere with industrial conditions. lt merely provided that anybody in the community who advocated that such works should not be supported, or that the workers employed thereon should stay away from their work simply because it was a defence project, was guilty of an offence against the law of the Commonwealth. The Communist party was heavily hit by that legislation, but its provisions applied equally to every member of the Australian community. What the Labour party did in that legislation was to apply the general rule of law. Thi? provisions of the statute had to be obeyed by every person. The Minister was quite right in referring to what I wrote about that legislation. I adhere to every word [ said about it. The legislation was passed ;ind the project progressed.
The second occasion on which we framed special legislation, arose from statements made by persons who were prominent in the Communist party, and which were directed to the possible use of Russian forces in this country. The government of the day took proceedings against the persons concerned. It did not ask Parliament to pass some extraordinary law the like of which was unknown in any British community. It took proceedings under the then wasting law and prosecuted the persons concerned for sedition. Some of the prosecutions were successful ; others were not. We applied the rule of law. Since then no similar attempts at sedition have been
Hinde in this country. At any rate, none came to the knowledge of the Government.
I pass to the third example, which points to the same principle as has been departed from in sections of this bill. I refer to the coal strike legislation. The opinion of the Labour Government was that last year’s coal strike was not a bona fide industrial stoppage. Instead of awaiting the decision of the arbitrator, the coal-miners, under Communist leadership, deliberately plunged the country into industrial dislocation for -the purpose of interfering with the arbitration system and making it appear to the workers of this country that only by that method would the gains that might be obtained by arbitration be duly secured. The then Government brought to this Parliament a bill from which the Minis ter for External Territories has quoted. It stated that an unusual emergency existed and that the statute would remain in force so long as the emergency lasted but no longer. The emergency had been brought about by a wanton stoppage. It was not a bona fide industrial dispute and the government of which I was a member made it an offence for the funds of organizations to be used for the purpose of promoting or continuing that strike. That legislation applied to everybody in the community. Certain people defied the court’s orders and ten were imprisoned. I think that seven of them were members of the Communist party, but they took their punishment as members of the community because they had disobeyed therule of law which was applicable to everybody.
It would not be possible to introducelegislation which, in its effect on the individual, would depart from the rule of law than does the proposed legislation. Thereis on the statute-book of this country the Crimes Act. Portions of that act, which have always been called the political sections by the Labour movement, contain provisions under which the Executive Government of the Commonwealth can proceed in the courts of the land for the purpose of declaring any organization which advocates the overthrow of the Constitution by violence to be unlawful, and upon being so declared, such an organization would be subjected to the penalties provided for in that legislation. The reason that the Government has not taken action under that act is that it involves application to the courts of law and, throughout this legislation, it is obvious that the intention of the Government is to avoid and evade legal processes. The Crimes Act was denounced by Labour leaders for many years, not because it did not provide for legal proceedings to be taken, but because it casts the onus of proof, in certain respects, upon those who have to answer cases brought under the act. The Approved Defence Projects Act, the provisions for prosecution for sedition under ordinary Commonwealth law, the special legislation dealing with coal, and the existing Crimes Act are examples of legislation which though drastic in its character and practically unknown to many parts of the British Commonwealth does give access to the courts of law.
Under the bill before the House the Communist party of Australia, by direct legislative enactment, is declared unlawful and is to be dissolved. Ite property is taken without compensation. That provision is contained in clause 4. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in introducing the bill, made a most eloquent speech and whilst dealing with that part of the bill he indicated the approach which the Government would adopt to it. He said, “ I indict the Communists “, and he quoted from a number of books and booklets, making great use of statements made by leaders of the Labour party at various stages. That was quite a legitimate form of advocacy, but what the Prime Minister failed to tell the people was that assertion and advocacy are one thing, but that proof is another, and that the processes of law and fundamental justice in Great Britain and this country require, as a general rule, that charges of sedition and seditious conspiracy and treason should be established before the courts of the land, using the safeguards provided for under the procedures of those courts.
I am not going to deal with the PrimE Minister’s speech in detail this evening. No doubt, it will be closely examined. Part of his case against the. Communist party was correct. The comments which he attributed to members of the Labour party were correct. What honorable members of the Opposition have said about the Communist party they believed to be true. But because one believes that a man is guilty of. an offence one does not take the law into one’s own hands. Hundreds of years have gone by since the acts of attinder were passed by a Parliament at Westminster. In those days Parliament tried a man, condemned him, and took his property from him and usually ordered the infliction of punishment of some kind.
I do not say that this disproves the thesis of the Prime Minister. His attack on communism could not be stronger than the attack made by Labour party leaders. However, he referred to a book or booklet whitten by the present leader of Russia. Stalin. I think the title was, Lessons of Leninism, and he used that book in order to prepare a great part of his thesis. A biography of Stalin written by an historian named Isaac Deutscher, who, so far as I know, is an outstanding authority on Russia, states that the book from which the Prime Minister of Australia quoted was repudiated by Stalin himself in 1923 as not having been authorized - indeed as being completely apocryphal - because in those days there was a great struggle between the Stalin group and the Trotsky group in Russia as to whether socialism or communism could exist in only omcountry or whether it had to be universal before it could succeed.
– I can produce documentary evidence that that book was issued .in Moscow recently.
– I am only pointing out one piece of evidence.
– It is important foiit to be correct.
– I am stating what is correct. Here is a piece of evidence to support what wa3 called an indictment. The first portion of this bill deals with the dissolution of the Communist party on most serious charges indeed. I have no doubt that portions of what has been alleged might bc substantiated. What the Leader of the Opposition has Paid expresses the views that I hold on this subject. My own view is that these charges should be established to the satisfaction of the courts of justice. That is the proper way to proceed against bodies of that character. Nevertheless, we must pay regard to the view expressed in the Prime Minister’s policy speech. The right honorable gentleman has stated thai he would bring in a bill containing precisely what is embodied in clause 4, and that clause is drafted to conform to the general statement made by him. Clauses 5 and 9 are very similar. Clause 5 deals with affiliated bodies, and as the definition of the relevant organizations is studied closely, the degree of proximity to the Australian Communist party become5 smaller and smaller. One of the proposals is that the clause shall apply to any body of persons - . . a majority of the members of which, or a majority of the members of the committee of management or other governing body of which, were, at any time after the -specified date and before the date of commencement of this -Act, members of the Australian
Communist Party or of the central committee or other governing body of the Australian Communist Party.
So far as individuals are concerned, they :need not be associated at all with communism. Indeed non-Communists may he a majority in such an association. Therefore, the most crucial clause is clause 9 which provides that all the persons who are members of unlawful Associations may be declared.
– What about the second element in clause 9?
– That is a separate element. I am making the first point in the first part of clause 9. When a person is a member of an unlawful association under clause 5 (1.) (b), the necessary assumption is that the group includes persons who are neither Communists, within the previous definition, nor members of the Australian Communist party. Clause 5 enables the affiliated body or the organization to be declared, and claude 9 enables the person to be declared. All I shall say about clause 5 is that the gist of the charge against the affiliated body is not that it answers the description given in paragraphs (a), (o), (c) or (d). It means that if the Governor-General, as the instrument of expression of the Government’s will, finds that the continued existence of a body of persons would be prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth or the execution or maintenance of the Constitution or of the laws of the Commonwealth, the organization may be declared.
This bill is directed very largely against persons, and the consequence of declaration is that the person concerned will lose his livelihood if he is an employee of the Government or holds trade-union office in certain industries. The bill proposes that it shall be enough to show that the person declared was a member or officer of a declared association. That will include hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who have no personal connexion with communism, are not Communists, and are not members of the Communist party. The membership of the Communist party in Australia is 13,000 according to Mr. Justice Lowe. That is a much smaller number than it was a few years ago. As the Prime Minister of Canada pointed out in the passage quoted to-night by the Leader of the Opposition the strength of the Communist party in Canada has decreased during the last two years. There was a time not long ago when the Communist party in Australia contained from 25,000 to 26,000 members. Now its membership is 13,000.
The persons who may be declared under clause 9 of this bill may have no personal connexion with communism, yet the Governor-General may declare that he is satisfied that any of them is a person likely to participate in activities that are prejudicial to the Commonwealth or prejudicial to the execution or maintenance of the Constitution or of the laws of the Commonwealth. Some of that phraseology is condemned by the justices in the judgments of the High Court. Just imagine “ activities prejudicial to the laws of the Commonwealth “ ! There are 25 volumes of Commonwealth law. It is essential to be specific. Under this statute it is not proposed to penalize a person with a gaol sentence, but it can take from him his livelihood and the means of existence both of himself and of his family. The Government, which means the responsible Minister or at most the Cabinet, may have information before it with reference to a man whom I might call Mr. A. B. The person concerned is not a member of the Communist party and it not a Communist within the meaning of the bill, but he might happen to belong to some organization which has been declared. Therefore, he can come within the reach of the Government. I presume that some report about him would be presented. Honorable members are asked solemnly to accept a law which will enable that man to lose his status as a Commonwealth employee and his position in the trade union to which he has been elected by it3 members on the mere declaration of the government of the day or the Minister that the person declared is “ likely “ to be prejudicial to the defence of the country. That is not a question of onus of proof. Let that be clear in the minds of honorable members and the people of this country. The person declared does not know what is alleged against him. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) answered some questions recently and, without quoting him, I refer honorable members to the Melbourne Argus of the 2nd May, 1950. The Minister knows that what I say is correct. The Minister for External Affairs carefully avoided meeting this fundamental weakness in this very carefully drafted bill. I can understand a law which says that every person who is a Communist shall be disentitled to be a trade union secretary. That would be a law at any rate. It would be harsh and unjust yet everybody would know what it was. But this bill is the apotheosis of tyranny in respect of individuals because it says, in effect, “ You are a secretary of a trade union. By a power of the Government to “ declare “, you hold your office at the pleasure of the government of the day”. Judging by some of the arguments that have been advanced, some people may consider that active pursuit of a union’s interests in an industrial dispute means that a man’s activities are prejudicial to the defence of the country. I do not think that there will be any dissent from that view by some people, though I repudiate it. There are people who think in that way. That kind of thought was the rule under the regime of Hitler in Germany from 1933 onwards.
– You thought in that way during the coal strike last year.
– Never mind what I thought. You ought to read your article in the Argus and answer this question-
– Order! The right honorable gentleman and the Minister had better address me.
– I was pointing out that it is one thing to pass a law providing that nobody who is a Communist may hold a position in the Government service, no matter how humble the position may be. A man’s job might be of such a character that nobody in his senses would regard it as having any relation to security. It is one thing to pass a law providing that no Communist may be a trade union official. Everybody who disobeyed such a law would suffer the same consequences. But this is not such a law! This bill provides that every trade union secretary, whether he be a Communist or not, can be thrust out of office at the will of the Government without being told what is alleged against him provided that he is a member of one of the affiliated organizations to which clause 5 relates. The allegation against him may be, not, that he is a Communist - assuming for the moment that he is a member of the Communist party - but that, he is a member of an affiliated body. Thousands of people join such organizations. It is terrible to think that people who take part in any crusade for peace that is necessary in these days are to be suspect and may have their names placed upon a list of proscribed persons merely because Communists are associated with the movement or because Communists are trying to run it. That will be one result of the bill, though it will not be the first result. The Government may take the first step by declaring the peace movement an illegal organization, but that is not the step that I wish to emphasize. I am concerned about the individual who may be a member of the organization but not a member of the Communist party or a Communist. The Cabinet may meet and then the fiat may go forth against him in the Gazette. The man will not be entitled to know what is alleged against him. He may write and make inquiries, but he may be told, as the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) said in his answers to the newspapers, that there is no provision for him to be informed of what is alleged against him. I say that that is sheer tyranny. There is no excuse foi- it. It cannot be supported and, as soon as the people of Australia know about it, they will express their opposition to it.
The Minister for External Affairs talked about the National Security Regulations that applied in time of war. I am glad to see in the chamber to-night the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who knows of the situation that existed when the Labour party came into office late in 1941 and found thousands of people in the internment camps of Australia. A state of great emergency existed then. But I am speaking in the first instance of the Italians or people of Italian descent who had been interned’. Many of them had been detained as the result of denunciations, perhaps made by telephone. Because a state of emergency existed, they had been interned on the authority of such charges. A procedure had been laid down to enable them to go before appeal tribunals, but the- Gnu’s- of proof was upon- them, not upon: the Crown, because- the war-time situation demanded that no- risks should be taken. When the Labour Government came- irate* power, itf learned1 of hundreds and hundreds of cases in. which internees appealed to> the tribunals and said, in effect, “ We axe’ no* guilty of any disloyalty. What is- alleged against us? “,. a-ad’ received the. reply, “ We cannot tel’l you, but. you howe- to satisfy us that you au;e loyal.”.. 1m 1.942, the. Labour Goverment amended the.- relevant regulation im order to make it obligatory upon the tribunals to disclose the substance: of the allegations against appellants, provided that such disclosures did not prejudicially, affect security.
– But the Labour governments stilt left the ©mis’ of: proof upon the- internees.
Dr- EVATT.- The onus of proof is important, birt I want to deal now with the broader aspect of this* issue. I shall deal l’ater with the questions that arise in relation to- “onus”.
A charge may be made against a man under this bill and a notice may then be published in the Gazette declaring that his activities are likely to be prejudicial to- the defence1 of the country. He may not know what is alleged! against him except so far as. the words of the declaration convey it, A slur may he cast upon ham, a. stigma that may last for ever. He may be branded for life. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) drew attention to this point. It may be that the man actually led a strike or that he uttered some seditious statement, something that could be dealt with in the ordinary courts. The allegation might cover any point over a wide field.. Surely this House will not endorse a law that would permit that to be done without even knowledge of the real charge. The hill does not provide that a person shall have an appeal covering that point. Appeals will be limited entirely to the issue of a man’s membership of the Communist party or of arn unlawful association. 1 submit’ that a charge- so serious as to brand a -man as disloyal must be established, and I believe that an overwhelming majority of the people will hold the same opinion. What would be the difficulty about establishing- such a charge? The Minister for External Affairs has advanced the theory that the process of substantiating it would disclose sources of information. That would depend’ upon the nature of the charge. First, the man concerned must know what the charge is and what it really means. If the fact was that he had led some strike, then it should be a. perfectly good defence to show that the strike- was a. bona, fide industrial dispute, because strikes are no* unlawful in the Commonwealth except in. one. or two. instances. This, provision is- an. enormity that has- been carefully concealed as the result of the- concentration, in a certain section of the press, upon the issue of the. onus of proof.. There could be no onus of proof in relation’ to such charges as the provision contemplates. There would’ be nothing, to prove. There would be no court to hear a charge. No charge1 would be mad,e. There would be nothing except a declaration proceeding from the Executive- -Council that a man was likely to- interfere with the defence of the country. ALI that: would happen would be that the accused man would lose his position in the Public Service or in the trade, union if he were employed in either capacity. That provision is completely unjustified.
I refer now to the point relating to onus of proof in connexion with both clause 5 and clause 9. Affiliated organizations and members of such organizations are to have a limited right of appeal. According to the wording of the bill, any such organization or person must satisfy the High Court that it or he is not of the description contemplated in it. What is the necessity for that provision? The Minister for External Affairs has argued that, under one or two acts, cases do arise in which the onus of proof can be shifted to a defendant at a certain stage. In order to demonstrate the nature of the problem, I shall read a brief extract from a report of a committee that I appointed during the war for the purpose of examining national security regulations from th, point of view of civil liberties. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr.Fraser) was the chairman of the committee and the report bears his signature and those of Mr. David Maughan, K.C., Mr. Justice Barry as he now is, and Dr. Louat, of the New South Wales Bar, three outstanding lawyers. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro was a champion of civil liberties and asked for certain amendments to be made to the regulations. This is what the committee reported about the onus of proof -
These are -
Honorable members will appreciate that that might be the situation in the case of an offence which could easily be proved if it were in dispute. The report continues -
where the matter in question relates to conduct of the defendant alleged to constitute an ingredient in the offence charged and -
I draw the attention of the House to the fact that Williamson v. Ah On, from which the statements of Mr. Justice Isaacs were quoted by the Minister for External Affairs, was an immigration case. Part of the offence charged was that the defendant had not been born in Australia. How in the world could the Commonwealth, with no evidence at its disposal, prove precisely where a person was born? In 1908 an immigrant vessel arrived in the north of Queensland. Its records were subsequently lost in a fire at the Customs Office at Cooktown. The law of the Commonwealth provided that an immigrant should, when questioned by an inspector, state the name of the vessel on which he had arrived in this country. Customs officials calculated that, over a period of twenty years, fully 30,000 people who were interrogated claimed to have come to Australia on the vessel whose records were destroyed at Cooktown! In cases such as those the matter in dispute is peculiarly within the knowledge of the defendant and cannot be proved by the Commonwealth. The quotations that have been made from Williamson v. Ah Onserve only to make that point clear. The other illustration given by the Minister for External Affairs was a section of the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act. He approved of it, but he said that it destroyed our argument in connexion with members of organizations that are guilty of an offence. What that section provided was that if it were proved that an organization had broken the law, the officers of that organization, in order to exonerate themselves from personal liability, had to prove either that they did not know what was being done, or that they had taken reasonable care to observe the law. That provision follows a very general form. It has nothing whatever in common with the provisions of this bill to which we take objection. The report of the Regulations Advisory Committee further stated -
Unless the subject-matter can be shown to fall within either of these categories, however, the averment procedure should be resorted to only in a case where -
it is clear beyond doubt that the interests of the community require it; and
adequate safeguards are provided against any likelihood of administrative misuse.
As the result of that report, many regulations were examined, and the substance of the report was put into effect. So, even during the war, we struggled to ensure that legislation should be as reasonable as possible. As I have said, even aliens were given an opportunity to know of the charges that had resulted in their internment; yet that right is to be denied to Australian citizens under this bill.
On the subject of onus of proof, I ask the House what reason there is for not observing in this legislation the ordinary principle suggested by the Regulations Advisory Committee that the burden of establishing the facts should be on the Commonwealth ? I draw the attention of the House to an important point of principle which I believe makes good our case completely on onus of proof. If honorable members will be good enough to look at clause 22, they will see that the Government has really addressed itself to this matter, and in order to meet the difficulty that might arise if the onus of proof were on the Commonwealth has provided that certain kinds of evidence, which normally would not be admissible in a court of law, may be used to prove that a person was a memberof an organization and so forth. Clause 22 (2.) states, for instance -
Without prejudice to the operation of the next succeeding sub-section, proof in any proceedings under this Act that the name, initials or other means of identification of a person appear -
on a document found at the offices or premises of the Australian Communist Party at Marx House, George Street, Sydney, on the eight day of July, One thousand nine hundred and forty-nine, being a document -
That would not be admissible evidence in a court of justice. Clause 22 is designed to meet the case where the onus of proof is on the Commonwealth, and the Government is discharging that onus by invoking a rule to meet a situation which it wants to be sure shall be met. Neither in clause 5 nor in clause 9 is there the slightest reason in principle for departing from the general rule that is applicable in such cases. There shouldbe no difficulty at all. After all, a person acts as a member of an organization, speaks as a member of an organization, and is advertised in literature as a memberof that organization. Why should these things not be proved to the satisfaction of the court in the normal way? That would not interfere with the principle of the bill. In fact, denial of those practices will interfere with the processes of the law. So we come to two converging points in clauses 5 and and 9. The final decree - it is not really a decree, or even a charge because a charge has to be particularized - maybe made by the executive government of the day, and may appear in the Governor-General’s declaration. That is the point at which the disability attaches to the individual. That is the moment when he loses his position or employment. Yet, at that point, he knows nothing of what is alleged against him. How can that be justified? The Minister for External Affairs did not attempt to justify it. He read extracts in support of the provisions of the bill relating to onus of proof, but, as I have pointed out, onus of proof is subsidiary to the vital principle that the charge - because that is all that it is - that the Governor-General is publishing in the Gazette on the recommendation of his Ministers shall be particularized; that the individual concerned shall have the right to appeal to a court of justice in which those who charge him with disloyalty, subversive activities, sedition, or treason, shall have placed upon them the ordinary onus of establishing their charge, and the defendant shall have the right to answer the allegations in open court. That is a principle which is just as important as the matter of dealing with unlawful organizations. It is a basic principle of British justice, and if the Government departs from it the danger is, as has already been shown in other parts of the world, that those most eager in the struggle against communism will forget proper equitable principles and will adopt methods which can only be described as those of fascism. That is equally true of those who are fighting against fascism, as has been proved in eastern Europe. They finally come to the point where they embrace the methods of communism. In this country we are trying to hold the balance in favour of democracy. While agreeing with much that Labour speakers have said in the past about the Communist party, I wish to refer to the just methods which should be employed in legislation of this kind. In the legislation of the previous Government, and I refer particularly to that dealing with the rocket range, the coal dispute and the administration of the laws dealing with sedition, although the individuals behind much of the trouble were Communists the law dealt with them under proved and proper principles. Here the principle involved is more fundamental. A person should not bt deprived of his reputation without proved justification, because the damage to it is irreparable. The Government should not deprive him of his employment in Commonwealth or trade union office unless it is prepared to prove the substance of what is alleged against him. I do not think that any Australian will deny the justice of that. I deny that there is any difficulty of proof in this matter.
It is said that security secrets will be interfered with. I deny that. According to the arguments that have been advanced in favour of the bill, persons will be dealt with on what somebody else other than the security officer has said, or on what the security officer himself says. Once the case is brought to court it seems to me that so far as interference with the officer is concerned, there is no greater risk involved if the evidence is given by the informant at the opening of the case than if it is given in reply to the individual himself. The Minister for External Affairs dealt with the case always on the assumption that the individual concerned was a Communist who might be denying his affiliations. I think that I have satisfied the House that that argument is not satisfactory when affiliated bodies, which might have thousands of members who are admittedly neither Communists nor members of the Communist party, are being considered.
– The mere statement by the honorable gentleman that it is nonsense does not make it nonsense. When the Minister for External Affairs was not in the House I established that in order to declare a body unlawful, a member of it need not be himself a member of the Communist party, or a Communist. On the contrary the proceeding is on the footing that a majority or a substantial minority may have nothing to do with communism or the Communist party. The fact is that those individuals may, under clause 9 of the bill be declared persons. A new status will arise in the democracy of Australia - that of a declared person. “ What are you declared for ? “ “ I don’t know. There is a Government Gazette which says that I am a declared person because I am likely to be prejudicial to the defence of the country.” “ What did you do ?” “I don’t know.” The Parliament of the country representing the people should ensure that the individual shall know the substance of the charge against him. ‘Such cases do not come within the category of exceptions and there is every reason, in dealing with this matter, for insisting that the Commonwealth shall prove its case. This is a second reading of the bill, and I do not want to go further into details. The Leader of the Opposition has dealt with the matter of search and seizure. Clearly we submit that that clause has been too widely drafted. There has been very little analogy in the illustrations given by the Minister for External Affairs, but I gathered from what he said that matters of that kind will be considered later and in due course we shall know what is to be done. There are three parts to this bill: The declaration of the Communist party made by the Parliament; a declaration by statute that it is unlawful; and the expropriation of its property. In one of the cases which came before the High Court during the war, a regulation of that nature was declared by Mr. Justice Starke to be arbitrary, capricious and unjust.
I want now to reiterate the points that I have made on the two other clauses. On one point they constitute a deprivation of the individual’s general right to have the case against him proved. Exceptions are made, as the Fraser report has pointed out. where the onus of proof is “hanged bv averments or otherwise. This is not an exception More serious by far, and this has been concealed by the concentration of argument on the Question of onus, is the effect in both cases of the perpetual brand of disloyalty upon the individual.Such a brand can be imposed atany time. There is no limitation of time during which action can take place; it is a permanent piece of legislation.When an individual is declared, he loses his place in the Commonwealth Service or in a trade union. This is a law by which, under another clause, servants of the Commonwealth and elected officers of trade unions may have their offices taken from them by Executive act without knowing the real charge against them. That is a tyrannical and harsh law which I submit the House should, on close analysis, reject.
– The person knows very well that heis being dealt with because he is a member of an illegal organization.
– Not at all, because if the Minister had followed the argument he would have seen that there are two things involved. The first one is membership of an illegal organization. The individual cannot be declared on that ground unless the Governor-General, in addition, holds the opinion that he is likely to be a menace to, or be prejudicial to, the defence of the country. He will not know what the charge is against him, and he cannot appeal. That is the coronation of injustice, and it is to meet a situation such as that that the Opposition has drafted amendments. I shall not and cannot deal with them at this stage. There is every reason for the criticism against this bill that is coming from all quarters of the British Commonwealth. The whole matter started off with a speech of the Prime Minister putting the case as an indictment, but not providing for the due processes of law. Day by day the press of the world and of this country have awakened to the fact that the bill contains dangerous features. No British newspaper has said a word in support of this measure. The London Times has condemned it. The Manchester Guardian and the Spectator, which is a very conservative publication, have also criticized it. The Economist has criticized it, as has also the New Statesman and Nation-
Government supporters interjecting,
– Honorable members opposite must not suppose that because Labour dissents from portions of the bill none of the press supports its objections.
– What about the Australian newspapers ?
– I speak first of all of the British press, which is removed from this country and can give a more detached point of view than those journals in this country which play such a prominent part in our politics. However, even in the local sphere one can see evidence of the anxiety of many of our newspapers, which strongly supported the Government at the general election and even support it now, but are concerned about the features of the bill to which I have referred. Learned lawyers have criticized those features and have warned the Government that an occasion for a proper dealing with communism should not be abused so as to prejudice the fundamental legal rights, freedoms and rules which have been found by experience to do justice. It is in that spirit that the Opposition submits these views to the House, and I am much indebted to you, sir, and to honorable members for affordingme an opportunity to express them.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fadden) adjourned.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Social Services - S. B. Benson.
Works and Housing - D. G. Campbell,
T. Eeles, H. Foskett, R. E. Robb.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land, &c., acquired for -
Defence purposes - Richmond, New South Wales.
Postal purposes - Haymarket (Sydney), New South Wales.
House adjourned at 10.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 May 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19500509_reps_19_207/>.