19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Before calling on questions without notice I desire to draw attention to the fact that such questions are again -becoming very long and that some answers are also too long.’ There is a tendency on the part of Ministers to preface their answers to questions by the words, “ In reply to the honorable member for sn and so “. That is quite unnecessary because only one member can be replied to at a time. I may also add that only in three instances yesterday was a request made that a question be placed on the notice-paper. Many of the questions that were asked yesterday should have been placed on the notice-paper’.
– But they gave the electorate of the member concerned a form of advertisement.
– This place is not a place for the publication nf advertisements.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture decided to abolish the committee which is inquiring into the c.o?t of production of dairy products V If so. what substitute authority, if any, will take the place of the committee and what advantage is expected to be derived from the change?
– The Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee, which inquires into the cost of producing butter, is at present engaged in the usual annual cost investigation and will continue its inquiries until it has made its recommendations to the Government. It is the intention of the Government, in pursuance of its announced policy, to establish a cost finding tribunal which will investigate not only the dairying industry but also such other primary industries as it may be necessary to deal with. When that tribunal has been established by statute there will be no further need for the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee.
– In view of the great success that the Government claims it has achieved in putting value back into the £1 in accordance with its election promises, will the Prime Minister take some action to prevent metropolitan daily newspapers from publishing statements about the great increase that has taken place in the cost of living since December last, particularly as such statements are causing, and are likely to continue to cause, grave industrial unrest? If the Prime Minister believes that inflation is increasing, and that the position is worse than it was five months ago when he became Prime Minister, will he arrange for the holding of a secret session of both Houses of the Parliament and indicate to it how bad and how dangerous is the country’s plight because of the Government’s inability to do anything to relieve tie unsatisfactory position of wage and salary earners and pensioners throughout Australia i
– The answer ia “No”.
– Recently, I brought to the notice of the Treasurer tie problem of war widows who, through advancing age, sickness and domestic responsibilities have found great difficulty in collecting their regular pension payments in person. Has the right honorable gentleman come to- any decision about the matter ?
– I have had the matter examined, and having regard to aD the circumstances,- 1 have approved of the payment of such pensions by cheque to widows with family responsibilities and those who are aged and ill who make specific application to have payment made in that manner.
– As publicity concerning the conference on South-East Asia indicates an anxiety by the Minister for External Affairs to spend Australian money on the welfare of the people of South-East Asia, will the Prime Minister demonstrate the same concern for the welfare of the Australian needy by increasing the age and invalid pensions in view of the alarming increase in the cost of living which is taking place ?
– The honorable member knows that the real substance of thai question relates to a matter of policy. I am not aware that the Minister for External Affairs is displaying anxiety at this conference. I have no doubt that he is representing Australia with his usual capacity.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development in relation, to the mission which has gone overseas to investigate the possibility of obtaining prefabricated houses. Before contracts are completed for the purchase of any of those houses or any recommendation is made to the pub- lie to purchase them, will scientific tests be made by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization into the various types of timber used in them which might be suitable for the European climate but which might not he suitable- for Australian requirements?
– The overseas mission on prefabricated houses will report to the Australian Government and, through it, to all the State governments. I had not thought of having any scientific inquiry made into the nature of the timber or other components of these houses but the Government proposes to arrange for the close inspection of the components by architects and properly qualified people. This inspection will be made whether the houses are purchased in Great Britain .or elsewhere overseas-.
– I desire to ask the Minister for “Works and Housing a question in relation to the building of war service homes. I understand that the War Service Homes Division is letting contracts to small builders for the construction of single-unit houses and is giving those builders the impression that it will assist in obtaining certain materials. It has been brought to my notice that in certain instances these builders are having their work delayed by a lack of tiles although all other materials are available. When these builders approach the tile combine they are informed that arrangements for the procurement of tiles must be made through the War Service Homes Division and when they approach the War Service Homes Division they are told that they must approach the tile manufacturers. The construction of many homes is being delayed because of the shortage of these tiles. Can the Minister take the necessary action to ensure that small builders of war service homes shall obtain supplies of tiles with which to finish off those housing jobs?
– I am aware that there is a roofing tile problem in more than one State. I shall investigate the matter and prepare a more precise reply for the honorable member.
– I direct a question, to the Minister for Works and Housing. In explanation, I point out that there is in Sydney a voluble gentleman named Mr. Clive Evatt, who acts in the capacity of Minister for Housing for the State Labour Government, and that last weekend the press published a report from him that he had just concluded an agreement to purchase 500 prefabricated homes of local manufacture of seven and eight square dimensions that the Australian Government had rejected. Is the Minister in a position to give the House some details of the proposition that was submitted to him?
– The Australian Government has no use for houses of seven or eight squares. It is in the market for houses of ten squares or thereabouts. The contractor mentioned in the report, if it is the one that I have in mind, made no proposition in writing, submitted no tender in answer to any government advertisement, and proposed no business on any practical basis to this Government. If the Minister for Housing in New South Wales has been able to take advantage of that contractor’s proposal, I assure him that I bear no malice whatever towards him.
– I ask the Minister for Works and Housing whether it is the policy of this Government to encourage a more equitable distribution of population between country and city? Is the Minister aware of the fact that if the housing shortage is overcome in our cities centralization of population will continue? Will the Government give consideration to the erection in country areas, where employment and opportunity exist, of a very large percentage of the prefabricated houses which are being purchased? Will it also consider the adoption of a general “ country before city “ housing policy, so that new houses in the country may become a magnet to draw houseless people from our already congested cities?
– Yes. It is the policy of the Government to try to redress the inequality of population as between country and city areas. To that end the Government proposes to use all its powers to direct housing to country areas which are now very much in need of houses. The details of how that policy is to be carried out will be notified to the House from time to time.
– Will the Minister for Works and Housing make available to honorable members as soon as he receives them the reports of his experts on, and the prices of, the houses that they have investigated overseas?
– I have received a number of telegraphic, radio and ad hoc reports from the mission that is investigating houses overseas, and I expect that the department will receive in due course a complete report on those investigations. I hope and believe that it will be possible to make them available to the House but, at the worst, any information which I consider is of general information will be extracted from them and made available to honorable members.
-Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture able to state when the 1947-46 oat pool will be finalized ?
– I am at present examining the figures relative to the 1947-48 oat pool, lt is evident that there will be a small amount available as a final payment and as soon as I have finished examining the figures I shall make a recommendation to the Government and the final payment will be made as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is a fact that difficulty in procuring import licences for spare parts for American motor vehicles is causing a great deal of concern in many quarters? lt is a fact that many motor ambulances in the Illawarra district of New South Wales are on the verge of breaking down and that if permission is not granted quickly to import parts for motor vehicles all ambulances will be seriously affected? In view of the fact that many heavy industries such as steelworks and coal-mines which make constant demands on the ambulance services are located in the Illawarra district, will the Minister give instructions for import licences to be issued at once in order to meet this situation?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs and obtain a reply for him.
– Has the Minister for Supply seen a report from London that the Australian Government has agreed to spend another £25,000,000 on rocket ranee development in Australia, including construction of four new sections? Can the Minister tell the House whether there is any foundation for this report?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member has referred but yesterday, while T was at Woomera, an enterprising reporter rang me up and mentioned the matter. I know nothing about the subject-matter of the report.
– I ask the Treasurer whether the Government intends to remove the subsidy on tea on or before the 30th June or early in July? If so, what will be the new price of tea per lb. to the public?
– The Government’s policy in relation to tea prices and rationing will be notified in due course.
– Has the Minister for Supply any control over galvanized iron piping? I ask this question because a town in the electorate that I represent has recently had a water supply system installed but cannot obtain piping with the result that many months may elapse before homes are connected with the system.
– The Department of Supply has no control over galvanized iron piping. The allocation of supplies, I believe, is in the hands of the manufacturers and distributors. Prices are controlled by the States. If the honorable member will give me the details of the case that he has in mind, I shall ascertain what can be done for the town through the Department of Supply, which has close associations with several manufacturers.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware that there is grave public concern in Melbourne regarding the report of a Toe H investigating committee to the effect that young naval ratings from Flinders Naval Depot are being seriously exploited when they spend their week-end leave in Melbourne? Every Friday night, 250 ratings arrive in Melbourne from the depot. Investigations by Toe H and the Sun NewsPictorial have disclosed the fact that no facilities for recreation or even accommodation are provided for the ratings, who are pestered by touts from sly-grog haunts and worn en of dubious diameter as soon, as they arrive at the railway station. Will the Minister give his active support to the suggestion that has been made by the Toe H committee and the Sim News-Pictorial that hostels should be re-opened in Melbourne at week-ends in order to provide proper accommodation and reasonable recreational facilities for the ratings?
– About a fortnight -ago I saw such a report in the Melbourne press, and later on I saw similar reports in the press of other States. I then fully discussed the matter with the members of the Naval Board. I am concerned with the allegations. I am advised that circumstances are not just as the newspapers have reported them to be. However, L am making arrangements to hold discussions with other service Ministers to ascertain whether an arrangement can be made To provide hostels uniformly for all three services. The problem is difficult only from the point of view that although the hostels provided during the war were all staffed by voluntary workers who were very anxious to assist men serving in the armed forces at that time, at present it is hard to arrange for voluntary help. The matter is being actively examined by members of the Naval Board, and I hope that something can be arranged on a uniform basis along the lines indicated.
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has given the House certain information regarding negotiations taking place in England in regard to the meat agreement with the United Kingdom. I now ask him whether he will advise the House of the steps the Government has taken, or proposes to take, to increase the cattle population of the Commonwealth so that Australia will he able to meet in full its commitments under the agreement, and make increased quantities of beef available to the United Kingdom ?
– This is not a matter which comes particularly within my province. However, there could be no greater contribution towards increasing the cattle production of the Commonwealth than the establishment for a measurable period of time of a complete arrangement for the disposal of all our surplus meat at a satisfactory price. Negotiations along those lines are proceeding at the present time. There are certain proposals in regard to northern Australia which concern my colleague the Minister for the Interior and perhaps also the Minister for National Development. Those matters are engaging the attention of the Government.
– I desire to address u question to the Postmaster-General. The position regarding installation of telephones in Queensland is most acute, and representations by honorable members on behalf of their constituents, which should have a high priority, invariably result in the reply being received from the departmental officers that there is an acute shortage of “pairs” in the underground cable. Will the honorable gentleman indicate the position regarding supplies of cable in Queensland, and will he inform me when he anticipates that the shortage will be overcome, particularly in view of the fact that a rider is always included in the letters from the department to the effect that supplies of cable to Queensland are nowlong overdue?
– The position regarding the installation of telephones in practically all the capital cities in Australia is still very acute. A world-wide shortage of cable has existed since the end of the war, and we in Australia have been endeavouring to increase supplies by two methods. The first is by stimulating the manufacture of cable locallyand we have been fairly successful in doing so, although the output is not yet sufficient to meet our requirements. The second method is by importing larger quantities of cable from the United Kingdom. Very large supplies are now coming to hand from overseas, but they are still inadequate, even when combined with locally manufactured cable, to meet the growing requirements for telephone services throughout the Commonwealth. The position in Queensland is no worse. I should say, than that in other States, hut I shall have the matter thoroughly investigated and ensure that Queensland shall receive its proper share. We are hopeful that, within the next twelve months, substantial headway will be made in overtaking the arrears in such materials. That period may seem long, but there is a lot to be done in procuring them.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. After waiting many years since applying for telephone services fourteen farmers grouped within five miles of the telephone exchange at Far Meadow-road near Berry, and seven farmers grouped within threequarters of a mile of the post office at Foxground, near Gerringong, are still unable to obtain telephone services. As the result of rising costs the length of telephone line provided as the result of departmental aid has been considerably shortened. Will the Minister inform the House whether the departmental grant can be increased and whether the farmers to whom I have referred may be able to obtain telephones without further delay?
– The position in relation to departmental assistance to farmers and country applicants for telephone services has recently been reviewed.. I hope to be able to make a statement in regard to it within the next few days.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether it is the intention of the Government to give sympathetic consideration to the position of superannuated public servants who were recalled to the Commonwealth service during the war years and whose pensions were cancelled during that time? Has any decision been reached by the committee that was appointed by the previous Government to inquire into this matter? If so, what was the nature of the decision ; and does the Government propose to give effect to it?
– I, personally, have not been in touch with the matter to which the honorable member has referred, but I shall make a point of having a discussion with the Treasurer about it and shall see how much of the information sought by the honorable member can be furnished to him.
– In view of the projected retrenchment of temporary officers throughout the Public Service, will the Minister for Labour and National Service give an undertaking that, should the need arise at a latter date for the engagement of additional staff in governmentdepartments, preference will be given to those temporary officers whose services have been dispensed with who, in the past had given faithful, honest and efficient service ?
– The matter raised by the honorable member comes, I think, within the jurisdiction of the Public Service Board which, of course, is not under my supervision. I shall bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of the chairman of the board. I am certain that if such a situation as the honorable member has envisaged arises, previous loyal and good service by an officer in a temporary capacity will be regarded as a sound reason for re-engaging him to fill a vacancy.
– Some time ago the Tariff Board presented its report upon flax production and flax-growers have been waiting to ascertain the result. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture indicate when the Government will be able to make a statement about the flax industry ?
– The flax-growing industry is concerned about the report to which the honorable member has referred because the Tariff Board has recommended that flax fibre should be sold to the spinners at a price which has a relationship to the proposal made by the Government that the flax-growers and spinners might co-operatively purchase the flax processing mills that were established during the war. The Government has the matter under consideration and as soon as it is in possession of the facts and arrives at a final decision, an announcement will be made.
– Will the Prime Minister ascertain the number of coalminers who were employed in mines in New South Wales as at the end of
March last year and the number employed at the end of March this year? If the number of miners employed at present is fewer than that employed at the former date, will the right honorable gentleman ascertain why coal-mining is not popular and indicate what methods he proposes to employ to make the occupation attractive to those employed in the industry and so help in the recruitment of new- workers? Has the right honorable gentleman’s attention been drawn to the fact that the nationalization of the coal industry in Great Britain has resulted in the British coal authority showing a profit last year of £10,000,000? Further, is he aware that Great Britain’s target for the export of coal this year is to be stepped up by 3,000,000 tons to 22,000,000 tons? Does he see any virtue in following Great Britain’s example?
– The honorable member’s questions do not relate to my own department. Insofar as he desires statistical information I shall see whether it is available, and, if so, it will certainly be made available to him. Insofar as the honorable member asks for an expression of opinion I can say two things. First, I should have thought that if there has been any falling off in the popularity of coal-mining it has been due to the excessive rate of stoppages in that industry. The average man does not care to find himself out of work with regularity. Secondly, with regard to the nationalization of the coalmining industry in Great Britain, nothing in the history of nationalization in that country would persuade me, or anybody else in this Parliament, to take it on in Australia.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that the Government of South Australia, through the Housing Trust in that State, has purchased 3,000 acres of land for the purpose of establishing a new city at Salisbury, near Adelaide, in which it is proposed to house 25,000 people ? Will he request his department to prepare plans immediately for the provision of postal and telephonic facilities so that such facilities will be available as soon as the buildings in the new city are ready for occupation?
– It is customary for the Postal Department to keep in step with local civic developments in any area and to prepare appropriate plan,in respect of such undertakings. With regard to the venture in South Australia to which the honorable member ha> referred, the department has already prepared appropriate plans. However. 1 shall take up the matter personally with the central office in Melbourne in order t*> ensure that the most efficient services shall he provided when the proposed new city is ready for occupation.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral prepared to make a statement on the latest developments in connexion with the introduction of television into Australia ?
– When I am prepared to make such a statement, it will be given to the House.
– Following the question asked by the honorable member for Lyne last week concerning the settlement of ex-servicemen on dairy farms, has the Minister for the Interior considered the reduction of the stipulated production potential from 12,000 lb. to 10,000 lb. of butter fat per annum?
– A request for the review of the basic production of dairy farms available for soldier settlement has been made by the Government of New South Wales. I do not think that any other government has made a similar request. Apparently the problem arises only in the northern districts of New South Wales. The Prime Minister has invited the appropriate State Ministers lo discuss this matter at a conference which is to be held on the 24th May. In order that we may be able to discuss the subject intelligently, and have the latest available data before us, we have asked the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to re-examine this question because the agreement previously arrived at was based largely on the recommendations of that body. As soon as the report of the bureau has been received the matter will be further considered.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, in completing its first year’s hearing on the basic wage case, celebrated that event by adjourning the matter for a further month? Is it also a fact that in the judgment of the court delivered on the 9th May last a number of unions were struck out from the hearing? Did the court warn all conciliation commissioners that, until such time as it had made a determination in regard to the basic wage, (hey should not deal with applications in respect of margins? What relation have wage margins to the fixation of a basic wage for unskilled labour? In view of the long delay that is likely to occur before the basic wage case is determined -a matter which is causing a great deal of unrest in industry - does the Government endorse the action of the court in preventing conciliation commissioners from dealing with margins? Will the Government take whatever steps are open to it to bring about an early determination of the present hearing before the court?
– I shall have the matters mentioned by the honorable member investigated and will furnish a reply as soon as is practicable.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Immigration been drawn to the suggestion that some migrants coming to Queensland might be disembarked at north Queensland ports, instead of at Brisbane, with a view to encouraging them to settle in country areas? Will the Minister consider that suggestion and ascertain whether it would be of any practical value from the point of view of decentralization and rural development?
– The suggestion has not come under my notice previously, but I shall be glad to consider it.
– Tn view of the fact that it was originally intended that the International Refugee Organization should terminate its activities in June, 1950, would the Minister for Immigra tion say whether the organization wilt continue to operate after June and. until the immigration of all the displaced persons under its control has been arranged? If the International Refugee Organization ceases to operate in June what arrangements will be made concerning the remainder of the displaced persons who were to have immigrated to Australia? Has Australia agreed to accept a proportion of the people who have been classified as the “hard core” of displaced persons. I refer to those who do not conform to the physical requirements for immigration to any country and consequently have been left under the control of the International’ Refugee Organization.
– It was originally intended that the operations of the International Refugee Organization should terminate at the end of June of this year but that date was subsequently extended to March, 1951. Whether it will be practicable for the organization to place, by that time, all refugees which come under its jurisdiction is a matter of which I am unable to give advice but, presumably, suitable arrangements will be made by the authorities concerned for that purpose. The Australian Government has indicated the number of immigrants it is prepared to take while the organization continues its operations. The Government is in regular contact with the organization and its plans can be modified to conform with developments
Ha they occur. The honorable member has asked whether Australia will take any proportion of those who have been called the “ hard core “ of refugees. The Government has not taken, nor has it indicated its intention of taking, any specific number of people from this category, but it has given permission, in appropriate cases, for parents who would otherwise have been ineligible because of age or unfitness to accompany suitable members of the family who come here under the auspices of the International Refugee Organization. I nm sure that the former Minister for Immigration will agree that no country has done more, from the humanitarian angle. for the displaced persons of Europe than has this country. Australia has a record, in this respect, of which I feel it can be justly proud.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. I understand from talks I have had with philatelists that Americans are ardent stamp collectors and in America there is a vigorous request for Australian stamps as well as for the exchange of stamps between the two countries. In view of our constant fight for dollars, will the right honorable gentleman consider the appointment of a leading Australian philatelist to one of our New York agencies so that he may personally and otherwise answer questions in relation to this matter and, through the sale of stamps issued to him by the PostmasterGeneral, earn for this country many urgently needed dollars?
– On the face of it, I doubt whether the dollars earned would compensate for the cost of establishing such an officer, but I shall look into the honorable member’s suggestion.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is true, as was currently reported last week-end, that Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, the United Kingdom Commissioner-General in South-East Asia, had warned the Australian Government that the position in Malaya is much more serious than had been thought and might well become calamitous unless it is checked in the immediate future?
– When the Right Honorable Malcolm MacDonald was here recently he had a discussion with me and with certain senior members about the position in Malaya, which is undoubtedly very serious. The conclusions that I think we have all arrived at are that the activities of Communist bandits in Malaya are not in any way related to any true national or nationalist movement, that they are directly associated with Communist activities in other Asiatic countries, that there is a general movement of Communist activity and Communist planning in a south-easterly direction and that all these things, added together, constitute a gravethreat to the safety of Australia. Having regard to the gravity with which we view these matters, we are inconstantcommunica- tion with the governments of other British countries in regard to the position a? it develops.
Dalby Fire Brigade has been advised by the Postmaster-General’s Department that it has been decided to discontinue the practice whereby telephonists in country districts are required to sound alarms in the event of fire. This means that the brigades would be required to provide their own system of fire alarms at a considerable cost. In the case of the Dalby Fire Brigade the alarm is sounded by a mechanism which comes into operation when a number is called by thelocal exchange. Will the Postmaster-General consider, in this case, allowing to continue the practice that has been successful and satisfactory for so long?
– Dalby, like a number of other country towns, has a system which necessitates that the telephonist sound the fire alarm for the district. Many country towns are not sufficiently large to warrant the employment of a full-time employee at their fire brigade stations. Consequently, the cooperation of the Postal Department has been enlisted in certain towns including Dalby and the person who reports a fire rings the telephonist who rings another number which automatically sets off the fire alarm. This system throws a good deal of responsibility upon the telephonist and the department is anxious to avoid that responsibility wherever it is possible to do so. The department was informed that the Dalby Fire Brigade now had a full-time attendant and, consequently, it was felt that that attendant ought to take responsibility for sounding the alarm. However, I understand that the attendant is not always there and until arrangements can be made by the fire brigade - and it is hoped that this will not take too long - the department will keep the alarm sounding.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that a deadlock has occurred at the Commonwealth Conference on South-East Asia owing to the unwillingness of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Indian delegates to commit themselves to the granting of immediate financial aid to backward areas. Can the Prime Minister give the House any indication whether there is any prospect of agreement on this matter ?
– All I can say about the conference is that it has been duly constituted and is proceeding with its discussions. I regard the reports that have appeared in the press as being purely speculative. As far as I am concerned they are speculative, for I have no information which confirms them.
– I ask for leave, to make a statement concerning allegations of betting in the General Post Office, Sydney, which have appeared in an evening paper.
– Is leave granted?
Opposition Members. - No.
Leave not granted.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 16th May (vide page 2681).
– If the committee is agreeable, clauses 1 to 4 will be considered at this juncture.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 postponed.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Affiliated organizations may be declared unlawful).
.- Honorable members have available to them copies of proposed amendments representing the views of the Opposition which were circulated to them at the end of last week. The second of the series on the list relates to clause 5 and proposes that subclauses (3.), (4.) and (5.) be omitted and replaced with new sub-clauses and that a new sub-clause be added.Four separate points arise in connexion with these proposals. The Opposition suggests that a declared body or person should have the right of appeal to the Supreme Court of a State or a territory as well as to the High Court of Australia. That proposal is dealt with in substance by the proposed new sub-clause (3.). The proposed new sub-clause (4.) provides for the right of appeal to a court concerning not only the first declaration of the Governor-General that the applicant is a body to which the whole clause applies, but also the second finding of the Governor-General to the effect that the body is of a subversive character. That sums up the contents of that long definition. The amendment to sub-clause (5.) deals in a short form with what has been called, and adequately, the onus of proof. By that amendment we attempt to provide that it is the duty of the Commonwealth to satisfy the court that a declaration was properly made, and not the duty of the applicant to satisfy the court that it should not have been made. New sub-clause (6.) provides that if the applicant takes the proceedings to the High Court, either he or the Commonwealth may carry the matter on appeal to the Full Court of the High Court. In the case of proceedings before a Supreme Court, the matter may be taken on appeal from a single judge to the Full Court of the Supreme Court. They are four distinct points.
– Sub-clauses (2.) and (3.) are closely involved.
– Yes, I quite agree that some of these matters are closely involved but the matters are extremely important.
The right honorable gentleman means, I take it, that the question of onus of proof-
– And what is to be proved.
– The onus of proof, and what is to be proved, are closely related. I do not wish to limit in any way a discussion on either one of those matters when dealing with the other, but I desire to safeguard the position from the point of view of the limited time that I have in putting these amendments, because the Opposition regards these two amendments as of supreme importance. I ask that whatever course you, Mr. Chairman, take in regard to the debate arising out of the interpolations of the Prime Minister, you allow that to be done.
– The two matters are onus of proof and one other. What is the other matter?
– Whether there is to be a right of appeal at all in connexion with the Governor-General’s declaration that a body is of a subversive character or tendency. In the bill no appeal is provided, and there is no right of approach to any court as to the second matter. They are separate questions and the onus of proof assumes that there is an application to the court.
– I shall submit some amendments on this matter myself. It is all right for the right honorable gentleman to divide his matters neatly into four, but perhaps I cannot do the same thing. Surely we can get at these in substance if we agree to treat subclauses (3.), (4.) and (5.) separately because they will then raise what I believe to be three substantial points put by the right honorable gentleman, and they will certainly cover the one that I desire to put myself.
– The Prime Minister intends to deal with sub-clause (3.). Will he deal with the question of availability of the courts?
– Will sub-clause (4.) involve the two points that the Prime Minister says are closely related?
– Ye s.
– Then there is a third point.
– The right honorablegentleman could raise that on subclause (5.).
– Then there will remain the question of our amendments dealing with the right of appeal from a singlejustice to the Full Court. I am agreeable that the three sub-clauses be considered separately. (Ordered that the clause be considered by sub-clauses.)
Sub-clauses (1.) and (2.) agreed to.
Sub-clause (3.) -
A body of persons so declared to be an unlawful association may, within twenty-eight days after the publication of the declaration, in the Gazette, apply to the High Court to set aside the declaration, on the ground that thebody is not a body to which this sectionapplies..
– I move -
That sub-clause ( 3. ) be left out, with a viewto insert in lieu thereof the following subclause : - “ (3.) A body of persons so declared to be an unlawful association may, within twenty-eight days after the publication of the declarationin the Gazette, apply to a court being -
the Supreme Court (constituted by a single Judge) of the State or Territory of the Commonwealth in whichthe principal office of the body issituated or in which a substantia] number of members of the body areresident; or
the High Court (constituted bya single Justice) to set asidethe declaration.”.
The bill now provides for an application to be made by the body concerned to the High Court to set aside the declaration. It was pointed out by some of my colleagues earlier, that in distant States and in some of the territories of the Commonwealth it may be very expensive and inconvenient to limit theright to appeal to the High Court instead of allowing applications also to a Supreme Court. I say, without prejudice to the second point about which we feel very strongly, that there should be in. such cases not merely a right to a decision: by one judge, but a right in the Commonwealth or the body concerned of appeal to the Full Court. The second point does not arise at this stage, but I mention it so that the committee will have- it inmind. I understand that the Prime Minister accepts the position that there should be a right of application to the Supreme Court of aState or territory as well as to the High Court. Therefore, I shall not repeat my argument.
– The actual form of the amendment moved by the right honorable gentleman is not acceptable because it involves omitting sub-clause (3.) and then putting in a somewhat more elaborate provision which includes the Supreme Court as one of the courts to which application can be made. We propose to deal with that matter more satisfactorily, we think, by including in the definition clauses a definition of “ the appropriate court”, which is in these terms - “’ the appropriate court ‘ means -
The effect of the two suggested amendments is precisely the same. We have covered in the draft definition of “the appropriate court” the problem that has to be cleared up as to the particular State in which the particular organization makes its’ application to the Supreme Court.
– The Full Court in each case?
– No, that is dealt with later, and it means a single judge in each case. Honorable members will see there is to be a special circumstance here. We are in favour of the alternative appeal to a Supreme Court. No doubt there are arguments why a Supreme Court should be resorted to, particularly in some States where a High Court judge may not be readily available. We accept that. We cover it by a definition of “ the appropriate court “ which we intend to include in clause 3 so that thereafter in the bill instead of the repetition, reference can be made to “ the court “ which would be covered by the definition of “ the appropriate court “. Consequently, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) can safely accept the amendment which I propose to move in sub-clause (3.), that the words “High Court “ be omitted and the words “ appropriate court “ inserted. The appropriate court, of course, being defined in the way I have just indicated. I submit the amendment.
– An amendment is now before the Chair.
– That is so.
– I understand that the amendment which has been submitted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) does exactly the same thing as the amendment that I have moved on behalf of the Opposition. I do not think that the form of it matters, and perhaps it may be dealt with now.
– We prefer to deal with the matter in the definitions clause.
– Clause 3, in which the definitions appear, has been postponed. Perhaps the Chairman will allow the committee to pass from sub-clause (3.) for a moment without negativing my amendment. I accept fully the Prime Minister’s amendment in substance, but I should have preferred him to accept my amendment. In view of what the right honorable gentleman has sai d, I think that his amendment does exactly the same thing as we desire to do, and we can accept it at this stage. That is to say, instead of “ the High Court “, the words, “ the appropriate court “ will be inserted and the definition in clause 3 will be appropriately amended later, as the right honorable gentleman has suggested.
– Then will the right honorable member for Barton seek leave to withdraw his amendment?
– Yes, I ask for leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (3.), the words “High Court” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ appropriate court “.
I add once more, for greater caution to honorable members, that the “ appropriate court” in the definition that was circulated will mean exactly the same body as the one which is referred to in the other amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Sub-clause (4.) -
If, upon the hearing, the applicant satisfies the High Court that it is not a body to which this section applies, the High Court shall set aside the declaration.
.- I move -
That sub-clause (4.) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following sub-clause : - “ (4.) If, upon the hearing, the Commonwealth satisfies the court -
As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has accepted the principle of the previous amendment, this amendment is of extreme importance and is the crucial amendment to this clause.
The proposal of the Opposition may be stated thus: Upon the hearing of this matter before the court, the Commonwealth is to satisfy the court on two things. The first is that the applicant is a body to which the provision applies. The second is that the continued existence of the body 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. I desire to make a sharp distinction between the two points which are covered by the Opposition’s amendment. The first deals with the onus of proof. The second deals with the question of whether there is any right of appeal by the declared body to a court of justice. I shall deal first with the onus of proof, about which a great deal has been said. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has written an article about it in the press, and has made some reference to it; but, in the view of the Opposition, it should be made perfectly clear that, before the sanctions of this bill are applied to the affiliated body, as it is called in the earlier sub-clauses of this clause, the Commonwealth must satisfy the court that the applicant is such a. body.For that purpose, it is most important for the committee to understand the kind of organization to which the declaration under the clause may be applied. There are four groups of organizations, and they are set out in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) of sub-clause (1.).
Paragraph (a) deals with bodies which are directly affiliated with the Australian Communist party and may be described as the instruments of it. The Australian Communist party is dealt with by clause 4, and will be dissolved by force of this statute. An affiliated body is a body under that party’s control. But when we pass from paragraph (a) to paragraphs (b), (c) and (d), we find a greater and greater divergence from a body which is comprised of Communists in the sense of it being composed of members of the Communist party, or of Communists within the definition in clause 3, in the sense that they are persons who advocate, believe or support certain doctrines. Paragraph (b) refers to a body or to a committee of which the majority of members have at any time during the past two years, been either members of the Communist party or of the governing body of that party. Consequently, that paragraph applies to every body in Australia of which the Communists have gained control during that period. Let us consider the implications of that provision. Six of ten members of the committee of a body may have been members of the Communist party within that time. The organization itself may have had a membership of 500 persons, the great majority of which may not have been Communists, yet that body may be declared under paragraph (b) of sub-clause (1.).
Paragraph (c) widens the definition to an even greater degree. It applies to any bodies, so long as they are not industrial organizations which are registered under Commonwealth or State law, that advocate the objectives, &c, of communism as expounded by Marx and Lenin. That provision is not limited to the Australian Communist party. Those bodies are not specified but are defined in a broad way. Paragraph (d) extends the width of that definition to include a body. the policy of which is influenced - not entirely directed - wholly or substantially by persons who have been members of the Communist party of Australia during the past two years, or by persons who are Communists within that wide definition that has been criticized by some Government supporters during the second-reading debate. If those people, being either members of the Communist party or persons within that wide definition, have used a body in order to advocate their doctrines within it, the body may come under the ban. I hope that the committee sees the point that this provision applies to organizations of which 90 or 95 per cent, of the members may have nothing whatever to do personally with the Communist party. Those organizations may be declared illegal by the Government, and their property may be forfeited as though they were identifiable with the Communist party.
– But the right honorable gentleman agrees with all that.
– I again say that in dealing with what the Governor-General does in declaring an organization unlawful a body of that kind should be examined to see what the group of members may be. The definition, undoubtedly, could cover bodies such as the Trades and Labour Councils in the various States, or even the Australian Council of Trades Unions. I am not saying that that is probable, but those are bodies of the types that could be declared, because they include in their membership persons who were members of the Communist party and who in the councils of those bodies put forward Communist views. That is sufficient to make them bodies within the meaning of the clause. What happens next? The Governor-General makes a declaration upon which these bodies become unlawful organizations and each one of their members, whether he be a Communist or not - and I emphasize that many of them may not be Communists - may, himself, be declared under clause 9 as an individual.
What the Opposition says is that there should be a right of appeal to the court not merely on whether such persons come within this description but also on whether, in fact, under sub-clause (2.), an organization is a body, the continued existence of which, would be prejudicial to the security and defence of the country. There seems to be an almost complete failure to understand the enormity of what is being done under this provision. An organization which includes in its membership persons who have nothing to do with communism may be declared to be a subversive organization by the fiat of the government of the day, because the Governor-General acts upon the advice of his Ministers. But that organization will not be entitled to obtain particulars of the charge and will have no right to be heard. After the declaration is made, it becomes an unlawful organization and the net value of its property is forfeited; yet after the declaration is made it cannot approach a court of justice to show that it is not a body that should be characterized by this perpetual brand of disloyalty. Even in time of war, enemy aliens, in connexion with proposals for their detention, had the right at all events to go to appeal boards, but no such right is provided under this proposal. I make it clear to honorable members opposite who discussed the onus of proof in their second-reading speeches that this is separated entirely from the onus of proof. It is a different proposition altogether. We say that the Commonwealth should satisfy the court in respect of both points. That means exactly what it says* If the court is left in doubt on the evidence at the end of the case, the body should not be declared. Why should not the presumption of innocence apply in case of doubt? That in substance is what the onus of proof means, and we have criticized and condemned the failure to give the right of appeal to the court. The court will determine point No. 1. Why should it not be asked to determine point No. 2 so that the whole of the declaration can be brought into the realm of law and justice and no body shall then be declared if its record is satisfactory and if it can show to the court that there is no basis for the allegations that have been made against it.
– Order ! The right honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong - Prime Minister) [3.55J. - This is the first amendment of major importance that has been put forward and its goes right to a question which requires the gravest consideration of all honorable members and, indeed, of the country at large. Under the bill as drafted a body which comes within the description contained in one part or another of sub-clause (1.) can apply to the court and can assert before that court that it is not a body which answers one of these descriptions. “What the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) now wants to do is to enable it to go to the court and to have examined before the court not only whether it comes within the description of sub-clause (1.). but also whether it is a body whose activities are likely to be prejudicial to the safety and defence of the country. As honorable members will see at once that means that, on the right honorable gentleman’s amendment, there would come before the court all that information on which the security services of a nation have to determine whether activities are prejudicial to the safety and defence of the country. If we were dealing with some ordinary law in some ordinary time of peace, in other words, if we were dealing with a normal piece of domestic legislation, all that would be perfectly intelligible. But we are dealing with thi.’ safety and defence of the realm ; and wi are considering in this extraordinary bill a very extraordinary disease - the disease of communism, of active, militant, revolutionary communism in Australia ass”ciated with a cold war now being waged against the democracies by the headquarters of the Communist movement of the world.
Let us get this thing in perspective. It is very interesting to notice that subclauses (1.) and (2.) of the clause before the Chair went through unanimously.
They were accepted by the committee without division. Therefore, I assume, as J. am entitled to assume, that the right honorable gentleman has no complaint about the words in which these organizations have been described. He does not regard them as being defined too widely. He must be taken to agree, as the Opposition must be taken to agree, that bodies which answer these descriptions in connexion with their Communist activities, or influence, are appropriate bodies ti fall within the net of this law. So, we cai start from the point that these were accurately defined bodies. Therefore, the purpose of the Opposition’s attack at this stage is not to alter the descriptions of these bodies by one word, or by one syllable, but to enable these bodies to refrain from calling evidence before a tribunal until all the Commonwealth’s cards are on the table of the court. With very great respect, I say to the right honorable gentleman that if I were a CommunisI should welcome his amendment because I should say that nothing could be more calculated to help my cause. There are two ways of killing a bill of this kind. One way is to oppose it frontally, that is, to vote against it on the motion for the second reading and thereby to oppose it in principle not only by word but also by vote. The Opposition has not opposed it by vote. The Opposition has voted for the second reading of this extraordinary bill that hasbeen introduced in extraordinary circumstances. But there is a second way of opposing it, and that is to appear to accept it and then to destroy its efficacy. That is exactly what the?e Opposition amendments of which this is the first artcalculated to do.
I recall to the minds of all honorable members the fact that the bill begins with a series of recitals. They recite a state of affairs both international and domestic, which, if we have eyes to see, indicate perfectly well that a new form of war is being waged at this very moment. We call it the cold war. It represents a new technique. It consists of fifth column activities and of promoting armament at home and peace conferences abroad. In the lands of our potential enemies it consists of the building up of the economy of one country as the Soviet
Union has done, with all speed, and of the weakening of the economy of those countries which may be opposed to it. This is the technique of the cold war. We. are not children to be gulled by the airyfairy ideals that have had such currency during the last few days. Either we are dealing with something which we believe to be a menace to our lives and liberties, Or we have no business to be discussing this legislation at all. Who, in normal circumstances, would introduce legislation to throw union officials out of the offices they hold? No one would dream of doing so. No person with a liberal mind would entertain such a thought. We are dealing with an emergency. The Executive Government of a democracy ought to have knowledge above that of the ordinary man in the street and we should have an added sense of responsibility. The Government should have secret sources of information. Indeed, it is vital to the existence of the modern state that it should have such secret sources of information. Yet, with all these things available to us, we are told that if we declare an organization or an individual we must be prepared to go to the court and put down on the table of the court, by due legal process bywitnesses qualified, by evidence receivable according to the technical rules of the law, everything we know. I do nothesitate to say that if that method were adopted few organizations and individuals would be declared and as a result this legislation would be a dead letter.
– In this bill the Governmentproposes to take away vital liberties and freedoms.
– I wish to make it clear that there is one group of individuals who want to take away vital liberties. They are the enemies against whomthis bill is aimed. All this stuff about giving untrammelled liberty to the enemies of liberty issomething that I do not attempt to understand. The enemies of liberty must be resisted and, if necessary, put down. Yet we are called from the consideration of these grave and tremendous circumstances to consider some arid arguments about technicalities of which I have been familiar for a great many years of my life and about which, in normal circumstances, nobody argues at all.
Reference has been made to the onus of proof. An atmosphere has been created in some quarters that in some way the Government is seeking to do something almost without parallel and precedent. All I have to say about that is that it is utter nonsense. I have told the committee what the effect of the amendments proposed by the Opposition will be. It is said that the Government must lay all its cards on the table and lay bare the whole of the information furnished by its investigation service or the Commonwealth will fail. That is a grim choice, but it is the real effect of the amendment. It is said that this bill is a novelty. I am prepared to demonstrate to the committee that placing the onus of proof in this sense upon the declared organization or declared person has three aspects. First, it is necessary if the recitals are true. Let honorable members again read the recitals. Let them recall that we are talking about real matters and a real threat. We are nottalking about the ordinary Australian citizen who is entitled to be treatedwith all the delicacies of the law. We are talking about a movement in Australia of scoundrels, of subversive rascals, of enemies, of people whose one desire is to pull this country down. We are not dealing with some normal civil lawabiding section of the community. Secondly, what we have done in this bill, with such minor amendments as may emerge, is quite consistent with accepted British legal principles. I have heard in various quarters a good deal about British justice in relation tothis matter. Every man who, like the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), or myself, has spent half a lifetime in the courts and half a lifetime in the Parliaments of this country, is familiar with the principles of British justice, and is deeply attached to them. It is a very well-accepted British legal principle that the burden of proofshall not always rest on the party making the claim. To establish that submission I shall quote an illustration from Halsbury’s Laws of England. Lord Halsbury says -
There are two cases in which the burden of adducing evidenceis liable to be shifted from the party to whom it would naturally fall.
The second case is stated in these words -
Where the truth of a party’s allegation lies peculiarly within the knowledge of hia opponent, the burden of disproving it lies upon the latter. The principle of this exception has frequently been recognized, both by the Legislature and in decided cases.
I shall not occupy the time of the committee by discussing English examples of that principle, because it is sufficient for me to make my third comment, which is that this provision relating to onus of. proof is in line with other Commonwealth legislation. For purposes of illustrating my point I shall confine my attention to important acts of Parliament which the Labour party, when it possessed a majority in both Houses of the Parliament, made no attempt to alter, and to a more recent bill which was introduced by the Chifley Labour Government. Let me cite two or three illustrations. It would not be difficult for me to cite 30 or 40. A part of the Crimes Act of the Commonwealth of Australia is headed, “Protection of the Constitution and of Public and other Services “. It deals with a problem which is closely allied to the one with which we are dealing in thisbill. The Crimes’ Act was- passed not in circumstances such as those which now exist, but in a normal time. Section 30it of that act; which has stood unaltered for years, provides - (1.) In any prosecution for an offence under this Part, or- for an offence to which any provision of this Part is material, the averments of the prosecutor contained in the information, or indictment shall be prima facie, evidence of the matter or matters averred.
In other words, the Crown lays its information, the information is read out, and that in itself is evidence of its own truth. If an accused person wants to answer it he may go into the witness box and give evidence and subject himself to cross-examination and he may call other witnesses. He would act according to the way in which he has been advised. There we have a perfect example of how the onus of proof has been transferred to the accused and that, mark you, is in a criminal proceeding involving forfeiture of liberty, pecuniary penalties, and in some circumstances criminal prosecution. No attempt has ever been made by Opposition- members, even when they constituted the Government, to remove that section from the Crimes Act. Let us consider the Income Tax. Assessment Act. I should have thought, and I am sure that honorable, members will agree with me, that the crime of evading income tax is less serious than, the crime of- engaging in activitiesagainst the safety and defence of our own: country. Section 243 of the Income Tax> Assessment Act, which has also stood foil a long time, provides - (1.) In any taxation prosecution, every averment, of the prosecutor or plaintiff contained in the information, complaint, declaration or claim shall be prima facie evidence of the matter averred.
In other words, that section throws the burden on the other side of getting rid- of the prima facie effect, not of what1 theCrown has proved, but of what the Crownhas alleged. A similar provision is also included in the Customs Act. I can recall’ a recent, instance in which a former colleague complained bitterly about its operation. Section 2.55 of the Customs Act provides - (1.) In any Customs prosecution the averment of the prosecutor or plaintiff contained/ in the information, complaint, declaration or claim shall be prima facie evidence of the matter or matters averred.
A similar provision is included in- the’ Excise Act and in the Quarantine Act. These are well-known acts of Parliament which have operated for many years. In every one of them provisions have been included that the averment by the Crown is to be evidence of its own truth. So the burden is at once cast on the accused. I have no doubt that those provisions were inserted in those acts because it was desirable that in matters that touched the revenues of the country or related to the prevention of the introduction of disease, nobody should be able to escape merely by keeping out of the witness box. That is the whole problem of the onus of proof. Is a man to be protected from giving evidence, or is he to be out in the position in which he will have to give evidence if he wants to escape? I nut it in plain terms that if I am to choose whether a Communist or a Communist body is to be saved the inconvenience of crossexamination or of being subjected to crossexamination. I am all for cross examination, and plenty of it.
My final example is the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act. which, as honorable members will recall, was passed in 1949. At that time a coal strike was in progress. As the government of the day alleged, and as I entirely agreed, it was a Communist-inspired strike and a very good illustration of Communist activity. “What did the government of the day do ? Did it say, “ Whatever else we do to these people, we must never depart from the orthodox. We must never get rid of the idea that the Crown must prove everything to the last stage “ ? It did not say that. It knew perfectly well that desperate diseases need desperate remedies. One cannot deal with certain matters by the rules of orthodoxy. So, section 11 of the act which that Government passed, provided -
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 of a branch of the organization shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence 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 unless he failed to prove it - and prove is a strong word - he was liable to a fine not exceeding f 100 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or ‘“both. That is what that Government thought of the orthodox rules of the burden of proof when faced by the coal strike. Section 12 of that act provided -
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.
– That is not unorthodox.
– Qf course not, but it was the law in 1949. It was the law which was promulgated by the Government of the day. The Government recognized that there is no such thing as an inflexible rule about onus of proof and that all these matters of machinery must be accommodated to the true national interest, and it put the burden of proof on the accused for the very good reason that it was dealing with a strike which it regarded as a sort of a
Communist insurrection. That act provided that it should be in force until revoked by proclamation. The bill before the committee, after it has become an act, can be repealed by another parliament and under it a declaration can be revoked by another parliament.
– Does the right honorable gentleman expect to be here then?
– That depends entirely on how long the honorable member is here, because as long as he is in this chamber I shall be here. All these matters must be regarded in the light of circumstances. Therefore one’s approach to them will depend entirely upon whether one regards the menace of communism as real, imminent and continuing. If communism is regarded in that way then there is abundant precedent in the statute-book, if precedent be required, for a stringent law. I should not care if there were not any precedent because, I repeat, very desperate diseases are not always to be treated by orthodox means. In dealing with an enemy movement one cannot play round with it as if one were dealing with some Sunday school class.
At least one leading member of the Opposition in the course of a debate elsewhere said that he was interested in the idea that the averment method should be used. In other words, that instead of simply saying, “ You are to go to court and /satisfy the court “, there should be some provision to make the declaration evidence of its own -truth, thereby making it necessary for the person or body declared -to get rid of that prima facie evidence. The -Government has no objection to that course being taken. I have circulated to-day an amendment which is designed to give effect to it. -This amendment is in no way inconsistent with the principle which I have stated and, therefore, it seems to the Government to be acceptable. The amendment reads - (4.) Upon the hearing of the application, the declaration made by the Governor-General under sub-section (2.) of this section shall, in so far as it declares that the applicant is a person to whom this section applies, be prima facie evidence that the applicant is such a person. (5.) If, upon the hearing, the court finds -that the applicant is not a person to whom th’s section applies, the court shall set aside the declaration. (5a.) If the court does not so find, the court shall dismiss the application and the declaration shall remain in force.
That is a method of maintaining the principle that the Crown has the carriage of the matter; that the man or body must lay his cards on the table. It is just as suitable to me as the words of the right honorable member and has the additional charm’ of being completely in line with ether legislation to which I have referred. But two questions are involved. One concerns what has been called the onus of proof; the other is whether both questions shall go to the court or only one, that is, whether the court shall determine whether a body fits one or other of these descriptions and pause there, as under the bill, or whether the court shall also determine whether or not the body is engaged in activities prejudicial to the safety or defence of the realm. I say to the committee on behalf of the Cabinet, which has given this matter the fullest consideration, that in dealing with matters of security one enters into the hidden recesses of information possessed by a government, and in time of war, cold or hot, that is a burden that should never be placed upon the responsible advisers of the Crown.
.- T think that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was less than generous in imputing to the Opposition, in proposing its amendment, the motive of desiring to assist the Communists. The right honorable gentleman drew a great deal of applause from his followers when he described this as legislation dealing with rascals and said that there should be no kid-glove methods of dealing with them. That statement serves lo illustrate the confusion that exists in regard to this matter. Government supporters said. “ Hear, hear ! “ when the Prime Minister made those references. Honorable members opposite are quite agreeable to such a description being applied to people who are known and proved Communists. But the Government’s provision is to be applied to persons who are merely declared to be Communists or who are declared to be members of an unauthorized organization or of an organization which is prejudicial to the security of the country. In other words the Government is prepared to accept that the declaration is itself evidence of the fact, something which honorable members of the Opposition find very difficult to accept in view of the Prime Minister’s own hesitancy about the list of persons he read out on the occasion of his secondreading speech. The right honorable gentleman, in dealing with the position that the Crown would find itself in, seemed to ignore the whole of clause 22, which sets out what will constitute evidence that a person is a Communist or a member of an unlawful organization and which has reference to the documents and lists of membership that were secured in the raid on Marx House that was conducted last year at the time of the coal strike. The Prime Minister went on to ask for special immunity for the secret police. Many trials have been proceeding in the United States which have been directed against Communists and against the whole Communist leadership, but no claim has been made by the United States Government that its Federal Bureau of Investigation officers should not appear in court as witnesses who would be subject to crossexamination in order to give evidence against the Communist leaders who have been accused of conspiracy. I refuse to accept the argument that their appearance in court has flung open to the four winds the whole structure of the American security service. The difference between the procedure in the United States and that which is envisaged under (his bill arises from the different approach of the two Governments. The United States is prosecuting in respect of an offence which is exactly measurable. It has said to the Communist leaders, “You have been engaged in a conspiracy to overthrow the United States Constitution and to endanger the security of this country “. Item by item in trials which, in some cases, have lasted for six months they have built up an immense structure of exact evidence. This Government is not prepared to proceed along those exactly measurable lines because it is in pursuit of an opinion.
Because it is in pursuit of things which are indefinite, it is arguing for an indefinitely wide allocation of power.
The statements that have been made by the r ght honorable gentleman concerning the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act and other legislation do not seem to be apposite to this discussion. The coal strike legislation dealt with certain things that were definitely known. It was known that an organization had handed over money for the purpose of maintaining a strike. The onus was placed on the leadership of the union to j rove that that money had not been transferred from its funds or from the funds of other organizations with their knowledge. There was in the first instance, something which the Crown had definitely to establish in the court: the action of the union officials in advancing the money and the action of the ether organizations in supporting the strike. There is no comparison between the stigma of treason which will be applied to a person by a declaration under this bill and the stigma of having evaded a customs act or of being subject to some declared disease or of having been born in a country from which Australia does not normally admit migrants. . Surely there is nothing comparable with a declaration of treason, which could he very damaging to a person and which might arise in circumstances about which the Labour party, by reason of its very nature, must be concerned. I accept the certificate which the Government has issued to itself to the effect that it is thoroughly well-intentioned, but this bill, if it is passed, will become a .permanent statute. Honorable members supporting the Government have never trusted honorab1’’ members of the Opposition with any wide powers. They considered that the previous Labour Government abused it’ powers. This legislation could, at some future time, be implemented by a government to which one would not issue a certification of respectability. The strike is very annoying and one may occur which affects the community seriously. The Government may declare the leadership of the union concerned although it may not be Communist. There were plenty of militant trade unionists before the Communist party existed. The leaders of the strike m 9y be declared to be persons who are untrustworthy in the terms of the definition in clause 5.
Thereupon they can be removed from office and placed under the onus of disproving an accusation that would be acceptable, I am afraid, to many superficiallythinking people in the community because of the activities in which they bad been engaged. Is the Government’s pica for special immunity for the secret police really in the interests of the secret police themselves? They will not appear in court to produce any evidence. The security services of Great Britain have; r.ever operated in that way in cases of treason, but the secret police of totalitarian States have done so. I am not pertain that members of a police organization existing in such an atmosphere and knowing that the material that they collected would not be subjected to any exact scrutiny would strive to be efficient. It seems to me that the former totalitarian States, like Nazi Germany, which provided special immunities for the secret police, were not so well served as were the so-called less efficient democracies that were opposed to them. Nothing that the Prime Minister has said has shaken the conviction of members of the Opposition that their viewpoint concerning the onus of proof provision is correct. It is very significant that the right honorable gentleman at no stage dealt effectively with our criticism of the provision that organizations declared to be prejudicial shall have no right of appeal.
– This is the first opportunity that I have had to enter into the discussion of the bill, and I propose therefore to refer as concisely as possible to several aspects of the legislation that are covered by the clause that is now before the committee. The Opposition has elected, through its spokesmen, to base its attack upon the bill on what is known as the onus pf proof provision. From the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), a former Justice of the High Court of Australia, right through the rank and fi’ e. the Opposition has maintained a formidable barrage of criticism against the proposal that the onus of proof shall rest upon a person declared under the terms of the bill. Members of the Opposition have said that, although they agree that a grave state of emergency exists, they are not prepared to agree to the enactment of the bill in its present form. They acknowledge that the amendments that have been foreshadowed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) clarify the purpose and intention of the Government. Nevertheless they maintain their attack upon the onus of proof provision. This continual harping upon the same subject has greatly intrigued me. I shall make my own attitude clear. During the last 30 years I consistently opposed any attempts that were made in the Parliament of New South “Wales to enact legislation providing that the onus of proof of innocence should rest upon an accused person and that the provisions of the legislation should be effective retrospectively. I still believe that such provisions should never be included in any legislation except for the gravest reasons involving national security. “Why has the Opposition consistently ignored the fact that the bill contains a provision that it shall have effect retrospectively to a specified date? It has ignored that provision altogether and has concentrated its attack upon the onus of proof clause. Members of the Opposition have protested that we must preserve a great principle by insisting that the onus of proof shall rest with the Crown. I should be very much more likely to believe in their sincerity if they also attacked the proposal to give retrospective effect to the bill. If I had to make a choice, I should vote in favour of the onus of proof provision and against the retrospective provision. The date specified in that provision is the 10th May, 1948. Two years aero, citizens of Australia exercised their legal right to be Communists.
– Order! The honorable member cannot discuss that provision. He may refer to it only in passing.
– The clause refers to “ the specified date “, which is the date that I have mentioned. Therefore, I submit that my remarks are relevant to the clause. The provision for retrospective effect touches upon a principle that is much more important to a democratic community than the provision that relates to onus of proof. Members of the Opposition would acknowledge that fact if they were honest. How can any citizen know where he stands legally if a Go vernment can enforce legislation retrospectively? To-day I may do something that is quite within my rights as a British citizen ; to-morrow the law may be altered so as to make a law-breaker of me. Let me not be misunderstood. I shall stand by this bill in respect of both the provision that I have attacked and the provision that has been attacked by members of the Opposition.
– The honorable member’s apology is accepted.
– I make no apology. I am. pointing out the hypocrisy of members of the Opposition, who strain at a gnat but swallow a camel so easily that one might be pardoned for thinking that it had been greased by their unctuous regard for their own political safety. The bill sets aside two principles for reasons that are stated in the preamble. If the recitals contained in the preamble are to be accepted, the safety of the State demands that those principles must be set aside until such time as this Parliament decides otherwise. If they are not to be accepted, we shall betray a great trust thai has been handed down to us through generations of British men and women who have fought for liberty over the centuries. According to the law, one cannot light a fire and burn one’s neighbour’s property without suffering penalties. Nevertheless, I, and probably many other honorable members, have broken that law in emergencies. Men have often started fires in the path of a raging bush fire and have prayed to God that, in doing so, they would save the property behind them. They have broken the law in order to protect property. Crimson flames are sweeping down towards Australia from Europe and Asia. That raging fire is already licking at the shores of Malaya and scorching Java. For that reason, I agree that we must take extreme measures, for the time being, in order to preserve the liberty of the people of Australia.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The clause deals with bodies, not persons, and it does not deal with the Communist party. Therefore, any observations about the Communist party that honorable members may have reserved can best be left until later.
– When did the honorable member become an authority?
– Long before the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) learned anything about such matters. Ever since 1 have been a member of this Parliament I have waited in vain to hear some worthwhile observation made by him. I repeat that the clause refers to bodies of persons, not to individuals, and that it does not deal with the Communist party. It applies to organizations that, in the opinion of a Minister, may be considered to be prejudicial to the security of the nation. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said that very few individuals would be declared if the onus of proof were -removed from the individual and placed upon the Crown. Is he not the right honorable gentleman who declared in this chamber that he knew the identity of the persons who were responsible for the dislocation of industry? Is he not the right honorable gentleman who said that his Government was not concerned with the woolly-headed dupes who merely obeyed the Communist party? Did he not declare that the Government was concerned with a mere handful of criminally minded, rabid Communists, who were known to it ? He mentioned the names of the Communists whom he had in mind. The object of the hill is to deal only with those people? At any rate, that is what the Prime Minister said when he introduced the measure.
– He gave examples.
– Yes. He mentioned Healy, Elliott, McPhillips, Thornton, Brown, Thompson and another 20 or 30 men. By the time that list had been read, the sum total of all the Communists in the Australian trade union movement had been mentioned. There are not many Communists in paid or administrative positions in the trade union movement. People have worked themselves into such a frenzy over this bill that they have allowed themselves to believe that there are thousands of Communists controlling the trade union movement. The Prime Minister was perfectly correct when he said that there was only a “mere handful” of Communists. That is all that exists. That mere handful are well known, not as members of bodies associated with the Communist party or affiliated with it or as members of bodies that resemble the Communist party, but as active members of the Communist party. Most of them are members of the central executive of the party. They will be dealt with automatically when clause 4 of the bill is enacted. It will then follow that the Communist party and all its members will come within the scope of the other clauses of the bill.
– Then they will call themselves by another name.
– There will be no advantage in doing that because they are known as members of the Communist party. Everybody knows that they have been members of the Communist party, and in fact they would probably be the last to deny it if asked about it.
– Will the honorable member help us to identify the Communists ?
– I know who the Communists are. Clause 5 does not apply to the Communist party at all but it could apply to non-Communist disputes committees of the trades and labour councils in the various States. Whenever a dispute occurs, or is pending, the relevant trades and labour council immediately appoints a disputes committee to handle it. Sometimes the committee decides that the strike must be settled. Sometimes it considers that, as there is so much merit in the claim* of the strikers and such a small chance of accepting any offer of the employers, the strike should continue. The persons composing the disputes committees would be subject to declaration under the act.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Chairman. The honorable member is not dealing with the clause that is before the committee.
– The point of order is upheld. Actually, the committee is dealing with proposed new sub-clause (4.)-
– With respect, we are dealing with clause 5 of the bill.
– I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that the honorable member is entitled to indicate what type of body may be declared and to discuss any right of appeal that it may have.
– The clause covers affiliated bodies and the honorable member should deal only with that aspect.
– The committee is dealing with affiliated bodies. I support the amendment moved by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). Amongst other things that amendment provides for the omission of sub-clause (4.) and the insertion in its stead of a new sub-clause in these terms - (4.) If, upon the hearing, the Commonwealth satisfies the court -
that the applicant is a body to which this section applies; and
I now refer to a recital in the preamble to the bill. It states -
And whereas activities or operations of, or encouraged by, the Australian Communist Party, and activities or operations of, or encouraged by, members or officers of that party and other persons who are Communists, are designed to cause, by means of strikes or stoppages of work, and have, by those means, caused, dislocation, disruption or retardation of production or work in those vital industries.
Then it must be discovered whether a person is likely to be affected. That “means that a reference must be made to clause 3 of the bill which defines a Communist. The definition of a Communist, is so wide that any member of the Liberal party or any member of the Australian Labour party could be immediately brought within it. Such a person could easily be described as one who supported or advocated one of the objectives or teachings of communism as preached by Marx.
– Absolute nonsense!
– It is not nonsense.
– I think it is.
– The honorable member would think it was nonsense. I should expect that of him. What I am saying is not nonsense at all. The cold fact is that one of the teachings of Karl Marx is that education should be free. Every party in this House believes in free education. If there are some honorable members who do not believe in it, they would not have the courage to say so publicly. Any person believing in free education would be subject to declaration under the definitions in the bill. I refer honorable members to the history of the Australian Workers Union. The leaders of that union were not Communists, and yet they burned the Rodney when it wa3 taking scabs up the river Darling for the purpose of breaking a strike. I ask the committee how any person could possibly prove that he is not what he is not?
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The first point with which I wish to deal in relation to this clause concerns tb« conditions under which a similar clause dealing with restrict on of freedom was approved by this Parliament. Some time ago the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) delivered a speech which is reported in volume 172 of Ilansard at pages 152-57. That speech was made during a debate on national security in connexion with the Australia First Move.went. The right honorable gentleman stated the principles upon which a government would be justified in .acting if it considered that repressive legislation was desirable. I consider that the principles then enunciated are perfectly applicable to this situation. I shall not read the whole of the right honorable gentleman’s remarks but the material part of his speech is -
Broadly speaking, the accepte1 policy in relation to restrictions upon liberty of movement is an:l should be as follows: - (]) The aim and sole justification of all restrictions upon individual liberty is to prevent injury to the war effort of the country, not to punish the individual. In short, the objective is preventive rather than punitive.
If honorable members insert in place of the words “ war effort “ the words that are used in the bill, “ national security then the whole of the right honorable gentleman’s remarks are applicable to the present situation. It is upon that basis that the Government has proceeded to draw up this bill. The right honorable gentleman then proceeded -
Again substitute the words “ national “ security “ for “ war effort “ and honorable members will find that the Government has acted exactly in accordance with the principles laid down by the right honorable member for Barton.
I shall now deal with the arguments of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). He said that this clause should relate to known Communists and not to those people who might subsequently be declared to be Communists. He claimed that the action should be restricted to a known group of people, and that the undercover agents or “ fronts “ for communism should bd allowed to go scot free. That is not the view of honorable members on this side of the chamber. We believe that there are many undercover agents of the Communist party who are as dangerous as those who are proud of the fact that they are Communists. Known Communists would be happy to admit their allegiance in a court of law. The Government does not think that the provisions of the bill should be restricted to known Communists.
The honorable member also dealt with clause 22. He said that he based his argument on its relevance to the volume of proof that would have to be produced in any particular case. I do not know whether the honorable member is a lawyer, but clause 22 does not relate to the volume of evidence required to prove that a man is a Communist; it deals only with whether or not evidence is to be admitted. First of all the evidence must be collected. The court must he informed of the fact that the evidence can he produced and the court itself will then say whether or not it is admissible. Once the evidence is produced the question becomes one of the weight or the degree of authority that the court will give to it. Clause 22 is not designed to deal with the weight of evidence; it relates purely to its admissibility. Therefore, the comments of the honorable member in this respect can be completely disregarded.
The honorable member also dealt with legislation in the United States of America. He said that no action similar to the provisions of this bill had been taken in that country. I do not agree. The honorable gentleman will see in the Parliamentary Library a reference to a bill, called the Mundt-Ferguson Bill, which deals with Communists in a similar way to that in which it is dealt with by the bill now before the committee. The provisions of that hill can be examined and the debates on it perused. Then it will be seen that the Government has taken some note of that bill and has incorporated some of its provisions in this legislation.
– Did that bill ever become law?
– I do not know. I should like to see a few more of the provisions of that bill incorporated in our own bill. Nevertheless the United States, in its Mundt-Ferguson Bill, attempted to deal with the Communist party and to declare members of it.
As a general rule the person who had to prove a case was he who had the affirmative side. In any debate those who aver the affirmative have the right of speaking first and the burden of proving their case. A court of law does not always act according to a rigid principle. The principle it acts upon is how justice will be best served. The principle that is applicable in this case is set out by Mr. Justice Isaacs in Williamson v. Ah On, in which His Honour said -
It is generally true that by the common Jaw the burden is placed variously and according to the circumstances.
In other words, His Honour said, not that there was a single rule, but that the burden was placed variously and according to the circumstances. The circumstances themselves determine on whom the burden of proof should rest. His Honour proceeded -
One governing principle can, I think, be 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.
That is to say, there is not a single rule about the burden of proof, and so far as I am aware, there has never been such a rule, but the burden is placed where justice and common sense dictate that it should be placed. In the matter that is now before the chamber, namely, a Communist organization and a treasonable conspiracy, how can it be argued that the burden of proof should be placed on any shoulders other than those, of the conspirators and the criminals themselves? I wholeheartedly agree with the advocacy of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who said that it would completely neutralize the principles of, and completely nullify the bill if we were to accept the contention of the right honorable member for Barton that the onus of proof should be placed fairly and squarely on the Crown.
I regard as of paramount importance one other matter in the amendment that has been submitted by the right honorable member for Barton. I refer, of course, to the burden of proof. It relates, first, to whether or not a person is a Communist, and secondly, to whether or not his activities may be prejudicial to the best interests of the nation. Those two principles should be sharply distinguished. The Prime Minister said that he was prepared to accept, and he has, in fact, accepted, an amendment to provide that upon the hearing of the application, the declaration made by the Governor-General shall be prima facie evidence that the applicant is such a body. That declaration would be made by the Governor-General in Council after a recommendation had been submitted by the security officers. The position, then, is that if the applicant can produce any evidence, which the court believes, to show that it is not such a body, it will be entitled to have the declaration discharged. Government supporters consider that that proposal is sound, and regard it as a pleasant and satisfactory compromise.
– Order! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– I did not have an opportunity to express my views in the second-reading debate, and I should like to complete the point that I have been making. As no other honorable member has risen, I shall take my second period now. The second point about the amendment is that it endeavours to throw the onus of proof on to the Crown in respect of two matters in which the security of the Commonwealth is involved. I refer to paragraph (b) of the proposed new subclause, which may be summarized, thus - The. Commonwealth itself must satisfy the court that the continued existence of a body 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. I cannot think of a more hopeless argument than that the Commonwealth should be compelled to prove, in a petition of this kind, that the person or the organization that it has declared, is guilty of subversive activity or that its activities are prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth. Do Opposition members take that amendment seriously?
– Of course, they do not.
– I do not believe that any Opposition member, except the right honorable member for Barton, takes that argument seriously. Such a proposal, if adopted, would mean that the Commonwealth would be obliged to disclose our whole security set-up, including sources of information, and, indeed, everything that occurred in the Prime Minister’s Department and the Department of External Affairs.
– A specious argument.
– It is not. The effect of such a provision would be that secret documents might have to be disclosed in a court of law.
– Not at all.
– That is precisely what would happen.
– I disagree with the honorable member.
– It would mean the destruction of security for government departments. They would be compelled to disclose matters that concern the Australian Government and the United Kingdom Government, the Australian Government and the United States of America Government, and various other authorities. I cannot believe that a more ludicrous or idiotic provision could be proposed in a responsible assembly, and, therefore, I consider that it should be rejected out of hand.
The only other comment that I desire to make relates to theactual construction of this clause. I should like to point out, because I do not think that the matter has been emphasized sufficiently, that the clause does not cover an industrial organization that is registered under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State. Therefore, a trade union may not be declared under this clause, and, for that reason, many of the thoughts and statements of Opposition members must be forgotten. I should like to reassure those of them who represent worthy trade unions that the interests of those organizations were given careful thought, and have been adequately safeguarded.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) almost completely avoided the real issue in this clause. He laid great stress on the onus of proof, although that does not enter largely into the present debate. At any rate, it is only of a secondary nature at this juncture, and will be considered more fully when the committee is discussing clause 9. The real issue at the present time is that bodies that are declared will have no appeal. The matter of the onus of proof does not arise here. The very doubtful privilege, such as it is, of discharging the onus is not to be granted to a body of persons that may be declared under this clause. The real danger arises from the wide scope of the various sub-clauses in which the bodies that may be declared are defined. The Prime Minister stated that it may be assumed that Opposition members agree with the definition of a Communist in clause 3, and in the several subclauses of this clause. We may have agreed with that definition in this respect, that we assumed that the right honorable gentleman would be prepared, as he had indicated, to accept reasonable amendments. Our whole attitude to these definitions is governed by our opinion of what we consider necessary to provide some elements of justice for those bodies and persons that may be declared. As has been pointed out by the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), many bodies may be involved that are quite apart from the Communist party or its auxiliaries. For instance, it may involve the Australian Labour party, the Fabian Society, or other organizations that advocate the principles of Karl Marx. I remind the committee that Marx did not advocate that in all circumstances bis various objectives should be achieved by revolutionary means. He contended that, in certain circumstances, particularly in British-speaking countries, the objectives might be attained by constitutional means. The definitions in this clause are very wide, as I shall show. Sub-clause (1.) reads, in part -
This section applies to any body of persons . .
which supports or advocates, or, at any time after the specified date and before the date of commencement of this Act, supported or advocated, the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin, or promotes, or, at any time within that period, promoted, the spread of communism, as so expounded; or
the policy of which is directed, con trolled, shaped or influenced, wholly or substantially, by persons who -
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, or are communists; and
make use of that body as a means of advocating,” propagating or carrying out the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin.
Sub-clause (2.) states -
Where the Governor-General is satisfied that a body of persons is a body of persons to which this section applies and that the continued existence of that body of persons wouldbe 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 Governor-General may, by instrument published in the Gazette, declare that body of persons to be an unlawful association.
Sub-clause (4.) certainly allows some right of appeal, although the onus of proof is placed on a body that has been declared to prove to the satisfaction of the court that it is not an organization such as is defined in clause 5. But no right of appeal is allowed on the real merits of the declaration, that is to say, on whether the body is a subversive or disloyal organization, and, therefore, any right of appeal that is given under subclause (4.) is meaningless and illusory.
I cannot understand the contention that the evidence of security officers should not be placed before the court. A similar issue arose in the United States of America recently when certain allegations were made against high officials of the State Department. An investigation committee of the Senate called for the security files, and, at first, President Truman and the United States Government declined to make them available. Subsequently, they agreed to place all the files and the whole of the evidence before the committee. Why should not such evidence be made available? Why should security officers be granted special immunity or privileges? Surely they are not infallible. Indeed, the Prime Minister himself has shown that our security service is fallible to a great degree. The right honorable gentleman announced, in his second-reading speech, that the purpose of this bill was to deal with certain Communist organizations, and with high officials of the Communist party who held office in trade unions and in the service of the Commonwealth. I considered that the right honorable gentleman and his staff would closely scrutinize the activities and identities of the individuals whom he described in his second-reading speech as Communists, but within a week he had to make five corrections in his list of approximately 50 persons, because mistakes had been made. If an error can occur at the be tanning, how much more likely is it that mistakes will occur in dealing with the lower strata ?
Dr.Evatt. - During the war, there were thousands of appeals by enemy aliens, in which similar matters were involved.
– Yes, and it was found that injustice had been done to many persons. In the heat of the moment, and in the hysteria that is aroused in periods of stress, mistakes are made, paiticularly when information comes to the hands of people who may bear some ill will against, or have an axe to grind in respect of, another person.
– This is not the same set of circumstances, as the honorable member knows.
– The circumstances now are not so serious, as they were in war-time.
– The honorable member knows that the position is not the same now as it was.
– At least, it is admitted that we are now technically at peace. Although some nations may be engaging in a cold war, they are not indulging in a shooting war. I cannot understand why the Prime Minister, who, for many years, has appeared before our courts as a leading advocate, is not prepared to trust the court to deal with that issue. Why should not the court be supplied with the whole of the facts to enable it to decide whether a declared body or organizationdisloyal? Our courts are sworn to uphold the laws of the land, and they are likely to be far more impartial than any individual who may originate a declaration.
– The appropriate Minister will make the declaration.
– That is so. Subclause (2.) reads -
Where the Governor-General is satisfied that a body of persons is a body of persons to which thissection applies and that the 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 unlawfulassiociation.
Ministers will originate the declarations. Having regard to statements made by supporters of the Government in this debate and during the recent general election campaign, can they be expected to be completely unbiased in such matters? Indeed, some of them have already said that the Labour party is allied to the Communist party. In view of those facts, how can it be claimed that Ministers will always be impartial in making declarations? On the other hand, if supporters of the Government really desire that strict justice shall be done, the Government should be prepared to place before the court the fullest information to enable the court to arrive at a proper decision.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) lulled himself into a false sense of security when he described conditions existing to-day as peace-time conditions. He said that the Government of the United States of America had enabled the special committee of the United States Senate that is now inquiring into unAmerican activities to draw upon all sources of evidence. That committee would be comparable with a select committee of this Parliament. It could not be compared with a judicial tribunal in this country. Therefore, the honorable member’s comparison is illogical. In any event, the Communist menace in America is not so great as it is in Australia. In the United States of America, the Communists have not battened upon the trade union movement as they have don? in this country. Therefore, the United States of America is not faced with a similar problem, although the government of that country has taken definite action to rid the United States of America of Communists.
Dealing with the onus of proof, honorable members opposite have mesmerized themselves by repetition of the words, “ British justice “. I have no doubt that many of them sincerely desire to preserve the principles of British justice. But what does the onus of proof actually mean? Is this provision really unique? Has not a similar provision been included in many other statutes ? I point out that under English law a man who is found breaking into premises or is found un lawfully on premises is required to prove his innocence. He must produce good reasons for his presence on such premises. That is a clear example from English law of a provision that places upon the accused the onus of proving innocence. In a time of emergency, it is essential to enact drastic laws of this kind in order to safeguard the security of a country. Therefore, if the provision to place the onus of proof upon the accused is amended, the bill as a whole will be destroyed. We cannot deal with the Communist menace in any piecemeal fashion. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has pointed out that the Government does not disguise the fact that this provision is drastic, hut the people, at the recent general election, gave it a mandate to enact legislation of this kind in order to deal with the Communist menace. Last year, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), when he was Attorney-General, embodied a similar provision in the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act. On that occasion ho did not mince matters. I1- admitted that it was bold legislation, but said that it was justified in view of the crisis that had arisen as the result of the coal strike. Provisions similar to this were embodied also in many regulations passed under the National Security Act. This proposal is not novel. The objections raised by honorable members opposite are sheer humbug. Surely, the crisis tint exists at present in this country constitutes a greater menace to our security than did the coal strike that occurred last year.
– Leading men in otherEnglishspeaking countries haveempha 21 zed the seriousness of the present cold war. In Russia, as in pre-war Germany, the government i.= able to get away with high-handed actions because general elections in Russia are merely shams. Consequently, the Soviet Government does not have to account for its act:ons to the Russian people from time to time. However, in a democratic country like Australia every government mu.rt answer to the people at general elections which are normally held every three years. Therefore, should this Government abuse any of the powers that it is now seeking under this measure, public opinion, which is the best and final judge in- any British community, would dismiss it from office at the first opportunity. Ear that reason alone the Government will take particular care to administer this legislation fairly and justly.
A person who is not a Communist will have nothing to fear from this legislation. A declared person can appeal to the court and should he, or she, do so, the simple statement by the accused, “ I am not a Communist “, if no other evidence is produced to the contrary, will be proof of innocence. Should the committee water down the provision dealing with the onus of proof it will make the measure ineffective and prevent the Government from achieving the objective which, I believe, most honorable members desire it to achieve. Therefore, this clause is necessary in order to ensure that the measure shall be fully effective, and. it should be agreed to as drafted.
– I was amazed when I heard some of the arguments advanced by honorable members opposite in support of the clause. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) made rather an impassioned statement in which he said that for 30 years as a member of the Parliament of New South “Wales he had opposed the inclusion in legislation of the principles of retrospectivity and the placing of onus of proof upon the accused. He said that he had fought against those two principles all his life. Yet, he said, he would vote for the clause as drafted. What an exhibition of mental gymnastics! The honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon) endeavoured to prove that a provision similar to this was embodied in legislation that was enacted by the Labour Government during the recent war to deal with disloyal organizations and their members. Indeed, he said that in this instance we could very well accept the relevant provision in that legislation if we substituted the words “ in time of national emergency “ for the words “ in time of war “. The conditions to which he referred are not analogous. During the recent war the government of the day was obliged to take swift and drastic action in the interests of the security of the country.
However, as other honorable members have already pointed out, many enemy aliens who were apprehended during the recent war were given the right of appeal against detention and the onus of proof was placed not upon them but upon the Crown. Consequently, many of those aliens were set free. Indeed, they were given a greater measure of justice than the Government proposes to give to persons who may be declared under this measure.
– That is rubbish !
– The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), who is a lawyer, should know better than to say that.
– The Minister sat on one of those appeal boards.
– Yes ; he assisted in granting freedom to the aliens to whom I have referred when this country was at war, but now, when we are at peace, he is not prepared to afford an equal measure of justice to persons who may be declared under this legislation. The honorable member for Lowe said that if the onus of proof were placed upon the Crown, security officers would be obliged to produce proof that declared bodies and declared individuals were rightly subject to declaration under this measure. For that reason, we are asked to provide that the court and the people shall accept a declaration that might be originated by paid pimps, or informers, and, at the same time, to deny to the accused the right of ascertaining details of the allegations made, or any knowledge of those who made them and to place upon the accused the onus of proving that he, or she, is innocent. In effect, declared persons are to be adjudged guilty merely by the issuance of a declaration. Such a proposition is preposterous. It will place declared persons and organizations in an impossible position. In a time of emergency such a drastic provision might be justified, but, as some supporters of the Government have already admitted, the Communist party has been gradually losing influence in this country. Before this measure was introduced the Australian Labour party was the only political party in Australia that was prepared to fight the Communists. Since 1922 the Labour party has debarred Communists or Communist supporters from the privileges of membership of the party. It is the only political party that has done so. The Labour party has consistently fought the Communists and their organizations. The Government, which has claimed that it has introduced this legislation in order to protect the members of industrial circumstances either does not know the facts or refuses to accept them. In its fight against communism the Labour movement has not received any support from either the Liberal party or the Australian Country party.
– Order ! This is not a second-reading debate.
– Individuals and organizations may be declared under the provisions of this legislation without knowing what charges have been levelled against them. It would be possible for the Melbourne Trades Hall Council to be declared under this legislation because it includes in its membership some persons who are known to be Communists. The genuine Labour men on the council have been fighting the Communists for many years. I was a member of the council when the Communists were able to muster 96 votes. To-day, as the result of thu efforts of genuine Labour members on the council, the Communists can muster only 40 rotes. Communist influence in union affairs has dwindled as the result of the fight waged against it by genuine Labour men.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the clause.
– I am endeavouring to show that a better method of dealing with Communist influence in industrial organizations can be devised than that proposed by the Government under which a brand may be placed on individuals without the submission of any evidence to justify it. I want justice to he done. The menace of communism in the industrial movement is now not nearly so great as it was ten years aso or even one year ago. Good, honest Labour men have gradually driven the Communists from official positions in the unions. Only a few weeks ago they were able to free from Communist control the Victorian branch of the Federated Clerks Union. Only this week they threw out of the Boilermakers Union in New
South Wales its Communist controllers. In those actions they did not get any support from the Liberal party or the Australian Country party.
Mr. Charles Anderson interjecting,
– The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Charles Anderson ) makes a lot of noise. Over the years he certainly did not fight the Communists as vc have fought them. If he and the other members of his party had done so, Communist influence in this country would be considerably less than it is to-day. Most of those who formerly constituted the Communist group in the executive of the miners’ federation have also been removed from office.
– They are more dangerous now than they ever wen
– The little fascists opposite who now have so much to say have done nothing to combat the menace of communism.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– During the debate this afternoon we have listened to a great many expressions of opinion on technical matters from prominent legal members of the Parliament. I want to put the point of view of one who has no legal training. I do not pretend to be able to argue points of law but I do claim that I have inherited the traditional ideas of justice that are commonly held by the majority of the people in the Australian community. Before doing so I want to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson), who has spoken about the rights of persons who are declared under this legislation. I understood the honorable gentleman to say that such persons will not be given even the rights that were enjoyed by aliens who were interned during the war. As far as I understand the position, that statement is grossly inaccurate. Aliens who were interned during the war were called upon to prove their innocence before they were released.
– In this instance persons will first be declared and will not be able to prove their innocence. That is quite a substantial difference.
Er. DONALD CAMERON.- To those of us who have no legal knowledge it has been made abundantly clear that the principles of British justice are in no way assailed by the provisions of this clause. To my non-legal mind that fact was made abundantly clear, first, by the second- reading speech of the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) and, la er, by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) during the committee debate this afternoon. Both have pointed out to the satisfaction of every fair-minded person in this chamber that the principles of justice as they are interpreted in e’ther English or Australian practice cannot be said to be assailed by this clause. Both have drawn our attention to the fact that legislation passed in earlier years conttained similar provision”. It is perfectly clear to me that if the amendment proposed by the right honorable member for Barton (1 r. Evatt) were accepted the whole purpose of this legislation would he nullified. It is unreasonable for him to expert the committee to accept such an amendment. If, in truth, the principles of justice are not assailed by the provisions of this clause, and if it be true that the amendment proposed by the right honorable member for Barton would have the effect of nullifying the legislation, surely we are justified in rejecting the amendment. If Opposition members believed last year that onus of proof should not rest on the Chifley Government in its legislation to deal with the coal strike, how can they now object to the inclusion of a similar provision in the legislation before us? The people of Australia returned the present Government to office with a very large majority to take positive action to destroy the Communists. This bill represents that positive action and this clause is the very core of that action. If the people desire such action to be taken - and they have indicated that they do - they will not be persuaded to accent alterations of the legislation which nullify the very purpose which it seeks to achieve. There are many honorable members on both sides of the committee who in two wars made very great exertions in the cause of liberty. We are not likely to endanger that liberty by passing legislation that will enable those who would destroy it to escape fi om the conequences of their actions-. Here is an opportunity to ensure by legislative action that the activities of those among us who would destroy our liberty shall be curbed. We have been sent here by the Australian people to secure our liberty against attack by the Communit party which advocates the adoption of a system of government similar to that in operation in those countries against which we fought in wars which were not cold but hot. Irrespective of the legal arguments to the contrary that have been advanced by Oppo.-it:on members, the principles of justice are not assailed by this clause. Those of us- who wish this legislation to be given effect cannot accept the amendment proposed hy the right honorable member for Barton.
.- My principal concern in relation to this clause is it” effect on the efficacy of the legislation as a whole. Before dealing with that matter, let me say how alarmed I am to hear honorable members opposite repeatedly assert that the principles of British justice are not assailed in any way by this bill. I could understand the argument that this is an extraordinary bill which is designed to perform an extraordinary action and that the Government proposes to abrogate the liberty and freedom of the individual and is departing from the normal rule of law in order to meet an extraordinary situation. Frankly, I was alarmed by the fact that honorable members opposite did not take that attitude, but instead attempted to justify the legislation on the ground that it can be accepted as a part of the ordinary processes of law in this community. The honorable member for Oxley (Dr. Donald Cameron) said on a number of occasions that the principles of justice are not assailed by this clause. Let us examine the clause. The first criticism of it that comes to my mind is that it provides that the GovernorGeneral may declare a person or body of persons to be subversive and acting to the detriment of this country merely by a declaration that is published in the Gazette and is based on secret information. I am amazed that honorable members opposite should not have at least said, “ We regard this bill as most odious and distasteful. Its implications are terrible; but becauseof the existing circumstances we think that we are justified in introducing it”. Not one honorable member opposite has taken that attitude; on the contrary, Government members and supporters have attempted to prove that there is nothing abnormal about a bill which provides that by declaration published in the Gazette, based on secret information, the source of which is not disclosed, a person or an organization may be damned for all time. Anybody who supported such an argument could do so only with the greatest misgivings. Undoubtedly, such misgivings exist in the minds of members oppos ite even though we have not heard of them. Certainly they exist in the mind? of the members of the Cabinet and if we can take notice of the amendment circulated by the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) theyalso exist in his mind, for he is not prepared to agree to allow this legislation to continue to operate for a period of more than twelve months. I submit to honorable members opposite who share our fears, that this legislation represents an abrogation of the ordinary processes of law and of government administration. Those who believe as we do should bring pressure on the Government to relax its attitude and accept the amendment proposed by the right honorable member for Barton. A person who is declared because he is a member of the Communist party will have a right to appeal, but other and possibly innocent persons who are also declared will have no such right. If the Government is prepared to give the right of appeal to a person engaged in Marxist activities who, after all, must be declared on some such similar evidence or on evidence from some such source as is used in connexion with the other people concerning whom the declarations are made that is to say, if it is prepared to give the right of appeal to those persons who are described in clause 5 (a), (b), (c) and (d) it willhave to get its information from somewhere as to whether those persons are propagating the doctrines of Marx and Lenin. If the Government is prepared to give the right of appeal in such cases, why not give it to those persons against whom allegations of association with the Communist party have been made? The organizations that can be affected by that clause and to which no right of appeal is given include industrial organizations such as the trades hall councils in the various States which are not organizations registered under the law of the States or the Commonwealth; the Australian Council of Trades Unions, which is not an organization registered under the law of the States or the Commonwealth; all those professional associations such as the British Medical Association, the Institute of Engineers, the chemical institutes of the States and Public Service organizationsnone of which is registered under the law of the States or the Commonwealth. In Victoria there are a great number of unions whose activities are confined within the boundaries of that State and they are not registered under Commonwealth Jaw because they function under the Factories and Shops Act. All those organizations may be affected by this clause.
From my association with one particular body of employees, I know that there have been occasions when Communists have sprung a surprise by turning up at meetings when other people have not been in attendance. By such means they have been able to capture control of some innocent organisation or a section of it and to use it, as soon as they can, to propagate their own views. Yet, under this bill, the members of that organization, who have been violently opposed to the Communists but who, unfortunately, have been taken by surprise - probably because of their own apathy - may find themselves committed to being members of an organization declared to be subversive and liable to penalties. The Communist party has its cells in every organization with the object ofcapturing control. Occasionally, they do capture control of an innocent organization or a section of it. and when they do so they do not hesitate touse it to propagate their owndoctrines. What is to be the position of innocent persons who mayhavejoined associations the objectives of which, as they areset out in their constitutions. are legitimate, but which, because of their having been captured by the Communist party, are affected by this bill? If the Government is not prepared to amend this legislation its efficacy will be destroyed. The legislation will become a gift to the Communist party and to the disruptive, forces in this community. I do not think that the Government is convinced of its own infallibility. I do not think its ego extends to that extent, and, after the performance which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) gave during his second-reading speech, I am convinced that it does not believe in the infallibility of the people who supply it with information. That being so, for its own sake and in order to avoid the ridicule and contempt into which this Parliament and the Government will fall if mistakes are made, it should be prepared to allow proper avenues of appeal to those persons whom and organizations which it proposes to declare. This legislation appears to bear the hall-mark of the legal brains that direct the Government. I notice the Prime Minister is sitting at the table wearing his Mona Lisa smile which honorable members on this side of the House see when they are discussing legislation. Although what he proposes to do may be clear to him and to the legal brains associated with him-
– Order ! The time of the honorable member has expired.
.- I am quite certain, Mr. Chairman, that if the present trend of this debate continues the Salvation Army will be menaced. According to honorable members of the Opposition, no existing organization is safe under this legislation. They find it convenient to forget the citation of the bill which does not deal with any organization except that of Communists and those camouflaged associations which have as their members Communists as well as other individuals. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat (Mr. Keon) claimed to be alarmed by the attitude of the members of the Government. He said that this is an odious bill and that it has not the purpose of meeting a menace to the country. I think that honorable members would be much more alarmed if, as the result of vacillation on the part of the Government, the Communists began their operation No. 1. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was speaking a few moments ago, he referred to communism as a desperate disease which required a desperate remedy. What is the purpose of the bill ? Does a menace exist ? Is the. national security threatened? I think that honorable members on both sides of the committee recognize that there is a menace to the security of this country; therefore, why try to cloud the issue with legalisms? Such action can only be in the interests of people who are traitors or suspected traitors and not in the interests of the great majority of the people of this country.
I want to draw a slight analogy. In 394:1 a gentleman named Kurusu was in America, trying to convince the American Government that the gun was not loaded and that all Japan hoped for then or in the future was peace with the world. At the same time, the Japanese were attacking Pearl Harbour. Honorable members supporting the Government want to ensure that there shall be no “ Pearl Harbour “ in this country. Honorable members of the Opposition are seeking to delay the passing of this act and thus benefit the Communists and their supporters in this country.
The honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) is one of the most outspoken members of the Labour party and he had the courage to say last night that the present state of affairs is as near to a shooting war as it is likely to be without actually being one. If there is a shooting war Australian soldiers will meet those whom they suspect to be the enemy. The fact that they are wearing enemy uniforms will be taken as prima facie evidence that they are enemies and our soldiers will go into action on that supposition. Yet honorable members of the Opposition contend that the Government should not shoot unless it has absolute proof that it is shooting at an enemy. That is nonsense. This country is threatened and yet honorable members of the Opposition are doing everything possible to delay the passage of this bill by seeking to insert in it amendments which will not save 7,999,000 of the population in this country, hut will save the 1,000 people who are working in the interests of a foreign power. As I have said before, if members of the Communist party believe that they have to die they will die fighting. A delay in the passing of this bill may encourage them to bring about “ D “ day. It may encourage them to institute an operation that will dislocate all organization in this country while there is time to do so, and if that happens the Labour party will have something to blame itself for. I am not astonished that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is laughing about this possibility. He would laugh at anything.
– It is laughable, too.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), whom I believe to be quite well-meaning but who has a poor way of expressing himself, said that the bill does not deal with Communists at all. I did not know that before. The honorable member overlooks the recitals in the preamble to the bill. He said that all known Communists had been named by the Prime Minister, yet Mr. Justice Lowe’s report disclosed hundreds of whom I had never heard. How many people had. beard of Mr. Sharpley before the holding of that royal commission? Yet he had been working for years in the interests of the Communists and against the interests of this country. There are many Communists whom people know nothing about. The attacks which honorable members of the Opposition are making on the Government’s proposals are part of their technique to delay the passing of the bill. They have to put up a facade of resistance to something which they know must be defeated if this country is to survive.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
.- First, I want to reply to a statement that was made this afternoon by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse), who said that the situation in the United States of America was different from that in Australia because the trade unions in the United States of America were not faced with the same Communist menace as threatened the Australian unions. The honorable member made the statement in good faith, but the truth is that the situation in the United States of America has become so serious that the Congress of Industrial Organizations recently decided that unions under Communist control would be disaffiliated unless they changed their officers. From my personal experience during a visit to the United States of America in 1944, I know that very large unions, such as the longshoremen’s organization on the west coast of the United States of America, the electrical trades unions, and the seamen’s unions of the United States of America and Canada, were all under the control of Communists. In the automobile workers’ organization, at that time the biggest trade union in the world, a very strong internal struggle was taking place over management.
I want to impress upon the minds of honorable members the great scope of the clause now before the committee and the tremendous power that it will confer upon the Governor-General in Council to declare certain bodies to be unlawful associations. The grounds upon which an organization can be declared to be unlawful are set out in three places in the bill. The first reason is stated in the preamble, which is not under discussion now, but which is the basis of the bill. The second reason is embodied in the provisions of paragraphs (a), (Z>), (c) and (d) of sub-clause (1.) of this clause. In addition, sub-clause (2.) provides that, if the Governor-General is satisfied that any one of the provisions of sub-clause (1.) applies to an organization, that body shall be considered to be prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth and shall be declared an unlawful association. I direct attention especially to the extreme wideness of paragraphs (c) and (d) of sub-clause (1.). Paragraph (t) provides that the penalties of the bill shall apply to an organization -
Which supports or advocates, or, at any time after the specified date and before the date of commencement of this Act, supported or advocated, the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin, or promotes, or. at any time within that period, promoted, the spread of communism, as so- expounded.
Every political party represented in this chamber could be deemed to be an unlawful association under that provision.
– Absolute nonsense!
– I refer the honorable member to the Communist Manifesto, the text-book of communism, which was drawn up by Karl Marx and transcribed by Frederick Engels. I shall quote from page 34 of the edition that has been published in Australia by Challenge Press Proprietary Limited, of Coburg, Victoria, in order to indicate what Marx actually propounded. I ask honorable members to judge for themselves, after hearing the quotation, which political party, if any, can be exempted from the charge that it hastaught the principles and policies of Karl Marx. The publication declares that-
In the most advanced countries, the followingwill be pretty generally applicable.
Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
That refers partly, but not wholly, to the whole subject of land tax. The abolition of property in land means the abolition of private ownership, but the application of rents of land to public purposes is what the Henry George society advocated for a long time. The extract continues -
Is any political party opposed to a graduated income tax? The next point of the programme is -
– Oh !
– I assure the honorable member that all political parties represented in this chamber are absolved from any charge of advocating such a policy. The next point is -
This measure provides for the confiscation of the property of a certain organization. The next point is -
– That applies only to the Labour party.
– I certainly absolve both the Liberal party and the Australian Country party from that. The manifesto continues -
Communication to-day is in the hands of the State, and, incidentally, it was not placed in the hands of the State by a Labour government. The next point of the Communist party programme is -
Would anybody say that any political party represented in this Parliament had not advocated the bringing into cultivation of waste lands and the improvement of the soil generally? The next points are -
I heard a member of the Australian Country party earlier to-day ask a question that showed that he was in sympathy with the ninth point of policy in the manifesto. The next point is -
The clause that we are now discussing makes it clear that any organization that advocates any of those principles-
– Then all I can say is that the Government has not made the facts clear. The clause provides that a body may be declared to be an unlawful organization if it - supports or advocates . . . theobjectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism.
– That refers to all the objectivesand policies of the Communist party, not some of them.
– The right honorable member should not forget that the word “ or “ is used in the passage that I have quoted. The attitude adopted by Government supporters on this issue indicates very clearly that they have not realized the tremendous possibilities of the bill and of this clause in particular. Paragraph(d) of sub-clause (1.) pro- vides that an organization may be declared to be an unlawful association if its policy is “ directed, controlled, shaped or influenced, wholly or substantially “ by certain specified classes of persons.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– As no other honorable member wishes to speak at the moment, I shall take my second period now. Whatever the intentions of the Government and its supporters may be, when this bill becomes law the words that are actually written into the statute, not the intentions of the Parliament, will count. Paragraph (d) of sub-clause (1.) would definitely apply to many unregistered industrial organizations, and therefore they could be declared to be unlawful associations.
I propose now to deal with the onus of proof. I am glad to see that the right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) is present because years ago, when I was a very young man, I read a book entitled The Case for Labour, which he had written. In it the right honorable gen.leman dealt with the subject of liberty. I was inspired by that passage. Writing of John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty, he used these words -
I never read it without feeling a strong desire to go and shout out to all men of this priceless gift of liberty which is theirs.
Like the right honorable member for Bradfield, I believe that the principles of liberty, as they were laid down by John Stuart Mill, are a guide to all men who want to preserve democratic government. Because of that, I very strongly resist the proposal to place the onus of proof upon an association that is declared to be an unlawful organization. Honorable members on the Government side of the chamber have endeavoured to justify the provision, but, in the main, they have apologized for the fact that they are departing from a principle that I believed every political party represented in this Parliament had always agreed upon. There is an old saying that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. The necessity for an understanding of that adage was never greater than it is now, if one may judge from what has been said during the discussion of this bill. The only reply to the Opposition’s objections to the onus of proof provision is, in effect, “ The Parliament has already transferred the onus of proof from the Crown in connexion with immigration, income tax, and customs laws Such a reply indicates very clearly that, if we once neglect the obligation to maintain eternal vigilance, the lapse becomes an excuse for other defections. If we allow the principle to be abrogated in this bill, the fact will be used as a further reason why the system of averment, which is contrary to all the views that are held individually by honorable members, should be put into operation on other occasions. We must take stock of the situation at some stage and declare whether or not we intend to allow this gradual whittling away of the civil liberties of the people to continue. It has been remarked that the Government ( f South Africa is taking action similar lo that which is contemplated in this measure. The following broadcast, which touches on that matter, was made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission a few days ago : -
The United Party Opposition in the South African Parliament has moved an important amendment to the Government’s anticommunist bill.
The amendment is designed to safeguard political activities in South Africa against what is called “ tyrannous Government control “.
The Opposition amendment declares that the South African bill in its present form gives the Government tyrannous control of all political activities and subverts the rule of law by presuming an accused person guilty until he is proved innocent.
An important feature of that amendment is that the United party in the Parliament of South Africa is led by Field-Marshal Smuts, who is very highly regarded, particularly by members of the Australian Government as a veteran Empire statesman. Honorable members must decide, as the representatives of the people, whether they will introduce into this measure something which, in effect, means that it is far better that a hundred innocent persons should be punished than that one guilty person should escape. The reasons that the Government has given for the necessity of the pro-vision regarding onus of proof are far from satisfactory 1.-> me. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in justifying the casting of the onus of proof on the accused person, said that the security and the defence of the Corr, nonwealth were ever so much more important than income tax returns and trade and customs returns. He said that, therefore, this provision was justifiable. There are crimes which are far worse than the offences of falsifying income tax returns and trade and customs returns. These crimes are murder and attempted mun<But the onus of proof is not cast upon s person who is charged with the crime of murder. That burden rests upon the Crown. Unless the Crown can prove tha* the accused person is guilty beyond reasonable doubt, then he must be acquitted. Under this measure an accused person has to prove his innocence. He must satisfy the court that he is innocent. If the court has the least doubt about the matter it must dismiss his appeal because it is not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt.
– That difficulty is overcome by the prima facie provision.
– Not at all. Another statement was made by an honorable member on the Government side that the Communists would deny us liberty, therefore it is justifiable that we should take away certain liberties that they possess. That is an argument by presumption. It is presumed that an organization is guilty of an offence, and therefore it is declared unlawful and the association has to prove its innocence. It is not a valid argument that the defence and security of this country require that because certain persons advocate the retraction of our liberty, we should adopt their philosophy and do to them what they desire to do to us. A specious case has been advanced that the Government dares not reveal those things which are necessary for the security and defence of this country. The argument that the resources and the information of the Prime Minister’s Department and of the service departments should not be revealed in court has no weight at all. The declaration of an unlawful association has no possible relation to the defence and security of thi= country. By the very nature of the bill this matter is not associated with militarysecrets as such. It is not concerned with the building of warships, the making of munitions of war or the physical position of factories. A case is built up upon a presumption of the security service and its secret information being revealed. A position may arise in which an organization is declared unlawful. It appeals and the appeal comes before the court. The organization swears that it is not disloyal, and its members swear that they ave not a danger to the security of the country. The Government then, in order to prove that its declaration was not made on mere suspicion, must give to the court the reasons why the organization was declared unlawful. Such reasons could equally well be given in proof that the organization is guilty of the acts that this bill proposes should mak, them eligible for declaration.
– Order ! The time of the honorable member has expired.
.- I have listened to the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), and to many other honorable members opposite. I have never heard arguments to which the term “ begging the question “ could be applied more aptly. Some honorable members are, indeed, begging the question. The honorable member for Yarra inferred to-day that honorable members on this side of the chamber desire this legislation so that it may be used for an ulterior purpose. He said that no one on this side of the chamber had at any time stated that the legislation was unpalatable to him. I have heard many honorable members on this side speak, and I think it can be said that we regret the necessity that caused this bill to be introduced. No honorable member approaches this legislation in good heart. We do not want to bring in legislation of this nature. It is brought in now merely for the purpose of meeting an emergent condition that requires not only the attention and effort of every honorable member on this side of the chamber, but also the united support of the Opposition. The responsibility for the suppression of communism rests equally upon the Opposition and the Government. The debates in this chamber, which are now broadcast throughout Australia, should convince every one who may have any doubt of the necessity for this vital legislation. The Opposition appears to be dealing with this clause in a purely hypocritical fashion because there is actual evidence to show the danger that lies in the alternative to putting the onus of proof upon the individual in such matters. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) gave reasons today to show that such a course would be dangerous to the last degree. The honorable member for Bendigo made certain suggestions. If his views were acceded to the Government would be required to produce certain witnesses on oath in order to prove its case. At. least the identity of security officers would then be known. Honorable members opposite know very well the subtle and cunning way in which Communists work. In fact, the machinations of the Communists in this country have reached a stage where, as in other countries of the world, men who openly fight communism go in fear of their lives. Apart from the fact that adoption of the Opposition proposal would mean that information would be given to the Communists, it would also enable them to work successfully in their underground movements. Plenty of examples have been quoted of other legislation which carries the same onus of proof, and I shall not repeat them. There should be no doubt at all that the organizations which will be declared will be Communist organizations. This is not a witch hunt by the Government. It is a determined and honest effort to name and identify the Communist organizations in our midst. It is easy to say that the dogs in the street could identify certain organizations that are Communist in character. To prove hypocrisy on the part of the Opposition one has only to turn to the constitution of the Labour party itself. It is well known that recently the Labour party was very disturbed about the growth of organizations with Communist tendencies, and about the number of the members of the Labour party who were joining such organizations. Consequently the party drew up a list of such bodies and, in fact, declared them to be Communist without calling upon them to defend themselves or giving them any right of appeal.
I know that this hurts the Opposition, but it is a fact. A certain organization in Sydney, the Australia-Russia Society, was one of those declared organizations. lt is a fact that at least one honorable member of this chamber was a high official in that organization. I refer to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). In that connexion 1 also refer to Mr. Olive Evatt, the Minister for Housing in the New South Wales Government. Both of those gentlemen, very reluctantly, I admit, because there was an argument about their association with the organization, were required to withdraw from the Australia-Russia Society. The Labour party demanded that they should do so. There was no appeal to the High Court from the party’s decision, and no chance for that organization to prove to the Labour party that it was not a Communist body.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member is entitled to be heard in silence.
– A list containing the names of 20 or 30 organizations was drawn up by the Labour party. Those organizations were declared. I shall now refer to a more potent example. Four gentlemen who were members of the State Parliament in New South Wales were declared by the executive of the Labour party. They were not given an opportunity to defend themselves nor were they told just what they had done. They were rot even charged. I refer particularly to the State member for North Sydney. Mr. Geraghty.
– The honorable member’s remarks are rather outside the scope of the clause.
– I am speaking of the clause that enables the Government to declare organizations. I am proving to the Labour party that by its own constitution it arrogates to itself the right to declare organizations without giving them a chance to appeal or the right to defend themselves. Therefore, all the arguments of honorable members opposite about the onus of proof merely draw a red herring across the trail. However, the position is very serious because their attitude is assisting this very dangerous organiaztion, the Australian Communist party, which is a mortal enemy to the people of Australia.
It is assisting that party to keep going. If honorable member opposite are honest about this matter they will join in a united front to completely destroy communism in Australia. If they do that they will be doing justice to the electors who sent them here. They know that the great majority of the people of this country want to destroy communism. Communism has already done enough damage in the world. It has already cost Australia hundreds of millions of pounds in lost production. It has destroyed the opportunities of many people to get jobs. It has frustrated our efforts in this country to expand our economy. One specific example of it* power of frustration is to be found in the conduct of the Common.wealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. Mr. Blitner was a member of a committee of that body which dealt with the training of tradesmen. Because of his objection 1,000 ex-servicemen in New South Wales were denied the right to train as bricklayers. Two thousand ex-servicemen in New South Wales applied to learn the trade of carpentering, but were denied the opportunity by that committee through (he efforts of Mr. Bulmer.
– The honorable member is again straying from the clause.
– I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, but these matters are very important and they show the hypocrisy of ihe Opposition.
– The honorable member cannot discuss that at this stage.
– The Opposition could do a great job for Australia to-day by assisting the Government to bring in effective legislation to deal with communism. Honorable members opposite know that the amendments which they propose are designed only to destroy this bill. They throw the onus upon us.
– Order ! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
Mr. POLLARD (Lalor) [8.301 .-For a period of at least 35 years, it has been my privilege, as a. thinking Australian, to have the right to red and to listen to philosophies and creeds of every kind, unhindered and unembarrassed bv the fear of the arm of the law. I have then sifted out the line of action that was best for me, as a thinking Australian, to pursue, and to decide the philosophy that I should practise.. I hoped and prayed that, whatever the complexion of Commonwealth and State governments might be, those rights would be enjoyed by my fellow men and that they also would be permitted to use their own good sense to decide their course of conduct. During that long period, the people of this country have been protected against revolution, violence, sedition and subversive activities by the laws which are now in existence, and which are adequate to deal with any threats to our way of life. From time to time, political contortionists have distorted the meaning which some people place on the word “ revolutionary “, and they use it in the sense that it always means violence, whereas sometimes it means political evolution.
I am not unaware of the fact that in 1943, in the midst of World War II., two great men, whose names are revered bv the freedom-loving peoples of the world, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, formulated the great Atlantic Charter which embodies the Four Freedoms - freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech and freedom of worship. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) this afternoon worked upon the fears of the people when he referred to the cold war, and he endeavoured, if not in actual words, then at least in effect, to convey to them that we are on the verge of another conflict. All I have to say about his statement is that, if a cold war is actually taking place at the moment and’ a shooting war is imminent, the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) should not refer to what he described as the hypocrisy of members of the Labour party, or if the Prime Minister has some information about the international situation that is not known to honorable members and the people of Australia, and if a shooting war is as imminent as it was in 193.3 or in the early months of 1939, it is undoubtedly the duty of the right honorable gentleman to take such emergency action as that situation demands. What would that urgent action be? It would entail the immediate diversion of at least 25 per cent, of the workers of this country from the manufacture of luxury goods, fripperies and non-essentials to the production of all the things which are required for defending this country, and for waging a defensive war. The Prime Minister, instead of trying to create a political cloud, would be obliged immediately to introduce compulsory military training. But what is the reason for the Prime Minister’s hysteria, political humbug and flim-flam? It is neither more nor less than the basest hypocrisy to take a line of action which will be a complete denial of the four freedoms, and will cause the destruction of the freedom which I, and others, have enjoyed for 35 years. Such action would put into the box seat men like the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wen 1 worth), who would brand me as a Communist sympathiser, simply because I have been for many years a member of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, an organization which lawabiding, decent, loyal citizens have established for the purpose of protecting their fellow-men against governments which, from time to time, undoubtedly become tyrannical. Members of that organization would be the victims of the fanaticism of persons like the honorable member for Mackellar. If he had as good a record of service to his fellow-men and of working for humanity as have most of the members of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties whom he indicts he would be a good Australian. I find it hard to believe that a government which is led by such a man as the right honorable member for Kooyong is responsible for introducing at tb1’* stage nf nil I history the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950, and for incorporating the provision that places upon an accused person the onus of proving his innocence. The action of the Government in submitting this bill to the Parliament is neither more nor less than hysterical. There is no foundation for such hysteria.
– Perhaps there are no Communists.
– Order ! Unless honorable members on both sides of the chamber refrain from interjecting, I shall have to take action. Honorable gentlemen on both sides are too noisy.
– Unless the Prime Minister has information about the international situation of which we are not aware, he is not justified in introducing this bill. 1 have had the pleasure during the last three years to listen to some of the most eminent men that the British Commonwealth of Nations has produced. I recall that, on one occasion, one of them said, “ Stalin is my friend “.. I shall not mention his name although I shall reveal it privately afterwards if necessary. The gentleman I refer to is not a Communist, and he is not a member of the Australian Labour party. He also stated, in effect, “ There is nothing in Russia that I have not been able to see when I have wanted to see it. There is no danger of war with Russia within the next ten to twenty years. From Leningrad to Odessa, there is complete devastation. The people of Russia cannot go to war, and they do not want war. I do not believe that Stalin wants war, but there may be forces in Russia that will push him into war”. If the Prime Minister considers that war is eminent, he should inform the House of it, introduce compulsory military training immediately, and divert 25 per cent, of the Australian workers from their present occupation of manufacturing luxuries, to the heavy industries for the purpose of producing munitions. The Labour Government of which I was a member was not unconscious of the need to defend Australia. We implemented a defence programme, the expenditure on which is at the rate of £50,000,000 per annum for five years.
– Order ! The honorable member’s remarks have nothing to do with the clause.
– I admit that, perhaps, I am straying from the claude, and I shall endeavour to relate my remarks to it, but I respectfully point out to you, Mr. Chairman, that the Prime Minister this afternoon referred to the cold war, and to all sorts of matters which were quite foreign to this clause. However-, I return to the subject of the onus of proof. I shall never be a willing party to a proposal which provides for -placing in a court a man, who may be quite innocently be associated with a Communist, a
Communist organization, or even a nonCommunist organization, and requiring him to prove his innocence.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– A great deal could be said, and rightly, about the merits or otherwise of provisions which have been made by the Parliament from time to time in which the onus is thrown upon a defendant to prove his innocence. I have no doubt that much could be usefully said on that subject, but in dealing with that matter in relation to this bill, I have yet to hear any Opposition member face up to the real test of the necessity for this provision. The real test, of course, is the truth or otherwise of the recitals which appear at the commencement of this measure. I have not heard one Opposition member seriously challenge the truth and validity of them, and any consideration of this bill is utterly unreal unless it has as. its background those recitals. I should listen with much more conviction to criticisms of arbitrary, disciplined procedure if they were to come from a source other than the Opposition. Whatever merits the Labour party may have in this country, and no doubt in its long history it has many, it has not at any stage been the bastion of liberty or of freedom, because it has always taken a brutally realistic view of the problems of government. The Labour party has said throughout its long history that the will of the majority must prevail, regardless of what the minority may think, and not one member of the Opposition may speak and vote against the decision of the majority of Opposition members, and remain in that party. Throughout the history of the Labour party and the trade union movement, the one principle which has been adopted in practice above all others is that the will and welfare of the majority must be supreme, whatever the consequences to the minority may be. I cannot recall a debate in which Opposition members have indulged in humbug and cant to such a degree as they have done on this clause. Some of them were in this chamber years ago when one of their colleagues, the then member for Bourke, Mr. Maurice Blackburn, had the temerity to give support and to belong to the organization known as the Friends of Soviet Russia. That body was not declared an unlawful organization by any court of law or by any act of the Parliament. But it was declared by the Labour movement - and declared in the strict sense that we are applying it in this bill - and members of the Labour party were forbidden to belong to it. The then honorable member for Bourke, who was not a revolutionary and who was utterly loyal to this country, had the temerity at that time to remain associated with it. What was his fate? He was immediately expelled from the Labour party, and he was subsequently defeated at a general election by a Labour candidate.
I turn to one of those organizations that have been mentioned as being under threat as the result of this bill. I suppose that there is no trade union in Australia which is more truly Australian in its character, membership, policies, composition and procedures than the Australian Workers Union, which claims to speak for 170,000 Australian unionists. Yet, the Australian Workers Union not very long ago came to the conclusion that the Communist was a menace in Australia and that, in fact, he was a menace to the future of that organization itself. What did it do about it? It did not wait for the Parliament to declare the Communists but threw them out of the union neck and crop. It expelled the Communists, and in doing it did not have any regard to onus of proof. It simply branded Communists as a menace and tipped them out. I am not saying that the Australian Workers Union did anything wrong in taking that action, or that the Australian Labour party is not entitled to retain it* strength by taking disciplinary action of the kind that it took in relation to the late Maurice Blackburn. But what humbug it is for honorable members opposite, when the welfare and safety of the country is at stake, to say that the elected Government shall not protect the community against the menace of communism or that in taking such action it should not employ methods which the Labour movement, or the Australian Workers
Union, employ in the conduct of their affairs? Only three week ago the official organ of the Australian Labour party declared the Australian Peace Congress to be a Communist front and instructed its members to have nothing to do with that congress. I am certain that if, in defiance of that instruction, any member of the Labour party associated himself with the Australian Peace Congress he -would face the penalty of expulsion. Yet, we are told that we are menacing the freedom and liberty of our fellowAustralians when, for the first time on the part of any Government in recent years in this country, we are facing up to the Communist threat against the safety o’’ Australia and are taking action to deal with this cancer that is eating out the heart and health of the Australian community. Among my colleagues in this chamber - and I do not reflect in any way upon the loyalty of honorable members opposite - axe men “who have risked life and limb in defence of this country, and who would do so again if the need arose. Yet they are told that they are threatening the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens.
In support of this legislation I refer honorable members to views expressed by the highest tribunal in the Englishspeaking world, not the Privy Council, but a body similarly constituted, the Law Lords of the House of Lords who, as recently as 1942 dealt with a problem of the kind with which we are now dealing, in the case of Liversidge v. Sir John Anderson. I quote the following from the short note at the commencement of the report of the proceedings in that case which are reported on page 206 of the Law Reports of the House of Lords : -
Where the Secretary of State, acting in good faith under regulation 18b of “the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939, makes an order in which he recites that he has reasonable cause to believe a person to be of hostile associations and that by reason thereof it is necessary to exercise control over him and directs that that person be detained, a court of law cannot inquire whether in fact the Secretary of State had reasonable grounds for his belief. The matter is one for the executive discretion of the Secretary of State.
Passages in the judgments of the Law Lords in that case provide ample justification for the action that this Govern ment is now taking with a full sense of its responsibilities in order to protect the welfare of the nation, although that action appears to deny some rights which normally are available to our citizens. Viscount Maugham in his judgment in that case said -
Thirdly, and this is of even greater importance, it is obvious that in many cases the Secretary of State will be acting on information of the most confidential character, which could not be communicated to the person detained or disclosed in court without the greatest risk of prejudicing the future efforts of the Secretary of State in this and like matters for the defence of the realm.
Lord Wright, in his judgment in the same case, put his finger on the problem with which the Parliament is now concerned, when he said -
J lie safeguard of British Liberty is in the good sense of the people and in the system of representative and responsible government which lias been evolved. If extraordinary powers are here given, they are given because the emergency is extraordinary and are limited to the period of the emergency.
– Order ! The Minister has exhausted his time.
.- The committee has just heard two supporters of the Government attack the Labour party because of the attitude that it has adopted in the management of its affairs in the past. Whilst political newcomers like the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer), who does not understand the position, might be excused for his outburst, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) is in a different category. He said that no member of the Labouparty can oppose a majority decision of the party except at the risk of losing his seat through being refused the party’s endorsement at the following general election. Such a statement comes strangely from the Minister when we remember that during the recent war two members of the Liberal party in this chamber were expelled from that party because they disobeyed its majority decision. The right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) were expelled from the Liberal party because, in disobedience of a majority decision of that party, they continued to serve as members of the Australian Advisory War Council. Although the country was then at war, the Liberal party deemed that to be a signal sin; and that great democrat, the present Minister for Labour and National Service, was one of the majority in that party that expelled those gentlemen. Yet, to-day, he charges members of the Labour party with following a procedure which any political party is entitled to follow. He said that he did not challenge the right of the Labour party to follow such a procedure, but be implied that the Liberal party would never take similar action. In the middle of the recent war in which, as the Minuter himself has said, many honorable members of the Government served, he demanded as the price of membership of the Liberal party that the right honorable member for Bradfield and the Minister for External Affairs should absent themselves from the Australian Advisory War Council which, in fact, was set up by a previous Liberal Government. Members of the Labour party, when it was in Opposition, served on that body but after Labour assumed office the Liberal party by a majority decision decided to expel two of its brightest brains because they continued to serve on the council. So, it is the height of hypocrisy for the Minister to make a speech of the kind that he. has just made. I am certain that the Minister is endeavouring to rationalize his action in supporting this provision. He does not really believe in this proposal to place the onus of proof upon the accused. I base that statement on my knowledge of his broad democratic outlook which, unfortunately, is not shared by all of his colleagues. Only recently in Victoria the Liberal party expelled some nf its members.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair.
– I submit, Mr. Chairman, that I am entitled to reply to remarks that the. Minister was permitted to make. The Liberal Premier of Victoria took action to have expelled from the Liberal party members who were in the Victorian Parliament and they were defeated at the general election held’ in the State last Saturday.
– Order ! I ask thehonorable member to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair.
– The provision that is contained in this measure relativeto the onus of proof is entirely different from the averment provision to be found in other legislation; For instance, under the averment section in the Customs Act the Crown has to prove that an offence has been perpetrated, that goods have come into the country illegally, that mistakes have been made deliberately, or accidentally, in invoices, or that customs duty has been evaded. The Crown having proved that an offence has been committed, the person found in possession of the goods must prove that they came into his possession lawfully. That provision is not analogous to the provision contained inthis clause. Under this measure a person is declared. No evidence is produced. The honorable member for Bennelong said that the Crown could not be expected toproduce security officers to prove guilt because such officers who now, presumably, attend Communist party meetings incognito would be identifiable in the future and would not be able to carry on their work effectively. That argument is stupid. The omission of the onus of proof provision would not make the bill ineffective. Ample instances occur to mind in which it would be possible tosheet home guilt under the ordinary processes of the law without impairing the effectiveness of the security service. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has pointed out that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in hia second-reading speech, mentioned the names of 50 members of the Communist party, However, the right honorable gentleman emphasized the significance of the 10th May, 1948. He said that its importance would be made apparent as the debate proceeded. We now discover that that was the date on which the congress of the Communist party was held. The document was apparently found when Marx House was raided. At that time also security officers ascertained the names of persons who were attending a Communist party congress. Surely, evidence of that kind can be freely disclosed in court, in addition to other evidence that the Crown could bring forward.
The deletion of the onus of proof provision would not make the bill ineffective. I believe that the Minister for Labour and National Service and other supporters of the Government, including several members from “Western Australia, dislike this provision as intensely as the Opposition does. But are those honorable members permitted to express their views freely in this debate? Are they sufficiently game to oppose the Government’s proposal to trample upon individual liberty and freedom as it proposes to do under this clause? Are they permitted to state what they really believe in this debate? The Opposition has been accused of endeavouring to delay the passage of this measure. I remind the committee that the leading newspapers of Australia without exception have urged ibo Government to give serious consideration to the Opposition’s amendments. In doing so, those newspapers, practically unanimously, took exception to the proposed provisions to place the onus of proof upon the declared person or organization. Therefore, the cry “ hypocrites ! “ come strangely from the Minister and the honorable member for Bennelong in their attacks upon the members of the Opposition. If the amendment is accepted, the bill will still be completely effective, but, still more important, it will ensure that innocent men and women who might otherwise suffer the dreadful consequences of being declared shall be protected against that injustice. The Prime Minister said that very few persons will be declared under this measure. Is it not more important to ensure, even at this stage, that men and women who have done nothing but give loyal service to Australian people shall be completely protected? Is it not more important that we prevent innocent persons from being declared than that we should make sure that a few Communists who, perhaps, will not be so important, shall be declared ? No analogy whatever exists between the action that a trade union takes to discipline its members and the enactment of a law of the land. Many unions have taken action to remove Communists from office. The Western Australian Government Bailways Employees Union has decided that no Communist may become a member of its executive. That is a completely democratic decision.
.- This clause is one of the corner-stones of the bill and any alteration of its provisions would spoil the effectiveness of the whole measure. The two principal objectives of the legislation are set out in its citation and preamble. The citation reads -
A bill for an act to provide for the dissolution of the Australian Communist party and of other Communist organizations, to disqualify Communists from holding certain offices, and for purposes connected therewith.
Then follows the preamble which inter alia states that -
And whereas the Australian Communist party is an integral part of the world Communist revolutionary movement, which, in tileKing’s dominions and elsewhere, engages in espionage and sabotage and in activities or operations of a treasonable or subversive nature . . .
One expects the Opposition to criticize this bill. It is the role of the Opposition to criticize; but having more or less agreed to the principles of the bill by voting in a body for its second reading, the Opposition cannot justify ite attempt to amend the bill in committee. During the committee debate not one constructive suggestion has been made by Opposition members for the improvement of the effectiveness of this legislation. Opposition criticism of the measure duri1” the second-reading debate and in committee has followed the well-defined pattern of an endeavour to create confusion in the minds of the members of the Labo1’1 party and of the people of Australia. No hor, .orable member opposite indicated during the second-reading debate that he favoured the bill, but Opposition members voted for its second reading in a body. Soon the committee will divide on this clause. We shall then get an indication of the true intention of Opposition members. The attempt to confuse the people about the real purpose of this bill was continued this afternoon by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). In a scholarly way the right honorable gentleman introduced his proposed amendment with all the skill of a spider weaving its web. He used his legal talents to obscure the issues and thus create further confusion. The desire on the part of Opposition members to obscure the real issues of the bill has permeated the whole of the debate on this measure. The right honorable member for Barton in pleading for the removal of the onus of proof provisions knew very well that a similar provision exists in the Crimes Act, and that although he was Attorney-General for a period of eight years, he did nothing to remove it. He also knows that the repeal of the Crimes Act has been a plank in the platform of the Australian Labour party for many years. Indeed, no one knows better the provisions in the Crimes Act than does the right honorable gentleman. Another Opposition member chided the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) with having dared to compare the onus of proof provisions in this bill with similar provisions in the Customs Act, the Income Tax Assessment Act and other Commonwealth acts. There is no need for me to remind him that a similar provision appears in the consorting act and applies to a person who has been charged with having received stolen goods. He knows as well as we do that there is nothing new in such a provision. Honorable members opposite have been at great pains to obscure the real reasons for the introduction of this bill. Clause 1 reads -
This act may be cited as the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950.
The citations in the preamble specifically and definitely state that the purpose of the bill is to provide for the dissolution of the Australian Communist party and to disqualify Communists from holding certain offices. Under the existing law no provision exists for the removal from office under the Crown of any person who is associated with the Communist party. This bill provides the necessary machinery to deal with such persons. I trust that the clause, as amended by the amendments that have already been tacitly agreed to, will be agreed to by the committee. I remind Opposition members that in the conduct of its own domestic matters the Australian Labour party has cast the onus of proof on the accused person. The party decided to withdraw from certain Labour aspirants official endorsement as Labour candidates for the general election held on the 10th December last on the ground that their names had been featured prominently in the proceedings of a royal commission on communism. When the persons concerned appeared before the executive of the Labour party the onus of proving that they were not Communists or that they had not been associated with the Communist party was cast on them. A great deal of humbug has been talked about this clause by Opposition members. They have criticized it on the ground that it is alien to the concepts of British justice. Such criticism on the part of members of an organization which has itself sinned according to their contentions, is illfounded. If the onus of proof were placed on the Crown and not on the defendant, the Crown would be compelled to make public the most secret investigations of its security service. When the Labour party decided to withdraw its official endorsement from certain aspirants to political honours last year no information was given to the persons concerned relative to the charges that had been levelled against them.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We have heard a lot about humbug expressed in fierce and other intemperate language by honorable members on the Government side. Even the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) worked himself into a fine frenzy in trying to prove how illiberal the Labour party has been in its treatment of its members on certain occasions. The honorable gentleman was reminded by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) that during the war the Liberal party expelled two of its members because they refused to abandon their membership of the Australian Advisory War Council. The representatives of the Australian Country party remained on the council, but the Liberal party decided that it3 representatives should withdraw. Two of the Liberal representatives wanted to make the best use of all possible worlds - they wanted to remain in their party and also to continue as members of the council. They were told to take their choice. When they decided to stay on the council they were expelled from the party.
Mr. Hughes interjecting,
– I hear a rumble from the right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes). He has had some experience of being expelled from political parties. He was expelled from the Australian Labour party in 1916. He was expelled from the Nationalist party in 1929 because he destroyed the Bruce-Page Government. He was also expelled by the United Australia party and if he does not look out he may be expelled by the Liberal party. I cite his case as a classic example of one who, having decided to act independently, was removed from his position in the antiLabour forces. I could cite other examples of that sort, but it would not be of much benefit to cite examples on one side or the other, or to engage in a cross-fire of verbiage about what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future. I am concerned that the Minister for Labour and National Service made no denial of the charge that was levelled against him by the honorable member for Perth.
– It was quite irrelevant.
– If it was irrelevant, the Minister’s own statement was a splendid example of a speech that was full of irrelevancies.
– I did not challenge the right of the honorable member for Perth to make his accusation, but I questioned his justification for making it.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Melbourne to link his remarks with the clause.
– The Minister did refer to the clause once during his tenminute speech.
– His remarks were very closely related to the clause.
– My remarks are also related to the clause. I am addressing my remarks to the provisions of the clause which relate to the onus of proof. I am endeavouring to get the Minister to prove his contention that what we have said is merely a lot of humbug. The honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer ) also made a charge of the same kind. He too, was out of order.
– Order ! That is a reflection on the Chair and it must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw any reflection on the Chair. My remarks were intended to constitute a reflection on the honorable member for Bennelong. The Minister for Labour and National Service, who has said that this clause is all right, admitted that he wrote the article in the Melbourne Herald in which these words appeared -
Under the bill, onus of proof is placed on the person declared, but the moment that person states on oath that he was not a Communist within the specified time, the onus of proof reverts to the Commonwealth.
I should like an assurance from the Prime Minister that that statement of the Minister represents the Government’s view on this matter. If such an admission were made authoritatively by the Government, we should know where we stand.
– Did the honorable member not hear the terms of my amendment?
– Judging by the honorable member’s second-reading speech he should approve of it.
– It was because of what I said in my second-reading speech that I am interested in the amendment. I draw particular attention to the words “ prima facie “ that were used by the right honorable gentleman. If prima facie means that it is merely a statement against the defendant and that if he denies the charge the onus of proof is transferred to the Crown, then I consider that we have gained some advantage in reconciling the two points of view. That is the gulf that I am trying to bridge. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) says that the onus of proof is passed to the Crown at a certain stage after the man has sworn inhis evidence that he is innocent and has submitted to crossexamination, then obviously the position is an improvement on what it was originally considered to be.
– Does the honorable member mean if the accused has given evidence and has been believed, or disbelieved ?
– If he has given evidence and has been cross-examined. If the court is then to be left to determine whether he is guilty or not without him having to produce evidence of his innocence then we shall have made an advance on the original position.
– Surely that would depend on whether the court has believed him or not.
– Of course, but the onus should not be entirely upon him to prove to the court that the charges against him are false. After having done all that he can possibly do, having sworn that he is not a person who should be charged and has not done any of the acts for which he has been charged, and having been cross-examined by the Crown, I believe at that stage the court ought to >« left, to determine whether he is guilty or not. In the event of no further evidence being forthcoming to rebut his evidence he ought to be allowed to have the benefit of the doubt. It may be that the Government has not met our point of view in that regard. Apparently this is a very involved question, because eminent lawyers here are disagreeing on it. I have read the opinions of legal men that have been published in the Sydney pre.?s during the last few days. One legal man said that the averment principle was incorporated in the bill and another said that it was not. The second reading of the bill has gone through and what the Opposition is trying to do is to protect, not Communists or Communist organizations, but innocent persons including those who are member. of organizations who innocently believe that by their membership they are helping some good cause. Such persons should not have to suffer the full rigor of this law. I do not consider that there is anything wrong in asking that an alteration be made that would place the issue beyond al] doubt. The Minister for Labour and National service talked about our defence of liberty and his defence of liberty. I remind him of the famous apostrophe of Madam Roland on her way to the guillotine during the
French Revolution when she said, “ 0, liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name ! “ We might think that we are defending liberty by a certain measure and find that it acts disadvantageously. I know from my own experience as chairman of the Aliens Classification Advisory Committee in war-time that many injustices were done to many people. J have never hesitated to make my position clear regarding people who were members of the Australia First Movement and” who were not enemy alien?. Some great injustices were suffered by these individuals and we did not have the machinery to afford them and other people a reasonable right of appeal until the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) became Attorney-General and established it. Honorable members opposite know that British subjects and Australian citizens who were interned during the war suffered considerable injustice at the hands of officials who had an opportunity to submit secret evidence to a court that those unfortunate people could not possibly disprove - evidence, indeed, about which they knew nothing. I do not think that we are justified in committing one act of injustice or half a dozen acts of injustice in order to save this particular legislation. If the position has not been as clearly set out by the Government as the Minister for Labour and National Service set it out in the newspaper article to which I have referred, then I consider that it ought to be so set out and at least we should know what the Government’s mind is in een-‘e^on with it. Having heard the Prime Minister’s speech in explanation of the disputed provision I cannot see the position a3 clearly as I saw it in the article that the Minister for Labour and National Service wrote in a newspaper. Without desiring to create any awkward situation I desire to nail the Minister dcn to saying whether the Government’s view is the same as the view that he expressed in that article.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
[9.201. - Honorable members opposite have said a great deal about preserving the freedom of the individual and his right of appeal, and have attacked this clause accordingly. That attack was led by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). The last person who ought to move such an amendment as that right honorable member has moved, or who ought to speak with any feeling on such a subject, is the right honorable member for Barton himself. I remember that in this chamber when I and others - the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) was one of them as he has mentioned - spoke on behalf of the members of the Australia First Movement who were completely innocent of the charges that were laid against them. Those men were not subversive in any way, but they were internod were deprived of their freedom for months and were denied trial. The right honorable member for Barton gave the order for these actions to be taken-
– That is not true. The Minister for the Army took those actions and the court found that some of the individuals were subversive and some were not.
– The right honorable member for Barton dealt with the cases later on at least, and he was the person to whom we had to direct our appeals in this House. He was the one who refused to give any consideration to those individuals. Finally an action was taken before a civil court which awarded men who had lost thousands of pounds, their livelihoods and their reputations, the paltry sum of £200 or £300 each to repair a mischief that would affect their whole lives. Those incidents occurred under the Attorney-Generalship of the right honorable member who has submitted the amendment to this clause. The Labour party talks about the onus of proof and the preservation of the individual’s right to be adjudged in fair trial. Let us examine what has happened in the Labour party itself in New South Wales during the last three months. Four members of the Labour party in New South Wales, Messrs. Hamilton, Seiffert, Geraghty, and Stanley-
– I rise to order. I am sorry to interrupt the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony), but you, Mr.
Chairman, were very strict about the latitude that I was allowed and I desire to know whether the Postmaster-General is in order in referring to political events that have happened in New South Wales ?
– I am relating my remarks to the clause.
– I only desire to have some consistency.
– The Chair is following the argument put forward by the Postmaster-General.
– I am relating my argument strictly to the question of a person having the right of appeal to a tribunal in order to fight a case against him. Mr. Stanley was a member of the Labour party in New South Wales and of the New South Wales State Parliament for seventeen years or perhaps longer. The other persons whom I have named were also members of the Labour party and of the State House for long periods. Yet the executive of the Labour party in New South Wales refused them any right of appeal in relation to charges that had been made against them, and condemned them to be deprived of Labour party endorsement in the forthcoming New South Wales State election.
– Order ! The Postmaster-General should not pursue that line of argument.
– I am simply pointing out that this same Labour party that is now attempting to provide a means of defence for subversive individuals who are dangerous to this Commonwealth, has treated its own members in the manner that I have described. What and who are the people whom this amendment is designed to protect? From what is the amendment designed to protect them? The worst that can happen to them is that they will he removed from offices in trade unions that are engaged in industries which are vital to the defence of this country. Or, if they are Commonwealth public servants, they can be dismissed. An honorable member has stated that they can be branded as traitors. The Government, which is charged with the defence of the country, has first of all to make up its mind that such a person ought to be declared, acting on the advice of its security service.
Thereupon it may declare that person. The right honorable member for Barton is the father of the security service that would have the responsibility of advising the Government on that matter. It was no less a person than the right honorable member for Barton who invited Mr. Justice Reed of the South Australian Supreme Court Bench to take the position of Director-General of the security service. The right honorable gentleman developed that service, and, as the Minister who controlled it, he knows very well that it is vital, if it is to be effective, that the manner in which it operates should not have to be disclosed in the courts. He knows that during the period that he was Attorney-General and Minister controlling the security service he did everything he could to protect the secrecy of its operations.
– The operations of the security service, so as to ensure their secrecy. Yet in this amendment that he wishes the committee to adopt he would destroy the value of the very service of which he was the creator. Nothing would serve the Communists better than to have his amendment inserted in the measure. Under it every security man in the country would appear in the witness box eventually in order to prove that Bill Brown, a wellknown Communist, although the security service could not find his Communist party ticket, was in fact a Communist. “ Jock “ Garden denied that he was a Communist until a sudden raid on his office disclosed that he had a membership card of the Communist party dated as late as 1948. How could we prove that such people were Communists if we had to get their names from the Communist rolls, all of which are now destroyed? How could we call into the witness box the secretary of the Communist party-
– What proof would the Government need to declare them?
– What proof would a person need to declare his innocence in this matter? The proof is that Jack Brown or Jim Healy, for example, is a Communist. But if we had to obtain his Communist membership card and prove his membership we should have an almost impossible job. It would be possible to prove it only if the prosecution could produce some definite statements made by the individuals to the press. But Communists mostly are very careful when making such statements not to provide proof that they are members of the Communist party. It would be almost impossible to prove that the most outrageous Communists in this country are Communists if we had to adopt the methods proposed by the right honorable member for Barton in his amendment. If the Labour party is sincere and genuinein its desire to rid the trade union movement of these people, and if it wants to line up with the Government’s endeavour and with the desire of 90 per cent. of thepeople, to break the power of these Communists in vital industries, then it will support this bill wholeheartedly and not worry about the amendment.
– I rise to oppose the clause and shall continue to oppose it unless the amendment of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) is accepted by theGovernment. I regret that I did not have an opportunity to sneak tothe second reading of the bill, because I wanted to state where I stood as far as the Communist party was concerned. I am sure that the Communist party has nothing in common with me, and I resent the imputations that have been made against the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), and other Opposition members by honorable members opposite in an endeavour to associate the Labour party with the Communist party. Last night, an honorable member suggested that members of my party who represent waterside electorates have to support the Communists. I defend myself against that accusation and assure the honorable member who made it that neither I nor my electors give any support to the Communist party.
I consider that the provisions in this bill go too far. I stake my reputation as far as association with the Communist party is concerned against that of the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer). As a member of the Sydney City Council last year, I contributed to the banning of the Communist party from the- Town Hall,, but the honorable member for Benn elong, who has been chairman of the Sydney County Council, would not give me any help in action which I desired to take in regard to people whom I believed to be “ fellow travellers “ of the Communist party. I refer honorable members to page 81 of the Sydney telephone directory, where they will find listed the “ Employees Welfare Association of the Sydney County Council “. It was reported to me that this association was. an under-cover organization for “ fellow travellers “. There were six Liberal party members on the Sydney County Council at the time and three Labour party members who had been elected to it by the Sydney City Council. My colleagues and I made inquiries of the Sydney County Council at the request of its employees with a view to ascertaining what kind of an association this was and who were its secretary and president. At this time Mr. Boyd was the general manager of the Sydney County Council. He sent me a written reply on two occasions explaining the objectives of the association, but stating that he would not identify its secretary or president. On a third and final occasion he informed me that the association had disbanded and that no good purpose could be served by telling me the names of its officers.
– Order ! The Chair is very tolerant, but the honorable member cannot speak at length concerning council feuds. He must refer to the clause.
– Anybody walking round my electorate will see Darlinghurst Gaol, on the walls of which appear the names of convicts. The Leader of the Opposition, in his speech on the second reading of the bill, spoke about the convicts that were sent to Australia, not because they had committed a crime, but because they demanded the right to live. They were put on boats, brought here and accommodated at Darlinghurst Gaol. Others were sent to van Dieman’s Land. The convicts who were domiciled at Darlinghurst Gaol had to build the gaol. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in this legislation, is proposing to put the clock back 100 years by prosecuting people for the same type of offence as was committed by the early convicts. Commander H. C. Brewster, R.D., R.N.R., and Virginia Luther, in a book entitled King’s Cross Calling, have written concerning Darlinghurst Gaol -
It took five years to build in spite of the fact that outside labour had to be brought in. On June 7th of the same year commenced the migration of the convicts from the “ smell hole “ as the records term the old prison in George Street to the “ fine airy residence “ at Darlinghurst.
In those days there was no “ Black Maria “ in which to transport prisoners from one place to another so they had to “foot it”, 119 males chained together, guarded by 50 policemen under Chief Constable Mitchell and four inspectors. … On the following day 50 female prisoners marched to the new gaol amidst the jeers, laughter and cheers of the Sydney mob and to the accompaniment of a running fire of ribald remarks. In fact, the whole dreadful business was almost in the nature of a public entertainment and one shrewdly suspects that had “ the mob “ been organized as in present days a public holiday would have been demanded and proclaimed.
That is what will, happen if the clause now under consideration becomes law. Right through history, this sort of thing has happened to people who have stood up for the principles which we now enjoy. There have been periods of strikes and periods of starvation which have been brought about by the predecessors of those who support the Government and I hope that the clause before the committee will be defeated.
– It is extraordinary to me to listen to the debate that has taken place on this bill, particularly as it has been introduced as an urgent measure. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) made one of the most disappointing speeches I have known in defence of Marxism. He quoted various points from the Communist manifesto as proof that every political party in this chamber could be regarded as Communist. In the same way, one could quote from the Koran to prove that every honorable member could be regarded as a Mohammeden or from the Talmud to prove that they could be regarded as Jews. The honorable member gave an extraordinary commentary. Let me remind the chamber of what is being discussed. The bill, in its preamble states -
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 preceeding paragraphs of this preamble.
That is what the preamble states, yet honorable members of the Opposition are attacking this urgent measure. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) said that the number of Communists in this country was becoming fewer and fewer. As I said in my second-reading speech, if the honorable member were in charge of the Communist party I would not expect him to expose all his people. Has the honorable member never heard of the Communist system of establishing cells? This country faces a very grave danger. Honorable members’ knowledge of military affairs and administration should inform them of that. It is not an hysterical allegation. Every day, notable defence personalities declare that the position is one of the greatest gravity. The Big Three met in London and hurriedly prepared the Atlantic Pact. Vast stores of wealth have been poured out by so-called capitalist countries in order to maintain peace.
Honorable members of the Opposition decided to vote for this bill in principle. Why? In order to save their political hides. Since they stated their intention to take that stand nothing has been heard from them but hypocrisy. It is unfortunate that they should treat a bill of this nature as they are treating it. They have made a point of the onus of proof. Honorable members on the Government side of the chamber have explained to them a hundred times that Labour governments have adopted an identical procedure in their own legislation and have quoted from legal authorities to show that the onus of proof, in certain conditions, must pass on to the defendant. Not one honorable member of the Opposition has mentioned that Labour legislation has contained provisions which are similar to those in this bill. I have been singularly free from experience of the courts of law. I have been in a law court only once, and that was to give evidence of character.
– Tell us about the pimps and informers.
– When a man knows of his nation’s traitors and supplies information concerning them he is not a pimp or an informer. He would be a traitor himself if he concealed a traitor. This bill proposes to deal with traitors, with people who want to destroy our sovereignty, not with trade union scabs.
– That is what the honorable member tells us.
– If this legislation was not necessary, why did the honorable member vote for it ?
– Honorable members of the Opposition are not voting for that portion of it.
– The accusation lies squarely on the Opposition.
Honorable members interjecting,
– If the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) and the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) do not cease interjecting, I shall take further action.
– As I understand the position under this bill, a man who has been declared will go before a judge and say, “ I am not a Communist”. He must go into the witness-box and state on oath, “ I am not a Communist “, and must stand crossexamination. The onus of proof is then on the prosecution to prove he is not innocent. If a man cannot prove his innocence people may begin to suspect him and in introducing this legislation, the Government is not taking chances with the future. We have every reason to believe that Australia is in considerable danger, and it is high time, therefore, that we dealt with people whose aim is to overthrow the established system of government and gain their economic, industrial and political ends by violence, intimidation and fraudulent practice. I remind members of the Opposition of one important point. It is obvious from their opposition to the clause that the committee may divide upon thi9 issue. No reasonable person will dispute the fact that, if the provision that deals with the onus of proof is taken out of the bill, the measure will be absolutely useless. When a division is called, each man’s vote will be recorded. Those who do not realize that, in demanding the removal of the onus of proof provision, they are fighting in support of the Communists in Australia-
– Order ! .The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I have been amazed by some of the statements that have been made during this debate. I was particularly astonished by the contribution that was made to the debate by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony), who said, in effect, that a Labour government had introduced legislation embodying the principle of transferring the onus of proof to individuals and that he and many other honorable members, including one member of the Labour party whom he named, had fought against it.
– He did not say anything of the sort.
– He said that the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), as the Attorney-General of the day, had applied the principle of placing the onus of proof upon individuals when dealing with the Australia First Movement and that he, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and others had fought strenuously against the proposal. Other supporters of the Government have declared that the same principle in relation to the onus of proof has been applied on occasions by Labour governments. I do not agree with those assertions, but the honorable gentlemen who made them should at least be consistent. If they objected to the principle when a Labour government was in power, they should do so just as vigorously to-day. Anything that was evil then remains evil still. I object to the onus of proof being put upon the individual, because it represents an abuse of power that has been perpetrated by tyrants in order to destroy their opponents throughout history from the days of the Roman Empire to the modern despotism of the Soviet Union. Honorable members know what happened prior to the French Revolution. People were declared by lettres de cachet and thrown into the Bastille and other dungeons, from which many of them never emerged alive. There were no trials. They were the enemies of the predominant power of the age and so they were put out of the w-ay. When the terrorists gained control of Paris they acted in exactly the same way. They used the power of declaration that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his supporters want to use to-day. As I pointed out in my second-reading speech the same bad principle is embodied in, not one, but a dozen laws of the Soviet Union. In Russia, of course, persons declared to be enemies of the State may not even be given the opportunity to prove their innocence.
Only one stage separates a system in which the onus of proof is put upon the individual and a system in which the individual is not given the opportunity to prove his guiltlessness. The Government and its supporters say, in effect, that a great danger threatens Australia and that the menace of communism is so serious that it must be met with weapons that are not used in ordinary circumstances. Who shall decide who is a Communist unless some process of law under which the onus of proof is placed upon the accuser is invoked? Every member of the Labour party in this chamber has been described as a Communist at one time or another by members of opposing factions in election campaigns and on other occasions. Only a few have exonerated themselves because they have gained publicity as fighters against communism. Even the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) cannot point the finger at those few individuals because their names have been cleared. I believe that, under the terms of the bill as it now stands, most Labourites would be denounced as Communists ultimately.. Members of the antiLabour parties consider that we are Communists in outlook because we seek to use the wealth of the world in the interests of the vast masses of the people. Those whom I attack, and whose wealth I would seek to distribute, would ultimately say that the policy that I espoused was an integral part of Communist doctrine. Therefore, every man who preached the levelling out of inequalities of wealth in the community would he considered to be a Communist.
There may be a few truly liberal men in the Liberal party who would not go so far as that, but they must admit that some of their colleagues, after pillorying members of the Communist party whom they would be able to identify from lists in the hands of the security service, would go on to attack other men who, from their point of view, were only one degree less dangerous than the real Communists. That would be a logical step in their minds. The next step would be to deal with men who were only two degrees less dangerous than the Communists.
– A line must be drawn somewhere.
– History slows that the line is drawn by tyrants only after they have eliminated all those who have had the courage to seek to depose them. Even the kings of Prance first used the power to declare their enemies only against people who, in the eyes of most citizens, deserved to be suppressed. However, ultimately they used that power against persons whom the majority of the people of Prance considered to be innocent and inoffensive.
– And cut off their heads.
– Yes, Finally, the exercise of such power led to a clash between force and force. Reason “was put aside. Because citizens had been declared, thrown into the Bastille and forgotten or beheaded, the terrorists in their turn, cut off many heads that they considered to he .superfluous. “We oppose the Government’s proposal because we believe in freedom. I have spoken of the events of history. I shall now bring my argument up to date by citing a case involving the exercise of the powers that the Government seeks to gain under this bill. I may be declared by the Attorney-General upon receipt of a communication stating that I haTe acted against the interests of the Liberal party by asserting in a public speech that there were unemployed people in Australia prior to the depression and that soldiers and others had rioted in
Melbourne between 1919 and 1921 in an endeavour to obtain work. The informer has suggested that the Attorney-General take legal action against me under the Commonwealth Electoral Act on the ground of that statement. The AttorneyGeneral did not show the letter to me-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I appeal to those members of the Opposition who are genuinely opposed to communism to support this clause in a form that will make it effective against the Communist party. I do not believe that the amendment proposed by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) comes within that category.
– Tell us why.
– It does not come within that category because it does not provide a mechanism whereby a person charged with being a Communist can be put into the witness box. I consider that the original form of the clause is legally right, but liable to be twisted. I should have thought that the form of amendment suggested by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), although legally very little different from the original proposal, would have satisfied members of the Opposition because, in effect, it adopted the suggestion that was made by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) in his second-reading speech. But apparently that is not so. It would seem that the pro-Communist element in the Opposition has been able to mobilize behind it once more the antiCommunist element with the result that certain honorable members have been misled, perhaps, into taking the line that has been forced upon them by the Communist party. I have spoken previously of a rearguard action that is being fought by the pro-Communists in the Labour party in order to defeat this measure. They were not able to defeat it openly and they did not try to do so. They propose to try to introduce amendments that will make the bill unworkable. I am reminded of the old rhyme -
Mother, may I go out to swim ?
Yes my darling daughter.
Hang your clothes on a mulberry bush
But don’t go near the water.
Perhaps this would be an appropriate parody -
Chifley, may I go fight the Corns ?
Yes my Socialist-
– Order ! The honorable member must refer to the Leader of the Opposition in parliamentary terms.
– I am epitomizing the attitude of the Opposition towards this bill, and I know of no standing order which prevents me from using verse -
Yes, my Socialist,
Talk about them as much as you like,
But never use your fist.
Whenever any effective action is suggested against Communists some honorable member on the opposite side of the chamber will be found to rise and give reasons whyit should not be taken. The averment clauses proposed by the Prime Minister are quite fair, and they mean in essence that the Communist who is accused and who appeals has to go into the witness box. That is a principle which I think every honorable member in this chamber, on which ever side he may be, who is genuinely opposed to communism, should support. An innocent man will want to go into the box. Do not let us make a cloak for the guilty.
I now refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who did me the honour of not only mentioning mebut also of promoting me-
– The honorable member could not prove that he himself is not a Communist.
– Yes, indeed I could. The honorable member for Lalor is a man who should be careful about his attitude in this matter because in the past he has had a shocking pro-Communist record. No doubt he acted innocently, because he is a “ mug “ and does not know what he is doing. However, he has been guilty of what should amount to treason. In November of 1939, for instance, the honorable member for Lalor praised the Nazi-Soviet pact. That was three months after the outbreak of war, at a time when every loyal member of this community should have been on side with us and opposed to the German-Russian phoney peace plan. At that time the honorable member, perhaps without knowing which he was doing, praised this pact.
– Why does the honorable member not quote my words ?
– I shall read an article about that matter. It is from the Tribune of the 14th November.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order! Because of the noise in the chamber I am not sure of what the honorable member is saying. I am not sure whether he is directing his remarks to the clause. I cannot hear him because of the noise on myleft.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Chairman. Is the honorable member entitled to quote from a newspaper unless he can vouch for its accuracy?
– I cannot call the honorable member to order because I cannot hear what he is saying on account of the noise coming from my left.
– I shall not quote from that article. I proposed to do so only because the honorable member for Lalor asked me to do so. However, clear documentary evidence exists that at that date he supported the Nazi-Soviet plot against us in relation to a phoney peace campaign. He praised it as an admirable alliance. This honorable gentleman now adopts the same kind of attitude and says that in the name of the four freedoms we must not do anything which could turn the cold war into anything worse. He says that we must keep on side with Russia and that Communists are not so bad as some people would have us believe they are.
– I should like the honorable member to connect his remarks with the clause.
– I shall not be worried about a Communist here or there.
– The honorable member for Lalor remarks that he would not be worried by a Communist here or there-
– Order ! Does the honorable member intend to ignore my ruling?
– No, Mr. Chairman, 1 do not.
– Then the honorable member should direct his remarks to the clause.
– Very good, Mr. Chairman. The point that I make in conclusion is that those honorable members opposite who are honestly opposed to communism must not allow themselves to be misled . by people in the Labour party who are trying to sabotage the real intent of this clause in the guise of fair and specious sounding phrases. I may liken the Labour party to an army marchine forward, trundling before it a shaggy Trojan horse in the shape of the right honorable member for Barton.
.- If there is anything that would make the workers of this country understand exactly the position to which this legislation will lead, it is the fact that the honorable member who has just resumed his seat (Mr. Wentworth) is supporting it. I suppose the trade union movement is expected to be eternally grateful to honorable members on the Government side, very few if any of whom are members of the trade union movement, for the efforts that they are making to clean up the movement. The success of the efforts of the trade unionists themselves in the cleaningup process during the last twelve months will have a much greater effect than will this legislation. This particular clause deals with organizations that are not industrial organizations. It is interesting to read the very vague wording of the clause. It deals with organizations not being industrial organizations that are or purport to be something or other. Then it goes further and says that after the commencement of this act these organizations are purported to do certain things. I ask, purported by whom? It is as well that we should examine the organization which, in the near future under the provisions of this act, is going to place the liberty of the people of this country in jeopardy. Already we have heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) read a number of names, which I have not the least doubt were supplied to him by this organization. Within a few days he sought and was given the special permis sion of the House to withdraw certain information with respect to some of those names.
– That indicates how fair the Prime Minister is.
– I do not question his fairness, but it shows also how incompetent is the organization upon whose recommendation the Government will act in the future. This bill states that certain things are “ purported “ by somebody. I ask, purported by whom? The organizations specified are purported to be of a certain class by people who after months and perhaps years of investigation handed to the Prime Minister a list from which he quoted during his speech because he believed it to be gospel, but within a few days he had to seek the permission of the House to retract certain information that he had furnished concerning about half a a dozen people whose names were on the list. What will happen to that half dozen people after the act comes into operation? I assume that .because this list was given to the Prime Minister to bolster up his case, they would be the first members of the Communist party at whom the provisions of the act would be directed. There would not be much point in the Prime Minister citing in this chamber a list of members of the Communist party who were of no consequence. He must have thought, on the information given to him, that there were people who were purported to be leading Communists and were purported to have done certain things. By whom were they purported to be of a certain class ? Not by trained police officers but by persons who probably would not measure up, either physically or mentally, to the requirements of recruits for the New South Wales police force. They are just common ordinary or garden nimps that have been banded together in an organization, which after years of investigation gave to the Prime Minister unreliable information that he submitted to the House. I admit that the Prime Minister acted in good faith.
– The honorable member should not be too hard on them : they all were engaged by the previous government.
– I am not concerned about that. I am concerned about the quality of the persons who make up this organization. I am concerned about the quality of the investigators who, after years of work, no matter who appointed them, gave to the Prime Minister, who incorporates them in a very well stagemanaged act in the House, the names of certain people. Then he asked for the indulgence of the House so that he might withdraw certain particulars from the list.
– Order ! Lists are not under discussion. The committee is dealing with affiliated bodies.
– That is what I am dealing with.
– The honorable member i9 dealing with individuals.
– That is what the clause deals with. I do not desire to reflect on your knowledge of the matter, Mr. Chairman, but I direct your attention to the fact that the clause deals with organizations not being industrial organizations, and also with things that they are purported to do and qualities that they are purported to possess. I am dealing also with the group of people who have been gathered together and upon whose averment the liberty of any person or his position in government employment would be in jeopardy. Such situations may arise because somebody in this pimping organization may wish to do some good for himself by making lying accusations. The job of these pimps will be made easier by this legislation. Under the ordinary processes of the law of a State, if the police charge a man with any offence they must prove their case.
– Not always. I have two acts here to disprove that statement.
– I admit that there are occasions when the authorities do not prove the case, such as in connexion with offences under the Customs Act. I am talking about the ordinary criminal law of a State. When a man is charged his guilt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Those who lay charges against him are persons who, as long as they remain men of good repute and do not get their hands stuck into any sticky business, have a job in the police force for life. The jobs of these pimps depend on the measure of their success.
– Why does the honorable member call them pimps?
– That is all they are.
– Your Government appointed every one of them.
– And this Government is using them.
– Yes, that is so.
– This Government is just as sticky as we were. I repeat that the jobs of these pimps under this act will depend on the measure of their success; and the measure of their success will depend, not upon the number of people whom they can prove to be members of the Communist party or of any of its auxiliaries, but upon the number of persons whom they can lug before the court. We are told that, at that point, the accused will have the right of appeal. Let us consider that position. Suppose a waterside worker in Western Australia is adjudged by a tribunal to be guilty. He has the right to lodge within a month an appeal against that decision. It would be interesting to watch him chase the High Court from State to State in his efforts to present his case. It would also be interesting to know where that unfortunate individual would obtain the money with which to pay the princely legal fees.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), in his opening remarks, praised members of the trade union movement for the way in which they had cleaned up the Communists in their midst. Bearing in mind the general strike on the coal-fields last year, which admittedly was a Communist-inspired stoppage, I consider that the unions must have worn kid gloves when they were engaged in that process, or they were quite incapable of handling the whole affair. I was most interested to hear the honorable member for Dalley express his concern for the organizations that were likely to be associated with the Communist party. Surely, if that party is a subversive organization, the subsidiary organizations that are allied to the main body must be held responsible for their own contribution to subversive activities. Such an organization cannot expect to be treated as some poor waif who does not know his own parents, and is not responsible for their activities. The people who belong to those organizations are aware of the objectives for which they are working, and are fully conscious of the part that they are playing. If they are not, they are too innocent to be born, and they should seek the advice of a good psychiatrist, as should the noisy elements who are associated with the Communist party.
In this community, there is an organized body that is a fifth column for a fascist power. I refer, of course, to the Communist party of Australia. It has openly advocated the adoption in this country of a political system that would destroy our freedom. That is bad enough, but, in itself, it would not have been sufficient to warrant the introduction of this bill. However, the Communist party seeks to go further. It has its agents in control of large key unions, and, through the industrial power that is so held, it is deliberately endeavouring to cripple the whole economic life of this country, and to cause misery and discontent among the workers, so that the Communists themselves may ride on that discontent to a dictatorship. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), in the course of his speech this evening, successfully debunked his own reputation for moderation. For twenty minutes, he talked humbug about the freedom of the individual. The Government is trying to safeguard that freedom, and this clause is designed for that purpose. Surely our activities do not make us the enemies of freedom. If a democratic nation such as Australia cannot take action against Communist invasion, freedom cannot defend itself. That is the doctrine of despair. It means that freedom and democracy are at an end, and that we must go down to inevitable defeat. Let us not delude ourselves, because Australia can be conquered by those agents of tyranny. Czechoslovakia, which was formerly a virile, freedomloving nation, was reduced to slavery almost without a struggle. The Czecho-
Slovaks were the most enlightened people in Europe. A Czechoslovakian friend told me that arguments similar to those that have been advanced this evening against this clause, were advanced in his native country before the “ Red “ coup, and that all this talk about fighting communism in the open and about preserving our democratic rights, and all the protests that we heard in the secondreading debate against witch hunts, were also a part of the stock-in-trade of people who protested that the freedom of the individual should not be threatened by any measures that might be taken to restrain the activities of the Communists in Czechoslovakia. Nothing was done to curb the Communists in that country, and almost over night they came into power. There is little doubt that if Hitler and Tojo had possessed in Australia and the United States of America a fifth column such as that which is exemplified in the affiliated organization that Stalin now has in Australia, they would have won World War JJ. Stalin has taken up where Hitler left off, and has succeeded almost without striking a blow, and it is the crowning irony of our time that Stalin’s peaceful weapon to destroy our liberty reposes in the hands of the very defenders of freedom. As soon as any one tries to raise an objection to the activities of Stalin’s agents some people immediately say that our liberty is being threatened.
I listened attentively to the secondreading speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), in which he said, in effect, “We agree with the Government that communism is a menace, but we shall prevent it from taking any effective measures to combat the threat “. The right honorable gentleman criticized nearly every major provision of the bill, yet he announced towards the conclusion of his speech that he would vote for the second reading. Could anything be more futile and more indicative of the complete mental fog that envelops Opposition members. Anybody who expresses the views that have been uttered this evening by Opposition speakers is living in a mental fog, and in a world of makebelieve. They say that communism should be fought in the open. How naive it is to believe that Communists will be disposed to fight in the open. Some people forget that although the Communists are working underground, they are prepared to use various organizations on the surface for their own purposes. I realize that Opposition members object to the provision that places on an accused person the onus of proving his innocence, but the Labour Government did not hesitate to use the same procedure, and, in fact, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), who was AttorneyGeneral for approximately eight years, truly earned the title of “ Dr. Onus “, so frequently did he delight in placing on an accused person the responsibility of proving his innocence. Yet if a person is charged with aiding the Communist conspiracy to destroy Australia - and that is what it means - Opposition members say that he merits special privileges. I believe that, in this Parliament and outside it, there are persons who, unlike Opposition members who have never accepted the principle, are genuinely disturbed about the onus of proof provision; but if we view this clause with alarm, we must ask ourselves what we can do about it, having regard to the critical state in which Australia is placed at the present time. If we do not agree with the Government’s proposals, what effective alternative have we to offer, because we must realize that we are now in a most serious position. I, for one, should be pleased to hear of a practical alternative to the Government’s proposal, but no such suggestion has been put forward by the Opposition. Mere opposition to the Government’s plan, without the suggestion of a practical alternative, stamps the objector, not as a lover of liberty, but as a Communist dupe. Some organizations come forward and wave the banner of liberty whenever antiCommunist legislation is proposed.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The only point upon which there appears te be agreement between the Government and the Opposition is in relation to the drastic nature of the powers that the Government is seeking. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has attempted to justify his action to the Australian public by submitting that this country is in real danger from a Communist attempt, by revolutionary means, to seize power. I do not accept that submission, because we have not been given any evidence of a real threat to the security of this country from that source. I believe that the Communist party is so weak numerically, and is so lacking in public support and sympathy, that it does not constitute a real threat to the safety of Australia, notwithstanding the fact that ever since that organization was established in this country in 1921, it ha9 advocated the use of revolutionary means in order to seize power. I should like Government supporters, because a number of new terms have been coined of late,, to explain exactly what is meant by a “hot war” and a “cold war”. It appears to me that, when actual fighting is taking place, it is a hot war, and that if we are at peace with other countries, is a cold war. According to members of the Government, we are never at peace.
Let us consider the attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself. As the Leader of the Opposition, from the conclusion of hostilities onwards, he emphasized the necessity for removing various controls and restrictions that had been imposed in war time. He argued that the Labour Government could not continue to use the defence power inthe Constitution to justify the retention of those controls because Australia was at peace with all other countries. But shortly after he has taken up the reins of government, the right honorable gentlerman and his supporters say that we are engaged in a cold war. I well recollect that when the Labour Government proposed to establish reserves of petrol for defence purposes, the right honorable gentleman said that, in his opinion, a world war would not occur within the next ten years. Can it be sugested that the position has suddenly changed so drastically that we are now threatened with actual conflict? I believe that the people who are doing a real disservice to Australia are those who say that we are engaged in warfare with a country with which we are officially at peace, which has diplomatic representatives here, and to which we have sent diplomatic representatives.
If the Prime Minister and other Ministers really believed that we were at war, they would propose much more drastic penalties for those who are deemed guilty of the offences that are set out in the recitals, than they are actually demanding. Have they not said during the course of this debate that every Communist is a. member of a potential fifth column, that every Communist is a saboteur? I suggest to honorable members opposite that if we were actually at war and if they really believed what they submit to the people and to the Parliament they would now be rounding up the persons they claim to be saboteurs. However, they know as well as I do that the Government is putting forward that suggestion as a pretext in order to arouse public hysteria in an attempt to get the people to agree to a measure that will drastically interfere with individual liberty and freedom. I repeat that the real purpose of the Government in introducing this measure is to establish a police State.
Let me show how easily individuals could be caught in this net that the Government proposes to throw over the community. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. “Wentworth) would, no doubt, say that the Federated Clerks Union is under Communist control. The honorable gentleman is a member of that union and if it came into disfavour with the Government he could be declared under the provisions of the bill. I am not suggesting there is any danger that he will be declared ; there is a greater danger that he will be certified. But the fact is that he is an unfinancial member of the Federated Clerks Union to which he owes several pounds. From information supplied to me, I understand that the only reason why he joined that union was that, as he was then a member of the Commonwealth Public Service, he could thereby qualify for the full salary payable at that time only to persons who were members of organizations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Thus, we can see how easily persons may become involved and how difficult it will be for them to clear them- selves. In further support of this contention I shall mention the case of Phillip Raoul Hentze that came to my notice during the last war. Hentze. who was a relative of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) was apprehended by the army authorities but before he was actually placed in internment he was released on the say-so of the Minister. That has never been denied. However, another German named Poh! was kept in internment although the only fact recorded against him was that he was an associate of Hentze. who had been given his liberty because of the influence of his relative, the Minister for External Affairs. Those cases indicate the real danger to anybody, without influence, when powers possessed by a government are abused.
The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) drew attention to the methods by which the Government will obtain the information it will require to declare a person. The Prime Minister, when castigating the Opposition, referred to its use when in office of the averment provision in what he said were criminal proceedings, and he emphasized how much less serious it would be to proceed by averment in cases instituted under this bill. Surely, the right honorable gentleman does not consider treason, sedition, or participation in activities against the safety of the country referred to in the measure, to be anything but a criminal act. If any honorable member were charged outright with sedition, or treason, when he was actually fighting for his life, he would have the right to demand that he be confronted with his accuser and be informed of the evidence on which the charge was based. Under this measure the Government says that the person whom it proposes to declare shall be deemed to be guilty of treason and sedition by reason of the declaration, but it imposes no other penalty except to provide that the declared person shall not be employed by, or remain in the employment of, the Commonwealth or shall not be an official of a key trade union. Is that not evidence that the Government itself, does not believe what it says and that its real purpose is to smash the trade union movement? That is its intention and I suggest that it will not stop with action against the men whose names were mentioned by the Prime Minister in his second-reading speech, who admit to being Communists and who are occupants of important positions in key trade unions. The Government will go further and declare .every strike to be a Communist conspiracy. Since I have been a member of the Parliament not one supporter of the anti-Labour parties has ever admitted that any industrial dispute was justified. In their eyes all such disputes have been Communist conspiracies. The Government hopes that by depriving the trade unions of their leadership it will make it impossible for the workers to go on strike. That is one of the reasons why I am so vehemently opposed to this measure.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Like the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters), I have been amazed to hear some of the speeches that have been made this evening, but my amazement arises from the similarity between the speeches just made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), and the speeches that the honorable member for East Sydney made in 1938. Honorable members will recall that at that time, after the Munich Agreement had been signed, members of the Labour party said that nations that made defence preparations were war-mongers. Indeed, the honorable member for Lalor virtually made that statement this evening. Today, Australia is menaced by a fifth column. The world is in disorder and, consequently, any country that is silly enough to allow a fifth column to operate within its boundaries under the pretext of liberty will be caught napping and will deserve what it probably will get. The Government realizes the position that exists in Australia to-day, and is taking this action to clean up the fifth column in our midst. One reason why the Germans were unable to subdue Russia in the last war was that no fifth columnists existed in Russia because the Russians had shot the lot of them. Under this measure the Government does not propose to shoot anybody.
– How does the Government propose to get rid of us?
– If the honorable member admits that he is pro-Communist I am sorry to hear it, but I shall not contradict him. A person, upon being declared, will not be put in gaol. He, or she, will be declared to be a Communist.
– They will be branded.
– Yes ; and an organization that is declared will be dissolved. The Government is not going to put persons against a wall and shoot them. The person declared will be able to go before the court and declare that he, or she, is not a Communist.
– Suppose the declared person lives in Western Australia. How will he get to the High Court?
– The Government proposes to amend the measure to enable declared persons to appeal to the Supreme Court of a State. Apparently, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has not read the amendments that have been circulated. In any event, there will be no need for any person to wander all over Australia seeking access to the High Court. Such a suggestion is rubbish and contains about as much sense as many other statements that have been made by members of the Opposition in this debate. Supporters of the Government are just as zealous as members of the Labour party are for the liberty of the individual and want to protect that liberty by ensuring that persons who are prepared to sell this country to a foreign power shall he restricted in their operations. That is all that the bill seeks to do. If evidence of their treason is produced there is no doubt that they will feel the full rigour of the law. If they go into court and swear on oath that they are not Communists and the Government can produce evidence to prove that they are perjurers, they will be dealt with as perjurers. That will deter persons from making false statements on oath to the court. Of course, we know that the Communists do not regard an oath as something that is sacred ; that is part of their policy. But every Communist would learn to do so if he went before a court and perjured himself. As he will not know exactly what evidence the Government can produce against him, he will be more likely to tell the truth than if the Government previously exposed its hand. However, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has dealt adequately with that aspect of the matter.
The point that the honorable member for Dalley endeavoured to make about the Security Service was not a very good one from the point of view of the Opposition, because that service was established by the Labour party when it was in office, and we may be quite sure that as it has already supplied incorrect information to the Prime Minister, the right honorable gentleman will make certain that it will not do so again. Incidentally, the Government would be wise to scrutinize also a few of the other appointments that were made by the Opposition party when it was in office. The honorable member for Burke said that the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) objected to the onus of proof being placed upon members of the Australia First Movement during the last war, but what the PostmasterGeneral protested against was that those men were not given an opportunity to clear themselves.
– All of them were given that opportunity.
– No, at the time they were taken into custody; and I released those who were found to be innocent.
– When it was admitted that those men were wrongfully imprisoned they were given inadequate compensation. But what action was taken in the case of one of them who wished to sue the Government for wrongful imprisonment? The then AttorneyGeneral relied upon the Statute of Limitations, with the result that that man was not given an opportunity to present his case to the court.
– The then AttorneyGeneral was absent from Australia at that time.
– The man to whom the honorable member refers had already received compensation on the recommendation of the judge who inquired into that matter.
– But he was entitled to go to the court in order to obtain adequate compensation. I was astonished to hear the honorable member for Dalley speak about “ pimps because I thought that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) had shown quite clearly that a man who informs against a traitor to his country is not a pimp. The honorable member for Dalley also wanted to know who is going to declare organizations. Such declarations will be made not by irresponsible persons, but by the Executive Council, which is charged with the responsibility of government and of safeguarding the security of the country. A lot of fuss is being made by honorable members opposite. I cannot understand why they are opposing this clause. If the Government were foolish enough to apply its provisions unjustly, in three years’ time the people would be very severe in their judgment and Opposition members would then have a great opportunity to return to office. This Government, however, will not be silly enough to apply them unjustly. Itwill safeguard the security of this country and see that justice is done to all. If Opposition members have any doubts about the Government’s intentions they may safely leave the matter to the judgment of the people, for the people will deal drastically with any Government, that is guilty of injustices in its administration of the law.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– It will be recalled that during my second-reading speech on this measure I expressed a fear that this bill, when translated into an act, will not achieve the objectives sought by the Government. After listening to the remarks of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar), I am more convinced than ever of the correctness of the views I then expressed. The honorable member for Gwydir has said, among other things, that this country is menaced by a fifth column. He went further and said that the purpose of this measure is to deal with those who are prepared to sell this country to a foreign power. If either or both of those statements be correct, the provisions of this clause will not enable the Government to deal with such persons.
– Why is the honorable member opposing it?
– I am not opposing it. As one who knows something of what happens in the trade union movement, I say that if the Communist party and its organizations constitute a menace to the safety of this country, if in fact they compose a fifth column, and their leaders are prepared to sell this country to a foreign power,. the Communist party and its organizations can he dealt with under the provisions of the Crimes Act and its leaders placed where they should be placed. The real danger that I foresee is that the Government may use the provisions of paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1.) to rope in innocent persons.
– If it did so, it would be thrown out of office at the next general election.
– I am referring to the danger that will exist immediately after this bill becomes lav. If the provisions of this clause are used by the Government to rope in many innocent people, including persons to whom the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is fond of referring as dupes, the very people whose activities we seek to curb will escape. Opposition members know what has happened in the trade union movement. My good friend, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), is very familiar with that subject. Under the provisions of this measure the Eureka Youth League, for instance, could be declared an unlawful organization. What would happen if that organization were banned ? Those of us who have been prepared to fight the Communist party have a good idea of the names of those who control it. The mere banning of such an organization will not have the effect of dampening the ardour of its leaders because they believe communism to be the only political philosophy that can lift this country out of the rut in which it now lies. The mere declaration of the Communist party and its affiliates as unlawful organizations will make the
Government’s task more difficult should the cold war end and we reach the stage of a hot war. How far could the provisions of paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1.) be stretched? If there were differences cf opinion between the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, and the ?arne antagonism developed between the leaders of those parties as existed on a former occasion, the provisions of that paragraph could be used by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to rope in the present leaders of the Australian Country party and, perhaps, the party itself. The Prime Minister laughs. The right honorable gentleman may laugh, but let him remember that the Senate is now debating a measure relating to the central banking system of this country that was introduced into this chamber by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). I point out that paragraph 5 of the Communist Manifesto issued in 18SS provides for the centralizatien of banking under State control. If ihe present Prime Minister attempted to go as far as I have suggested the people might turn their backs on the Australian Country party and its members. Only time can tell what will happen. We can agree that if a war with Russia is imminent or becomes a certainty the saboteurs n our midst should be put where they belong. My principal objection to this bill is that it is not necessary because machinery to deal with saboteurs in the community is already provided in the Crimes Act. The Government would like us to pass this bill without opposition because it is beginning to realize that whilst 90 per cent, of the people are opposed to communism, 75 per cent, of them are opposed to this bill.
– What rubbish !
Mr. E. JAMES HARRISON.Finally, if this is the rock upon which the Government builds its hopes to exterminate the saboteurs in the community, it is a very shaky one. The Government will find that should Australia ever declare war on Russia it will have to rely on the provisions not of this measure but of the Crimes Act to deal with the saboteurs in our midst; but the existence of this legislation on the statute-book will make its task very much more difficult. During the general election campaign my opponent advocated from one end of the Blaxland electorate to the other the banning of the Communist party. I adopted the same line as I have adopted towards this bill. The electors rejected my oppo- ment because I, as a Labour leader, was able to convince them that such a course would make more difficult the task of the Government to get rid of the people with whom this bill seeks to deal.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– To-day several references were made to a movement known as the Australia First Movement. In my opinion they missed the main point at issue with regard to that organization. The main point at issue is not whether the action taken in regard to it was right or wrong, fair or unfair-
– I rise to order. The honorable member is referring to a debate that took place in committee. Under the Standing Orders he is not entitled to deal with the subject-matter of a committee debate or a debate that has been adjourned.
– I have no knowledge of what took place in committee.
– Well, we are telling you.
– Order ! The honorable member has no authority to do so. That can be done only by the Chairman of Committees when making his report from the committee.
– The main point is whether the action in connexion with the Australia First Movement was taken in good or in bad faith. I have had an opportunity to make a cursory examination of some of the documents relating to it, but I have not yet been able to make a final examination or to reach any conclusions. If, however, I reached the conclusion that the action had been taken in bad faith, then, and then only, would I endeavour to bring the subject once more before this House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Social Services - M. S. McLelland.
Works and Housing - A. Fowlie, H. E. Pegrum.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Unemployment and Sickness Benefits.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 May 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19500517_reps_19_207/>.