20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Eon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether it is a fact’ that thousands of people in this country on low fixed incomes are to-day starving because of the failure to arrest inflation? That group includes people in receipt of all descriptions of Commonwealth pensions. Has the Government any plan to meet this situation by granting immediate relief? Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that something will be done to meet this position before the Parliament goes into recess at the end of this week?
– There is no reason to suppose, nor do I think that anybody in fact supposes, that there are thousands of people in Australia starving.
– Evidently the right honorable gentleman does not know the situation.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney, having asked the Prime Minister a question, should listen to the right honorable gentleman’s reply.
– I do not think that it is true-
– Half starving, anyway.
– One honorable member opposite suggests that thousands of people in this country are starving, and another that they are half starving. Honorable members opposite should make up their minds. As my colleague, the Minister for Social Services, pointed out yesterday, the Government is very well aware of the problems of persons on pensions of all descriptions, and what the Government proposes to do about them will be announced at the proper time, not, 1 hasten to say, in answer to a question.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service inform the House whether it is a fact, as has been reported by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, that - many ports have fewer waterside workers registered than the quotas determined for those ports? What action has the Government taken to make good these deficiencies?
– It is a fact that at many Australian ports there are fewer waterside workers registered and, indeed, fewer effective waterside workers, than the requirements of the ports dictate, and lower than the quotas that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, after examining the position in consultation with the ship-owners and the union concerned, decided would be necessary for the working of those ports. The Government has been concerned about this position for some considerable time, and has repeatedly made requests for port quotas to be increased. We became so concerned about the position that a bill was prepared for presentation to the Parliament during this session in order to arrange for the required quotas to be provided. However, in view of the fact that Mr. Bastin will be in Australia shortly and will be making a thorough survey of the whole position, it is not proposed to present that bill during this session. Should its presentation be found ‘necessary, however, that will be done during the forthcoming budget session.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that, as Leader of the Government, he is carrying on the business of whaling in Western Australia! ls. he further aware that by reason of government regulation of that industry, which limits the number of whales that may be caught annually by each whaling business, a private company has been unable to carry on its business in the manner in which it desires ? “Will the right honorable gentleman examine the desirability of encouraging this industry ae a matter of Government policy and will he also examine the constitutional validity of placing such a restriction on trade?
– Shameful as it may seem, I was not aware of my whaling activities until two days’ ago, when I discovered that the Government is in the whaling business. I also discovered to my intense relief that we had just caught our first whale, with the expectation of doing even better in the future. I shall certainly look into this matter, and I propose to have an examination made of our activities in that direction.
– Oan the Minister for Immigration inform me what steps arc being taken in order to protect the Australian people from the entry into this country under contract of unscreened German workers! By way of explanation, I state that the Overseas Corporation’ (Australia) Limited has accepted contracts in this country,’ one with the Snowy Mountains scheme and another in Adelaide, and I understand that those contracts provide that the contractors shall bring to this country their own labour, which consists of unscreened German workers. Has any provision been made for returning such persons to their countries of origin, or is it intended to give them permanence of residence here after their work has been completed ? Is it also a fact that the man in charge of those schemes is the head of the planning section of the Department of Immigration and is also the managing director of Overseas Corporation (Australia) Limited ?
– I take it that the latter part of the honorable member’s question refers to Sir John Storey. If the ques tion, by implication, is intended to cast a reflection upon that gentleman, I wish to make it pefectly clear that Sir John Storey, who was appointed to the position of chairman of the Immigration Planning Council by my predecessor in office, who of course came from the same side of the House as the honorable member who asks this question, has given very useful service to this country in that capacity. I am sure that all honorable members whoknow something of his work will agree with that statement. In every instance where he has brought to Australia people to engage in useful construction work, he has done so with the best of motives. As to the first part of the honorable member’s question, I shall endeavour to obtain a precise statement concerning the machinery processes involved. As I understand the position, the facilities and the aid of - our own officers in Europe are made available to those who select workers for projects in Australia. Such workers do not enter Australia as permanent settlers; they are given no such permit for entry at the time and are customarily engaged for a period of two years. The question of permanent residence is a matter which would have to be considered subsequently, at which point it would be’ necessary for them to comply with all the usual requirements and to fit into whatever general programme the Government had in force.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the operation of a utility .clothing scheme in the United Kingdom ? If so, will he consider calling together the leaders of the industry in Australia to discuss the advisability of instituting a similar scheme here, particularly in view of present clothing prices and the fact that such a scheme would enable good and moderately priced clothing to be made available, particularly to those in the lower income group ?
– T am not familiar, except in very general terms, with what is being done in the United Kingdom in regard to this matter. I shall have the honorable member’s suggestion examined.
– Early in the last Parliament I asked the Minister for the Navy whether he would take action to provide for naval guards conditions of service similar to those enjoyed by peace officers. He then said that the matter would receive favorable consideration. Time passed, but nothing was done. I again asked a similar question with an added request that long service leave should also be granted to naval guards on conditions similar to those applicable to peace officers, whereupon the Minister informed me that on the following Monday a conference was to be held at which he had no doubt the matters I had raised would be settled satisfactorily. Again nothing was done and I sent a communication to the Minister on the subject. In reply he informed me that long service leave would be granted to those naval guards who had qualified for it I again asked him a similar question and received a similar satisfactory answer, but still nothing was done and the members of the naval guard are now rapidly vanishing from the scene. Will the Minister who is acting for the Minister for the Navy now take steps to see that these officers obtain their rights and that the new conditions shall be made retrospective to the date upon which I was first assured by him that they would receive the consideration I had asked for them?
– I shall answer first the last part of the honorable member’s question. I hope that no one will accept the _ suggestion that naval guards are vanishing from the scene. That is merely a backhanded way of suggesting that security is non-existent in the Department of the Navy. I give that suggestion an emphatic denial. The matters to which the honorable member has referred have been investigated and are almost finalized. Adjustments along the lines indicated by me when I last spoke on this matter have already been made and substantial increases of pay have already been made to the officers concerned. The conditions of their employment generally have been substantially improved. The few matters that are now outstanding are the subject of negotiation between the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Treasury. I expect that they will be finalized almost immediately. The statement made by the honorable member in prefacing his question is not in accordance with fact. What I have said would be done has been almost completely done; in fact, most of it was done long ago.
– I object strongly to the Minister’s statement-
– Order 1 The honorable member has asked a question and has received an answer to it.
– Yesterday, when I addressed a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture concerning the refund of contributions made by the wheat-growers to the wheat stabilization fund in respect of the No. 12 wheat pool, I did not know that the honorable gentleman was not then in the House. I apologize for my action. I now ask the Prime Minister whether there is any way by which the Government might be brought to discharge its responsibilities under the wheat stabilization scheme, which provides for refunds of contributions to growers, without private members having to dun, not only the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture but also departmental officers, and without the Minister having to dun a cabinet that seems to be unwilling to discharge those responsibilities, which are, of course, fundamental to the wheat stabilization scheme ?
– There seem to be some phrases in the honorable member’s question to which I cannot wholeheartedly subscribe. The other parts of his question I will investigate in a sympathetic way.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture any information to give to the House about the reported shortage of wheat and grain sorghum on the Queensland market?
– The honorable member for Darling Downs and several other honorable members have brought to my attention the shortage of wheat for the poultry industry and other live-stock industries in certain areas of Queensland.
My inquiries have disclosed that in certain localities the scarcity is not due to any lack of wheat, but to inadequate rail and road transport to carry it to where it is required. Everything that the Australian Government can do to facilitate the transport of wheat is being done, and I am sure that the Queensland Government is co-operating in this work by providing all possible rail transport facilities. I understand that there is also a problem in relation to the supply of grain sorghum. I have not the details of that matter, but the Director-General of Agriculture, Mr. Bulcock, has visited Queensland during the past week partly to investigate that problem and I expect that he will report his findings to me within the next few days. I shall advise the honorable member for Darling Downs and other honorable members who are interested in this matter of the result of the investigation.
– I desire to ask a question of the Prime Minister, and, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I propose to quote briefly from a very lengthy reply that he gave me in answer to a previous question which I asked about the importation of the sirex moth into Australia in timber brought here from Europe. This is what the Prime Minister said -
The danger of infestation and damage to Australian forests by the importation of Sirex was contested by the timber importers in successive deputations to the Minister for Health and in representations to me and other of my colleagues.
The question was considered of such national importance it was decided that the conflicting evidence for and against the maintenance of quarantine protective services against Sirex should be thoroughly examined by, an impartial tribunal.
Has that committee yet been appointed? If so, who are the members of the committee, and what interests do they represent ?
– The honorable member will recall that my answer to his previous question indicated that, in order to institute an inquiry, I was in communication with the State Premiers asking for their co-operation. I think I am right in saying that replies have not yet been received from all the Premiers. However, I shall find out the exact position, and let the honorable member know, perhaps to-morrow, if he then renews his inquiry.
– Is the Minister for Supply aware that an organization named Alluvial Gold Limited is prepared to form a company to develop and work the Battle and Nettle Creek tin areas in northern Queensland? Is the Minister also aware that the Queensland Government, by failing to fix conditions for working that area, is preventing the organization from commencing operations? Having regard to the tragic shortage of tinplate, will the Minister confer with the Queensland Government with a view to overcoming any objection which that Government may have to the granting of a lease?
– I am aware that discussions have taken place between representatives of the company and the Queensland Government regarding terms upon which tin leases in the area may be worked. I have discussed the matter with Mr. Hanlon, the Premier of Queensland, in an endeavour to reconcile the differences between the State Government and the company, and Mr. Hanlon is going to write to me shortly on the matter. I can see the company’s point of view, and I can also see the point of the view of the Queensland Government. I do not wish to say more than that at the moment. For the information of the honorable member, I may add that the supply of tin, whether plentiful or scarce, has nothing whatever to do with the scarcity of tinplate in Australia.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say how many merino rams were . exported from Australia during the last eighteen months, and where they were sent? What is the estimated profit from the Government whaling station at Carnarvon, in Western Australia, for the forthcoming season?
– I cannot answer either question offhand. I shall obtain exact information for the honorable member regarding the first question, and 3 shall do what I can about the second.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say when he expects to receive the report of the committee that went overseas recently to investigate television? Can the Minister also indicate when the Government is likely to reach a decision about the establishment of television and related matters?
– The committee which made investigations overseas has not yet submitted its report, but I assume that the report will be presented to me very shortly, and I hope in the next week or so to give consideration to it. When the report is received the Government will make a prompt decision on the matter.
– I preface a question to the Prime Minister by pointing out that a fine Australian woman and benefactor of mankind, Sister Elizabeth Kenny, has returned to Australia after spending many years abroad. She has been honoured by seventeen nations, including the United States of America, for her magnificent work, particularly for women and children, in combating poliomyelitis. That disease has, of course, become a much greater menace to the health of the Australian community than it was formerly, and its incidence in New South Wales during the current year is approximately twenty times as great as it was a few years ago. Since the Government is already expending large sums of money in promoting education and in festering research of all kinds, I suggest that, as a Commonwealth jubilee gesture, it should consider according to Sister Kenny some practical recognition of her life-long humanitarian work. I also suggest that her memory might best be perpetuated by the endowment of clinics for research into, and the treatment of, the grim malady of poliomyelitis.
– I shall discuss the suggestion made by the honorable gentleman with my colleague, the Minister for Health.
– In 1950, the dried fruits industry made an application to the Minister for Commerce and Agricul ture for financial assistance, which would, of course, stimulate the production of dried fruit, and the facts on which the application was based are well known to the honorable gentleman. Can the Minister indicate when the industry may expect an answer to its application, and will he endeavour to arrange for Cabinet to discuss this very important matter at an early date?
– When the dried fruits industry made representations to the Government, through the honorable member for Mallee, for assistance I arranged with the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to conduct an investigation of the production costs of dried fruits and the whole economic structure 01 the industry. Although that survey was carried out last November, the report was not made public. At the time the dovernment was ronducting certain negotiations, and it was considered that the publication of the report might prejudice those negotiations. The dried fruits producers acquiesced in that view. Since then it has been found necessary to investigate another request by the industry for assistance to cover the cost of salvaging fruit damaged by the elements. The industry has virtually asked for leave to alter the case for financial assistance that it presented in the first place, and the Government is now awaiting the presentation of a complete case by the industry. I assure the honorable member that as soon as I receive that document, the matter will be brought before the Cabinet and a decision will be made and communicated to the industry.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether it is correct.that the British and United States authorities in West Germany have refused permission to certain youths and children to enter East Germany, which is controlled by Russia, in order to attend a Communist conference? If that report is correct, can the right honorable gentleman inform the House what action, if any, the Australian Government has taken, to prevent the Australian children who left this country recently with Australian passports from attending that conference?
– I am not clear about the exact nature of the inquiry made by the honorable member, but with his permission I shall treat his question as being on the notice-paper and obtain an answer for him.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is true that the first 100,000,000 dollar loan obtained by this Government has been exhausted. Does the Government intend to seek a further 100,000,000 dollar loan from the United States of America ? If so, will the rate of interest on any such loan be as high as that paid on the first loan?
– The 100,000,000 dollar loan has been allocated. The question whether any further loan should be raised is under consideration.
– Oan the Minister for External Affairs say what progress is being made towards the establishment of a base in Australian Antarctic territory? In view of the impossibility of building in Australia a suitable vessel for Antarctic conditions within a reasonable time, will the Minister authorize, without delay, the ordering of a ship from overseas ? Will the Minister explore the possibility of coming to some arrangement for the use of the Antarctic vessel Commandant Charcot for an Australian expedition during the present season? Commandant Charcot is a French Antarctic vessel at present lying at Brest,” and I understand that the ship will be sent to Adele Land this season to relieve the French expedition now in that territory. It would perhaps be possible to arrange for that ship to be used simultaneously for an Australian expedition to Antarctica. By reason of seasonal conditions an expedition should leave Australia not later than the month of December.
– As any immediate reply that I might be able to give to the honorable member would be inadequate and unsatisfactory, I shall provide him with written answers to all the questions that he has asked. I appreciate the interest of the honorable gentleman and of the House in the development of our Antarctic potentialities, and I am grateful to the honorable member for having raised the matter.
– In view of the continuing Commonwealth-wide scarcity of coal, doe’s the Government intend to assist financially or otherwise, in the development of the Blair Athol and the Callide coal-fields in Queensland? If so, in what way will assistance be given? If not, what are the reasons for the Government’s refusal to assist?
– The honorable member is very well aware that coal from Blair Athol has been the subject of discussion and negotiation for some years, including particularly, negotiations between the Queensland Government and various outside investors. As he also very well knows, this Government is assisting with the development of the Callide deposits. It was this Government that got two southern State Premiers together in order to indicate to them that it would subsidize the purchase by them of the anticipated output of the Callide mine. Whatever business the Callide coal mine is doing to-day, apart from some local business, is all being done under subsidy by this Government.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inform the House at what distance from a broadcasting station the condition known as intolerable fading commences? In view of the restricted area of the service of existing broadcasting stations in the southern highlands of New South Wales, will the Minister send technical staff to the Berrima district to make a survey of the conditions of reception there? If it is found that the conditions are unsatisfactory, will the Minister consider the granting of a licence for the operation of an additional broadcasting station in that area?
– I am not sure at what distance intolerable fading commences, and 1 do not know the exact conditions of reception in the Berrima district. However, I shall have inquiries made, and will advise the honorable member of the result in due course.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1949-50. Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1949-50.
– by leave - In 1947, the Commonwealth undertook to guarantee to dairy-farmers a return equal to the cost of production on milk produced for the manufacture of butter, cheese, and processed milk products. From the outset, a specific method of determining the cost of production was associated with that five-year guarantee. A part of the proposal was that in respect of butter and cheese exported, when the sale price exceeded the guaranteed price, the surplus should be paid into a stabilization fund, to be drawn upon if the export price fell below the guaranteed price. At the time that that guarantee was introduced in 1947, it was the policy of the then government to subsidize the price of butter and cheese to Australian consumers. The then rate of subsidy in respect of butter was 6d. per lb., and the cost to the Treasury in that year was £5,000,000. The payment of that subsidy was part of the economic policy of the Government, and in no way related to the guaranteed return to dairy-farmers. The plan provided that there should be an annual review of the cost of production, and an appropriate adjustment of the guaranteed price. The basis upon which the cost of production was calculated has been subject to growing criticism by dairy-farmers. About a year after the negotiation of that plan, prices control passed to the States. The situation developed in which the Commonwealth was responsible for the guaranteed price on a basis of ever-increasing costs and, therefore, for annual increases of the guarantee. Notwithstanding this, however, the State authorities did not alter the price of butter. The outcome has been that to honour the obligation to the dairy-farmers on home sales, the Commonwealth has made up the difference be tween the selling price and the guaranteed price by subsidy, at an ever-increasing cost to the Treasury. The cost at the end of the last financial year was at the rate of £16,800,000 per annum for butter, cheese, and processed milk, which represents a payment of ls. 1.3d. per lb. by the Commonwealth Treasury towards the cost of butter to the Australian consumer.
This is the last year of the five-year guarantee. In the terms of the guarantee, dairy-farmers are entitled to a further adjustment of the guaranteed price to meet the revealed increased costs, and this should operate from the 1st July. The Government has reviewed the circumstances of the dairying industry generally in regard to its declared policy of long-term stabilization of the industry, and particularly in regard to the developments in the industry as they bear upon our food and economic requirements. An examination has shown that, during the last statistical period, the level of production of milk for all purposes regained, for the first time, the previous record production of 1939. However, that in itself does not indicate a satisfactory position. Consumption of whole-milk has increased from about 13 per cent, of the total in 1939, to approximately 21 per cent, to-day. Increasing diversion of milk to the manufacture of processed milk products, an appreciable proportion of which go into luxury or semi-luxury products such as chocolates and ice-cream, and also for the manufacture of cheese, represents about double the quantity that was used for those purposes in 1939. All this is a subtraction from the quantity of milk available for butter manufacture, which consequently has diminished sharply. The percentage of all milk used for butter manufacture to-day is 65.2 per cent., compared with 78.3 per cent, in 1939. At the same time, our population has increased by about 1,000,000, and since derationing of butter there has been a sharp increase in the per capita consumption by approximately 6 lb. per head per annum.
-Order! There is altogether too much audible conversation taking place in the House this morning, across passage ways, and in particular on the two front benches. They are the worst examples.
– Projecting these trends forward to, say, 1960, it has been calculated that the continuous growth of our population at its present rate, and maintenance of the dairying industry at approximately its present level, would produce a situation in which we would then have no butter available for export. To ensure a sufficiency to meet our own requirements at all places and at all times, would call for extensive coldstorage planning, and there would certainly, be shortages in the event of adverse seasonal conditions. On the other hand, if for reasons of general economic policy it is considered desirable that the dairying industry should maintain a balanced position in relation to the use of agricultural land, and if we desire to be able to export to the United Kingdom or to other countries the same quantity of dairy products in 1960 as we are now exporting, we would need by then to have added approximately 1,000,000 dairy cows to our herds - the equivalent of 20,000 farms of 50 cows each.
The Government has given serious consideration to this situation and has decided that from the point of view of equity . +r. the dairy-farmer, the needs of our own population, general economic stability and the needs of the United Kingdom, it is necessary to hold out a more attractive future to the industry. To this end the Government has decided that, instead of merely allowing the present five-year plan to run its course, it is desirable as from now to stabilize the industry for the next six v ears, by a continuance of the principle of the guaranteed price based on cost of production, but with a variation of the costing formula designed to establish for persons engaged in the dairying industry, either as owners or employees, conditions more comparable with the general standards now prevailing in Australia.
The formula of 1947 was based on a 56-hour week award, which is, in fact,still applying to the industry. It allows as costs a return to the owner of 3£ per cent, upon his equity. For the purpose of the calculation of this equity, and for the purpose of depreciation and replacement of cattle, capital and cattle values are still treated as pegged at 1942 prices. The return to the average fairy-farmer who owns and operates his dairy-farm is designed to ensure the prevailing dairy industry award rate for a general farm-hand, which is now £8 18s. a week plus 25s. margin for management allowance. As the plan was calculated to give this as an average return, it follows that half of the dairy-farmers would receive more than these figures and the other half would receive less.
What may be described as the inadequacies and imbalances of this costing formula in comparison with other industries to-day are obvious, and as the outcome of negotiations with the dairying industry and recommendations by the Joint Dairy Industry Advisory ‘Committee the Government wishes to introduce a revised formula. A couple of recommendations of the committee have not been incorporated in the new formula and I shall reveal them in due course.
On Monday last I acquainted the State Prices Ministers of all of these facts, and there was a lengthy examination of the details. On behalf of the Commonwealth, I suggested to the States a plan involving Commonwealth and State cooperation to stabilize the position of the dairying industry for six years. The plan, in the opinion of the Commonwealth, would require both Commonwealth and State legislation. Broadly, the Commonwealth would guarantee to dairy-farmers, for six years, the cost of production on the new and liberalized formula in respect of butter and cheese produced for local consumption.
The Commonwealth has been pursuing a policy of subsidizing consumers of these products and proposes to follow that policy during the current year. However, to guarantee to dairy-farmers for six years an assured return without control of the celling price ex factory would involve a completely unpredictable liability for the Commonwealth if the authorities controlling prices did not adjust the selling price to the guaranteed price, or to a level which would make the selling price and the subsidy total the guaranteed price. Such a liability the
Commonwealth could not, and would not, assume. An essential part of the stabilization of the industry for this further period of six years, therefore, is that the Commonwealth shall be put in a position where the guaranteed price, plus permitted factory costs, automatically becomes the ex factory price. This is something which, in the opinion of the Commonwealth, would require State legislation. This principle is almost identical with the arrangement which now exists in respect of the guarantee to the wheat industry, in which the guaranteed price proclaimed by the Commonwealth becomes, in fa-,t, the selling price within Australia. It is then within the prerogative of the Commonwealth to subsidize the cost to consumers below that price, if that be Commonwealth policy. This was once done with wheal and is being done with butter and cheese.
The Commonwealth does not propose to continue beyond the present year subsidization of processed milk products, which, as I mentioned earlier, go in appreciable quantities to luxury items, such as chocolate and ice-cream manufacture. In the absence of any Commonwealth subsidy, processed milk prices, as in the case of all other commodities, would be covered by prices orders. The adoption of this more liberal costing formula would produce one problem. It is’ that the higher level of costs shown, if taken as a guaranteed price for export, would very substantially exceed the present British Ministry of Food contract price. This contract with the United Kingdom, entered into by the government of the day in 1948, stands until 1955 and provides that we shall sell t:the United Kingdom the whole of our surplus production of butter and cheese, excepting such quantities as the Ministry of Food may agree to our selling to other countries. It provides for an annual negotiation of the price, with a limitation of price adjustments at any period to 7-J per cent, upwards or downwards. It. is, therefore, shown upon examination that if we secure for the coming year the maximum price increase under this contract from the Ministry of Food, that would represent 3d. per lb. Even that “highest permitted price under the con tract would still leave a substantial deficiency below the cost of production figure according to the new formula. However, the stabilization fund would be drawn upon to make good any difference during this last year of the present plan.
The Australian Government is not prepared to raise from tax revenue moneys for the purpose of subsidizing the United Kingdom consumer of butter. For this reason, it is not possible under the proposed six-year plan to, extend the guaranteed price to export sales of butter or cheese. However, the Government will point out to the Ministry of Food that a return to dairy-farmers from exports of less than costs of production would almost certainly result in diminished exports. A couple of months ago I was, however, able to persuade the Ministry of Food to disregard a similar 7i per cent, limitation in our egg contract and approve a 25 per cent, increase.
The present retail price of butter has been maintained at 2s. 2d. and 2s. 2-Jd. per lb. according to areas, unaltered since July, 1948. It is unquestionably out of relationship to other commodity prices. As an example, margarine in Canberra is now only £d. per lb. cheaper than butter, and the paper in which the butter is wrapped is dearer per lb. than butter itself.
If the proposed plan is accepted by the States, the Commonwealth will continue for this year the present rate of consumer subsidy; that is, it will contribute £16,800,000 during this year to the subsidization of dairy products. It will do that whether the States approve of a six-year nian or not. It is not possible, for reasons that honorable members will readily understand, to anticipate the subsidy in subsequent years; that would be related to general economic policies and circumstances. All this indicates the possibility of an increase in the selling price of butter and cheese. That indication may lead to some hoarding against the increase by retailers and some attempt at excess buying by consumers. This, obviously, makes it necessary in the public interest that a.11 the governments which are concerned in this proposal make the earliest possible decision upon it. Mention of this situation does not alter the facts, as generally understood by the public to-day.
I am assured that factories, and distributors on behalf of factories, will not withhold any butter. Statistical information of their production and holding is fully known. I point out that under the system of equalization of all returns, which has operated 100 per cent, in the butter and cheese industry for some twenty years, any price advantage gained by one factory is spread over the returns of all factories in Australia for the whole period of the year. So, any passing advantage by holding for a higher price would be so infinitesimal in its application to any one factory as to leave no incentive for withholding for price rise. On the other hand, whatever increased return to dairy-farmers is agreed upon will be retrospective to the 1st July.
I am sure there will be a recognition, that in the interests of dairy-farmers, Australian consumers, the Australian economy and the United Kingdom consumers, it is most desirable that the dairying industry should be given an incentive to expand. This proposal is the outcome of the most careful consideration by the Government and the industry. Of course, price incentive alone is not sufficient to aim at 1,000,000 more dairy cows in nine years. That seems an almost unattainable objective, but it is a most essential objective. It calls for more farms and more fencing materials, cement, building materials, machinery and equipment of all kinds. The Government is eager to co-operate with the State governments in these matters. At present the State Ministers in charge of prices control are conferring with their governments on the proposals which I made to them on Monday last, the general concept of which I have outlined. At their request, and as a matter of general propriety, I do not intend to reveal at this stage the actual increases that are indicated by the application of either the old formula or the desired liberalized formula, but I am hopeful that the State governments may be in a position shortly, perhaps within a week or so, to reach a final understanding with the Australian Government on that point.
When that has been achieved all the figures, and the processes by which they have been arrived at, will be made public. This inquiry is too important to be prejudiced by becoming the plaything of party politics or inter-governmental Commonwealth and State politics. The Government is most eager to avoid any developments along those lines and will welcome co-operation in its objective from all quarters.
-by leaveFor an honorable member to make an extemporary statement following the reading of a prepared statement by a Minister is always a somewhat difficult proposition, but in this instance the
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) has revealed sufficient information in the statement which he has just made to indicate to the dairying industry generally and to the consuming public of Australia particularly, that the Government proposes to repudiate yet another of its pre-election promises. He has appealed to us not to make this industry the plaything of party politics. A perusal of the Ilansard record in recent years will show that when the Minister was a private member and sat in the Austraiian ‘Country party corner of this House, he displayed great artistry in playing the game of party politics. In relation to matters that concerned the dairying and wheat industries he was, perhaps, the greatest exponent of the art that the Parliament has ever known. Consequently it was unfair for him to appeal to the Opposition not to allow party politics to intrude in this matter. I say at once to the Parliament, to the dairying industry and to the consuming public that the Minister’s statement constitutes the greatest repudiation of promises that this country has ever known. Promises were unequivocally made in the joint policy speech of the anti-Labour parties, and were repeated on every platform in Australia, without qualification of any kind, that if the Menzies Government were returned to office the dairymen of Australia would be granted an extension of the guaranteed price for dairy products. The statement that has just been made by the Minister indicates that the dairymen will receive a guaranteed price for dairy products for six years, only if the Minister., at a con.ference of Commonwealth and State Ministers or at a- meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council can bring, the State Ministers of Agriculture and subsequently their governments into line with the political views of the Australian Government on. this subject, and if they are prepared to recommend a substantial increase of the price of butter to consumers’. During the general election campaign, the Minister and his associates made a forthright promise that the dairying industry in its hour of need would have the benefit of a stabilization plan which would operate for a period of five years. They did not say to the dairymen of this country, “ This scheme will be adopted on the understanding that the State governments agree to it and are willing to pass the requisite complementary legislation through their legislatures. When I was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and I proposed to institute a plan for the stabilization of the wheat industry, I and the other members of the Labour party told the electors frankly that the institution of the stabilization plan we had in mind would depend upon our ability to secure the agreement of the State governments and the subsequent passage of the requisite complementary legislation through the State parliaments. That aspect of the proposal was fully explained throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth.
– That is not so.
– The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) will recall that we failed in our first attempt to secure the agreement of the State governments but that ultimately we succeeded in doing so. The promise made by this Government contained no qualifications of that kind. In this instance, it has also gone a step farther in repudiating its promise to the electors to put value back into the fi.
– That is a falsehood.
– The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) must be blind and deaf if he will not admit that the Government that he supports promised to put value back into the £1 and to keep down the prices of commodities in> Australia. This Government has not only repudiated that promise, but it now intends to go a step farther as has been indicated in the- point-blank repudiation of pledges made to the dairying industry and to the people contained in the Minister’s statement that if the proposed plan is accepted by the States, the Commonwealth will’ continue the present consumer subsidy this year. The Minister has said, in effect, that it is not possible to anticipate what may be done in subsequent years, and that theGovernment proposes only to pay £16,800,000 for the subsidization of dairy products during the present year. How long will it take to bring the State governments into line in a scheme of this kind? The Minister has told us that it would be unfair to expect the Government to pay the subsidy on dairy products exported overseas in the event of the overseas contract price being less than the guaranteed price as determined by the cost of production authorities. This is another repudiation by the Minister and the Government of a solemn promise that was made to the dairying industry and to the people generally. It is typical of the Minister and his associates that they should have misled the people in that way. He and his associates made glowing promises to- the electors but when they assumed office they found themselves incapable of giving or unwilling to give effect to them. Only this morning, I read in- a wheat-growers’ journal that the wheat-growers of New South Wales are satisfied that this Government has repudiated its promise to makeup the difference between the price of wheat sold for consumption in Australia and the export parity price. The wheat-growers- and other sections of the community know now that henceforth the people will have to pay increased prices for their dairy products. Dairymen and the public generally will discover in the statement that has just been made by the Minister the complete repudiation of still another solemn promise made by him’ and by his associates during’ the general” election campaign. Only recently, during a debate on the dairying industry, the Minister gave a further example of dishonesty. He said that there was a shortage of butter because dairy production had declined.
Now, in tie statement he has just made, the Minister tells us that production is once more as high as it was in 1939. Both the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and the Postmaster-General have at various times tried to lead honorable members to believe that there has been a shocking decline in the output of the dairying industry because people are going out of the industry. Of course they are! It is in the nature of things that some people go out of the industry while others enter it. Some people will run a dairy farm for a number of years, and then change over to something else. However, dairy farms are continually being bought and sold, and now the figures indicate that production is as high as ever.
– Butter production is declining.
– The PostmasterGeneral is trying to befog the issue. The important factor is the total production of the dairying industry. Because people are using more whole milk and cheese, there is not necessarily a decline in the quantity of milk produced. Probably, the trend from butter production will continue because the production of whole milk is a more attractive proposition to many farmers. However, the dairying industry generally is increasing production. Recently, dairy cows were sold at a metropolitan market for £60 a head. If there were anything seriously wrong with the dairying industry is it likely that sensible men would pay £60 a head for milking cows? Dairying is one of the most profitable industries in the country, although conditions in the industry could be improved.
The committee which inquired into the cost of production in the dairying industry presented its annual review ten days ago, but the Government has not yet given to the producers the benefit of the higher price recommended. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has told us that the Government will honour its promise if all the State governments accept a plan similar to the wheat stabilization plan. How long does the Minister think it will take to put such a plan into operation? The Government gave a solemn undertaking to the producers, but it is now repudiating its promise, and trying to pass the buck to the States. For that reason I condemn the Government and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who now finds himelf hoist with his own petard. He is repudiating his promise to the dairy farmers just as he repudiated his promise to the wheatfarmers to make up to them the difference between the home consumption price and the export parity price of wheat. During the election campaign, he quibbled on that issue, and said that such a scheme could be implemented only through legislation passed by the various State governments. What he did not point out was that there is nothing to prevent the Commonwealth from making a grant to the Australian Wheat Board to enable it to make up the difference to the farmers between the home consumption price and the export parity price of wheat.
Motion (by Mr. Eric j. Harrison) proposed -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
– The Opposition does not agree to the proposal that Government business should take precedence to-morrow over the business of private members. The Government proposes that the Parliament shall go into recess at the end of this week, although many important national problems still remain to be discussed, and now it proposes that the rights of private members to raise and discuss matters of interest to them and their constituents shall be taken from them. The Government has resorted to the process of legislation by exhaustion. It is continuing the sittings into the early hours of the morning, when honorable members do not feel like raising issues, or are discouraged from doing so by party leaders. This latest proposal of the Government is in keeping with its action in applying the closure so as to restrict debate. Although the Standing Orders confer certain rights upon private members the Government, by using its brutal majority, is proposing to deprive honorable members of those rights. Members of the
Opposition have been awaiting an opportunity to urge upon the Government the need to take some action in regard to the rapidly increasing cost of living.
-Order ! The honorable member must realize that the question before the Chair is whether precedence shall he given to Government business to-morrow.
– I shall not persist with my argument. I desired merely to indicate some of the important matters which private members will be prevented from raising if this motion be agreed to. I do not believe that the business put forward by the Government is as important as it suggests. There are other more urgent matters which might very well engage the attention of honorable members. I protest vehemently against this further infringement by a fascistminded government of the right of free speech and of the right of the people to have their elected representatives speak for them in the Parliament. The present proposal is an indication of what the people may expect from this Government.
– I join with the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in protesting against the decision of the Government to bring the present sittings of the Parliament to an end this week, and also against the proposal to prevent private members from bringing business forward to-morrow. No honorable member who has had much experience of the conduct of parliamentary business will deny that it sometimes becomes necessary, in the national interest, for an administration to override the rights of private members of the Parliament, but no administration is justified in attempting to prevent individual members from raising grievances in the Parliament. I do not know how the Government can justify, in the eyes of the public, this attempt to suppress our traditional rights, particularly as it is endeavouring to implement a legislative programme to authorize it to govern the country by regulation. Such a condition of affairs has never arisen before. By the time the present sessional period ends the Government will have compelled the Parliament to pass measures which are, in my view, the most reactionary that have ever been introduced to this Parliament. I cannot understand, therefore, why honorable members opposite should not he prepared to allow us the right to discuss private members’ business. I strongly oppose the motion submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), and I believe that when the people understand what members of the Government are doing they will visit their wrath upon their heads.
– T join with other members of the Opposition in protesting against the motion submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison). During the current year the Parliament has sat only for a short period, and there is no reason whatever why the Government should seek to stifle discussion and to force the passage of legislation that will adversely affect every citizen merely because some honorable members opposite do not like to stay in Canberra during the winter the Parliament should not be asked to sit until the early hours of the morning in order to allow them to escape from their responsibilities. The Government is endeavouring, as the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has said, to legislate by exhaustion, notwithstanding that the legislation to be discussed is perhaps the most contentious that has come before the Parliament in recent years. The Government’s dictatorial attitude is unfair to honorablemembers and unfair to the people who elected us to the Parliament in order t” deliberate on the problems of the nation.
I have many matters to bring forward that affect the interests of my constituents,’ and I strongly protest against this attempt to prevent me from mentioning those matters in the Parliament. Honorable members should also be given an opportunity to discuss the Government’s proposals, if any, to overcome the difficulties arising out of the current inflation-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman cannot discuss specific subjects while speaking to the motion before the Chair. He can discuss only the motion that Government business shall take precedence over other business tomorrow.
– I was merely pointing out that I had intended to mention a number of matters that affect the interests of my constituents but the Government proposes to deny me the opportunity to do so. If honorable members opposite have not already been gagged into insignificance, surely some of them must also desire to bring forward matters affecting their constituents. I protest -most vigorously at the manner in which the Government is conducting the business of the Parliament. As the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) said a few minutes ago, when the people realize what this fascist-minded Government is doing they will throw it out.
– ‘I remind members of the Opposition that the former Labour Administration regularly prevented the discussion of private members’ business. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has complained that for some considerable time he has been denied an opportunity to mention certain matters on ‘-behalf ‘of Oris constituents. However, I point out to the honorable gentleman that if he has a number of complaints hanging fire, they have probably hung fire for the last eight years, because Labour did not give any opportunity for the discussion of such matters while it was in office. Furthermore, I do not recall him ever uttering a word of protest against that infringement of :his right. The present Government has been elected to implement an important and urgent -programme of legislation. To-day, the Parliament needs measures and votes, not talk. In the short time that it has been in office the present Government has established a record for the number of valuable measures that it has been instrumental in having placed on the statute-‘book.
.- I also register my protest against the action of the Government in endeavouring to prevent private members from exercising the rights and privileges conferred on them by the Standing Orders. Although the Parliament has been in session for nearly five weeks, we have not had one oppor tunity to discuss private members’ business. The -Government has usurped the rights of private members and has used its majority to force its will upon us. During .the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, private members normally have an opportunity to mention grievances, but the Government gagged that debate.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman cannot refer to debates of the present session, but must confine his remarks to the motion before the Chair.
Mi-. BRYSON. - That motion proposes to deprive private members of their traditional right to express their grievances in the Parliament. Normally, private members have an opportunity to vent their grievances during the debate on Supply measures, but even that right was denied us by the Government - -
-Order ! The honorable gentleman is trespassing on my ruling that he may not refer to debates of the present session.
– I have no desire to transgress your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I insist on registering my emphatic protest against the actions of the Government. As a member of the Parliament who was elected by a reasonable majority, I should have the right to express the grievances of my constituents, and I have a number of matters that I desire to bring to the notice of the Parliament. The Government’s action will deprive me of that right because the Parliament will probably rise on Thursday and I shall not have an opportunity to mention those grievances. The Parliament assembles to legislate for the peace, order and good government of the people of this country, and it is the duty of the Parliament to continue in session until all matters affecting the welfare of the country are disposed of.
– Order ! That is not the subject of the motion.
– The attitude of <the Government is that because it has a majority it will do what it pleases. It wants to suppress debate on even the most important measures, and it intends, after sitting for only a few weeks, to go into recess and govern by regulation.
– Order ! The honorable member’s remarks are out of order.
– In conclusion, I repeat that I protest most emphatically against the latest attempt of the Government to disregard the wishes of members of the Parliament and the desires of those who elect us.
.- I draw attention .to the great inconsistency in the attitude of members of the Labour party in this matter. When Labour was in office it almost eliminated the right of private members to discuss their grievances, and I always protested against its attitude then, just as members of the Opposition are protesting against the attitude of the present Government now. I believe thai on “ Grievance Day “ private members should have the right to raise grievances.
– Order ! I think it may assist honorable members if I remind them that the motion before the Chair does not relate to “ Grievance Day “. It merely proposes that to-morrow government business shall take precedence over other business.
– I believe that back benches in this Parliament should be given an opportunity to voice their views on matters in which they are particularly interested, but the point I make is that, although Labour members have risen one after another to-day to condemn the Government for submitting the motion we are now discussing, the Labour party, when it was in office, adopted a most dictatorial attitude towards private members. Not one Labour member ever supported a plea by the then Opposition that private members should be given an opportunity to express their views. Apparently Labour’s view of how governments should act is not the same when Labour is in Opposition as it is when Labour is in office. Such inconsistency is hardly indicative of a national approach to the problems that confront the Parliament and I am sure that the people of the Commonwealth generally will readily perceive that that is so.
– During Labour’s eight years of office in this Parliament, private members had many opportunities, to state their views. It is true that, towards the end of sessional periods protests were made when the Labour Government insisted that Government business should take precedence over private members’ business, but ordinarily the opportunities that are given to- back benchers by the Standing Orders -were not withheld from them. I can recall quite a number of debates on private matters. By contrast, during the lifetime of the Nineteenth Parliament, only one debate on private members’ business was permitted, and that was on the subject of aborigines. So far, this Parliament has not provided one private members’ day. The Opposition believes that it should have the right to express its views on the motion standing on the notice-paper in the name of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz). We consider that there is merit in the honorable member’s proposal, and we object to the manner in which the Government is disregarding completely the rights of private members in its headlong rush to recess. Just as Wellington prayed for night or Blucher to save him, this Government is praying for the Friday to come so that the Parliament may go into recess.
– Order 1 The honorable member for Melbourne is getting right away from the motion before the Chair. The subject under discussion is not the length of the present sessional period of the Parliament, but whether Government business shall take precedence over private members’ business to-morrow.
– If the hastiness of the Government’s legislative programme cannot be canvassed on this occasion, it will be canvassed later in other places. The Government’s flagitious disregard of the rights of honorable members is in keeping with its general conduct and practices which result from its fascist mentality.
.- -The motion now before the Chair is evidence of the juggernaut tactics of the brutal majority in this House. When a government decides to gag one of its own supporters on a most important issue, it is time for the Opposition to make a protest. The matter now under discussion is whether government business shall take precedence over private members’ business to-morrow. The Government is seeking by implication to take away the rights of the little man in this House - the back bencher who is the soul of democracy. The motion of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) which has been on the notice-paper for some time, relates to the most important problem of soil erosion, which, of course, is directly linked with food production and the preservation of the productivity of our soil. Such a motion should not be cavalierly cast aside by a government which is racing like a hare into recess and, in so doing, is damaging not only the rights of the Opposition, but also the rights of its own supporters. The honorable member for Darling Downs is very sincere in this matter. He is, I understand, something of an authority on soil erosion and the Government should permit some time for a discussion of his motion. It is serious, indeed, that whilst we have been talking in this House week after week ad nauseam about liberties and freedoms, those very liberties and freedoms are now being jeopardized.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the motion.
– I only make the point in passing that there is something wrong with a democracy that permits the continual sweeping away of the privileges of back benchers in this Parliament. The problem of soil erosion in this country is serious, and the Government could well spare an hour or two for a debate on it. The Opposition is fearful of the consequences of the Government’s action in whittling down the privileges of private members. It may well be that private members’ day will become nothing but a memory if actions such as this are to persist.
The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has spoken of what happened when the Labour Government was in office. I remind him that, under his tutelage, we studied the life history of the rabbit on many private members’ days. He cannot complain that he was ignored. The voice of his constituents was heard in this chamber and it pursued us into the burrows of argument many times. The Government will have a serious charge to answer if it persists in gagging one of its own members, and one of its most intelligent members, who wishes to speak on a serious national problem.
.- The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) began this apparently interminable debate by protesting that insufficient time was being allowed for the discussion of important matters. He knows very well that with only two sitting days left, members of the Opposition, one after another, are wasting the time of the House with these sham-fights.
.- I believe that the motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) is more important than the Government’s legislation, the remainder of which consists of two measures, a referendum bill-
– Order ! The Government’s legislation is not under discussion at present. .
– I ask for your ruling, Mr. Speaker. Am I not in order in developing the argument that this motion is more important than Government business ?
– The question before the House is whether Government business shall take precedence over private members’ business to-morrow.
– Exactly; and I am arguing that the motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Darling Downs should take precedence over Government business.
– The merits of Government business are not before us at. present.
– I simply assert that the motion is the more urgent because one item of Government business that is to take precedence over it - the Constitution alteration measure - cannot be placed before the people until very much later this year. Soil erosion is an urgent problem on which all governments, Australian and State, should be acting now. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has alleged that the
Labour Government adopted a cavalier attitude towards the rights of private members. I remind him that no parliament ever sat for such long periods as did the Eighteenth Parliament when the Chifley Government was in office. There were times when that Parliament sat continuously for eleven weeks. I recall, too, that every member of this House spoke on the Chifley Government’s banking legislation. Regardless of the fact that the Opposition was making propaganda capital out of that measure, every single member of this chamber was given an opportunity to speak on it. When the honorable member for Mallee talks about the right of debate, he should remember that nothing ever done by the Chifley Government equalled the moving of eighteen gags in two hours by this Administration.
– The Opposition protests against the terms of the motion. As has been pointed out the Opposition would be quite willing to sit next week, and indeed during the following week, if the remaining business warranted the Parliament remaining in session. The Opposition does not want to rush into recess at the end of this week. . Honorable members on this side consider that the Government is treating the Parliament with complete contempt. That is apparent from almost every line of every bill that it has brought down. The motion before the House demonstrates conclusively that the Government has no regard whatever for democratic procedure. Because some of its supporters are eager for the Parliament to go into recess so that they might enjoy holidays round the Australian countryside, and so that it may escape criticism in the Parliament, the Government intends to “ gag “ even its own supporters. I point out that very important events are at present taking place, yet the Opposition is to be given no opportunity to debate them. As some members of the Opposition have already pointed out, the menace of soil erosion in this country should be considered urgently by the Parliament, or at least by the supporters of the Australian Country party.
I shall now refer to another aspect of the motion before the House. The notice of motion on the business paper in the name of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) suggests that the State governments be invited-
– Order ! The honorable member may not canvass the merits of the motion by anticipating debate upon it.
– I am referring merely to the notice of motion that appears on the business-paper, and wish to keep my remarks strictly within the limits imposed by the Standing Orders. Without doing that, how can the House contend that the motion ought to be discussed to-morrow?
– Order! The question is not whether this motion should be discussed but whether Government business shall take precedence of general business to-morrow.
– Although you have drawn a distinction, Mr. Speaker, I cannot see any difference. The motion of which notice has been given is more important than is Government business at present on the “ stocks “. The Government has every right, and, indeed, a duty, to keep the Parliament in session next week to discuss important matters. .
– Order ! The question of whether or not the Parliament shall meet next week is not before the House.
– It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to discuss the motion. The Opposition considers that it is of sufficient importance to warrant supporters of the Australian Country party protesting. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has made his customary contribution. Was he honestly concerned about the problem of soil erosion when he sat in previous parliaments ?
– I should like an assurance from the honorable member for Mallee himself. It is all-important now. If the honorable member for Mallee is concerned about the rights of private members and is seized with the. importance of preserving the Australian countryside, he should vote with the Opposition against the motion.
– I cannot vote with the socialists.
– The honorable member is bound by the decision of the party that he supports. I emphasize that the Parliament has been treated to the spectacle of complete disregard for the principles of democratic machinery and the rights of the representatives of the people.
.- I protest emphatically against the Government’s intention to gag the representatives of the Australian people in this Parliament. I have always considered that the institution of Parliament was established for the purpose of enabling democratic opinion to be voiced. That belief has been shattered by the fascistlike attitude of the present Government since the Parliament was assembled. I regret that discussion of the subject of soil erosion, which is of paramount importance, is to be prevented during the current sittings of the Parliament. Credit should always be given when it is due. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) is a very efficient member of the Parliament. But, although he is most eager to voice the opinions of his constituents on this subject, he is to be prevented from doing so. It is indeed extraordinary that his colleagues of the Australian Country party are not prepared to insist on. his right to express his views to-morrow. The evidence of fascism in our midst-
– Order ! This debate has nothing to do with fascism or any other “ism”.
– Fascism must be stamped out. If the representatives of the people in our democracy are not permitted to voice their opinions in the Parliament, fascism will extend to the detriment of our country.
.- I have always expounded my point of view on subjects before the Parliament, despite the fact, that at times I have been at variance with the majority-view of the Australian Labour party. The motion before the House has a tendency to destroy the freedoms that we now enjoy. Private members do not always have an opportunity to express their opinions freely, particularly if in doing so the business of the Government may be delayed. Although I have been unable to take, my place in the Parliament on many occasions during the last three years, owing to grave injuries that I sustained in a motor accident, I have always applied myself to urgent problems of national importance whenever possible. Trouble is at present threatening in the coal industry as a result of the Government’s decision to close the Glen Davis shale oil undertaking.
– Order ! The honorable member may not discuss the Glen Davis matter at present.
– Honorable members may laugh. We frequently experience spasmodic trouble in the coal industry, but in this instance we are threatened with general trouble.
-Order ! The honorable member is not permitted to deal with the coal industry during the debate on the motion before the House.
– I am merely mentioning it, rather than dealing with it. Many private members are greatly concerned about the stereotyped replies of Ministers to the effect that delays in the installation of telephones are due to a shortage of cable, and-
– Order ! I make it clear to the honorable member that he may not discuss anything other than the motion before the House, which is that Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
– I should have liked to refer to the inadequacy of pensions and other matters, but apparently that is not permissible. I register an emphatic protest against the proposal of the Government. It is but right and proper that every honorable member should be afforded an opportunity to address the House on subjects of urgent national: importance.
– I must say that my opinion of some members of the Opposition has been enhanced considerably during this debate. During the week I discussed with the Government the motion that the House is now considering and agreed that, in view of the importance of Government business that still had to be dealt with, the consideration of the motion of which I had given notice should be deferred until the first week of the resumption of the sittings of the Parliament following the forthcoming recess.
– in reply - I am glad, Mr. Speaker, that in the course of this debate you have put honorable members on the right path concerning the matter that is now being discussed. That matter is whether Government business shall take precedence over general business tomorrow, but some honorable members seem to have confused it with a discussion of private members’ business. That confusion has given rise to a spate of words from members of the Opposition concerning electoral matters and many other subjects which, they state, they have been given no opportunity to discuss. I remind them that last Thursday, I moved that Mr. Speaker should leave the chair to enable private members’ business to be discussed, so that honorable members opposite should be given an opportunity to speak of electoral and other matters which do not come under the heading of general business. Not one honorable member of the Opposition objected to that motion, which was carried unanimously. Yet they now contend thatthey have been given no opportunity to discuss matters which are most urgent from the point of view of their constituents. I suggest that they have confused the issue. They thought that this discussion would provide them with a big bomb, but the bomb has turned out to be a mere squib.
Because this debate was commenced by a member of the Australian Labour party executive, other honorable members opposite, with no other motive than that of loyalty, have supported him. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) stated that many opportunities to discuss the Constitution Alteration (Powers to Deal with Communists and Communism) Bill 1951 would exist before the end of the session, and described the present proposal as flagitious action on the part of the Government. I suggest that the honorable member was being facetious when he made that observation, because he had no argument to support it.
The honorable member for fremantle (Mr. Beazley) contended that during the term of office of the Chifley Government the number of times upon which the gag was moved did not nearly equal that on which it has been moved during the regime of this Government. I remind him that between 1946 and 1949 the gag and closure were used on no fewer than 79 occasions. I suggest that honorable members opposite should apprise themselves of the facts before they make such statements.
When the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) was asked whether he did not consider that the Constitution Alteration (Powers to Deal with Communists and Communism) Bill 1951 was of major importance because of the limitation of time placed upon the Government and the necessity to pass such legislation for the benefit of the people, he agreed that it was of more importance than the subject on which he desired to speak. I cannot help but think that this protest has been staged by the Opposition in order to delay the passage of the Constitution Alteration (Powers to Deal with Communists and Communism Bill) 195,1 and that it is afraid to debate that measure. Because the passage of that and other legislation is a matter of urgency, the Government believes that it should have precedence over general business to-morrow, and that is the reason for the motion now before the House. Having listened to the debate the only conclusion to which I can come is that the Opposition has been indulging in political humbug.
Question put -
ThatGovernment business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 10th July (vide page 1270), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Unlike the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate on a proposal to alter the Constitution if for no other reason than that I shall be able to reply to at least some of the low-level criticism of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in which the Minister indulged. I also welcome the opportunity to refute some of the statements of supporters of the Government about the attitude of the great Australia Labour party to Communists and all that they stand for. 1 listened in vain for one word from honorable members opposite about the real part played by the Communist party in the political life of this country. That is a paramount issue with which all honorable members should deal when considering the bill now before us. For very many years members of the Labour party have had good reason to know something of the political tactics adopted by the Communist party. Unlike other political parties the Labour party has changed neither its name nor its principles.
– It has changed its principles.
– On the contrary, it has firmly adhered to them, and because it has done so its representatives in this chamber can approach the consideration of this bill with a clear conscience. At the outset of my remarks I propose to deal with the attitude of the Communist party to the great Australian Labour party. , Some honorable members opposite have gone to a great deal of trouble to fossick out information about what has been said about the Communists by the Leader of the Opposition and by other Opposition members, and to endeavour to interpret the provisions of the constitution of the Australian Labour party in a manner that suits their own ends. They do not understand the role of the Communist party in the political set-up of this country. As long ago as 1930, when not many honorable members who sit behind the Government were interested in politics, the Communist party began to wage a bitter fight against the Labour party, because it realized that the Labour party was its greatest enemy. The Communist party, in its manifesto published in 1930, launched an attack against the Australian Labour party in terms that could not have been applied to the
Nationalist party which was the forerunner of the Liberal party. At page 8 of the manifesto issued in 1930, the Communist party had this to say about the great Australian Labour party -
The Labour party is able to function as a better agent of capitalism than the Nationalist party precisely because it is able, through the mobilization in its support of the social fascists, trade union bureaucracy to gear the official machinery of the unions to its policy of treachery and betrayal. Thus, it has formerly been able to tie a considerable section of the working class to the political party that actually has as its basis the bankers, bond holders and industrialists whose interests lie in the development of Australian industry, a class that is more and more striving toward an imperialist policy of its own.
Thus, 21 years ago, the Communist party laid down its doctrine of opposition to the Australian Labour party. It knew that communism could flourish only in countries where extreme hardship, poverty and dire destitution were rife among the masses of the people. It realized that the great Australian Labour party was the guiding beacon to which the Australian people looked to steer them clear of conditions of that kind. Since 1930 the Communist party has never deviated from the policy then laid down in its manifesto, nor has the great Australian Labour party deviated in its fight against the Communists and all they stand for. When I read the definition of “ Communist “ in the Communist Party Dissolution Act and consider it in relation to the real working of the Communist party in Australia, I realize how incapable is this Government of doing anything to curb the activities of the Communists. In that act a Communist is defined as a person who supports or advocates the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin. The Government and its supporters apparently do not realize that the Communist party in Australia, as in every other country in which it has been established, abandoned the theories and teachings of Karl Marx many years ago. The Communist party does not now attempt to follow the theories and practices advocated by Karl Marx. If honorable members want proof of the truth of that statement I invite them to examine the constitution of the Australian Communist party. The low level contribution to this debate of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who is obviously well aware of that fact, forces me to the conclusion that he is completely bereft of honesty of purpose.
-Order ! The honorable member may not impute improper motives to another honorable member.
– In order to determine the degree to which that party has abandoned the theory and teachings of Karl Marx let us examine the constitution of the Australian Communist party as it was adopted in 1945. This bill relates to an act which is designed to outlaw those who support or advocate the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism as expounded by Marx. The Australian Communist party is based, not on the theories of Marx, but on the Leninist principle of democratic centralism. Like the Nationalist party and its lineal descendants, the United Australia party and the Liberal party, the Communist party changes its name, its policy, and its principles whenever it suits its purposes to do so. In 1945 it completely changed its constitution and abandoned the Marxist theory. It left the past to look after itself, and trimmed its sails to suit the prevailing wind, realizing that its greatest and, indeed, almost sole opponent was the great Australian Labour party. The problem was to ascertain how best it could meet the primary threat to its existence of the Australian Labour party. When I examine the wide and ineffective definition of “ Communist “ in the Communist Party Dissolution Act and consider how greatly the policy and objectives of the Communist party differ from the teachings and principles of Karl Marx, I cannot help but feel that this bill, and all that it stands for, ‘is more in the nature of political propaganda then a real attempt to guard this country from a danger that is confronting it.
Let us examine the position of the Australian Country party. The original Marxian platform, as printed in 1888, provides in one section for something which has been consistently advocated by the Australian
Country party in this Blouse. It provides for the development of the agricultural industries side by side with the manufacturing industries, and for the gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of population. Yesterday, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) tried to make capital out of the fact that it is the policy of the Labour party to confer sovereign powers upon the Commonwealth Parliament. If it were proposed to hold a referendum designed, in fact, to give full sovereign powers to this Parliament, the Labour party would support it, but the proposals which the Government intends to put before the people are quite different from that. If this Parliament had full, sovereign powers it would, like the British Parliament, be able to legislate on anything and everything without being subject to the overriding authority of any court.
– The honorable member would abolish State governments?
– If the Commonwealth Parliament had sovereign powers, the State parliaments could exercise only such powers as were delegated to them. The British Parliament has sovereign powers, but it has not attempted to deal with communism as this Government proposes to do. Even if we accept the proposition that the Government is honest and sincere, and really believes that what it proposes is the only wry in which to deal with communism, it would still not be right to attempt to alter the Constitution irrevocably in order to deal with this particular matter. The political wheel can turn, and it could well be that in ten years’ time the provision which the Government is now proposing to insert in the Constitution could, in the hands of its enemies, be used against those who now constitute it. I protest against the Government’s proposal which, if implemented, would constitute a blot on the record of British freedom.. It is all very well to say that the people will have the last say. It is not very long ago since the British Parliament possessed overriding authority to veto legislation passed in any British possession -which imposed unfair conditions upon minorities. Now, in a wave of hysteria, the Government is trying to persuade the Australian people to agree to an alteration of the Constitution in the direction of limiting an essential freedom of the people.
I agree that the Communist agent is all that has been said of him, and that he is capable of acts of espionage and subversion. The Labour party has been condemned because it delayed the passage of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, but how much more deserving of blame is the Government for delaying action against subversive elements in the community until after a referendum has been taken. If the Government lacks power under the existing law to deal effectively with Communists, let it bring in amending legislation to rectify the position, and we shall support it all the way. Recently an honorable member opposite emphasized the danger that confronts the United States of America from a Russian attack. If that danger be real, surely the United States of America should have been the first to deal drastically with the Communist menace. However, the Government of the United States of America preferred to deal with the problem by working quietly and effectively, without headlines and without hysteria. As I pointed out on a previous occasion, if we dispose of the first line of Communist leaders, there is a second line ready. to take its place. The authorities in the United States of America were well aware of that. They arrainged the Communist leaders before a jury which convicted them, and Communists of the first line are now behind bars. Now those of the- second line are being prosecuted with a view to putting them also behind bars.
– Help us to put them behind bars in Australia.
– There is a responsibility upon His Majesty’s Opposition to see that the principles of British freedom shall be maintained wherever the English language is spoken. I, for one, will not shirk my parliamentary responsibility. The right, and the duty, of an Opposition to ventilate the views of an electoral minority is one of the most important principles of the British parliamentary system. The American people have not experienced a great deal ot difficulty in- dealing -with, communism. They merely invoked their existing laws a-nd enforced them efficiently. I do not propose to traverse the ground that was so ably and lucidly covered by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) other than to comment that one of the most illuminating aspects of his speech was his statement that the Americans were able to deal with the Communists merely by invoking their traditional safeguards of freedom. In that connexion I recall to honorable members the words used by the President of the United States of America when he described the Communists as “ a noisy but small and universallydespised group “. Is that not characteristic of the Communists in every English-speaking country?
One of the most unfortunate aspects of the campaign pursued by the anti-Labour parties against communism is that they have endeavoured to make party politicalcapital by going out of their way to abuse and revile the Leader of the Opposition and the Australian Labour party. In fact, that is one of the most dangerous trends of the Government’s almost hysterical campaign, because it encourages people to distrust one of the major political parties of this country. The Communists have successfully infiltrated several countries by inculcating a similar distrust of democratic parties in the minds, of the unfortunate people of those countries;
The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman) referred briefly to the position in which the Communists of Great Britain and the United States of America now find themselves in those countries, but it was- apparent that the honorable gentleman has no real conception of the methods used by the British and the Americans to deal with the- Communists. The important thing to realize is that the Communists have been relegated to. a position of comparative insignificance merely by enforcing’ existing laws in Great Britain and the United States of America. Neither the American nor the British Government blotted its copy-book by introducing legislation that would cut across the traditional freedoms of English-speaking’ peoples. I was particularly concerned by the statement made by the, honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), that only those’ with evil intent would oppose the referendum. Without wishing to be unparliamentary, I say that that is one of the vilest statements that a member of the Parliament could make.
-Order ! The honorable member should not characterize the statement of another honorable member in those terms.
– I regret that,, through inadvertence, I apparently, transgressed the limits of parliamentary expression. The point that I was about to make is that in any democratic system there is a tremendous responsibility on the government of the day to ensure that the views of a minoriy shall be properly placed before the people and’ that a fair regard shall be had to those views. After all, the history of the British Empire, at least, proves conclusively that whenever minorities have been repressed they have invariably emerged as the ultimate victors. Labour will never be a party to making martyrs of a group of people- who should’ be in gaol. The honorable member for Gippsland also accused members of the Labour movement of siding with Russia, but, from the point of view of his political party, perhapsthe less said about that the better. After all,, many people with a substantial stake in this country were very happy to be on the side of Russia when nazi-ism and fascism were bestriding the free world. Let me make it clear, once and for all, that Labour is emphatically opposed to Russia because of the policy of repression that that nation is pursuing. However, it is equally important to realize that the reason we oppose the Government’s efforts to attack communism in this country is that those methods savour, not of democratic processes, but of the methods of Hitler. Too much blood was spilled to smash fascism for us to abandon our democratic way of life by adopting those methods.
When the Minister for- Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) spoke last night after the Leader of the Opposition it became evident that he had only one purpose in his mind. -He realized that the. debate was being broadcast, and he was determined to take the utmost advantage of feeing “ on the air “. He did not attempt to deal with the fundamentals of this bill, but, on the contrary, devoted his entire speech, which occupied approximately 30 minutes, to a smear campaign against the Leader of the Opposition and the Australian Labour party itself.
Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.
– In his 30 minutes of abuse of the Opposition last night, the Minister for Labour and National Service referred to the Leader of the Opposition as the most notable defender of communism in Australia.
– Hear, hear !
– When the names of the Minister and his colleagues and supporters have been erased from the history of politics, the name of this great leader of the Australian Labour party will remain outstanding as that of one of the most zealous fighters for minorities that the world has produced. He did not rise to the position of president of the General Assembly of the great United Nations organization, which the members of the Government now profess to support, without having powerful faculties and the courage to defend minorities. In order to rise to such eminence, he had to be endowed with qualities far greater than those that are possessed by any honorable member on the Government side of the House. It ill becomes a member to descend to such depths as were plumbed by the Minister for Labour and National Service last night if, in fact, he believes that democracy should flourish in the British Empire. The honorable gentleman said that there were thousands of Communists in the Australian Labour party. If he believes that, why is he not honest enough to state the real purpose of the Government in introducing the legislation that is now before the House? I believe that the party that he represents includes in its ranks thousands of new guards and other fascists of all types. It is just as true to say that eight members of the Government parties were elected on the preferences , of fascist candidates as it is to say that eight honorable members on this side of the House were elected on the preferences of Communists and Communist sympathizers. When a Minister stoops to such abuse as we heard in this chamber last night, the only conclusion that can be drawn by any decent Australian is that the Government has no valid argument with which to justify the proposals that it wishes to submit to the people.
We shall continue to honour our duty as His Majesty’s Opposition in this Parliament. We shall oppose the Government’s attempt to blot the statutebook with a measure that will be the first ever enacted in an Englishspeaking community for the purpose of taking away the freedom of a. minority. I warn the Government that, once it deviates from the policy of British justice and freedom, there can be no limit to its betrayal of those principles. There is no end to the road that leads aside from the path of freedom on which the great British Empire has always firmly kept its feet. We are proud of the fact that, throughout the long years of its existence, the empire has been the protector of minorities. Was it not the first authority in the world to abolish the slave traffic? Yet this Government proposes that a small minority of8,000,000 citizens of the British Commonwealth of Nations shall pull down the flag of freedom under which individuals have been permitted for so long to pursue their own beliefs. The great Labour movement will survive to see the day when the party which now parades itself as the Liberal party of Australia will again be obliged to change its name for very shame. The enactment of such legislation as the Government contemplates will brand it as the first government in the history of the British Commonwealth to have the audacity to abrogate the principle of freedom for the individual upon which the British Empire was founded. The Minister for Labour and National Service and his colleagues stand condemned for all time for having presented to this Parliament a piece of legislation in support of which the honorable gentleman has been able to offer only abuse of His Majesty’s Opposition. This represents a retrograde step in parliamentary practice in Australia. If the Minister had nothing better to contribute to the debate, he should have stood aside in favour of others who might at least have tried to he decent in their approach to a problem of so wide a scope and of such vital importance to the British Commonwealth of Nations.
– I listened with great attention to the speech of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), and I was very pleased to hear him express, in his concluding remarks, such warm approval of the mother of Parliaments and its practices. I am moved to make that comment because the honorable member inveighed against the proposed grant to this Parliament of the power that is envisaged in the bill that is now before the House. The plain fact is that the mother of Parliaments need not consider a bill of this character for the simple reason that it has all the power which, hitherto, the colleagues of the honorable member for Blaxland have contended consistently should be conferred upon the Australian Parliament. Had those honorable gentlemen had their way. there would have been no question of the High Court, which is the referee between the Commonwealth and the States in such matters as are now under consideration, declaring any enactment of this Parliament to be invalid. It is difficult to follow the reasoning of members of the Opposition, who so loudly declaim against the conferring of the proposed power upon the Parliament, because the platform of the Australian Labour party commits them to a sweeping removal of all limitations upon the right of this Parliament to legislate as it considers fit. As far as I know, they propose to adhere to that policy in the future. Therefore, it is not easy to understand why they should object to a measure which provides for the granting of further power to this Parliament so that it may deal with certain subversive organizations.
It is true that, if the power be given to the Parliament by the people, it can be taken away only by the people. It is equally true that the measure that we are now considering contemplates empowering the Parliament to amend a law which has already been submitted to the people for their further confirmation. I have used the words “further confirmation “ for the excellent reason that the subject-matter of the bill has been submitted to the people on two occasions. On the second occasion, which occurred not many weeks ago, the proposal was put before them in complete substance and they returned the Government to power in both Houses of the Parliament with a substantial mandate to carry out its policy. Now, however, the Government, wishing to put the matter beyond doubt, is taking what the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has correctly described as the unusual course of seeking to obtain from the people not only the insertion in the Constitution of specific power to deal with Communists and communism but also a declaration which will put beyond any possibility of control by the High Court a measure which has been approved by both Houses of the Parliament.
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and his henchmen have declared that there is something iniquitous about the proposal. It is very interesting to review the proposal in the light of what the right honorable gentleman himself endeavoured to do when he was the Attorney-General in a previous government. I sat in the wings of this chamber at a constitutional convention that he had organized and I listened to the discussion as an official observer accredited by the government of the day. I have every reason to thank the right honorable gentleman for the courtesy of his invitation to attend that convention because I had an excellent opportunity to follow the debate. A draft bill was brought before that convention which incorporated a very large range of powers including the possibility of controlling or interfering with the powers of the High Court of Australia.. I objected to that proposal.
I believe it would be an unmitigated evil for the Constitution to confer upon this Parliament the complete and sweeping powers for which honorable members of the Opposition have so eloquently asked in the past. Such powers would have completely overshadowed the rights of the States. History has shown that it is particularly difficult for the people of large countries to control elected persons. Consequently, I think that the distribution of power is desirable in-order to prevent the ultimate corruption of the National Parliament in the way that has happened in France and elsewhere. I profoundly regret that this House is considering increasing substantially the power of the Commonwealth, not because I particularly object to the Government having the power which it seeks in this instance, but because I consider that the time is long overdue when all the powers of the Commonwealth in relation to the States should be completely reviewed. It is’ not possible for me to develop that theme in this debate, nor do I propose to do so. I simply state a proposition which is selfevident to an increasing number of thoughtful citizens in this Commonwealth and probably, if they could speak their minds truly, to honorable gentlemen who sit on the left of the Chair.
The bill before the House proposes to give to the Commonwealth the power to control Communists and communism. The Leader of the Opposition asked what was meant by a “ Communist “ and “ communism “. He quoted quite accurately the definition of a Communist from the Oxford Dictionary. That is the true definition of the term as it was known in years gone by. It was a philosophical belief that it would be good if people held all possessions in common. Unfortunately, as is pointed out in one of the latest editions of ‘Chambers Dictionary, the word “ communism “ now signifies the Russian bolshevik type of communism which is based on the principles of Marx and which advocates .the destruction of other forms of society by revolutionary means. It is for that reason that the Government has introduced this bill to strengthen the right of any party that may form the government of this country to exercise the powers of defence of the Commonwealth. Those powers when embodied in legislation must be the subject of review by Parliament and it will be for the Parliament and the people who elect it to determine the form of that legislation. That is the crux of the second part of the measure which makes it clear that the Parliament shall have power to amend or repeal any law that may be made under this bill. That applies to any law that may be made in the terms of the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950.
I was astounded to hear the honorable member for Blaxland state emphatically that the Communist party does not conform to the teachings of Marx in any shape or form. “What an extraordinary statement ! That statement is one of the most deluding and disastrous that has been made in this House. If the honorable gentleman meant that communism as founded by Marx no longer has validity in Russia and that, using the forms and shibboleths of communism, the Russian Government has established a cast-iron police state - an oligarchyhas statement is correct. But if he wishes to convey to honorable members that the Communist party does not follow the teachings of Marx in any shape or form I ask him to take note of the words of an introduction which has been written to a recent edition of the Communist Manifesto, a book that is described as a socialist landmark. The introduction isby the late brilliant exponent of socialism, Professor H. J. Laski, who said that the statements contained in this book are as applicable now as they were 100 or more years ago when Marx brought his philosophy out of the chaos of poverty and human misery which distinguished a great deal of Europe at that time. The following is an extract from the Communist Manifesto : -
But they never cease for a single instant to instil into the working class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism, between the bourgeoisie and proletariat . . . In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the1 existing social and political order of things.
Is that what is happening in this country or is it not? Are the Communiststhroughout Australia supporting a revolutionary movement against the social’ and political order or are they not? The weight of evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the verdict that never in 100- years have they lost that purpose and intention. I ask honorable members tonote these words -
The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcibleoverthrow of .all existing social conditions.
I -think that the honorable member foi Blaxland said that such statements as these had no validity now. The fact that an idea has circulated’ for 100 years or- 200 years does not mean> that it has no- validity at the present time. It is against the growth of an idea that men have fought, sometimes bitterly, sometimes uncomprehendingly, but always with the instinct that the idea was dangerous. During the course of the fight they have either subdued the idea >or it has burst forth .later and subdued .them. The real danger to the community and the danger against which this bill is directed is not the idea of communism as an international means of improving the standard of living- of the working class but against the great international power which practices that philosophy and which deludes its people, its adherents and fellow-travellers, into thinking that it is a road to the millennium. That is where the danger lies. It is against that danger that this bill is directed. I shall quote now from one of the most extraordinary statements that this country has ever seen, which was made during the opposition to the Gallagher bonus award. Twenty-five thousand men were thrown out of work and .hundreds of thousands of people were inconvenienced because of the reaction of the miners’ leaders to that award, not because the miners had been offered lower wages or longer hours and harder conditions, but for the most extraordinary reason that they had been offered more pay for continuity of work. I have some knowledge of both sides of industry and I can- say that any one with an atom of sense knows that continuity of work means more wages for the workers, because wages are based on production and are paid for out of production. The Gallagher award was simply an ordinary business proposition, but this is what the general president of the miners’ federation, “Mr. Idris “Williams, had to say about it - and I remind the House that this statement was made by a man who is an avowed Communist and is, in fact, one of the leaders of the Communist party in Australia -
The decision of the Gallagher Tribunal in again Rejecting the federation’s claims and reintroducing the noxious bribe principle makes it abundantly clear that the authorities are determined to regiment the coal industry to further the war plans of the Menzies-Fadden Government.
I -wish honorable members to note particularly the words “ the war -plans of the Men’zies–Fadden Government “. Is there anybody in this House with the slightest modicum of intelligence who does not believe that there is indeed in existence an international conspiracy, as stated by Mr. Herbert. Morrison, a member of the Socialist Government of Great Britain, to destroy the democratic system of which we aire a part ? Is there any man with an atom of common sense, who can see the immense efforts of Great Britain, burdened as that country is with the aftermath of the last war, and the tremendous efforts of our great ally, the United States, and still doubt for one moment that the precautions of the free world do not represent a fascist conspiracy but represent a determination to protect themselves being made by the free und democratic nations - I shall not use the adjective “peace-loving” to describe those nations, because it has been degraded through constant use by the mouthpieces of the Soviet Union? Who can doubt that the preparations of the democratic countries are the very reverse of action suggested by this Communist leader, Williams? Does any one doubt that Williams’s statement is an express and open determination to undermine the defences of this country? It is a flagrant and blatant statement, and if we do not take notice of it in the light of what is occurring in the coal industry and elsewhere, we are foolish and shortsighted indeed. If anybody asked me to justify my support of the present measure I should quote the statement by Mr. Idris Williams that I have just read to the House.
But apparently the Communists did not consider that statement enough in itself. At the same time as it was made a pledge was sought from all the workers engaged in the coal-mining industry - to take part with other workers and the people in general in fighting current reactionary moves in Australia ‘toward Fascism and war.
The Communist technique in perfection ! While they are .moving towards war and the enforcement upon the free nations of the world of the horrors of their own police state, and try to fasten the charge of moving towards war upon us simply because we are taking steps to achieve teamwork among our people for the purpose of mobilizing the resources of this country and strengthening our position against a possible emergency. We are doing this not for the purpose of waging war but for the purpose of having an effective defence against aggression. If effective defence means that we must take the offensive then we should do so only because offence is often the best means of defence. The initial purpose of this Government’s action is to bring to this country a spirit of teamwork that will place us in a strong position not only to defend ourselves but also to be able to do the decent thing and reward the citizens who join in that defence. I do not propose to labour that matter any further, for it is a self evident proposition. The Communist Manifesto shows that the Communists disdain to conceal their views and openly declare that they can achieve their ends only by the overthrow of this country and other free countries. Those are not idle words on the part of the Communists and we must decide as a free people that, although we may disagree on various matters, we must join together in holding our country as a free democracy.
I went through Germany and France in 1936. On one side of the frontier T found the Germans working like beavers. Nobody was idle. Men, women and even children were working steadily and continuously for one purpose. I did not agree with their methods. T hated them then and I hate them now Later, I went across the frontier into Prance and found strikes, continual holdup slovenliness and slackness everywhere. It was appalling to think that these were the people upon whose army we must rely in the crisis that was then beginning to threaten under Hitler. We to-day are not much different from the French in 1936. We are quarrelling among ourselves, and our workers are striking for the most trivial reasons. Nobody can deny that there is slackness throughout the whole community. I say that the time- has come for the trade union movement to take notice of a statement that was made some years ago by a leader of the New Zealand trade union movement. He said -
The trade union movement has won the battle. Now is the time to consolidate the gains.
People like Idris Williams do not want the trade union movement to consolidate its gains, because they do not want to see the trade unionist regarding himself as a partner in the nation’s prosperity, with opportunities of improving his position even further. They wish to split the community. That is their avowed aim. The statement by Williams that I have read illustrates the Communist technique which can be expressed in the words, “ If you get more, ask for still more. If you get it, then ask for more again so that you may break down and destroy the system of society “. The Communists do not seek to help their fellows to achieve a voluntary co-operation that will benefit the country. Their aim is to destroy and destroy and destroy, until out of chaos they may perhaps achieve something better than the misery that has fallen upon the people of Russia and tha people of the countries that Russia has taken over.
The Labour movement must take those things to heart. I believe that some of its members are doing so. They know the position, but they are more or less automatically and voluntarily mouthing the shibboleths of the past. What we want is a leadership which will say, “ We want a fair day’s work and we shall give a fair day’s work ; in return for it, we want a fair day’s pay. We shall provide out of production the wherewithal to pay for the social benefits that have been achieved, because we realize that a social benefit without the things which it purports to provide, the goods and services, is of no use “. I believe that when the danger is really appreciated, when we overcome the deliberately crooked thinking of Mr. Williams and the muddled thinking of the honorable member for Blaxland, and others, we shall achieve some definite results.
I desire now to refer to a matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). That is the old bogy of the onus of proof. It is quite astonishing that he should have brought that matter forward, because in the Crimes Act there are seventeen offences specified in which the onus of proof rests on the accused. A person convicted of one or more of those offences may be imprisoned for up to seven years. I suggest that it will pay honorable members opposite to study the Crimes Act, and particularly the provisions that I have mentioned. It is remarkable that this act has been in existence since 1914 and that all those sections have remained in it. In fact, an offence carrying one of the most severe penalties in the act was sponsored by the Leader of the Opposition when he was AttorneyGeneral. In the light of the right honorable gentleman’s speech, that fact is very interesting. During the last week or so he has inveighed against the evils of casting the onus of proof on the accused, but in 1946 he introduced, not an amendment to abolish the sections which cast the onus of proof on the accused, but an amendment to make the onus on certain classes of accused persons more severe. In that regard I refer the House to sections 77 and 78 of the Crimes Act. In these sections it is made quite clear that on a prosecution for an offence covered by them it shall not be necessary for the Crown to show that the accused person was guilty of any particular action. Section 53 of the Crimes Act which deals with the making of coining instruments, reads -
Any person who, without lawful authority or excuse (proof whereof shall lie upon him), makes or mends . . . any coining instrument . . . shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
My time is limited in this debate, but I want to say to the House that there are certain sections in the Crimes Act which deal with the safety of the country. In those sections the onus of proof is cast upon the accused. Therefore it will be realized that this measure now before the House is not unique. It must be remembered that the Crimes Act was passed during World War I. when the safety of the country was a prime consideration, and that the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition was inserted during World War II., again when the safety of the country was paramount. In the Crimes Act a singular continuity of ideas is apparent in the sections which throw the onus of proof on the accused. That is quite obviously for the reason that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has endeavoured to make clear during the debate on this measure. The reason is that, it is sometimes impossible to get at the truth in matters which affect the safety of the country unless the onus of proof is placed on the person accused of treason, treachery or some similar crime. Therefore, this measure deserves something more than the critical attitude adopted by some honorable members opposite. It must be regarded as a security measure on a par with the security sections of the Crimes Act. It must be remembered that a Labour government held office for nine or ten years before the present Government assumed office and that therefore there was plenty of time for the Labour party to modify the Crimes Act in the important sections which throw the onus of proof on the accused if it had thought that those sections were repressive. But nothing was done by the Labour Government during its nine or ten years of office, except to introduce another section which provides a penalty of up to seven years’ imprisonment for a certain offence and throws the onus of proof on the person accused of that offence. That makes it quite clear that even the Labour Government realized the necessity of taking extreme measures to preserve the safety of this country. I commend the bill to the House and to the country, and I trust that before long we shall have that comprehensive review of the Constitution which will enable us to face up to many other important problems of this Commonwealth in a completely different atmosphere.
.- I rise to oppose the bill. In doing so, I desire to place certain matters before the House for its consideration. The bill proposes that a referendum shall be held to alter the Constitution in two ways. First, it proposes that additional powers shall be granted to the Parliament to make such laws with respect to Communists or communism as the Parliament believes to be necessary or expedient. Secondly, it proposes that power shall be given to the Parliament to enact, amend or repeal the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950. Among other things, that act contains provisions for the banning of the Communist party, the dissolution of subsidiary organizations, the seizure of property and the prohibition of declared persons from holding office in certain unions or in the Public Service. Moreover, the onus of proof is cast on persons who are declared. It can be fairly said that this bill poses very grave and important issues and that therefore it must be considered very seriously. After giving my reasons for opposing this bill I shall develop my arguments on the soundness of of those reasons. I oppose the bill, first, because it proposes to place permanently in the Constitution a controversial measure which has been declared to be unconstitutional. Secondly, for the first time in Australian history, it proposes to place in the Constitution a repressive power detrimental to the liberty of the individual.
It further proposes, by the permanent incorporation in the Constitution of certain powers, to strike a blow at the freedom of association and expression. It also aims, by legislation and executive action, to follow the dangerous and hitherto unsuccessful procedure of trying to kill thoughts and ideas. It is totalitarian in character because it imposes sanctions and penalties on those deemed guilty by the Executive of what is called in fascist countries dangerous thinking. It proposes a course of action which has been resolutely opposed as being anti-democratic by the United States of America, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and other democratic nations. In adopting totalitarian methods the Government is taking the first step towards: the creation of a totalitarian state in Australia. In making the Parliament the sole authority on what is necessary or expedient in relation to Communists and communism, it deprives citizens of legal rights and of protection against false witness. In permitting the Executive without charge or trial to declare persons or organizations to be subversive; it places the reputation, livelihood and liberty of the people in the hands of informers and other persons who can make charges without being called upon to prove the accuracy of their statements or of the facts they have put forward. Finally, this legislation is repugnant to a democratic state and is being introduced at a time when democracy is endeavouring to prove to the world thai it has advantages over all forms of totalitarianism.
– Why did the honorable gentleman vote for the Communist Party Dissolution Bill?
– Although interjections of that kind may be useful as debating points, they do not help the House very much. The question that we are considering is whether it would be desirable, in the interests of the people of Australia, to insert permanently in the Constitution the words that the Government desires to be inserted..
I shall reply to some of the comments that have been made by honorable gentlemen opposite in the course of this debate. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman) expressed the opinion that the shortages of commodities and the strikes from which Australia was suffering were due solely to the activities of Communists. That was a sweeping statement. I remind the honorable gentleman that the economic ills to which he referred do not exist only in Australia. From 1946 to the present time, which was the period that he mentioned, strikes, shortages of commodities and a number of other economic ills and disorders have existed not only in Australia but also in the United States of America, Great Britain, New Zealand and a number of Eastern countries. No country has a monopoly of them. It is obvious that many of the strikes that have occurred in this and other countries have been legitimate industrial disputes and that the blame for all of them cannot be laid upon the activities of Communists.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) said that there were thousands of Communists in the ranks of the Australian Labour party. In support of that allegation, he read a few lines from the constitution of the Australian Labour party in Victoria.. In order to refresh the minds of honorable members, I shall read them again. The constitution of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party provides that the membership shall consist of -
The honorable gentleman said that, because the words “ affiliated unions “ appear in that document, thousands of Communists1 are members of the Australian Labour party. Let me correct that false impression. Members of trade* unions affiliated with the Australian Labour party do not become members of that party by virtue only of their membership of such unions. If a member of an affiliated union desires to become actively associated with or to be known as a member of the Australian Labour party, he must join a branch of the party. No person- can stand for election to an office in the party, attend an annual conference at which the policy of the party is determined, or be a member of a campaign committee during an election unless he has been a member of the party for two years and has signed a pledge that he is not a member of any other political organization and that he is in no way connected with either the Communist party or subsidiaries thereof.
The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) read to the House some extracts from the Communist. Manifesto that was written by Marx in the latter part of the last century. I ask him and all other honorable members who raised arguments similar to that which he raised whether they believe that, if this, bill were passed, the referendum carried and the proposed alterations of the Constitution made,, communism in. Australia would,, almost automatically, cease to exist? If they believe that, they are ignorant of what is occurring in Australia and other parts of the world. If they do not believe it, they are misleading the people of Australia by saying vehemently that the passing of this bill and the carrying of the referendum is the only way in which communism cam be killed in Australia.
The proposed alterations of the Constitution are in direct conflict with four very important declarations that were made during the last ten years on behalf of the democratic nations of the world. During that period, more attention has been directed by the democratic countries to the problems of how democracy can be maintained and how the greatest possible freedom and liberty can be given to the individual than to any other problem. The reason for that is clear. In the 1920’s, the world witnessed the spectacle of a new ideology being born and a new kind of government being established. With the rise of fascism in Italy, which followed an attempt by certain organizations in that country to seize control of the means of production, civil liberty and freedom ceased to exist there. Step by step, the right of Italian people to govern their own community was taken from them. Eventually, the only political party in Italy was the Fascist party and the only form of government was the fascist form. Every one of the subsidiary forms of government was moulded into the pattern of the fascist ideology. In the early 1930’s,. the ideology known as nazi-ism became established in Germany and, as in the case of Italy, the civil’ liberties and rights of the German people were taken from them.
In 194Q-, the late President Roosevelt made his f amous speech to the American Congress in which he enunciated four basic freedoms that he said were essential for democratic states. They were freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, freedom from fear and freedom from want. Two or three years later, President Roosevelt, in conjunction with Mr. Winston Churchill, who was then Prime Minister of Great Britain, drew up the Atlantic Charter - one of the most humane documents in history. President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill, speaking on behalf of their countries and of the countries that were’ allied with them, guaranteed, among other things, to the peoples of the world the four basic freedoms that had been enunciated bv President Roosevelt. The effort to ensure the maintenance of human rights and liberties did not end there. At the International Labour Office conference that was held in Philadelphia in 1944, a charter, generally referred to as the Philadelphia Charter, was prepared. That document clearly expressed what the democratic nations should do at the end of the war in order to give the greatest possible measure of social justice to the workers of the world. It contained a declaration that freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression were essential for the continuance of progress.
That point is most important in any consideration of the measure now before us. Finally, not so long ago a document known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drawn up by the United Nations. As a signatory to that declaration, Australia is morally, if not legally, bound to maintain the policy of ensuring that the civil and human liberties and rights of the Australian people shall be assured to them. I say without hesitation that this measure aims a blow at not only the principles to which Australia has subscribed as a signatory to that declaration but also those that are contained in the other three declarations that I have mentioned.
What do supporters of the Government expect to accomplish by the passage of this bill? Does any one of them believe that the Communist organization in Australia will be entirely destroyed if the people approve of the proposals that the Government intends to submit to them at a referendum and if they grant to the National Parliament the powers that are being sought under this measure and if the Parliament accordingly re-enacts the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950? I have no doubt that every honorable member recognizes that the passage of this measure will merely amount to a declaration that the Communist party no longer exists legally and that, consequently, we shall be faced with an underground movement which the Government will have greater difficulty in keeping under constant supervision than it has at present when the party exists openly and when its members are known and their activities can be watched from day to day. As some honorable members do not accept that view I shall remind them of facts that should be known to every one of us. Honorable members will recall that, in 1940, the government of the day decided to ban the Communist party. For that purpose, it gazetted a regulation and, hey presto, that party ceased to exist. However, everybody who has studied events that occurred from 1940 to 1945 when that regulation was repealed knows that evidence was not wanting of the activities of the Communist party during that period. Perhaps, the reason why comparatively limited industrial trouble took place during that period was that at that time Russia had allied itself with the democracies and, of course, we are awareof the affiliation between Russia and the Communists in this country. For that reason Communist activities in the industrial sphere were not so pronounced at that time as they have since become. The point that honorable membersshould remember is that 24 hours after that regulation was repealed, the whole organization of the Communist party was again working efficiently, according to its own standards, and was carrying on as if its activities had not been interrupted at all during the preceding four or five years.
– The Communists then operated under different names.
– That is so. On the surface they shed some of their views and did not express themselves as forthrightly as they had done previously; but they had carried on underground throughout that period. The experience of this country in that respect was exactly the same as that of Italy and Germany. In each of those countries the Communist party was banned. Its adherents and followers were subjected to the most rigorous treatment, including imprisonment under the harshest conditions. Many Communists were liquidated. They paid the penalty with their lives. However, on the very day that Italy was liberated from fascist control the underground Communist party sprang into the open; and all honorable members know of the tremendous amount of energy and organization that the Communists put into the first general election that was held in Italy after the end of the recent war. The same observation applies to Germany. If anything, in that country, the treatment of Communists and social democrats was even more monstrous and vicious in every way than the treatment that was meted out to Communists in Italy. Any honorable member who wishes to gain some idea of how the Communist party functioned during the regime of the Nazis in Germany should read Out of the Night by Jan Valtin. When Germany was liberated and human rights and liberties were again recognized in that country, the Communist party which had been banned and was supposed to have been liquidated, flourished again practically overnight as though its activities had not been interrupted at all.
We shall delude ourselves if we believe that we can destroy ideas and ideologies merely by legislating against them. No other country has yet achieved success by adopting that method. As the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has said, the history of the world teems with illustrations of efforts to prevent the propagation of ideas, and, without exception, every idea that has thus been attacked, has persisted even after having been outlawed in some instances for hundreds of years.
– The good ideas survived.
– That is a matter of opinion. I have no doubt that when the Christian religion was being established, religious that’ ‘already existed regarded Christianity with abhorrence just as communism is being regarded to-day. It is a question of what is thought at the time. Honorable members will agree that an idea cannot be stifled immediately merely as the result of the enactment of legislation to outlaw it. History shows that such methods almost invariably have engendered fanatical support of the ideas that have thus been attacked and have produced fanatics, who have upheld the ideas with as much fervour as Christians uphold Christianity. All that the Government will- do under this measure, if the proposals that it contains are approved of by the people, will be to produce martyrs in the cause of communism and thus, almost certainly, guarantee the survival of the Communist ideology.
The problem of whether it is wise to ban the Communist party has been in the forefront recently in the United States of America. When Mr. Hoover, the Director of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, was asked whether he believed that the Communist party should be banned in the interests of the security and defence of that country, he replied by expressing the hope that the United States of America would never ban the Communist party. His view was that whilst it was difficult enough to supervise the activities of Communists when the party openly existed, it would be almost impossible for the bureau to be able effectively to watch the activities of
Communists and to prevent them from doing mischief if the party were banned and driven underground. That position has now been reached in Australia.
What will happen if the Communist party is banned? The known Communists will have to vacate their positions in certain organizations and in the Public Service. The Communist party ostensibly will no longer exist, but it will establish subsidiary organizations under different names and with different objectives. No person in such circumstances will admit that he is a Communist. He will claim that the Communist party lias been banned. But within the framework of the Communist organization the steady training will proceed of persons who are not known to the community as actual Communists, but who are to take the place of those who lose their positions in the trade union movement. Those wolves in sheep’s clothing will work their way into that movement. They will not talk about communism, and they will pretend to oppose it, but once they have attained positions of power and responsibility, they will revert to the old pattern that has caused so much trouble in the past.. The difficulty that the trade union movement itself has experienced in fighting communism will then be increased enormously.
When we know our enemies, we are able to attack them, meet their attacks, and form the organization that is necessary to defeat them and their ideas. But if the Communists are driven underground, they will emerge in a new guise, and will talk a new language. They will aim to attain positions of authority so that they will be able to give effect to their ideas, not as members of the Communist party, but as militant trade unionists. In those circumstances, the task of persons who desire the trade union movement to be run on proper lines will be made much more difficult than it is even at the present time.
The methods that are adopted by the Communist party to achieve its objectives have been revealed in cases which have occurred abroad recently. The most sensational international case is that of the scientist, Dr. Fuchs, who probably gave more valuable information to Russia about .the atomic bomb than all the other spies that were .being employed by the Soviet for that purpose. .The Fuchs case gives us an idea of the strategy of the Communist party. Fuchs, although he was a member of the ‘Communist party, was kept free from all contact with that organization as a movement. His collaborator, Harry Gold, the chemist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was also kept from visible association with the Communist party. As a result of that concealment, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was not able to pick up those two persons. American .security officers .had tabbed the known Communists, but the undercover Communists in high positions were not known to them. Those experiences will be multiplied if this Government’s proposals for combating communism and the Communist party become effective.
The provisions of the Communist Party Dissolution Act, if they are put into operation, will increase the difficulties of those persons who are genuinely fighting communism in Australia. When the Communist programme and platform is stated freely, opponents of communism have the opportunity, by freedom of expression and freedom of discussion, to show the people of Australia clearly and without difficulty the advantages of democracy compared with totalitarianism. But when the Communist party is driven underground, and adopts new methods and new ideas and gives a new slant to its policy, the opponents of communism will constantly be confronted with new problems, which will take longer to answer, and the people themselves will become confused. Therefore, I oppose the bill.
– Order! The honorable gentleman has exhausted his time.
.- I do not propose to analyse all the arguments that have ‘been advanced by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), because time will not permit me to do so. However, -he posed two questions which I desire to answer. The first question was, “What -does -the Government believe that its proposals will accomplish, and will they dispose of the Communist menace ? “ The honorable gentleman answered that question by saying that no legislation, of itself,, will finally dispose of the ramifications of the widespread menace of communism in Australia, or, for that matter, in any other country. My answer to his question is that the object of the Government in pursuing this course is to obtain a’ powerful weapon with which it will be able to combat the Communist menace. His second question was, “Does the Government consider that it can kill ideas by legislation ? “ Of course, ideas cannot be killed by that means. The Government is trying to kill, not ideas, but the actions which follow from ideas, and the results which follow from subversive actions which, again, are caused by those ideas. If the contention of the honorable member for Bendigo in that respect is carried to its logical conclusion, we may as well say that we cannot deal with a bushranger because we cannot drive the idea of robbery out of his head.
– But a bushranger may be arrested, and he may be imprisoned if he is found guilty of robbery.
– Imprisonment will not kill the idea of robbery that is in his head. But when a bushranger is put in gaol, he is prevented from committing acts of robbery.
The honorable member for Bendigo also asked whether the Government’s proposals would not drive the Communists underground. My answer to that question is that many of the leading Communists are already underground. Communism in Australia, as in many other countries, may be compared with an iceberg. A small part of it shows above the surface, but a vast mass is underneath the surface. The purpose of the Government at the present time is to lop off the visible part. The honorable member is well aware that the leading Communists are underground. Fuchs, Hiss and other well-known major spies who were recently the subject of world comment were not known Communists. They operated underground. Communists are now working underground in Australia, and the leaders of that movement are probably unknown to us. The honorable member for Bendigo said that the banning of the Communist party in 1940 helped, rather than hindered, the Communists. That statement is not correct. The president of the
Communist party, Mr. L. L. Sharkey, and other Communists, have admitted openly that the ban did that organization great harm, because it lost not only members but also power and influence throughout this country. Those are my answers to the questions that were posed by the honorable gentleman.
I shall now go on to deal with the whole substance of the problem of communism, particularly in its relation to the Labour party. I am in a state of wonderment about the real attitude of the Labour party to communism. Opposition members talk about high principle, and the constitutional rights of the Australian people. But what is their real attitude to communism? In my view, they are like a bird in a forest that hops from, twig to twig, and does not know on which bough it will finally come to rest. Out of their welter of talk on the Communist issue, the only dear fact that has impressed itself upon my mind has been this negative approach to communism. The Australian Labour party is like the seashore. The waves constantly breaking on the shore gradually wash it away. That is what is happening to the Labour party. It is being eaten into from all sides by communism. Members of the Opposition are aware of the fact, but they are doing nothing positive about it.
Make no mistake about the intentions of .the Communist party! Who do the Communists hate most-honorable members on this side of the House or members of the Opposition?
– I assure the honorable gentleman that they do not love me.
– I realize that. They do not like us, but they hate the honorable member for Bendigo and others like him, who are heretics from the Communist point of view. The issue between thi?., Labour party and the Communist party is sectarian,, and. every honorable member knows that no issue is more bitter than a sectarian issue. If internal events in Australia ever lead to a “ red “ revolution and the Communists, gain control, whose will be the first bodies to swing from the lamp posts? Not those of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the
Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) or other honorable members on this side of the House, but those of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), the honorable member for Bendigo and other friends of mine on the opposite side of the House. I do not want to see them hanged, but undoubtedly they will swing if the Communists gain power in this country. Members of the Opposition must remember that. I shall relate one incident that occurred during the recent general election campaign which gives point to my statement. I met a man who was handing out “ How to Vote “ tickets of a colour which the Labour party favours. He was very respectably dressed, and I took him to be a member of the Labour party and shook him by the hand. He looked at me rather curiously and said, “Do you know whose hand you are shaking ? “ When I shook my head he replied, “You are shaking the hand of a Communist”. I thought that I would carry on the conversation because, after all, I could not unshake his hand, and I asked him, “Why do you people barrack for the Labour party? “ He replied, “We always support Labour, not because we like the party, but because
Ave know that it is weak and inefficient and that,, if it gains power, its Government also will be weak and inefficient and the workers will soon know that they have been deceived “. We all know that the Communists dislike members of the Labour party, apart from the sectarian issue, because, in their opinion and in good Communist jargon, they are “the lackeys of the bourgeosie “. The attitude of the Labour party to this menace is completely unreal. Honorable members opposite do not realize the danger they are in or, if they do, they are frightened to take the steps that should ‘be taken to deal with. it.
Honorable members on both sides of the House tell us from time to time that the cause of communism is poverty. That is true only up to a point. It is true that a man who is miserable and starving and- who has no home falls an easy victim to the doctrines of communism. The implication therefore is that communism, will thrive only where conditions are bad. But that is not entirely correct.
– The more povertystricken a country is, the greater is the growth of communism within its borders.
– That is not always so. I. shall cite two examples in order to prove my contention. In what country in our civilization to-day are the people the worst off, the worst housed, and the worst fed, with rampant unemployment, but in which there ‘ is no communism ? The answer is Germany. What other country in Europe is the most prosperous, with well-fed people and thriving trade, but in which communism has spread throughout 25 per cent, of the population? The answer is France. Let us turn our eyes to our own country. In recent years, Australians generally have been prosperous. There is no real poverty here except in isolated cases. Yet communism has gained a degree of influence and power in Australia which is greater than in any other democratic country. Honorable members who blame poverty exclusively for the spread of communism can provide no reply to those facts. Members of the Opposition argue that the Communists in Australia are small in numbers. That is true. The most recent figure that I have seen sets the membership at about 3 2,000. Sympathizers and “fellow travellers “ may increase the Communist vote at a general election to a total of 200,000. But let the House remember that the Russian revolution was carried out by 75,000 Communists, who represented a proportion of .0005 per cent of the Russian population. That insignificant proportion of the population changed the whole fate of Russia and its form of government and, perhaps, the fate of the world as well. What happened in Russia could happen here, perhaps not immediately, but in the .future. Who knows what the years ahead hold in store for us ? Should we experience great stresses and hardships, a small handful of Communists might well change our form of government and overthrow our democratic institutions.
The honorable member for Bendigo has declared that the proposed legislation is undemocratic. But what should be the limit of tolerance in any democracy? How can we meet the charge that is brought against us by the Communists that democrats lack any positive belief in democracy and that it is dangerous for a form of society to be tolerant of opinions that are hostile to its continued existence? How much tolerance should be permitted in a democracy? We talk a great deal about tolerance here, but there must bea limit to tolerance when an organization devoted to the destruction of our democracy is active in our midst. We donot tolerate arson or murder, and many forms of liberty of speech are hedged around by restrictions. I repeat that there must be some limitation upon tolerance in a democracy. Otherwise we must be prepared to acknowledge the right of certain individuals and organizations to attack our system of society. Proper tolerance should be limited to the tolerance of dissent on issues between individuals and groups of individuals who respect the fundamentals of democratic society. This Parliament and other such democratic institutions have continued to exist because we and our predecessors have agreed upon the fundamental issues of democracy. We believe in our institutions and we disagree only on the various relatively small issues. That is why democracy continues to function. In every democracy there is some fringe of extreme opinion. In the United Kingdom there are fascists, but the British Parliament has done nothing about them because they are weak and society can deal with them without special assistance. In Australia, as far as I know, there are no fascists. I should be glad if any member of the Opposition could point one out to me because I have not seen one. But we have communism in Australia, and it is strong and is exerting an immense influence for evil which may well bring our country to destruction.
The argument that democracy should tolerate all opinions that are hostile to it is open to the very grave objection that it deprives our institutions and ideas of any absolute moral value; If we tolerate communism and other such hostile theories we run the risk of having our institutions, which have been built up over 1,000 years, destroyed by th» accident of a majority at the ballot-box, which could be obtained by rigging the poll.
– Does not the honorable member believe that the people can always decide which is the soundest political theory?
– I remind the honorable member of what has happened recently in Europe. Young democracies have been upset by majority votes. I do not know how those majorities were obtained, but the result has been that the democracies have been changed to totalitarian states that are completely under the control of the Communists. Such events confirm my opinion that tolerance, as we understand it, should be restricted to tolerance of opinions that do not strike at the very roots of democracy. I remind the honorable member for Bendigo, who has talked about conferences overseas, that representatives of the democracies of France, the United States of America and Great Britain agreed with Russia at Yalta and Moscow to bring about the utter destruction of nazi-ism and fascism. There was no question of toleration. Nazi-ism and fascism were to be extirpated, votes or no votes. Yet communism to-day is as great an evil and as serious a threat to us and to the rest of the world as nazi-ism and fascism ever were in the past. I want honorable members opposite to think over these facts, because they are of great importance at the present time.
I have faith in democracy and, because I believe in it, I am not prepared to allow it to be swept away by some action or by inaction on my part or on the part of anybody else. I am prepared to defend it by all reasonable constitutional means at my disposal. Honorable members opposite must know as well as I do that, in dealing with communism, we are not dealing merely with ideas or with a political party. We are dealing with an international and national conspiracy. The aims of Stalinism, or communism as it is called, are well known to us. They have been advertised by Moscow throughout the world hundreds of times in recent years. The ultimate objective is domination of the world by communism under the aegis of Russia. The Communists in Australia have made no secret of their intentions.
They have openly declared that they propose to take over the government of the country by force when the opportunity to do so arises. By their actions they have shown clearly that they are acting as the agents of a foreign power, which has embarked on an ambitious plan for world conquest. We are fighting against h very efficient, ruthless and determined enemy and, if we are to succeed, we must not neglect any weapon that we can obtain in order to put it down. I understand some of the scruples of honorable members opposite. However, the Government has only asked that this important question should be put before the people in order .that they may decide the issue. Honorable members are not asked to make any decision at this stage. This is a very grave problem which concerns the whole of our future. The people should decide the matter. Let us put the proposition to them. I know that some honorable members and some people outside of this House may vote against the Government’s proposals, but I have not the slightest doubt that the great majority of the people will say that the proposals of the Government should be assented to. I ask them to give the Government these powers and let it get on with the job.
.- Honorable members opposite have said that honorable members on this side of the House have not the courage to oppose this bill. I have risen to oppose it. I want to defend democracy while I can and I shall do so to the last. The Government has alleged that it has no power to deal with communism at present. It wishes to have this bill passed by Parliament in order that its provisions may be submitted to the people by way of referendum and be written into our Constitution. I consider that the Government’s proposals are most dangerous for democracy. The Government is trying to mislead the people again. It has announced that the purpose of this bill is merely to ban the Communist party. I do not say that there is nothing to fear from the Communist party. But I am prepared to accept the opinion of the justices of the High Court that the Government has the power to take action against persons who are .engaged in subversive activities. The .honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) spoke of the Government’s powers under the Crimes Act. Why has it not used those powers? The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) said that there was a Communist conspiracy in regard to Aorangi. Lf that were so I charge him with dereliction of his duty to the Crown. If the danger of communism is real why has he not invoked the powers that are at his disposal? In 1949, the Labour Government invoked those powers and put Communists in gaol. There is an ulterior purpose behind the Government’s wish to ask the people to include these provisions in the Constitution.
There are two systems of government in the world to-day. They are democracy and totalitarian. There can be no argument .about which system is supported by the’ Labour party because that party created democracy and fought a hard fight for it. The democratic system is not perfect yet and there is great opposition to it. There is a lot to be done to improve democracy. Who have always opposed democracy? Who opposed giving the vote to the people? The forbears of those honorable members who sit opposite. There is not the slightest difference between fascism and communism. They are both dictatorships. In Russia .there is a ruling class and a privileged class. This is in a country where there is no opposition to the government. I remember that the great moneyed powers in France supported the Nazi regime against the people after the occupation of France. The honorable member for New England said that he had been in Germany. He did not tell us about the concentration camps there and what happened to the trade union leaders. He did not. say anything about the- suffering of the people. If he liked the German system let him declare himself. The Government has proposed that totalitarian principles should be introduced into the Constitution of Australia which would take away the right of trial by jury. I shall go out on the hustings in order to tell the people about this measure. I am glad that I still have that privilege. This is the method that was (adopted .by the nazis to enable them to seize power in Germany rand by .the fascists in Italy. They mislead the people on matters such -as this. Then they went further until, eventually, any one who opposed them was put in a concentration camp. The Government has the power to deal with Communists. Why has the Minister not used it? In the issue of the Courier which was published in Ballarat on the 12th September, 1949, the following report appeared concerning a statement by the present Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) : -
Beading from a newspaper he claimed was a Labour party manifesto, ‘Mr. Fadden said that it provided for the amendment of the Crimes Act to repeal the section dealing with political and industrial offences. These sections of the Crimes Act are the only instrument with which the Government can deal effectively with .the Communist party, Mr. Fadden said. Under the Crimes .Act the Government could deport any Communist party member who is not an Australian. Healy, Thornton, Sharkey, Thompson, Burns, Roach and McPhillips are not Australians.
Seven justices of the .High Court have :said that the Government has ample power to deal with “Communists. The Treasurer has said that the Government has this power. Yet it is not being used. If the people are misled into adopting the Government’s proposals as part of the Constitution any ill-disposed person could name anybody as a -Communist. These proposals, if incorporated in the Constitution, would give the power which is sought not to the Government or the Parliament but to a quorum of the Executive. The Government will have an army of snoopers and secret police. . In other words it will be a gestapo. The Government has alleged that its objective is merely to ban the Communist party. Naturally most people would agree to that and, unless the position is explained to them, they will shackle themselves with a constitutional provision the nature of which they will not have realized. Totalitarianism is very much alive in this country as it is alive in many other countries. Honorable members of the Opposition have been accused throughout this debate as they were accused throughout the last general election campaign, of being Communists, individually and collectively. The Minister for Labour and National
Service said that honorable members of the Opposition were defenders of Communists. Under a totalitarian system any opposition to the Government must be suppressed. Honorable members opposite must know that. I resent the charge that has been hurled at Labour people that they are defenders of communism. On the 4th October, 1948, when the present Prime Minister returned from overseas he addressed the Sydney Constitutional Association. The members of that association are the men who really govern the country. In that speech, the Prime Minister declared his admiration for Hitler’s dictatorship and his contempt for British democracy. The Prime Minister said -
Australians should realize that democracies have much to learn from other systems of government. Democracies cannot maintain their place in the world unless they are provided with leadership as inspiring as that of the dictator countries.
The Prime Minister has never denied that he made that statement. He believes in dictatorship. He has admitted it. After making the statement that I have quoted he went on to ask why Hitler was able to tear up the Treaty of Versailles and occupy Austria without firing a shot. He said -
If you and 1 were Germans sitting beside our own fire in Berlin we would not be critical of the leadership that produced such results.
– It is time that the security officers questioned him.
– They should have done so. In the course of his eulogy of the Nazi regime the Prime Minister did not mention the tapped telephone wires, the letters that were steamed open by the secret police, the displacement of priests and parsons for teaching that God was greater than Hitler and the floggings of the unionists in concentration camps. The German .pastor Niemoller who visited Australia after the war, told of thousands of “people who had been thrown into the concentration camps. Hundreds of thousands of people died in those camps. The Prime Minister said that that was a good system. Give him the power when he is. iri the saddle and, with the support of great industrial interests behind him, he will give us something like that system. Honor able members will recall the arrests that had to be made in Great Britain at the time when Sir Oswald Mosley’s fascists were active. They will recall how the great British industrial interests sent funds to Germany to support Hitler. They will remember how similar interests . in Germany crushed the trade unions. This move on the part of the Government is nothing new, and history will repeat itself. Honorable members opposite and their friends outside never learn from experience.
I tell people who say of fascism, “ It can’t happen here “, that it will happen here unless they are careful. The neo-fascists on the other side of the chamber have challenged me to go out and tell the people the facts. I challenge them to go out and tell the people the truth. Australia is a great democracy- and Australians do not want communism, f ascism or any other “ ism “. There is no difference between -them. I support democracy, and I consider that the Labour party is the only bulwark against totalitarianism in this country. Under Labour and democracy, the people can achieve the conditions of life that are their right. Honorable members opposite are trying to hand over the right of trial by jury to the control of politicians.
– And vile ones, too.
– Exactly. Honorable members opposite cannot get away from those facts. I take this matter very seriously. This bill is being hurriedly dealt with and is being supported by the press. It is supposed to be designed to deal with communism. If the Government knows that the Communists are conspiring against the country then I charge it with neglect for not having already taken action against them. My friend, the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) - he is my friend, and is a kindly man - who preceded me in the debate, said that the Communists support the Labour party. I think that he has been too long on that side of the House if he believes that statement to be true, because at heart he is a good and honest man and does not believe in totalitarianism. He said that the Communists had become strong because Labour was weak ; but the .’fact is that the Government is doing nothing about the real crisis that is facing this country. I refer, of course, to the inflation which is deliberately designed, by the great interests that support the Government, to produce chaos. When that chaos has been produced the Communists will come into their own. Do honorable gentlemen opposite want the conditions that existed during the depression to exist again in this country? Whether they do or not I charge them with neglect for not taking some action to prevent them.
The Commonwealth Statistician has issued some figures in relation to the unemployment position in 1933, that should be read and re-read as a warning to the people. He said -
At 30th June, 1933, there were 481,000 unemployed persons in Australia, of whom 289,000 had been out of work for at least one year and 222,000 for two years or more.
The population of the country at that time was about 6,000,000, and the great financial institutions would not help to alleviate the unemployment problem.
– The Scullin Government was in office at that time.
– But the anti-Labour forces had a majority in the Senate. Had they had a majority in both Houses, they would still have said that there was no money that could be used to help to put the people to work. The Commonwealth Statistician analysed the illuminating and .tragic figures that I have cited in this way -
Those figures include persons under 21 years nf age who were stated as unemployed but who had not stated their previous occupation. There were 23,000 of these, 15,000 of them being unemployed for at least one year and 10,000 for two years or more.
Those were the young people whom we used to see walking the roads. I live eighteen miles from a town but I used to see many of them on the roads. It was in those days that communism obtained its present hold in this country, because of the neglect of the Liberals of the day. The name liberals is a misnomer, because honorable gentlemen opposite are not Liberals but totalitarians. Thousands of these young men had never been employed-
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Bowden). - Order! The honorable gentleman must connect his remarks with the bill.
– I was merely illustrating the falsity of the allegation thai the weakness of the Labour party had helped communism to grow in this country. The reverse is true. The conditions that are shown to exist by the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures are the kind of conditions that the Communists want. The Commonwealth Statistician went on to say -
There were 1,276,000 breadwinners in receipt of an income of less than £1 per week <.mt of a total number of breadwinners of 3,156,000.
That is why communism grew, and why the Communists hate the Labour party and support the anti-Labour parties. We are the only bulwark between the retention of our form of democracy and its overthrow. [ say very definitely where I stand on this matter. I could say much more about it, hut I wish merely to make my position clear in reply to the insinuations that Labour party supporters have not the courage to come out and fight this totalitarian proposal under which a dangerous provision is to be written into the Constitution, if the people can be persuaded to accept it at a referendum. If the people accept the proposal they will learn their lesson the hard way, but it will then be too late. I shall do all I possibly can to induce them to hold fast to the liberties that we have now and to the British tradition of justice, and not to change them for a form of fascist tyranny.
– I wish to say only a few words in this very dreary debate. One would imagine that it would be quite unnecessary to defend this measure after what has gone before. After all, every element of true democracy is embodied in this bill. We need only take a very brief glance at the history of the bill to find that it contains the true elements of democracy.
– What is democracy?
– Democracy is government by the will of the people expressed through their elected representatives.
After all, we went to the people in 1949 with the definite promise that we should introduce certain legislation. Indeed, for some time prior to the 1949 general election the party to which I have the honour to belong had advocated certain action in respect of communism in this country. On the 10th November, 1949, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made, in the joint policy speech of the Liberal and Australian Country parties, a statement that will bear frequent repetition in the face of criticisms that have been made. He said -
Communism in Australia is an alien and destructive pest. If elected, we shall outlaw it. The Communist Party will be declared subversive and unlawful, and dissolved. A receiver will be appointed to deal with its assets. Subject to appeal, the AttorneyGeneral will be empowered to declare other bodies substantially Communist; to follow the party into any new form and attach illegality to that new association. No person now a member of the Communist party’ shall he employed or paid a fee by the Commonwealth; nor shall any such person be eligible for any i,mce in a registered industrial organization.
The Government was elected to office a month later. We know what happened after that. The Government ‘placed before this Parliament a bill to give effect to the promise that had been made. There was a desperate fight over that bill, as there is over the present measure, by honorable members opposite. They fought it tooth and nail. A split occurred in their ranks at that time, but ultimately, they voted for the measure in this House and in another place. Every honorable member opposite who has risen to oppose this measure did, in fact, vote for the substance of it when the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was before the Parliament in 1950. That fact should be remembered. The Communist Party Dissolution Act was challenged before the High Court and was invalidated. It is true, and not unfair, to say that one of the factors that contributed to its invalidation was the advocacy of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) before the High Court when he acted for and on behalf of, and was paid by, the Communists of this country. [Quorum formed.’] During the last general election the Government went before the people with the same policy, which was again endorsed. On that occasion the Prime Minister stated quite clearly that before the Government made any legislative move he would ask the States, which already possess the power sought by this measure, to delegate that power to the Commonwealth. Had the States delegated the power we should not have this measure before us to-day. But some of the States, notably the State of NewSou th Wales, vin der that very notable figure, Premier McGirr, saw fit to reject the Prime Minister’s request. We are now resorting to the means that we told the people we should resort to if the States refused to delegate the power. That is to say, we are placing the matter before the people by way of a referendum. Notwithstanding the fact that the Opposition on the last occasion did, in fact, vote for the substance of this bill its members now consider that they are on their feet again and are opposing the measure under the leadership of that champion of the Communists, the Leader of the Opposition, right on whose heels last night, as honorable members must have observed, followed the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). It was indicative of the division in the ranks of the Opposition that the honorable member for East Sydney should say that they must close their ranks and be united. Yet it will be remembered that he said that the Labour party was united on its attitude to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. I do not think that honorable members opposite are united yet. As a matter of fact, there are notable absences from the chamber to-day. I should like to hear a speech by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens), or, indeed, from the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell).
There is no doubt that communism is causing great destruction in this country that we all love so well. The ravages of communism have eaten deeply into our economic body. There is no doubt that the people at last need no further convincing that the Communist party and the Australian Communists intend to destroy our way of life and even to destroy Australia. To the present time Communists have directly caused this country hundreds of millions of pounds worth of damage in lost production. They have contributed greatly to the rising spiral of the cost of living. However, what is- more important than that is the terrible effect they are having upon some of our young people. They are teaching them this evil philosophy that we are trying to combat.
There is no doubt in our minds that the Australian Communist is tied up with international communism. I realize that many of the Communists do not understand why they are tied up, or what they are really doing, but the key men know what they are doing because they are acting under instructions from a foreign power. That can be proved by the fact that the Australian Communist party was represented at a conference held in Peking during November, 1949. That conference was called by Soviet Russia in order to sell out Australia to that country. Every honorable member of this House knows that what I say is the truth. The conference was called ostensibly by the Pan-Pacific Secretariat of the World Federation of Trades Unions, which is the organization through which the Soviet Union organizes its activities in Asia. At that conference the Australian Communist party was represented by a man who went under the alias of Fox, but whom we know very well as the secretary of one of the Australian key unions that is under Commu-nist control. The purpose of that conference was neither industrial nor political; it was purely military. That is very serious to contemplate. The leading figures at that conference were’ representatives of the Russian general staff, and the purpose of their attendance was to give instructions to the Communist parties that operate in the countries that, adjoin the Pacific Ocean as to the part that they should play in the Soviet military drive in that area. The pattern of the Russian general staff was clear. The Soviet having acquired China through the* agency of the Chinese Red Army, proposed to waste no time in consolidating its gains. The immediate order to the Communist parties- at that conference at Peking was that they should drive southward using China as a base, and achieve the military conquest of all countries in South-East Asia before the British and Americans had had time to organize military
Mr. Cromer. resistance in those countries against the Communist drive. Since those aims were published we know that certain things have come to pass.
In addition to that, we know what effect the Communists have had upon coal production in Australia, upon which our great steel industry is dependent. I remind the House that the Prime Minister referred, in his second-reading speech, to the matter of electric power, which is in such seriously short supply in this country. The Communists are closely involved in the cause of that shortage. I shall read to the House from a small paper published by a band of Communists at our famous Bunnerong power station. It is called Workers’ Power. Honorable members can see it if they wish to do so. It is printed by a man called Ogston, who is a Communist well known to the New South Wales Labour party. An article in that paper reads -
The Anti-Communist Act introduced by Menzies is the foulest attack ever made against the Australian people. It is intended to shackle the trade unions by allowing only union members acceptable to Menzies to remain in office.
The article went on in these terms to say that the act will be fought outside the Parliament -
Outside Parliament the defeat of the bill rests in the hands of ordinary workers of factory, field, mine and office. Workers of Bunnerong! Show Menzies you refuse to march to your own funeral. The Communist party, with the support of every fair-minded Australian citizen, will fight this’ bill in the courts, the press, and in the street - in legality or illegality.
I direct the attention of honorable members te the last part of that quotation which is very plainly printed. The article continued -
Long live Australian democracy! . . . Long, live- the liberties andi heritage of the Australian. Labour movement!
That shows how the Communists are operating in the key economic positionsof this country. Surely that is definite proof of the treacherous actions of these Communists. The people know all about the Communists now, and so do honorable members of the Labour party. As a matter of fact one’ has only to refer to the expressions of opinion, of honorable members opposite’ during the great coal strike of 1949 to realize that. I. desire to quote a few of their comments, which are interesting and appropriate at this particular time. Mr. Cahill, Deputy Premier of New South Wales, said -
It is part of a world-wide cold war being waged in every democratic country. . . . The Communists were allowed to get control of the coal-fields because members ‘ of the Labour party were willing to sit down and do nothing about it.
Senator Ashley, who was Minister for Fuel and Shipping in the last Chifley Government, said -
The Communist leaders are trying to implement a foreign power’s policy. . . . This U a struggle against constitutional government.
I ask’ honorable members whether those sentiments can be correlated with the sentiments expressed by honorable members opposite about the measure now before the House. The honorable member for Melbourne said during the coal strike of 1949-
We will use all the resources of the country against them. … I speak for 95 per cent, of the people of Australia. Only the stars are neutral in this fight. . . . It is a Communist conspiracy. . . . We will smash this strike first and deal with these things afterwards. . . .’ If it is left to me, into a concentration camp they go.
The late Mr. Chifley said at that time -
The whole economic and social life of Australia is approaching complete disruption. . . I hesitate to believe that any citizens could plan deliberately for the holding up of the life of the community. But that is what has happened. … As my colleague, Dr. Evatt, has ‘said, it strikes at the very fabric of society. . . . The law of the jungle is the Communist’s creed.
Those words are violent, hut unfortunately they are true. But, how do those words conform with what Opposition speakers have said during the debate on this measure? When their remarks during the coal strike are compared with their remarks on this bill the comparison does not make sense. There is nothing in this bill to which any reasonable Australian could take any common sense objection. It is a simple measure designed to deal with a problem by which we all are affected at present. It is designed to give power to the Parliament to legislate against Communists or communism. That is quite plain and simple.
It legalizes the 1950 act, of which I have been speaking, which in its turn was designed to control the Communist party. I do not think that any honorable member opposite could really object to this bill. Removal of Communists from the Public Service is certainly not a wrong objective, nor is it wrong to remove the Communist wreckers from the control of the important trade unions. The measure especially provides that trade unions cannot be “ declared “ under this measure. Surely that is a fair provision. It seems to be a plain and common sense measure and there is no valid objection to it at all. In fact, we should not be wasting the time of the House in debating it. It is clear that this bill asks that only Communists may be declared, and then only if five highly placed citizens of undoubted reputation have already investigated their activities and decided whether or not they should be declared.
A lot of nonsense has been heard about the onus of proof. In the unlikely event of a man being declared mistakenly, he would only have to go into the witness box and give evidence on oath, when immediately the onus of proof would shift to the Crown. Is there anything wrong with that? Such a provision. is to be found over and over again in our legislation. There is nothing unusual or unfair about it. Therefore, the Opposition cannot possibly be serious in what it has said about this measure. I should lose a lot of the respect that I have for honorable members opposite if I thought that they were serious in their opposition to the bill. I am willing to gamble that not many of them have their hearts in the job of opposing it. In any event, what are the stated grounds of their opposition? Surely they are only endeavouring to use legal jargon to scare honest anti-Communist unions. There is no foundation at all for the fear that they are trying to inculcate in the minds of unionists. There is no intention on the part of the Government to attack unionists. Perhaps their argument is a spurious plea on behalf of some professors or lawyers or other members of the intelligentsia who have some technical ground for objection. The Australian people will not be worried about such technicalities. They see clearly the common sense in this proposal, and we can trust them to deal in a proper fashion with it at the proposed referendum.
The Leader of the Opposition insisted last night that a basic freedom was the freedom to express a political philosophy. He still refers to communism as a political philosophy. He asked whether communism was the only evil under the sun. No one suggests that it is, but it is certainly one of the greatest evils in this country, and in every other country of the world. But the right honorable gentleman can not see that it is an evil at all. He said that the court should punish for crimes committed, but never for ideals or ideas. That sentiment was repeated to-day by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey). The honorable member might just as well try to justify himself by defending a bushranger or any other criminal because he had an idea that he should do a certain thing. The suggestion by the Opposition that the Crimes Act contains sufficient powers to deal with Communists is a lot of bunkum. The Crimes Act is capable only of dealing with these people after they have committed a crime. It does not permit us to proceed against them for what we anticipate they propose to do. We do not have to be unfair in order to anticipate that, because we know what they intend to do and know also that they have a world-wide tie-up. The inconsistencies of the Labour party in regard to this matter annoy me. Honorable gentlemen opposite have urged repeatedly that the’ Commonwealth should have complete sovereign power, but they make an exception of the Communists. They say that we must not touch the Communists.
I say that those who oppose this bill should be ashamed of themselves as Australian citizens. If we cannot deal with communism, what will happen to us? Everybody knows that there is in the world to-day’ a sharp division between those who support communism and . those who support the democratic nations. Everybody must make up his mind as to which side he is on. There is no middle course. Australia is a young country that is now attempting to develop itself. It is surrounded by countries that contain one half of the world’s population - coun- tries that are trying to determine what way of life they shall adopt in future, and most of which are being subjected to pressure by Russia. As an outpost of the British Empire, we must try to preserve the things that are British in this country. Our democratic way of life must be protected. We shall not be able to develop this country properly unless we eradicate the dreadful evil that is in our midst. We cannot afford to take risks. We must stand united as a people, recognize what communism stands for and fight it tooth and nail. I urge the good Labour men on the other side of the chamber who, in their hearts, do not want to oppose this bill, to try to influence the people of this country in the right way. There is no doubt that the people will be guided by some of them. Others-
– Will mislead the people.
– There is no doubt, about that. This will be the last chance that the Australian people will have to deal effectively and quickly with the Communist menace. We have already lost too much time. During almost the whole of the time that I have been a member of this Parliament, the Government has been fighting to pass legislation to deal with communism, but the matter is still unresolved. Surely the people of Australia will not permit the Communist Party Dissolution , Act to be mutilated to such a degree that it will be an ineffective measure. It is important that the Constitution should be altered to enable the act to become operative. That. issue will be placed fairly before the Australian people, who are the masters of their own destiny. They will be given an opportunity to say whether they agree with the methods that the Government proposes shall be adopted to fight Communists in this country. They will be able to. make their decision without interference by courts or other bodies. I believe that the referendum will be carried by an overwhelming majority in every State of the Commonwealth.
.- As I listened to the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) climbing the laborious platitudes of his own Matterhorn, I wondered whether the Government had come to the end of its tether in regard to logical argument upon this measure. The honorable gentleman, with all the grace and charm of a real estate agent trying to sell a cottage built on a swamp, tried to sell something to us that waa completely phoney.
– Do not be dirty.
– Apparently I have stirred the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) to his very boots. I hope to be able to continue the job. I have been forced to my feet by the arrant inconsistent nonsense that has been fired at us from the other side of the chamber for hour after hour. With all the robustness of a prime rotarian, the honorable member for Bennelong talked a lot of nonsense about the bill. If is apparent that he does not know anything about it except that which he has skimmed from leading articles in the Sydney Morning Herald– & very meagre feast for a man of his size and a very thin meal for a politician. We have grown tired qf being charged with being supporters of communism.
– So you are.
– One of the apprentices on the Government benches has said, “ So you are “. He will know a little later what he is. He has not yet made up his mind what he is, and I am not sure about it either.
– The honorable member for Parkes must address the Chair.
– If I am not provoked I shall be delighted to have a quiet tete-a-tete with you on this matter, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker. The validity of the charge that the Labour party has Communist affiliations was “ blown out “ long ago. Immediately after the last general election, those who were loudest in miscalling us said that what they had alleged was not true, and that it was all a terrible mistake. If we trace the history of the dispute between us in regard to communism, we shall see that the contest relates only to the way in which communism should be combated, but the Labour party has been smeared and miscalled because it has advanced a point ofview upon the matter that is different from the Government’s point of view. That is the beginning of neo-fascism, the malady that is infecting the Government. At one time a debate upon this matter could be conducted in an orderly manner, but to-day we receive nothing but abuse. The mealy-mouthed moron from Mackellar
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order! It is completely. out of order to refer to an honorable member as a moron. The remark must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw and apologize. .The remark was uttered in the heat of the moment. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) muddied the record last night when he made statements regarding what had been said in this chamber and in the High Court about a certain case. Contemptuously, he tried to mislead the House. I do not like to say this while the honorable gentleman is sleeping. He has his back turned to me and he is lost in slumber. From my point of view that is the best position in which I have ever seen him. I am sorry to disturb his slumbers, but I must say that the statements that he made about the Devanny case were unfair and inaccurate. He read just enough to tickle the ears of the groundlings. He read from a book here and a book there, and he twirled round in a positive frenzy of denunciation. I sometimes wonder why he has been given a seat against the wall of this chamber. If he is not careful, one day he will go through the wall in an excess of devotion to his cause and denunciation of the Communists, whom he believes have this country by the throat. The honorable gentleman attempts, by divers means, to carry on a personal and merciless vendetta against the Leader of the Opposition . (Dr. Evatt). The clenching of his teeth and the rolling of his eyes lead me to wonder whether he is actuated by something more than honest anger. Perhaps he is a devotee of the Leader of the Opposition who must engender a love-hatred complex before he can reveal his admiration. There is no common sense or logic in the honorable gentleman’s arguments. All that he does is to throw himself from place to place in a manner that is most alarming to honorable gentlemen on this side of the House, who can fee what he is doing. The members of the Government parties are in a much better position than we are in that regard.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) is usually a placid individual. He is known, or is attempting to become known, in the trade unions as a good fellow who is prepared to go their way to some degree. Last night, the Minister indulged in a frenzy of denunciation. He made some startling statements about the Leader .of the Opposition and the alleged devotion of honorable members on this side of. the House to the Communist cause. If we cannot have a calm discussion about the best way in which to achieve a certain objective and then vote on the matter, democracy no longer exists in this country. We know that the Government is hoist on its own petard. It has a glorious, almost delirious, obsession about communism. That obsession has enabled it to win elections, but those elections have been won at too high a price. One day, the bill will have to be paid.
If one cared to undertake the rather horrible task of wading through Hansard, one would find that, only two years ago, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was a libertarian of the old school and a Disraeli Liberal. “Let the Communists carry on “, he would say then in his mellifluous voice, “ We shall deal with them through the ordinary processes of law “. But his trip to America resulted, not only in a change of scene but also in a political change. When he returned to this country from America, he was a ferocious and dogged fighter against communism. Perhaps his change of attitude had something to do with American financial assistance, because the Americans want to fight communism and say quite openly that they will provide the sinews of war for any country that does so. We must be careful lest we destroy democracy here.
The case of the Labour party and of the ordinary man upon this matter is a simple one. We believe that an alteration of the Constitution in a manner suggested by the Government would destroy the decencies of the Constitution. We do not deny that Communists must be controlled in some way if they engage in subversive activities or foment strikes and struggles that cause distress for the people of this country. If they do those things, by all means let us deal with them as ruggedly, toughly and honestly as the Chifley Government dealt with them in 1949. The honorable member for Bennelong referred to what the Labour party said at that time. It still stands. I remind honorable gentlemen, opposite that the 1949 general coal strike was resolved democratically by the use only of the industrial power in the Constitution. I ask those of’ them who are still capable of thinking about this matter from an angle other than the propaganda angle to say what they consider should be done if a strike occurred on the coal-fields, if there was no evidence that it had been instigated by known Communists and if it was apparently an ordinary industrial upheaval. In 1949, the Chifley Government, in order to get the coal-miners back to work and save the nation from disaster and chaos, used the industrial power in the Constitution.
It is poppycock to suggest that the Constitution should he altered to enable a name to be banned. We have heard speeches made in this chamber about the reverence and devotion that we should pay to the founding fathers, the men who gave us our Constitution. Let me remind the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), who is a lawyer, that the Constitution “confers upon the Commonwealth Parliament not specific powers but authority to act under certain heads of power. The Constitution has endured for 50 years. We are in the process of celebrating the jubilee of federation. Governments have gone to the country and asked for alterations of the Constitution that they considered would be useful, but never has a leader of a government, whether he was a demented lawyer or not, gone to the country and asked that the Constitution be altered to enable a name to be banned. It is one thing to suggest that the Constitution be altered’ to give to the Commonwealth Parliament wider powers in respect of defence, health, social services and conditions of ‘ employment, but to delude the people, batter them with words, and spend hundreds of thousands of pounds upon propaganda in support of a referendum designed to give to the Commonwealth power to ban the Communists by naming them specifically in the Constitution is a negation of all the principles upon which the Constitution is based.
The Prime Minister, although he is rapidly losing many of his graces, had the grace to say that the proposal is unique, it is more than unique; it is laughable. Honorable members who are constitutional lawyers must deplore the fact that the Government is asking the people in the heat of debate whether this or that is the best way to deal with the Communists. And the Government is to ask for such power under a name. Let us suppose that the Communists by one of those miracles of the years should become our allies just as the Japanese are now to be treated as our allies under the proposed peace treaty, what would the Government do then? But, as the poet says, “Time brings changes, no more than changes of time”. The Government is not making a valid approach to this problem. It has brought forward this proposal because of frustration of its own causing. It is prepared to raise bogies, to indulge in torchlight processions and to resort to other practices that are evidence of the fascist mind. The attitude of the Government is no longer one of debating the matter on a logical basis but one of catcalling and miscalling members of the Opposition. Ministers have claimed that there are Communists in the Australian Labour party. I say to the- supporters of the Govern* ment that any changes of heart, or head, in that respect have been the outcome of the genuine anxiety of the Australian Labour party, which eventually will be entrusted with the task of informing at least that half of the people who support it at every general election about the valid reasons for and against these proposals. On the otherhand, the Government’s sole aim is to divide the people. No doubt it will indulge in rabble-rousing on the street corners and in the newspapers. Those tactics will not be good from the viewpoint of any party.
The honorable member for Bennelong made an interesting admission. In effect, he said that he wanted thought control. Briefly, he contended that whilst it might be all right for the Opposition to point out the dangers inherent in the bill, the Government was justified in seeking this power so that it would be available when the necessity arose to use it. The Government should enlist the services of the Kempei Tai, the Japanese police who are thoroughly experienced in thought control. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that all the democracies’ have decided that this is not the right way to deal with communism. Why does not the Government consider the force of the example of other governments that understand this menace and are dealing with it effectively? First, we have the example that has been set by the Americans. The United States of America recognized the necessity to do something. It enacted the Smith Act, to which several honorable members referred during the debate last night. That act makes provision for legal processes and under it the Government must prove that alleged offenders have done wrong. Eugene Dennis, John Williamson and their colleagues were prosecuted and the judgments of the justices who dealt with the case support the stand that the Leader of the Opposition has taken in respect of this measure. The Americans have pointed out that a witch hunt is going on throughout the world. If people on every street corner have time to talk about communism as well as about the shortage of butter arid the misdeeds of the Government, the Government itself is to blame for such neurotic chatter because it has exaggerated the danger of communism in order to gain party political advantages. The Government has- attributed all our troubles to the Communists. There may come a time when its actions will rebound upon itself should it remain in office long enough to be made pay for its misdeeds.
In this debate supporters of the Government have done nothing but charge members of the Opposition with being Communists and Communist supporters. This measure does not propose a genuine alteration of the Constitution, because under it the Government merely seeks to ban a name. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who is recognized as an expert on industrial law and industrial management, pointed to the significant fact that by - banning a party the
Government will merely send it underground, just as the pruning of a plant stimulates its growth underground. We had examples of that fact during the recent war when Communists were banned in fascist countries and went underground. When they were also banned by the fascist victors in democratic countries and went underground they did magnificent work against the occupation forces. The Government is merely banning Communists with bell, book and candle and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that at some time in the future the Communists may rise up to fight it, or any other government, that drives them underground. We know that when the Communists were proscribed in Europe during the war their activities’ progressed. What happened? The legal man, the professor, the schoolteacher, the intellectual Communist is now integrated into world communism and gets his orders direct. He does not mingle with trade unionists but is able to move freely and to carry on his work unhindered.
I shall be proud as a democrat to put the issue clearly before the people and to urge them to reject the Government’s proposal because this measure is fraught with danger to the Australian democracy. Such easy formulas as the Government propounds can be fatal to the delicate plant of democracy in times of stress and anxiety. It is obvious to the average worker that this measure is aimed at the trade unions. If that were not so, why the protestations of the Prime Minister that the Government is not after the militant unionist? Whom is it after? When the Communists have been proscribed they will disappear, but others will cause disturbances of some sort. That is only to be expected in a world that is far from perfect and in conditions under which workers are obliged to struggle for recognition of their industrial rights. What will the Government do in circumstances of that kind ? Will it go back to its first frustration? Will it have recourse to th, Crimes Act, the industrial provisions of which, according to the Prime Minister, do not adequately empower the Government to act? It should follow the example that the Chifley Government set when that Government effectively dealt with an open conspiracy against the State.
The Government displays the neuroticsymptoms of an immature mind. It merely says that what it proposes to do is the best that can be done in the interests of the country and that when its proposals are accepted every one in the community will live at peace with one another and production will automatically rise. Supporters of the Government do not realize that they must go deeper than that. It is absurd for them to think tha all our troubles on the coal-fields and on the waterfront have been caused by persons who do not constitute one-half of 1 per cent, of the people of this country. We have heard honorable members opposite babbling about the loss of coal production, but last year coal production was the highest recorded in the history of the industry, whilst on the waterfront it has now been shown that the slow turn-round of ships has been due mainly to the stupidity of the shipowners. Recently, even the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board had to haul shipowners before it for leaving their ships in midstream and failing to berth them at a time when workers were waiting on the wharfs to load or unload them. Now we are beginning to find out who the real saboteurs in the shipping industry are. History shows that the worst exploitation of the workers takes place on the coal-fields and the waterfront and in the shipping industry. The Government’s idea that it can remedy all industrial trouble, which is a legacy of laisser-faire capitalism, merely by indulging in lordly gestures such as those in which the Prime. Minister indulged, is absurd. Its chickens will come home to roost in increasing numbers. By evading one responsibility, it will bring another thousand down upon its head.
We should endeavour to get down to a genuine democratic discussion of the issues that arise under this measure. I regret that supporters of the Government have done nothing but miscall Opposition members Communists even when they know such statements to be untrue. If honorable members opposite were prepared to present tangible propositions, the Opposition would have no difficulty in persuading them that the Government has plenty to lose by introducing this measure. I warn them that they take dangerous risks if they think that these proposals will ensure the preservation of democracy.* But rather than get down to the facts they prefer to indulge in vapid nonsense and vague generalities about communism. Most of their utterances are the ramblings of persons who are politically immature, who have floated into this House on the flood tide and will be lost in the high seas of forgetfulness when that tide recedes. We differ from the Government about what are the best methods with which to deal with communism. Honorable members opposite may be authorities on bow ties, the cut of a tuxedo and the pressing of pants, but in respect of industrial knowledge and of how industry should be managed we are .better authorities because we represent the workers and have graduated in the hard school of experience. Government supporters have set their feet upon a stupid path in this matter. They may consider it to be a good idea to frighten people with oldfashioned bogies. In the early days of the Sydney Bulletin, non-La’bour parties raised the bogy of socialism and later they produced the “ red “ bogy and the Industrial Workers of the World bogy. To-day, they have resurrected the “ red “ bogy and have given it a set of teeth in order to terrify the old ladies of both sexes who do not know anything about politics but vote more often for antiLabour candidates than for Labour candidates.
I emphasize that there must be a realinement of thought in this House. The people have had enough of the infantile nonsense that we have heard from honorable members opposite. If supporters of the Government want to abolish democracy, why do they not say so and ride roughshod in fascist style over the people ? I notice a few incipient fascists among honorable members opposite. While we are here we are determined to present oar viewpoint. The Australian Labour party has no time for communism. We believe that communism arose from the rottenness that is inherent in capitalism. Therefore, it must be placed at the door of the Liberal party. Hence, it is not astonishing that the Prime Minister should indicate, with a Marie Antoinette gesture, that he wants it to be taken out of view. Such an attitude is stupid. The Government proposes under another measure that is awaiting consideration by the Parliament to ask the people to make sacrifices. Wc have been told that we are passing through a testing time. Is it a fact that because American money is being paid to a political party the Government must seek willy-nilly to ban all Communists, regardless of the individual degree of responsibility? The Prime Minister said that this was a matter for legal decision. Should not the Government therefore abide by the decision of the High Court? It is not suggested that the court is a third chamber to which the Government should go for a political decision. Is it not a fact that the Government has decided to submit this proposal to a referendum because it has failed to ram its views down the throat of the High Court? That is all right. We agree with it. We are delighted that the Government wishes to submit this proposal to the people <by way of a referendum, but we hope that it will be put to them in a fair manner. Hysterical, rabble-rousing announcements about what the Communists can and cannot do are disgraceful, in view of the fact that they are held firmly in check in this country, except in some unions, not by the forces of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, but by the forces of the Labour movement. When the Government seeks to destroy the Communists, it will be compelled to call on the Labour movement for assistance, because Ministers are the veriest amateurs who are trying to do a man’s job.
The industrial battle provides evidence of the practical method that has been adopted by the Labour movement to combat Communists and communism. We realize the difficulties of the struggle, and that we must be patient in it. We were set an example in that respect by our departed leader, the late Mr. Chifley. Tolerance almost to breaking point is required, but when the nation is assailed and there is a real danger to the economy, swift and merciless action must be taken. But the Government moves uneasily from one foot to the other foot, and every day thinks of new ideas for combating the Communists. The only way in which it’ can supplement its arguments about the best method of dealing with the Communists is to hasten to incorporate its proposal in the Constitution, and then, as it were, shut down the lid. Such methods will not succeed. The Communist party will change its name, but its determination to give effect to its policy will not be altered. The Labour party will fight the Communists in the trade unions that they control, and the Government will be forced to depend upon that party to carry on that struggle.
I take the matter a step further and query, if that is permissible, the silence of the Government upon another aspect of communism, which cannot be touched by the Communist Party Dissolution Act. The known Communists are the leaders of some unions, and may be members of some unions, and they will be affected if the Government is able to take action against them under that act. The little inoffensive set-up that Stalin has arranged is the counterpoise to the real work that is done by the atomic scientists and literary men who write the Communist propaganda. Such persons will be immune from the provisions of the Communist Party Dissolution Act, because they cannot be found. They do not wear the tag “ Communist” on their lapels, and they will be able to carry on their insidious work. A book entitled A God That Failed is the story of Communists who, after having experienced life in Russia and associated with the top Communists, have repudiated the Communist doctrine. Every honorable member should read that book in order to learn about the source of the real strength of Communists.
It is a pose now to speak of industrial action. Communist leaders no longer talk of armed revolution. They manage to weaken the position of the country by intrigue, and by the stoppages which the “ stooges “ in the Communist-controlled unions are able to cause. But the real mechanics of revolution a la Stalin and Lenin are conducted by the intelligentsia. The Prime Minister will not be able to take action against lawyers, churchmen and literateurs. A few unionists who do not know whether or not they are Communists, who have been frustrated all their lives in battling for a living, and who have been pushed from pillar to post, will be affected. This eminent man of law and respectability will push them out of existence in his efforts to dissolve the Communist party. The whole idea is too ridiculous to merit serious consideration.
I am proud to be able to state to this House, and, if necessary, I shall restate it in my electorate, that I cannot support the Government’s proposal for combating the Communists because it is a negation of democracy. I shall oppose any government that has not the courage to find in the wide legal powers at its disposal sufficient authority to enable it to deal with the Communists. It is completely foolish to say that the Government lacks legal strength to enable it to take the requisite action, because it has not even attempted to do so. It wishes to do something spectacular which will make six-inch headlines in the press such as, “ The Comms Are Banned “. Of course, the Communist party will not really be banned at all.
Those are the dangers of the Government’s policy. If the Government were sincere, it would get back onto the right road and examine the position in the democracies in Europe and Great Britain. Slowly, by constitutional means, those Governments are combating the Communists. They are making democracy live, and thus communism dies, because the democratic way of life and communism are incompatible. Those governments eschew for all time the idea that the thoughts of men must be controlled. Yet this Government proposes that the name of a person who has been declared a Communist shall be published in the Gazette, even before he has had an opportunity to defend himself.
The final negation of democracy - the bitter and horrible absurdity - is that the Executive Council, in which three Ministers constitute a quorum, will decide whether a man shall be declared a Communist, even before he has performed any overt act, as the lawyers say. The position will be that four or five Ministers will be the generalissimos of thought control.
Such a situation is too futile and silly. I urge the Government to go back to the democratic processes and to the existing law. There are many lawyers in the ranks of the Government, although I mention, in passing, that they have been lamentable in performance lately. Let them endeavour to find whether the founding fathers of the federation have provided a formula for dealing with a menace in the community.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who has just resumed his seat, unwittingly gave the House a number of reasons why the electors iii 1949, and again this year, kept the Labour party out of office in this Parliament. The previous Labour Government did not take any action to save the people from their enemies. Every effort that has been made by the present Government to halt the spread of communism and to check the activities of Communists in Australia has been frustrated by the Labour party. Opposition members originally opposed the Communist Party Dissolution Bill in the Parliament, although had they voted according to the dictates of their consciences they would have supported it. However, they had to- bow to the dictates of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party. The president of that body has openly ‘ boasted to the press that members of the Labour party had been earlier instructed to oppose this hill, then, later, to permit it to pass, for they feared a double dissolution.
The principal grounds on which honorable members opposite base their opposition to the referendum proposal is that the Government wishes to ask the people to consent to the incorporation in the Constitution of power to enable the Parliament to make a law in the terms of the Communist Party Dissolution Act, which was declared invalid by the High Court of Australia. Opposition members are in an invidious position in that respect, because the federal executive pf the Labour party, in a complete volte face last year, instructed them to withdraw their opposition to that legislation.
The people gave the Government a mandate in 1949, and renewed it this year, to combat the activities of the Communists in this country, but their will cannot be given effect because of the lack of constitutional power. In the meantime, the Communists continue to commit sets of sabotage against this country.
I shall deal more directly with the provisions of this bill than the honorable member for Parkes has done. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and his followers, including the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), noisily claim that the Government wishes to create new powers in order that it will be able to combat the Communists. Such an assertion is not correct. We are still one people, and no new power is to be created. All that the Government asks is that such power, which is held by the people through the medium of the State parliaments, be vested also in the Parliament oi the Commonwealth. Therefore, when the Leader of the Opposition screams to this House that similar legislation has not been introduced in any other British country for more than 100 years, or has not been written into their constitutions, he overlooks the fact that most British countries, like Britain itself, have no constitution, and the complete power of the people is held in one parliament, not in several as is the case in Australia.
The wise men who drafted the Australian Constitution more than 50 years ago decided that certain powers should be vested in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. At that time, the Communist menace was not known. The Czars generally confined their activities within the boundaries of Russia, and used their own subjects as serfs and tools to do their bidding, in carrying their imperialist policies. The fathers of federation had no idea that an Australian government in 1951 would be compelled to combat the activities of agents of Communist Russia, who are enemies and traitors within this country and who seek to prepare for our downfall in order to receive the enemy from without. The whole position is- too serious to be dealt with as the honorable member for Parkes has attempted to deal with it.
The Government merely proposes to ask the people of Australia to vest in the Parliament of the Commonwealth powers which the six States cannot use for the general good. That is one method by which the safety of Australia may be ensured against the traitors within. The Government is only using its constitutional right to submit to the people, by way of a referendum, a proposal for combating the Communist party and communism. The people, not this Parliament or the federal executive of the Labour party, are to be given an opportunity to say whether the Government shall have such powers to fight the Communists. If the referendum is defeated, I do not know how we shall be able to deal with the conspiracy in our industries and institutions that is supported and fanned by sympathizers within the Labour party and Labour organizations.
The Leader of the Opposition has claimed that Communists cannot join the Labour party. Yet it is evident that Communists control those persons who control the Labour party. For instance, the Queensland Trades and Labour Council boasts that it controls ten unions in that State, and the president and secretary of that body are avowed and bitter Communists. Their voices are heard and their influence is felt throughout the Labour movement to such a degree that they are able to dominate any move that is suggested to combat the activities of the Communists. I am not one who believes, or even dreams, that the powers which the Government will ask the people to confer upon this Parliament will be sufficient to defeat the Communists in this country, but at least this is a step in the right direction.
The Menzies Government banned the Communist party shortly after the outbreak of World War II., and despite the activities of a Communist underground movement, Australian industry enjoyed a comparatively peaceful period. The Curtin Labour Government, almost Immediately upon having assumed office, released the Communists when they promised to refrain from committing acts of treachery against Australia. Of course, those men did not keep their promise. As soon as they had regained their freedom, they resumed their acts of treachery. Despite all that has been said by Opposition members, I believe that the people will understand with perfect clarity the proposal that the Government will submit to them by way of referendum. It is considered that 70 per cent, of the electors will vote in favour of the referendum proposal.
– From what source did the honorable gentleman obtain that information 1
– It was the result of a Gallup poll.
– It is propaganda, and wishful thinking.
– The opposition of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) to this bill is propaganda, which is copied from the journals of Communists in Australia, and repeated upon every possible occasion by such gentlemen as the honorable member for East Sydney, who claim that this measure is fascist in character.
– So it is.
– Such a statement is made by speakers from every Communist platform in Australia, and is published in every Communist leaflet. The Communists hatch such ideas-
– Back to the old day of ‘ the squatter.
– The honorable gentleman has never been guilty of hatching anything.
– Not even an idea.
-Order! I ask the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) to ignore interjections.
– Opposition members have attacked the provision in the Communist Party Dissolution Act under which the onus was to have been placed upon a declared person of proving that he was not a Communist. This was to have applied only if he would not give evidence on oath. Honorable gentlemen opposite are inconsistent. More than a score of the regulations that were promulgated by the Labour Government under the National Security Act during World War II. placed upon an accused person the onus of proving his innocence.
A similar provision appears in the British Merchant Shipping Act and in acts that have been administered for 39 years by Labour governments in Queensland. The Leader of the Opposition, when he was the Attorney-General, administered regulations in which such a provision occurred. He used his power vengefully when he had members of the Australia First Movement taken from their homes in Western Australia and in Sydney and thrown into gaol without having charges laid against them.
– They were traitors.
– There are no greater traitors than the Communists. Surely the honorable member, who believes that traitors should be dealt with in that way, will not say that men like Healy are not traitors. Members of the Australia First Movement were kept in prison for years. Mr. Stephenson was not given an opportunity to regain his freedom, and other members were not released even though they were permitted to lodge appeals. Their offence was that a leader was supposed to have said something against the Labour party. It is of no use for members of the Opposition to say that the Government has prepared some terrible monster to ruin the trade union movement, because the Communist Party Dissolution Act provided for the ruin of their Communist control.
The Leader of the Opposition has said that the Labour party is opposed to the banning of a. political party. It is* strange to hear that the Communist organization is a political party. In fact, it is nothing of the sort. It is a conspiracy directed from a foreign country, where the masters of the conspirators dictate their actions. It cannot be described accurately as a political party when its candidates are the only Russian citizens who are permitted to submit themselves for election. Only bogus elections are held in Russia, and only one party can be represented. How, then, can the Communist party be a political party? ft is ridiculous for Labour to protest that it is opposed to the banning, of a political party when the Government is seeking instead to gain power to deal with a conspiracy. Honorable members opposite have said that they do not believe in the suppression of their opponents. They have made that fact abundantly clear by their determination not to assist the Government’s efforts to provide for national defence. The activities of these traitors, and their bosses on the other side of the world, are causing agitation in every democratic country. Yet the honorable member for Parkes said that we have no cause for fear. Such statements contradict the declarations of leaders of political parties in other countries. For instance, the Labour Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, said in London recently that the United Kingdom’s big rearmament programme would require sacrifice and effort not only from the country as a whole but also from people in all walks of life. He reaffirmed his belief that war was .not inevitable but warned his audience that Russia’s actions showed clearly the danger in which democracy stood with insufficient forces. Russia had 175 active divisions with artillery, 25,000 tanks, and 2,800,000 men under arms, a total which could be doubled on mobilization. It also had nearly 20,000 aircraft and the world’s largest submarine fleet. Yet it had been threatened by nobody, he said. Mr. Churchill asserted recently that a real defence for Europe and the British Empire must be established in the shortest possible time. Great Britain and the United States must send large forces to the Continent. “ The danger is with us now “, he said.
In the light of such statements, it is stupid for honorable members opposite to declare that the governments of all democratic countries are fighting against the octopus of communism without any real reason and that they have been misinformed or are misjudging the position. Facts contradict the arguments that the Labour party has adduced in its efforts to justify its obstruction of the Government’s attempt to eliminate Communist influence from our midst and, at the same time, to strengthen our national defences adequately, to develop vital industries and to increase production. We are in imminent danger. Communism flourished for years under a Labour administration. Communist sympathizers within the Labour movement will not allow those members of the party who hate communism to express their views on the subject in this Parliament. Some of them, whom we know to be opposed to communism, have not shown their faces in this chamber during this debate. Our enemies agitate day and night to increase the cost of living so as to cause despondency amongst the people. They oppose the Government’s defence preparations in every way, using disruptive tactics in industry and a go-slow policy on the wharfs. They have enlisted the aid ‘ sympathizers on the waterfront and have imposed their will upon many other workers by threats. They have won a few sympathizers among the Labour leaders in this Parliament and) in some of the trade unions, and they make use of them for the purpose of misrepresenting legislation that the Government has prepared for the protection of Australia and the development of its industries. While they are pursuing their nefarious ends in Australia, their friends on the other side of the world are amassing arms with the object of overrunning the whole world. They plan to extend their influence, by armed force if necessary, even as far as this fair land. I trust that the people will agree to extend the powers that argoon f erred on this Parliament by the Constitution so that the Government will be able to defend Australia against the attacks of its enemies. The people have the right to determine who shall exercise those powers in their interest. At the referendum we shall ask them merely to express their choice.
.- The nature of this bill places upon every honorable member the duty of saying what he really believes about the issues that it involves and, accordingly, I shall speak frankly and, if necessary, unguardedly on the subject. I say first that I speak, as does every other honorable member, with the knowledge that the bill will pass through this Parliament. I also speak in the belief that it will bcendorsed by a majority of the people and possibly that it will have the approval of a majority of the electors of Fremantle. Persons who have discussed this subject with me appear to be more afraid of persecution by the Communists than of per secution of the Communists. Having said that, I declare that I am opposed to bans in principle, and, therefore, to the proposed ban on the Communist party. I deny that bans are efficacious because of the disproof of such an idea that is afforded by the whole political, and religious, history of mankind on the subject of bans and suppression. Government supporters believe, judging by their arguments in this debate, that the enforcement of the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 will dispose of the Communist party, eliminate support of its activities, and resolve, in part at any rate, the problem of industrial unrest. I believe those propositions to be untrue, and I shall explain why I do so.
At the outset, the Government’s definition of “ communism “ in the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 was strangely deficient. Honorable members who have examined it will realize that it does not cover the broad treasonable aspect of communism as the Government and its supporters claim that it does. For instance, the legislation declares it to ‘ be against the law to espouse the principles, doctrines, teachings, and a great deal of other rigmarole, of Marx and Lenin. Curiously enough, nothing is said about Stalin. The principles, teachings and economic doctrines of communism, which do not appeal to 0.5 per cent, of the Australian community, have no significance whatever in relation to the Communist party threat to Australia. That menace arises not from the economic doctrines of the party, but from its acceptance of international discipline. The link between it and Stalin, the governing force in Russia, is not mentioned in the act. In that respect, the legislation is seriously defective. The arguments of members of the Opposition who have contended that the definition is so wide and so slovenly that it may be used by a future government for its own special purposes are well founded. After all, every honorable member at one time or another has advocated some policy that either Marx or Lenin has touched upon. The definition is so wide that it is open to abuse.
Only one other government in the British Commonwealth of Nations has introduced legislation comparable with the Communist Party Dissolution Act. That is the Government of Dr. Malan in South Africa. Governments which one would expect, from the nature of their background, to enact legislation of this kind have steadfastly refused to do so. The Government of M. St. Laurent in Canada, a liberal government which depends largely upon Catholic support in Quebec, is in that category. It has refused to ban the Communist party notwithstanding the fact that, in view of its religious concern with the subject of communism, it might be expected to do so. Those governments of Europe and Scandinavia which have resorted least to restrictions arc the freest of Communist influence. I have in mind the Governments of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland and Great Britain, where there are very few Communist members of Parliament. If a ban, subject to no legal limitation and pursued steadily for 25 years, were an efficacious method of suppressing communism, Mussolini would have destroyed it in Italy, root and branch. But the end product of 25 years of banning and suppression, without any legal limitations such as this Government will be subjected to, has fostered the growth of communism in Italy so greatly that more than 40 per cent, of the Italian community now votes for Communist party candidates. If we consider the reason why Dr. Malan is banning the Communist party in South Africa, we see instantly that his only purpose is to conceal from himself the festering sore of the downtrodden native population of the Union. As a gesture of protest, the natives of South Africa used their limited voting rights to return a Communist party representative to the parliament. He is now being unseated. The banning of the Communist party in South Africa does nothing to heal the condition of racial disunity or to remove the oppression which is characteristic of South Africa. It merely helps to complicate the problem.
If we turn our attention to Great Britain, we find that there were two Communist members of Parliament in that country but that both were rejected at the last general election. There are no Communist representatives, left in the House of Commons. One member of the House of Commons was Mr. Gallacher, who represented a section of Glasgow, and the other was Mr. Piratin. who represented a section of the east end of London. How did the Communists gain election in these constituencies ? The territory represented by Gallacher was known as the “ Gorbals “ and was the vilest part of Great Britain. The territory represented by Pira tin was a slum area. The votes that were cast for these men represented not an intellectual subscription to the doctrines of Marx or Lenin, but a gesture of protest. To the extent that the problems of these areas have been solved in the course of time, that gesture has ceased to be made. But communism is strong in such areas and will continue to be strong, notwithstanding legal bans that might be imposed, because of the existence of the conditions out of which it arose. There is not a Communist in any parliament of this country. Under the “ firstpastthepost “ system of voting, Mr. Patterson was returned to the Queensland Parliament, not by men who lived in the Australian tradition, but by Italian cane-cutters. But he has now disappeared from the Parliament of Queensland. Because there is no profound economic grievance in this country there is no movement towards communism on the part of any section of the community.
The curious feature of this measure, as a hill for a referendum, is that it cites a specific act. Presumably, if the Government’s proposal is approved by the people it will be necessary, in perpetuity, to read the Constitution in conjunction with one particular act of the Parliament. This act represents the judgment of the Parliament at one specific time. The first object of the proposed referendum corresponds with the Constitution in that it sets out a general head of power. But the second part of the Government’s proposal is that the Parliament shall have such powers as are necessary to pass the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950. It is vain of the Prime Minister to believe that this bill, which has not yet been tried and which may be found by experience to be of no use in dealing with communism, should he attached to the Constitution in perpetuity. It would have been wiser to have provided that the powers of the Parliament in respect of communism should be stated as a general head of power, as the present subject-matter of the Constitution is stated. The recitals to the act which the Government has proposed shall be enshrined in the Constitution declare that the Communists are engaged in high treason, espionage and sabotage. Surely there must be some respect for the meaning of words. If I say that the Communist party is engagedin high treason, espionage and sabotage I should be able to name individuals who are guilty of these offences. If individuals have been engaged in high treason why have they not been prosecuted? If they have been engaged in sabotage why has action not been taken against them? Are these people to be allowed to continue their activities until the referendum has been held?
If I stated in Fremantle Town Hall that Tory, a man who was named by the Prime Minister when he introduced the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, was engaged in high treason, espionage and sabotage, and he took legal action against me, I should have no defence because I know of no specific act of his that would come under those headings. If the Communist party has been engaged in those activities they cannot have been abstractions. It must have taken concrete action and yet no prosecution has taken place. The Communist Party Dissolution Act is not only slovenly in its definitions and, therefore, unworthy of being attached to the Constitution, but it is doubtful in its recitals. Banning is an act of spiritual and moral cowardice. I believe that the Government is by no means innocent of political motives and the desire to catch votes in this matter. When the Prime Minister delivered his first speech in this House as Leader of the Opposition, he sought to gain the votes of those who, for religious reasons, are most concerned with the subject of communism. He said that, as a black Presbyterian, he admired the stand that the Roman Catholic Church had taken on the subject of communism. Since that day I have been convinced that the Prime Minister has not been unaware of the desirability of gaining the support of that section of the community that he then defined.
Honorable members who support the Government have said that they are seised -with a realization of the danger of communism. This is one of the countries of the world that is freest of communism. I believe that, shortly after the last genera! election, the Sydney Morning Herald estimated the Communist vote at 7 per cent, of the total number of votes cast. Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and other countries that have not banned communism have a record that is immeasurably- superior to that of France and Italy. The Vichy Government in France and Mussolini in Italy banned the Communist party in order to avoid having to solve problems of internal management, but the moment the ban was lifted communism was found to have gained ground rapidly. The Australian1 community has voted against communism. Even if it had not, there would be a danger of setting a limitation on democracy by banning a political party. If the Government’s proposal is embodied in the Constitution the Government will be able to decide that candidates of certain types shall not be allowed to stand for parliament. The people, who have exercised their choice wisely, will not be allowed to cast a vote for certain candidates. Everybody knows that the Communist party has been hydra-headed. So was the Liberal party before 1949. It had constitutional leagues and citizen rights associations. There were associations which made promises on behalf of the Government parties before the general election of 1949, promises for which the Government was not responsible. When the Communist party has been banned it will continue to exist under its aliases.
During the policy speech which he made in 1949 the Prime Minister very justly said that the powers of the Australian Parliament to deal with treason should be widened. It was found in connexion with the Major Cousens case that there was no Commonwealth law under which .he could be prosecuted. I express no opinion about the merits or demerits of that case, but it revealed the non-existence of a federal law relating to treason. If sabotage and treason are taking place, even if this proposal is carried at a referendum the Government will have to draft new laws to prevent the commission of those offences or to punish those who commit them. Surely the law to prevent such actions should ‘have priority over the law to ban political thought. This sessional period will end next Friday without any such law having been introduced. It is difficult to believe that the Government regards high treason, espionage and sabotage as urgent problems in view of the fact that it has taken no legislative step to deal with such problems. It would be most unwise to include such an amendment as this in the Constitution. I believe that the Australian community, like all other English-speaking communities, does not need to be protected against the likelihood that it might vote for the Communists. I believe that it will be a moral victory for communism if the Government imitates Russia by denying the right of certain candidates to stand for Parliament. And I regard it as foolish to incorporate in the Constitution an act which represents the opinion of the Parliament at a particular time instead of setting out the Government’s requirements under one head of power.
.- While admitting the danger of communism, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mi. Beazley) has canvassed the merits and demerits of the methods that should b»used to deal with that menace. He has directed particular attention to the merits and demerits of banning and the methods that have been used during past years. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) said that the Aus tralian Labour party has been fighting the menace of communism since 1930. It may have been fighting, but without very great success, because that menace hah grown immeasurably in the intervening years. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who, I gather, is considered by his colleagues to possess a certain measure of wit, asked what he called a serious question. He asked the Government what it was looking for. In answer to the honorable member, I say that the Government seeks to have this legislation, together with supplementary legislation that has been introduced during this session, made law in order to improve production in primary and secondary industries. The Government wishes, with the co-operation of the Australian people, to make Australia economically strong and to make its defences strong. Only by making our country strong in these ways can we avert a threat of war. The Government also seeks to eradicate the conception of a class war which has undermined the community and which, unfortunately, some honorable members of the Opposition have expounded in this House and throughout the country. That action has damaged the great cause of this country.
I think all honorable members will agree that during this debate the field ot discussion, has been very wide and the true purpose of the legislation has been obscured. During the debate honorable members have heard certain remarkable statements made. Last night when the debate was resumed by the Leader of th, Opposition he meandered in his untidy way through a list of apologies for the reasons that have caused him and his supporters to oppose this legislation. The right honorable gentleman described the Communist party as being hopelessly and helplessly weak. The right honorable gentleman has a wide reputation and is admired as a jurist, and because of that fact and the high position that he now occupies’ in this Parliament attention must be paid to his statements. I endeavoured to give to his statements last night all the justice to which they were entitled, but the feature of them which impressed me most was not so much what he said as what he omitted to say. So far as I could gather his contention was that the Constitution as it stands, together with the provisions of the Crimes Act, is sufficient to enable the Government to deal with the menace of communism. He said that he was satisfied that the Communists could be dealt with effectively under the Crimes Act. But he ignored the fact that the leaders of the Communist party, in this country and elsewhere, are expert in avoiding the taking of any overt act that might commit them under existing legislation. That point has been brought forward to a certain degree to-day, and I know that there are honorable members opposite who appreciate the position. History shows that the leaders of the Communist party have perfected the technique of attacking our system without laying themselves open to a specific charge at law. Occurrences in the last few months provide examples of that technique. We had the case of the vessel Aorangi, which was tied up in Sydney for more than a month. Australia was deprived of the services of that ship but the Seamen’s Union of Australia, which held it up, was careful to do nothing for which it could be proceeded against under the existing legislative provisions. That is why it is necessary for us to have the legislative provisions that the Government now seeks.
Both sides of the House admit that the world is divided into two camps, one of which, is a Communist camp. The oilier is the camp of the Western democracies to which, I hope, we all belong. People who have not made up their minds about which camp they belong to should do so without delay. More than twelve months ago, when the war in Korea started, I prophesied that it would die down and that another similar boil-up would come to the surface in the Persian area. I also considered at that time that that second incident w-ould also die down and be replaced by another, which I considered would occur in Indo-China. So fa. events have proved my prophecies to be correct to a certain degree. There are similar circumstances in each of the three international events that I have mentioned because the inspiration of those troubles came from the one source. While we have these threats from without we know only too well the threats that we face within our own shores.
I remind the House of another phrase that wes used by the Leader of the Opposition last night when he said that the Government was using communism as a “bogy”. He said later, that once the bill was fully explained to the people they would repudiate it. An examination of the events of the past year will show how false is the statement of the right honorable gentleman. We should not forget that the subject matter of this bill has been before the Australian people twice. It was before them first as a part of the joint policy of the Liberal and Australian Country parties during the 1949 general election campaign and was again, before the electorate in this year’s general election. The electors showed in no uncertain manner what their feelings vere >n this regard. In case any further criticism should be levelled, I believe it to be true to say that the Government lost no opportunity to acquaint the people with the importance of this measure, and, indeed made it one* of the leading issues in the last general election campaign.
The honorable member for Blaxland and the honorable member for Fremantle said that the Labour party had been fighting the Communist party since 1930. It is because that fight was so unsuccessful that the Government has been forced to introduce this legislation. The bill has been introduced to destroy communism, and we shall support its provisions, not only as we have done in this House but also when, as I hope, it goes to the people for their verdict. I believe that once again we can go to the people with confidence. The honorable member for Blaxland also asked us to recall the history of the British Empire, and cited certain historical events to bear out the argument that he was advancing. I remember sufficient of British history to know that we have just cause for being proud of the achievements of the British race. We have given to the world many valuable things of which we can be proud. One of them is the spread across the world of the English language. Wherever English is spoken now as a national language there are justice and freedom of expression. We have given to the world the concept of parliamentary government, in. which we believe and which we in Australia have developed along our own lines. We have given to it our own sense of freedom. I consider it that this bill is in accord with British history. But we must be careful that we do not allow freedom to sicken so that our enemies may kill it.
It is necessary to introduce a personal touch in the discussion of a measure such as this, so I shall refer to incidents that occurred last year in a mining area in the northern part of my electorate which was formerly included in the electorate of the honorable member- for Hunter (Mr. James). While addressing the House on another subject only a few days ago, that honorable member quoted some remarks that I had made in respect of that mining area, and said that he wondered what the miners in it would say when they heard of what I had had to say on the occasion that he mentioned. I reminded the honorable member that I was quoting from notes that I had made of conversations I had had on my last tour of that area. I shall quote further from those notes now, because they relate to the subject that we have before us. On one occasion, when I was underground in a coal mine in the area I have mentioned, I was called back by a small group of men, who asked me when the Government was going to do something about communism, and, in particular, when it was going to get rid of Williams and Parkinson. I asked them why they had put the question to me and they said, “ These two in particular are of no use to us. ‘ Pongo ‘ Grant is not a bad bloke, but he is just following along behind the others There is a great deal of significance in that incident. On the next day, when I was visiting another mine, the subject was again raised and the men asked me how the Government was going to act in regard to Communists, because, they said, their own particular desire to work reasonably was being frustrated. I have noted with a great deal of pleasure the confidence which so many people who in the past have believed that the Labour party alone could represent them here, now have in this Government. I know full well and, unfortunately, only too well, that in the past there has been great cause for hatred between management and miners. But in the majority of cases the conditions which gave rise to that hatred no longer exists. On the northern coal-field, the only one of which I have knowledge, the management to-day is entirely different from the management of the last generation. But unfortunately the old hatred of management still exists among the miners. In regard to one matter I said to the miners who work in a mine in my electorate, “Would you be happy with that provision “ ? They said, “ Yes, in this mine, because our manager is a decent fellow, but you cannot trust the managers in the other mines “. The old hatred between management and miners is dying hard. Because of managers of the new type in many of the mines, younger men who have grown up in the industry and have trained for their positions, confidence between miners and management is gradually being built up. Such managers understand not only the technical aspects of the industry but also the men who operate it. I suggest that it is time that more honorable members opposite brought themselves up to date in their knowledge of the relations between miners and management. I believe that the majority of the men employed in the mines are willing to work under fair and reasonable conditions for a fair and reasonable wage. They realize that whilst small domestic differences may crop up, the Communist officers of the miners federation often blow them up into a dispute that perhaps causes a stoppage of several days. That is very detrimental to the output of the industry and more detrimental to the well-being of Australia. It is to cope with the actions of such Communists that this particular legislation is designed.
Honorable members opposite, including the honorable member who has just spoken, levelled at us the criticism that the terms of the bill are too general. The honorable member for Fremantle also took exception to certain matters mentioned in the bill. This bill is designed to provide for an alteration of the Constitution to empower the Parliament to make laws with respect to Communists and communism and to make a law in terms of the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950. The bill relates purely to communism and Communists, and will affect no other organization or institution. The bill in itself answers the criticisms that have been levelled at it by honorable members opposite. Those criticisms have been designed for the purpose of drawing a red herring across the track of those who honestly desire to understand the measure. The most incorrect criticism is that this legislation is aimed at the trade unions. Other legislation that has been introduced by this Government, and the manner in which honorable members on this side of the House have addressed themselves to the subject, have proved beyond doubt that the Government wants to assist the trade unions and to free them from the evil of “ red “ domination. I remind honorable members, including the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), that in our desire for true freedom we must not allow our enemies to be so free that they can kill the very freedom that we are seeking.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Daly) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 6th July (vide page 1119), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– At the outset of my remarks, I shall state the point of view of the Opposition upon this bill as a whole and upon the problems that are referred to in it. The Labour party will give general support to any specific measures put before the Parliament that will have a real bearing upon assisting the defence of Australia, but it will not give a blank cheque either to the Cabinet or to government officials to enact legislation in the form of regulations unless there be prior parliamentary approval of the general economic and industrial programme that is to be carried into effect by means of the regulations. In one case, the Parliament would make its decision upon general principles and the representatives of the people would be consulted. In the other case, the Parliament would, for the time being, surrender its powers to the executive or to subordinate officials to make laws, not to administer laws that the Parliament had approved. In the overwhelming emergencies of a great war or in the acutely difficult period after it, a different course may be, and often is, forced upon us. But that is not the position to-day.
I say that this measure, looked at fairly and contrasted with other legislation on the same subject, such as the American legislation to which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) referred, is, in substance, a powers grab bill. I do not claim copyright for that phrase. The bill represents a complete surrender by the Government, which was returned to power in 1949 on a pledge to abolish oppressive government controls of all kinds. That pledge was given without qualification or reservation. It was said that all controls were bad. The 1946 referendum and the 1948 referendum were opposed by the Prime Minister, who was then the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament, although they dealt with specific matters and it was proposed that the powers sought under them should be exercised only by the Parliament. In this bill, the right honorable gentleman is asking the Parliament to give powers of the vaguest and widest nature to the Executive Government and also to unspecified persons to enable them to make orders, which would really be laws. I ask the House to regard those orders as being equivalent to legislation passed by this Parliament. What is proposed is something much more than the creation of a new super-board for the purpose of administering principles embodied in legislation. This proposal involves the transfer of legislative powers from this Parliament to Ministers and other persons. It foreshadows a new system of peace-time government without the checks and balances of the parliamentary system.
As I have already pointed out, and as the Prime Minister tacitly admitted when answering questions that were addressed to him recently, the Parliament could be closed down for an indefinite period and the function, not of government but of legislation, could pass to the authorities to whom I have referred. We are being asked to confer tremendous powers, the exercise of which could affect the industrial and commercial life of this country. . The nature of industries and businesses could be completely changed, and some undertakings could be crippled as a result of a diversion such as the Government contemplates. We do not know what the Government intends to do when this bill has been passed. The Prime Minister’s second-reading speech upon it was a masterpiece of vague generalities. The right honorable gentleman did not give one positive example of what the Government proposes to do, except by implication when he referred to industries as being “ essential “, “ less essential “ or “ non essential “. That involves something in the nature of a queue or order of priorities for industry. The proposition appears to be a logical one, but the powers that the Government seeks under this measure could be exercised in such a way as to injure some industries and - ruin thousands of employers and employees.
The Prime Minister sought to justify the recitals in the preamble to the bill, which is, in substance, a scare preamble. We are being asked to assume that this nation is to-day in a situation comparable to that in which it was in the darkest days of World War II. If we accept this bill, we shall also accept the proposition that Australia as a nation is in a permanent or indefinite state of war. I know that some Ministers refer frequently to the possibility or even the probability of a third world war breaking out in a comparatively short time, but that view is not generally held. It seems to me to be wrong to assume either the inevitability or the probability of such a catastrophe. Action of the kind foreshadowed by this bill could bring into play forces that would make for war rather than for peace. When this Government assumed office, it began to tinker with the orderly programme of post-war reconstruction that had ‘been evolved by the Chifley Government. It has failed completely to halt inflation, although it made an electoral promise to put value back into the ?1. Now, apparently, it is prepared to create a situation that could easily cause panic, with disastrous consequences.
The preamble contains many inaccurate or questionable assertions of fact. Constitutionally, it seems to be a crude attempt to circumvent a recent decision of the High Court of Australia, which is the guardian of the Constitution and of the rights of the States as well as of the Commonwealth. The High Court stated that if the Government desired, in a time of peace, to exercise powers equivalent to those that can be exercised in a time of war, it should formulate its proposals and, at a referendum, ask the people to agree to an alteration of the Constitution. But the Government does not propose to proceed in that direct way.
By this bill the Government is trying to obtain by a backdoor method the .powers that it wants. An attempt is being made to stretch the defence powers of the Commonwealth past breaking point. The factitious basis of the Government’s claim is a series of statements in the preamble. The assertion that certain controls are necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth may be the phrase of a parliamentary draftsman or of a too eager economist. According to the High Court, recitals in a preamble are not a substitute for the realities and facts of a position. Recently, Mr. Justice McTiernan said -
The recitals are not judicial findings and do not bind the judicature on any question which is within its own exclusive province . . The Constitution does not allow the judicature to concede the principle that the Parliament can conclusively recite itself into power.
Mr. Justice Williams said ;
Where the constitutional validity of an Act is challenged, it is the actual facts and only the actual facts which count, and the real question that arises is as to the actual facts which are relevant and to the legal effect of those facts.
Mr. Justice Webb said ;
This burden of proof of constitutionality cannot be shifted by resorting to recitals, by putting the evidence and argument in recitals instead of to the courts. It is for the courts to examine and determine the question of constitutionality.
Mr. Justice Fullagar said ;
Tt seems to me that it would be contrary to principle to allow prima facie probative force to recitals of facts upon which the power to make the law in question depends. ‘
His Honour said that not even presumptive effect can be given to such recitals, and added -
It is clearly impossible to allow them conclusive force because to do so would be to say that Parliament could recite itself into a field which was closed to-day.
Mr. Justice Kitto and Mr. Justice Dixon enunciated the same principle.
The preamble to this bill is obviously addressed to the High Court. It reads more like the estimate of an economist or even of a soothsayer than a cold statement of fact such as is usually found in a preamble. The second recital reads as follows : -
And whereas, in the opinion of the Parliament and of the Government of the Commonwealth, there exists a state of national emergency in which it is essential that preparations for defence should be immediately made to an extent, and with a degree of urgency, not’ hitherto necessary in time of war.
That proposition is not one to which assent can be given at once. It is a double negative proposition. It is not a factual statement. It is argumentative. The draftsmen have tried to cram into the preamble assertions which it is hoped will provide constitutional justification for everything that follows. The extracts from the judgments delivered in the High Court that I have read show that such an attempt can hardly be expected to be successful. How can the Government sustain the suggestion in the preamble that defence preparations can not be carried out without adopting certain measures?” The fourth recital in the preamble begins as follows: -
And whereas the defence preparations of Australia will include also measures.
The fifth recital states -
And whereas the defence preparations of Australia will include also the expansion of the capacity of Australia to produce and manufacture goods, and to provide services, for the purposes of the defence preparations mentioned in the last two preceding paragraphs and generally for the purpose of enabling the economy of Australia to meet the probable demands upon it in the event of war.
What are the probable demands and what kind of situation of war is contemplated? We do not know. What kind of a programme is to be implemented under these great powers? We do not know. The plan may be in the Government’s mind at present, or it may not have occurred to it or to its economic advisers. If this measure is passed any government - it may be a government of incompetents or blunderers - could take any power that it wanted without any plan or programme being put before the Parliament. In fact, the Government has no plan, but it wants to make a plan. That was not the intention of the Constitution in giving great powers to the Parliament. The Commonwealth’s defence powers are limited to defence. In that sense they are specific and they should not become a cloak for altering or prejudicing standards of living, the commercial exploitation of the many by the few or the artificial hot-house growth of dangerous combinations or monopolies.
That would be an abuse of the defence power. Yet the very purpose of this law-making set-up by the Parliament could, if surrendered by the Parliament to the executive or to an outside authority, become the instrument for one group of industries to squeeze another group of industries completely out of existence. That would apply to not only secondary, but also primary industries. There is an exemption under the measure from the power of compulsory direction of labour ; that is not to be permitted. But labour can be directed indirectly by economic compulsion. If businesses are weakened by being cut off from supplies of raw materials at their source, as could be done under this measure, that might lead, in effect, to what is known as economic conscription, which in many instances would be just as bad as, if not worse than, direct control of the workers.
The defence power could be used to invade the remaining powers and prerogatives of the State parliaments. I put it to the House that in time of peace the Parliament should never permit a blanket grant of unspecified power without control by the Parliament in the form of a legislative statement of principle or a directive as to how the power shall be exercised. In practice, orders or regulations are issued. The point is that the Parliament should not authorize so wholesale a control unless it is satisfied that each order or regulation is a defence provision. During times of war the High Court has given a broader application to this great power, but even in a time of war the power of the Parliament is not unlimited. The court insists that such regulations, shall relate actually to the defence of the country. The court will be certain to use those principles regardless of what appearance is given to a particular situation by recitals such as those that are contained in the bill now before the House. The recital I have already read illustrates that point because a view of the international situation which would seem to be justified to-day might assume a different appearance the next day, and bald and bold assertions such as those that are made in the recitals to this bill are not a proper foundation for the exercise by the Parliament of this great power. The use of the recitals in such a form is an unconstitutional and improper use of the parliamentary process and practically amounts to an attempt to overpersuade or to apply pressure on the court as the guardian of the Constitution. The Government proposes to put a referendum to the people in the near future. As doubt will obviously arise about the validity of this measure, why will not the Government submit these proposals to. the people at the same time? If the people approved of them their validity would be determined; but, of course, I do not believe that tie people would approve of this wholesale delegation of authority at the present time.
Clause 4 of the bill, which is the vital provision of the measure, provides -
The Governor-General may make regulations for or in relation to defence preparations.
That is the widest possible expression of power and there is no limitation or indication of the subject-matters that may be covered. So, it is intended clearly to be all-inclusive in the economic and industrial fields. That view is supported by the specifications set out in sub-clause (2.) of that clause. I shall take paragraph (a) of sub-clause (2.) as an illustration. It gives power to the Executive Government, and later to other persons, “without limiting the generality of the power to make regulations “ to make regulations - in relation to the expansion of the capacity of Australia to produce or manufacture goods, or to provide services, for the purposes of defence preparations or for the purpose of enabling the economy of Australia to meet the probable demands upon it in the event of war.
So, it becomes a matter of estimating what might happen. There might be a war. In ‘ that event, the regulationmaking authority would have to try to assess the situation because what would be necessary in one instance might not be necessary in another. Thus, we have an abstract proposition, an estimate of probabilities, which the lawmaker, which would not be the Parliament, must make having regard to the number of contingencies. Once the law was passed by the Parliament, there would be an enormous accentuation- of the centralization of power and the Government could govern by regulation. In a relatively trivial matter it could make drastic regulations.
The powers are to be put into operation by the National Security Resources Board, which consists of high officials and representatives of powerful commercial organizations. Its chief executive officer is Dr. E. R. Walker who, apparently, will be the chief planner. He is the Government’s economic adviser. He has had a very distinguished career in many fields. Now, he is to asssume great power over the entire economic life of Australia. If his powers were to be confined to carrying out principles and rules that the Parliament laid down, no objection in point of principle could be taken; but under this measure there is to be a single agency from which not administrative orders but laws will issue and that authority, whether it be the Executive Government, public servants or officials, or boards, will have to be practically infallible. If that authority makes a mistake the mistake will affect not only one industry, or one group of industries, it may also affect the whole economic life of the nation.
The proposition that is implicit in the Prime Minister’s speech is that this superauthority - it will be the equivalent of the Parliament - will at some time determine a plan or programme - a master plan - and having done so be empowered to issue regulations having the force of law, as they will take the place of law until they are passed by the Parliament. That body will not be answerable to the people. There will be no need to submit those laws in the first instance to the Parliament; and the whole objection to the bill is that the rank and file of supporters of the Government will have no chance of examining such regulations before they become the law of the land.
That takes us back to the crucial question that arises in respect of the measure. What is the plan and programme? Where is- it? The Prime Minister in his speech gave no indication that the Government knows exactly where it is heading. The statements made in the right honorable gentleman’s speech were extremely nebulous.
J believe that he made the admission that there had been a failure to control the present inflationary process; but what plan, or programme is to be adopted remains a mystery. I submit that the Government has no plan or programme. Questions have been asked on the subject of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), and I believe that the answers he gave on the point were completely frank. If the Government had had a plan to deal with the economic situation in Australia to-day, or had prepared a general statement of principles on the subject, the Treasurer would have given that information to the House.
The object of the bill is that when the Parliament has been closed up, as it will be within a few days, a board will meet to see whether it can agree upon a programme. It will then try to implement that programme instead of the Government submitting it to the Parliament in the form of a general law to carry it into effect. I shall not weary honorable members by dealing in detail with the relevant American act. It is a long act which extends over 27 pages, but, unlike this measure, which says nothing about what is to be done by regulation, it indicates specific subjects in that respect, including priorities and allocations, authority to requisition, expansion of productive capacity and supply, price and wage stabilization, settlement of labour disputes and control of consumer and real estate credit. Thus the United States Congress, before it delegates powers of this kind to the President, has knowledge of the general lines of the programme to be adopted. The Government has not placed knowledge of that kind before this House. Perhaps it is not correct to say that we have no evidence of . the Government’s plan, because the Government has one overall plan, which is simply to call the planners to its aid. That is the only decision that has been made in respect of this proposal to hand over the right to legislate to the National Security Resources Board, which is headed by Dr. Walker and will be concentrated in the National Capital. Codes could be issued under this measure. I know of very few limits that could be imposed upon the board under clause 4. The general Dower is wide enough, but the four specifications of it make it even wider if it is possible to do so. That situation, if it were put to the people, would not be accepted by them. Paragraph (c) of sub-clause (2.) of clause 4 provides for power to make regulations for or in relation to- the adjustment of the economy of Australia te meet the threat of war or the avoidance or reduction of economic dislocation or instability caused by, or impeding, defence preparations.
It would be very difficult even to parse that sentence, and its meaning admits of many interpretations. In practice, the order-making authority would hardly know where it could start and where it could finish under such a power. Nothing like such broad powers have ever been placed upon the statute-book. Only four kinds of regulations are expressly excluded from the scope of clause 4. Regulations cannot be made with respect to the imposing taxation, borrowing of money on the public credit of the Commonwealth, compulsory direction of labour for or in relation and to the imposing form of, or extending any existing obligation to render, compulsory naval, military or air force service. The very exceptions show how wide the power is. Labour cannot be compulsorily directed, but the effect of those regulations on labour will be enormous. Every industry affected by them has its labour force, which may be completely disturbed by decisions that affect industry. Apart from those exceptions, the power of the Government under this bill will be practically unlimited. It could close down an industry if it thought fit to do so in order to assist the economy, and to be able to resist the demands that would be made upon the economy in the event of a war. Let us assume that it would be a world war, because that would have the greatest impact upon our economy. The very insertion of the recitals in the preamble indicates the high degree of probability that such power to make regulations would cover almost any industry, business, trade or manufacture. The rights of trade unions, and labour standards, might be affected, even if not directly, and economic conscription could easily result from the closing down of industries. Many safeguards could be included in the bill, yet they have not even been suggested.
It is quite different from the regulation making power under an act of Parliament. In this instance, the regulation making power is not only a purpose of the bill; it is the only purpose of the bill. It is supreme, and the executive government or the order making authority, such as a board, will become superior to this Parliament. That understates the position, because they will really become the Parliament for the time being, until the Parliament meets again.
Clause 4 (2.) (6) provides that regulations may be made in relation to- the diversion and control of resources (including money, materials and facilities) for the purposes of defence preparations;
Such a power is complete and absolute over every element in the Australian economy and over every primary, secondary and tertiary industry. Nothing has been omitted from it. What does it mean? The diversion of resources from one industry means, or could mean, the destruction of that industry or the destruction of one establishment in it. A corporation may conduct its business more efficiently than smaller companies that are engaged in the industry because it has more modern equipment than they have. If we take a rigid view of the position, possibly in the interests of economy concentration of the industry in the hands of the most efficient corporation would be logical. However, I do not believe that the Parliament would authorize such a course under this power. The Prime Minister has stated that there will be three groups of industries - essential, non-essential and less essential. Who is to decide the composition of the groups, and what is to be done with non-essential industries?
– The planners.
– The planners will have to make their plans before they can be put into operation. The diversion of materials and money could mean the slow strangulation of an industry. The word “ diversion “ is a euphemism for disappearance, and that could mean the ruin of people who have invested their savings in small businesses and industries. Those enterprises are contributing to the full employment of the people, and if the proposed system were in operation the planners might not believe so much in full employment as in a high level of employment. Of course, the phrase “ high level of employment” is another euphemism for a pool of unemployment. What would happen under such conditions ? The big businesses and the larger combines in Australia could, and probably would, become more powerful, and the small businesses would be left struggling.
The Prime Minister has said that it may not be necessary to issue a regulation under this legislation. That would be even worse than the issue of a regulation. The Executive or board may say to business people, “We want you to do such and such because we think that it is advisable, but if you do not act in that way, we shall exercise our regulation-making power and take out an order against you “. Such a position will be worse than if an order has been issued in the first instance and is being properly administered. That is a kind of indirect, new system of nonparliamentary government that tends to establish monopolies and new monopolies, as non-essential or less-essential industries are forced out of business. As honorable members will sec at once, that may easily cause a recession in this country, as workers who are experienced in a particular industry are taken to other industries.
The regulations control the diversion of money as well as physical resources. It is fair to say that the Treasurer almost immediately upon having assumed office, began to remove the controls on capital issues. I understand that those controls were formally retained, but that the right honorable gentleman informed the House that, for a considerable time, applications for permission to seek capital were granted as a matter of course. What happened? The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked the Treasurer to supply figures showing where increases of capital had been permitted. The money was simply poured into all kinds of industries. Firms were permitted to raise new capital, and those same firms, if it be now considered by the board that they are not essential, could be restricted, or perhaps closed down, or, at any rate, prohibited from raising new working capital. The same position would then arise as the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales had to face. It was a perfectly solvent enterprise, but because’ of the absence of liquid assets, it had to close down.
Housing is in a similar position. Approximately 250,000 new Australians are coming here annually, and the Commonwealth Bank has already ceased to lend money to co-operative home buiding societies; Under the new Holt immigration policy of “ numbers at all costs “, special difficulties are being borne by the Australian economy. But that fact is not related to war. The inflationary situation in this country is not caused by war, although it is not entirely independent of the world situation. But all these are factors in it. The Government, when it is considering defence, must bear in mind the morale of the people. Interference on the scale that is contemplated in this bill is the worst thing that can be done to affect morale at the present time.
I come now to clause 5 (1.), which provides -
The regulations may empower a person to make orders providing for any matter which may be provided for by the regulations.
That is not limited to the permanent heads of government departments or to any specified person. A person may make regulations and enact laws as though he is the Parliament. That is not only a delegated power; it is a sub-delegated power. The Parliament hands the responsibility to the Minister who hands it to a person. We do not know who that person will be, yet his orders will have the same effect as regulations and the penalties that may be imposed for infringement of his orders range to a heavy fine, and even imprisonment. Already it is evident that the community is anxious and concerned about this legislation. That is partly due to the fact that the people do not accept the view that another world war is either inevitable or even probable.
I make no apology for the Opposition’s critical attitude to this bill. Under the threat of total war and of the invasion of this country, the Labour Government threw every- thing into the scales in order to organize the resources of the nation. That was the only policy that could then help to prevent the overthrow, or, at any rate, the severe mauling of this country by the enemy. In similar circumstances, the Labour party would support exactly the same kind of action. That is undoubtedly the amor patriae of the nation. But it is one thing to set aside those legal traditions and rights in the duress and storm of actual war, or when war is imminent; it is an entirely different matter to revive war-time controls in the circumstances of to-day. Others have tried to do so, not merely in one kind of totalitarian country but in all kinds of totalitarian countries. They differed in their modus operandi. It was tried in Italy by Mussolini, in Russia by Stalin and in Germany by Hitler. Those men discarded the parliamentary processes. They ruled either by decree, fiat or regulation. They had no general legislative authority, no parliament and no democratic institutions. That is the trend of this legislation. It is totalitarianism.
I remind the Government supporters that the present Prime Minister, in his policy speech before the general election in 1949, made a great’ feature of his policy regarding economic controls and regulations. Yet, during the last nineteen months, the Government has not done anything to prevent the development of an economic crisis or a series of crises in Australia in such matters as population under the Holt plan, in rural industries, in industrial relations and in credit. But those crises are largely due, not to any war situation, but to an altogether different situation. If the Government placed before the House its programme of action and asked the Parliament to express approval of it, that would be an entirely different matter. If the Government considered that the defence power could not support such legislation and that it was absolutely necessary, the Prime Minister could be frank with the House, and ask the people to approve, by way of a referendum, an extension of the defence power. It is seeking such approval in respect of communism, but I realize that you, Mr. Speaker, will not permit me to refer to that matter in the present debate. As one step in the battle against inflation, we have repeatedly submitted to the Parliament a proposal the purpose of which is to give to the Commonwealth power to deal with prices. The Government, far from adopting that proposal, has not even considered it. The Constitution Alteration (Prices) Bill was passed by the Senate during the life of the last Parliament, and was transmitted to this chamber. The Government placed it at the bottom of the noticepaper. An alteration of the Constitution should be effected as the result of a referendum, and not by seeking the authority in artificial and unconvincing recitals.
– An ersatz defence.
– Yes, a kind of ersatz defence from the legal standpoint. I do not know what the Government hopes to achieve by it. There is no encouragement in the passages that have been read from the judgments of the High Court of Australia to lead us to believe that that tribunal will consider that these regulations are really and truly required for the defence of Australia. My view is that dust is being thrown into the eyes of the Parliament and of the people, and, what is even more important, of the courts.
I propose to examine the three arguments that were advanced by the Prime Minister in support of this bill. The first reason is as follows : -
It may be necessary to move quickly in circumstances that are not, however, sufficiently grave to warrant a special session of the Parliament.
Something may need to be considered quickly, but the matter is not grave enough apparently to warrant the summoning of the Parliament. Why cannot the Parliament be summoned? The reasoning of the right honorable gentleman in that matter went out of date twenty years ago. To-day, with the availability of air transport, honorable members can be called together in Canberra in a matter of hours. The second reason that was given by the right honorable gentleman for granting this authority holus bolus to a board is -
The measures that would be necessary are likely to be rather detailed in character, and more appropriate, therefore, to become the subject of regulations than of an act of Parliament.
That is a very tough suggestion. In other words, according to the Prime Minister the legislation will be elaborate, with plenty of details, and therefore it would be really too complicated to bother the Parliament with. The details, of course, will be printed, but each of them may affect a portion of the life of the community, possibly with disastrous results to some small businesses and a number of employees. [Extension of time granted.’] I agree that details should be dealt with by regulation when carrying out some principal or general enactment in a statute. But the Government says, in effect, in this instance that the details are to be the law and therefore, notwithstanding their importance, that the Parliament is not to have anything to do with them.
The third and last argument of the Prime Minister was that, if it became necessary to introduce some measure of economic control, that control should be applied promptly without giving undue notice to those who might wish to evade it. That was the most remarkable argument of all. It is mysterious, and it is the least convincing of the three. This proposal does not relate to executive or administrative acts, and therein lies the fallacy of the right honorable gentleman’s argument. I can understand an administrator acting quickly in order to prevent evasion of an order. But this deals with regulations that must be made public and gazetted before they have any effect. The situation with regulations or orders under a principal statute is different. Why could not the possibility of evasion be dealt with in a statute, as is often done in relation to such matters as income tax assessment, so that the approval of the Parliament could he obtained ? The Government proposes that we shall be left completely in the dark. I am convinced, although these are matters of opinion in relation to which the courts may take a different view, that the recitals in the preamble, based as they are on mere assertions, would not be regarded as being very convincing as a source of power. They are not in the form of recitals of fact, but, instead, are estimates of probabilities. They relate to contingencies that may or may not occur. Thus, under this bill, Australia may be completely controlled and regimented economically from top to bottom without a war having occurred. Such an organization could entirely change the economic, business and industrial character of the nation. It seems to me that power to do this should never be granted, except under the most stringent safeguards. Saving given the most careful attention to the bill, the Opposition has reached the conclusion that appropriate safeguards are not provided and that, therefore, the proposed power should not be granted.
I repeat that the Labour party will give the utmost co-operation to the Government in all undertakings that are designed to strengthen the defences of the country. However, we believe that the Government has no plan to deal with the economic collapse that is threatened by the present condition of inflation. This is the crux of the debate. We may be wrong, but we have not heard of any such plan. I am convinced that, if the Government had a plan, we should have heard of it first in a nation-wide broadcast by the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman told us twelve months ago what he proposed to do about inflation. He mentioned an excess profits tax and other measures. At any rate, he submitted a plan. In this bill there is no evidence of the existence of a plan, but the Parliament is asked to give to the Government complete power over the economy and industries of the nation without having any inkling of what is in the minds of Ministers or the members of the National Security Resources Board. I realize the difficulties of the Government’s situation, and I am not underestimating them in making my attack upon this measure. But a state of war does not exist. The situation that the Government is called upon to face is entirely inflationary. We could spend much time in debating the causes of inflation, and the Opposition would lay on the Government most of the blame for allowing the situation to drift. We are entirely opposed to the bill because the granting of the power that the Government seeks to obtain, when the Parliament could be in continuous session or on short call, would represent an abdication by the Parliament of its authority. That would benot only wrong in itself, but also directly opposed to the democratic system of government in this country.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Downer) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1402).
.- 1 rise to oppose this monstrous measure. Its object is the revival of legislation which, notwithstanding the efforts of the great array of legal talent in the Government, was declared invalid by the High Court of Australia. Because of that defeat, the Government is now trying to convince the people that additional power should be granted to it under the Constitution so that it may re-enact a statute which, in broad terms, was condemned by the justices of the High Court as being opposed to democratic practice in time of peace.
The provisions of the Communist Party Dissolution Act have been thrashed out in this House previously and I do not intend to recapitulate them in detail now. I. merely make the comment that the law which the Government hopes to make valid by means of an alteration of the Constitution authorized by the people at a referendum, provides for the banning of the Communist party and the removal from office of Communists and Communist sympathizers who hold posts in trade unions. If it be re-enacted with the authority of the people, it will take away from individuals the right to trial by jury, transfer the onus of proof to persons who are charged under it, and infringe in many respects the principles of justice that are cherished in every British community. Therefore, the Opposition declares that the legislation ib totalitarian in conception and is in keeping with the policy of this Government to keep the people deliberately in ignorance of the facts in relation to the Communist legislation.
By means of vigorous suppression, the Government has gagged and “guillotined “ the Opposition in this House and has thereby denied to it the right to place its view before the people. Last night we witnessed the unholy spectacle of the Government endeavouring, with the approval of Mr. Speaker, to gag the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and prevent him from stating his opinions of the legislation for the benefit of the people. I say that with all due respect, Mr. Speaker.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is reflecting on a ruling of the Speaker and he is not permitted to do that.
– The Opposition represents almost 50 per cent, of the electors of Australia, and its leader is its standard bearer. The objection that was raised by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) last night was a disgrace to the Government. It was an infringement of democratic principles.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for a withdrawal-
-Order! I ask the House to maintain order. For the last couple of minutes it has been somewhat difficult for me to follow the trend of what the honorable member for Grayndler has been saying.
– I ask for a with- drawal of the statements by the honorable member for Grayndler. All that I did last night, Mr. Speaker, was to direct your attention to a ruling that you had given. So far as applying the gag-
– Order f The honorable member must specify the statements to which he objects.
– I object to two statements that were made by the honorable member for Grayndler. First, he stated that I had attempted to gag the Leader of the Opposition. I did nothing of the sort. I intimated at the time that T intended to move that the Standing Orders be suspended so that the Leader of the Opposition could make his speech. Secondly, I ask for a withdrawal of the word “ disgraceful “. All that I did was to direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the Standing Orders.
– Order ! I do not think that the first objection is one that I can uphold, but I suggest that the honorable member for Grayndler should not say that anything done by the honorable member for Mackellar was a disgrace to the Government. .
– I accept your suggestion. Mr. .Speaker. Now that the opposition to my comments has died down, I point out that, under the written constitution of the Australian Labour party, of which I have the honour to be a member, no member of the Communist party may be a member of that party. That fact should be reiterated again and again for the benefit of Government supporter* who refuse to believe the truth. Later, I shall prove to the people the identity of the true friends of the Communist party in this Parliament and in other places.
Members of the Opposition have been challenged as members or supporters of the Communist party. Because of that challenge we know that the Government and its supporters would declare certain members of the Opposition under the terms of its anti-Communist legislation. They have said that such action would not be possible, but we believe that it would be possible. The truth is that honorable members on this side of the House, unlike those who sit behind the Government and who have been converted only recently to the anti-Communist cause, have always opposed the Communist party. The real bulwark against the onward march of communism in Australia to-day is formed by ‘ those mem 1]ers of the Labour movement in the trade unions and elsewhere who, when the Liberal party and its friends cannot spare the time to attend to such important matters, continue to fight in season and out those enemies of democracy who seek to destroy our way of life. The legislation is totalitarian in character and would deny to ordinary citizens the fundamental benefits of British justice. Therefore, the Labour party will continue to oppose it vigorously. However, at the same time, it will carry on its fight to the death against the evil of communism. That fight can be waged, without resort to the fascist type of legislation that was rejected by the High Court many months ago. The Government was elected on the strength of a promise to deal with the Communist party and it should implement the policy that it submitted to the electors.
Why does it not prosecute the Communists under the Crimes Act, in which it believes? That legislation even provides the death penalty for certain treasonable activities and it provides all kinds of other penalties which could be imposed on members of the Communist party and other subversive organizations. The Government has refused to make use of the ordinary processes of law under a statute that was invoked with great effect by the Chifley Government when it took strong action against the Communists. The Labour party has constantly fought against the Communists, but it does not believe that banning and suppression can solve this problem. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is the great sponsor of this move to ban the Communist party, not many years ago denied in this Parliament and elsewhere that banning provided an effective method of crushing this evil in our midst. In the United States of America, President Truman has directed the prosecution of members of the Communist party in accordance with normal judicial practice and thereby has succeeded in gradually breaking down the influence of Communists in that country. He has not found it necessary to resort to the use of fascist legislation. History has proved that the banning of an organization is the most ineffective method of attempting to destroy it. The Government is only making a sham fight. If it were sincere, it would do as I suggest and would apply the law of the land by ordinary judicial processes.
Not long ago, former Comrade Sharpley was converted from communism and appeared before a royal commissioner to give evidence on oath about the activities of the Communist party. He must have told a very convincing story in the opinion of supporters of the Government, because the Sydney Morning Herald later sent to me witu its compliments a pamphlet bearing on its frontispiece the inscription, “By Cecil Sharpley. I was a Communist Leader.” Mr. Sharpley was asked whether it was of any use to make laws against the “reds”. This is what he replied -
Only if the laws are framed very carefully and responsibly, with only the highest principles in mind. Don’t try to ban the party. It did not work in 1940 and it would not work now. But the party would be embarrassed and harmed by legislation which .forced it into the light of day - legislation which compelled it to publish balance-sheets and membership lists. The party would be most embarrassed, though, if Federal and State governments had the courage to enforce existing laws.
There is your own sponsor, an ex-member of the Communist party, telling you how to handle them and you discard the advice and bring down a half-baked scheme.
– Order! I must remind the honorable gentleman to address me.
– Measures should be taken under the law as it exists to-day to see that the progress of the’ Communist party shall be retarded. I shall enthusiastically and with all my energy make every effort to see that this totalitarian legislation shall not become a part of the Australian Constitution of which we are rightly proud. Who are the friends of the Communist party in this Parliament? Constantly the charge has been levelled against honorable members of the Opposition that they sponsor and support the Communist party. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) implied that the ‘leader of this party is a Communist because he acted as an advocate in the High Court in respect of legislation which was held by the High Court to be completely unconstitutional. I should have thought that the Minister would have learned a lesson from the stinging rebuke that he was given by the leader of the Victorian bar when he had the temerity to mention this matter on the adjournment of the House some time ago. The following report appeared in the Melbourne Argus of the 27th October, 1950:-
The action of Dr. Evatt, K.C., in accepting a brief on behalf of a Communist trade union official in the High Court issue on the anti-Red bill was vindicated last night by the leader of the Victorian baT, Mr. E. R. Reynolds, K.C.,
State- Liberal . member for Toorak. Mr. Reynolds issued that statement as Chairman of the Committee of Counsel, following a. full meeting of the Victorian bar. lt followed hard on the beels of bitter criticisms of Dr. Evatt, -made in Parliament on Wednesday night by Mr Holt, Minister for Labour.
The article concluded -
Freedom of advocacy, he added, is one of the foundations of liberty. The advocate can never be suppressed. That principle is the inspiration of the bar.
The next day the Prime Minister was challenged in this House and Mr. Menzies said in reply-
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman shall not be referred to by his personal name.
– The Prime Minister expressed complete agreement with the leader of the Victorian bar but declared that if he were in the place of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) he would carefully consider his position. In other words the action of the Leader of the Opposition was condoned by the Prime Minister. Yet to-night the Minister for Labour and National Service, who was one of the master brains behind the bill that was thrown out by the High Court, had the audacity to criticize the Leader of the Opposition on this score. The Minister did not say anything about the six High Court justices who, if we were to adopt the reasoning of Government supporters, might be put in the same category as the Leader of the Opposition. He said nothing about Liberal party lawyers who have appeared in court for black-marketeers. He said nothing about lawyers who have acted for the most disreputable men and women and have taken their places in the highest society in the land - and rightly so.
The Minister is still busy issuing passports to Communists to travel to peace conferences. Did he not advocate, prior to the last general election, that passports should be withheld, as a means of combating communism ? The Minister has held hands with the Seamen’s Union while Aorangi has been tied up and the Government has sat idly by while the Communists have played ducks and drakes with him on the waterfront. What happened when the miners decided to hold stoppages once a week on the coal-fields? Did not the Minister and other members of the
Cabinet take the first plane to Sydney, dash into the office of Mr. McGirr, the Labour Premier of New South Wales, and ask him to settle the strike? After the lapse of some weeks, during which industry was brought almost to a standstill, the strong Minister for Labour and National Service had to rely on the late Mr. Chifley and the trade union movement of New South Wales to solve his problem.
Do honorable members not remember the strong approach that was made to the Communists by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) He tried to bribe militant trade union leaders into betraying their mates in order that the Liberal Government might bring peace and harmony to the country. The Government has condemned Labour party members for mixing with Communists, yet in 1940 the Liberal party advised electors on its how-to-vote cards to give their second preferences to comrade Sharkey, who was later charged with sedition by the Chifley Government. I have in my hand a copy of the Liberal party how-to-vote card that was issued during the general election held in that year. It showed how to vote for the three candidates- who contested the Senate election on behalf of the party, and advised electors to place a figure in every square as each was marked on the card. The Liberal Senate team was A. K. Dein, M. Abbott and J. R. Patrick. Mr. Dein was the Liberal party candidate who opposed the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) at the last general election. On that card the numbers 1, 2 and 3 were placed opposite to the names of Dein, Abbott and Patrick, number 4 opposite to Walsh, number 5 opposite to White and number 6 opposite to comrade Sharkey, who at that time was a member of the Communist party, which had been banned. There were three non-Communist Lang party candidates for the Senate and the Government even put Sharkey in front of them and gave them numbers 10, 11 and 12. The Labour party team, which was composed of returned servicemen, was allotted the last preferences.
Is the Government not constantly telling honorable members that Russia will be the next enemy in a war with this country? Are we not constantly told thai Russia is the threat to world peace? I have found that Australia exported over 29,500,000 lb. of wool to Russia during 1950 and 13,500,000 lb. in 1951. If the Government continues to permit the export of such large quantities of wool to Russia, and if Australia becomes involved in a war with that country, Australian ex-servicemen will find themselves facing Russian soldiers clad in uniforms made from Australian wool sold to them by the Menzies Government. Is not this the Government that announced that the Russian legation in Canberra was a spy ring for the Soviet ? Honorable members on this side of the House have not said that, but honorable members opposite have done so. I have here a picture that appeared in the Brisbane Telegraph on the 23rd April, 1951. It is headed “ This picture tells its story “ and it shows the Prime Minister, Senator Spooner and the Minister for Labour and National Service drinking vodka at the Soviet Embassy in the company of the Soviet Ambassador.
– Order ! I am sorry, but I think that the honorable gentleman is very wide of the bill. .
– I was only illustrating the strangeness of senior Ministers who had condemned the Soviet legation as a spy ring drinking vodka with and being entertained by them. “What would the men in Korea think of the members of a government who acted in that way?
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order! I must ask honorable members to cease interjecting. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) is entitled to an uninterrupted hearing.
– What else do we find about this Government and Communists? The vote for the Australian Legation in Russia for last year was more than £40,000 higher than the vote for the previous year. Despite the fact that the Australian Ambassador can move only where the Soviet says that he may, the Government is prepared to squander the taxpayers’ money in this way and to ask the people to make greater sacrifices in order to go to war against the Russian aggressor. Do these facts not reveal what alot of political hypocrites there are in the Government to-day? Are they not a damning indictment of the sham fight that is being put up? The News Weekly is a newspaper that has often been mentioned by honorable members when they have spoken about communism. On the 15th March, 1950, the News Weekly published the following report: -
Liberals Endorse Communist Supporter.
Sydney. - The Liberal party has endorsed a candidate for the forthcoming State election who. votes the Communist ticket in union affairs and is a consistent follower of the party line.
The following report appeared in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph on the 23rd April, 1950 : -
State Liberals recovered smartly from one of the most comic blunders in their recent history. They nominated for Waverley against Attorney-General Clarrie Martin a candidate whom they billed widely as a trade unionist. What they hadn’t found out was that the gentleman had been a Communist nominee in the ballots of his own union and an associate of one of the more prominent R.S.L. officials recently expelledfor alleged Communist activity.
Is that not enough to show that the Government has been white anted by the Communist party?
One would not expect the right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes), whom honorable members opposite regard as the greatest parliamentarian of them all, to hold out the olive branch to the Communist party. Yet in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 24th June, 1941, the following paragraph appeared after Russia had entered the war : -
Everybody is my friend who stands at my right hand in this fight, said the Federal Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes), commenting on the news that Russia and Germany were now at war. I don’t care twopence whether he calls himself a Communist or Capitalist. What he did in the past would be forgiven and forgotten if he was with us in this struggle against the tyranny of nazism. I say to my comrades in the Communist party-
Listen to that - you have made some remarkable changes of front in the past, but your attitude should now be clear and unmistakable.
Ernie Thornton must have glowed with pride when he heard of that commendation by the right honorable gentleman.
I have made those quotations in order to show what honorable members opposite are really like. My records are full of instances like that but only a few examples will be necessary to convince the fairminded people of this country that the Government has no effective answer or policy on communism. While the Government is trying to pin on us the tag of friends of the Communists it has been flirting with them itself.
It is endeavouring to introduce totalitarian methods into our system through this legislation. But it is putting up only a sham fight against the great evil of ‘ communism. I am opposed to the parties opposite that are sponsoring this proposal, for the reasons that I outlined earlier, but mainly because I wish to warn the Australian people not to endorse at the coming referendum a measure that is designed to take away from the 8,000,000 people of this country their right to British justice and liberties which is held to be sacred in every democracy. The acceptance of this measure by the people will also mean the transference of the onus of proof from the prosecution to the accused person and loss of trial by jury. Yet, although the Government intends to deny those funda-mental rights to Australian citizens,” it gave them not so long ago to Japanese war criminals and to the Belsen monsters. As a Labour party member, and the representative in this Parliament of a great constituency, I am opposed to this kind of totalitarian legislation and to the denial to Australian citizens of the justice that is afforded to war criminals and the worst criminals in society. I oppose the measure.
.- I have no wish to become involved in the larrikin brawl so obviously intended by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), but I have to take part in the debate and speak on certain points because he has advanced so many arguments about the Labour party’s alleged antipathy to communism. I shall answer them but not in a like strain. The honorable member for Grayndler made the definite statement that members of the Communist party could not be members of the Labour party. He obviously did not listen very intently to the statement made here during the course of the last few days by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who showed, in a clear and unmistakable fashion, that, for a person who is a member of the Communist party or of a Communist-dominated trade union, entry to the Labour party is almost the simplest thing imaginable. Then there is the matter of the affiliation fees paid by the Communist-dominated trade unions to the Labour party. In other words, the Communists subsidize those who claim to be their enemies. It is admitted that in order to enter the Labour party a Communist would have to sign some form of pledge which stated that he did not belong to any other political party. But does a member of the Communist party care whether his word is good or not? Does his pledge mean anything to him? I venture to say that if honorable members consider the association of the Labour party with noted Communists they will see that, far from banning Communists from the Labour party, that party has in the past been only too happy to associate with them, and to accept their funds and their help at general elections. I have before me . a statement dated February, 1949, regarding a how-to-vote card that was issued by the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party during the Cobar by-election campaign. This card invited electors to give their second preferences to the Communist candidate, Dr. MacMeekin, and their third preferences to the Australian Country party candidate, Mr. Campbell, who, being an Australian Country party candidate, was an ex-serviceman. During the last general election campaign the Sydney Morning Herald published an article on the 6th April, 1951, under the heading -
Miners name their price of support.
The article read, in part -
The Central Executive of the Miners’ Federation yesterday deferred action on appeals for funds by the A.L.P. and the Communist party.
The article stated that the executive had said that it would grant no funds to the Labour party unless it toed the Communist line. What ultimately happened was that the miners gave £500 each to the election funds of Labour and the “ Reds “. Yet members of the Labour party in this House claim that they are the enemies of communism. It is of no use for honorable members opposite to come here with this bunkum about having no affiliation with Communists, because they have accepted the support of the Communists in the past and are accepting it to-day. We can go further and ask who it was who in 1942, lifted the ban which had been imposed by the Menzies Government on the Communist party, of liberalism is this country. Who was it who freed two notorious Communists, Ratliff and Thomas, from gaol? A Labour government ! Who was it who opposed the appointment by a Labour government of two members of the Communist hierarchy, Healy and Roach, members of the executive of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, to the Stevedoring Industry Commission? We did! We know only too well all the help that the Communists received from the Labour Government. I need not go very much further to prove that point.
The next point with which I shall deal is the attributing, by the honorable member for Grayndler, of a statement to Mr. Reynolds, K.C. The honorable member for Grayndler once again indulged in that character assassination and distortion of facts which are so notorious in this House. Mr. Reynolds merely said that the matter was one for the conscience of Dr. Evatt, that it was for that right honorable gentleman to make up his mind on a matter of morals and decide whether or not he considered he should act for the Communists. If the right honorable gentleman thought as a matter of morals that he should act for the Communists that was his lookout.
I notice that many members of the Opposition are not here to-day to listen to this debate. I wonder what their moral judgment of this bill is and what they think about the Leader of the Opposition having taken a very beneficent and magnificent brief from the Communist party. The ‘ leader of the New South Wales Bar, speaking for the New South Wales Bar Association, bitterly criticized the taking of the brief and held it to be completely unconscionable that the right honorable gentleman took it. The arguments advanced by the honorable member for Grayndler had little or no substance in them. He is prepared to distort facts and, if he can, the intentions of the Government.
There is one other point with which I shall deal. It is the claim made by the Leader of the Opposition in his arguments against the measure. He criticized the provisions of the bill which give to the Government power to legislate with respect to Communists and communism and said that the power sought was far too great. He held himself up as the very apostle of federalism, as the great protector of the Australian people, as somebody who considered that the federal system in this country stood between .the people and possibly anarchy and the worst forms of totalitarian government. I ask, for how long has the right honorable gentleman adopted that attitude? Some honorable members on this side of the House who have long memories remember the debate on a bill that was introduced in this House in 1942 to grant “ all powers “ to the Federal Government. It was a measure that sought power not to deal with the King’s enemies in our domain, but to give absolute and plenary powers to the government of the day. During that debate the right honorable gentleman said, according to Hansard, volume 172, at pages 1339 and 1341-
The Constitution of 1900 is outmoded, . . . Most thoughtful Australians are realizing that the Constitution of 1900 is not an instrument fitted to the needs of to-morrow … I desire to make it perfectly clear that the amendment I propose will give the decision to Parliament itself, and no person will be able to challenge the validity of Parliament’s decision. . For its decisions and actions Parliament will be responsible to one authority only - the people of Australia.
So at one fell swoop, despite his protestations about being the protector of liberty and of the federal system, he wanted to wipe away the State governments and the High Court, the bulwark of justice that we have against arbitrary executive powers and to institute in its place the Evatt system of totalitarian government. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) last night dealt with the right honorable gentleman on a political level, and I do not propose to go any further into the matter to-night. However I say that his arguments, combined with the case that we have put forward, totally discredit the present arguments of the Opposition. I think that the case that we have advanced provides .ample justification for passage of the measure.
There is an ancient Norse legend which deals with what is known in Norse mythology as the Gotterdammerung or “ Twilight of the Gods “. The Norsemen believed that one day a great wolf named Fenris would escape from his bonds, enter Valhalla and destroy the gods. They believed in what might be called foreordination or inevitableness. We are a Christian people and do not believe in either inevitableness or fore-ordination. By means of this measure we, as a Christian people, are trying to capture the Communist wolf Fenris and hold it in check by liberal methods used by a Liberal government. It is my task to-night to say something about what I regard as the essential measures that must be taken and, what is more important, taken immediately, and about the reasons why the Government has decided to act. World history in the course of the last few years shows us how in central Europe the democratic and smaller nations were slowly devoured by the Russians. In the Orient we see an unprovoked attempt to destroy the liberties of the Koreans, and in our own country we see, to use the words of the Communist Party Dissolution Act, that the Communist party is attempting - to bring about the overthrow of the established system of government of Australia by violence, intimidation and fraudulent practices. and also - to cause by moans of strikes or stoppages of work, dislocation and disruption of production in Australia’s vital industries.
The Labour party in this House agreed that these recitals were true. In other words the Labour party said, “ We believe the contents of those recitals to be true in fact “. I should not have thought that it was necessary again to prove the validity, of those facts or to justify our action to the people. I am compelled to do so because of a peculiar decision made by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party during the last few weeks. The executive issued an order the effect of which was that members on the other side of the
House, whatever they might think about communism, had to vote against the provisions of this measure. The direction was in these terms -
The Labour party decreed in 1948 that its representatives in Parliament should oppose the banning of political parties, because banning was a negation of democratic principles.
The Leader of the Opposition said that he agreed with that statement by Mr. Ferguson, the federal president of the Australian Labour party. A few days later, or perhaps only one day later, Mr. Albert Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, made a somewhat similar statement. He also pointed out that he opposed the bill because he believed that it might ultimately lead to the suppression of the trade union movement. It is not unfair to say that the Labour party bases its opposition to this measure on three grounds: First, that if the Communist party is banned then a political party will have been banned; secondly, that the Government intends to disfranchise and destroy the trade union movement; and- thirdly, that there are not sufficient safeguards in the hill. Let us consider those three arguments. The Opposition says that the Communist party is a political party just as the Labour party is a political party. We totally disagree with that argument and say that far from being a political party the Communist party is a real threat or “ a clear and present danger of substantive evils” and threatens to destroy this country. It is now an absolute challenge to peace and security in this country. Perhaps Stalin’s own definition of communism should be sufficient to prove this point to honorable members opposite. He said -
Communism is founded upon violence which recognizes no law and is restricted by no duty.
The Labour party’s claim that the Communist party is an ordinary political party can be disposed of quite explicitly. The claim, of course, is not new. About a year ago in the United States of America the Taft-Hartley act was challenged by. the Communist party of America. The case was heard by Mr. Justice Jackson and the argument was put on behalf of the Communist party of America that it was a political party and was therefore entitled to all the liberal freedoms; that is, freedom of speech, of assembly, of the press, and of worship. Mr. Justice Jackson said that he had considered all the evidence, what the juries had done, and the logic of the position. He found that there is a “ decisive difference “ between communism and any other political party that has ever been known in British history. He said that while some of their overt actions might be analagous or equivalent to the activities of an ordinary political party, it was their .covert activities that had to be considered and that, if those activities were examined, it would be found that the Communist party was not entitled to the ordinary civil liberties that are accorded to British and American subjects.
His Honour gave five reasons for his judgment, but I shall enumerate only four because they are of paramount importance. They were: First, the Communist party alone is dominated and controlled by a foreign government. It acts as the agent of a foreign power and whenever it gets power it acts subserviently to Moscow, to the political bureau in Russia, and always as the agent of Russianinterests. Secondly, every true Communist party i3 an agent of a foreign government to execute the Communist programme. That makes it completely different in form, and substance from the ordinary political parties. Its duty is to execute the foreign policy or the paramilitary policy of a foreign power. When a person joins the Communist party he is immediately indoctrinatedwith the esoteric jargon of communism. He does not know what it all is about, but he learns his lesson and in turn becomes a subversive agent for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Thirdly, the calculated and indispensable methods of the Communist party are undemocratic and are based upon violence. Wherever one looks throughout .the history of world communism during the last ten years one will see that it does not matter how the Communist party may have grasped power, . whether by force, trickery, coup d’etat or ‘any other method of infiltration, it holds that power by force and not by democratic means. It does not attain power through being elected by the people, but once it is in the saddle it does not give the people any opportunity to vote against it in a free election. Fourthly, the Communist party has sought to gain positions of strength by acquiring, control of the Labour movement. That is important because it indicates that the Communist party is npt interested in the welfare of the people, in their industrial conditions or in improving their hours of work. The Communist party gains control of the Labour movement in vital industries or of key positions in trade unions that control vital industries. It does that not for the purpose of benefiting the workers in those industries but for the purpose of sabotaging industry and, if possible, destroying it.
Those reasons establish that the Communist party is in itself different in law and in fact from any other political party that has ever been known in British history. Another eminent jurist, Mr. Justice Frankfurter, said of the Communist party -
There is ample justification for legislative judgment that the conspiracy now before us is a substantial threat to national order and security.
The conspiracy that he spoke of was the Communist party conspiracy. As he said that it was a substantial threat to national order and security in the United States, so do we say that it is a substantial threat not only to our national order and security, but also to the very existence of this community as a free and democratic country. I personally believe that the attitude of the Opposition discloses an indecent and secret association between the executive of the Labour party and the Communist party. I showed earlier that there was such a close affiliation between the two groups that perhaps in some matters it might be impossible to distinguish between them.
It became apparent during the course of this debate that much would be made of the argument by the Opposition that we intended to suppress the trade union movement. Mr. Albert Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, has made that the cardinal point in his opposition to the bill. I remind honorable members of a notable speech made in this House by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he introduced the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950. I shall paraphrase his words with great humility. He said that this bill is not an industrial law; that it was not intended to alter the conciliation or arbitration laws of this country; and that if it touches the Communist in his industrial office that is but an inevitable consequence of a self -defend ing attack by democracy against fifth columnists and treason. That is what it is, a self -defend ing attack by democracy against fifth columnists and treason. The Prime Minister pointed out that if you made a claim of immunity foi’ a Communist because he was a trade unionist, it was arrogant and had to .be dismissed. He said that we should look further than that, and that if we believed that a member of a trade union was militant in his activities and wanted to destroy the arbitration system by constitutional means we should let him have his head and way. But, he said, if you find that he is a fifth columnist for a potential enemy then the claim for immunity is arrant nonsense and must he rejected. Once it is established that a man is a potential enemy, then there is every ground in the world to remove him from his trade union ofl8.ce.
That was the Prime Minister’s pronunciamento. It sets out. as clearly as possible that the attack iri this matter is being made not against the trade union movement but against the communism that is exploiting, as the instrument of a foreign power, the trade union movement. That should be sufficient to dispose of what M’r. Monk has said. However, I shall take the argument further because I believe that certain members of the Opposition have attempted to prove that the bill now before the House is an attack on the trade union movement. Let us consider the bill. The first part purports to insert in the Constitution a new federal power. It reads -
The Parliament shall have power to make such laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to Communists or communism as the Parliament considers to be necessary or expedient for the defence or security of the Commonwealth or for the execution or maintenance of this Constitution or of the laws of the Commonwealth.
– The bill does not define a Communist, nor does it define communism.
– Communism can be defined. The Leader of the Opposition misinterpreted the position when he said yesterday that communism was to be defined in accordance with the dictionary meaning. I refer honorable members to the House of Lords decision in the leading case of Gray v. Pearson. In that case it was ruled that words are to be considered in their natural and ordinary meaning and that the construction to be given to them is not the ancient dictionary meaning, but the meaning that would be given a day after the Act of Parliament had been passed. This must not be looked at as the honorable gentleman said it should be, according to the definition in the dictionary, which means socialism plus the socialist goal “ from each according to his ability to each according to his needs “. It must be given to-day’s meaning, which is, “ the theory and practice of international revolution as the instrument of Russian foreign and military policy “. That is the kind of definition that would he given by the courts. I am glad that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) gave me an opportunity to interpolate that matter. The Leader of the Opposition has tried to deceive not only the Opposition, but also the House and his own supporters.
The first important clause in the bill deals with communism and Communists. The rest of that clause is ancillary. If we get this power, we must remember that it relates to Communists or communism, and that we cannot go outside that particularity. To say that there is a gate wide open that will lead to the crucifixion of the Labour party or the trade union movement is to talk in terms of arrant, humbug and nonsense. The bill before the House proposes to give power to validate the Communist Party Dissolution Act which was rejected by the High Court on the ground that it exceeded the defence power of the Commonwealth. It aims to permit us to deal with that Act or with respect to a matter dealt with by that, act or some other matter with respect to which the Parliament has power to make laws. Therefore, in order to interpret this bill we must look first at the provisions of the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950. We see that it relates only to Communists and communism. That indicates the limits of the power of the Government to legislate in accordance with the provisions of this bill. It proves that the charge that the Government intends to attack the industrial movement of this country is pure nonsense. If this bill becomes law the powers of the Government will be very explicit, and neither the trade union movement nor any other movement of that sort will be able to honestly say that it was aimed at it. I believe that the arguments that have been advanced in support of the bill are conclusive. There will be ample safeguards against an abuse of the powers that are sought.
It has been said that when this measure has been passed there will be no constitutional safeguards of the civil liberties of the people - the ordinary liberties of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of worship. Solid arguments can be adduced in support of the contrary view. The Prime Minister explained that the High Court, in delivering its judgment on the Communist Party Dissolution Act, said - to use his words -
That decision of the High Court constitutes a safeguard against the arbitrary use by the Government of the powers sought under this bill.
.- I oppose this bill on the ground that it is undemocratic. The falsity of the statements made by Government supporters that at the last general election some Labour party candidates were elected because they received the second preferences of Communist candidates was exposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). My election to the Parlia ment cannot be attributed to any action by Communists. At the beginning of my election campaign, I went to the only place where I knew there was a group of Communists and I called a meeting at which I told them that I wanted nothing to do with Communists, that I did not want their votes and that they could vote for my opponent. They received no. encouragement from me. I told them that it was my intention to do all in my power to combat communism.
I have listened attentively to the speeches that have been made upon this bill. I agree with the statement by the Minister for Labour and .National ‘Service (Mr. Holt) that there is a Communist threat to this country, and that it must be dealt with. The Minister’s remarks upon that subject appeared to me to be very straightforward and sincere. I. am also in agreement with much of what was said by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) upon that matter. In view of the promises that I made during the last general election campaign, I have had to consider very carefully whether I should support or oppose this bill. After considerable reflection, I have come to the conclusion that I must oppose it, because it is quite undemocratic. If the proposed referendum be carried and if the Communist Party Dissolution Act be re-enacted, a declaration by the Government that a person is engaged in subversive activities will be sufficient proof that that person is in fact so engaged. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has pointed out that it is unconstitutional to by-pass the courts, whose function it is to decide whether a person is acting subversively or not. This measure seeks to put the Government above all other authorities in the land, and that should not be done. Our democracy is based upon the four freedoms that are stated in the Atlantic Charter. Professor Wade, in his preface to Dicey’s Law of the Constitution, has written that the great political parties of to-day can at least agree that freedom of speech and freedom from arbitrary detention are essential characteristics of a democracy. This bill seeks to take those freedoms from the people of this country. Therefore, it must be opposed.
The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) and the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) divided the community into only two political groups - the Communists and the nonCommunists. But there are at least three political groups in the community. There are the Communist forces, the Fascist forces and the democratic forces. There cannot be fewer than three political groups, and there may be more than three. The question of what communism is has given rise to much discussion. The Leader of the Opposition quoted the dictionary definition. The honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon) gave a definition of communism that will bo unintelligible to the people. If laws are unintelligible, the people cannot be expected to obey them. I should describe communism as a socialist organization of industry on which is imposed a political combination of the people. I define fascism as a capitalist organization of industry on which is imposed political domination of the people. In both instances, the people are dominated politically and are slaves.
If we consider in conjunction with this measure the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill that was before the House recently, we see that it is the desire of the Government that the people shall be politically dominated in everything that they do. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill makes provision for secret ballots to be conducted by the unions. I do not believe that . secret ballots will cause much harm if they can be conducted without involving the organizations concerned in tremendous expense and difficulty. But another part of that measure is very bad indeed and will contribute largely to the political domination of every worker in this country. It provides, in effect, that the workers shall have determined for them the price of their services, and that they shall be obliged to accept that price, upon pain of fine or imprisonment. If that will not be political domination, I do not know what will be. If the referendum proposed in this bill be carried, and if the Communist Party Dissolution Act be reenacted, there will be complete political domination of the people of this country.
Then, if a person incites other persons to strike or attempts to persuade them that they are receiving inadequate payment for their services or that their working conditions are unsatisfactory, he will be liable to imprisonment or to be fined. If the Government cannot deal with such a person under the Conciliation and Arbitration legislation, it will be able to declare him to Be a Communist. The rights of the people will be taken from them and they will no longer enjoy full freedom of speech.
I agree that something should be done to combat communism in this country. I believe that something should have been done to combat it already. Let us consider the means by which the Government could deal with Communists now. It has been said that the existing laws are sufficient for that purpose. The Labour party has been accused of inconsistency in relation to this matter, but I deny that charge. The late Mr. Chifley, in the policy speech that he delivered during the last general election campaign, said that lie believed that the existing laws were sufficient to enable the Commonwealth to deal with communism, but, if at any time it was found that they were insufficient for that purpose, he would agree to their being strengthened so that action could be taken against any person in any walk of life who wag clearly engaged in subversive activities. In 1949, the Chifley Government introduced the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Bill. That was a constitutional measure. Under its provisions, four Communists - Grant, Healy, “Williams and Roach - were prosecuted, convicted and severely punished.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) went back to 1932 in an attempt to establish his proposition that the Crimes Act is not an effective instrument for dealing with Communists. The honorable gentleman should have told the House that in 1949 the Crimes Act was invoked against Burns and Sharkey. They were accused of seditious utterances and were sentenced to imprisonment. There is practical proof that the- present laws are sufficient to enable the Government to deal with communism. In 1947, when persons were engaging in subversive activities on the guided missiles testing range at Woomera, the Parliament passed the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act, which gave to the security service ample power to deal with them. Placitum (xxxix.) of the Constitution gives to the Parliament power to make laws with respect to -
Matters incidental to the execution of any power vested by this Constitution in the Parliament or in either House thereof, or in the Government of the Commonwealth, or in the Federal Judicature, or in any department or officers of the Commonwealth.
Section 52 of the Constitution reads as follows : -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have exclusive power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to - (i.) The seat of Government of the Commonwealth, and all places acquired by the Commonwealth for public purposes: (ii.) Matters relating to any department of the Public Service the control of which is by this Constitution transferred to the Executive Government of the Commonwealth: (iii.) Other matters declared by this Constitution to be within the exclusive power of the Parliament.
The existing laws and constitutional provisions have been proved to be effective in practice. It is open to the Government to take action against Communists under them, but up to the present time it has not done so.
At thelast general election, Labour party candidates did not want Communist votes. As the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has said, if it be contended that the Leader of the Opposition is a Communist because he represented the Communists who were challenging the validity of the Communist Party Dissolution Act in the High Court, then the six justices of the court who supported the right honorable gentleman’s contention are also Communists. I am sure that the Government would not be so foolish as to make that suggestion. Honorable gentlemen opposite should act consistently in this matter and should cease saying stupid things.
Motion (by Mr: Gullett) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Me. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 24
– The result of the division being, “ Ayes “ 65, “ Noes “ 41, I certify that the second reading of the bill has been agreed to by an absolute majority of the members of the House as required by the Constitution.
Bill read a second time.
.- I remind the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that when his Government banned the Communist party in 1940, the candidate nominated by the Communists that then operated under the name of the State Labour party, for the first time in the history of general elections in the Hunter electorate, polled sufficient votes to escape forfeit of his deposit. Further, while the Communist party was banned at that time, a Communist was elected as general president of the miners’ federation for the first time in its history. At a prior election, Mr. Nelson stood as a candidate for what was known as a militant minority movement; but he was defeated by a Mr. Wells, who ran as a fully-fledged Communist in 1940. Those facts should convince anybodythat it is useless to ban the Communists. I need hardly remind honorable members that although Russia was the first country to ban communism, it was the first country to become Communist. Roumania, Hungary, and other Russian satellite countries, which in the past banned the Communist party, are also controlled by Communists to-day. Hitler banned the Communist party, but, at the same time, ho also banned the trade union movement and thus caused an era of chaos, butchery and bloodshed in Germany.
Under this measure the Government is reallyonly lopping the branches instead of rooting out the tree of communism. The Government would be better advised to leave to the workers the task of ridding industry of Communists. By placing a ban upon the Communist party it will merely increase sympathy for Communists. Events in other countries to which I have referred provide clear proof of that fact. I also point out that during the period when the Communist party was previously banned. Communists who were nominated as candidates by camouflage organizations polled a record vote at an election for the Senate. Those facts should convince the Government that it will not achieve the purpose that it is setting out to achieve under this measure. I admit that the Government has done a great deal of good in meeting this problem, but I again urge it to leave the task of getting rid of the Communists in trade unions to the trade unionists themselves. The rank and file have now practically got rid of Communist officials from the executive committee of the Northern District Branch of the miners’ federation, in an area that produces approximately 80 per cent, of Australia’s total coal production. The only Communist who holds an executive office occupies the position of vicepresident or junior vice-president. His election was the result of the announcement by the Government of its intention to ban the Communist party.
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), when he originally opposed the Communist Party Dissolution Bill in this chamber last year, expressed the opinion that its provisions would be declared invalid by the High Court of Australia.. Government supporters have wondered why the Labour party withdrew its opposition to that bill. The explanation is simple. “We relied upon the colossal brain of the right honorable gentleman, who so wisely forecast the view of that legislation that would be taken by the High Court. I remind the committee that with the exception of Mr. Justice McTiernan, all the justices of the High Court were appointed by non-Labour governments. The Leader of the Opposition and Mr. Justice McTiernan were appointed to the High Court by the Scullin Government. After having occupied a position on the bench with distinction for about ten years, the right honorable gentleman resigned in order to seek election to this “ gas house “.
The principle of the Communist Party Dissolution Act is undemocratic. I have always believed that the Prime Minister is a democrat, and, therefore, I warn him that his proposal to ban the Communist party is not democratic. I consider that the Communist party is a political party. No one has had more experience than I have had in general elections of the methods of the Communists. They never leave me alone. A reference to the result of the election for Hunter in 1931 will disclose that the electors who voted for the Communist party candidate gave more second preferences to my Liberal party opponent than to me. As “a general practice, the Communists endeavour to cancel the effect of their votes, but on that occasion they refrained from doing so. In opposing this bill, I have no axe to grind. I, more than any other honorable member, have reason to be opposed to the Communist party, because I am the only person in this chamber whom the Communists have taken before the “ bosses “ court. I shall not fight them only with words. I shall fight them up and down, whichever way they want. That is the only way in which to deal with them. I owe nothing to the Communist party. I am, first, a democrat, and secondly a Labour man. I believe in democracy, but I consider that this proposal to ban the Communist, party is undemocratic. The Communist party, if it is ostensibly dissolved, will work from underground, and, in doing so, will gain more sympathy than it. receives at the present time. Honorable members recall that the Communists, when they were banned by the Menzies Government in 1940, received considerable sympathy.
The activities of underground movements are not entirely unknown to honorable members. When I visited France after the termination of World War II., I ‘had an opportunity “to examine the underground movement, the members of which had the sympathy of all sections of the French people. Of course, it was originally organized by the Communist party, but its activities greatly, assisted the democracies to open the second front.
Ministers of religion spoke against me from the platforms of the State Labour party in New South Wales during the general election campaign of 1940, and I honestly believe that some of them knew that the candidates whom they supported were camouflaged “ Corns “ ; but whilst the State Labour party bore the name of Australian Labour party - -Non-Communist those ministers of religion spoke on behalf of those candidates against me. I have mentioned the name of one of the mon to whom I refer. I am completely opposed to the bill. I sincerely believe that the Government, in persisting with its proposal to ban the Communist party, is departing from the principles of democracy.
.- The purpose of this bill is to enable the Government to seek the approval of the ° people, by way of a referendum, for the incorporation in the Constitution of power to enable this Parliament to make a law in the terms of the Communist Party Dissolution Act, which was declared invalid by the High Court of Australia. Many honorable members have ignored the fact that the Constitution Alteration (Powers to Deal with Communists and Communism) Bill is now under consideration, and have rehashed the speeches that they delivered last year on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Government supporters have tried to show that the existence of the Communist party is not in the best interest of democracy in Australia, and Opposition members are endeavouring to prove that this bill is not in the interests of democracy. I do not propose to canvass whether or not communism is a bad thing, because I Believe the affirmative to be accepted as a fact throughout Australia and the other English-speaking countries. The purpose of this bill is merely to enable the Government to hold a referendum.
I always like to listen to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), because his remarks are invariably fair, and I appreciate his views, although I am sometimes unable to follow clearly the logic of his contentions. He has said that he is opposed to this bill because it is contrary to the principles of democracy that we hold so dear. I did not hear him say that communism is the enemy of democracy. He also did not mention a fact that is transparently clear to any person who studies the subject, namely, that the aim of communism is to wipe democracy from the face of the earth. There is no democracy behind the Iron Curtain. Prom the economic standpoint, it is unfortunate that such a. vast area is cut off from the rest of the world. It is axiomatic that if some countries are not in the economic circle of nations, the world as a whole cannot have the conditions of prosperity that would otherwise be possible.
Opposition members have not mentioned the grave threat of communism to democracy. Government supporters know, and the Opposition also must know, that communism is absolutely opposite to democracy. I do not wish to rehash arguments that I used during the debates on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, but when Opposition members repeat the same points that they raised on that occasion, I am bound to give the same answers as I used at that time. If I required a definition of democracy, I should take that of Abraham Lincoln -
Government of the people, by the people, for the people.
If I could speak to Abraham Lincoln now, I would say to him, “ Mr. Lincoln, who are the people? Are they those who are opposed to King George VI., who are trying to reduce production, who are not loyal to our flag, and who do not wish this country to prosper ? “ I know the answer would be in the negative. “Are they the people of Australia who are completely loyal to His Majesty the King, who are prepared, if necessary, to fight and die for their country, and who are trying to lift production to a level that will bring us permanent prosperity and progress ? “ The answer would certainly be, “ Yes ! “ I cannot understand how Opposition members can regard the Communists, who are the agents of a foreign power, as the “people” in the strict sense of the term. Although some of them may have been born in Australia they owe allegiance to a foreign power, and that makes the position worse.
I propose to show how the activities of the Communists are detrimentally affecting this country. Recently, I received a letter from a prominent pastoralist and agriculturist, Mr. George H. Allen, of “Dunira” Beulah, in Victoria, who is now travelling abroad. He wrote to me from Cork, in Ireland, and I shall read a passage from his letter that deals with the views of other people upon Australia. He wrote as follows : -
Many Irish young people are emigrating to America. A three-stripe policeman in Cork told me that he heard that on account of strikes, Australia would soon have no exports and that the unions were so much in control that working men were not allowed to work, sr- America was the only country for a person with ambition. A Northern Ireland youn); man asked me if it were true that the unions interfered so much, that he would not know who he was working for. Isn’t it a pity that good types are thus being kept out of Australia, when we want British stock to predominate.
When he refers to interference with unions, he has in mind the leaders of the unions who instruct their members to restrict production, and if we trace that matter to its logical conclusion, we find that the Communists are to blame. We are not able to attract immigrants, because people in other countries consider that, if they come to Australia, they will not be free to give full flight to their ambitions. Consequently, they are turning their eyes to the United States of America and Canada.
I often listen to broadcasts that are made by the Leader of the Opposition from station 2HD Newcastle on Sunday evenings. The right honorable gentleman displays much more courage when he is on the air than whan he is in this chamber. He speaks from station 2HD in a manner which, he thinks, will impress the people. If he were to make similar remarks in this chamber, he would appear ridiculous. Recently, lie said that the States had refused a request by this Government to refer to the Parliament of the Commonwealth powers to deal with the Communist party. Had I not been a member of this House I should have been led to believe that all the States had refused to transfer the power. The right honorable gentleman did not point out that a majority of the Premiers had agreed to the proposal and that only two of them had refused to do. so. He thereby sought to give the impression that the transfer of power would not be in the best interest of Australia and that all the Premiers were aware of the fact. He also said that six of seven justices of the High Court had held that the Communist Party Dissolution Act was unconstitutional. That is true. But he implied, as other honorable members have said directly during this debate, that the justices considered that the act was wrong in principle and, therefore, that the Government could not justify it. The truth, of course, i3 that the justices had to be guided by the law. The Government is now asking that the Constitution be altered so that it can legally take the action that it intended to take originally. The court was not called upon to decide whether communism was a menace or whether Communists should be dealt with in the manner that the Government proposed. The issue was decided entirely on the question of con- stitutional limitations. There is not the* slightest doubt that most of the people are right behind this Government.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The bill, if approved by the people, will establish a new section in the Constitution to be known as section 51a. That section will confer two new powers upon this Parliament. That is a. point that should be considered very carefully by honorable members before they decide whether or not. they approve of the measure in its present form. Each power will be independent of the other and will be capable of standing on its own. One will enable the Government to re-enact, with or without alterations or amendments, the Communist Party Dissolution Act, which was held by the High Court’ to be invalid. The other power will enable the Parliament to deal with Communists or communism in whatever way it considers to be necessary or expedient. Honorable members will realize that the Government will not be under any obligation to use either or both of the powers. No doubt it will make an emotional appeal to the people during the referendum campaign on the basis of the Communist Party Dissolution Act in order to stir up fears and prejudices. It will dwell on events in Russia, and elsewhere where the original ideal of communism, or socialism, has been .perverted by tyrants who have gained power in those countries. But, if it succeeds in persuading the people that, it should have the proposed new powers, it will not necessarily be obliged to reenact the invalidated legislation. It can throw the act entirely overboard and fall back on the all-embracing power that will be covered by section 51a (1.) That proposed sub-section embodies a sweeping power in relation to action against Communists or communism. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has given us no assurance that, even if the Government decides to re-enact the Communist Party Dissolution Act, it will retain the safeguards that were inserted in that legislation by the House of Representatives and the .Senate. The right honorable gentleman could reassure the committee to a certain degree by undertaking to retain those safeguards. At the same time, he might also state whether he proposes to re-enact that legislation or merely to make use of proposed section 51a (1.). That proposed sub-section of the Constitution refers generally to “ Communists or communism in respect of which there is no definition as one might reasonably expect. I emphasize the fact that the definition which was included in the Communist Party Dissolution Act would not govern in any way the operation of the power under the proposed sub-section. Therefore, the Government will be able to by-pass the High Court, which otherwise would have the power to place an interpretation on the meaning nf the words “Communists” and “communism “.
The Government could establish its bona fides by agreeing to insert only one word in proposed section 51a (1.). By adding the word “ revolutionary “ in relation to Communists and communism it could allay fears and doubts on this side of the chamber and amongst the people generally that it really intends to go much further than the suppression of revolutionary communism and ultimately to encompass the destruction of all political opposition so that it may establish a totalitarian régime. I point out that the proposed sub-section, if approved, will open the way to such a course of action. Unfortunately, I believe that the Prime Minister will not accept my suggestion and will insist on steam-rolling the measure through the Parliament. However, if he were sincere he could make the slight alteration that I have proposed and could even go further and include in the proposed section of the Constitution, as he did in the preamble to the Communist Party Dissolution Act, large slabs taken from the works of Marx and Lenin in order to indicate that the proposed power should relate only to revolutionary communism as developed by Marx and Lenin.
The Opposition cannot accept the proposed section in its present form. We know very well that the word “ Communist “ is given a very wide meaning to-day. Many Government supporters apply it to. members of the Labour party. That was made clear by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) last night, when he said that there were thousands of Communists in the Labour party. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) made a similar assertion. The proposed section, if adopted by the people in its present form, will preclude the possibility of any aggrieved person appealing to the High Court because the Parliament, and there-: fore the Government, will be empowered to decide what action shall be regarded as being necessary or expedient to deal with communism. In any case, the Government already has full power to attack communism under the Crimes Act. The High Court directed attention to that fact.
I shall refer the committee to specific provisions of the Crimes Act in order to indicate that, if the Government were eager to get on with the job, it could call upon the security service to provide evidence upon which it could prosecute Communists and render them liable to severe penalties. The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America has been able to produce definite evidence of subversive activities by Communists during the last eleven years. It has supported its prosecutions of Communists up to the hilt by producing evidence from investigators who joined the Communist party as under-cover agents. By that means it has been able to convict many Communists. The Government has declared that it wants to deal with seditious, treasonable and subversive activities. All such offences are covered by the Crimes Act. For instance, section 24 relates to treason. It provides that any person who instigates any foreigner to make an armed invasion of the Commonwealth or any part of the King’s dominions or who assists by any means any public enemy shall be guilty of an indictable offence and shall be liable to the punishment of death. Section 24a provides that any person who willingly involves himself in a seditious enterprise shall be liable to imprisonment for three years.
– Order ! . The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I know that, at this stage, I am not permitted to quote extensively from speeches that were made during the second-reading debate, but I wish to emphasize several points that were stressed then in order to enable the public to assess accurately the value of statements that have been made by members of the Opposition. Many honorable members opposite have said that there is extreme danger in submitting the Government’s proposal to the people. They contend that the proposed power, if granted, would constitute a threat to such institutions as trade unions. I repeat emphatically that the so-called danger has existed in the States for over 100 years. Therefore, it is not a danger. Before this measure was submitted to the Parliament, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) asked the Premiers of the States to transfer the proposed powers to this Parliament. In other words, the State parliaments already possess those powers and have done so ever since they were founded. Yet tra’de unions have existed in Australia for over 50 years and have never been threatened in the way that honorable member* opposite have suggested ! Why, then, should there be extreme, danger in giving to a seventh parliament a power that is now in the possession of six parliaments? The Opposition argument is nonsensical.
I also want to debunk another statement that has been repeated frequently, with expressions of horror more simulated than real. Members of the Opposition have said that it would be shameful if the Parliament, or, in more contemptuous tones, politicians, were allowed to make decisions on these matters. They have complained that legal tribunals would not be able to review the legislation that the Government contemplates and that this reference of power under the Constitution directly to politicians would represent an entirely new departure in parliamentary procedure. I refer honorable members to a speech that was made by the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) on the 1st October, 1942, when he was debating clause 3 of the Constitution Alteration (Post-war Reconstruction) Bill. He said -
I should perhaps draw attention to one feature of these new powers that is entirely new in Australian constitutional history, ft will be found in the first paragraph of the new sub-section 2 of section 60a. It is proposed that the Parliament should have power to make any law which in its own declared opinion will tend to achieve economic security and social justice.
He then said -
I desire to make it perfectly clear that the amendment I propose will give the decision to Parliament itself, and no person will be able to challenge the validity of Parliaments decision.
At least anybody will be able to challenge this legislation. But under the legislation that was introduced by the man who has so piously declaimed against the provisions of this measure it would not be possible to challenge the validity of the Parliament’s decision.
It has been claimed that the Government has power under the Crimes Act to deal with communism, sedition or sabotage, but that can be done only after the offence has been committed. Surely, in the case of the national security, that would be futile. If the Government waited until the whole of our defence potential had been blown up before punishing the person who had destroyed it,- it would be guilty of criminal negligence. It is necessary for the Government to anticipate the possibility of these occurrences and remove the temptation from anybody who is likely to carry out such action. 471. Labour party has suggested that such people should be allowed to blow up the country’s defences and that they should then be punished if they are caught. It does not seem to have occurred to honorable members of the Opposition that it might be better to prevent such persons from committing murder. Honorable members would be content to punish them for their deeds. The public can assess the value of the hollow protestations of honorable members of the Opposition whose chief delight is the protection of saboteurs and traitors.
.Honorable members on this side of the committee have stressed the fact that the Government has full powers to deal with communism under the Crimes Act. We consider that the protection that can be afforded to the community under that legislation is great. Section 24d of the Crimes Act deals with the subject of seditious words for the uttering or publishing of which the penalty is imprisonment for three years. .A number of other penalties has been provided in this act for interfering with political liberty and for other offences. As honorable members know, one of the principal objectives of the Communist Party Dissolution Act was to have the Communist party banned and declared an unlawful body. Section 30a of the Crimes Act provides - (1.) The following are hereby declared to be unlawful associations, namely: -
any body of persons incorporated or unincorporated, which by its constitution or propaganda or otherwise advocates or encourages -
Under that act the procedure for declaring an organization of that description was to have been by way of an application to an appropriate tribunal, the High Court or the Supreme Court.
Mr. Justice Lowe who sat as a Royal Commission on Communism in the State of Victoria delivered certain findings in regard to the activities of that party.
The first finding which appears in the summary of the conclusions of that royal commission reads -
Following findings in the summary read as follows : -
The aims and objects of the Communist party in Victoria do not differ from those of the Country party in other parts of Australia. The aims and objects are: -
This overthrow will be achieved at the earliest practicable moment.
Mr. Justice Lowe stated that there were 200 branches of the Communist party in Victoria and about 13,000 members in Australia, about 4,000 of whom were in Victoria. His report contains evidence of the activities of the Communist party. The procedure laid down in the Crimes Act makes it a simple matter for an application to be made to the High Court or the Supreme Court to deal with that organization and to have it declared an unlawful body. Action would need to be taken by way of summons and those concerned would be given an opportunity of being heard in court. They would be tried before a properly constituted tribunal. Adequate penalties have been provided f or in this act. There is provision for the banning of all activities of an organization and the forfeiture of all assets. Certain members could be deported by the Government. Therefore I submit that ample measures exist in the legislation of this country to enable the Government to deal with subversive and treasonable activities. If the Government is sincere it will use those powers which the High Court pointed out are available to it. The High Court ruled that the Government has more than ample powers to deal with Communists and communism under legislation other than the Communist Party Dissolution Act.
Ml-. BLAND (Warringah) [10.55].- I give this measure my fullest support. I support the form, as well as the substance of the measure. I think that honorable members will remember that most referendums have failed because of the fear that the powers being sought might be misused and because, on occasion, it has been possible to suggest uncertainty as to what use would be made of the powers that were being sought. In this case I think that the legislation has been drafted in the simplest form possible in order that people may know precisely what powers may be used by the Government if its proposals are approved.
It seems to me that honorable members who have condemned this measure as being a denial of democracy have a different idea of democracy from that of the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) and myself. Democracy is that sort of government which allows people to choose their own rulers and to have the opportunity .of deciding the conditions under which they shall live. I think that the fullest expression of that sort of government is that of allowing people to have an opportunity to decide the kind of law that they want. In New South Wales a method has been introduced whereby the government of the day may submit any bill to a referendum. A bill is drawn so as to show the full content to the people whom it concerns, and they are asked whether they approve of it.
I should have preferred to rely upon the specific powers contained in the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950, for the execution of the Government’s purpose rather than on the general powers in sub-clause (1.) of clause 2. I think that the Government could draw from the Communist Party Dissolution Bill itself most of the powers ‘ it wishes to use to suppress the Communist party and to give effect to the principles that are implied in it. I consider the bill to be one of the most democratic expressions of the people’s intent that has been seen in this House. Its provisions are clear and it will give to the people the opportunity to see what the Government wants to do. This proposal, in my opinion, is more likely to be carried than was any that has been voted upon at a referendum in recent years. For those reasons, I support the bill most heartily.
.- Whenever a political party has submitted to the people a proposal for an alteration of the Australian Constitution, the other party has opposed it. Although I have criticized that tendency in the past, I intend to oppose the measure which the Government has now placed before the House. 1 believe in the granting of full powers to the Australian Government. But, in my opinion, the Government’s present proposal is a negation of one of the principles of democracy which I hold very dear. The honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon) alleged that the Labour party has affiliations with the Communist party. I deny that emphatically. He said that the miners’ federation had given £500 to the Labour party. I know nothing of the payment of such an amount to my party. I am still a paying member of .the miners’ federation, despite the years that I have been in this Parliament. As most of the coal miners in Australia are in my electorate it is reasonable to assume that I would receive a portion of any donation they made. I have never received any and it does not look as though I ever shall. The honorable member for Lowe apparently has more information than I have regarding donations by the miners to the Labour party.
– The honorable member for Lowe read that in- the press.
– I did not read it and I have not received any donation from the miners’ federation. We say that the best way to destroy communism is to fight it in the open. I believe in fighting communism in the open. I should prefer to fight a fully-fledged “ Com “ opposed to me in an election than to fight a camouflaged “ Com “. One of the problems we have to meet is that
Communists sometimes disguise themselves as non-Communists. I like to know the kind of man that I am fighting, and J. am prepared to fight the Communists in the way that the miners’ federation is fighting them - out-thinking and outworking them. This measure will strangle the efforts of the miners against Communist officials in the miners’ federation. As I have said before, the miners have got rid of Communists from the executive of the northern district of the federation. The means that the miners are adopting to get rid of the Communists from their trade union is the only correct way. The greatest help to communism in the trade unions is the apathy and indifference of the unionists themselves. I said so during the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which does not .provide for compulsory voting at union elections. If we could get the unionists to record their votes the position would be different. The majority of miners, for instance, are definitely moderate citizens and want neither strikes nor strife. The trouble is that it is hard to get them all to vote in trade union elections. I have taken part-
– Order ! The honorable member cannot go on discussing the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– All right; but my remarks are connected with communism as I have seen it working through the apathy of the workers in relation to union elections. Communism prevails to-day in some of the trade unions, but if we could force trade unionists to vote at trade union elections we might have a different atmosphere in the administration of their unions. I have seen many trade union ballots taken and have seen men put the ballot-papers in their pockets, go away and forget all about them. In general elections the electors go to the officials, give their names and addresses and are given ballot-papers. The officials strike their names from the roll to show that their ballot-papers have been collected but there is nothing to force the electors to put the ballot-papers in the ballot-boxes. So there really is no com- pulsory voting in general elections either, because the electors can do what they like with their ballot-papers. I believe that the Government should leave the business of fighting communism to the workers themselves. The Labour party has set on foot a campaign to weed the Communists out of executive positions in the trade unions, and the problem is to awaken the workers to that need.
– I do not desire to speak at any great length, but there are two or three matters that have arisen during the course of the debate that I consider deserve some attention. If 3 may omit any reference to the second speech of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), which did not seem to be highly relevant to the bill, I should like to make one short observation about the views he expressed about the banning of the Communist party. This bill will not ban the Communist party. It will give to the Parliament power to ban that party. It will be for the Parliament to make up its own mind about how it shall exercise this power. At any rate, the honorable member for Hunter went tu some pains to explain that he, and presumably his party, are opposed to the banning of the Communists. Ever since this matter first came before the House last year, most of us have been entirely puzzled about how to discover where the Labour party stands in relation to this matter.
– It is like finding a needle in a haystack.
– That is quite right, it is like finding a needle in a haystack. I have a very vivid recollection, and 1 hope that it is in order for me to indulge myself in it, of the Labour party taking great credit for the fact that it supported at all stages the clause in the Communist Party Dissolution Bill which banned the Communist party. While we were saying that the Labour party wa? against the legislation the members of that party came back at us at once and said. “ Oh no, that is all nonsense ! True, we are against it in the matter of the onus of proof or on some provision of another kind, but we have not at any stage opposed the banning of the Communist party “. That is true. Honorable members opposite may put in their spare time searching the records of the debates and the divisions in this House on that bill, but they will find no vote cast by the Opposition against the banning of the Communist party. So where do they stand? They said last year that they were in favour of banning the Communist party, and now they are going to conduct a vigorous campaign to prevent this Parliament from having power to ban it. Of course, they are bitterly hostile to the Communists ! They have the most terrific detestation of the Communist party ! When they are challenged on this matter honorable gentlemen opposite like to say that banning is a futile thing, that it drives communism underground, and, indeed, will gain recruits for the Communists.
– The Prime Minister himself said that at one time.
– I have never made that statement. But I shall tell the committee what happens when the Communist party is allowed to remain legal. Iam now discussing whether or not we shall benefit that party by banning it, because there is great argument to the effect that banning the Communists will make martyrs of them and will stimulate theCommunist party by attracting recruits to it. It was very interested, therefore, to observe the statement that Mr. Sharkey made in a congress report on the work of the central committee of the Australian Communist party for the period between the 12th and 33th congresses. He had this to say - and he is an unimpeachable authority on Communist activity-
– You would know. You worked in conjunction with him.
– Yes, I know a great deal about him, although I did not enjoy his personal friendship as the honorable member does. ButI know a great deal about his work.
– What about the £30,000 you gave him ?
– What! Did I give him £30,000?
– No, but your party did-
– Really ! Now thehonorable member ceases to be funny. I began by thinking that he was a clown, but now I do not know what to think.
– You do not know how to think, anyway.
– Order ! The honorable member for Watson must remain silent.
– I shall return to Mr. Sharkey, who seems to have occasioned this attractive interlude. He said -
Despite the fact that the party consolidated and showed healthy growth in the illegal period and the party press appeared regularly, the ban hampered the work of the party. Contrary to the opinion of romanticists and leftists, the Communist party has no desirefor illegal conditions’ of work. An open legal party has greater opportunity for growth and mass contact than an illegal one.
I should think that those words are profoundly true, but if so they only increase the complete mystification that one experiences in contemplating the divided counsels on the other side of the committee. My friend, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan), made great play on the provisions of the Crimes Act. Here again the Labour party does not know where it stands. Nowadays it is the fashion for honorable members on the other side of the chamber to say, “ You do not need more powers to enable this Parliament to deal with Communists.. because yon have all the political and industrial provisions of the Crimes Act. There they are! The High Court has said they are good, why don’t you use them ? “ This is precisely the same Labour party which has, in clause 17 of its current federal platform, this provision -
Amend the Crimes Act by repealing the sections relating to political or industrial offences.
So where are they on that? They have never yet discovered.
Now I want to turn from that to some other arguments that have been used in the course of this debate. In the first place it has been said that it is a terrible thing to rule out the High Court. As a great believer in the High Court I should be at once attracted to dispute a provision that I thought intended to eliminate the activities of the court. But when the statement that it is a terrible thing to rule out the High Court comes from the other side of the committee I have to say to myself, “What are they getting at? How are we ruling out the High Court in this clause ? “ Of course the statement has reference to the words in the proposed new section 51a of the Constitution, which reads -
The Parliament shall have power to make such laws for peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to Communists or communism as the Parliament considers to be necessary or expedient for the defence or security of the Commonwealth . . .
The words “ as the Parliament considers “ are flexible words, but the High Court is not excluded by them, because the law has to be a law “with respect to Communists or communism “. If I am to be told now that there is some great principle involved in not using such words as “ as the Parliament considers “ because to some degree they give a flexibility to the power of the Parliament and thereby, by some curious reasoning, exclude the jurisdiction of the High Court, as we have been told in this debate, then all I can do is once more refer to the bill that was introduced by the right honorable and learned Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) himself, when he was AttorneyGeneral in 1942. That bill did not have a time limit, but was to effect a permanent alteration of the Constitution. At that time it did not seem at all a bad thing to exclude the jurisdiction of the High Court, because in the operative clause of that bill the right honorable gentleman proposed an amendment to give power to the Parliament in respect of all measures which - in the declared opinion of the Parliament–
You see, practically the same form of words on that point - will tend to achieve economic security and social justice, including the security of employment and the provision of useful occupations for all the people.
In simple terms, that was a power to give complete authority to this Parliament. It would have been difficult indeed to find one trifling thing that would not have come within its scope. To make assurance doubly sure, what was in the burden of that proposal which, admittedly, was not pursued? It was that it was necessary to secure the declared opinion of the Parliament. By what process of reasoning can it be argued that the declared opinion of the Parliament is a respectable condition to attach to a power in 1942, and a disrespectable condition to attach to a power in 1951 ? In other words, once more, where does the Opposition stand? Indeed, the words that we use are used with reference to a specific power over Communists and communism. In 1942 they were used with reference to an amendment of the Constitution which was as high as the sky and as deep as the sea.
The next argument to which I want to refer is that no power like this has ever been seen before. This really deserves a close scrutiny. This power is a specific power to deal with a specific amendment or power like it has ever been seen before.
– The Prime Minister himself said that it was unique.
– I ‘was speaking then on an entirely different point. I said that it was unique to make a specific reference to a specific act of parliament. I remind honorable members oppo-> site once more that their own platform to which every one of them is pledged seeks complete sovereign power for the Commonwealth Parliament. I think, indeed, that they are the precise words in the platform. Does not power over Communists and communism fall within that description? Does the Labour platform say that there should be complete sovereign power for the Australian Parliament except power over Communists ?
– We would not trust the Government with that power.
– Of course the Labour platform does not say so, but the Labour party in this Parliament does. It says that it believes that the Australian Parliament should have all power except power over Communists and communism. The best thing that they can think of now, hurriedly by way of explanation, is that they would not trust us with that power. Do they want to exercise power themselves against Communists?
– Very well, here is their chance and their only chance to get that power. I warn the honorable member that a constitutional alteration of the kind envisaged, once made, will endure through many parliaments and many governments, and that he himself may some day be standing here propounding a law under this very power. At any rate, that is a reasonable ambition. In other words, what the Labour party has’ to answer is the simple question, “Does it want all power to vest in this Parliament except the power to deal with Communists ? “ If that is the proposition that the members of that party are going to argue before the people, then the sooner they begin to argue it the better pleased we shall be.
It has been argued that if we are to preserve the rule of law we must reject this proposed amendment. It is strange to hear that the rule of law will be violated if the National Parliament of Australia is given power to pass a law based on its own judgment, a democratic law, and in this case a law for which there is a specific mandate. What sort of nonsense is uttered when the Opposition tells us that when the Parliament exercises or claims to exercise a sovereignty of that kind it is violating the rule of law? On the contrary, it is establishing the rule of law. That is the whole purpose of this bill.
It is curious that the Labour party should make this exception from its own platform, which is the only exception it makes that I know of. It is an exception in favour of Communists. Therefore, I want every honorable member opposite to put this question to himself : “ What could this Government do under the alteration that is now proposed that a government could not do under the alteration of the Constitution that Labour proposes should be made ? “ Let everybody who has any capacity to think put that question to himself. “What law can be passed under this power that we are seeking from the people that the Opposition or the Government could not pass if the alteration of the Constitution envisaged by the Labour party platform was made?” Honorable members opposite may have not less than two months or more than six months to work out the answer to that one; in fact they will never discover the answer to it. But the people will discover it. They will say, “Is not that odd? Why this curious sensitiveness, why this abandonment of the true Labour view that all power should be concentrated at Canberra ? “ The answer of the Labour party would be, “ We should like to have all power, but one group of people must be protected from the power of the National Parliament. That is the Communists “. If the Labour party is, as it sometimes says it is, the enemy of communism, here is its chance. But if it is the friend of communism it will continue to do public and private violence to its own platform and to its own often proclaimed faith.
– The question that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) asked, and which he believes to be so difficult to answer, is in fact quite easily answered. As the question was put it admits of only one answer. The Prime Minister asked whether certain things could be done if a part of the Labour party’s platform, which stipulates that all powers should be given to the Australian Government, were put into effect. He asked whether a bill like this could be passed under such circumstances. The answer is, “ Of course it could “, so really the great question does not need answering. But this is not a hill to give all power to the Australian Parliament. The Labour party policy is that all power should be given to the National Parliament and that provincial autonomy should be extended by a system of local government. That has nothing to do with the question of whether in one isolated matter it is proper and just to give a particular power to the Australian Parliament. I shall give the chamber one or two illustrations to prove my point. Sovereignty means complete power over everything. In authoritative works like that of Dicey, which deal with the British Constitution, this topic is discussed. The Parliament in England could pass a law which provided for the killing at birth of every infant with eyes of a certain colour. That is a fantastic but a good illustration of how sovereignty could be exercised. Does the Prime Minister think that because the Labour party believes in giving general sovereignty to the Commonwealth and providing for the exercise of sovereignty through provinces, it would be a proper thing and in accordance with the spirit of that resolution to bring down such a proposal limited to any particular power? There have been cases in England of legislation having been introduced to ban not Communists, but persons of other minorities. Two or three hundred years ago members of the Roman Catholic church were banned. There were bans against Jewish people. The history of the English Constitution has been one of a gradual sweeping away of such things.
– Why does the right honorable gentleman not give us the answer?
– The honorable member should continue to listen to me. He might learn something, although I do not believe that to be likely.
I shall give another illustration of sovereignty. It is a part of sovereignty to be able to ban every member of a particular church; for example the Presbyterian church. Let us suppose that this Government proposed to introduce a bill for a constitutional alteration limited to the banning of the Ministers of that church, would it be valid to argue that it should be allowed because cf the Labour party’s belief that all sovereignty should be given to the National Parliament? We might believe in sovereignty for the Australian Parliament, but that does not mean that we would support an isolated, limited, tyrannical proposal which no decent person would vote for.
– The right honorable gentleman believes in all sovereignty except over Communists?
– That is not the proposal. The Prime Minister draws this une little matter out of a million subjectmatters. This is a limited proposal. I ask the Prime Minister, why does he limit himself to people like Communists? Why does he not deal also with fascists and fascism ? He does not want to deal with them, he wants the power to be as narrow i>s possible. Why does he want it to be so limited ?
The Government’s second proposal is virtually that an act of parliament which the High Court declared unconstitutional shall be re-enacted. If the object of the bill be to secure power to re-enact the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950, what does the Government want to do under proposed section 51a (1.) which it cannot do under proposed section 51a(2.)? I say that this is a tyrannical piece of legislation which interferes with the rule of law. The bill asks for power to re-enact the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950, without alteration. The Prime Minister says that he asks for this power and that he intends to use it. The public will believe that the Government will use the power if it is granted.
The purpose of this bill is to allow the Cabinet, instead of the judicial organs of the Commonwealth, to decide certain things. It will be for the Cabinet to declare that a man is seditious, or is interfering with the defence of the country. The High Court said that the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 was a law not with respect to defence but with respect to the opinion of the Government; yet the Government wants to persist with it. The Prime Minister claims that this bill will not ban the Communist party, it will only give to the Parliament, power to do so. Does he intend to use the power if he gets it?
– I certainly do.
– Therefore, the giving of the power is not the substance of the matter. Then the right honorable gentleman asks where the Labour party stands on this matter. He alleges that there is no consistency in its attitude, and that the Opposition in this chamber has not always taken a point of view that is entirely consistent. That is perfectly correct. Under certain circumstances, decisions of the conference of the Labour party were not accepted for the time being. We may be criticized for that, but I do not deny that it is a fact. I say that the view that we are now expressing to the Parliament and the people is not only that of the Labour movement, but also the proper one.
Let me read to the House an extract from a speech on communism that the
Prime Minister delivered in this chamber on the 15th May, 1947. It is as follows : -
One reason why I have repeatedly expressed the view that these people should be dealt with in the open is that I have complete confidence in the basic sanity of our own people. If we deal with these people openly we shall defeat them, but we cannot deal with them openly unless their operations are known and unless they themselves are known.
I do not complain about that, but I point out that the Prime Minister’s present view is inconsistent with it. Therefore, an argument about past statements and inconsistencies does not come convincingly from him. On that occasion, the right honorable gentleman quoted from a report of the Communist party which stated that, during the period when the party was banned, there was, according to party officials, a healthy growth of communism. Imagine a political party being banned and its membership increasing !
– Order! The time of the right honorable gentleman has expired.
.- I shall detain the committee for only a minute.
– I wish to take my second period.
– The right honorable gentleman cannot do that if another honorable member rises.
– Reference has been made to what happened when the Communist party was banned in 1940. There is a belief that it flourished under the ban, but an inquiry that has just been completed indicates that, in point of fact, the membership of the Communist party in Australia fell very sharply after the ban was imposed and did not begin to increase again until after Russia had intervened in the war and the Australian government of the day had relaxed the enforcement of the ban. During the period before the ban was actually lifted, the then government winked its eye at the ban and went so far as to permit a public campaign for membership of the Communist party to be initiated and a journal for that purpose to be openly published.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Ms. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . ‘ . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - put -
That the bill he now read a third time.
The House divided. (Me. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 23
– The result of the division being, “Ayes” 64, “Noes” 41, I certify that the third reading of the measure has been agreed to by an absolute majority of the members of the House as required by the Constitution.
Bill read a third time.
Thursday, 12 July 1951
Declaration of Urgency.
– I declare that the Defence Preparations Bill 1951 is an urgent bill.
Question put -
That the bill be considered an urgent bill.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the time allotted in connexion with the bill be as follows: -
For the second reading, until 11.15 p.m., on Thursday, 12th July.
For the Committee stage, until 2.45 a.m., on Friday, 13th July.
For the remaining stages, until 3 a.m., on Friday, 13th July.
– I protest against the application of the “ guillotine “ at all, but I particularly protest against its application to one of the most important measures that has been brought before the Parliament in 50 years of federation. It seems strange that, in this jubilee year, we should have before us a bill that purports to establish the war-time control of industry in peace-time, and that it is to be rushed through the House-
– Order ! The honorable member may not discuss the bill at this stage.
– I am not discussing the bill. I am saying that it is extraordinary that the Government should propose to rush such an important, measure through the House in such a brief time. Honorable members are elected to do their duty to the nation. They are elected to be in their places in this House, and to sit here every day of the year, if necessary, to serve the democracy of Australia. But this Government treats the Opposition and its own tame, timid, subjugated backbenchers with such contumely that they are expected to agree to the proposition that the Parliament shall be closed on Friday the 13th July - a most significant day if one were superstitious - -because it has decided that the Parliament must rise on that day. I am reminded by interjection from the Government side that the 13th July is the date which followed that on which the Battle of the Boyne was fought. It is also the date that precedes the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille, and that is a more significant event in the history of mankind than is even the Battle of the Boyne.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . 24
Question so resolvedin the affirmative.
Debate resumed (vide page 1410).
– I rise to support this bill. I hoped, when this measure was first mooted and its principles were indicated in the. Governor-General’s Speech, that the Government would be afforded some constructive co-operation by the Labour party. But, when the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) spoke earlier this evening, it was apparent that he had clothed himself in the robes of an academician and had chosen to disregard entirely the perils of the hour. The right honorable gentleman and some, though not all, of his colleagues, seem to have an inadequate appreciation of the immediate and pressing dangers that beset the democratic world. In the last Parliament we saw how they obstructed the passage of what, after all, was a very modest and moderate measure, the National Service Bill, to the brink of an election until, perceiving the probable consequences of their conduct, they recoiled. Now we witness the same unreasoning opposition to this bill. The Leader of the Opposition particularly persists in the fanciful doctrine that an early war is unlikely. In doing so, he and his colleagues are not only foolishly and hopelessly trying to mislead the House but are also doing a very great disservice to that section of public opinion which they claim to represent.
The attitude which was made manifest to-night is in marked contrast to the attitude of the socialist counterparts of the Opposition in other parts of the British Empire. The views that the Leader of the Opposition has expressed are certainly not held bythePrime Minister of Great Britain.The British Labour Government plans to expend £1,800,000,000 on defence in this year alone. That Government is under no illusions that that is some fictitious issue fostered by a propaganda campaign from the Right. It knows full well what the dire realities of the world situation are and it also realizes that there is very little time in which to prepare against the holocaust. What goes for Mr. Attlee may also be said of the Labour party in New Zealand. I was amazed to hear the Leader of the Opposition declare that the Government’s proposals in relation to this measure shouldbe l inked with another matter, which this House has been deliberating, and put to a referendum later in the year. There again we have the same manifestation of unawareness of danger and irresponsible tendency to delay. The attitude of the Opposition seems to honorable members on this side of the House to be at variance with its basic principles. For years now we have been accustomed to have preached at us by honorable members opposite the supposed virtues of centralization of authority in this Parliament. Yet, when the exigencies of the times induce this Government to bring forward a measure of this nature,- which, I admit, could be viewed with grave suspicion and distrust if times were normal, they apparently forget their previous protestations and seek to defeat the bill by using theoretical arguments which completely ignore the storms by which we are encompassed.
The bill is prompted in some degree by a disability that is common to all democracies. Overwhelming though the arguments in favour of democratic government may be, we must recognize nevertheless that, as with all human institutions, democracies are subject to defects. Ohe of those failings, as history has shown repeatedly, is that, in societies such as we have in Australia, action tends to be too cumbersome in a prewar period. What is our undoubted strength in peace becomes an equally undoubted liability in times of crisis which demand the adoption of swift methods to counter the machinations of totalitarian foes. It is not necessary to labour this point. We still have the terrible experience of the thirties fresh in our minds. That decade will be characterized in history as one of lost opportunities when the British countries talked too long and acted too little. This disadvantage is common to all democracies and we have seen it manifested particularly in unitary systems of government such as Great Britain and New Zealand enjoy. But in a federation such as ours, the seriousness of the fault is accentuated by a definite demarcation of powers between ‘this Parliament and the State parliaments. It is this inherent shortcoming that the bill seeks to correct. lt can be fairly claimed that the Government has a clear mandate for this legislation. The proposal was mentioned unambiguously by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his policy speech on the 3rd April. The objective of all honorable members on the Government side of the House has been to institute as soon as possible a speedier and more comprehensive programme of defence preparations. In fact, if there has been any criticism - and I confess that I have been critical from time to time - it has been to the effect that the Government has nor moved quickly enough. Ministers have recognized the dangers clearly, but have not taken sufficiently dramatic action to rectify our weaknesses. During the last election campaign, our cry for more urgent defence preparations was heard by the people from a thousand platforms. Now, fairly earl) in the lifetime of this new Parliament, the proposed legislation has been presented in its entirety and, in view of the undoubted mandate that the Government received from the people, it should bs greeted sympathetically instead of with hostility by the Opposition. What man, trying to read accurately the signs of the times, can honestly deny that our available opportunities to prepare against th-.’ impending storm are fast running out? The Prime Minister has warned the nation on several occasions that we have until the end of 1953 to complete ou.i preparations. With the greatest respect to the right honorable gentleman, I say that, if anything, his estimate is too liberal. It seems to me that the time of acute danger is now, as we sit in this chamber. Probably 1952 will bc decisive, one way or the other, for the fate of man kind. But, if allied plans proceed aright and legislation such as this is wisely applied, there is every possibility that we. along with Great Britain, the United States of America, Canada and our other allies, will be able to present such a display of preponderant strength by the end of 1952 as will deter the Kremlin from causing a world war. Australia has an important part to play in’ this vast preventive campaign. Accordingly, the Government requires every serviceable weapon in its armoury.
We must prepare to combat not only the enemy without but also the enemy within, so constantly mentioned in this House, especially by honorable members opposite. I refer to the rising spiral of prices and the calamity of inflation with which we are now being threatened. ] am not in the confidence of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), but it is obvious that defence expenditure in the current financial year will increase considerably, perhaps to the level df £200,000,000. What must be the impact of such expenditure on the ordinary economy of the country, unless the Government is prepared under legislation such as this to order some allocation of materials and’ capital, and, indirectly, of man-power?
It is to be hoped that the State governments, the great trade unions, public bodies, and organized groups of public opinion, will not be frightened by some of the aspects of this bill. It is to be hoped also that they will not be undulyalarmed by the gloomy prognostications of the Leader of the Opposition. From statements that have been made by the right honorable gentleman and a number of other people in this country during the last few days it is clear that there are still a number of persons in high places who are not displaying a true appreciation of the world issues at stake. I think it is singularly inappropriate of the Leader of the Opposition to raise the cry of invasion of State rights. That is a very false and mischievous issue to raise at this juncture, for unless this Parliament makes provision for the security and defence of this country in all its ramifications, within three or four years there may not be any State rights left to invade. There may be a national invasion of a much more violent nature.
The representatives of a number of organizations such as the Australian Chamber of Manufactures, have made very remarkable statements within the last few days. The Government and those who support it will not he deflected from doing what they feel to be their duty by any group of organized opinion, whether from the Eight or the Left. Hints that the validity of this legislation may be challenged are quite unreasonable. If an organization such as the Australian Chamber of Manufactures unnecessarily challenges the validity of regulations that may be made under this legislation they will do this country a grave disservice. National Security Regulations were accepted in war-time by an overwhelming majority of people despite the annoyance that they caused. Is it not reasonable to ask that similar regulations should be accepted now with equally good grace, in a determined attempt to avert an even more terrible conflict ?
The Leader of the Opposition made no reference in the course of his strictures to the very patent safeguards that have been inserted in the bill. He omitted to mention that this legislation is of a very temporary character. It has been expressly drafted so as to terminate in 1953. In other words, by the time it becomes law it will have less than two and a half years of effective operation before it. As honorable members know, regulations made under this bill may be disallowed. The Leader of the Opposition seemed inclined to jeer at this notion, and he voiced the amazing supposition that Parliament might not be convoked by the Government for a long period. I am sure there can ‘be no sincerity behind a remark such as that. The Leader of the Opposition would do well to recall that the Nineteenth Parliament met at some time in every month except two of 1950. I should imagine that that Parliament sat for a longer time in 1950 than did any previous parliament of the Commonwealth in the course of a year. An illustration of the Government’s desire to convoke Parliament whenever necessary was the speed with which the House was summoned when the Korean crisis occurred.
Furthermore sub-clause 3 of clause 4 contains notable groups of exceptions to the provisions of this bill. They have been classified under the headings of taxation, the borrowing of money, the compulsory direction of labour and the extension of any existing obligation to naval, army, or air force service. They are four groups of subjects of tremendous import. Members of the Government parties are well aware of the dangers of bureaucracy. Those of my generation, at any rate, who grew up between the last two wars were reared upon the concept that the duty of public men was to protect those whom they represented as much as possible from the encroachment of bureaucrats and civil servants. I recommend to honorable members that they should read a wellknown book entitled The New Despotism by Lord Hewart, a former Lord Chief Justice of England, which deals with the subject of bureaucracy. Honorable members on this side of the House do not intend to champion the cause of the bureaucrat. Never has a Commonwealth parliament possessed so many members who were so intent upon limiting the powers and influence of civil servants on the liberties and life of the people.
All democratic government presupposes some degree of trust in the executive of the day. It is incontestible that every government must be equipped with the most far-reaching powers. If honorable members were to search through the statutes that have been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament during the last fifty years they would be surprised to find the stringent power that this Parliament already possesses. And since honorable members of the Opposition have spoken about the inconsistency of the Government I would remind them of their own inconsistency in relation to the Crimes Act. For years the platform of the Labour party has provided that certain penalty sections of the Crimes Act should be deleted. It was remarkable that during the eight years of office of the Curtin and Chifley Governments .the Crimes Act was not amended in any material way.
Moreover, in Australia the sanction of public opinion is never very far away. This Parliament is elected at least every three years. Australia does not have the quinquennial elections which are held in some countries including England. An executive which has to face its masters every three years is not likely to indulge in oppression such as that at which the Leader of the Opposition hinted. I hope that honorable members of the Opposition have not committed themselves so deeply that they cannot give a second thought to this measure or, at any rate, that they cannot give their co-operation to the Government in its attempt to make the legislation effective when it has been passed. This legislation will only partially succeed unless honorable members, particularly those who represent the great trade unions, are prepared to co-operate in infusing a more harmonious spirit into our industrial life. It is not enough for legislation such as this merely to provide for the carving up of the turkey. The Government must be given more power so that it may ensure that there are more birds produced and larger portions to go round so that more people may enjoy the feast.
One of the circumstances that make this bill necessary is inadequate production. If, with the assistance of certain honorable members of the Opposition, the Government can eliminate unnecessary strikes from heavy industries, obtain more consistent work during the fortyhour week, and thus create an expanded output in the coal and steel industries, it will be possible to enable Australia to maintain its standard of living and, at the same time, prepare for the exigencies of a total war. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition, and every organization that participates in our national life, should be prepared to join the Government in making comprehensive defence preparations on a grand scale. It has often been said that the business of an opposition is to oppose. That dictum should be qualified. In times of crisis and emergency such as those through which we are undoubtedly passing it is the duty of an opposition to assist in the government of the country. Although honorable members of the Opposition may fulminate against this measure on the floor of the House I hope that when it has been passed they will try to ensure its full implementation so that we can safeguard all that we hold so dear in this land of ours.
.- I listened attentively to the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) in the hope that his speech would give some reasonable explanation of the Government’s desire to have this measure passed, but he has added nothing to my understanding of the bill. Rather, his speech was in the nature of an apology for his being compelled to support a bill of this kind. He certainly did tell us - and this is becoming quite a parrot cry now - that the Government has a clear mandate to legislate in this direction. He is evidently so used to repeating that phrase that he could not avoid using it on this occasion, or else he has a very short memory, because in all the speeches that, the Prime Minister (Mr, Menzies) made during the last two general election campaigns, points that he hammered at were that he and his party were opposed to government control; that they would remove all the controls that it was possible to remove; that they believed in freedom of action for the people; and that they would allow the people to have a free go in every direction. Statements of that kind led me, at any rate, to believe that the Government intended to get rid of government boards and all the government controls that it was possible to remove. But in presenting this measure to the House the Prime Minister and the Government parties have completely somersaulted in relation to the promises that they made to the electors. I point out that not only during the 1951 general election campaign, but also during the 1949 campaign, the Prime Minister made certain promises. One of his statements in 1951 was as follows : -
The policy I enunciated to the people in 1049 is still my policy. If returned to power I will continue to implement the promises which were made in my policy speech of 1949.
This bill is another example of the failure of the Prime Minister to carry out the promises he made to the people, Instead of fulfilling his undertakings he is endeavouring to force through this Parliament legislation which is the outright antithesis of everything that he promised during the last general election campaign. This bill is a measure not to remove controls, but to impose on the people of Australia in time of peace what we might term the worst of war-time controls. The honorable member for Angas suggested that we,” as an Opposition, should co-operate with the Government on this occasion on the ground that the country is in a state of national emergency, that we are on the brink of war and, in fact, that war appears to be inevitable. So he asked for our support. I remind him and other honorable members opposite that the Leader of the Opposi tion (Dr. Evatt) said in his speech on the second reading of this bill that the Labour party will give general support to any specific measures put before the Parliament which will have a real effect in assisting to provide for the defence of Australia. The offer of. cooperation has been made by the Leader of the Opposition, speaking on behalf of the Opposition; but offers of that, kind are not accepted by the Government. The attitude of the Government ar all times is, “ We have the numbers. Numbers count. We shall do as we please without giving the Opposition any’ consideration of any kind “. The dictatorial attitude of the Government is definitely shown by the fact that although the debate on this bill sorted only to-night a time limit has already been put on it, and we are to be required to discuss it right, through to the small hours of to-morrow morning. That is legislation by exhaustion.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman may not develop thai theme, because the House has already voted on that matter.
– I am merely mentioning it and I do not want to make a speech about it. This measure will be carried through this House by the process of physically exhausting members of the Opposition and possibly also honorable members on the Government side. This is a matter of supreme importance to the people. It is legislation the like of which, I suppose, has never before been presented to the Australian Parliament in peace-time. It is a proposal, in effect, to take out of the hands of the elected representatives of the people the job of legislating for the good government of Australia and to hand over that power to a small coterie which will govern by regulation. That coterie will close the Parliament down and will be able to do its own sweet will. It will be able to make regulations to cover all kinds of matters except some that come under four heads. Those four heads have been mentioned before, but they will bear repetition. The regulation-makers will not be able without reference to the Parliament, to alter the taxation laws, to borrow money on the public credit of the Commonwealth, to make any regulations for the compulsory direction of labour, or to impose or extend compulsory naval, military or air force service. But in every other direction we are to be governed by regulations, and we do not know for sure who will make the regulations. The Prime Minister may make them. The entire Cabinet may have a say in making them. Clause 5 of the bill provides that a person who is completely unknown to the majority of honorable members may have the making of the regulations. The clause states - (1.) The regulations may empower a person to make orders providing for any matter which may be provided for by the regulations.
When this bill is passed it will give “ a person “ power to make orders in respect of regulations. But who will this person be ? Will it be the Prime Minister ? Will it be the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Kent Hughes)? Will it be the honorable member for Angus? Or will it be a public servant or a person brought in from industry? All we know about it is that the regulations “may empower a person to make orders “. That person could be anybody in Australia. This Parliament, “which was elected to govern the Commonwealth, will have no say in the matter. We are told that the regulations eventually will be submitted to the Parliament - that is, if the Prime Minister and his Government decide that they will allow the Parliament to meet. Our experience of the meetings of the Parliament under this Government is, as I have said before, that numbers count irrespective of any arguments that may be advanced by the Opposition. Numbers count to such a great degree that in the four or five weeks of this sessional period the Opposition has been almost completely gagged in relation to all measures that have come before us.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman cannot go on to the question of what has happened in this session. He must not refer to that. He must confine himself to the bill.
– I merely wish to make a. comparison of the treatment that we received-
-Order! That is completely out of order.
– You are in charge, Mr. Speaker, and I bow to your ruling, but this is a remarkable measure and it reminds me of a bill that was passed by the previous Parliament. I do not wish to transgress, but the - way in which this bill has been drafted reminds me of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill which was passed by the previous Parliament. That bill had a long preamble, and in passing it the Parliament arrived at a number of decisions. An appeal to the High Court resulted in a judgment to the effect that the Parliament could not make decisions of the kind that were stated in the preamble of the bill, and that is was the duty and within the power of the High Court to decide the guilt or otherwise of persons who might be involved within the terms of that preamble. This bill also has a very long preamble. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned that there are 45 lines in it. It is similar to the preamble of the former bill in that it makes statements which are alleged to be facts but which, I suggest, -are statements which will have to be proved to the satisfaction of the High Court, because that court has the power and the duty to decide such matters. In the event of an appeal being lodged against the provisions of the bill the Government will have to prove to the court that the statements made in the preamble are facts. I am inclined to believe that the Government will find itself in a similar position in relation to an appeal to the High Court on this bill as it found itself in in relation to the appeal to the court on the Communist Party Dissolution Act. I know that there are some very eminent counsel in the Cabinet. I think that there are six eminent King’s Counsellors in it, and that there are other legal gentlemen in the ranks of Government supporters. Even back benches on the Government side include men with legal qualifications. Government supporters also include an ex-professor who claims to have a great deal of knowledge of our Constitution. But it is a remarkable fact that five justices of the High Court told all these legal luminaries that they were entirely wrong and, in effect,, that they had no idea of what the Constitution permitted them to do. The same eminent legal gentlemen have made exactly the same mistakes in connexion with this bill. Because of that fact I think that this bill requires a great deal of consideration. It is not of much use to bring us here to discuss measures which the High Court will immediately invalidate. I do not claim to be even a bush lawyer but I hope that I have a little common sense, and it appears to me that the Government is walking into another pitfall on this occasion. I have little doubt about what the High Court will do with this measure if there is an appeal against it. Some of the provisions of the bill are remarkable when they are compared with statements contained in the Prime Minister’s policy speeches in 1949 and 1951. The right honorable gentleman said on those occasions that we must get rid of bureaucratic controls. We must reduce the number of Government employees-
– He said that he was going to introduce this bill.
– Nevertheless he did not tell us about government by regulation. All the way through those campaigns he and other Government speakers spoke about democracy and said that every one would have freedom-
– The honorable member has not read the Prime Minister’s policy speech.
– I have read it.
– The only trouble is that the honorable member cannot understand it.
– This cross-talk must cease. The sitting might be shortened if it were.
– A cessation of crossfiring might help me. I direct attention to some of the matters in regard to which regulations may be made under the measure. They are set out in clause 4 (2.) and include -
When I first read that I hoped that the Government had had a change of mind, in one direction in particular, in regard to the burning question of inflation which is worrying the majority of Australians to-day. I thought for a moment, but only for a moment, that perhaps the Government was going to take action to prevent the spiral of inflation from going higher, and that it would take control of prices and profits so that we could get back to something like a stable economy. I find that the Government still has no intention of applying this regulation in that direction, although I believe that if it is found to be constitutional the Government will have full power to take control. Control of that nature would be of great value to the vast majority of the people. Because it would be of advantage to the workers, I have no doubt that the Government will not exercise it. Paragraph (b) of the subclause reads -
Therefore it can be taken that there will be a great deal of control exercised over such matters. Certain luxury industries may be closed down by regulation, and the production of certain industries may be changed from peace-time goods towar-time goods. There could also be an adjustment by our defence preparations. The next paragraph reads -
I suggest that that is merely a little fancy window dressing to cover the Government’s action in departing from another of its so-called principles, which is that it is at all times opposed to the conscription of labour. When we consider paragraphs (b) and (c) of the sub-clause that I have quoted, we find that, by the control of resources and the adjustment of the economy to meet the threat of war or the avoidance of economic dislocation, the Government will be able to control and direct labour. When the economy is reorganized, men who are in full employment to-day will find themselves out of” work. The only work that they will then be able to obtain will be in industries that the Government considers essential. That is in effect the direction of labour. I shall now read to the House, a telegram which I received to-day from Melbourne, tt is addressed to me and reads -
Everybody violently opposed to defence preparations bill. Suggest , bill to regulate queues manufacturers endeavouring to get defence orders. Only socialistic departments so far given preference in defence orders.
That is signed “Warner, M.L.C.” Mr. Warner is a prominent member of the Liberal party in Victoria, and the Minister at the table (Mr. Kent Hughes) was at one time a Minister in the same ministry as Mr. Warner.
We were told by the honorable member for Angas that this bill was a good proposition. Then he adversely criticized the Associated Chambers of Manufactures for their opposition to it. Yet a leading Liberal, who is also a member of the Victorian Parliament has appealed to me, a mere Labour Opposition member in this Parliament, to do my best to prevent a government of his own colour from passing legislation which, in his opinion, is very dangerous. We have heard so much recently of the terrible people known as socialists, that it seems rather remarkable that, according to the telegram, a Liberal government can be accused by a Liberal member of the Victorian Parliament of giving preference to socialists. Wonders will never cease. According to press reports a number of back-benchers on the Government side are also violently opposed to these proposals. I have read in the press that- it has been necessary for the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to issue instructions to honorable members of his own party to do as they are told. I understand that, although they were strongly opposed to the provisions of the bill, the Prime Minister was able to enforce his will upon them.
The Liberal party preaches that it believes in free democracy, and yet the leaders of the Government are coercing the members of the party into doing something that they believe is entirely wrong.
– The Opposition takes orders from the federal executive of the Labour party.
– Yes, we openly admit that. Everybody knows that our rule is that the will of the majority shall prevail. But members of the Liberal party hypocritically tell us that they have freedom of action and speech, which, definitely, is not correct.
– Order ! The honorable member must return to a discussion of the bill.
– Another provision probably put into this bill as a sop to discontented members of the Liberal party is that the measure shall continue in force only until the 31st December, 1953, unless repealed earlier by proclamation. When the Prime Minister introduced the bill he told us that we had a period of three years in which to prepare for a possible war. As he is a responsible member of the Government, we are entitled to accept that as a responsible statement; yet the bill is to remain in force only for two and a half years. It is well to remember that the troubles that we are labouring under may continue for four or five years. If all the things envisaged by the bill are necessary, there should be no limitation upon its duration. Perhaps that matter could be explained by the Government. I am prepared to admit that we are living in serious times and that there are threats of war. There are 123 members of this House and 60 members of another place. Surely the 1S3 elected representatives of the people are better able to make decisions about our defence preparedness than are nineteen or twenty Ministers, or the members of the National Security Resources Board which has been appointed by the Cabinet. We should prepare ourselves in a democratic manner, and let people know what we are doing. A dictatorship should not be set up. We should not say to Soviet Russia, “ We believe that you are preparing for war. We expect you to start in a certain time, but if you do not start and our preparations are advanced sufficiently we shall start to fight you “. Instead of warmongering and throwing down the gauntlet to another nation we should be talking a little more about peace.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Eggins) adjourned. ,
T he Parliament - Pensions - Commonwealth Jubilee Celebrations - Immigration.
Motion (by Mr. Kent Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
. -I shall raise several matters now, because the present sessional period will end soon and for some time thereafter honorable members will not have an opportunity to discuss in Parliament problems in which they and their constituents are vitally interested. I am rather confused al out something that happened recently in this Parliament and I seek your advice upon it, Mr. Speaker. I refer to the decision that you gave after a point of order was taken by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth).
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) cannot raise that matter now.
– I am asking for advice.
– The honorable gentleman will not get any advice from me upon it now. There are certain methods that he can adopt to obtain the advice which he wants. He is completely out of order now.
– -Evidently I shall have to take advantage of another occasion to try to get the advice that I want. The present sessional period will end soon, and because the Government proposes to use its brutal majority there will be few opportunities during the present sittings to raise matters in the House.
-Order! If the honorable gentleman wishes to raise a matter that can be discussed on this motion I shall listen to him, but I am not prepared to listen to what he is attempting to deal with now. As I have said, there arc certain methods by which he can do what he wants to do, but this is not one of them.
– .If you refuse to give me the advice that I desire, I must accept your decision, Mr. Speaker. There are a few other matters that I want to raise now, because after the end of this week 1 shall not be able to do so for some time. Regardless of the fact that we are confronted with many urgent economic problems that affect the well-being of a large section of the Australian community, the Government proposes that very soon the present series of sittings should cease and that the Parliament shall not meet again for a considerable time. While the Government has been introducing bills that, it has claimed to be urgent measures, it has been completely neglecting its duty to grapple with many important problems.
Unless some action be taken almost immediately, some unfortunate members of the community will be faced with the prospect of having to struggle along miserably for a few months, at least until the budget session begins, in the hope that then the privations that they are undergoing will be alleviated to some degree. I refer to persons who are in receipt of Commonwealth social services payments. Not a day passes without an increase of the price of some foodstuffs or some article of clothing that these people require. Within the last 24 hours, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) has made a statement which indicates that the price of butter is likely to rise by from 8d. to ls. per lb. The Government expects pensioners to exist, on £2 .10s. a week. I use the word “exist” advisedly. If a pensioner used the whole of his pension to buy food, and did not expend anything upon clothing or the few smokes and drinks that an old pioneer is entitled to expect in his declining years, he could pay only approximately 2s. for a meal. Everybody knows that at the present time it is impossible to buy a meal for 2s. Pensioners have not even a low standard of living. They have only a standard of existence.
Although the Government is preparing great schemes that will involve the expenditure of huge sums of money, all that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has said in answer to the many questions that have been . directed to him about what the Government proposes to do to relieve the plight of pensioners is that that is a matter of Government policy that will be dealt with in the budget. During the last general election campaign, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that these unfortunate people could rely upon the Government to take care of them. Therefore, they are entitled to know when the Government proposes to do something for them. Many clergymen have directed attention to the dire need of pensioners, and even the daily press, which is prejudiced against the Labour party, has been compelled to publish articles giving details of their present plight. One reverend gentleman who works in the Newtown district of Sydney has continually protested that pensioners are literally starving. It is all very well for the Treasurer, who is well provided for, to say that the Government’s plans in regard to pensioners will be disclosed when the budget is introduced, but that is rather like telling a horse to live while the grass is growing. “We want to know what immediate relief the Government proposes to give to these unfortunate people.
Although the Government, on the one hand, says that it cannot afford to give pensioners an opportunity to live as human beings and to provide them with the necessaries of life, it is, on the other hand, proceeding to implement grandiose schemes for bringing more immigrants to this country. There is no limit to the expense that it is prepared to incur to bring people to this country. There has never been any suggestion that the number of immigrants shall be limited because insufficient money is available. The Government will bring to Australia as many people as it can secure, regardless of expense. Ministers have talked about the Government’s plans for raising the living standards of the people of South-East Asia, but it is time that they devoted some attention to improving the standard of living of a very deserving section of our own community.
Recently, I directed the attention of the Parliament to the lavish scale on which the jubilee celebrations were held in this city and pointed out that there had been no suggestion of any lack of money for expenditure upon those celebrations. Therefore, the public are entitled to know what the Government proposes to do to assist the people who really built this country and who made possible the establishment of this Parliament and the election of members to it. Does the Government propose to close the present sessional period without doing anything to alleviate the plight of age and invalid pensioners and persons who are receiving widow’s pensions and war pensions? I say that the Parliament should continue to sit in order that we can devote some attention to that urgent problem.
I shall refer now to the vexed matter of immigration. Some honorable gentlemen opposite are now raising their voices and questioning the advisability of continuing to bring immigrants here on the present scale. For approximately eighteen months I have been trying to make the Parliament understand that by bringing people to this country in such large numbers that we cannot absorb all of them into our economy, we are prejudicing the future well-being of Australia. I have pointed out that the present rate of arrivals is placing a great strain upon available housing accommodation. Many Australian families are living under such bad conditions that if an epidemic were to occur there would be so many deaths in congested areas that the community would be appalled. Honorable gentlemen on this side of the chamber have not referred to isolated cases when they have said that families of six or seven persons are living in one room.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
National Fitness Act - Commonwealth Council for National Fitness - Report of Twelfth Session, December, 1950.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Civil Aviation - S. G. F. Ross.
Works and Housings - B. P. Beilby, R. F. Bennett, L. Boord, K. H. Krummel, J. W. Overall, P. N. Pass, H. E. Pottage.
House adjourned at 1.55 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
– On the 22nd June, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) asked the following question : -
Will the Prime Minister discuss with the responsible Minister or Ministers the advisability of sending to the north-west of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, during the forthcoming recess, a parliamentary delegation representing all sections of the Parliament? The object of such a visit, in my opinion, would he to stimulate interest in those areas where development on a national basis is so urgently required.
In view of the fact that the installation of a new Administrator of the Northern Territory is now proceeding and that there is the prospect of a visit to the territory by the Governor of South Australia, there are at the moment certain technical difficulties such as reception and transport which rule out the possibility of a parliamentary delegation visiting the Northern Territory during the forthcoming parliamentary recess. Coupled with this is the fact that as the monsoonal season would halt land travel in northern Australia from October onwards, such a visit as suggested by the honorable member would necessarily be so brief as to be of doubtful value. This in no way signifies any neglect of the Northern Territory by the Government, for the value of stimulating the interest of members of Parliament in the territories and informing them about the accompanying problems, is fully realized. It is the intention of the Minister for Territories himself to visit the Northern Territory during the recess accompanied by the Secretary of his Department. As the honorable member knows, there are certain parliamentary travel privileges which members of Parliament can use and which would facilitate any intended visit to the Northern Territory. I have the assurance of the Minister for Territories that if any member, in exercising those privileges, contemplates visiting the area, he will receive every assistance from the Minister and from his department.
k asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Under the Education Act of 1945 the functions of the Office of Education arc defined as - (a) to advise the Minister on matters relating to education; (6) to establish and maintain a liaison on matters relating to education with other countries and with the States; (c) to arrange consultation between Commonwealth authorities concerned with matters relating to education; (d) to undertake research relating to education; (e) to provide statistics and information relating to education required by any Commonwealth authority, and
The total staff employed in each State is as follows: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has furnished the following answers: -
h asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions . -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 July 1951, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1951/19510711_reps_20_213/>.