19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker ( (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. PETERS presented a petition from 543 citizens of Victoria praying that action he taken to increase pensions to £2 17s. a week, approximately 40 per cent, of the basie -wage.
Petition received and read.
– Has the Prime Minister any information to give to the House in relation to the military plans of the United Nations for Korea? I realize that it may not be practicable or desirable to state publicly the details of such proposals, but I should like to know whether there ave any plans before the United Nations at present regarding the political future of Korea, and whether the Australian Government is a party to such plans.
– The matter about which the right honorable member for Barton is inquiring is, of course, of great international significance, and I should prefer to treat the question as being on notice. I shall have a statement prepared and make it available to the House.
– In view of the wisdom of decentralizing Australia’s growing population, will the Minister for Immigration consider favorably the establishment of more immigrant hostels in country areas? I rc:fer particularly to South’ Australia where, I understand, the Government intends to erect two hostels for British immigrants. There is a general demand for more, immigrant hostels, especially in the river Murray districts and by erecting them the Government would be doing much to meet local labour requirements.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs has placed on the notice-paper a question that covers almost precisely the same matters, though in a more general sense than their application solely to South Australia. In answering that question. I shall treat the question of the honorable member for Angas as supplementary to the question of the honorable member for Darling Downs, and reply to the points that he has raised in relation to South Australia.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service read published reports that the Holroyd Municipal Council, in the division of Mitchell, has asked the Commissioner for Malta to inspect the conditions in which 21 newly arrived families are living in the vicinity of Wentworthville, New South Wales? As.it appears that the people who sponsored the immigration of these families to Australia have been unable to provide the accommodation that they guaranteed, will the Minister cause the matter to be investigated and take steps to prevent a repetition- of this state of affairs? As these unfortunate people are living in conditions which do not comply with the regulations of the Board of Health in New South “Wales, will the Minister assist the State and local government authorities to provide them with adequate accommodation?
– I have seen a reference in the press to the matter raised by the honorable member for Mitchel] and I have already arranged for an investigation to be made. A detailed report will be furnished to me as quickly as possible. As a result of an agreement that was entered into between the previous Government and the Commissioner for Malta, Maltese persons who are nominated as migrants to Australia are supervised and selected by the Commissioner for Malta, It is his responsibility in the first instance to ensure that the accommodation provided here for Maltese migrants by their nominators is adequate. We propose taking up with the Commissioner the question of what has happened in these particular instances. It is quite obvious that the accommodation at present being occupied by them is entirely unsuitable, by Australian standards. I shall be glad to take up also with the Holroyd Municipal Council the question of the enforcement of its own regulations. There is a natural tendency on the part of some councils, because of sympathy with the persons concerned, to refrain from enforcing their building regulations strictly. “Whilst this has the effect of helping those persons who are there in the first instance, it has also the unfortunate effect of encouraging other people to commit similar breaches, and so to build up small shanty towns. This aspect of the matter, which Has caused the Department of Immigration a good deal of concern, is at present being examined by a sub-committee of the Immigration Planning Council. I assure the honorable member for Mitchell that the Government will take whatever action is possible to prevent any extension of developments of this kind.
– Has the Minister for Immigration yet reviewed the case of the Callus family? If so, has he made any decision whether the family will be allowed to remain in Australia, or will it have to return to England ?
– Tes, I have examined this case. The matter was difficult because Mr. Callus, a British subject, had sold his home and possessions in order to come to Australia with his wife and daughter to rejoin other members of his family here. A medical examination disclosed that Mr. Callus had a lung complaint. Generally speaking, we impose a very strict health standard for new settlers in order not only to maintain our health standards, but also to prevent new settlei’3 from becoming a charge upon the community. However, in this instance there were special circumstances, one of which was that the appropriate British authority had given approval to Mr. Callus to come to Australia. As a result, he then sold up his home and possessions. I have ascertained that his lung complaint, although serious, is not contagious or infectious. Apparently, he will have many years of useful work ahead of him. He is a compositor by trade and many openings are offering in that calling at present. I have discussed this case with members of Mr. Callus’s family who are in Australia and impressed upon them the necessity to ensure that he shall not become a charge upon the community. They have given me that assurance and I am satisfied from the discussions that I have had with them that they will do their best to honour it and will use their own efforts and resources to do so. In the circumstances that I have outlined, I have approved of Mr. Callus coming to Australia under exemption.
– Will the Minister for Immigration inform me whether the Government has considered the possibility of new Australians serving in our armed forces ?
– The Government has not reached any detailed decisions on this matter; but, in general, it strongly favours new Australians serving under its training scheme so that they may be better equipped thereby to defend their new homeland should the necessity to do so arise. ‘Certain administrative and legal questions arise in connexion with the enlistment of new Australians in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, as well as in relation to the national training scheme generally. Those questions are now being examined by officers of the departments that are directly affected, and in due course these officers will submit recommendations upon which the Government ca.n make its decisions.
– I ask the Treasurer a question relating to a subject that is agitating the minds of small businessmen, including many exservicemen, and is creating a great deal of unrest. In view of the judgment given by Mr. Justice “Williams in the High Court on the 12th December, 1947, in the case of Phillips v. the Commissioner of Taxation, in which His Honour ruled that goodwill was not assessable for taxation purposes in the case of the sale of a newsagency and against which no appeal has been lodged by the Commissioner although he has continued to assess such goodwill for taxation, will the Treasurer undertake to direct the Commissioner to abide by the terms of the judgment and to direct further that assessments already made in defiance of the judgment be forthwith withdrawn?
– I shall have the subjectmatter of the question brought to the attention of the Commissioner of Taxation and will have an adequate replysupplied to the honorable member.
– Can the Treasurer inform me whether it is a fact that the goodwill in connexion with newsagencies has, in most instances, taken many years to build up but that when the newsagency is sold, the full amount of goodwill is assessed as income for the year of sale for taxation purposes ? Is this practice not an anomaly which brings unjust hardship to those engaged in this type of business? “Will the Treasurer consider the adjustment of taxation legislation or procedure so that this anomaly may be overcome?
– The matter raised by the honorable member is one which is at present before the expert committee which is investigating the incidence of taxation and taxation anomalies.
– In view of the scandalous conduct of the executives of commercial radio stations concerning payment for the right to broadcast descriptions of the forthcoming test cricket matches and other sporting events, will the Postmaster-General give consideration to amending the conditions of the licences issued yearly to such broadcasting stations so as to provide that the Minister shall have power to compel them to allot a reasonable amount of time to sporting broadcasts, and also to provide that they shall pay reasonable sums for the privilege of making such broadcasts, which are listened to with, great interest by many hundreds of thousands of Australians ?
– I do not altogether agree with the honorable member in his use of the word “ scandalous “, but I do think that the commercial broadcasting stations have not played a very worthy part in connexion with the negotiations that have taken place concerning the broadcasting of test cricket match descriptions, and. I consider that some steps must be taken to ensure that those who have a monopoly of the air waves shall render proper service. I shall give attention to the other aspects of the honorable member’s question.
– As a statement has been made that industries of the United Kingdom have supplied Russia with 34 complete electric power generating stations since World War II., will the Minister for National Development consider conferring with. State governments, where necessary, for the purpose of arranging with the United Kingdom to supply complete plant, labour and material for the installation, on a contract basis, of hydro-electric power plants on the Macleay, Clarence and Snowy rivers and in other suitable areas throughout Australia, with a view to expediting the provision of electric power, which is so urgently needed at present? I point out to the Minister that the implementation of my proposal would assist to restrain the present inflationary trend of our economy.
– The proposal made by the honorable member has already been implemented in respect of a number of developmental projects smaller than those which he has mentioned. The matter is largely one for the States in which the potential for development exists. However, I shall certainly bear the honorable member’s suggestion in mind in any discussions that I have with State authorities on developmental projects. An overseas contractor who carries out big enterprises has recently got the contract for a major developmental work in Victoria, but, generally speaking, the representatives of overseas firms have to spend some time in this country in order to familiarize themselves with local conditions which are, in many respects, notably different from those in their own countries. However, the proposal made by the honorable member is valuable, and I shall certainly bear it in mind.
– In view of the excessive prices charged for. meat and the chaotic condition which is admitted by the trade to obtain in the industry, can the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture furnish any information to the House concerning the implementation of the promise made by the Commonwealth to State government representatives at the recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers that the Department of Commerce and Agriculture would examine a plan to stabilize local meat prices?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and obtain an answer for him in due course.
– Since the demand for additional telephones in Launceston has for some time exceeded the capacity of the existing exchange, and that present subscribers are unable to obtain prompt service at peak periods, will the Postmaster-General undertake to expedite the completion of the new automatic exchange at Launceston, plans for which, I understand, have already been approved? Can the Minister indicate when the work will be put in hand?
– As a result of my visit to Launceston some time ago I fully agree with the comments made by the honorable member for Bass about the need for the provision of a new automatic telephone exchange in that city. Consistent with the promises that I made to the local chamber of commerce and to the honorable member, in reply to his representations, plans have been made for the construction of an exchange and also for the provision of adequate postal facilities, which are estimated to cost approximately £500,000. Because the work will be a major one it will be necessary for it to be referred to the Public Works Committee, and I have already taken action, through the Minister for Works and Housing, to have the project referred to that committee. I hope that on receipt of a report from the committee steps can he taken to provide the facilities.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is a fact that throughout the Commonwealth there is a most urgent demand for telephones? The reasons given by the department for the delay in the installation of telephones is lack of telephone equipment. Is it a fact that telephone equipment has been exported from this country to Belgium x and other countries despite our own urgent needs? If those are facts will the Minister consider the advisability of conducting an immediate inquiry with a view to prohibiting the granting of export licences to firms to send telephone equipment out of this country until our own needs are satisfied ?
– The statement made by the honorable member is not quite correct. There is a shortage of certain telephone material, but there is not. a shortage of all telephone material in this country. For example, we have ample telephone instruments. Cable and other switchboard equipment are in short supply. Although I have no definite particulars, the type of equipment which will be exported to Belgium is in ample supply in this country. Therefore, no reason exists to prohibit the export of certain types of equipment. We hope soon to overcome the difficulty that the honorable member has mentioned, particularly in his own electorate. The lack of equipment in “Wollongong is very acute, but as soon as cable and other equipment is available, and we are importing a great deal, we shall endeavour to overtake the arrears in telephone installations.
– In view of the fact that
Australia is pledged to support the United Nations, can the Prime Minister answer the following questions concerning our military commitments to that body: Are membernations committed, as the result of their membership, to raise military forces to enforce the decisions of that body? If so, are quotas determined for each nation? Has any maximum figure been fixed for the force that Australia could raise for this purpose, having regard, of course, to our shortage of manpower for developmental purposes? Has the Government stipulated that forces raised for this purpose shall consist exclusively of volunteers?
– There is an article in the Charter of the United Nations that deals with this matter and sets out such obligation as exists in relation to it. It is an obligation that is postponed until contracts are made between member nations and the United Nations to provide troops under certain conditions. No such arrangement has been reduced to form. In the case of the hostilities in Korea, what happened was that the Security Council of the United Nations, having passed a resolution opposing the aggression, called upon member nations to offer such help as they could to resist it. What each member nation did then was not done pursuant to legal obligation, but of its own decision and its own will. Some member nations, including Australia, provided armed forces. Others provided no armed forces but carried resolutions of support. The actual military participation is limited to a minority of the nations that supported the action of the United Nations. It is all on a voluntary basis. There has been no proposal at any stage that any person, other than a person volunteering in Australia, shall be made available for United Nations action outside Australia. To make that change would involve converting compulsory trainees, that is to say, persons who are called up for national service training, into persons who, by compulsion, could be sent out of the country. No such decision has been made by the Australian Government. Therefore, the issue referred to in that portion of the question does not arise.
– Is the Minister for National Development aware that, owing to shipping difficulties, there have been delays in sending supplies of pig iron from Whyalla to Queensland? I am aware that the Australian Government cannot issue directions to suppliers of pig iron, but I ask the Minister whether his department will use its influence to obtain an assurance from suppliers that Queensland’s pig iron quota will not be reduced, even if the despatch of shipments is delayed? Has the honorable gentleman any information regarding the availability of supplies of this material overseas ?
– The Commonwealth has no authority to allocate supplies of steel or to determine quotas. My department is in constant touch with steel manufacturers, and I shall ensure that inquiries are made in the direction suggested by the honorable gentleman. I have no recent information regarding the availability of supplies of pig iron overseas, but I shall endeavour to obtain it and inform the honorable gentleman accordingly.
– In view of the growing concern over certain provisions of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, which is so great that there are indications that Tasmania may secede from, the agreement, will the Minister for Works and Housing consider convening a conference of “Commonwealth and State Housing Ministers for the purpose of making a thorough review of the provisions of the agreement in the light of the ever-rising costs of living and rents that are bearing so heavily upon wage-earners who are trying to buy their homes?
– I believe that Tasmania has already seceded from the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. At the last conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, the Premier of Tasmania intimated that Tasmania wished to withdraw from the agreement and. no Government disagreed with its desire to do so. I understand that arrangements were made accordingly. I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by convening a conference of the kind suggested by the honorable gentleman. Prom time to time the Commonwealth corresponds with the States upon matters that either it or they wish to raise. If the honorable gentleman has any particular matters in mind that are the subject of dispute, I shall be grateful if he will let me know what they are.
– Is the Minister for Works and Housing aware that in Western Australia people may now purchase homes under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement on a rental purchase basis, and that in such cases the first year’s rent is accepted as a deposit? Yet ex-servicemen who wish to build homes under the War Service Homes scheme are required to pay a substantial deposit. Will the Minister give consideration to placing ex-servicemen on at least the same basis as civilians, in relation to the purchase of homes, by waiving the substantial deposit now required ?
– The honorable gentleman was good enough to advise me that he proposed to ask me a question along those lines and I have obtained from my department an explanation of the points that he has raised. The explanation is very lengthy and complicated, and if the honorable member will be good enough to consider his question as being on the notice-paper, I shall be glad to give him a full reply.
– Will the Minister for Health inform the House whether it is a fact that the Government agreed recently to permit the importation of approximate! j’ 7,000 tons of New Zealand potatoes into Australia? If so, did the right honorable gentleman request the Department of Commerce and Agriculture to prohibit their sale outside of the Sydney metropolitan area, in order to prevent the spread of any disease in th, potatoes to the potato-growing areas of New South Wales? By what means can people ‘be prevented from purchasing these potatoes in Sydney and conveying them to other parts of New South Wales ? How does the Government intend to stop retailers from buying them, carting them by road, and selling them on the black market to workers on the coal-fields? As potatoes form part of the staple diet of workers in the mining and heavy industries, will the Minister again consider authorizing a quota of these potatoes to be sent to the Newcastle district for consumption by the workers that I have mentioned ?
– Both the honorable member for Shortland and the honorable member for Newcastle made representations to me about this matter last week. I told them that arrangements had been made to permit the importation of about 5,000 tons of potatoes from New Zealand, provided that they were carefully inspected in the Dominion before shipment, and that conditions imposed by both the Commonwealth and State Health authorities were complied with. The honorable member for Shortland requested that a portion of this consignment of potatoes should be made available for consumption by workers on the coalfields. He pointed out that it, would be possible to transfer some of the cargo of potatoes from the New Zealand vessel into a coastal vessel in Darling Harbour, and thereby obviate their carriage by land. In compliance with his request arrangements were made for about 500 tons of New Zealand potatoes to be forwarded to Newcastle in order to alleviate the shortage of this commodity in that district. It is expected that they will be made available immediately for consumption, as was done in Sydney. I understand that the quantity of potatoes mentioned has been made available to the Newcastle district -out of the first shipment, and it is expected that further quantities also will be made available at a later date.
– I ask the Minister for Health to inform me which centres throughout Australia are at the moment specially concerned in research and investigation in connexion with poliomyelitis and kindred diseases? What amount of money is being contributed by the Government towards such research and investigation ?
– At the annual meeting of the National Health and Medical Research Council, at which it was stated that that body’s subsidy would be increased by about £25,000 a year, the matter of investigation into the causes and treatment of poliomyelitis was raised, and a committee of very eminent research officers representative of practically every State in the Commonwealth was appointed. That committee is now engaged in the matter mentioned by the honorable member but it has not been able to produce a complete report. In fact nobody else in the world has been able to do so up to the present time, but the committee is hard at work on the matter.
Mk JOHNSON.- Oan the Minister for National Development indicate the prospects of an early commencement of the programme of works in connexion with the proposed development of the Kimberley district in Western Australia? I point out that the problem of meat supply has become most acute in Western Australia, particularly in centres such as Kalgoorlie and surrounding districts where, in fact, no supplies of meat were available during portion of the winter months this year. An acceleration of the programme would ensure a far greater supply of beef to the Wyndham meatworks and so provide a worthy contribution towards overcoming the problem. I therefore ask the Minister whether, in view of the ‘urgency of this work, he will authorize a high priority for it with a view to an early start being made on a programme of works that is essential not only to the development of Western Australia but also to the development of the Commonwealth generally ?
– I imagine that the honorable gentleman refers to projects concerning road and stock routes between the Northern Territory and the northern part of the Kimberleys. I am not thoroughly familiar at the moment with the precise state of those works but I shall discover the position and advise the honorable member accordingly as soon as I can do so.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Health a question concerning a statement that he made to the press, the correctness of which I suppose he vouches for.
– Order ! I have ruled several times that questions must not be based on press statements, and my predecessor as Speaker did likewise.
– The statement to which I have referred is a statement for which the Minister accepts responsibility.
– I have not the Minister’s assurance of that.
– I desire to ask the Minister, if I may not refer to that, whether he is-
– Order! I have called the honorable gentleman’s attention to the fact that both he and I have ruled that questions may not be based on press statements.
– But you disagreed with me, Mr. Speaker, when I ruled on the point.
– Oh, no!
– I desire to ask the Minister, without reference to the press statement-
– Order ! The honorable member is still referring to the statement. He cannot get around the matter that way.
– I am not referring to the statement.
– Put it down and we shall see.
– I am not going to do anything of the kind. You might have some power here, Mr. Speaker, but you are not going to tell me what I shall have in my hand when ! ask a question.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is a fact that during the last general election campaign several members of the present Government and other Government candidates declared that a primary producers’ representative would be invited to attend all overseas conferences and negotiations affecting the sale of primary produce? Are primary producers so represented at the present international conference on wool? Will the Government announce immediately the terms suggested by the United States and the United Kingdom Governments or their representatives at the present international conference being held overseas? Should such an announcement not be made in view of the very groat interest in this matter, not only of wool-growers, but also of all the people of Australia?
– I can scarcely accept, in the sweeping terms used by the honorable member, the statement of what was said by present Ministers and other Government members during the last general election campaign. This Government has made a point of maintaining the closest consultation with primary producers when international discussions affecting their interests are proceeding. In connexion with the present discussions on wool the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has been in close consultation with wool representatives. I am not prepared to make a statement, at this stage, about the discussions that are occurring in London. Any such statement would be completely misleading because, in the course of discussions all sorts of propositions are put forward and examined and it would be the end of international negotiations if they had to be conducted publicly from their commencement. Under such circumstances, there could not bc any frank exchange of views. In view of certain suggestions that have been made, not by the honorable member for Lalor, but ‘by other persons, that the Minister is, in some secretive fashion, doing something to injure the Australian wool-grower, I must state that my colleague, during the whole of these- discussions, has regarded as a matter of major importance the protection of the Australian grower and the return which he can expect to receive from his clip. It need not be thought that there is any weakness in the attitude of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture nor of those Ministers who are dealing with the matter in Australia.
– Some time ago it was suggested that a company would like to operate a flying boat service between Sydney and the Hume Weir. Has the Minister for Civil Aviation any information on that subject? Would the Hume Weir be a satisfactory place for a flying boat base?
– The company referred to by the honorable member has opened a seaplane service from Sydney to Hobart. When the Hume Weir has been subject to a hydrographical survey and channels have been buoyed, consideration will be given to whether the service mentioned by the honorable member is possible. The company is quite busy, at present, with its existing air routes and is not pressing for the commencement of the Hume Weir service. At present the company’s air fleet is busily engaged on other routes.
– Has the Minister for National Development considered the recommendations of a conference, representative of all local governing authorities concerned, that was held following the recent disastrous floods on the coal-fields which resulted in a great loss of coal to the nation? Does the right honorable gentleman propose to sponsor or encourage the construction, as a national project, of an all-weather railway line from Singleton through Cessnock to Morisset, joining the southern line at the latter point, or, as an alternative, utilize the J. and A. Brown railway, known as the Richmond Main railway, and connecting it with the line formerly known as the West Wallsend-Cockle Creek-Seaham railway line, which would involve the construction of only 1-J miles of line? It is tragic that this work has not already been undertaken. The Government should consider the matter from a national point of view because flooding of the existing railway lines in the coal-fields is all too frequent.
– The proposals referred to by the honorable member have been raised by local governing bodies in the coal-fields area. I point out that the Australian Government has no direct status vis-a-vis the local governing bodies in a matter such as this. As I have pointed out in correspondence with the local governing bodies proposals of this kind should be submitted in the first place to the State Government.
– The local governing bodies invited the right honorable gentleman to visit the area.
– If the State Government thinks well of the project, I have no doubt that it will contact the Australian Government on the subject, but, having regard to the constitutional position, it would not be proper for the Australian Government to establish direct relations with local governing bodies. I could imagine the reaction of the State governments if the Australian Government did so.
– If floods had occurred during the recent war, the position to-day would have been very different as under the Defence Act the Government would have had power to act.
M.r. PETERS. - I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In order to assist those trade unions which desire the services of independent returning officers to conduct union elections of officers in accordance with the provisions” of the legislation passed by the Chifley Government, will the honorable gentleman appoint a sufficient number of returning officers to enable such elections to be carried out without delay ?
– The Government recognizes the importance of having free and democratically conducted elections in the trade unions because of the significance of those bodies to the community generally. If certain unions desire to have their ballots supervised by a government nominee, I shall examine the practicability of making arrangements, either through the Attorney-General, or through the Minister for the Interior, who administers the electoral law, for the appointment of suitable officers for that purpose. I shall examine the matter and I shall convey to the honorable member such information as I obtain in regard to it.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service state whether any progress has been made with the arrangements for the holding of a conference between the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board and himself to discuss the present unsatisfactory application of the law relating to worker’s compensation to waterside workers? If a conference on the subject has already been held, does the Government propose to rectify the present state of affairs in which wharf labourers are not covered by compensation when they are proceeding to the pick-up places to accept employment, and are covered only if they secure employment? If the Government intends to rectify tin position, from what date will the improved coverage operate?
– I have no recent information which I can place before the honorable member, but I shall bring his question to the notice of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, and ascertain whether the latest information can be readily supplied.
– In view of the widespread anxiety with which the general public are awaiting the presentation of the budget, in the fond hope that there will be something in it to put more value back into the £1 and assist in eliminating rises in prices, will the Treasurer tell the House definitely when the budget will be presented? Will he also be kind enough to inform honorable members bow many budgets he has already presented to Cabinet?
– I have already presented a budget to the House and the results are well known, but as far as the budget for the current year is concerned, 1 ask the honorable member not to be impatient because it will be brought down very shortly.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that during the last month the volume of so-called “ hot “ money coming into Australia has greatly increased? Is the right honorable gentleman contemplating the tightening of the regulations to prevent this? In view of the fact that this money is intended plainly to defraud the Australian community on a large scale, would he give consideration to publishing the names of individuals and financial institutions known by the Government to be engaged in these transactions?
– There is anxiety with regard to the so-called “ hot “ money coming into the country. The volume of money so entering is unknown, but the matter has been under close scrutiny. I have been in consultation with the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, and adequate action, as far as it properly can be taken, will be taken.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the report that the Minister for External Affairs proposes to support the recognition of Red China by the United Nations is correct? Does that suggest that Australia proposes to recognize Red China? If so, on what basis is such recognition to be applied?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member has referred and I know of no foundation for it.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether it is a fact, as is currently rumoured, that certain temperance societies are negotiating with his department for the erection of a large temperance hostel in the Australian Capital Territory and that public ser vants in the Australian Capital Territory will be denied accommodation at the hostel ?
– I have no knowledge, personally, of negotiations that the honorable gentleman has mentioned. I shall have inquiries made into the matter and inform him of the exact position.
– Is it a fact that on Sunday last the Minister for National Development delivered a nation-wide broadcast in a hook-up of national stations and that in the course of his address he dealt, among other things, with the difficulties confronting the Government with respect to inflation? If so, did he say in the course of his address that many remedies could be applied to the difficulties of inflation, but that most of them were very unpalatable, or obnoxious, to the people? If such also is a fact, will he accept my invitation to elaborate on the subject and say whether the remedies he has in mind to meet inflation include the suggestion made by the president of the Liberal party, of which he is a member, that the 40-hour week should be abandoned and the workers should work a 56-hour week?
– Order ! The honorable member is giving a lot of information. I doubt whether in framing questions without notice a distinction can be drawn between statements that are claimed to have been broadcast and statements that are published in newspapers, except that the latter are printed records.
– I take it that the Minister will not dispute the accuracy of what I am saying.
– Order ! It is not a matter of disputing anything, but a matter of asking for information and nothing else.
– Has the Minister in mind that we should have a 56-hour week instead of a 40-hour week as a means of solving inflation? Has he also in mind as further remedies for inflation, that wages should be reduced, that the workers should work longer and that workers should be directed from one industry to another?
– Order ! The honorable gentleman, as an ex-Minister, must realize that a question must relate to the administration of a Minister’s department, and not to his state of mind.
– I can vouch for his state of mind.
– Order ! I am not prepared to accept that.
– I ask the question in the hope that the Minister, having used the time on the national stations for a political broadcast, will now tell us exactly what he had in mind.
– I think that one can describe the honorable gentleman’s question as a. political flying saucer. I understand that flying saucers are the product. I shall not say of a disordered mind, but of a mind suffering from illusions. The broadcast to which the honorable member has referred was made, not over the national stations, but over a series of privately owned stations, and it dealt, not with inflation in Australia, but with the relation between world communism and inflation in the democracies.. I shall be very glad to send the honorable gentleman a copy of my address, and I feel that he may be a little the better for reading it.
– -I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question relative to industrial insurance policies terminated by (1) lapse, (2) surrender, (3) maturity, and (4) death, by individual insurance companies, or at least, by the Australian Mutual Provident Society for the years 1947, 1948 and 1949. Will the right honorable gentleman obtain from the Commonwealth Statistician details of the total amount that policy-holders paid to the Australian Mutual Provident Society, and paid by that organization on such policies?
– The honorable member will not be surprised when I tell him that I have not that information in my mind at the moment, but insofar as it is available, I shall see that it is obtained.
– I should like to know whether a report to the effect that the
Minister for Health will shortly proceed to America to address a medical congress, or similar body, on the details of his health scheme, is correct? Lf that is the right honorable gentleman’s intention will he oblige the House by explaining his scheme to honorable members before he departs ?
– I am not going abroad at present to explain the national health scheme to anybody, and if the honorable gentleman cares to read the very clear statements that have been made about it, he will be considerably enlightened. Last Sunday, I went into eight chemists’ shops in his own electorate, and I was pleased to find that each of those chemists was thoroughly satisfied with the manner in which the drugs scheme is functioning.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - I wish to reply to a question that was asked last Thursday by the honorable member for Melbourne about the temperature of this chamber. I am advised that the installation of new air-conditioning plant for this chamber, and for the Senate, has been proceeding for some time, and although the new plant has been in operation since the beginning of the year, the installation is not yet complete. Certain alterations have still to be effected to some of the inward air ducts in the chamber, and until that is done, the distribution of clean air will not be fully satisfactory. Experience has indicated, also, that some modification to the variation control is necessary. However, I have asked that, in future, the temperature setting be slightly reduced, and I hope that honorable members will, as a consequence, be more comfortable.
Debate resumed from the 28th September (vide page 134), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I remind honorable members that the purpose of this legislation is to dissolve the Australian Communist party. That was made clear by the Prime Minister when he introduced the bill, and it is set forth for all to see in the preamble to the bill, and in certain of the clauses. The preamble consists of 11 paragraphs, no fewer than four of which refer directly to the Communist party and stress the dangerous nature of its activities in Australia. In many of the clauses of the bill the Communist party is mentioned by name, and it is provided that certain organizations associated with the Communist party may be declared unlawful. Clause 4 provides that the Australian Communist party shall be dissolved, and its funds placed in the hands of a receiver. In other words, the party is to be dissolved and its funds are to be seized. Clause 5 deals with subsidiary organizations deemed to be acting on behalf of the Communist party. Obviously, therefore, the main purpose of the bill is to effect the dissolution of the Australian Communist party, and the till itself represents an attempt by the Government to give effect to the policy which was so freely advertised during the election campaign. For instance, in the Sydney Sun of the 15th November, 1949, the following advertisement appeared : -
Outlaw the Communists: Destruction of the Communist party. No Communist to hold office in the Public Service or in Indutrial Organizations. Appointment of a Receiver over their assets.
We must assume that the advertisement clearly expressed the attitude of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party towards communism and the Australian Communist party - and the Liberal party and the Australian Country party now form the Government. In the course of the present debate, and of a previous debate, statements were frequently made by Government ‘supporters that the Labour party was delaying the passage of the bill. It was said that, because we suggested certain amendments which we believed to be necessary, we were frustrating the efforts of the Government to dissolve the Communist party, and to prevent it from damaging the nation. I remind honora’ble members that the first Communist Party Dissolu tion Bill was introduced six months after the general election. The Prime Minister said in his policy speech that the Australian Communist party was causing considerable trouble in the economic life of this country, and that urgent steps must be taken to suppress communism, yet the bill providing for the dissolution of the Australian Communist party was not brought before the Parliament foi’ consideration until May. It was finally dealt with by both Houses in June.
To what degree has the Opposition frustrated the implementation of the policy outlined in the Prime Minister’s election speech? Has the Opposition opposed clause 4 of the bill which provides for the dissolution of the Communist party and the seizure of its funds? It has not. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed that clause without objection. It cannot be argued, therefore, that the Opposition frustrated the implementation of that part of the Prime Minister’s policy speech. As I have said, the main purpose of the bill is the destruction of the Australian Communist party. From that objective a number of other aims flow. One of these is to prevent the Communist party from functioning in some other guise. Clause 5 empowers the Government to declare an organization to be unlawful if it is being used to propagate the doctrines of the Communist party, is controlled by members of the Communist party or has on its committee of management, members of the central executive of the Communist party. Has the Opposition endeavoured in any way to prevent the Government from dealing with such, organizations? Again I say that it has not. Both in this House and in the Senate, the principles contained in clause 5 were approved. Similarly, no opposition was raised by the Labour party to the passage of that portion of the measure which provides for the declaration of Communists, or to the Government’s definition of “ Communist “. Clause 10, which provides for the imposition of economic sanctions on persons declared to be or to have been Communists, was not opposed by the Opposition either in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. Further, in neither House of the Parliament was objection taken to the admissibility as evidence of il ecu ments seized during the raid on Marx House last year. Therefore, it cannot be argued that the major principles of the bill have been contested by the Labour party.
The attitude of the Labour party has been that, in dealing with sweeping legislation - and no one can deny that the Communist Party Dissolution Bill is sweeping legislation touching the liberty of the subject - there is a grave responsibility on every member of the Parliament to ensure that the rights and freedoms of the subject shall be preserved. The Opposition does not propose to permit those liberties and rights to be whittled away without making some attempt to safeguard them. That is the only reason why the bill is again before this chamber. The Opposition has not prevented the Government from implementing its election promises because, as 1 have said, the Government has been empowered to destroy the Communist party and its subsidiaries. There is no truth in the assertion made last week by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) that the Labour Opposition is preventing the Government from controlling the Communist party. We have voted to clothe the Government with power to control the Communist party, but we have also borne in mind our responsibility to safeguard the inherent liberties and rights of our people.
I propose now to bring to the notice of the House the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights “, passed and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 10th December, 1948. The Commonwealth of Australia is a signatory to that declaration. Article 2 of the Declaration states -
In other words, all persons, no matter who they may be, are entitled to those general rights. Article 7 states -
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation oi the Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 11 states -
I emphasize the first two lines of that declaration -
Every one charged with a penal offence hasthe right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty . . .
That is the right that we are seeking for Australian citizens under this bill.
– The Labour party will have to repeal a lot of its own legislation.
– Whether or not legislation will have to be repealed is not the issue. In dealing with sweeping and revolutionary legislation of this description, it is necessary for us to be particularly careful that we do not establish the foundation of a police state that would seriously threaten civil liberty. When we set out to ban political organizations and to impose economic sanctions on individuals because of their membership of such organizations, as we have done unanimously in this instance, we must be scrupulously careful to ensure that we do not overstep the bounds set by our belief of what is right and proper in a democratic community.
What would be the effect of the Government’s proposals concerning the onus of proof in respect of the declaration of organizations as unlawful associations and of persons as Communists ? Either form of declaration would involve the implication that, the persons concerned were treasonable and traitorous. An organization would have the right to appeal against its declaration as an unlawful association, but the very act of declaration would brand it as an organization that was prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth or to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution or the laws of the Commonwealth. Therefore, a declaration would involve not merely a statement that an organization was an unlawful association but also an assertion that it was a treasonable and rebellious organization opposed to the maintenance of the Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth. Individuals who were declared as Communists because they had advocated, preached or practised communism as expounded by Marx or Lenin would be branded at the same time as treasonable and rebellious persons who were prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to the security of the nation and also to the execution or maintenance of its Constitution or laws. Thus, the extraordinary situation foi’ which the bill provides is that a declared person would have the right of appeal against his declaration as a Communist but would be allowed no appeal whatever against the other aspersion that would be cast upon him and his family. lt is suggested that an amendmrnt to which the Government agreed when the bill was being discussed previously would place the onus of proof upon the Crown instead of upon the individual if the declared person would enter the witness-box and swear on oath that he did not belong to an unlawful organization and that he was not a Communist. That suggestion is revealed as a fallacy if one examines the bill carefully. In the first place, even if a person were prepared to enter the witness-box, he would not be notified in advance, by charge or by summons, that ho was to be declared. The first notification would bc the publication of a. declaration, presumably in the Commonwealth Gazette. In the second place, when he entered the witness-box he would have no knowledge of the facts or the beliefs upon which he had been declared. While in the witness-box he could be subjected by the Crown to crossexamination of the very widest and fullest character before any question of the Crown endeavouring to prove its case came up for consideration. Therefore, even though the onus of proof might fall upon the Crown in certain instances, a declared person would still be at a very great disadvantage and would be deprived of the rights set out in Article 11 of the Declaration of Human Eights.
The Government has asserted that the main reason why it cannot allow the onus of proof to rest upon the Crown is that it would be disastrous for the Commonwealth to have security information divulged in open court in order to support the propriety of a declaration. I am impelled to point out that, under the bill as it now stands, a declared person who appealed would not be given the opportunity to prove that he was not treasonable, traitorous or rebellious. The appeal would relate only to the question of whether he was a Communist. Furthermore, the evidence that would be required to prove that a person was a Communist as defined in the bill, or that an organization was an unlawful association as defined in the bill, would not involve the divulging of any information affecting the defence of the Commonwealth. A person properly declared as a Communist would have to be somebody who had preached, advocated or practised communism as expounded by Marx or Lenin. No defence risk would be. involved if a security officer entered the witness-box and made a statement to the effect, for instance, that John Brown, at a meeting in the Sydney Domain, had preached the doctrine of the revolutionary overthrow of Australia. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply fantastic; it cannot be upheld.
During the course of the debate last week, the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Handby) referred to trials that had taken place in the United States of America. Those trials have provided us with clear proof that it is possible to establish in a court of law that individuals have engaged in the teaching and practice of communism. Eleven persons were charged in the United States of America with conspiracy against the State. They were tried by jury and found guilty. The important fact to remember is that, in all ‘those cases, the onus of proof rested upon the State. If the honorable member has read the reports of the case he will remember that the Federal Bureau of Investigation called, altogether, seven of its own agents, of whom six were men and one was a woman, to give evidence during the proceedings. It transpired that they all had been posing as Communists for periods of from two to nine years. In addition, the bureau called witnesses who were former members of the Communist party and were able to give complete information about what had been transpiring in the American Communist party. There was no indication that’ the calling of that evidence or the appearance in court of agents of the bureau impinged in any way on the security structure that has been erected in that country.
The next point I make is that of the danger of permitting averments to be made without requiring those who make them to give evidence in support of their accuracy. The effect of that provision will be that security officers will inevit-ably become careless in the collection and presentation of evidence concerning suspected persons because they will know that the reports which they will submit, and on which the averments will be based, will not be subject to test or check in the courts. It is inevitable that security officers will tend to act on suspicion or on mere gossip, that they will accept statements made by people who are actuated solely by motives of revenge or other improper purposes, and that they will rely on the loose talk of people in the streets, or will act on apparently reliable but unsubstantiated rumours. That is by no means impossible. We need only recall that when the measure was introduced in its original form the Prime Minister himself gave to the House a list of persons who were believed to be prominent members of the Communist party. That list had .been compiled by security officials. On the basis of that list the right honorable gentleman said, in effect, “ The following persons are prominent members of the Communist party who are doing their utmost to upset the economic life of Australia “. Within a few days he found that he had been misinformed ; and I give credit to the (right honorable gentleman for having informed the House of his error - indeed, it- would be churlish not to give him credit for having done so. However, the point I stress now is that if wrong information could be supplied by the security officials to the Prime Minister on such an important occasion, it is obvious that incorrect information is even more likely to be supplied on lesser occasions. Similar errors to that made by the security officials a few months ago will continue to be made unless the responsibility is thrust upon the security officials to ensure that every report and recommendation that they make can be substantiated under the test of cross-examination and when subjected to the ordinary processes of law. After all, we must ensure that the security organization does not become something in the nature of a police force. Honorable members must realize that members of that organization will have access to extraordinary sources of information, and that, unless their duties are clearly defined and unless they know that their evidence can be subjected to crossexamination in the courts of law, the temptation to abuse their powers may very well place ordinary members of the community in very damaging situations.
In the short time left to me I take the opportunity again to stress my apprehension for the welfare of both members of trade unions and of the Australian Labour party if the measure becomes law. In the trade union movement to-day, as in the past, are many outstanding men with strong political convictions, including men who ardently believe in socialism and in the need for a change of social conditions in order to provide more social security for our people. I believe that the provisions of this measure can be used against such people in times of industrial trouble. During my long association with the industrial movement I have had experience of many bitter struggles in which trade union leaders, who were admirable citizens and good Australians, were arrested by the police, prosecuted and fined. Indeed, in some instances trade unionists have been sent to gaol merely because they were fighting for causes which they believed would benefit their fellows.
In order to give an example of the kind of allegation that is frequently made against trade unionists and members of the Labour party, I propose to refer briefly to some advertisements that were published in the press during the last election campaign. In doing so, I remind honorable members that there are many people in the community who believe in socialism, which might be described as the assertion of responsibility for matters of social concern. Taking that definition, with which I agree, as a basis-
– That definition could be applied to any form of government.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say that. I shall now read some of those advertisements in order to show how easy it will be, if this bill becomes law, to misrepresent grossly one’s political opponents. I shall begin by reading an advertisement which appeared in the Age of the 2nd December, 1949, and was as follows: -
When yon vote Labour you vote Socialist! . . And socialism is the road downhill to communism.
That speaks for itself. [Extension of time granted.’] I express my appreciation to the House for its indulgence. I shall now quote from an advertisement which appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser of the same date, and reads, in part, as follows : -
The Liberal-Country party is the one great political force in Australia resisting the attack of socialism and communism - the two arch enemies of personal freedom.
Another advertisement which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 23rd November last stated -
The socialist doctrine has lost all spiritual content. It is,-
And the emphasis is placed on the words “ It is “- as Church leaders have pointed out, the lineal descendant of the gross materialsm of Karl Marx.
We know that the teachings of Karl Marx will be the basis on which a person will be declared a Communist. On the 9th November last the Daily Mirror published the following advertisement : -
Believe it or not, it contains full plans for a Socialist revolution, based on Red Russian inspiration.
I could continue to quote advertisement after advertisement in which socialism and the Australian Labour party are linked with communism. When one examines such advertisements, and bears in mind that they were published by the two political parties opposed to Labour, and which are now in office, it is abundantly clear that the measure that we are discussing- is dangerous. Every protection should be included in the measure to safeguard the liberty and good repute of people who, like myself, hate communism. Indeed, I suppose that more bitter attacks have been made on me by the Communists than on any other member of the trade union movement or of the Australian Labour party-
– The same claim has been made by half a dozen of the honorable gentleman’s colleagues.
– It is not a matter merely of what we say or of what we claim. If the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) cares to examine the issues of the Communist press during the last ten years he will find that I ha ve been subjected to more attacks by the Communist party than has any other honorable mem’ber.
In conclusion, I object most strongly to the passage of a measure that will render me liable to declaration as a Communist and as a subversive individual merely because I believe in socialism, which aims, after all, at making the lot of the ordinary man better by providing cheaper and better food, and free education, and because I advocate the nationalization of banking and a few other reforms which happen to coincide with some of the doctrines of Karl Marx. Therefore, I urge the Government, even now, to accept the proposal put forward by the Australian Labour party concerning the onus of proof provision in the bill, have the bill passed, deal with the Communist party, dissolve it, seize_ its funds, and impose the economic sanctions proposed in clause 10.
.- We t dealt with most of the major contentious issues involved in this measure on an earlier occasion. I have not changed my opinion that the stand taken by the Government should be supported and that no further amendment of the bill should be permitted. However, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) raised three or four objections to the principles of the bill. In the first place, he said that the Government’s principal objective is to destroy the Communist party. In making that assertion I think he fell into a fundamental error. The truth is that the Government wants to destroy the Communist party; it also wants to restrain individual Communists from destroying our industrial structure and preventing our industrial production from attaining full momentum. We want to outlaw them and remove their baneful influence from this country and the world in general. The danger with which we are faced in this country comes, not only from the Communist party but also from individual Communists, The Government is now attempting to deal with that problem.
The honorable gentleman dealt with the matter of frustration of the will of the Government. He said, in effect, “ Now that the Opposition has agreed that the Communist party shall be outlawed and dissolved and Communists prevented from holding office in trade unions, it cannot be said we are frustrating the will of the Government”. It is a well-known device to say, with tongue in cheek, “ “We agree with your objectives “, and then systematically to attempt to prevent the achievement of those objectives. That is a Marxian tactic, and it is one freely used by honorable gentlemen opposite.
The honorable gentleman then dealt with the matter of giving particulars of charges. The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), in a celebrated judgment, set out the objections to giving particulars in cases such as those to which this bill will apply. If the Commonwealth were obliged to give particulars, the Communists would begin systematically to collect false evidence for the purpose of frustrating the will of the court, distorting the process of justice v and preventing the Government, not only from issuing declarations against Communists, but also from maintaining those declarations in force. If the Commonwealth were obliged to say, “ These are the grounds upon which we have declared you “, the very purposes of the bill would be frustrated and the measure would be rendered completely ineffective. I do not think any lawyer would argue for long that particulars should be given to a traitor and a Communist.
The honorable gentleman also dealt with the trials of Communists in the United States of America. I remind the House that most of those persons were charged with perjury and not with being Communists. It must be remembered that the danger of communism in the United States of America was never as great as it is in Australia. Neither the Government nor the trade union movement of the United States of America has ever coquetted with the Communists. I wonder whether honorable gentlemen opposite can say, “ We have never coquetted with the Communists or played ball with them ; we have always completely disregarded them “. Some of the Communists who were tried in the United States of America were indicted for conspiring to overthrow by force the government of that country. We are not aiming at that in this measure. What we are saying, clearly and definitely, is that when a person has been proved to be a Communist, he shall be removed from office in vital trade unions or prevented from holding office under the Commonwealth. It is not our intention to charge Communists with being parties to a conspiracy to overthrow by armed force the government of this country. Our objective is only to remove them from positions in the trade union movement and under the Commonwealth.
At the last general election, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) presented a clearcut policy to the people of Australia and obtained from them a mandate to implement it. He said that the present Government parties would, if returned, dissolve the Communist party and prevent known Communists from holding certain offices. That is exactly what he has tried to do. He has gone no further than he said in his policy speech, that he would go, and he has not retreated from the position that he took up then. The Opposition has said, “ We agree with you that the Communist party should be dissolved and that prominent Communists should be prevented from holding office in certain trade unions “. Was it honest when it said that? Immediately honorable gentlemen opposite looked at the mechanical provisions of the bill, they said, “ Although we agree with your objectives, we do not agree with the means by which you propose to achieve them “. They have objected to the Government trying to make this bill an effective measure and doing its best to save this community from the menace of communism.
Let us examine in detail the objections raised by the Opposition. They relate principally to the onus of proof, trial by jury and appeals. It has been urged, mainly by the right honorable member for Barton, that appeals should be allowed in respect, not only of the allegation that a person is a Communist but also of the allegation that he is engaged, or is likely to engage, in treasonable activities. When the Prime Minister introduced this bill for the first time, he made it clear that he would listen to any amendments of a machinery nature provided they would not impair the effectiveness of the measure. On that occasion he showed a genuinely liberal and democratic spirit, and ho has maintained that position since then. He has permitted several very important amendments to be made to the bill and has shown that the Government is ready to lean over backwards to ensure that the fundamental rights of the people and the normal rules of the law relating to criminal or treasonable activities shall be maintained. The Government accepted an amendment providing for the establishment of an administrative committee on 1 the analogy of the French Droit Administratif. The amended bill provides that, before the Executive Council - that is, the Government - declares a person to be a Communist, the evidence produced must be sifted by an administrative committee of five persons, including the Solicitor-General and the Secretary of the Department of Defence. The committee will consider whether the evidence is sufficient to warrant the persons being declared and whether it can be verified. I believe that that provision deserves not condemnation but the highest praise.
– Does not the honorable gentleman trust the courts to do that ?
– I do, but the Government is trying to provide an additional protection for the people, and that is one of the means that it has adopted in order to provide it.
The Government has also endeavoured to limit the scope of the measure and confine its operation only to known Communists or people who are engaged in Communist activities. It has tried to do that in two ways. First, it can declare only members of the Communist party. In that event, it will have to prove that they are members of the party. No one could object to that. Secondly - and this is the alternative - ‘the Government will have to prove that a declared person is actively engaged in, or is likely to engage in, the overthrow of legitimate government by revolutionary means and is engaged in, or is likely to engage in, treasonable activities.
– Why does not the honorable gentleman read the bill?
– I know the contents of the bill far better than does the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), because I have read it many times. The Government has restricted the scope of the measure considerably, in order that it will apply only to known Communists or persons who are engaged in, or are likely to engage in, activities designed to overthrow the Government of this country by revolutionary means.
I shall now turn briefly to some of the main arguments that have been advanced by the Opposition. At the outset I want to make it perfectly clear that I have not heard any objection from the opposite side of the House that was not specious. I have not heard any objection so far that I regard as valid and that should be upheld by the Government. On the subject of onus of proof, I point out that in English constitutional law we have never known of such a thing as a single rule of evidence. Generally speaking we can say that an English court places the onus of proof according to how justice will best be served, either on the prosecution or on the defence. The common law itself determines who shall bear the onus of proof. It is never placed wholly on the Crown and there is no golden rule which says that the Crown shall always, bear the onus of proof. In the absence of this contentious clause in the bill providing that a declared person shall bear the onus of proof, I am convinced that it would have been placed squarely on him. The Government went a stage further than the common law by saying, in effect, to the declared person, “ If you go into * the witness box the onus of proof will be on the Crown “. Here is a man declared to be a Communist, a man whom it is considered is engaged in, or is likely to engage in, treasonable activities, yet the Opposition contends that the full onus of proof should be on the Crown. On the other hand, the Government conskiers that that kind of individual should be made go into the witness-box and submit to cross-examination. With the exception of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), I have not heard one eminent constitutional lawyer object to this clause of the bill. Universally it has met with approval by all the barristers and solicitors with whom I have discussed it. I personally am strongly of the opinion that it does the best possible to protect the fundamental rights of the people.
I shall now deal with the clause relating to trial by jury. Here again we find ourselves in an extraordinary predicament. There is far too much confusion in the mind of the average individual about this clause. Normally we think of trial by jury in connexion with indictable offences, that is, where a person is likely to go to prison for what he has done, or have his property confiscated. We can do neither of those things in this case, however, so that the analogy to indictable offences does not exist. The Opposition is arguing in accordance with a completely false analogy when it tries to show that this particular kind of declaration could be equated to a criminal offence. As I have pointed out before, what will happen is that there will first be an administrative committee, comprised of five men, which will sift the evidence in order to determine whether it can be verified and whether it is of such a nature that a declaration should be made. It will then go to the Executive Council of nineteen members, or perhaps a few less. That is, 24 people will have looked at the evidence and come to the conclusion that the man is a Communist. If the person appeals against a declaration and trial by jury is allowed, the result will be that if one juror considers that the man is not a Communist, or perhaps if he himself is a Communist and wants the declared person to win his appeal, or for some other reason does not want the declaration to stand, that man, a supposed or an alleged Communist, who may engage in treasonable activities, will go “ scot free “. In other words, although 35 men hold a single, opinion, if one has a doubt the declared person will be allowed to go “ scot-free “.
Do honorable members think that that system should be adopted in a British community? As I have said all along,, the objection is completely specious and one that we should reject here and now. When the right honorable member for Barton addresses himself to constitutional matters one usually has to sit up and listen. On this occasion, however,. I beg to differ from him. The right honorable gentleman stated that a person would be declared on two grounds: first,, that he was a Communist; and secondly, that he was engaged in or was likely to engage in treasonable activities, yet we give the right of appeal only on the first ground. That, I believe, is a flaw. I do not think it can be overcome, because if it were we should have to disclose information that had reached us from diplomatic sources and from the Department of External Affairs, in addition to our security service and our defence intelligence. Therefore, the legislation itself, and the procedures under it, would be rendered completely ineffective. It must be remembered that the Government is responsible and acts in the public and private interests. If the court were to decide that a declared person was not a Communist it would be open to the Government to review the matter, and, if it considered the course expedient, say to the person concerned, in effect, “ A mistake has been made. We now find that you were not engaged in treasonable activities or likely to engage in such activities “.
I hold very strongly the opinion, and I believe it to be held very strongly also by members of the legal profession in Sydney, that the Government has been at pains to provide against interfering with the legitimate and fundamental privileges of the people. Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and freedom of assembly have been protected to the maximum of our capacity. By incorporating amendments that were suggested by the Opposition when the bill was first before this House, the Government has shown itself in a truly liberal light. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has pointed out in a series of advertisements in this morning’s press, international communism is on the inarch, and it is our job to play our part with the democratic nations of the world not only to protect the people of our own country but also to protect the freedomloving peoples outside the Soviet orbit. I am sure that we shall play our part magnificently. This measure is the first step to curb the activities of those who, by design, are endeavouring to undermine the trade unions of this country and to subvert them to treasonable activities. Events in the future will prove that the Government is doing the right thing by insisting upon this bill being passed by the Parliament. It is obvious that honorable members opposite want an escape. In effect, ‘ if they had to face the electors on this matter, all they could say would be, “We wanted to outlaw the Communists, but we wouldn’t touch a hair of their heads because they are sacred little fellows “. I commend the bill and the amendments that were made by the Government. I hope that it will be accepted, but if it is not, the Opposition will have to bear the full responsibility to the Australian people for giving a free run to the Communists to sabotage and destroy the free way of life of our community.
. - The honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon) has taken, in his final remarks, a point that is the very ground of the Opposition’s concern in relation to this measure, by stating that he considers that this bill does not go far enough. I believe that other members on the Government side share that opinion. The honor.orable member for Lowe repeated the statement that the Government intends to do something to remove Communists from positions in which they can destroy the industrial structure of this country. Those of us who are in the trade union movement, and others who have listened to some of the speeches made on this measure, find ourselves consistently asking where this intention of the Government starts and finishes. Considering the broad grounds upon which a Communist may be declared under this measure, it is natural for an industrial leader, or a supporter of Australian trade unionism, to wonder how far the Government may go in declaring people who may become embroiled in future strikes, irrespective of their political beliefs. If it be the intention of the Government to deal with people under this measure as if they were traitors to the community because they have become associated with some industrial action that has caused disruption in industry, then I consider that it would be wrong to use a measure of this character in peace-time against industrial leaders. That would put the trade union movement back to the position that it held before 1908. If there is to be a fight with the trade union movement, against the right of trade unionists to elect their own union officials, I suggest that it would be far better for the Government to accept the amendments to the measure that the Opposition previously submitted, and then to allow both the validity and the effectiveness of the law, as it would then be, to be tested. Had the Government accepted the Opposition’s amendments, thereby ensuring that the bill would have passed the Parliament some months ago, we should now have known whether its approach to the problem was right, or whether the Labour party’s view in relation to the direction of trade union leadership was the correct view. A period of ten months has elapsed since the people gave the Government a mandate to take action in relation to the Communist party. During that period the Opposition has done nothing to thwart the Government, if it was sincere, in its plan to ban the Communist party. A Government that has been in office for ten months, during which time it has stated that there are people in the community who are guilty of all the things that are set out in the preamble to the measure and has done nothing about those people, has certainly not been doing its job properly.
The trade union movement has grave doubts about the Government’s sincerity. We of the Labour party have been twitted on occasions about whether or not, as the honorable member for Lowe put it, we would have one hair of a Communist’s head injured. We have been accused of playing ball with the Communists. I may enlighten the honorable member for Lowe by pointing out that even some Ministers in the Government that he supports are at this stage prepared to play ball with Communists.
– One of them visited the home of a Communist in Newcastle.
– I refer to matters quite apart from visiting the homes of Communists. I attended a conference called in Sydney on the 17th August by a Minister in the present Government. That conference was held several months after the Government had made the statements about Communists that appear in the preamble to the measure and with which we on this side of the House agree. The persons who attended that conference included individuals who were actually on the list of well-known Communists that was given to this House and the country by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I was astonished to find the Government playing ball in that way with such high-ranking Communists.
– Whom were those Communists representing at that conference ?
– I was astounded when the Minister who was present at that conference in the company of persons who had been named by the Prime Minister as the top Communists of Australia stated in his summing-up of the results of the conference -
I do take with me one very happy impression, and that is that all round this room-
And the persons in that room included Communists who had been named by the Prime Minister - there is a general feeling of co-operation and desire to do a useful job in the country’s interests in regard to this vital industry of Sea transport and cartage of goods and if we can., as public-spirited men-
Still including the Communists! - with an interest in our country’s welfare-
Still the Communists! - translate that spirit of co-operation later I think that we will have started something here to-day which will be very useful in the future.
Yet we on this side of the House have been, and are, accused of playing ball with the Communists. The statement that I have quoted was made by a Minister of, the Crown who should know something about labour and industry in this country. As I have said, he made it at a conference in which Communists participated.
– Whom were the Communists representing?
- Mr. Healy, of the Waterside Workers Federation, was one of the Communists present. Consider the Minister’s statement in the light of the fact, that members of the Labour party are twitted now with having played ball with Communists! A comparison of such statements with the attitude that the Government has adopted in this House makes one who has fought Communists in a realistic way wonder whether there is some combination between the Government and the Communists to destroy the Labour party, which is the only democratic political party in this country. I was astonished at the honorable member for Lowe having made the statement that we have played ball with the Communists when his own party is playing ball with the Communists to-day.
If the Government had been sincere, at any stage, in its attempt to ban communism in this country, governments of its own political colour, the Victorian Government in particular, which had a mandate to do something along those lines, and which spent a. great deal of money on a royal commission on communism, would have done something about the Communist party. It is the considered view of the Opposition, at this stage, that this measure is being used as a smoke-screen to distract the attention of the people from the real issue, which is that the Government has broken the promises it gave to the electors in respect of halting the prices spiral, and that it is using this device to bring about a general election based on a false issue. The Government knows that the people of this country hate communism in all its forms, just as the Opposition also does, but despite all the threats about how the Labour party will go to its Waterloo in the event of an election on the Communist issue, we know that when that election day does come, be it soon or late, the great Australian Labour party will be able to face the electors on this issue with the knowledge that while there is a
Labour party it will fly the flag of democratic freedom so high that its stand will be supported by the people.
– Order ! The time allotted for the second-reading debate on the bill has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
.- I suggest to the committee that, if the Prime Minister approves, the three main provisions concerning which amendments have been circulated be dealt with separately, as far as possible. First, there are the proposed amendments to clause 5, which deals with the declaration of organizations. Then there are the proposed amendments to clause 9. Finally, the third main amendment proposes to insert new clause 25a and deals with the methodof trial before the court in matters that arise out of clauses 5 and 9, namely, whether the judge should he assisted by a jury. As the time for consideration of these matters has been limited by order of the House, it occurred to me after consultation with honorable members opposite, that the committee might dispose of clause 5 before the dinner adjournment and might reach a decision on clause 9 by about quarter to 10 o’clock, leaving the rest of the time available for the third amendment. That course, if adopted, would enable the debate to be concentrated on the main points.
The other clauses are either acceptable to the committee generally and will not give rise to debate, are consequential and cannot be debated until a decision of the committee upon the amendments to the main clause has been given, or are of minor significance.
I think that clauses 1 and 2 might be agreed to. I suggest that consideration of clause 3 be postponed. No amendment is to be proposed to clause 4 and it could be accepted by the committee, which could then proceed to debate the first series of amendments, which the Opposition proposes to submit to clause 5.
– I do not endeavour to work out a time-table for to-night be cause I do not know what honorable members may wish to speak on the various clauses, but I am quite agreeable to an effort being made to dispose of the bill up to and including clause 5 before dinner. Clauses 1 and 2 apparently are not controversial. Clause 3 can be postponed, clause 4 can be agreed to and clause 5 can incite the first debate.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 postponed.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 - (4.) A body of persons declared to be an unlawful association under sub-section (2.) of this section may, within twenty-eight days after the publication of the declaration in the Gazette, apply to the appropriate court to set aside the declaration, on the ground that the body is not a body to which this section applies. (5.) At the hearing of the application, the applicant shall begin; if evidence is given in person by such officer or officers of the applicant as the court is satisfied is or are best able to give full and admissible evidence as to matters relevant to the application, the burdens shall be upon the Commonwealth to prove that the applicant is a body to which this section applies, but, if evidence is not so given, the burden shall be upon the applicant to prove that the applicant is not a body to which this section applies. (6.) 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 body of persons to which this section applies, be prima facie evidence that the applicant is such a body.
.- I move -
That, in sub-clause (4.), the following words be left out: - “, on the ground that the body is not a body to which this section applies “.
When the committee has disposed of this amendment I shall move to leave out subclauses (5.) and (6.) and to insert other sub-clauses in their place.
This clause deals with the declaration of bodies of persons on the grounds slated in paragraphs (a), (&), (c) and (d) of sub-clause (1.) Under sub-clause (2.) the Governor-General may declare a body of persons to be anunlawful association provided he is satisfied that it is “ a body of persons to which the section applies and that the continued existence of that body of persons would be prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth “. I omit the words that follow. Under sub-clause (4.) a body of persons so declared may apply to the appropriate court to set aside the declaration, but only “ on the ground that the body is not a body to which this section applies “. The object of the proposed amendments is to give to the declared organization the right to appeal to the court not only on the ground that the body is not one to which the section applies but also on the question of the danger to security of such a body. As the bill now stands, the provision in regard to the hearing, we submit, is quite contrary to a just proceeding. Sub-clause (5.) reads -
At the hearing of the application, the applicant shall begin; if evidence is given in person by such officer or officers of the applicant as the Court is satisfied is or are best able to give full and admissible evidence, evidence as to matters relevant to the application, the burden shall be upon the Commonwealth to prove that the applicant is a body to which this Section applies, but, if evidence is not so given, the hurden shall be upon the applicant to prove that the applicant is not a body to which this Section applies.
Under sub-clause (6.) the declaration itself is admissible evidence of what it alleges ; it is prima facie evidence that the organization is such a body. That body is declared by the executive Government to be in one of the four classes ; that is to say, Communist controlled or Communist influenced in some way and also, in substance, a seditious or treasonable body. If the Government chooses to make the declaration of illegality of a body dependent upon Communist association plus seditious tendency, there ought to be an opportunity of having that accusation heard by a court. There is no such opportunity at present. Appeal is limited to one ground only, and there is no possible chance of a hearing by a tribunal on the second count. The amendments, therefore, seek to give that opportunity to the organization declared, the property of which is made unlawful, with serious penal consequences to those who attempt to keep it in existence. In addition, the procedure provided for in the bill is the complete reverse of what should be the just procedure in such cases.
The Government, through the GovernorGeneral, may declare a body to be unlawful, seditious, or of Communist association without a hearing at which the representatives of the organization may appear. The clause then provides that the organization may apply to the appropriate court, either a Supreme Court or the High Court, and that it must begin. In other words, if the organization appears and nothing further occurs, the case before the court is dismissed. Therefore, in order to have an opportunity to clear itself of the charges made against it, the representatives of the body must give evidence in the witness box and endeavour to prove that the body is not of Communist association. The view presented by the Labour party is that the just rule of law in such cases is that the Government should be called upon to prove its allegations in the ordinary way before the court. If the body falls into one of the groups sought to be covered by the legislation there should not be no great difficulty in proving its Communist association. Evidence to support that proof must be available. The Government instead of following that course has reversed the whole onus of proof so that the officials of the organization, as selected by the judge, must give evidence in the first instance. We submit that that procedure is contrary to all natural justice and is not proper in such cases.
The second part of the amendment is even more important. If the Government stamps a body as seditious or treasonable, there should be a right of appeal to a court. I regard that right as even more important than the principle of the onus of proof. The Government no longer takes the view that security officers may not be called upon to give evidence, because under an amendment which it has already accepted such officers may have to give evidence at a certain stage in the hearing of a case. Consider the case of a union official who is alleged to have been associated with Communists and is likely to he seditious. The ground on which’ the allegation rests may be that the person concerned had been an organizer of a body which . had been engaged in industrial disputes or disturbances. There are indications in other parts of the bill that certain persons may regard that association with such an organization, from a political viewpoint, as being equivalent to sedition when in fact it is nothing of the kind as long as the individual acts honestly for the furtherance and protection of his principles. On these very important matters the law should be administered in the spirit of justice. That is all that the Opposition seeks to achieve by these amendments.
Clause 25 of the bill contains provision after provision dealing with evidence such as entries in a book or documents found in an office, by means of which the Government may be able to establish a prima facie case that a person is a Communist. Considering the problems that the Government will have to face in connexion with this legislation I cannot see why it refuses to accept these amendments. Their acceptance would not make the bill impossible to operate. On the contrary, they would enable it to operate in accordance with the principles of justice that should apply in cases of this kind. As the bill stands at present an organization may be dispossessed of its property and on one of the crucial points at issue there is to be no appeal. On the other point, the onus of proof is forced upon the body itself, instead ofbeing borne by the Crown.
Order ! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) has proposed a series of amendments to the bill. They deal with two main points. The first is that the Executive Council should not make the final decision whether an association is carrying out unlawful or subversive activities. It has been accepted time and time again that it is the function of the Administration to make such decisions first as it is the function of the Administration to send a battleship outside Australian waters if it decides that action dangerous to the welfare of this country is being taken in the area concerned. It is absurd to suggest, as the right honorable member for Barton has done, that in the long run a decision as to what activities are prejudicial to the de fence of the Commonwealth should be left to the members of a jury, and, perhaps, ultimately to one member of a jury who may have no knowledge of the facts on which the Government had based its decision. The right honorable gentleman’s approach to this matter is totally unrealistic. “When he suggests that the Government should have no fear, or has no fear, about disclosing its security methods if it accepts partially the onus of proof, he is very wide of the mark. Once an officer of an organization goes into the witness box and gives evidence on behalf of his organization he has at least narrowed the field from which the Government would have to obtain evidence to prove its case. From his own knowledge of the law the right honorable gentleman has been deliberately misleading the committee.
– I resent the word “ misleading “.
– I withdraw the word if it is regarded as offensive. The right honorable member has not taken a realistic and practical view of the onus which the Government would have to accept if an officer of a declared organization undertakes to give evidence on its behalf. The field of proof would be considerably narrowed in such circumstances.
The proposed amendments have already been thoroughly argued. The Opposition is merely trying once again to play an old trick by saying that in principle it supports the bill provided that we agree to its proposed amendments. It has suggested that the bill could already have been enacted had we agreed to its amendments. It does not accept the contrary view, that had it given the legislation a trial and subsequently found it unworkable, it could have suggested its amendments at a later date. The attitude of some honorable members opposite towards this bill is two-faced. They know that some of their colleagues would not accept the bill even if these amendments were made to it. I support the bill brought forward by this Government, and I believe that the amendments proposed are completely valueless and would, if accepted, render the bill unworkable.
.- The members of the Government parties, like the members of the Opposition, are descendants of a nation of people distinguished for the establishment of the jury system, the safeguarding of liberty of speech and association, and particularly for a belief in the right of an accused person to have an opportunity to clear himself. Therefore, it is incomprehensible to me that honorable members on the Government side should support this particular clause. It has been said that under the legislation proposed by the Government, if an accused person or body makes a statement on oath to the court the onus of proof moves to the Crown.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) says, “Sometimes”. It is said that the onus is then on the Crown. The Government’s excuse for not originally providing for the onus of proof to be carried by the Crown was that the Crown would, in such circumstances, have to disclose its security information. The Government now shifts its ground and says that if the accused person goes to the court and takes the oath, not knowing the grounds upon which he is accused, he will then shift the onus of proof to the Crown. According to this measure, before a person or a body can be declared by the Governor-General - in effect the Executive Government - the case of the body or person is considered by such distinguished people as the SolicitorGeneral, the Secretary of the Department of Defence, the Director-General of Security and two other persons appointed by the Governor-General. Let us examine this proposal in more detail. The three first-mentioned gentlemen are all well known to me. I know them intimately and personally, and I know them to be good servants of this Government, as they have been of all governments under which they have served. During the stress and strain imposed upon them by the war and post-war periods, those three gentlemen have burned the midnight oil night after night in the service of the people of this fair Commonwealth. I know that from time to time Ministers of the previous Government, when bills and regulations were not drafted on time. offered the excuse that the bill or regulations had not been prepared because the Solicitor-General was very busy on other intricate matters. That was my experience, and that no doubt was tie experience of many other Ministers of the previous Government. I have not the slightest doubt that at the present time, as well as carrying the additional burdens cast upon him, the SolicitorGeneral is weighed down by the work of his department. Tet he is to be one of the committee of five which is to determine whether some particular persons or bodies should be declared Communist. This clause is not only a travesty of justice to the accused, but also it would add further to the burden of an already overloaded and highly efficient public servant.
Let us now consider the Secretary to the Department of Defence. This officer is a no less distinguished citizen than Sir Frederick Shedden. He is to be one of the committee. The people have been told by the Prime Minister, through the press and through the Parliament, that this country is in danger and that we are on the verge of war. The Secretary to the Department of Defence, whose duty it is to advise the Government and the service chiefs on defence problems, is perhaps to-day our most heavily laden officer. Yet he is to be asked to determine, with others, whether Bill Jones or Reg Pollard or anybody else is a Communist, or whether the League of Democratic Rights is a Communist organization or is responsible for Communist policy or subversive activity. The third gentleman on this committee is the Director-General of Security. Now, he is a partisan. He is the officer who furnishes the information about the accused, yet he is to serve on this committee.
– He has a bias towards-
– I did not say that, and the Prime Minister will not put words in my mouth.
– He has a bias in favour of security.
– He is a security officer, with perhaps a bias in favour of security. He has not a bias, in the way in which the Prime Minister intended to use the word, in favour of the Commonwealth. I do not mean what he says, but, however, the Prime Minister shall not put me off the track. I have already dealt with the first three members of the committee. Then there are two other individuals to be selected. Will this Government, following its practice in the case of Mr. Cullen of the Australian Wheat Board, select somebody like Mr. Teasdale, who has an initial bias in favour of the Government’s interests? Before the Government declares a person or an organization, the gun is loaded because the first two eminent public servants are over-worked and over-burdened and the outsiders are likely to be biased towards the Government. That is obvious, and is completely unfair. After the committee has dealt with the matter the case will be brought before the Government itself, or to a collection of Ministers. Having collected the evidence, and after having had the case considered by these overworked public servants, the Government may accuse a person of being a Communist or of being a member of a. subversive organization. Then it is said that the onus may be cast on the Crown. If some irresponsible person - and it may be a person from the security service or from the Government - says to an individual, “You are a Communist “, or “ You are an anarchist “, or “ You are a socialist “, or “ You are a Labourite “, then it is ‘ up to the accuser, if he has an atom of manliness and a scintilla of evidence, to produce that evidence against the accused.
If he does not do so he is a moral coward. I accuse the Prime Minister of being a moral coward and I accuse this Government of moral cowardice.
– The honorable member is entirely out of order.
– I suggest that that is a respectable term. Mr. Chairman. I shall not withdraw it because the Prime Minister has not taken objection.
– As Chairman of the committee, I am taking objection to the term. It is out of order, being not in conformity with the Standing Orders.
– I withdraw it in deference to the Chair, but you do not know what you are talking about.
– The honorable member will withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw it and apologize.
What impertinence it would be on the part of anybody to say that I am a Communist and refuse to produce evidence in support of that charge, but, at the same time, require me on oath to deny that charge ! Is there any element of British justice or human decency in such a procedure? How does it apply the principles of human rights laid down in the United Nations Charter? Such a procedure is fantastic. It is humbug and reflects the hypocrisy of those who prate about the need to destroy Labour and curb bureaucracy in order to ensure the preservation of freedom. Already, some persons are pointing the hone at certain people, and I should not mind having a talk with the Prime Minister upon that subject.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong - Prime Minister [5.1]. - I am obliged to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) for having so clearly demonstrated that the Opposition’s amendments are merely a sort of comic turn and diversion. The honorable member made that abundantly clear. After all, he was in difficulty because, having cast his eye over the bill, he realized that before any body of persons can be declared - we are now talking about bodies - the material upon which the declaration is to be recommended is to be examined by a committee of five. He assumed the worst about the two members of that committee who are not named, which disappointed me a little, because I had hoped that at a certain stage I might have induced him to sit on the committee. But he assumed the worst about the two anonymous gentlemen and then proceeded to deliver one of the most moving speeches I have ever heard about the poor, overworked Solicitor-General and the poor, overworked head of the Department of Defence. He argued that these people could not fairly be asked to investigate this material. Are we to suppose that the only people who can be entrusted with the examination of such material are those who have very little else to do? I do not accept that view. I venture to say that I have more work and greater responsibilities to carry than has either of those two gentlemen, but I assure the committee that so long as I am Prime Minister no body of persons and no single person will be declared under this measure unless I have examined the material myself. That is how I look at the responsibility that has to be carried for making a declaration and, consequently, if I should be able to find the necessary time with the greater burdens and responsibilities that I have to carry as Prime Minister I shall not place an undue responsibility upon busy men and men of character when I say to them, “ This among others will be a piece of work the community asks you to do “. I am sure that they will be perfectly willing to do that work thoroughly, honestly and fairly.
– Do not be funny. You are not a High Court judge yet.
– I do not see the relevance of that interjection. Everything that the honorable member does corroborates what I said earlier about these amendments being a comic exercise on the part of members of the Opposition.
The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) in the course of discussing a matter which I admit has been discussed up hill and down dale and of which we are becoming a little weary, also, unfortunately, fell into error. He said that under the bill officers of a declared organization having been chosen by the court as persons who could give evidence on behalf of the association would have to go into the box and “endeavour to prove a negative “. Those were the right honorable gentleman’s words. That is not a fact at all under this measure. From the moment one of those officers goes into the box and is sworn, the onus passes to the Crown. The officer does not have to prove a negative. Prom the moment he takes an oath in the box, the Crown has to prove a positive. Consequently, it is entirely misleading for anybody carrying the authority on these matters that the right honorable gentle man carries to use an expression of that kind. The real point of his amendment, as I have always understood it, is that in addition to having an appeal on the question ofwhether a body is a body coming within the descriptions set out in the clause - and those descriptions are not challenged - there ought to be an appeal on the question of whether that body is, in fact, engaged in subversive activities; in other words, whether we should go beyond and behind the declaration of His Excellency the Governor-General, advised by the Executive Council on the recommendation of the committee of five to which reference has been made. The point is whether, all those things having been examined, there ought to be a form of appeal in which all that the officer has to do is to say to the court, “ Look, we say nothing. We shall give no evidence. We shall take jolly fine care to keep out of the witness box”. The Opposition says, “Now, you give evidence and, first, prove that these bodies come within the descriptions contained in the bill; and, secondly, satisfy not the people responsible for the government and safety of the country but a jury, that these bodies are actually engaged in operations which are prejudicial to the safety of the country “.
– It is the beginning of the end of the jury system in this country.
– On the contrary, if the jury system were used for such a deplorable purpose that would be the end of that system. The purpose of the jury system is to stand between the Crown and the accused in criminal proceedings.
– And in civil proceedings, too.
– Only by the choice of the litigants or by the ruling of the court; but in criminal proceedings the jury stands between the prosecutor and the individual accused.
– Even a murderer is given a hearing before a jury.
– Of course. A man accused of murder is entitled to a hearing by a jury. The question that has to be considered, and we shall debate it on a later amendment, is whether one member of a jury of twelve shall be able to overrule the sober decision of all these other responsible persons, who would have examined the matter on all the material available, and have come to a conclusion not on a question of whether an. individual should be punished but whether a nation should be preserved. The amendment trifles with the problem, and when it has to be backed up by arguments as completely unsubstantial as those that the last two speakers on the Opposition side advanced, one begins to understand why roughly 50 per cent, of members of the Opposition would have been very glad to accept the bill without amendment and to forget the whole of the discussions we have had both in the House and in this committee on this legislation.
– I am disappointed with the attitude that honorable members on both sides of the chamber have adopted in this debate. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) discussed whether the members of the proposed committee of five would be competent to recommend that a declaration be made. No amendment in respect of that provision is to be submitted to the committee. We have accepted that provision. Indeed, the Government inserted it in the measure as the result of the representations that were made previously by the Opposition.
– It is still an outrage.
– But that is not the point that we are now debating. The Prime Minister has claimed that the Opposition has delayed the passage of this legislation for five months. I say to the right honorable gentleman that the Government can continue to delay the passage of this measure for many months longer. Why is it being delayed? The Opposition proposed certain amendments which it believed the Government should accept. Some of those amendments were accepted by the Government. However, many supporters of the Labour party regard the provision now under considera-tion as a principle upon which they cannot give way. That is the crux of the matter. The Prime Minister has said that the safety of this country depends upon this provision. When the original bill was being debated, he stated that the effect of placing upon the Crown the onus of proving its case would be to reveal the identity of officers of the security service, and that such a disclosure would, destroy the efficiency of that organization. Then again, he has said that if the representative of an alleged affiliated organization is prepared to declare on oath that it is not associated with the Communist party the onus will be placed upon the Crown to prove its case. I assume that the Government would then either drop the proceedings, or endeavour to prove its case. Of course, the onus of proof would then rest upon the Government, although the Prime Minister stated on a previous occasion that the effect of such proceedings would be to reveal the identity of officers of the security service and thereby destroy its value and efficiency. I should like a clarification of the position. If the representative of an alleged affiliated organization states under oath that it is not associated with the Communist party, will the Crown immediately produce the evidence in its possession to show that it is an affiliated organization ?
– There will be crossexamination.
– I am about to come to that point. The representative of the alleged affiliated organization will be cross-examined. In other words, the onus will be placed upon him to disprove, in his replies to the counsel for the Crown, that the organization is associated with the Communist party. At the conclusion of the cross-examination, the Government could adopt one of two courses. First, it need not produce any evidence in support of its case, but could leave the judge to decide whether the organization was affiliated with the Communist party. The organization would be judged on the results of the cross-examination, and the result would be exactly the same as if the onus .had been placed upon it to prove that it was not associated with the Communist party. The second course that the Crown could adopt would be followed if it were considered that the Crown had not been able to extract from the witness in the course of the cross-examination sufficient admissions to satisfy the judge that it was an affiliated organization. The Crown would ‘then be obliged to call at witnesses officers of the security service. The onus of proving that the organization was associated with the Communist party would then rest upon the Crown. I cannot understand why all these delays that would result from the legal procedure should be necessary. The amendment that has been submitted on behalf of the Opposition should be accepted.
The Prime Minister said that acceptance of the amendment would cause delays in proceedings against suspected Communists and affiliated organizations. I personally doubt whether those delays would be any greater than the delays that would occur under the procedure that is contemplated by the right honorable gentleman. He is taking chances. If he insists upon the retention of this provision and follows, the whole gamut of constitutional procedure to obtain a double dissolution so that an election is held in, say, March next, the Communists will be able to continue their present practices for that period. The Prime Minister is also taking the chance that his Government will be returned at the election. Suppose it is not returned ! What will the position be?
– The “ Commos “ will be delighted.
– We cannot foresee the result of the election. Members of the Labour party declared that the Liberal party and the Australian Country party would not be returned at the last general election; but their forecast was wrong, just as the Liberal party and the Australian Country party were wrong when they said that the Labour Government would not be returned at the previous election. Suppose there is a double dissolution and the election is held next March. If the Government does not receive a mandate to proceed with this legislation, the position will be no different from what it is to-day. Members of the Labour party have never said that they will do what the Government proposes to do under this bill.
– Suppose the Labour party wins the election of which, the honorable member is speaking. Would it introduce a bill?
– If we were to win the election, we would not introduce a bill like this one.
– Would the Labour party introduce a bill at all?
– It is not for me to say what the Labour party would do in those circumstances. Our policy will be declared at the right time. The’ point which I make is that the Government is banking on this bill to secure its return to office following a double dissolution. In my opinion, the Government, if it accepts the Opposition’s amendment, will have all the authority that it needs to deal with the Communists. However, I contend, as I have always contended, that this bill is not designed wholly for suppressing the Communist party. One of its purposes is to cause mass hysteria in order that, in the event of a double dissolution, the Liberal party and the Australian Country party will gain majorities in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, so that they will be able to give effect to their legislative programme. The Government will have ample power to deal with the Communists under the amendments that are submitted by the Labour party.
A few minutes ago, the Prime Minister asked me whether the Labour party would introduce a measure similar to this bill if it were returned to office at the next election. I inform the right honorable gentleman that the Labour party has gone a long way further in respect of the provisions of this bill than many of its supporters like to go. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said earlier that what we had agreed to regarding this bill was obnoxious to him, and that, personally, he was not in favour of it. Some members of the Labour party will not have a “bar” of this kind of legislation, and others are not of that opinion ; but all of us consider that when the Opposition is prepared to co-operate with the Government to the degree that it has in this matter, the Government should accept the very reasonable amendments that are put forward on behalf of the Labour party.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) has, in effect, held a gun at the head of the Government, and said, “ If you do not accept the Opposition’s amendments, we shall delay the bill for six months.” The honorable gentleman made an interesting reply when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) asked him whether the Labour party would reintroduce this bill if it were returned to office after a double dissolution. He said that the policy of the Labour party in respect of that matter would be announced at the appropriate time. However, the people can judge a party only on its history, and they are perfectly well aware that the Labour party has frankly opposed the banning of the Communist party. I believe that if the Labour party were returned to office, no action would be taken against the Communists. According to the honorable member for Port Adelaide, the Labour party will employ delaying tactics, so that we may expect that the Communists will be granted six months’ reprieve until the election next March. If members of the Labour party are sincere on this matter - and I believe that many of them are - they are in favour of the banning of the Communist party. Honorable members should support this legislation, and let it be tested in operation. Then, if imperfections become apparent, they can be remedied by subsequent amendments. Liberal-minded and decent Australians have been concerned at the possibility of persons or organizations being wrongly declared, but their fears should be allayed by the amendments to which the Government has already agreed, and by the assurances that the Prime Minister has given. In the first place, no person or organization will be declared until members of the security service have conducted a thorough investigation. The service was set up by the Labour Government under the direction of the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), and I compliment him for what he did. Another safeguard is that the evidence relating tq suspects will be carefully considered by a committee consisting of top-ranking civil servants. The argument that such men are already over-worked, and will not be able to give proper attention to the matter is specious. The committee will consist of the Solicitor-General, the Secretary to the Department of Defence, the Director-General of Security, and two other persons appointed by the GovernorGeneral. A committee so constituted can be relied upon to ensure that no injustice is done. The recommendations of the committee must go to the Executive Council, which is, in effect, the Cabinet, and action will be finally taken only upon the responsibility of the Cabinet. Finally, we have the assurance of the Prime Minister that he will personally examine every case involving a declaration.
– So he should.
– Yes, and he has assured us that he will. Therefore, there is no reason for fearing that a person would be declared until after the most careful examination had been given to his care. Reference has been made to the onus of proof, and the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) has adduced many arguments on this point, and submitted several amendments. However, the fact remains that if a man is not a Communist he has nothing to fear. All that he has to do is to go into the witness box, and say, “I am not a Communist”, and the onus of proof is shifted to the Crown. If a man is not a Communist, he has merely to make that declaration, and he will receive protection under this legislation. The Government has accepted as many amendments to the bill as it believes to be justified. To accept more amendments would be to tear the heart out of the bill, ,and render it useless. The people of Australia want the Government to act against the Communist party, and they see in this legislation a method by which that can be done. Let us not delay any further. All honorable members should vote on this measure in accordance with their real beliefs. If they wish action to be taken against the Communists they should support the bill. If they want to prevent such action from being taken, they should vote against the bill.
– Under clause 5, the Government is to be given power to declare an organization to be a Communist organization engaged in subversive activities, and the organization will have no right of trial. Indeed, the organization will not be told its case is being considered by the Government until the declaration is made. Although a committee is to be appointed to examine the material upon which a declaration will be based, it will have no power to prevent the Government from declaring an organization, even if the committee believes the organization to be innocent. Therefore, the appointment of the committee will be merely camouflage, designed to make it appear to freedomloving people that some semblance of democratic ‘procedure is being preserved.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in speaking to this clause, said that he would personally examine every case involving a declaration, and that no individual or organization would be declared until he had examined the relevant facts. I suggest that, either the Government will declare very few persons and organizations, or a good many persons and organizations will be declared without the Prime Minister giving their cases proper consideration, because it will be humanly impossible for the Prime Minister to spare the time properly to consider personally the evidence relating to a great number of cases.
The Prime Minister also said that the Grown had to accept the onus of proof once a declared person entered the witnessbox, and stated that he was not a Communist. That is not true. Sub-clause 6 of clause 5 reads as follows: -
Upon the hearing of the application, the declaration made by the Governor-General under sub-section (2.) of this section shall, insofar as it declares that the applicant :J. a body of persons -to which this section applies, be prima facie evidence that the applicant is such a body.
Thus, in effect, the Government says to the declared person, “ If you are prepared to go into the witness-box and give evidence on oath, the Crown will accept the onus of proof, but the court will be compelled to accept the declaration as prima facie evidence of its own correctness “. Faced with that position, the accused person or organization will be in exactly the same position as if the onus of proof had remained upon him or it. The Prime Minister said that the purpose of a jury was to stand between the prosecution and the accused facing a criminal charge, and he went on to say that under this legis- lation no criminal charge would be preferred against any one. That raises an important question: Why is it not intended to prefer criminal charges against the persons allegedly guilty of the crimes mentioned in the preamble to the bill? If they are not guilty of those crimes, why are they to be penalized at all? The Government cannot have it both ways. I cannot imagine a worse crime than treason, or sabotage against one’s country, but persons allegedly guilty of such crimes are not to have criminal charges preferred against them. Why ? I suggest that one reason why the Government has carefully avoided arranging for the preferment of criminal charges against such persons is that, if it did so, it would have to give them a proper trial. The Constitution provides that any criminal charge preferred by the Government against a person shall be heard by a jury. That is probably why the Government has avoided specifying criminal charges.
Many questions have been asked of the Government by Opposition speakers about the meaning of the term “ Communist “ under the bill, but so far none has been answered satisfactorily, and most have not been answered at all. One honorable member opposite, although a lawyer, is so far astray that he seems to suffer from the delusion that nobody but a member of the Communist party can be declared under this bill. I remind the committee that that is not so. The bill gives to the Government the right to declare not only a member of the Communist party, but also any person who comes within the definition of “ Communist “ contained in the bill. That definition is so wide that, read in conjunction with clause 5, it empowers the Government, if it so desires, to declare the Australian Labour party to be an unlawful organization.
– I can prove that the bill gives to the Government the right to declare the Australian Labour party and every trades and labour council in the Commonwealth to be unlawful organizations, and to confiscate their funds. The Government could, in fact, declare any organization that is opposed to its policy, and could confiscate the funds of that organization.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) finished his speech by asking a question of honorable mem bers on this side of the committee. He said, further, that he had repeatedly asked questions that had not been answered by the Government. I shall begin by asking the honorable member himself a question. It is one that need not be answered now, but it will certainly have to be answered in the very near future. What will the Labour party do to the Communists if there is an early election and honorable members opposite are returned to office? What would members of the present Opposition have done about the Communist party had they been successful at the last election? The answer is, I suggest, “ Absolutely nothing “.
– How many shillings has the Government put into the £1 so far?
– The desire of the Opposition to turn the discussion from the subject now before the committee is quite natural. That has been the aim of honorable members opposite ever since this bill was introduced. The clause before the committee deals with the onus of proof in its application to organizations. Clause 9 deals with the onus of proof in relation to individuals. These clauses are, in a sense, the disciplinary clauses of the bill. They impose the penalties. While honorable members opposite are quite prepared to stump the country, saying, “We are in favour of banning the Communists, breaking their hold on the trade unions, and doing everything possible to put them out of business in this country”, they will not support those portions of the hill that would make such action effective. In other words, the Opposition’s view is, “We are in favour of this bill so long as it is useless “. Not one honorable member opposite can deny that. We all know that certain members of the Opposition and a great many of the rank and file of the Australian Labour party and of the trade union movement favour the bill as it stands, but, so far, not one honorable member opposite has had the gumption or the courage to say that to the people of this country. Members of the Opposition, by their attitude to this clause, are revealing themselves as the defenders of communism. Their opposition to this clause and to certain other vital provisions has delayed the implementation of this measure for nearly six months, and will continue to delay it for many months to come. It is just as well that the country should know where the Labour party stands.
We have heard a lot of talk in the past few months about trial hy jury, onus of proof, and so on. Let us have a look at the practicability of the Opposition’s suggestions on those issues. The honorable member for Hindmarsh talked about the power of the Government under this bill to proscribe the Labour party or the Australian Country party. He indulged in that nonsense in a deliberate attempt to mislead the people about the issues now before the Parliament. The truth is that those who will be proscribed by the measure are those who, in his earlier words, and in the words of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), are treasonable and rebellious. I shall cite a case in point. At present, Australians belonging to all three services are engaged in a war, and may at this very moment be suffering casualties. Those members of the community with whom this bill is designed to deal are in league with the enemy. We are spending a record sum of money on defence and we are asking our citizens to make great sacrifices in order that we may defend ourselves against communism and Soviet Russia. Honorable members opposite know in their hearts that this bill is designed to curb the activities of those people in our midst who would help the enemy. The present attitude of the Opposition is tantamount to a declaration made, say, just before the outbreak of World War II., or even after hostilities had commenced, that anybody arrested in this country as a fifth columnist or any organization considered to be guilty of working against the interests of Australia, should be entitled to a trial by jury, and that the onus of proof should be on the Crown. Let us consider for a moment the difficulties that would arise should the Opposition have its way on this measure. I do not profess to know very much about the Communist party, but I have seen something of its methods. If the onus of proof were on the Crown, it would be impossible to prove that anybody or any organization was subversive.
About the end of World War LI., when the Labour party was in power and when, of course, the Communists could work with the utmost freedom, the ticket that all members of the Communist party carried was plain and unmistakable. It was coloured red ; it was stamped with a hammer and sickle; it bore the words “ The Australian Communist Party “ and gave the member’s name, his party number and the branch to which he belonged; it bore a record of his payments of dues, showing the date on which he had paid for each month on a hammer and sickle stamp bearing the signature of the local secretary. However, as time passed and the Communists began to realize what lay ahead for them as the result of the steps that this Government was taking to deal with them, the membership card became more and more ambiguous and, as we know, the records of the party were destroyed. Time does not permit me to relate all of the steps that those people took to hide themselves and to confuse the issue. It is sufficient for me to say that the card that a member of the Communist party carries now simply bears the words “Membership card”. There is no imprint of the hammer and sickle or anything else to show that it is in fact the brand of a subversive organization. In order to prove that a man was a member of the Communist party in those circumstances it would be necessary to produce every available shred of evidence, which would render our security system completely innocuous. Even then there would be great difficulty about proving membership to the satisfaction of a jury. The proposed amendment, which is only a part of the scheme of delay that the Opposition is pursuing and which has denied the people the protection of this measure for six months, will not be accented. Honorable members on this side of the chamber cannot accept it and many members of the Opposition disapprove of it in their hearts, though they lack the courage to say so. Above all, there is very little support for it amongst the rank and file members of the Australian Labour party and the trade union movement generally.
– It is perhaps appropriate that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) should be present during this discussion, as he himself was a Communist, until three years ago at any rate, and possibly still is a Communist. It is particularly interesting also to hear the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) displaying a close knowledge of matters connected with the Australian Communist party. I make that statement about the Minister quite seriously.
– I rise to order. I suggest that it is not parliamentary for the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) to refer to the Minister for
Supply in insulting terms and I suggest that his remarks should be withdrawn.
– Objection has been taken to the honorable member’s statement, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– What is the statement that I am to withdraw?
– The statement that the honorable member is to withdraw is the reflection upon the Minister for Supply that he was a Communist.
– Does the Minister ask for a withdrawal?
– If I am asked, I shall not request a withdrawal because I do not take any notice whatever of what the honorable member for Eden-Monaro says.
– I draw the attention of the committee to Standing Order 78, which I applied earlier in the proceedings and which I intend to apply whenever I am in the chair. It states -
All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
I shall keep personal reflections out of discussions in committee as far as it is possible for me, as Chairman, to do so. I ask the honorable member for EdenMonaro to withdraw the remark.
– I made the remark, not as a personal reflection, but as a statement of fact. However, I shall withdraw it if it is offensive to anybody in the chamber. I made it simply to emphasize the fact, which is made clear by the definition in the bill, that anybody who supports or advocates any of the principles or practices of communism as expounded by Marx and Lenin is a Communist.
– Not just any of them.
– All of them.
– Not all of them; any of them! The Minister knows perfectly well of a number of things in the Communist Manifesto that he recently advocated and probably still advocates.
– I did not ask for a withdrawal of the honorable member’s statement because I did not take any notice of what he said.
Mr.FRASER- That is all right. I accept the Minister’s apology on that.
I shall not deal with what was said by the honorable member for Henty except to say that, while he did not submit any argument that needed an answer, his speech showed a most remarkably close knowledge of the Communist party organization.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– From the honorable member’s words. He said that he had closely, if not frequently, examined the files of the Communist party. That is something that can be done only by members of the party. I have always noticed that those who most frequently and loudly assert their complete independence of the Communist party are often members in disguise. I simply base my conclusions upon the evidence that was provided by the honorable member for Henty himself. According to the principle that has been adopted by the Government, the onus of disproving the charge rests entirely upon him. He has shown a very close association with and knowledge of the organization of the Communist party and claims to have been in the privileged position of being able to examine its files. That is all that I have to say about the honorable member for Henty. The reply to the first part of the case submitted by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) is quite simple. It is true, as I think everybody ought to concede, that a very powerful case can be made against the taking of any action whatever against the Communist party. The most powerful case of that kind that I have ever noticed was made by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in an article published in the Melbourne Herald less than three years ago. It was a. detailed case that tookup nearly half a page of that newspaper. I shall be pleased to show a copy of the article to any honorable member who is interested.
It should not be argued, as the honorable member for Calare argued, that the presentation of a strong case against the dissolution or banning of the Communist party is evidence of any defence of that organization. That, of course, is not the argument at present before the committee but, if it were, the chief witness for the point that I am making would he the present Prime Minister. A curious manifestation of the development of the megalomania of the Prime Minister lies in the fact that, whenever he rises in the chamber he makes a pathetic appeal, as he did this afternoon, for sympathy on account of the personal burden that he has to carry. I have heard him make such appeals so many times already that it is becoming rather nauseating.
– I am wondering when the honorable member is going to discuss clause 5.
– I am dealing with the remarks of the Prime Minister.
– I am waiting for the honorable member to refer to clause 5. He will do so or sit down.
– Many other Prime Ministers have not found it necessary every second day-
– Will you obey the Chair?
– Yes, sir. What is your request?
– The honorable member will discuss clause 5 and the proposed amendment to it or sit down.
– I am dealing with that subject, and I shall continue to do so in complete deference to your wishes, Mr. Chairman. I am dealing with the point that was made by the Prime Minister in discussing clause 5. His point was that he carried an almost intolerably heavy burden-
– The honorable in ember will resume his seat.
– Am I not allowed to proceed, sir?
– The honorable member disobeyed my instruction, and I have asked him to resume his seat.
– I have asked you to resume your seat because you refused to discuss the matter before the Chair.
– I am discussing a matter before the Chair.
– If the honorable member does not resume his seat I will name him. Does the honorable member refuse to resume his seat?
– Of course, I will resume my seat.
– I rise to order. I wish to take a point of order on the instruction that the Chair has just issued. At an earlier stage of the debate the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) mentioned that, despite the heavy burden that he was carrying, he would still find time to inquire into matters that might cause injustice to individuals under the clause that the committee is discussing. I now ask whether the Chair intends to deny to the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Fraser) the right to reply to the Prime Minister’s assertion, and to sit the member down for replying to the right honorable gentleman’s statement. By so doing, you, Mr. Chairman, are denying him the right to reply to a very pertinent statement.
– The Prime Minister made a comparison between his duties and those of the members of the proposed committee. I allowed the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to pursue his argument until he departed from discussion of the clause. I then asked him to confine his remarks to the clause. I asked him to cease to discuss another matter and to return to the clause. He did not comply with my ruling, and I asked him to resume his seat.
– I desire to address a point of order to the Chair. Whilst I am not endeavouring to evade the ruling of the Chair, I do not think that the Chair fairly understood what I was endeavouring to say. I was attempting to show, from the statement made by the Prime Minister earlier, that he could not carry out his duty fairly-
– Order! I quite understood what the honorable member said, and I have ruled that his remarks were irrelevant to the clause. The honorable member will resume his seat.
– In recent months the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) has been exhibiting considerable personal spleen against the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and his attitude is so clear to the Parliament and to the people of Australia that the personal attacks that he has made on the right honorable gentleman do not seem to require any further observations. I should like to bring a little fresh air and common sense into the discussion of clause 5, which is now before the committee, because common sense has been notably lacking in the observations made by members of the Opposition this afternoon. They have uttered a barrage of propaganda about the alleged denial of British justice in connexion with the provision concerning the burden of proof. The shibboleth of the denial of British justice has been very freely invoked by members of the Opposition, notwithstanding that the preceding Labour Government, which introduced the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act 1949, completely disregarded that shibboleth. That legislation was, in fact, much more ruthless than the clause in the legislation that we are now discussing. Of course, when I use the word “ ruthless “, I must say that I consider that the action taken by the Chifley Government during the coal strike was necessary at the time. However, the point is that if what honorable members opposite are saying now about the alleged injustice of placing the onus of proof on the person charged is correct the coal strike legislation was. infinitely more ruthless than this bill. Legislation concerning customs tariffs and excise, which has been unchallenged for many years, contains similar provisions about the onus of proof, and that legislation was administered by Labour governments without any protest. The Crimes Act also contains several sections which provide, that the onus of proof shall rest on the accused, and in many other legislative sections in various acts passed by this Parliament and by the Parliaments of the States similar provisions will be found. It is mere humbug for members of the Opposition to complain that the provision in the present legislation which requires an accused to go into the witness box and deny on oath that he is a Communist represents a denial of British justice. The words of Sir Isaac Isaacs, which have been quoted on numerous occasions during the discussion of this measure, are most apt, and I shall repeat them now. He said -
The onus of proof lies where justice demands that it should lie.
That is exactly the position in this legislation, which is admittedly unusual because it is intended to deal with an unusual situation. The legislation proposes to deal with a situation which presents Australia with greater peril than this country has ever known before. The only difference between this legislation and that introduced by preceding governments, including certain measures that were introduced by our immediate predecessors, is that whilst the earlier legislation went the whole distance in reversing the normal onus of proof, the present legislation is designed to go only half way in that matter. In order to meet the wishes of liberal-minded people in the community - and the use of that phrase excludes the Opposition - the Government has provided that if an individual or an organization is prepared to deny on oath the charge of Communist affiliation, then the onus of proof shall rest on the Government; and if the Government fails to prove that the individual or the organization concerned is Communist, then the declaration of the Governor-General will be set aside.
– That is not true.
– The clause provides that the onus of proof shall shift to the Crown immediately the person or the organization concerned denies the charge on oath in the witness-box. Some honorable members have asked why the right to begin, to use the lawyers’ phrase, should not rest upon the Government; or, in other words, why the Government should not prove the whole case from the outset of the proceedings. The answer is obvious. Is the security organization of any country prepared to expose its officials, its agents, its sources of information and organization, all of which function to protect the community, to the scrutiny of a court, with all its attendant publicity? I remind the House that the right to cross-examine a witness in a court is never restricted to any single issue. When a witness is under cross-examination he may be questioned about almost anything, no matter how tenuous its relation may be to the subject of the judicial proceedings.
In the Department of Supply, which I administer, there are about 16,000 employees, the great majority of whom are engaged in work connected with defence. Some of the activities carried on by toe department are vital to our national defence, and its operations ar6 extremely secret. It is quite possible, for instance, that in an ordnance factory certain individuals whom we have every reason to suspect are Communists might be employed. “What is the department and the Government to do about them? Under the existing legislation we can do nothing to safeguard the community against them. Since they are on establishment they cannot even be moved on. Under our existing law Communist affiliation does not constitute an offence of any kind,’ and so we are powerless to remove those individuals from positions in which they may do harm to the national welfare. All that we can do under existing legislation is to place fences around our factories and vital works and to employ guards to prevent outsiders from interfering with them. Suppose, however, that an employee in one of those vital undertakings is seriously suspected of Communist affiliations, and that pursuant to our duty to protect the community we cause the GovernorGeneral to “ declare “ such a person under this legislation. If the amendment proposed by the Opposition is accepted, then members of the security service, and possibly their agents, will have to go into the witness box and reveal every detail of their organization. If we were foolish enough to permit such a thing, I have no doubt that the Communists in every country of the world would laugh at us. I venture to suggest that the common sense of the Australian people, as distinct from the members of the Opposition, approve the proposal to place the onus of proof on a -person accused of being a Communist and an evil-doer. Of course, I do not include all members of the Opposition in my condemnation, because it is obvious that some of them, at least, are in favour of the legislation. However, the whip has cracked and they are compelled to fellow their party. It has also been suggested that we should provide for trial by jury.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! The .
Minister must return to discussion of the clause.
– I am obliged to the Chairman for his correction, and I bow to your ruling, sir. “What is wrong with an accused person, or group of persons, being called on to give evidence on oath in his or their defence?
Mr. Ward interjecting,
– I understand that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has great objection to entering the witness box.
– I went into the witness box many times.
– And the honorable member has been licking his wounds ever since.
Mir. Ward. - I am not like your crooked cobber, Simon Isaacs.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to. withdraw that remark, which is offensive.
– It was not a reflection on anybody.
– Will the honorable member rise to his feet and with.draw that remark?
– What about the Minister’s remark ?
– Will the honorable member for East Sydney withdraw the remark?
– In a perilous situation such as that which now confronts Australia, what is wrong with an individual or an organization that is accused of Communist affiliation bearing witness in his or its own defence? The whole of this sham fight by the Opposition and the suggestion that the measure will withdraw some traditional liberties is just so much humbug.
– Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to S p.m.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Dr. Evatt’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment (by Dr. Evatt) proposed -
That sub-clauses (5.) and (6.) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following sub-clauses: - “ (5.) If, upon the hearing, the Commonwealth satisfies the court -
where the application was made to the Supreme Court of a State - to the Full Court of that Supreme Court; or
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Dr. Evatt’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . 16
Question to resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. E. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 6 to 8 postponed.
Clause 9 - (4.) A person in respect of whom a declaration is made under sub-section (2.) of this section may, within twenty-eight days after the publication of the declaration in the Gazette, apply to the appropriate court to set aside the declaration on the ground that he is not a person to whom this section applies. (5.) At the hearing of the application, the applicant shall begin; if he gives evidence in person, the burden shall be upon the Commonwealth to prove that he is a person to whom this section applies, but if he does not give evidence in person, the burden shall be upon him to prove that he is not a person to whom this section applies. (6.) 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.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (4.), the following words be left out: - “on the ground that he is not a person to whom, this section, applies.”
This amendment and another that I intend to move to this clause raise the crucial question in this bill insofar as the machinery of justice is concerned. Under the bill as presented by the Government the individual - and this clause relates solely to individuals - has a right of application to a court which, in the opinion of the Opposition, is quite inadequate to meet the needs of justice. If an individualis declared by the government of the day the result is, if he is an official of a trade union or is a Commonwealth public servant, that he automatically loses his position at once. A committee is to be established to investigate the matter of whether an individual should be declared and to report to the Government, but the individual has no right of access to that committee; he has to put his case before the Government. The Government is under no duty to tell him the substance of what is suggested against him. He will know nothing of what is alleged against him until a formal and solemn declaration has been made by the representative of the King in this country, first that he either is, or has been, a member of the Communist party or a Communist, under that wide definition of the word that is contained in the bill; and, secondly, that he is a person of a disloyal or seditious tendency. I shall not give the exact wording because it is already well known to the committee. So the individual is to be condemned by the Government without a hearing at that stage. Reports about which he knows nothing are made about him and against him. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said this afternoon, quite properly, that if the documents came before him he would examine them; but he would see from the documents only what the case against the individual was, and presumably he would not see any answers to the case. He also said that Cabinet would declare the individual. The result of the declaration will be that the individual will automatically lose his official position at once. I consider that a more serious result of the declaration will be that the individual will have been declared to be a disloyal, seditious and traitorous person. No more serious statement than that could be made against any individual.
The Government realizes that there must be some way of getting to the court so that the judicial authorities of the Commonwealth can examine the facts of the case, and it is simply on that point that a difference exists between the Government and the Opposition. That difference is about the way in which the court is to examine the matter. I direct the attention of the committee to what the Government provides in this bill. The measure states that the person may apply to the court. What is to happen at the hearing, according to the Government’s notion of justice? Remember, the man is to be condemned, not privately but publicly. If he holds an office in a trade union to which he has been elected by his fellow unionists, he is to be thrown out of that office. Then the case comes before the court, perhaps weeks or months later, and at the hearing, according to the bill, “ the applicant shall begin “. The next sub-clause states -
Upon the heaving of the application, the declaration made by the Governor-General . . shall, insofar 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.
That is just as though an indictment against a man charged with a crime stated that the indictment itself was prima facie evidence of his guilt.
– That is what the Labour Government said about Maxie Falstein when it prosecuted him.
– What a wonderful, relevant interjection.
– It is true!
– Nothing of the kind is true. The object of the Prime Minister is simply to divert me from putting this case. According to the right honorable gentleman, it is a good thing to do.
– The right honorable gentleman thought it was a good thing.
– What is the answer to the Prime Minister? A charge is made against the individual in the form of a declaration and if he takes the matter to court he has to “ begin “. Is he to give evidence on oath or not? In a matter so serious one would think that the Commonwealth, which has built up the case against the individual on reports, would be able at any rate to show some prima facie justification for the charge. Clause 25 states - (1.) In any proceedings under this Act, proof that, at any time after the specified date … a person -
Similarly the fact that his name appears on a list may be regarded as evidence that he is a member of the association. Under sub-clause (3.) of clause 25 all the things that a court of justice or law under the British legal system would refuse to regard as prima facie evidence are made prima facie evidence in favour of the Government against the individual. Under other clauses of the bill the individual will not be informed of the charge or of the evidence against him. The Opposition says that that is not fair treatment for innocent people. We may, for the time being, disregard the people who are not innocent. We say, “ Prove the case against the individual “. If the Government wants to say that no Communist shall be an officer of a trade union let it do so. It has never said so. It simply says, “ We shall not declare all Communists. We shall say of a certain person, ‘You are a Communist and you may be the secretary of ‘a trade union, but we shall not declare you unless we make a further charge that your probable disloyalty is shown to the satisfaction of the Government ‘ “. The Opposition says, “ Make that additional charge “. Is it not fair and just that the Government should prove the charge, because nothing could be worse in a bill designed to protect democratic institutions and presumably to advance the rule of law in this country than that certain principles should be neglected. We consider that the Government should prove the case, and, in our amendments, we place the onus of proof squarely upon the Commonwealth, which can discharge that onus if it has facts and cogent and substantial evidence, in the same way as a charge must be proved in relation to a personcharged with crime or, in civil cases, a person dismissed by an employer on the ground of misconduct. In such a case in New South Wales the employer has to prove the charge to the satisfaction of a jury. Why should not the Commonwealth have to do the same thing? Why should not the onus of proof be substantially the same as it is in other kinds of cases?
The second amendment that I intend to move to this clause is an extensive one and makes it plain that the burden of proof, or the ordinary duty of proof, shall rest upon the Commonwealth, which makes the charge. “Let him that affirms prove.” Instead of that, this measure says to the person declared, “ You begin “. It also says to him, “ If you go into the witness-box and give evidence the onus of proof goes back to the Commonwealth. But if you do not do so, you lose the case. You may win the case if you go into the witnessbox The declaration of a person under this bill is prima facie evidence that he is a Communist and nobody who was advising a defendant in a case started under this bill could safely not put his client into the witness-box. That is the essence of this matter. The individual is forced to go into the witness-box so that a case which should exist before the matter comes before a judge and jury, or a judge alone, can be built up during the hearing of the case. That is a procedure completely unknown to the courts of British justice. It forces a person into the witness-box by providing a sanction which he dare not refuse to recognize. He is compelled to go into the box and the Commonwealth is given the right of extracting from him, by interrogation and inquisition, the evidence that should have existed, and have been capable of proof at an earlier stage.
– It was my privilege at certain periods in my life to appear in court before the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). In those days, we both attached some importance to precise language and accurate thinking. I have been staggered by the speech that has just been delivered. The right honorable gentleman has said that under this legislation, the individual is forced to go into the witness box to explain, and that that is a course unknown to British justice.
I regret that the right honorable gentleman is already becoming rusty in his law. Long before his time or mine, it was well established in British law that where a man was found in possession of goods, reasonably suspected of having been stolen, he had to go into the box to explain how he came by them, and if he did not provide a satisfactory explanation, he was convicted. That is not a new law. That is a law rauch older than the right honorable member or I. When he says that this is a course unknown to British justice, I tell him it is perfectly well known in the case of a pair of stolen boots, and why it should not be perfectly well known in the case of the safety of this country, I do not begin to understand. I apologize for repeating to the committee the answer to an argument that has been put to it many times over the last five or six months. It is an argument which, in the opinion of the Australian people, might very well be brought to an end, and which would have been brought to an end if the Opposition could have discovered where it stood - whether it was for the Communists, or against them.. The right honorable gentleman says that when an individual is declared under this bill, which would have been an act four or five months ago but for the Opposition in another place, he ought to have the right of appeal to the court, not only against the charge that he is a Communist, but also against the charge that ‘ he is engaged in subversive activities. He also says that when such a person goes to the court, it ought to be for the government of the country, in matters which may be of the first delicacy, to undertake to prove by evidence receivable in strict law, in court, not only that he is a Communist, but also that he has done certain things, and that those things are inimical to the interests of the country. In such a case, my opinion would not matter. The opinion of the Government would not matter. The opinion of honorable members who were elected to protect the interests of this country would not matter. The only thing that would matter would be whether somebody who is not responsible for the safety of Australia, thinks that these acts of conduct are inimical to the well being of this country.
The right honorable gentleman has proposed another amendment which says that this question, which concerns the safety of Australia, is to be determined by a jury. Put together, the amendments proposed represent the Opposition’s majority view. This bill provides for a procedure which is not observed in ordinary prosecutions. It provides for an investigation of the relevant material by the Solicitor-General, the Secretary of the Defence Department, the Director-
General of Security, and two other people who are not associated with those whom I have just mentioned. Those five people are to examine the material upon which it is proposed to declare, say, John Jones. Having examined it, they make their report to the Cabinet. Cabinet examines the report, and Cabinet, whether it be the present Cabinet or the next one, or the last Cabinet, consists of a number of people who enjoy the confidence of their fellow Australians and by whom they have been elected. The seventeen, eighteen or nineteen members of that Cabinet examine the relevant material. When they have done that, they say, “ John Jones ought to be declared under this act “. Then the right honorable member for Barton emerges, heavily disguised as a defender of human liberty, and says, “ Oh ! That is all very well but now I want you to give to this man the right of an appeal under which he will not be obliged to prove anything, although the ‘Crown will be obliged to satisfy the court that he is a Communist, and that his activities are inimical to the interests of the country”. Then in order that the difficulties may be suitably increased, and in order that the Communist may be suitably protected, he provides in his foreshadowed amendment that the matter shall be determined by a jury, as if the matter to be heard were a trial on indictment, or an offence against . the Commonwealth. Even if everybody else does not know it, the right honorable gentleman knows, that that means that the judge must tell the jury that the case against the accused must be proved as if it were a charge of murder. It must _ be proved beyond all reasonable doubt, and if any one of the twelve jurymen has a reasonable doubt, it must be resolved in favour of a person who will be described as the accused.
Let us clear up this problem, because it is very important that it should be properly understood. It means that the five members of the special committee, and the nineteen members of Cabinet having investigated the case and haying advised His Excellency the GovernorGeneral in a certain way His Excellency declares a person. If the amendment of the right honorable member for Barton were accepted, the declared person would have a right of appeal and the matter would go before a judge and jury. The learned judge would say to the members of the jury, as, indeed, he would be bound to do under the terms of the amendment, “ Whether you think on balance that this man was up to no good, and that this country ought to be protected against his activities is not in question. If you have any reasonable doubt in your mind you must resolve it in his favour “. I am not talking about matters of argument in law ; I atn stating most positively what no lawyer would contradict. These are the basic elements of the law; they are not controversial matters. The appeal having gone to the jury, if one man of the twelve on the jury, who may be a Communist-
– Communists do not serve on juries, do they ?
– Do not they? I have seen some very curious people on juries. I have even seen some very curious people here. If one juryman says, “I am not satisfied “, all he has to do is to endure -about half a. dozen hours of hunger and thirst, and, as we all know, the jury returns and the foreman says, “ The jury is not able to agree “. The learned judge thereupon discharges the jury. What would happen then? If the jury was not able to agree, could the right honorable member for Barton claim that the Commonwealth had satisfied the court? Of course not. How could the Commonwealth have satisfied the court if the jury had disagreed? So, on the disagreement of one of the twelve jurymen the person who had been declared in solemn form by the responsible authority to be a menace to the safety of this country could walk out of the court, “ cock a snoot “ at Australia and continue his dirty work. That is the principle which is supported by the right honorable gentleman. After all, if he had gone only to a certain point it might have been thought by some innocent people that he was really standing up for ordinary British justice. The Opposition has gone to great pains to delay the passage of this legislation for month after month and now it has submitted a proposal, which it knows no responsible government can accept, that the whole of the legislation may be set on one side by one eccentric, erratic, obstinate or stupid juryman of twelve-
– It will be difficult to get jurors after this.
– Not at all, because eleven out of twelve jurors are invariably good and sensible persons.
– Bales of hay.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) talks about bales of hay. I yield the field to him at once because he knows far more about that subject than I do. If the members of the Labour party have the common guts to face an election on this issue - of course everybody knows that they will not do so, because all the odds are on them squibbing it in the Senate - it will be great fun for me and my supporters to hear them explaining that a reasonable doubt in the mind of one juryman out of twelve should be sufficient to permit a Communist to continue in his post as the secretary of a first-class trade union the members of which are engaged in a war industry. How would Opposition members explain that attitude to the people of Australia? Would they be delighted at the prospect of explaining to audiences, hanging on their every words, that the principles of British “justice require that if one man in a jury of twelve men brought in off the street, has a reasonable doubt, John Smith should continue in office as secretary of, say, a munition workers union, and Will Brown should remain in a position in which he may tie up Australian industry in the event of war ?
– The right honorable gentleman is a “ ham “ actor.
– All I can say is that I should prefer to be an actor than a “ ham “.
– The right honorable gentleman is both.
– The honorable gentleman has provoked himself too soon. It is most disorderly for him to make an interjection from the front bench when his proper place is in the most obscure corner of the back bench.
The real issue that is at stake in this clause is whether or not the Opposition regards the safety of Australia as .being threatened, whether it regards the subject matter of this bil] as a mere excuse for a debating society exercise, or whether it believes that communism is a real menace to the safety of Australia. The people of Australia, with inveterate good sense, will ask, “ Is it not very remarkable that we should he treated to all these desiccated arguments in the Commonwealth Parliament, when at this very moment, Australians are being killed in a war against communism ? “ I suppose that the proposition is that while these people may, to adopt the argot of the Opposition, become involved in every tiddly-winking row that breaks out in the world, and may die righting the Communists, at home we must say, “ What a calamity it would be if any Communist were prevented from doing his work without twelve months of litigation, or twelve months of miserable argument and of doubts and hesitations? We should give him the ‘benefit of the doubt, and if any juryman with no particular knowledge, and with no accountability to the people of Australia, says, ‘ I have a doubt, and therefore, sir, you must go free the Communist should go unscathed “. That attitude may be all right in debating competitions, but it is not the way in which a great democratic country keeps itself free and delivers itself from its internal enemies.
.- The committee has just been treated to the spectacle of an eminent lawyer and the Prime Minister of this country ridiculing two fundamental principles of British justice that are upheld in every country over which the British flag flies. I refer first to the responsibility of the Crown to prove fairly and beyond any doubt the guilt of every person charged with having committed a crime; and, secondly, to the accepted principle that a person so charged shall be tried by a jury of his fellow men. To-night the Prime Minister scoffed at the thought that one man in twelve should be a deciding factor in allowing a man charged with treasonable activity to go free. That very principle applies when a man is charged with the greatest of crimes. When a man is charged with the most foul crimes that can be thought of, mass murder and other most fiendish crimes, if one man out of the twelve trying him believes that he has not been proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and that may happen in one or two trials, then he is free to take his place again in the community. If that principle is good enough to apply to a murderer, a habitual criminal or a Japanese war criminal, then it is reasonable to assume that the same principle should be applied to the ordinary citizens in the community who come under the suspicion of this Government.
The Prime Minister intends to substitute for trial by jury trial by five or six nien, no doubt reputable citizens and prominent members of our society, and overseeing them will be members of the Cabinet. The Prime Minister stated that the Cabinet had been’ elected by the people and had the confidence of the people. I say that half of the Ministers are in Cabinet by accident and have neither the confidence of their colleagues nor of the people of this country. Throughout the years we have witnessed in this Parliament the spectacle of some honorable members who are sitting opposite at present indicating that they believe that every honorable member on this side of the chamber is a Communist. A biased political trial can only be expected if such men are to be trusted with the consideration of a crime such as is envisaged by this bill, which comes next in seriousness to murder. I refer, of course, to treason.
As ordinary citizens we are entitled to be tried by judicial tribunals. Is it not reasonable to assume that, when a man is picked up on the suspicion that he is taking part in treasonable activities, and that he may thereby lose his job and become an outcast of society, he should be given the ordinary rights of a criminal to a fair trial and a “’ fair go “ ? We on the Opposition benches are not concerned for members of the Communist party, and if the Government was “fair dinkum”, to use an Australian expression, the Communist party would to-day be banned. The Government has avoided carrying out its mandate to ban the Communist party because it seeks, on this issue, to break the Labour party. Every citizen knows how the Government has shirked its mandate. The Government did not have the courage to ban the Communist party. It has been given its opportunity to ban the Communist party, put members of it in gaol and confiscate property, but it has run away from its obligations because it has boasted openly that it intends to wreck the Labour party and destroy its Senate majority.
How does the Government wish to do this thing? It wishes to do it by taking away the ordinary liberties of the subject and denying to Australian citizens ordinary democratic rights because they are suspected by Ministers who are biased against every person who does not think the way they do. If this bill becomes law citizens of this country will be tried by members of the Government parties. All suspects will be denied the right of ordinary trial, which has been and is the right of Japanese war criminals and those responsible for the Belsen murders. We say that the Government should extend at least the same rights to the average person who will be charged with a crime under this bill as it has given to the worst enemies of society that this world has ever known. It is of np use for the Prime Minister to talk about what the Opposition has done to hold up the passage of this measure, because the people of this country know that we were willing to pass the bill, with the exception of certain small sections.
Government supporters interjecting,
– I hear laughter from the Government side of the chamber. I know that the prize laughers over there can laugh about these things; but if they inform the electors that they have not been given the right to ban the Communist party and confiscate its property, they will be telling a deliberate political lie. Honorable members on the Government side have not told the people that they seek to introduce into this Parliament the same type of measure as Stalin would introduce if he were our Prime Minister. The Government seeks to suppress opposition and to take away the ordinary rights of all the citizens in our community, even those that may be exercised by the worst criminals in our society. Under this measure every trade unionist and every man who works for a living and who upon some future occasion may have to take some positive action to see that his workmates get justice, will be looked upon by the boss or others as a Communist,, and treated as such. If the ordinary rights to which these men are entitled are taken, away it will be a very easy thing to railroad them as is done in Russia or in fascist states and put them in gaol. Then even though no charge is proved against them, they become outcasts from society. Every person in the community is entitled to a . fair trial in accordance with the laws and conditions of the land. What will happen if a man like the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) becomes a member of a committee such as is envisaged or if he becomes Prime Minister, which the Lord forbid? Imagine what sort of trial one would get from a Prime Minister like that. Everybody knows that the Government’s attitude is a farce and a sham. We cannot trust a government that has absolute fascist tendencies. We prefer to leave the liberties of the subject and the carrying out of the penal provisions of a measure of this kind in the hands of persons in judicial positions who are competent to do the work.
Every member of society would prefer to be tried by twelve men taken at random as is being done every day in our society. To-night the Prime Minister castigated the citizens of this contry who upheld the jury system and who took part in it. He said that one man in every twelve was a nit-wit. When a member of society is charged with a serious crime such as murder he has to take his chance with twelve men chosen at random. They decide whether he is guilty or not guilty. Surely if it is good enough to try by jury a man suspected of commiting murder, it is good enough for ordinary citizens to be tried for offences under this bill by the same method. If the Government has its way people may in the future be labelled as Communists, even though they may never have been associated with communism. At present the Government is prosecuting Japanese war criminals at great expense. Its lawyers are proving beyond reasonable doubt that the prisoners are guilty, and the onus of proof is placed on the Crown to prove their guilt. One such Japanese was found guilty yesterday and in the Daily
Telegraph of to-day’s date this report appears -
The prosecuting officer (Major Alex Mackay) in his closing add ross described, the execution us “ sadistic and revengeful butchering of . innocent and helpless prisoners of war “.
He said the accused executed the man in conditions “ which nauseate and violate the sentiments of humanity and outrage all public conscience “.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
“S.f>9 . - This Parliament and the people of Australia have listened now for months while a desperate rearguard action has been fought by honorable members opposite to safeguard tho.se upon whom they have leaned so heavily in the past for political support. We are told that we are withholding the fundamentals of British justice. There are honorable members in this Parliament, however, who can stand on their feet and say that they have fought for individual rights in this country. For eight years we resisted the attempts of the Labour party to regiment the Australian people and to thrust upon them a socialist state. We were finally able to convince the Australian people of the threat that was taking shape against them. We can rightly claim to have fought for individual liberty in this House. What humbug it is for the Opposition to talk about the rights of individuals. The honorable member for Watson in the last Parliament (Mr. Falstein) was even denied the right to address his own electoral council before he was ejected from his electorate. Prior to the last New South Wales State general election, four members of the State Labour party were ruthlessly expelled from their own party without having had a chance to he heard in their own defence.
– I rise to order. Mr. Chairman. Is the Minister in order in talking about the activities of the Labour party in New South Wales?
– There is no point of order.
– The Opposition is trying to throw a smoke-screen around the issue. I shall not cover the ground that was so ably traversed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). If we are living in a democracy we shall agree that in a matter of this kind the will of the majority of honorable members and of the people should prevail. .What is the position in which we find ourselves? Government supporters are completely united in this matter. Each of them stands behind the bill in its present form. On the other hand, the Opposition is so divided on this issue that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley)- is not prepared to allow a free vote to honorable members opposite in caucus in order to discover where each of them stands in relation to this bill. Can any honorable member opposite deny that? We know that last week the federal executive of the Australian Labour party met in Canberra and that the members of that body were equally divided upon this issue, the representatives of three of the States being in favour of the passage of the bill in its present form and the representatives of the other three States being opposed to it. I understand that since that meeting was held the delegates from Western Australia were rebuked upon their return to that State for having supported the decision to oppose the bill. Consequently, in substance, the representatives of four of the six States which comprise tha federal executive of the Australian Labour party now support the measure in its present form. That means that if a free vote were taken in the Parliament without regimentation of members of the Opposition, about which those honorable members opposite speak so strenuously, more than three-quarters of honorable members of this chamber would vote for the bill as it is now drawn. Where is the democracy about which honorable members opposite speak so freely! So much foi1 their views about British democracy and justice when in this debate they do not really seek to present a different viewpoint but wilfully and deliberately obstruct the expression of the will of the majority of the people ! Knowing that a majority of members of the Parliament were in favour of this measure when it was introduced in May last we may fairly ask whether developments that have occurred since have weakened, or strengthened, the case for it. Any man or woman who has watched developments overseas and lias studied developments within Australia will give a clear answer to that question. Whatever justification existed for this legislation when it was introduced in May last has been strengthened tenfold by events that have occurred during the last few months. In. Korea, what was previously a concealed conspiracy has been revealed as an ugly, brutal act of aggression. In Great Britain, Mr. Isaacs, the Minister for Labour in the British Labour Government, in the course of a speech that he made in the House of Commons in recent days said -
In view of the statements that have been appearing in various newspapers during the last few days carrying reports of attempts made to cause industrial unrest in this country, I feel I should warn the House and the country that these reports are not without foundation. I am speaking at a time when our men are facing serious risks in Korea and when it is essential that there should be no danger of interference with their supplies and their support.
After discussing developments in the United Kingdom-
– I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. I submit that a decision by a government overseas is not relevant to a discussion upon the clause before the committee.
– Order ! The Minister is getting a little wide of the question before the Chair, but I permitted similar latitude to the honorable member who preceded him.
– I am seeking to show that if the provisions of this clause were justified in the form in which it was presented to the Parliament in May last, that justification has increased tenfold in the meantime. I am suggesting that the ordinary normal rules of procedure followed in courts in time of peace cannot be effective in the interests of the security and welfare of the country in a time like the present. Mr. Isaacs, from whose statement I have just quoted, is a Minister, not of a Conservative, or Liberal Government, but of a Labour Government. He declared that the main objective of the instigators of strikes in the United Kingdom was to weaken the defences of the country. He said -
Apparently they think that another opportunity will soon occur. But these attempts to create trouble cannot succeed if workers refuse to lie the cat’s-paw. I earnestly appeal to them to he on their guard against all attempts to drag them into the struggle which will .be to the detriment of the nation, themselves and their fellow workers.
Since Mr. Isaacs made those statements in the course of a speech in the House of Commons he made <a broadcast as recently as last week over the national network in the United Kingdom in which he urged Britain’s 8,000,000 trade unionists to defeat - a Communist conspiracy to disorganize British industry.
Those are not the extremist, fanciful words of some soap-box orator in Hyde Park, but represent the considered views of a Minister who, at the time, was speaking on behalf of the Labour Government in the United Kingdom. Events in Australia and overseas convinced this Government of the need to introduce this legislation months ago, and that need has been accentuated by the tremendously grave developments that have occurred in the international sphere in the meantime. Just as a Minister in a Labour Government in the United Kingdom has found it necessary to warn the British workers and trade unionists against the Communist conspiracy that is seeking to destroy them, so this Government have found it necessary in the interests of the security of the Australian workers and people generally to introduce this legislation. If the people of Australia are given the opportunity to record a vote on this issue I have no doubt that they will support this legislation. Likewise, if members of the Opposition in this chamber were not regimented but were given the opportunity to speak their minds, we should find that three-quarters of the members in the House would support the bill in its present form. It is significant that not one member of the Opposition from Tasmania, Western Australia or Queensland has spoken in this debate. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), the honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), who are notorious for their opposition to communism and for their determination to stamp it out, have been conspicuous by their silence. At the same time, however, we have heard much from members of the Opposition who have always backed the Communists.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- I can understand the dilemma in which the Government now finds itself. A few months ago, it created a theatrical atmosphere in order to cause a wave of hysteria and persuade the Parliament to clothe it with powers almost as great as those that Hitler sought and secured for himself. The Government is now endeavouring to lead the people to believe that the situation which forced it to introduce this measure is just as grave as that which it claims existed when it originally introduced it in May last. I deny that the situation at that time was grave. However, honorable members were then obliged to pass an armed guard in order to gain access to these precincts. I do not know whether any honorable member was asked to give a password, but many of us found it difficult to gain such access. All approaches to the building were guarded whilst some Ministers and Government members were given police protection. That procedure was followed with the deliberate intention to create an atmosphere in which the people might be led to believe that constitutional government in this country was in danger of being overthrown. Some honorable members on the Government side of the chamber speak of the need for maintaining secrecy about the methods that are employed by our security service in order to ensure the safety of Australia. Among those honorable gentlemen is the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) who, when in Opposition, occupied much of the time of this chamber in defending .people who were proJapanese fascists. It is quite true that one or two of the individuals who were “ picked up “ at that time were subsequently proved innocent after a proper investigation; but all of those people were not cleared, and the PostmasterGeneral was one who defended them.
I also recollect the occasion in this chamber when we were discussing the leakage, or the alleged leakage of information contained in official documents, and the then Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) made a statement to the effect that a document from which a quotation had been made by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) had been either stolen or forged. If there had been a leakage of official information, it would have been a most serious matter, because it would have meant that there were public servants who would “ leak “ information from government documents to unauthorized persons. I thought that it would be recognized that the matter was of such importance that the members of the then Opposition would come forward and assist the security service in every possible way to correct a position of the utmost danger to our national interests. But instead of doing that, they resented the intrusion of the security officers, and placed every possible obstacle in their way when the government of the day desired to have the matter properly investigated.
I turn now to the particular provision in the bill that we are discussing, because the general public may believe that the Opposition is trying to place an ‘ obstacle in the way of some judicial authority in this country dealing with the > Communist party or with persons who are charged with being engaged in seditious or treasonable activities. Let me remind members of the Government, who talk about the “ change of attitude “ on the part of some members of the Labour party, that it is only three year3 ago that the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) denounced the banning of the Communist party. He spoke of the ineffectiveness of a ban, and about the necessity for fighting the Communists in the open. When the Government was considering the introduction of this legislation, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) was opposed to it, but he was dragooned, and brought into line. He considered that interference with the right of trade unionists to elect their own representatives would be extremely dangerous to the Government and he said so in the Cabinet. When he speaks of discipline in the Labour party, and says that does not exist amongst members of the Government parties, he is remarks are so much hypocrisy.
I shall inform the chamber of the Labour party’s attitude to this bill. If there is anybody in this country who is engaged in seditious or treasonable activities, that person should be dealt with, and punished much more severely than is proposed in this legislation. The Government knows that it already possesses power under existing legislation if it wants to take action against such people. All that we do is to ask the Government to take action if it has evidence that people are engaged in seditious or treasonable activities. The Government knows that if it were to adopt that course, it would be obliged to observe the ordinary processes of law, such as charging those people and giving them a fair trial. Surely no honorable member would say that every Australian citizen is not entitled to a fair trial if such serious charges as are contained in the preamble are made against bini. It is all “hooey “ to talk about exposing the security service. I ask honorable members not to forget that the Government amended the original bill in order to provide that the evidence, if we can so describe it, shall be submitted to a committee consisting of the SolicitorGeneral, the Director-General of Security, the Secretary of the Department of Defence, and two other persons appointed by the Government. After they have examined the evidence in the possession of the Government, they report to the Cabinet, but do not make a recommendation. The decision whether a person or an organization shall be declared under this legislation still rests with the antiLabour Cabinet. This committee will do nothing more than what the Prime Minister has said it will do, namely, report to the Cabinet.
– Report to the Cabinet.
– I said advise. ,
– If this committee has any semblance of independence, why should it not make decisions binding upon the Government ? The facts are that this Government is not perturbed about the activities of the Communist party which, according to the royal commission in Victoria, is now weaker numerically than it has been for many years past. What the Government is keen to do is to divide and destroy the Labour party, and the trade unions of this country. That is the real purpose of the Government, and we know it. We should be very foolish indeed to assist the Government in its designs. Let me put this very clearly to honorable members opposite. Did the Government say that the evidence upon which it would act would be exclusively that secured by its own security officers? The Government did not say that it would refuse to act upon anonymous letters and telephone calls, and the reports of pimps and spiteful people who may have a grudge against some individual. This bill would provide vindictive people with the opportunity to vent their spleen upon some person with whom they disagreed. The very title of the bill - the Communist Party Dissolution Bill - is a misnomer, because the measure does much more than dissolve the Communist party. Large numbers of people could become involved in the wide terms of the legislation. I propose to read an extract from a. church journal which honorable members opposite may peruse if they so desire. I hear them laugh. The “ storm-troopers “ hate to hear these matters quoted against them. The Lismore Parish Messenger.. a Church of England journal, published the following statement in, its issue last June : -
Christians must recognize where the Communist diagnosis has clements of truth in it, and must also be prepared to take their share of blame for the evil conditions that give communism its chance, for some of the antiCommunist influences at work are more antiChristian than is communism itself.
That opinion was published in a church magazine; but if a member of the Labour party had uttered that statement on his own initiative he would be declared, because it would be argued that he was speaking in favour of Marxist doctrines. There are other quotations which are similar to that which I have just read. Honorable members opposite must know that there are very few people in this community who could escape the brand of “ Communist “ as defined in this bill. Let us examine what it proposes to do. A person might be excused for imagining that the committee to which I referred a few minutes ago was to give some protection to the individual ; but I point out that he would not even know that any suggestion of improper conduct on his part had been made against him by another person, or had been received from any source until his name appeared in the Gazette.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to reply to the remarks made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I merely comment that the more I travel through the countryside, the more I realize what very little effect his speeches have. I wish these proceedings were televised, so that the public would see the dejected faces of members of the Opposition when they were listening to their spokesman. However, I should like to join issue with the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), because h& is in a different category from the honor able member for East Sydney. He has the respect of honorable members on the Government side; be commands a very good reputation in Australia; and he is known to be anti-Communist. This afternoon, lie spoke strongly against this bill, and particularly against the provision which places the onus of proof on the Government, except when a declared person, goes into the witness-box. To prove his case, the honorable gentleman cited the trials of eleven Communists in the United .States of America, and he spoke eloquently on that subject. He stated that the United States Government accepted the onus of proof throughout the trials, and produced its witnesses in public. Indeed, he made a strong case about it, but few honorable members, particularly on this side of the House, followed that case. They do not remember anything about the extraordinary conditions under winch it was conducted. The judge was blackguarded, his reputation was smeared, and the conduct of the case shocked the American people in the extreme. Three or four of the defending counsel were sent to gaol for their conduct; yet the honorable member used that case as an argument why the Crown should accept the onus of proof in proceedings against ^Communists in Australia. Let us consider what happened in the United States of America after the trials to which I have referred. Quite recently anti-Communist legislation was introduced in the United States Congress. It was found that the ordinary processes of law were unsuitable for dealing with Communists, and legislation infinitely stronger in character than that now before us was introduced. Would honorable members opposite change this legislation for that? The honorable member for Bendigo, who is regarded as a logical debater, introduced the argument of the American trials in order to attack the present bill; but, as I have pointed out, it was found in the United States of America that normal legal processes were useless against the Communist party, and the legislature instituted procedures not unlike those proposed in the bill now before us.
On the same point, the honorable member cited the United Nations Charter, and argued that this bill was diametrically opposed to the rights of individuals as defined in the charter. Nevertheless, the Labour party has said that it is prepared to ban the Communist party without the right of trial. If we ban the Communist party, are we not acting in a manner contrary to the principles of human liberty as defined in the charter of human rights? However, members of the Labour party know that the Australian people want the Communist party to be banned. The Labour party is not prepared to come out in the open, and expressly oppose legislation for the banning of the Communist party,’ but it is employing every subterfuge to weaken that legislation. Labour supporters argue that the banning of the Communist party will merely drive the Communists underground. Nevertheless, they are prepared to agree to legislation banning the Communist party and thus, presumably, to drive the Communists underground, but they are not prepared to give us the shovels and the mattocks to dig the Communists out.
Honorable members opposite say that we are not in any danger ; that at no time in the last twenty years have we been so safe. If that be so, is it not curious that the socialist Government in Great Britain is expending £3,000,000,000, which is more than the Australian wool cheque, on’ defence? Why is the British Government spending that money? Britain’s economy is admittedly in a sad state, yet the Labour Government of Great Britain is committing the nation to that enormous expenditure on defence. Members of the Labour party are blinding themselves, and attempting to blind the public, to the real state of affairs. If they go to the country on this issue, they must surely know what will happen to them.
The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has not spoken in this debate. He is known to be very strongly anti-Communist in his opinions, and I wonder why he has not spoken on the bill. Is it that the Labour party will not allow a member holding anti-Communist opinions to speak on the measure? Yesterday, he interjected to say, “If I had my way, I would shoot the lot of them “. But I have not heard that an amendment to that effect has been moved.
.- If the public are listening to this debate, as presumably they are, the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on this vital clause which determines the nature of the measure must have given them a terrific shock. They were not treated to an explanation of a vital provision which may ultimately become the issue in a general election, but to an exhibition of intolerable superiority on the part of the Prime Minister, depending for its effectiveness on cheap rhetoric. There are two Menzies in the public eye in Australia at the moment. One is a very good friend of mine called Ivan Menzies, who is producing the Gilbert and Sullivan opera Trial by Jury in Sydney.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask you, in view of your previous ruling, Mr. Chairman, what this personal attack on the Prime Minister has to do with the clause before the committee.
– I am watching the position.
– I was drawing the attention of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) and other honorable members to an interesting analogy between Trial by Jury, the comic opera now being produced in Sydney by Ivan Menzies, and the performance of his namesake in Canberra. According to the Prime Minister, it is a crime that the twelfth man on a jury should stick out for his opinion and insist that the Crown accept the onus of proving the guilt of theaccused, so that when the juror returns tohis own family he may be satisfied that no injustice has been perpetrated. In this legislation, it is proposed that injusticeshould be perpetrated. For the timehonoured system of trial by jury, which has been sustained against the -whimsy of tyrants and the abuse of politicians, thePrime Minister would substitute the declaration of persons by politicians, and their examination by bureaucrats, and would place upon the accused the onus of proving his innocence. That is an intolerable proposal. When the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) interjected,, the Prime Minister told him that he was a very inconsiderable part of this Parliament. The Prime, Minister should remember that he learned his elocution addressing the twelve good men and true on juries, and that this enabled him to remove himself from the position of an inconsiderable member.
We have been challenged to fight this issue on the hustings. I am not averse to doing so. The Prime Minister spoke vulgarly about “ guts “, but we shall see what will happen when we are called before the people to receive their verdict. Government supporters have used smear tactics against the Opposition by referring to Communists on this side of the chamber. If nien are Communists because they hold unpopular views, and are prepared to defend those views before the people on the hustings, then we must admit the soft impeachment, but I point out that the totalitarian governments of Stalin or of Hitler could have introduced no more oppressive measures than are proposed in this legislation. The younger supporters of the Government are (becoming uneasy, realizing that the points we have raised in this debate are of vital importance to the Australian people.
The Prime Minister sought to evade the issue by making an absurd comparison. He said that a man who was charged with having in his possession a pair of boots reasonably suspected of having been stolen had to satisfy the court of his innocence. I point out, however, that the persons charged under this legislation will be virtually accused of treason, and the Prime Minister himself declared that the measure was designed to ensure the defence of the country. A person declared under this legislation will be driven out of office in a trade union or deprived of his job in the Public Service, but nothing more happens to him. He could, in effect,’ commit sabotage against the nation on seven days a week. That is the tragedy of it. The Government is hanging to this clause, and using the air and specialized propaganda in the newspapers to make lying statements against the sincerity of the Labour Opposition. The Government should remember that there can he no tampering with the age-old principles of British justice. If the Government fails to get hold of the Communists except by turning Australia into a fascist State, it will find itself out on its head more quickly than it expects. The people learn slowly, but they know instinctively when there is injustice without law or otherwise, and when’ governments endeavour to subvert their basic liberties. After all, when it comes to dealing with Communists, the Government is only a bunch of amateurs. What are the Communists doing at present? Is .there any trouble on the waterfront? No, because the Communists want to keep peace with the Government. The Labour party is their enemy and they want to see it destroyed. We are warning the Government now because we know what is going on, and the majority of honorable members opposite do not know. All is peace and harmony on the waterfront. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has had some conferences. I read of one conference at which the kindest words passed between the Minister and Mr. Healy. There was a note of gentle conciliation in the discussion - “It is a dreadful thing that we should so damn you in the House, but we do want the ships to be turned round quickly”. The Labour party dealt with the Communists effectively during the coal strike last year. The Communists have been fought by Labour from time immemorial, and again I warn the amateurs on the other side of the chamber against tinkering at this problem., As the rugged honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) said in picturesque phraseology that I could not better, “ I put them on the knuckle “. The Labour party is fighting communism in a democratic way. It is all very well for honorable members to snigger and laugh, but there is more incipient fascism on the Government benches than they know.
– Order ! I ask for the withdrawal of that remark..
– I withdraw the word “ incipient “.
– I ask for the withdrawal of the words “ incipient fascism “
– I withdraw the words “ incipient fascism “, and say that honorable members opposite, in their misguided judgment, are being led into channels of fascist propaganda not knowing what they do. The whole point of this clause was dealt with brilliantly by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt).
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– We have seen to-night the interesting paradox of the devil quoting scripture, or, in other words, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) quoting a section from a Church of England magazine.
– Order ! If the Minister is referring to the honorable member for East Sydney, I ask him to withdraw his remark.
– I was using a figure of speech, but if objection is taken to it I withdraw it. The present position is paradoxical because, on both sides of the chamber there is agreement that the Communist party in this country is a threat to our way of life, that it engages in sabotage and treason, and that certain key industries are vital to this country. As Communists are disrupting those industries, the Communist party should be dissolved without trial. All that is admitted by members of the Labour party and they voted for it. However, when it comes to clause 9, which represents an endeavour to give real effect to the bill, the Opposition says,
No. You must not do that. Your precedure is all wrong. The onus of proof provision is wrong. You must have trial by jury “. In the face of this terrible indictment of the Communist party to which honorable members opposite themselves subscribe they endeavour to split legal hairs with us by insisting upon the’ adoption of procedure which many of them know, in their own hearts will be ineffective. The Government’s proposal is that a special committee shall investigate persons suspected of being Communists, and report its findings. The Governor-General in Council - that is, Cabinet - may then declare an individual. Should a declared person wish to appeal, he may go into the witness-box and deny that he is a Communist. The onus of proof at that stage rests on the Crown. The Opposition claims that procedure to be wrong; but let us see how it would work in practice. I should like, in this connexion, to elaborate an illustration that I gave this afternoon. The Department of Supply has approximately 16,000 employees, a vast majority of whom are engaged upon defence work. They are employed at such undertakings as the guided weapons testing range, in ordnance factories producing among other things the new 4.5-in. gun mounting, about which we have all read in the press, in munitions establishments, where newexplosives are being produced, in aircraft factories producing the new jet engines, and in the Research and Development Division, where we have taken up research where the Germans left off. I have no doubt that similar illustrations could be given . by other Ministers. In all those places, projects of grave importance are being carried out by civil servants. If I have in one of those undertakings a person who is a Communist, I cannot discharge him. I cannot even transfer him because I have a certain establishment and there is a job for him. Public Service regulations and other restrictions make it impossible for me to do anything about such an employee.
– That applies only to permanent officers.
– The majority of the employees of whom I am speaking are permanent. The result is either that persons who may be Communists shall continue to have access to secret defence work, or mingle with those who have, or that we must apply a system of security passes, build fences round scores of factories, station guards at the gates, and introduce all the ineffective paraphernalia necessarily associated with an attempt to defend vital defence projects. We believe, therefore, that if the Government, after mature consideration of the advice given to it by chosen members of the community, considers that a person employed in a vital public undertaking is a Communist, the Governor-General should be empowered to declare him; but that is not the end of the matter. He has his remedy. He may appeal against such a declaration and all that he has to do to put the proceedings on the basis of a criminal trial in relation to onus of proof is to take one step up the dais to the witness-box, take the oath, and say, “ I am not a Communist “. At that very moment, the onus of proof passes to the Crown.
– That is not true.
– It is true, yet humbugs on the other side of the chamber have the impertinence to say that there is something wrong or unjust about such proceedings.
– No wonder they took so long to make the Minister a K.C. !
– The honorable member for East Sydney knows all about the witness-box, of course, and he has a profound dislike for it, as I can well understand.
– I stood up to your crooked mate, “ Sammy “ Isaacs.
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will withdraw that remark and apologize.
– I apologize.
– Order! Will the honorable member rise to his feet and withdraw and apologize?
– All we ask the innocent man to do is to step into the witness box, take an oath, and say “ I am not a Communist “.
– The Minister is a disgrace to his profession.
– We know that the honorable member is a disgrace to this Parliament.
– Order! Personal reflections are disorderly, and I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to withdraw his remark. He knows “what will happen to him if he persists in making personal reflections.
– I withdraw, and I also ask that the Minister be made to withdraw his remark and apologize to me, Mr. Chairman.
– I withdraw.
– And apologize.
– The Minister has withdrawn.
– I ask for an apology as well. If you do not display your impartiality
– Order ! Did the honorable member for East Sydney reflect upon the Chair?
– No, Mr. Chairman.
– The Labour party says, “ No ; do not ask the man to go into the witness-box and swear ‘ to his own innocence. The Crown should prove every jot and tittle of its case against him. Put your security officers and your loyal employees in the witness box. Disclose the sou rees of all the information that you get from people who are prepared to- come along because they are patriots “-
– The honorable member calls them pimps; I call them patriots. Therein lies the difference between honorable members on this side of the chamber and him. We want to protect the institutions of the country. The honorable member for East Sydney talks the language of Woolloomooloo, but the people of Australia have a better terminology than that.
If the Labour party has its way, the Crown will have to produce all of its evidence and submit all of the documents available to it so that the whole matter will be dragged into the light of day. Witnesses will be cross-examined from Dan to Beersheba. And what will the Communists be doing in the meantime? They will be laughing their heads off, because all of this information will be going home to Moscow. This is just a great trap that has been set for the purpose of exposing us to the Communist International, and the honorable member for East Sydney knows it. It is very significant that he, of all honorable members, at all times should most enthusiastically support something that is veryfavorable to Moscow.
– That is a lie !
– People can draw their own conclusions about that. I, in common with other honorable members on this side of the chamber, have spent all. of my life fighting for the personal liberty of the individual. Personal, liberty is not in danger but national’ security is.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- I have listened very attentively to the speeches that have been made about clause- 9 this evening. Being a layman and arank and file member of the great Australian Labour party, of which I am very proud, I was almost stunned when f heard some of the statements that were made by so-called intellectuals on theGovernment side of the chamber, particularly the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who, in flowery -phrases, condemned the jury system of our fairCommonwealth. The right honorablegentleman said that he knew that Communists had been empanelled upon Australian juries. If that be so, I say that he has been recreant to the trust that is reposed in him by virtue of the position that he occupies. As a trade unionist, I was astonished by the diatribes of some Ministers, especially that recentlyappointed King’s Counsel, the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale). I do not suppose that I have ever witnessed a morepitiful exposure of a man’s own incompetence than that uttered by the Minister. Notwithstanding the crisis that threatensAustralia, the Minister has not visited the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow to see what is being done there at any timeduring the ten months in which he hasheld office.
– Order ! The honorable member must relate his remarksto the clause that the committee is considering.
– While Ministers and their supporters talk about the freedom that Australians enjoy, they try to hamstring us by means of clause 9. They want to manacle the people for all time by enacting this vicious provision that i3 designed to throw upon the individual the onus of proving his innocence. Let us consider a hypothetical case for the purpose of illustration. Imagine that a murder has been committed and that a man is arrested, placed in the witnessbox and asked to tell a court on oath how the murder was committed even though he knows nothing of the crime and has not previously heard about it. This situation would be similar to that for which this clause provides.
We know the deep-laid, dastardly scheme that lies behind the Government’.? proposals. We know that it is a longrange plan designed to strangle the great trade union movement that has brought the standard of living in Australia to the high level that prevails to-day. That standard is too high to suit honorable members opposite. The trade unions are in such a strong position that they can and will demand a fair share of the nation’s prosperity. That is why the representatives of the wool-growers and the manufacturers want to crush them
– Order ! The honorable member should relate his remarks to the clause.
– I shall digress no more than did the Prime Minister and the Minister for Supply. This coalition Government professes to he so much concerned about the Communist party that I should like to ask its members this question : why did the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) travel to Newcastle and guarantee to a certain member of the Communist party the payment of all deposits forfeited by defeated Communist party candidates at the last general election provided that they opposed Labour party candidates in Labour strongholds? I should also like to know the reason for the vicious and hypocritical advocacy of the clause put forward by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). Perhaps he will tell us why at one period he was a member of the Port Kembla branch of the Communist party under the name of “ William Jacobs “, party number 78. Apparently he was acting then as an under-cover agent of the party.
– Order! The honorable member will have to resume his seat if he continues in that strain.
– Then apparently he must have been a liaison officer between the Communist party and the Liberal party.
The Minister for Supply referred to the security organization, and asked, “ Do we want our security organization to be brought into the open? Do we want our pimps to be shown up in the courts? Do we want to show our hands when we bring evidence to show that a particular individual has engaged, or is likely to engage, in subversive activity ? “ What a question to ask any decent Australian! The question that will be asked is : “ Are you likely to engage in subversive activity ? “ Of course, we cannot bring our security service to light! No wonder we do not know who the members of that organization are! We all remember the shameful affair that happened recently when, after the Prime Minister had first introduced this measure to the House and had supplied a list of allegedly notorious Communists, the right honorable gentleman had to make a subsequent retraction and apologize humbly. That happened immediately after the right honorable gentleman had told, us that the security service did not make any mistakes ! One of the individuals mentioned in the Prime Minister’s list whom I know personally had had no connexion with the trade union movement for five years before that statement was made. So much for the private detectives, the private police and the snoopers employed by the Prime Minister’s Department.
– They were all employed by my predecessor.
– Then we recall the selection by the Liberal party of a wellknown Communist to represent it in the State election for the seat of Waverley. Of course, the party denied that its nominee was a Communist, hut the fact remains that the man concerned was withdrawn as a candidate and a well-known footballer was substituted.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I am sure the House will forgive me if I have the temerity to differ from the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) on a couple of technical points. I am sorry that I am not the individual he referred to as a member of the Port Kembla branch of the Communist party. He must have mixed me up with one of his other friends.
– I am not mixed up. What about the £10 and the eight-hour day art union? Did the honorable member put in his deposit?
– Nonsense! Another point mentioned by the honorable member was that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was recreant to his trust because he permitted Communists to serve on juries. I point out that the provision of juries in courts of justice is a matter for State authorities and does not concern the Commonwealth. Furthermore, I remind the honorable member that Mr. Martin, who is the Attorney-General in the Labour Government of New South Wales, and as such is responsible for the administration of the law concerning juries, has been recorded in the New South Wales Hansard as advocating that Communists should be permitted to serve on juries even in cases where Communists are involved.
– That is not true.
– The statement of the Attorney-General of New South Wales to which I refer is recorded on page 1670 of the New South Wales Hansard of 1949. If the honorable member will accompany me to the Library later I shall point out the relevant passage in Hansard to him.
I do not think we need worry about the whimsical little speech made by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen),. or about the speech made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), in which he followed his consistent line of supporting the line of Communist party policy, or, in other words, pursued his role of a kind of breakaway for the Communist party scrum, even if he is occasionally a little off-side. I shall refer to the kind remarks of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr.
Daly), who was good enough to refer to me. I understood him to express the wish that if he were at any time to be tried on a serious charge he should be tried by a jury in which there would be, at least, one nitwit, so that the jury would not agree on a verdict against him. I am sure the House will join with me in hoping that the honorable member’s wish will be fulfilled.
I pass now to the remarks made by the right honorable member for Barton . (Dr. Evatt) which are, I think, important, because, for one thing, they show clearly that the right honorable gentleman is reverting to his role of ten years ago, when he was legal adviser to the Council of Civil Liberties. That body was a Communist front, and was at that time engaged in trying to break down our war effort. Now he appears again virtually as counsel for the defence of the Communist party. He put two main propositions before the House. First of all, he suggested that a person who is proved to have been a Communist and who has been found by the courts, under the procedure proposed in this clause, to be a Communist should be entitled to apply for freedom from the operation of the bill on the ground that he was not also dangerous. May J remind the House that the provision contained in the proposed amendment is not intended in any way to assist any one who is not a Communist. In fact, it is designed only to assist Communists; and the Labour party cannot say that in supporting the amendment that it is attempting to shelter those who are not Communists, because it is quite clear that the only persons who will derive any benefit from it are members of the Communist party. Furthermore, I think that it is clear that the adoption of the proposed amendment would be of very considerable assistance to members of that party. After all, as one honorable member opposite admitted, the Government could have “ declared “ all Communists. Instead, it proposes simply to proclaim those Communists whom it believes, on sound evidence, to be dangerous to the national security. No injustice will be done by proclaiming any Communist irrespective of his other activities, because those who know anything about the Communist party know that every member of that organization is potentially dangerous and will realize that no injustice will be done to any Communist by bringing him within the provisions of the bill. Therefore, the first portion of the amendment moved by the right honorable member for Barton, designed to assist Communists and no one else, is in no sense necessary to correct an injustice, because no injustice exists.
Concerning the second portion of the right honorable member’s amendment, I suggest that the arguments put forward by the Opposition concerning the onus of proof have rung hollow. I believe that they are directed principally to keeping Communists out of the witness-box. Communists do not like to enter the witnessbox. They are part of a conspiracy, and when a conspirator enters the witnessbox he always fears that he may betray a fellow conspirator. There have been occasions, in fact, when Communists have gone to extraordinary lengths in order to keep out of the witness-box. The provision concerning onus of proof in the bill will apply substantially to Communists, and only to Communists. It is only members of this conspiracy who have this great reluctance to go into the witness-box.
It is obvious that the Opposition is very confused upon this matter. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Eraser) cavilled at the definition of Communist, but the honorable member for Bendigo lauded the Labour party for having accepted precisely that definition. The unhappy honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) went so far as to contradict even himself, because, on the one hand, he inveighed against the onus of proof provisions in this measure and, on the other hand, praised the Crimes Act and asked that the Government apply it. Has the honorable gentleman ever read sections 30h and 30r of that act, which, in criminal cases, places the onus of proof upon an accused person much more stringently than is proposed in this measure now before the House? I suggest to the honorable gentleman that he clear his mind by reading those two sec- tions of the Crimes Act, so that he will not again be induced to present fallacious arguments upon this subject. It is obvious that he does not know what he is talking about.
The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) made one of the most helpful contributions that have been made to this debate. The honorable gentleman told us plainly that if, after a double dissolution, the Labour party were returned to power, it would do nothing about the Communists. He has attended meetings of the Labour caucus and knows what really happened there, in contradistinction to what was reported outside. He gave us, in effect, what he believed to be the real determination of the Labour caucus if the Labour party is ever returned to power. Speaking as a man who has been in the inner deliberations and councils of the Labour caucus, he told the Parliament and the country that if the Labour party is returned to power it will do nothing against the Communists.
– The honorable gentleman did not say that.
– He did say it, as the Hansard report will show.
Let me conclude on a more serious note. The questions that we are considering to-night .are not academic questions. They are questions that affect the lives of us all, because, in this world conflict with communism, our lives are at stake. Do not let us think that the politicians or the civilian men, women and children of this country are free from danger. We all stand in the most deadly danger, and this bill is directed, so far as it can be, towards combatting that danger.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– The only truthful remark made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) was that this is not an academic question. That is true. The matter that we are discussing to-night strikes at the liberty of every Australian citizen. I do not propose to cover the same ground as I covered on another night, and it will not be of much use if Ministers or other Government supporters attempt to confuse the issue. In relation to this clause, the
Opposition is asking the Government to apply the very simple principle that every citizen of this country who is charged with any of the matters set out in the bill shall be given an ordinary trial in accordance with the ordinary processes of law. The Opposition is asking for no more than that. Let me remind the committee that, at Nuremburg, the Allied nations gave the greatest war criminals of Germany the right to a trial in open court before judges, and also provided counsel lo assist them in the preparation of their defence. On Manus Island this Government is now giving Japanese war criminals the right to an ordinary trial in open court, in accordance with the ordinary processes of law, and is providing them with assistance to enable them to defend themselves.
– The Labour party was going to let them go free.
– The honorable gentleman who has just interjected is obviously completely ignorant of what he is talking about. I have not time to elaborate that matter now. I shall content myself with saying that the Labour party never had that intention. Reduced to its bare essentials, the plain fact of the matter is that, for example, the “ Butcher of Belsen “ had charges preferred against him and was given a fairer trial than any ordinary Australian citizen will receive under the provisions of this measure. He was tried in open court. The Japanese war criminals who are now being tried on Manus Island are being tried in open court, and charges are preferred against them before they ever go near the witness-box. This Government proposes to deny that right - it is not a privilege - to ordinary citizens of this country.
We are concerned about die effect of this measure upon innocent people. It seems to me that the Government takes the view that it will be far better to condemn 99 innocent persons than to take the risk of one guilty person escaping. Under this measure in its present form, an ordinary citizen of this country could be declared to be a traitor, without having had a charge preferred against him and without having been made aware of the source of the information upon which the Commonwealth had acted. He could be damned in the eyes of his fellow countrymen, his family shamed, his job lost to him and his whole life blighted. It is said that the secret evidence on which a declaration is based will be examined by some body. I said during the second-reading debate that a number of Ministers in this Government are well known to be trade union haters. I said that I was prepared to name them, because their speeches in this chamber have shown them to be quite incapable of giving an impartial judgment upon anything relating to trade unionism. This is not a matter for quips and jests. It is a matter of life and death for ordinary citizens of this country, who may be declared, in a public document, to be traitors or Communists, as the case may be, but will not know on what evidence the charges are based and will not be able to face their accusers, who may be informers, liars, pimps or perjurers. I have not time to-night to deal with the security service, but I am in a position to know something about it. I know that a person was named as a dangerous man to bo working in a certain factory because on four occasions he was seen to purchase books at a Communist bookstall. When I made some inquiries, I found that very many people do that because they believe that only by reading Communist literature can they answer Communist arguments. I saw that man’s name on the list. I do not speak without some knowledge of this matter. The head of the security service when I was Prime Minister was a judge, and I felt that we could trust him completely to exercise his functions in a judicial manner, but, whether or not the head of the service is a judge, I think that, in this country, in which we talk about liberty, freedom and- human rights, before a man is condemned for life, not sent to prison for a week or two or fined £10-
– They condemn themselves out of their own mouths.
– Let me state the position again. It is obvious that the honorable member who has just interjected does not know what provisions are in the bill. Under this measure, a man without a charge having been preferred against him, could be declared to be a traitor or to be engaged in subversive activities. That brand having been placed on him, he could appeal against the declaration. I feel very deeply about this matter because, in days gone by, I have been hounded from corner to corner by the police for expressing an opinion unfavorable to the government of the day. I know the situations that can arise, irrespective of the political creed of the party in office. I know what hysteria, hatred and intolerance can cause in a community. Honorable members well know what such things caused in Germany and Italy and, indeed, in other countries right down the ages from the days of Calvin and others. Such factors operating in a community cause some members of that community to become fanatical about certain things. There is present to-day in this country, as well as in other countries, a fanaticism that is dangerous to every principle of liberty. The Opposition makes a simple request; that is, that every Australian citizen shall have the right to know what he is charged with, the right to answer the charge, and the right to- be tried by the ordinary processes of law; that is, that they shall have the rights that have been exercised by alleged German and Japanese war criminals.
– We have just heard from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) a last-moment attempt to make the Opposition’s case on this particular matter sound, respectable. In the course of it he put up a case so dripping with false values that I regret to say I Have seldom heard a worse one. The right honorable gentleman said, for a start, that it is the sacred right of every citizen charged that he shall be given an ordinary trial under the ordinary processes of law, and I imagine, from the way in which he said it in reference to this matter, that every citizen charged ought to be given an ordinary trial, in which the prosecutor must prove everything, and in which, if there is a jury, the doubt of one man would be sufficient to prevent a conviction. If it did not mean that it did not mean anything. It is very interesting to hear these sentiments, particularly garnished to work on the feelings of the Australian people by reference to the trials of Japanese war criminals. The right honorable gentleman himself, when in office - and his colleagues with him - prosecuted scores of people who were perfectly good Australians under the Customs Act, a law which puts the onus on the accused. One might be tempted to ask the Leader of the Opposition why it is that an Australian, prosecuted under the Customs Act for an offence that may involve him in imprisonment and some moral disgrace in this country, should be given a trial less fair than that given to a Japanese war criminal. After all, under the Customs Act, the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues prosecuted many people, including one gentleman that we had the pleasure of knowing. The Customs Act itself says that in any customs prosecution the averment of the prosecutor or plaintiff contained in the information, plaint, declaration or claim, shall be prima facie evidence on the matter or matters averred. Am I to take it that this is in accordance with the ordinary principles of justice ? If it is, why is a similar provision in this bill not in accordance with the ordinary principles of justice? Let us go past that one. The right honorable gentleman becomes emotional at the very mention of dealing with Communists, but most of the people of this country believe that Communists are enemies of Australia, and very few people in this country believe in this highly sentimental fashion that this country is neither at war nor in any danger of war. The whole foundation of this piece of legislation is that Australia is in a cold war, if that term means a war in which Australian lives are being lost in action, and is also in a state of imminent danger of what people might call a hot war. The right honorable gentleman stated - and really this was a revolting statement - that the Government is going to deal with the Communists, who are Australian citizens. He implied that they should be treated with all the particularity with which a person charged with murder would be treated. It is only a few years since we were in a war, and it is only a few years since the right honorable gentleman was a senior Minister, and then Prime Minister in a war cabinet. Did he apply those rules to Australian citizens during the war?
Does lie not know that under the War Precautions Act and the War Precautions Regulations people could be and were interned, scores and hundreds of them, iti the ipse dixit of a Minister, and that a complete answer by a gaoler to a writ of habeas corpus was, “ This man is held by the order of the Minister “ ? Does the Leader of the Opposition not know that in scores of cases during the war charges were laid against persons who had no hope of being brought forward for an ordinary trial according to what he calls the ordinary processes of law? I am not saying that those things should not have been done. They have been done here in two wars, and they have been done in Great Britain in two wars. No honorable member opposite, when in office, ever challenged them. Why were they done? Because there were circumstances under which the ordinary processes of law gave way to the supreme safety of the community. The right honorable gentleman forgets about all that and he comes along and says that although that was all right during the war, the Government should not do that kind of thing when it is dealing with Communists. Oh, no ! The proof against a Communist, according to the right honorable gentleman, must be more strict than the proof against a man who has failed to comply with the Customs Act or the Excise Act. I venture to say that that would be unreal and completely unsound. A very singular attempt has been made all over Australia - very unsuccessfully, I am happy to say - to represent this legislation as legislation that creates a criminal offence. I point out once more to the committee - and I should be delighted to have the opportunity to point it out to the country - that the only occasions in his bill on which a criminal offence is created are occasions on which the onus rests on the Crown from beginning to- end.
– That is a lawyer’s quibble, as the Prime Minister knows quite well.
– Every time anybody makes an accurate remark the honorable gentleman regards it as a lawyer’s quibble, and nobody pays any attention to him.
Mi-, Ward. - The Prime Minister is only stonewalling.
– I said, and there is no reputable person on the other side of the committee who will deny it, that wherever a criminal charge is provided for under this bill, the onus of proof is on the Crown from beginning to end.
– You brand them and give them no chance.
– Perhaps on the third reading I shall be able to make an answer to that charge. The truth is that the contentious provisions in this bill are those that lead only to this result - and sometimes I am astonished at its mildness - that a man who is declared, and whose declaration is upheld, cannot be employed by the Commonwealth and cannot hold office in a key trade union in a key industry. This is a bill to terminate employment in vital places. In other words, this is a bill which deals with the security of Australia, yet we have had trotted out, all the time, all this fustian about prosecutions for murder, and the Leader of the Oppositon saying, “ This man’s reputation is murdered for all time “. There are many people whose reputations were murdered for all time under his own Administration, and I did not hear a note of sympathy, not even the slightest damp, lachrymose spot of sob stuff, from him or from any of his colleagues about it. But now, of course, the real issue is : Are the Communists to be dealt with? Whatever Opposition members may say, the friends of the Communists sit on the Opposition benches.
– The Prime Minister knows that that is not true.
– I know that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) does not wish to be a friend of the Communists.
– I never have been.
– I am sorry for the honorable member for Melbourne. I sympathize with him, but the voice has spoken, and so, unwillingly, he is dragged into that camp. Now, we can contest this matter very simply. I shall put some questions, or at least one question to the Opposition, and the Opposition may take it as being upon notice and answer it at its leisure.’
– Give us a chance to answer the questions now.
– The Opposition will have ample time to answer this question, because it can be answered “ Yes “ or “ No “. I shall say two things. In the first place - and let honorable gentlemen listen closely to this - if the Labour party stands to its guns on these amendments there will be a general election soon.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !
– How does the Prime Minister know that?
– If the Labour party evades and delays the issue, and so gives the Communists more uninterrupted time, but in the long run decides to stand to its guns, there will be an election later.
– Hypocrisy !
– I hope that other honorable members can hear what I am saying. Sooner or later, unless the Labour party surrenders on this issue, there will be a general election. Now here is my question-
– Stop bluffing!
– We shall know who is bluffing when we hear the answer to this question. If ever I saw a rabble on a matter like this, it is composed of honorable members opposite. Here is my question : Honorable members opposite are discussing this whole issue on the footing that they will lose the general election. But if the Labour party wins the election, will it then introduce a bill to ban the Communist party, to ban its allied parties and to remove dangerous Communists from Commonwealth employment and from office in trade unions? Let the Labour party answer that question, “Yes” or “No”.
– Yes ! The answer is “ Yes “.
– But the honorable member does not speak for a majority of the Labour party.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! Honorable members will not be here to vote on this stage of the bill if they do not restrain themselves.
– The honorable member for Melbourne does not speak for the majority of the Labour party.
– Yes, I do.
– Because after all, if the honorable member had been in the majority, these amendments would never have been moved.
– On this issue I do speak for the majority.
– We know that it is because the honorable gentleman is not in a majority that these amendments have been moved.
– No member of the Opposition has dissented from the affirmatory answer that I gave.
– Let the Leader of the Opposition say in the proper place that the answer to my question is “ Yes “.
– He will say it.
– Well, if he does so 1 am bound to say that he will be remarkably adroit, because right through the last general election campaign he said exactly the opposite. After all, one of the real issues in that election was this particular matter, and the right honorable gentleman then said, “ I will not ban the Communists. I do not believe in banning the Communists. I do not believe in dealing with people in that way “.
– The Prime Minister also said that.
– The honorable gentleman is a little out of date. I advise him to read my policy speech, upon which the people voted. The one thing that the Opposition is terrified about is that the people should have another vote on this issue. If the Opposition really believes in all this rubbish that it has been putting before us, let it vote on the issue and tell its henchmen in another place to vote on it; then we shall go to the country and let the country decide, and we shall stand by that decision.
– Ask the country to vote upon putting value back into the £1.
– All right, raise any other issue. If I were in the Opposition’s position I would raise every possible issue. But look at the Opposition in relation to this issue. Has anybody ever seen anything like it?
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who spoke at considerable length earlier in the evening, knowing the rules under which this debate was being conducted, has left to us only two and a half minutes of the time allotted. He has not dealt at all with the substance of this case. He has cited the Customs Act and has suggested that a case laid under it has some analogy to a case in which a charge is laid against persons who are not Communists, but are alleged to be Communists. During his speech he said 50 times, “ The Opposition wishes to treat Communists better than other people. Special privileges for Communists ! “ Nothing could be more inaccurate or untrue. The question to be decided in this case is whether or not the person charged is a Communist. When the matter comes to the court, why should the person charged not have the benefit of the ordinary legal methods which would safeguard his right to put his defence to such a charge? The Prime Minister does not believe in that. A few years ago he had something to say about the banning of political parties. He has changed his views on that matter. He has also changed his views on something more fundamental ; that is, the rule of ordinary law and justice that if an imputation is made against an Australian citizen - and every one declared under this bill will be an Australian citizen - and it is alleged that he is a Communist, the Crown should have to prove the imputation because it alone put penalties upon the defendant. I t is perfectly true, as the Prime Minister has said, that this bill does not deal with an ordinary crime. It is not so specific. It deals with the likelihood of different crimes. It deals with persons likely to interfere with the defence of the country, likely to commit treason and sabotage, in other words, likely to be of such a character and disposition that they may commit a number of crimes. I say that that is a more serious imputation than a specific charge of having committed one offence would be. The Prime Minister has given the go-by to his long protection, in this Parliament and in the Parliament of Victoria, of those principles for which the Opposition is fighting. Let me say in conclusion that the Opposition has put several amendments which have been dealt with in most inadequate time. In my opinion the bill should be amended and passed through the other chamber in the form proposed by the Opposition and, if it becomes law, the Government of this country is bound to see that it is carried into effect.
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the bill in committee has expired.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Dr. Evatt’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. P. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the clause he agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the remainder of the hill (including postponed clauses 3, 6, 7 and 8) be agreed to, and that the bill be reported without amendment.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Communism - Hearing Aids - Currency - Forty-hour Week - Incentive Payments - Immigration - Budget - Pen - SIONE - The Parliament - Housing - Social Services.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.-No time could be more suitable for me to bring to the notice of the House a matter in which Communist activities are being assisted by the actions of the present Australian Government. Recently some members of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia applied for passports to enable them to go abroad to a “phony” peace conference, a conference which members of the Government will readily agree was not a peace conference at all, but was an instrument of Russian foreign policy. The object of the conference was to undermine the success of Australians and others in Korea. In spite of that, the Government issued passports. When it was announced that these people were going abroad to the overseas conference, at 40 meetings throughout New South Wales the clerks of that State repudiated their representatives’ status. After all, Mr. Jack Hughes and his colleagues were wanted at that conference, not as individuals, but as representatives of a section of the Australian people. Moreover, as such representatives they had applied to the Government for passports which enabled them to go abroad. I know that the venue of the conference has been changed from time to time. Originally it was to be held behind the Iron Curtain, then it was moved to London, and again moved to somewhere else. I realize that the passports may not now be valid for the country in which the conference is to be held, but the fact remains that these people applied for passports and were granted them, although they were repudiated by the people whom they were pretending to represent. With the passports then issued they would have been able to take part in the conference, the object of which was to promote the interests of international communism.
Another gentleman named Mr. Healy also got a passport. Although he pretends to represent the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, he represents only a small section of its members. After all, the members of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia and the members of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia have some rights and are entitled to say to the Government, “ You should not give passports to persons who pretend to represent us at international conferences when we have not been consulted about whether they should go abroad or not, and when no meetings of the organizations in Australia have been held to tell these representatives what attitude they are to adopt while abroad “. The Government may be able to say that there are instruments of labour which support the granting of these passports, but that is no justification for it adopting the attitude that it has adopted since it has been in office. No matter what others may do the protestations of the Government on communism should be backed by actions, one of which should be to refuse to permit members of the Australian community to go abroad and pretend to represent Australians at international conferences which are attended by representatives of those who are destroying the interests of this country in Korea and elsewhere.
– I again direct the attention of the Government to the need for the provision of hearing aids to age pensioners. On at least four occasions during the last period of this session I brought this important matter to the notice of the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), but to date no satisfaction has been given. I received from the Minister one foolish letter - I use the term advisedly - in which he stated that age pensioners did not know how to use hearing aids, or would not appreciate them, or having been so long without them would not be able to gain any benefit from their use. Since I raised this matter on a previous occasion one honorable member opposite who is obliged to use a hearing aid has told me that the Minister’s statement that old people cannot derive any benefit from using hearing aids is utter rubbish. He said that he, himself, had gained considerable benefit from doing so, and he made the promise, which I have no doubt he will honour, to speak te the Minister “with a view to persuading him to soften his heart towards age pensioners who cannot afford, out of their meagre pension, to purchase hearing aids which cost from 30 to 40 guineas. I appeal to the Government to give further consideration to this matter. Why does it not exercise the authority which it inherited from the preceding Government to manufacture hearing aids? The Government appears to have forgotten the fact that the age pension is still only ?2- 2s. 6d. a week, and that due to its ineptness the cost of living has risen to a greater degree since it assumed office than it rose at any other time in the history of this country.
At the last general election the present Government parties promised to put value back in the ?1, but the Government has done nothing in that respect except to produce 39 reasons for its failure to honour that promise. Among the reasons that were advanced for that failure by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and some of his colleagues during last session was that the previous Government had refused to appreciate the .Australian ?1 to parity with sterling. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) made a statement to that effect. The people wish to know what the Government intends to do about revaluation of the currency. If, as it claims, the previous Government was at fault in failing to appreciate the Australian ?1 to parity with sterling, it is equally to blame for its failure to take any action in this matter. The Government has ako advanced the continuance of the 40-hour working week as another reason for its failure to put value back into the ?1, but n.o Government supporter is prepared to offer any alternative to the 40-hour week. However, the view of the Government on this matter can he gleaned from newspaper reports and from statements that have been made to the press by Mr. Malcolm Ritchie, the president of the Australian Liberal party, who said that the Government would not be able to put value back into the ?1 until this country reverted to a 5’6-hour working week.
Another reason that has been advanced for the Government’s failure in this respect is that the workers are not working hard enough. The Minister for Labour and National Service said that trade unionists were not prepared to adopt the principle of an incentive payment. Yet the present Government parties in their policy speeches at the last general election promised that they would institute incentive payments if they were returned to office. However, immediately the Government was elected the Minister for Labour and National Service said, in effect, that such a promise was a farce because the Australian Government had not the power under the Constitution to introduce incentive payments. Nevertheless, the present Government parties had the .effrontery and dishonesty to tell the people at the last general election that if returned to office they could and would introduce incentive payments in industry. The Minister for Labour and National Service also claimed that the Government could not put value back into the ?1 because the Labour Opposition refused to assist it to pass the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Another reason given for the Government’s failure in this respect is that too many migrants are coining to Australia. One Minister in another place made that statement.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order! The honorable gentleman will not be in order in dealing with any debate in another place during the current session.
– Well, a Minister in this chamber made a statement to the same effect. He said that one reason why the Government was not able to put value back into the ?.1 was that the country was unable to absorb the large number of migrants that are coming to Australia. Yet,[the Minister for Labour and National Service, when extending a welcome to New. Australians recently, said that they were making a magnificent contribution towards increasing our economic capacity to put value back into the ?1. In addition, he said that, although the previous Government had set a target of 200,000 migrants a year, this Government intended to increase that target. The people want to know where the Government stands in this matter.
It is about time the Government disclosed the outcome of the secret meetings that the Cabinet has held during the last few weeks. The Parliament is still awaiting the introduction of the budget, which should have been brought down months ago. Age pensioners, who are compelled to live on a miserable pittance of £2 2s. 6d. a week, are anxious to learn to what degree the Government proposes to grant them relief. I have heard it rumoured that the Government intends to increase the rate of the age pension by £1 5s. 6d. a week. However, will that increase - the actual increase may be as low as only 7s. 6d. a week - be made retrospective to a suitable date in order to compensate the age pensioners for the loss that they have suffered owing to the Government’s unpardonable delay in introducing its budget for the current financial year? The age pensioners are in desperate straits. Urgent measures must be taken to give relief to the pioneers of this country. The time is fast approaching when the Government will be thrown out on its ear. The sooner the people are given an opportunity to say what they think about its failure to put value back into the £1 the better it will be for the age pensioner, the basic wageearner, the worker who is threatened with a 56-hour working week by the president of the Australian Liberal party, and the primary producer who is threatened with a reduction of 25 per cent, of his income through the appreciation of the Australian £1 to parity with sterling.
-Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I bring to the notice of the Cabinet and of honorable members a matter that affects the employment of parliamentary officers. Whilst my remarks will refer specifically to attendants .and officers of the House of Representatives, I am able to state definitely that they apply with equal vigour to the attendants and officers of the Senate, of the Library, and of the Joint House Department. Briefly, the conditions of employment of officers of this House are governed by the Common wealth Public Service (Parliamentary Officers) Regulations. Regulation S reads -
The hours of duty of officers of any Department of the Parliamentary Service shall be such hours as are specified from time to time by the Permanent Head of that Department and approved by the Parliamentary Head.
Regulation 36 reads -
The Permanent Head shall, wherever practicable, cause such arrangements to be made as will ensure that each officer shall be granted leave of absence annually for recreation, and, if leave is not taken in the year in which it accrues, it shall lapse; . . .
The parliamentary head and the permanent heads of the parliamentary departments have practically the same power as has the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and the Public Service Arbitrator to fix hours of employment for Commonwealth public servants. The 40-hour week, with the provision of penalty rates for hours worked in excess of that time, is enjoyed to-day by all employees who come under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The great majority of public servants enjoy a 36^-hour working week under a determination that was given by the Public Service Arbitrator.
Regulation 36 states that recreation leave will be granted only when it is practicable. It is obvious that for the purpose of the smooth working of Parliament House the hours that are prescribed by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court cannot be applied to employees in this building because their adoption would cause, when the House was in session, a. considerable amount of dislocation, and that smooth functioning to which we are accustomed would be lost. Parliamentary officers may take their recreation leave only when the Parliament is in recess. Therefore, it would appear necessary that regulations should be promulgated governing the employment of officers of this House to provide that whilst maintaining the smooth working of the organization the conditions of employment of the staff shall be congenial and on all-fours with those that have been granted under awards of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and the Public Service Arbitrator. Efforts have been made during the last twelve months to have the present anomalies redressed, but to date nothing has been gained in thai; direction. In August, 1949, a written claim was submitted to the permanent head of the House of Representatives asking that approval be given for the payment of overtime. That claim dragged on until last August, and nothing eventuated. It would appear that the claim that has been made is perfectly justifiable and would have received just recognition had it been submitted to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court or the Public Service Arbitrator. I believe that it has been submitted to and rejected by the Cabinet. The Commonwealth Public Service (Parliamentary Officers) Regulations provide that the parliamentary head and the permanent head may determine not only the hours to be worked and the recreation leave to be granted, but also such matters as leave, and the salaries and allowances that shall be paid. I contend that it is unlikely that the officers’ claim for overtime would have been submitted to the Cabinet unless it had been approved by the parliamentary head and by the permanent head of the House of Representatives, who are completely familiar with the terms and conditions of employment of the staff. If the claim, after having been approved by the parliamentary head and the permanent head, has been rejected by the Cabinet, the implication is that the Commonwealth Public Service (Parliamentary Officers) Regulations are meaningless.
The facts of the matter are clear. During a session, the parliamentary head and the permanent head decide what hours shall be worked by the staffs in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the parliamentary machine. They are in a position to make those decisions. A reference to the time sheets of the attendants and of other officers who are employed in the Department of the House of Representatives discloses that these officials are working from 60 to 70 hours a week when the House is in session. Tinder the Commonwealth Public Service (Parliamentary Officers) Regulations, the parliamentary head and the permanent head may also determine the rates that officers shall be paid and the conditions under which they shall work. If the parliamentary head and the permanent head refuse a just claim, I venture to suggest that honorable members themselves should give consideration to the matter. But if the parliamentary head and the permanent head, having considered the claims to be just, feel constrained to forward them to the Cabinet, it must be accepted that the claims are fair, and should receive the most favorable consideration by the Cabinet. The parliamentary officers, who are working such long hours, particularly in the Australian Capital Territory, where conditions of employment are determined by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court or by the Public Service Arbitrator, are subject to a definite anomaly. Many of the officers of this chamber who work overtime during the session, have given continuous service to the House of Representatives for at least twenty years. Some of them have accumulated up to 300 hours overtime in twelve months, for which they have not received any reimbursement. I see no valid reason why, and I have not been shown any figures to indicate why those officers should not enjoy the same privileges as are granted to other employees in the Australian Capital Territory who are governed by awards of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court or by determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator. I hope that this matter will receive the consideration of members of the Cabinet, and also of every member of the House, because we all are beholden to these employees for the services they render.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
. - I propose to discuss a number of matters. I again direct the attention of the Government to the very serious housing position, which is likely to become more acute because of the action of the Government in diverting labour to the construction of military establishments for the use of troops, and in introducing compulsory military service, thus taking labour from productive industry. In New South Wales, from ten to twelve temporary housing units- become available each week, but there are 7,000 unsatisfied applicants. Those figures were supplied to me by a responsible officer of the Housing Department in New South Wales, and may be checked by any honorable member. We may work out for ourselves just how long it will take many of the unsatisfied applicants to obtain even emergency housing, r know of one case of ten persons living in a garage, a man and his wife, four single daughters, a son, a married daughter, the son-in-law, and a. baby. The position has been investigated by the housing authorities in New South Wales, and the facts are nol, disputed. Those of us who have visited emergency housing centres know of the frightful conditions under which Australian families are compelled to live. Nor is it a matter of living in such places for a week or a month. Many families are condemned to live in emergency settlements for years, because nothing is being done to overtake the housing lag. When the war ended, it was estimated that there was a shortage of between 250,000 and 300,000 houses in Australia. At the present time, 56,000 new houses are being completed each year, but it is admitted that 90,000 new homes are needed each year to meet current requirements. When we remember that the immigration policy of the Government provides for bringing 250,000 persons to Australia each year, we begin to realize how hopeless is the housing situation. I admit, as do most other honorable members, the need to increase the population so that the country may be developed, but will any honorable member argue that the natural increase of population is not an. important factor in future development? Yet, we find that there are thousands of married people, many of them ex-servicemen, who have never occupied homes with their wives. After marriage, the wives have returned to live with their parents. The Government cannot evade its responsibility in this matter. During the last general election campaign, advertisements were published by the parties opposite telling the people what they would do to enable people to get homes of their own if a Li boral -Australian Country party Government were returned to power. Government candidates promised young couples homes if there were a change of government. Now, this Government says that housing is the responsibility of the State governments, and that the Commonwealth has not the power to undertake this work. The Commonwealth has power to build homes for Commonwealth public servants, for servicemen and exservicemen, and their dependants. Many of those who are at present living under frightful conditions served their country in the First or the Second World War.
It is time the Government set about dealing with some of the more urgent problems that face the people to-day. Nothing has been done to combat the rising cost of living. As for the housing problem, the Government might consider making available to the people accommodation in some of the large homes that are at present not fully occupied. Some of them have more bedrooms than are in constant occupation, and this accommodation should not be allowed to go to waste. What does the Government propose to do about putting more value into the £1) and to check the rising cost of living? Government supporters have referred to alleged disagreements in the ranks of the Opposition. Well, it is about time the Government made some decisions on its own account. The public have been waiting for a considerable time to know what the Government proposes to do about the proposed wool tax, and the appreciation of the Australian £1. We have been told that members of the Government have been meeting over the week-end to consider those subjects, and when we learn that New South Wales members of the Liberal party and of the Australian Country party remained in Canberra over an Epsom week-end, we realize how serious the position must be.
The last matter to which I wish to direct attention concerns the introduction of a new system in the metropolitan area of Sydney for dealing with claims for social service benefits. This does not directly .concern the Minister for Labour and National Service (Holt), but I understand that his department receives claims on behalf of the Department of Social Services.
– Does the honorable member refer to claims for sickness benefits?
– Yes. In Sydney, the administration that deals with such claims has been concentrated in Hexham House, in Goulburn-street. It is not a suitable building, and facilities are inadequate. Eoi- instance, there is only one telephone in the building, and members of Parliament who wish to make representations on behalf of constituents sometimes have to wait for days to get a telephone call through. I understand that the accommodation available houses a staff of about 30 employees, although that number may have been increased recently. All claims must now go to Hexham House for decision, and if applicants wish to interview officers in respect of their claims they must themselves go to Hexham House. I understand that officers of the Department of Labour and National Service who previously dealt with claims arising in their districts now have no authority to determine them. They merely receive the claims, and forward them to Hexham House. The institution of this system is an example of callous disregard of the public interest, and indicates that the Government does not really believe that the people ought to be receiving these social benefits. It wants to discourage them from applying, because it is not prepared to amend the law, as that would be politically unwise.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
[11.30 J. - In the ten minutes available to me, it will not be possible for me to deal fully with all the matters that have been touched on in the course of the four speeches to which we have listened since the motion for- the adjournment of the House was moved. I shall try to confine myself, therefore, to those matters that can be dealt with more properly to-night, and will leave the others to a more appropriate occasion.
Dealing first with the speech of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Dr. Nott), I emphasize that all of us in this House appreciate the services rendered to us by officers of the Parliament. “We all desire to see them treated justly in relation to conditions of employment and hours of service. The honorable member’s remarks will be brought in full detail to the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) treated us to what I imagine is a. “ track gallop “ of his budget speech, and I think I can appropriately leave his remarks until the budget is under discussion.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) raised the general question of housing and, listening to him speak, I could not help feeling that his remarks were a very poor advertisement for at least eight years of Labour rule in the State of New South Wales and in the Commonwealth sphere. If the tragic housing conditions to which he has referred exist, as he assures us they do, particularly in New South Wales, I am wondering what became of the promises made to the people of New South Wales by the McGirr Government when it sought re-election more than three years ago. It is pitiful indeed that it should be left to a Liberal Government in the Commonwealth sphere, working as well as it can with a Labour government in New South Wales, to attempt to overcome the housing deficiencies that time has revealed. However, as I have told the House on other occasions, the Government is doing all that it can to overcome these deficiencies.
The honorable member for East Sydney also mentioned immigrant labour. I assure him that special efforts are made to ensure that immigrant labour under our supervision is being directed to industries engaged in the production of building materials, and to the building industry itself. Already there has been an increase in the output of houses, and we are hoping that, with a further period of government by this Liberal administration - we do not doubt that we shall be given a further three years of office shortly - we shall be able to produce worthwhile results.
The honorable member’s complaint about Hexham House is the first of its kind that has come to my notice. It is true that the Department of Labour and National Service is concerned in this matter through its co-operation in the administration of the sickness benefits scheme. I shall ascertain whether the complaint is justified, and if so, what action can be taken to give an improved service to the public generally.
The honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) complained about the issue of passports to people who wish to go abroad, ostensibly to attend alleged peace congresses in other parts of the world. On this matter, as on many others, it is most difficult indeed to discover either the policy of the Labour party or the majority view of members of that party. The honorable member for Burke has let it be known here on other occasions that he is bitterly opposed to communism, and I take it that his criticism of the Government’s policy in relation to passports stems from that hostility. I was rather concerned to note his silence when an opportunity was presented to him so recently in the course of another debate, to speak on other aspects of this matter. He was silent, I believe, because the view being expressed officially on behalf of his party was not his own view ; but to-night lie has been very vocal, and I venture to say that the view he has expressed to the House is neither the view of his own party nor that of the trade union movement as a whole. On the one hand, I find myself the subject of criticism by the honorable member for Burke because the Government has issued passports, even with a limited application, to certain persons; and, on the other hand, I am subjected to criticism by the Australian Council of Trades Unions because the Government has placed restrictions on the issue pf such passports. Therefore, as we apparently stand somewhere in the middle, between the two points of view advanced by the Labour party, we may assume that we are administering a reasonably balanced policy. Our attitude briefly is that we believe that the right of Australian citizens to travel freely around the world is precious and should not be interfered with arbitrarily by this Government without good cause, which, in this instance, is represented by security considerations. We consider that, except on security grounds, we should not be justified in restricting the right of an Australian citizen to travel, provided that he has not committed any offence so far as we know against outlaws. That is how we have acted in these instances. Recently, on behalf of the Government, I announced a general policy of restricting the validity of passports issued for entry to certain countries that we described as Communist-orbit countries. We are refusing to issue passports for entry to those countries unless special application is made, and the reasons given are of a personal or business character and are, in our view, sufficient to warrant entry to those countries. All citizens, no matter who they may be, have new that restriction placed upon passports issued to them, and only when special application is made do we consider granting admission to the countries concerned. The passports to which the honorable member has referred have been so restricted. It is true that their holders are free to travel to the United Kingdom if a congress is being held there, but I may say that our action was taken after full discussion, not only with our own security authorities, but also with the security authorities of the United Kingdom. It is significant - and I say this in justification of our action in placing any restriction at all on passports - to note that not only has the United States of America exercised a. discretion in the issue of passports to people in respect of whom security considerations arise, but also the Government of the United Kingdom, which, hitherto, has placed virtually no restriction whatsoever upon the right of entry to that country, has announced the imposition of definite restrictions on the entry of persons suspected on security grounds. That represents a significant departure from past policy and shows, I believe, the growing awareness by the United Kingdom of the menace of communism.
-Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bank as at 30U .hine, 1!)50: together with Auditor-General’s reports 1 hereon.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Civil Aviation - R. D. Finis.
Defence (Transitional Provision?) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Order - Inventions and designs.
Lauds Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -
Department of Supply and Development purposes - Hobart, Tasmania.
Postal purposes -
Port Pirie, South Australia.
Stradbroke Park, South Australia.
Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinances - 1950 -
No. 2 - Crown Law Officer Reference.
No. 3 - Darwin Town Management.
No. 4. - Fisheries.
No. 5 - Police Arbitral Tribunal.
No. 6 - Marriage.
No. 7 - Housing Loans.
No. 8 - Health.
No. 9 - Apprentices.
No. 10 - Adoption of Children.
No. 11 - Licensing Court Annual Sittings Validating.
No. 12 - Prisons.
Regulations - 1950 - No.6 (Control of Waters Ordinance).
House adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Mb. C. W. Frost.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 October 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19501003_reps_19_209/>.