23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
- Mr. Speaker, with your guidance, I shall not direct this question to the Prime Minister, not wishing to touch him on a very sore spot, but to the Minister for Trade as it concerns trade and economic problems. In Calare, on Saturday, the Labour Party fought and lost on its policy, but the Country Party won by repudiating Government economic policy and by seeking votes as. an expression of dissatisfaction with the Government’s trade policy affecting rural interests. Is the Minister satisfied with cutting the Liberal vote in half by these means, and how does he square it with the doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility?
– I am satisfied that if there was a general election to-morrow the Australian Labour; Party would be decimated.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the- Navy. Will he ascertain whether dismissal notices are being issued to employees of the Naval Ordnance Depot at Byford in Western Australia? Will he, at the same .time, endeavour to ascertain whether married men are receiving dismissal notices before single men and whether ex-servicemen are receiving dismissal notices before non-ex-servicemen7 If this is the position, will he suggest to his colleague the Minister for the Navy that these dismissal notices might be recon- sidered with a view to retaining the services of ex-servicemen and married men in preference to non-ex-servicemen and single men?
– I think this matter was. first raised by the honorable member for Stirling, and my colleague in another place gave me certain information about it. I can assure the honorable member that thedismissals which are taking place are being applied strictly in accordance with usual Government policy in relation to the order of dismissal. Every opportunity is being given to the men who are being displaced to find other employment, while they are still working at Byford. I will obtain from the Minister for the Navy the answer to the question relating to the order of the dismissals.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Is it a fact that last week, in answer to a question without notice, the right honorable gentleman stated that it was unrealistic to think of a bedrock figure below which overseas funds cannot be permitted to fall, and that the Minister for Trade stated, on 6fh December, in answer to a question on notice, that it was impossible to forecast at what figure overseas funds, would stand at the end of December, 1960, and March, 1961? Does the Government want us to accept the fantastic proposition that it has no figure in mind below which overseas funds cannot be allowed to fall and that it has no estimate of the figure which overseas funds can be- expected to reach in December, 1960, and March, 1961? If we are not to accept this fantastic proposition, will he tell the House the bedrock figure and the expected figure which have been fixed- upon for overseas funds?
– The honorable gentleman is sufficiently familiar with parliamentary procedure to know that the form of his question is such that my reply to it would not come within the scope of the. Standing Orders. It would be inappropriate to debate the matter that he has raised in the way that his question invites.
– I address my question to the Attorney-General. Has he made a statement within the last few days to the effect that employer organizations ought not to be permitted to approach the Arbitration Commission to seek an extension of the standard working, week?
– I did not make any such statement. A “ SydneyMorning Herald “ leading article did attribute that statement to> me, but the leader writer was misinformed.
– You ware misreported?
– No, the leader writer was misinformed. Mr. Souter made the remark to which the honorable member for Bruce has referred; I did not.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. If a pensioner, on medical advice, has a telephone installed in the home because he or she is suffering from an ailment such as diabetes or heart trouble, will the Postmaster-General consider reducing, if not abolishing, the telephone rental?
– Although one appreciates the compassion underlying the honorable member’s question, I must point out that the provision of relief such as he has suggested would open up an enormous field for similar concessions throughout Australia. We have received a number of representations based on compassionate grounds from various organizations. Those representations have been investigated exhaustively from time to time by this Government and previous governments, but it has not been possible to extend the existing concessions.
– Has the Minister for Health received a letter from the Reverend Arthur Preston, director of the Queensland Blue Nursing Service, relating to the present Commonwealth home nursing subsidy? If so, will the Minister inform the House of the position?
– The terms of the Home Nursing Subsidy Act enable the Commonwealth Government to pay matching grants - that is to say, grants matching those of the State governments - to home nursing organizations. I have received a circular letter asking whether it is possible for the existing limit of assistance to be exceeded. I have received also a letter from the reverend gentleman to whom the honorable member has referred which warmly commends the Government for the splendid support that it has given to the Queensland Blue Nursing Service Association.
– I address my question to the Minister for Defence. Has any decision been made in relation to the discontinuance of Fort Largs at Largs Bay as a military installation? If so, will the municipality of Port Adelaide be given the opportunity to acquire the property for community and other purposes?
– I think the honorable member for Port Adelaide could have more appropriately addressed his question to the Minister for the Army. I am not familiar with the Army installations in that area, but I shall obtain information from my colleague and give the honorable member a considered reply.
– Will the Minister for Social Services again consider the admittance of service pensioners under the age of 60 to veterans’ homes built with funds supplied under the Aged Persons Homes Act?
– I will be glad to consider once again the very reasonable proposition that the honorable member now submits. The only reason why people in receipt of service pensions were excluded from the operation of the Aged Persons Homes Act was to give an impetus to the construction of homes provided for the accommodation of men and women of pensionable age. The act, which has been an unqualified success, has been reviewed from time to time, and I will be glad to consider the honorable member’s proposition.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation by asking whether he is aware that one of my constituents from Lord Howe Island has been selected as winner of the recent “ Miss Australia “ contest. My question is: Can the Minister say when the airstrip will be constructed at Lord Howe Island?
– I was aware that one of the honorable member’s constituents had won the “ Miss Australia “ prize, but I do not know about the airstrip at Lord Howe Island. I will convey his question to my colleague in another place.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that a large number of woolgrowers, as well as the organizations of growers, believe that the Sydney greasy wool futures market is having a detrimental effect on their actual returns? Now that the Government has decided to hold an inquiry into the marketing of wool, will the Minister consider having included in the terms of reference the effect of wool futures on the actual returns of wool-growers or, alternatively, if this will delay the findings to any extent, will he consider having these investigations made at the conclusion of the inquiry?
– There are differing views as to the effect of wool futures on the price of wool. The honorable member asks me whether I will see that this matter is included in the terms of reference which are now being considered by the Government. I should say that there is really no need to include that aspect specifically in the terms of reference. It will be open to anybody interested in the wool industry to submit his views to the committee that will be appointed to consider the marketing of wool.
– My question is without notice, and it is directed to the Postmaster-General. By way of preface I should like to point out that employees of the Postal Department who deliver letters have no protection other than that which they choose to avail themselves of under the common law, and at their own expense, against injuries suffered in attacks by dogs. I should like to know from the Minister whether he is willing to have this matter reviewed with a view to having the department accept full responsibility for prosecuting householders whose dogs attack postmen delivering letters.
– I have noticed that recently certain sections of the press have taken up in a rather sensational way the subject-matter of the honorable member’s question. As a result of this I made some inquiries about the position. One, of course, appreciates the fact that postal officers who deliver mail do a very fine job, and it is not a happy thing that they should be attacked by dogs that are not under proper control. So far, the position is that if that occurs and a report is made, we notify the housholder of what is happening and ask that action be taken to ensure that it will not continue. Finally, if no action is taken to ensure that the postal officer is properly protected, we will not deliver mail.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Interior. I ask the Minister whether he will inform the House why the Australian Broadcasting Commission in South Ausrala has been directed by the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology to use the following phrase when issuing weather forecasts: -
This forecast is issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, instead of the previous, much simpler phrase -
This forecast is issued by the Weather Bureau.
Is the Minister aware that, since thiscumbersome and pedantic phrase has been forced on us, the weather in South Australia has been uniformly hot and dry?
– I can assure the honorable member for Wakefield that the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology has been called far worse names when the weather has not turned out according to expectations. The simple explanation is that the correct title is the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. The term “Weather Bureau” is nothing more than a nickname. Formerly, it was customary to use terms such as “ the Adelaide Weather Bureau “ or “ the Sydney Weather Bureau”. This could lead to some confusion as such terms imply that the bureau is a State department whereas the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology comes under a Commonwealth department. Finally, I am sorry that the weather has not turned out to the honorable member’s liking.
– =1 aSk ‘the Minister tor -Labour and National Service: Is it a fact that in the matter of the current application -by the metal trades employers for an increase in the weekly hours -of work substantial bodies of -employers on whose behalf the application was allegedly made have repudiated the application? Is it a fact that it is not unusual for the Metal Trades Employers Association to make such fraudulent and mischievous applications to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Can any steps be taken to have such applications rejected?
– I think the honorable gentleman has used somewhat extravagant language in .asking his question. It is true that one large employers’ organization -has not joined in the application, but there is time in which it can do so if it chooses. I should like to make it ,clear to the honorable gentleman in reply to the second part of his question that the metal trades employers and others acted independently and on their own judgment. They have the right to approach the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the same way as the Australian Council of Trade Unions has such ;a right, and I repeat that -they have acted independently and of their own volition.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration concerning the forthcoming visit of the Netherlands Minister for Social Affairs. Will the Minister for Immigration take up with the visiting Minister the hardship that is occasioned by the automatic forfeiture of social and service pension benefits at present held when a Dutch immigrant is granted Australian citizenship? Will the Minister investigate the possibility of a reciprocal agreement with the Netherlands so that this injustice, which prevents many Dutch migrants from applying for naturalization, may be removed as quickly as possible?
– As the honorable gentleman has said, the Netherlands Minister for Social Affairs, Dr. Charles
Van Rooy will visit Australia from 20th ito 28th November. .This :is a circumstance that the Government is pleased about. ‘I am particularly glad myself in view of my previous associations with the Netherlands Minister in Holland. While Dr. Van Rooy is here, quite a number of aspects of Dutch-Australian immigration will be discussed. Certainly, what the honorable gentleman has suggested will be subject to investigation. I must say in fairness, though, that this is not a new subject. It has been a matter of discusion between the Australian and Netherlands Governments before. That, of course, need not prevent further talks on the subject.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that another 190 -miners employed at Aberdare -colliery near Cessnock have been given a week’s notice terminating their employment, through no fault of their own. Will the Minister do all in his power to see that alternative employment is found for these men as soon as .possible?
– One week’s notice of termination of .employment has been given, I think, to 195 employees of the Aberdare colliery. I think that the honorable member for Hunter knows that the Department of Labour and National Service tries .to keep in touch with these matters. As soon as it receives notice of such developments it gets the Commonwealth Employment Service working to place the men in employment as soon as possible. On two previous occasions when the honorable member raised similar problems with me, we1 were very quickly able to find satisfactory employment for the men concerned. I hope that, because of the large labour demand in the Newcastle area, we shall be able to place these 195 men very soon.
– I ask the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization whether any experiments have been carried out in Australia with the new British process called “ accelerated freeze-drying “. Can this process be used for meat as well as -for vegetables? If no experiments have yet been undertaken here, has a study been made of this kind of work in the United Kingdom?
– While no actual experiments have been carried out here, liaison has been maintained between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and those who are working on these experiments in the United Kingdom. Some of the projects of United Kingdom laboratories have been examined by the C.S.I.R.O. in Australia. The process is applicable to meat as well as to vegetables.
– Will the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization direct the Coal Research Section of the C.S.I.R.O. to intensify its research into the techniques of briquetting the slack coal which is in surplus supply in New South Wales? I bring this matter to the attention of the Minister in view of recent dismissals on the coal-fields and because of the disturbing report of the Joint Coal Board forecasting further dismissals of workers in New South Wales mines.
– I understand that quite an amount of work is being done by the Coal Research Section on this” question of briquetting coal, but I shall make further inquiries and let the honorable member know the position.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral considered what would be the sound business practice of allowing people who acquire both television and wireless licences a concession by permitting them to pay a lower rate for each than if they acquired only one or the other? If the Minister has not yet given consideration to this desirable reform, will he do so?
– Before television was introduced, the Government considered a number of suggestions, of which that of the honorable member was one. Another was the payment of a combined licence-fee instead of the payment of separate licencefees. However, the decision was that there should be two licences which need not necessarily be paid for at one and the same time. Experience has shown, first of all, that there is justification for the retention of the two licences, each at an individual fee, and for the provision that those fees should be payable at different times of the year if the licensee so desires. If the1 licensee desires to pay for both licences on the one day, he can, when he pays his first television licence-fee, arrange for this, to be done in future.
– Is the Minister for Trade aware that the value of steel imports in the first three months of this financial year was £11,000,000 higher .than in the corresponding period last year, while the value of exports of steel decreased by £2,000,000? What is the cause of this serious trend at a time when overseas reserves are steadily falling? Is the Minister aware that American buying of shares in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is continuing at an increasing tempo, due, it is reported-
– Order! The honorable member is giving information now. I ask him to direct his question.
– What is the significance of the share-buying to which I have referred?
– It is true that there is to-day a high level of importation of steel, and a lower level of steel exports than was the case a year or eighteen months ago. The explanation lies in the fact that a year or eighteen months ago, or whatever the actual point of time was - I cannot accurately pinpoint it from memory - the local demand for steel was not nearly so great as it is now. Attractive export markets existed, and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and other companies, did the correct thing by Australia and sold overseas what they could not sell at home. The level of economic activity in Australia has ascended, of course, at a very fast rate - almost a disturbingly fast rate - and one consequence of this has been that the domestic demand for steel is very great. I should also point out that a certain amount of the steel coming into the country is being imported for the purpose of processing, and is re-exported in processed form.
– My question is addressed to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I preface it by saying that good rains fell recently on parts of the Darling Downs and the Wide Bay area. Did the C.S.I.R.O. rain-makers, who had been operating over the Downs, assist in this precipitation?
– The C.S.I.R.O. conducts rain-making experiments with a plane operating from Oakey on the Downs. This plane was active during the recent drought, but whether its activities contributed to the fall of rain on the occasion in question, or whether the fall was due entirely to the inscrutable decrees of Providence, I am unable to say.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. In view of considerable public confusion regarding the operation of the special fund account covering hospital charges, will the Minister outline to the House the main provisions of this account?
– I must make a brief reply to the honorable member. The special account for hospitals, to which I think he is referring, ensures to patients who were previously refused fund benefit a means whereby .they can obtain what amounts to fund benefit but what is known as special account benefit. The fund transfers the patient to the special account in certain circumstances, such as when the ailment in question is what is called a preexisting ailment, or when the patient has attained the age of 65 years. The fund then pays the Commonwealth benefit plus the special account rate of benefit for the period the patient is in hospital in the case of a patient suffering from a pre-existing ailment, or, in the case of a patient transferred because of having reached the age of 65 years, the Commonwealth benefit, plus the rate of benefit for which the patient has insured himself with a benefit fund until he has exhausted what is called his maximum benefit period for the year, after which the rate falls to the special account rate for the remainder of his stay in hospital. There are a few other aspects of the matter that I could explain, but I think that what I have said will be sufficient to answer the honorable member’s question.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. I ask him whether he has studied the proposed system of organization and financial operation of the Post Office services in the United Kingdom. I understand that the proposed system would separate Post Office finances from the Treasury while still retaining parliamentary control. If the Minister has considered this system, what is his reaction to the idea of applying such a system to Australian conditions?
– I have seen a statement of the plans of the United Kingdom Post Office to which the honorable member has referred. As a matter of fact, some time ago the United Kingdom authorities issued a White Paper which outlined the proposals which are intended to be put into effect but which, on the latest information available to me, are not yet operative. It is obvious from the White Paper that they would separate the actual financial operations of the Post Office from the Treasury while still retaining parliamentary control over the Post Office. As yet, this matter has not been considered by the Australian Government. I am not in a position to give the honorable member for Darling Downs any indication of the likely result of the British decision, but it is a move which will be watched with interest not only by the Postmaster-General’s Department but also, I am sure, by the Government.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. Has he had investigations made, or does he intend to initiate inquiries, into serious allegations about the conduct of a senior Australian diplomat to which I made reference in the Parliament some weeks ago? If investigations have been made, will the Prime Minister state the result?
– Having read some allegations published by Mr. Frank Browne, the new-found friend of the honorable member for East Sydney, I was disposed to treat them with contempt, but I did cause questions about the allegations to be put to the officer concerned - a very distinguished and most valuable officer. His answers satisfied me that those allegations had no substance. So far as I am concerned, no further action is required.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. Has the honorable gentleman been informed of the concern expressed by the Tree Society of Western Australia over the destruction by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department of trees along tourist-attraction roads when new trunk line routes are being prepared? Is he in a position to give an assurance that the bulldozing of trees will be reduced to a minimum and that the department will even consider the resumption of additional land in order to avoid scarring the countryside and destroying the beauty of some of our finest native flora?
– The question of the clearing of land, which is always involved in some form when the Postmaster-General’s Department provides lines for telephone services and trunk line facilities, has been under consideration by the department for some considerable time. We have a definite policy in this matter. It is that there shall be as little destruction as possible of native flora and fauna in the carrying out of this work. Representations on this matter have been made to me for some time, and I have had the case referred to by the honorable member for Swan investigated. It will interest the honorable member to know that the investigations have brought forth several letters commending the Post Office on the way it has carried out its work. Valuable fire breaks have been provided and there has been a minimum of destruction of trees and wild flowers along the way. I assure the honorable member that, as a countryman and a lover of trees, I would not tolerate any unnecessary destruction. However, when we set out to provide efficient services in country areas - services that will not break down in storms, cyclones, floods and so on - we must do a certain amount of clearing, but this will be the minimum necessary to provide an efficient service.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Will he give an assurance that every possible step has been taken to find means by which the Government could lawfully pay wages to the employees of a building contractor whose financial failure left a fortnight’s pay owing to them? Will the Minister give whatever information he has on this matter?
– A very complex legal position arose from the failure to which the honorable member has referred. The Department of Works has been exploring every possible means to ascertain whether moneys due to the contractor can be applied directly to the payment of the wages.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Is it the intention of the Australian Government to make a grant for relief of distress in Pakistan following the recent tragic cyclonic damage there?
– If the honorable member will renew that question to-morrow, I will be in a position to answer it.
– I preface my question, . which is directed to the Prime Minister, by informing him that I have raised this matter by way of question on several occasions in the past twelve months, but apparently no decision has yet been reached. I refer to the application by Qantas Empire Airways Limited for permission to build an hotel of international standard in Sydney. To date,I have been stalled off on this question. I now ask: When does Cabinet intend to make a decision to grant permission to Qantas to build an hotel of international standard in Sydney?
– I will refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior when I may expect a reply to the question I placed on the notice-paper on 20th October. As this question relates to school accommodation, a matter of vital public interest everywhere in Victoria and one which affects the lives of a number of children in my electorate, will the Minister favour me with an early reply to the question?
– A reply has been prepared. I am at a loss to understand why it has not reached the honorable member. I will see that it is expedited.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that over the past six years, bank advances rose by a mere 19 per cent, and outstanding hirepurchase balances rose by 217 per cent.? Has this circumstance had a serious inflationary effect through soaring hire-purchase interest rates? Has the Government any plan to arrest this disturbing trend? Will the Treasurer lift the embargo or restriction on the hire-purchase activities of the Commonwealth Bank so that it may enter into vigorous competition with hire-purchase companies?
– I am not able to confirm offhand the figures which the honorable member has cited. As to the rates of interest charged by hire-purchase companies, I imagine that, to the extent that they are within the constitutional competence of anybody, they would be within the constitutional competence of the Labour Government of New South Wales if it felt that some action should be taken to restrict the rate of interest chargeable in his State. I shall examine the remainder of the honorable member’s question and see to what extent I can supply an answer.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral why the provision of national regional television stations has been delayed until after the long-postponed decision is made with respect to the granting of licences for commercial television stations in country areas.
– It is my intention, in about five minutes’ time, to ask the permission of this House to make a statement on the matter referred to by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, and I hope that that permission will be granted.
– I ask the
Postmaster-General a question supplementary to that which I addressed to him a few moments ago. The honorable gentleman told the House that he had given instructions that in cases where people who own savage dogs did not do anything to have them removed or tied up the postmen were not to deliver letters. Does the honorable gentleman realize that one of the main complaints from postmen is that savage dogs are allowed to roam the streets and that, irrespective of the address to which the postmen are delivering letters in a particular street, they are in danger when riding bicycles along footpaths to deliver those letters? In view of that fact, will the Postmaster-General take more definite steps than are being taken now to protect postmen while carrying out their duties? Moreover, is it true that when the notification to which the Postmaster-General referred is being given by the department to owners of savage dogs that notification has to be given personally by the postman himself, and not by the department by way of correspondence or other means?
– Let me make the position clear to the honorable member for Hindmarsh. He may have misconstrued my previous reply. I did not say that I had given definite instructions in this matter; what I referred to was the practice of the department.
In his second question, the honorable member for Hindmarsh introduces a fresh aspect when he refers to dogs roaming the streets. While I appreciate the fact that such dogs constitute a general danger, it is not one which comes under the control of the Postmaster-General’s Department. It is a danger which applies to all civilians in the area, not just to some particular person.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he will negotiate with the Government of Western Australia for the purchase of some of the wild camels in that State for use by the postmen referred to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh so that they will be protected from attacks by savage dogs?
– The department is progressing, and the science to telecommunications is progressing, at such a rapid rate that I should hate to think of going back to camels, especially when we are thinking at the moment about space satellites for the delivery of our mails.
– I ask the Minister for
External Affairs whether it is a fact that the Prime Minister of Malaya has certain proposals for the solution of what is regarded as the West New Guinea problem. Has the Prime Minister of Malaya conveyed those proposals to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom? Has he conveyed them to the right honorable gentleman himself? If the right honorable gentleman is not aware of the proposals, will he discover what they are and, if they may properly be considered by this House, will he make them known to the House as soon as possible?
– At this stage, I do not think I have any authority to publish the suggestions made by the Tunku, but the honorable member may be comforted. The Prime Minister of Malaya did me the courtesy, at the very outset, of letting me know what he had in his mind. I offered some views which I thought were in conformity with what I would have thought was bi-partisan policy in this House. He has since taken the matter up in the United States of America, and, I think, Canada, and he is about to take it up in the United Kingdom. I have, in view of this last discussion, put the Prime Minister of Great Britain in possession of our feelings in this matter. So he is well aware of what I would call the Australian policy, which is the policy of concentrating, as the end result, on self-determination, which is a very important matter and one not to be overlooked in any proposals. However, if the Tunku, at some stage, thinks fit to give general publicity to his proposals I will feel free to state to the House, quite categorically, what comments and replies I made. In the mean time I think that the position in this country and our interests in this matter are being well protected so far as argumentative communications can protect them.
– For the information of honorable members I lay on the table the following paper: -
Australian Broadcasting Control Board - Report and recommendations to the Postmaster-General on applications for commercial television licences in provincial and country areas.
I ask for leave to make a statement regarding the report.
– Is leave granted?
Opposition Members. - No.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) put -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) from making a ministerial statement regarding television licences.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority of the members of the House.
– I thank the House. I suppose the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) does not want to see this now.
– It has all been written by the newspaper barons, the same as all your other statements.
– Order! The PostmasterGeneral has the call. I ask honorable members to obey the Standing Orders.
– The Postmaster-General asked me to comment.
– On 30th April, 1959, I made a statement in the House outlining the Government’s policy with respect to the extension of television services to country and provincial areas in the Commonwealth. In that statement I indicated that, as a first stage in the establishment of country stations, applications for the grant of licences in thirteen specified areas would be invited. I stated also that as far as practicable, priority in the granting of such licences would be given to applications from local independent companies not associated with metropolitan stations, provided that the applicants demonstrated their capacity to provide, in the circumstances prevailing in the areas concerned, services comparable to those available to city viewers. Fortyfive applications were received and, pursuant to the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act, these were referred to the Australian Broadcasting Control
Board for public inquiry and report to me. Prior to the board’s hearings, the number of applications was reduced to 41.
The board subsequently conducted extensive inquires not only into the applications received but also into such matters as the availability of programme material and a number of technical aspects including in particular the availability of frequency channels. The board’s report on its inquiries, which I shall lay on the table of the House, raises several fundamental issues. It has in consequence been under consideration by the Government for some little time. I am now, however, in a position to announce that the Government has authorized me to grant licences to the following companies in the areas indicated:Canberra area, Canberra Television Limited; Newcastle-Hunter River area, Newcastle Broadcasting and Television Corporation Limited; Illawarra area, Television Wollongong Transmissions Limited; RichmondTweed Heads area, Richmond Tweed T.V. Limited; Central Tablelands area, Country Television Services Limited; Ballarat area, Ballarat and Western Victoria Television Limited; Bendigo area, Bendigo and Central Victorian Telecasters Limited; Latrobe Valley area, Eastern Victoria Television Proprietary Limited; Goulburn Valley area, Goulburn-Murray Television Proprietary Limited; Darling Downs area, Darling Downs T.V. Limited; Rockhampton area, Rockhampton Television Limited; Townsville area, Telecasters North Queensland Limited; North-Eastern Tasmania area, Northern Television Limited. The constitution of these companies is set out in Part 1 1 of the board’s report.
It will be noted that for the present one station only, operated by a local independent company, is to be licensed in each of the areas. I wish to make it quite clear that this does not involve a decision that only one licence will be granted in any of these areas, or that there is any understanding with any of the successful applicants for an exclusive licence. On the contrary, as the service develops and the need for and ability to support a second independent station in any of the areas is demonstrated the Government will entertain further applications and consider the grant of further licences.
The licences to be granted will be subject to a number of conditions which I will notify shortly to the successful applicants. In particular, modifications of the shareholdings in some of the companies will be required to provide that at least 50 per cent, of the shares will be made available to the public. The licences will also be granted subject to the condition that no exclusive arrangement may be entered into by the licensees with any metropolitan station for the provision of programmes or for the sale of station time or advertising. This conforms with the condition which was prescribed in respect of the single commercial stations in Perth and Hobart, a condition which I understand has operated successfully in these areas.
Certain questions of detail in connexion with the extension of the service to country areas still remain to be settled. I refer in particular to the question of the availability of frequency channels which has been reviewed by the board, and which is being examined also by the Radio Frequency Allocations Review Committee, which I asked some time ago to specially examine the question. Another matter to be settled is that relating to the sites for some of the stations. These aspects will be dealt with by a Cabinet sub-committee appointed by the Government for the purpose.
The Government has also decided that, in conformity with its policy of providing a national as well as a commercial service, work should proceed immediately on the establishment of a national transmitter in each of the thirteen areas concerned. The installation of thirteen national stations in four different States is a project of some magnitude and, although planning has been proceeding for some time, the work constitutes a major task for the departments involved - Department of Works, PostmasterGeneral’s Department, Australian Broadcasting Control Board, Australian Broadcasting Commission. Therefore I am not, at this stage, in a position to say precisely the time at which the stations can be brought into operation or the order of their establishment. Practical considerations will largely determine these matters but every effort will be made to have the stations operating with as little delay as possible.
Copies of this statement and of the report will be available this afternoon for distribution to honorable members through the normal House channels.
– On behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) I lay on the table the following paper: -
Public Service Act - Public Service BoardThirtysixth Report on the Public Service for year 1959-60.
The Prime Minister has asked me to mention to the House that this is the last report from the Public Service Board under the chairmanship of Sir William Dunk who will be retiring at the end of this year after long and distinguished service to the Commonwealth.
Sir William occupied a senior post in the Commonwealth Treasury throughout the war years, and for two years was permanent head of the Department of External Affairs. He has been Chairman of the Public Service Board for the last fourteen years, a period in which great demands have been made on the Commonwealth service. Sir William has carried heavy responsibilities, and the high reputation and standards of the Commonwealth Public Service are due in no small measure to nif leadership. Neither I nor the House would want this occasion to pass without suitable reference to the service, including service to the Parliament, of this distinguished civil servant.
Report of the Public Accounts Committee.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Fiftieth Report- The Reports of the AuditorGeneral Financial Year 1958-59.
This is the first report of the Public Accounts Committee that has been baser” exclusively on the annual reports of the Auditor-General. In previous years the reports have been considered by the committee but particular items have been followed up in the course of other inquiries. The present committee considers that circumstances now warrant regular inquiries and reports dealing specifically with matters arising from the Auditor-General’s reports to the Parliament.
As some of the investigations relating to the reports of the Auditor-General for the year 1958-59 have proved extensive, we propose to submit the results in two separate reports of which this, the committee’s fiftieth report, is the first. This report deals with two subjects only, first, the delay in the issuing by the Treasurer of a financial directive under section 25 (2.) of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act 1949-1958, and secondly, the delay in the promulgation of amending regulations prescribing new rates of pay and allowances for members of the Defence Forces, and unlawful payments made in the absence of these amending regulations.
The first subject refers to a matter which had been pressed consistently with the Department of the Treasury by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), the Auditor-General and the Snowy Mountains authority. The Department of the Treasury has explained that the delay was caused by an abnormal flow of work and a shortage of “ capable “ staff in the particular branch concerned. The directive was due to be issued in September, 1957, but could not have been put into effect fully until about November, 1959, as the authority was occupied till then on the complete recasting of its accounts to meet the requirements of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act as amended in 1958. The directive still has not been issued, and the committee finds it hard to believe that the Department of the Treasury could not have found means whereby an officer could have been relieved of other duties to allow him the week or so considered necessary to do this work.
The other subject relates to the practice carried on over many years by the Departments of the Navy, the Army and Air of making unlawful payments to service personnel. The situation disclosed by the committee’s investigations has caused grave concern as there has. been not only an acceptance of the right to act outside the strict requirements of the law but also a serious break-down in the administrative machinery of government.
Ordered to be printed.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Antarctic Treaty Bill 1960.
Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1960.
Bill presented by Mr. Freeth, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill contains a number of relatively minor amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. In general, the measure aims to give the electors somewhat better facilities for voting, particularly with regard to. postal voting, and to improve the efficiency of the organization of elections so far as the Commonwealth Electoral Office is concerned.
I think it can be said that our electoral system compares more than favorably with electoral systems operating elsewhere in the world. When we examine matters which are vital to a democratic franchise, such as ensuring maximum opportunities for each elector to cast his vote, the preservation of the secrecy of that vote, the rights of candidates to campaign freely, and the protection of candidates and electors from intimidation, bribery and other electoral malpractices, there are no great deficiencies in our law as it now stands. More importantly, our law, as it is, is becoming better understood by an increasing number of people.
Many suggestions have been made for quite substantial amendments over recent years. Most of these suggestions have been concerned with the actual ballot-paper itself. They have all been carefully examined, but whereas many have some merit, most have also some defects. These have been weighed together, but nowhere have there been any great advantages found from proposed changes. The Government has felt that stability and certainty in the electoral law is preferable; to the confusion that would be caused by changes which might be of doubtful value.
Many of the- suggestions received were aimed at eliminating the weight given to electoral- results by the careless or unintelligent voter. Our present system, however, does- not require a great amount of knowledge or study to ascertain how to cast a valid vote for particular candidates or parties. A careful study of the results in various elections, leads to the conclusion that if any reform is desirable it is in the direction of educating the individual elector as to the value- to him of his right to exercise an intelligent judgment and. to vote accordingly, and his national duty to do. so.
I will mention briefly the various proposal’s contained in the bill. One- important feature of: the bill enables members of enclosed religious, orders and- other persons, whose- religious beliefs preclude them from voting before sunset on a Saturday to avail themselves of the postal voting facilities. Representations for the provision of such facilities for this class of elector have been made on numerous occasions by certain religious organizations and interested persons..
Provision is also made which will enable an elector who is entitled to a postal vote to apply to the registrar for a: subdivision which has been declared a remote- sub-, division. This provision will be of particular advantage to an elector who may be in a remote area in Western Australia and who does not have time- to apply to a divisional returning officer for his postal vote. At present, a registrar for a declared remote subdivision may issue postal votes, only to those electors enrolled for the subdivision to which the registrar’s appointment relates.
A further provision relating to postal voting authorizes an officer at a place in Australia to observe local time for the receipt and issue of postal votes on. polling day and on the day preceding polling day, instead of observing the standard or legal time in the State or Territory where the election is to be or is being held. It remedies the situation whereby, under the present law, a Western Australian elector in New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland on polling day is entitled to vote up to 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, whereas an elector from an eastern state who may be in Western Australia, is not entitled to vote after 6 p.m. Western Australian Time on polling day. The law relating to voting by electors temporarily outside Australia is not affected. In such cases the time observed is the standard or legal time in the State or Territory in which the election is to be or is being held. lt is also proposed in this bill to widen the provisions of section 39 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act to. permit British subjects of non-European origin to enrol and to vote,, provided they are not subject to any impediment under the MigrationAct which would prevent them remaining in Australia as permanent citizens. The holders of temporary entry permits or prohibited immigrants under that act will not be entitled to enrolment.
The bill also removes the objectionable and outmoded reference to aboriginal natives of certain other countries.
Under the existing law a British subject born in, say, Hong Kong, Singapore or Fiji, even though he may hold a certificate of registration as an Australian citizen, as distinct, from a certificate of naturalization, is not entitled to enrolment. This anomaly is remedied.
In 1943-,. under the National Security Regulations, restrictions were placed for the first time, on the size of electoral posters. They were restricted to 60 square inches- which only permitted a- small card, say 12 inches by 5- inches, or 10 inches by 6 inches. The object at the time was to- preserve, paper and- cotton material in the interests of the war effort. This was embodied, in the act in- 1946.. To-day, however, we. suffer from no such shortages. Bearing in mind that as far as possible candidates should be free, to campaign, subject only to desirable restrictions, it has been decided to- extend, the permissible size of posters to 1200 square inches.
– Be patient. This, it is felt, has the merit of bringing this method of advertising more into line with others that are open to candidates, such as newspapers, radio, television, and the like. At the same time, some limitation of size was felt to be desirable to prevent undue extravagance and the ugly disfiguring of the countryside. The figure, of 1,200 square inches corresponds to the standard poster size of 40 by 30 inches.
A further provision relates to the appointment of scrutineers. Under the present law a candidate may appoint only one scrutineer at each counting centre, although immediately after the close of the poll all ballot-boxes at that centre are opened and the ballot-papers removed and sorted into groups in readiness for examination by the officer conducting the scrutiny. It is not practicable for one scrutineer to observe the whole of the proceedings at this stage of the scrutiny, and it is proposed therefore to empower the officer conducting the scrutiny, subject to directions, to determine the number of scrutineers which a candidate may appoint. The intention of this provision is to allow a candidate to appoint to each counting centre a number of scrutineers up to the number of tables at which ballot-papers are being scrutinized or are being prepared for scrutiny.
This bill also provides that in the case of a conviction for an offence for failure to enrol or to notify change of address, as required by section 42 of the act, the fine to be imposed by a court for a first offence shall be a fixed amount of ten shillings. Hitherto, for an offence of this nature a court could impose any fine up to ten shillings. The penalty for an offence under this section has not otherwise been changed. Court action is taken only after other means of enforcing the law have been exploited.
A further provision in this bill transfers to the act the substance of a regulation which defines “the entrance” to a polling booth where such polling booth is within an enclosure. Canvassing for votes and certain other acts are prohibited within 20 feet of the entrance to a polling booth. In the past, some difficulty has been experienced in keeping the ingress and egress clear of over-enthusiastic canvassers. This new sub-section gives strength to what is now covered by regulation.
This bill is also intended to remove the need for officers to attend the courts to put in evidence claims for enrolment or transfer of enrolment in connexion with such matters as tenancy cases, divorce proceedings and small debts cases. The practice of serving subpoenas on electoral officers to produce claim cards in courts has developed over recent years and is increasing as it becomes more widely known that evidence of this nature can be obtained. The law requires the completion and submission of claim cards for the purpose of securing enrolment, and the fact that such claim cards are being produced as evidence in the courts may result in persons evading their responsibilities to enrol or to notify changes of address. Details appearing on the claim cards relating to the date and place of birth are not published. These particulars are used for official purposes only.
The final provision is an administrative one. By reason of the fact that the divisional returning officers are now appointed registrars for all subdivisions except a few isolated subdivisions in Western Australia, and due also to the increase and concentration of enrolment operations, it is not now practicable for the registrar personally to initial each alteration made in a roll. This provision permits an officer making alterations in a roll on behalf of a registrar to initial such alterations. The other clauses in this bill are of a formal or consequential nature. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27th October (vide page 2530), on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ the bill be withdrawn and redrafted because it fails to repeal objectionable features of the Crimes Act, including political and industrial offences and the death penalty, and because lt introduces new offences infringing freedom of speech, writing and action by individuals and organizations innocent of disloyal intent, and because, in particular, it fails -
to preserve the rule of law and the prin ciples of natural justice in trials for these offences;
to establish the principle of trial by jury for all these offences;
to achieve certainty and precision in the definition of these offences;
to ensure the application of long estab lished rules excluding evidence of the character of an accused person on trial for these offences;
to provide means of specifying enemy countries which or enemy persons whom it will be an offence to assist; and
to guarantee liberty bona fide to express criticisms and to seek alteration of the policy of the Australian or any other Government “.
.- This bill is comprehensive and deals with many matters but only one group of matters has become in any sense controversial. It would be wrong to proceed to deal with these controversial matters without first complimenting the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) on including in this bril provisions relating to sane offenders, the release of offenders on licence, coinage offences and so on. In relation to controversial matters in the bill, one realizes the curious fact that because of the nature of the bill, the effects upon members of the community will be very small in relation to the numbers who are likely to be charged with an offence under the bill if it becomes law. On the other hand, the importance of the bill is tremendous when considered m connexion with our overseas relations and our standing as a nation. Fundamentally, the criterion by which the bill should be judged is the harm it will prevent and not the number of charges that may be laid under it. Therefore, the bill should be studied objectively.
I do not believe that the bill is directed against the Communist Party simpliciter. We know the philosophy of the Communist Party, and because of that philosophy, dangerous acts may be committed against us which should be covered by Commonwealth legislation. Nevertheless, I repeat that the bill is not directed against the Communist Party or members of the Communist Party simpliciter. The bill is directed against anybody who by his actions harms or seeks to harm the welfare and security of the nation. I emphasize the word “ actions “ because even an intention has to be manifested by an overt act. If such persons be Communists or have any political alliance at all or if they have none, that is incidental to the legislation and not its purpose. It applies to everybody subject to Australian law whether within or beyond
Australian territory. The legislative purpose of the bill is quite clearly the security of the nation, although the Opposition and many critics pretend .that it has other purposes. The legislation might reasonably be described as a snakebite antidote: You ‘hope you never have to use it, but if you are bitten by a snake, you need the antidote - the machinery - to take care of the victim.
The common law of England applied to the States of the Commonwealth when they were colonies and the common law that applied to those States included common law offences. On the establishment of the Commonwealth, however, the common law as such did not attach to the Commonwealth in the sense of taking into Commonwealth law common law offences. Common law offences are not applicable to the Commonwealth law. The Commonwealth must create the offences by statute, and to such statutory offences so created the rule of law applies. The rule of law may be regarded as the supremacy of the law, and the nature and extent of this supremacy is ascertained by the accumulated judicial decisions over the centuries. The most important aspect of the rule of law is the interpretation of statutes by the judiciary according to the law. This is true of any statute, including this particular statute. The division of the Constitution of Australia is a division of power between the Legislature, the Executive and the judiciary. This very form of constitution preserves the supremacy of the rule of law. Indeed a statute is an assembly of words all of which bear scrutiny by the courts to ascertain the precise meaning of such words in the context in which .they are used. The criterion of this scrutiny by the courts is the common law built up over the centuries. This fact seems to be largely overlooked by a great many of the critics of this bill.
The criticism has come from many sources and they may be conveniently divided into four categories. The first is the Communist Party but I put it aside because, after all, one might suspect from the known philosophy of the Communists that they are interested parties. Because they are interested parties, they cannot look at the bill objectively as I hope honorable members will do. So I put aside the criticisms of the Communist Party although it is interesting to note that the criticisms voiced by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in this chamber recently are -almost word for word with those contained in the Communist pamphlet dealing with this legislation.
The second element of criticism comes from a wide and respected range of academics. These academics are concerned with the preservation of free speech. They are in a state of constant crusade which has become an .end in itself. To many of “ .them, everything is a threat. The vigour of their crusade is such that they are unaware of the burden they carry. That burden consists of those disrespected persons and groups in the community who are campaigning .for freedom of action to the detriment of our national integrity. Whereas .academic concern for free thought is integral to the preservation of our democracy, freedom of action to the detriment of our .national integrity is a plague. It is seeking and, unfortunately, too .often finding, an unsuspecting carrier of the disease. In this bill I am convinced that there is neither threat to nor violation of free speech and thought.
The third source of criticism is the trade unions. Mr. Speaker, the trade unions are an institution in our community and under our Constitution. They have been built into a great edifice by the will and effort of a great number of great men. I am sure that I speak for .all members on this side of the House when I say that we would never consent to .legislation which could directly or indirectely harm the foundation of that edifice of trade .unionism. It is a .great movement and generally, I am very -glad to say, it solves its own problems.
The criticisms that come from the trade unions are of .two types. There is first, that of the Communist variety direct from the Communist-dominated trade unions These criticisms I put aside for the same seasons as I put aside those from the Communist Party. The remainder of the criticisms from the trade unions seem to be entirely centred on the demand for the repeal of sections of the principal act which are not mentioned in this bill at all. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) conceded that there was opposition to those sections when they were introduced some 35 years ago. He also conceded that the intervening period of time had translated a Labour Opposition into a Labour Government. Yet the Labour Opposition which had demanded the repeal of these sections at the time of their enactment, when translated to government, had to draw upon itself a cloak of some greater responsibility and responsibility required that these sections be not repealed. So they have not been repealed.
I think it is a matter for alarm that the Leader of the Opposition has been prepared to state categorically that if his party is -returned to office these sections will be repealed. Yet it is obvious from his discussion of this matter that he does not realize the true significance of these sections. I have been closely through the bill in relation to the matters that I have raised concerning the trade unions and I cannot see in it any threat, real or possible, to the trade union movement.
The fourth source of criticism is the Opposition - the Australian Labour Party. The Opposition has culled all the criticisms that have been offered of the bill and stirred them up into a bitter hotchpotch. I regret to say that honorable members opposite have regurgititated these criticisms, undigested, at every opportunity. There has been a great demonstration of irresponsibility by the Opposition in relation to the arguments it has advanced in this House. I think the simplest way to deal with them is to look at the speech of the “Leader of the Opposition in which I counted twelve -individual criticisms which are demonstrably absurd and -which indeed show an irresponsibility which is almost incredible. I doubt whether I shall be able to deal with all of these individual criticisms in the time that is available to me, but I expect that they will be repeated in the committee stages of the bill when it will be possible to deal with them. The Leader of the Opposition, speaking on this bill, said -
We prefer English common law as the basis for our legislation; and we are always suspicious when any government wishes to dispense with the well-established principles .of justice, as is happening in this case.
If it is the common law .that the Leader of the Opposition requires, he will find it, as anybody will know, in the volumes of !Halsbury which are to be found on every legal shelf. I have here volume 10 of the third edition. The first edition of this work was published in 31 volumes between 1907 and 1917 under the editorship of the Right Honorable the Earl of Halsbury, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain from 1885 to 1886, from 1886 to 1892, and from 1895 to 1905. The second edition was published in 37 volumes between 1931 and 1942 under the editorship of the Right Honorable Viscount Hailsham, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain from 1928 to 19.29 and from 1935 to 1938. The editor in chief of this, the third edition, was the Right Honorable the Viscount Simonds, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain from 1951 to 1954. His advisory panel included the Right Honorable Lord Goddard, Lord Chief Justice of England, the Right Honorable Sir Raymond Evershed, Master of .the Rolls, and the Right Honorable Lord Merriman, President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division. I mention these matters to establish the authority of “ Halsbury’s Laws of England “, as a statement of common law.
The Leader of the Opposition, referring to proposed new section 24, sub-section (1.), paragraph (c) said that there was a new vague offence of doing an act preparatory to waging war. If the Leader of the Opposittion wants common law, let us find out what the common law is. At page 559 of ““Halsbury’s Laws of England “ we find the statement -
To constitute a levying of war it is not necessary that blows should be struck … It is sufficient, if ‘there is an arming and arraying in warMike manner, as by enlisting and marching armed men, or if -there is an assembling .in great numbers with warlike intent . . .
So the paragraph referred to by the Leader of the Opposition is a statement of common law and not a vague new offence. It has been known in common law for centuries and the reason for it is based on common sense. Are we to permit .full preparation and be prevented from acting until the shooting starts? Common law does not require it. If any further demonstration ;is needed, it will be found at page 560 of “Halsbury” .where it is stated -
A small number of persons may -be guilty of levying war against the Sovereign if those persons are preparing to use violent measures in carrying out ‘their -purpose as, for example, -by the use of explosives .with treasonable intent.
Then the Leader of the Opposition moved on to paragraph (d) of proposed section 24(1.) and complained, in relation to the words “ assist by any means whatever “ that the offence covered assistance of any kind, psychological or material, regardless of whether or not there was damage or an intent to assist. He went on to say that the question of intent need not be considered at all.
Reference to the principal act will show that the old section 24, now proposed to be repealed included in sub-section (1.) (b) the offence, “ assisting by any means whatever any public enemy “. The words have .been preserved. This statute was legislated years ago and all the array of lawyers, academics and Communist Party spokesmen at that time or since could not convince anybody that the use of the words “ assist by any means .whatever “ .had any particular notorious intent. They are words which must be used. There can be no doubt, on the interpretation over centuries, that the assistance there stated must be given with intent to assist. There is adequate authority for this proposition. Intent has always been one of the principal elements required to be proved in a prosecution for a -criminal offence. The only exceptions to this requirement are in cases of what are generally -.termed statutory offences. These include such offences :as driving ;an overladen truck, or boarding a train without having paid the fare. In such cases no intent need -be .proved. But the courts have always been very loathe to agree that intent need not be proved in prosecutions for other than statutory offences.
The fact that intent is regarded, under this bill, as a necessary ingredient of an offence is clearly demonstrated by paragraph (f) of proposed new section 24. - (1.), which provides that the mere forming of an intention, if it is manifested by an overt act, shall be an offence of itself. In this connexion Halsbury is again of assistance. Referring to the common law with regard to intent, Halsbury says, at page 560 -
A .person who takes part in any such acts, even though he had not previously any formed intention of taking .part tin them, is guilty of treason.
The Leader of the Opposition made some reference >to the .giving of -psychological assistance. His suggestion was quite fantastic, and it arose solely from reading the phrase “ assists by any means whatever “, in paragraph (d) of the proposed new section as though the word “ assists “ was not included. The word “assists” conditions, of course, the words “ by any means whatever “. There is a long history of judicial interpretation of the word “ assist “ It has been decided that one of the questions of fact is, “Did this act assist?” The question is then for a jury to decide. If the alleged assistance were such as the Leader of the Opposition pretends could be given, a judge would not allow the matter to go to the jury. There can be no doubt about that. The common law term for assistance, in this context, is aid and comfort”. The definition given by Halsbury at page 562 is as follows1. -
A British subject who does an act which strengthens or tends to strengthen the enemies of the Sovereign in the conduct of a war against the Queen, or which weakens or tends to weaken the power of the Sovereign and of the country to resist or attack the enemies of the Sovereign and country, gives aid and comfort to the Sovereign’s enemies and is guilty of treason.
It is a mere question of fact.
One of the major errors made in considering this bill lies in the assumption that its provisions can change judicial interpretations built up over centuries. The courts will and must decide what “ assist “ means. The question must be asked therefore: Do we lack confidence in the courts - not merely the High Court, but the whole judicial structure? So far as the High Court is concerned, the members of its bench include outstanding legal men. Nobody could suggest that the members of the High Court were not fearless in dealing with the Communist Party Dissolution Act. It was most surprising to hear the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) throwing some doubt on the ability of the courts, because the honorable member himself has recently had successful recourse to law. I should have thought that he would have had the greatest confidence in the judiciary, and I was very hurt to hear him expressing doubts about it.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the word “ enemy “ and suggested that in this connotation the word is imprecise. He said that it does not necessarily mean a nation or a country, and that it could mean an individual. In a bill such as this one cannot say what an enemy is. By the very nature of the legislation, each case must be determined on its own facts. To attempt to lay down what an enemy will be in any given circumstance would involve pages and pages of legislation, and even after such an exercise it would not be possible to cover every possible contingency. What is an enemy is a matter of fact, according to the common law. The Leader of the Opposition wants the common law, so let us see what that law is. Halsbury says, at page 561 -
The Queen’s enemies are foreign states in actual hostility against her. Whether a particular state is in actual hostility or not is a question of fact for the jury, who may judge of the matter from public notoriety. It is not necessary that there should have been any formal declaration of war.
This bill merely refers to “ enemy “, and leaves the determination to the jury as a question of fact, to be decided even on the basis of public notoriety.
The Leader of the Opposition says that an enemy could be an individual. That is quite true. It could be an individual or a group of individuals. The common law makes it clear that a rebel stands in the same position as any other enemy, and it is as treasonable to assist a rebel as to assist an invading force.
Now I come to the most remarkable statement of all in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. The honorable gentleman referred to paragraph (d) of proposed new section 24. - (1.), which says -
A person who assists by any means whatever an enemy at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared . . . shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
The Leader of the Opposition said -
We say that the offence, if it is to be an offence at all, should be restricted to an act intended to assist an enemy.
What an incredible statement by the Leader of the Opposition! Evidently the Opposition does not know whether it should be an offence to assist an enemy of this nation. I am sure the honorable gentleman had a momentary aberration when he made that statement, and that he could not possibly have meant it. But, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the position at common law is that there does not need to have been a declaration of war. As I have pointed out, the question whether a nation or a person is an enemy is a question of fact to be determined by a jury.
The Leader of the Opposition also suggested that this legislation is likely to create a kind of fascist state, because it will encourage persons to pimp on members of their own families. He says that it will result in what he referred to as a Russian system. But if the honorable member wants the common law, let us find out what the common law is. The common law on this subject has been the same for centuries. Halsbury says, at page 563 -
A person knowing that treason is plotted or committed is bound to reveal it as soon as he can to a justice of the peace or other person of authority.
That is the common law, and it has been for centuries. Yet the Opposition claims that this bill is an attempt to create a pimp state. In reality it does nothing more than state the common law. Is it suggested that we should permit a person who intends to commit or has committed treason to associate freely with and obtain assistance and comfort from the members of his family, simply because they are members of his family, and then go upon his poisonous ways? Of course not! It is simply a matter of common sense, and has been recognized as such by the common law for centuries, that it should be an offence to conceal knowledge of treasonable acts or intentions. The offence even has a well-established name. It is called misprision of treason. We cannot provide in a statute an exemption to allow a mother, brother, sister or father to assist, with impunity the treacherous activities of a brother, sister, son or daughter. As a matter of fact, a case of the kind contemplated in this provision arose in the United States of America a few years ago. A saboteur was landed in that country by submarine for the specific purpose of sabotage, and his father assisted him. The father was a German-born naturalized citizen of the United States of America, named Haupt, and he assisted his saboteur son by obtaining a motor car for him, feeding him and obtaining maps for him, so that he could carry out his evil purposes. Is this something that we should not legislate against and make an offence? I cannot believe that this would be the wish of the people of Australia.
I find that my time has almost evaporated, as it were, Mr. Deputy Speaker. So let me merely say this: I think it is most necessary to have in the bill a provision such as that with respect to a proclaimed country. We form an alliance with another country only because such an alliance is of value to us. Should we, having formed an alliance, let some one within our own country try to overthrow the government of our ally by force in order to destroy our alliance? Such action would be almost as harmful to us as to the country against the government of which the attempt at overthrow was made. Then we come to sabotage. Of course we must protect the installations of the proclaimed country.
I hope I have time to deal with one final thing, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We have heard a great deal of foolishness talked about the provision in the bill relating to a person’s known character. This kind of provision has operated in the law for centuries. The common law knows it very well. Any one who takes the trouble to turn up page 442 of Volume 10 of the Third Edition of “ Halsbury’s Laws of England “ will find the following statement: -
On the other hand, the mere fact that evidence adduced tends to show the commission of other crimes does not render it inadmissible if it is relevant to an issue before the jury, and it may be relevant if it bears upon the question whether the acts alleged to constitute the crime charged were designed or accidental . . .
That is the very nature of the provision in the bill, which is in fact a statement of the common law - the common law which is so much preferred by the Opposition. In fact, every day in the courts in criminal prosecutions the character of the accused person is introduced not merely on the tenuous rule that it is admissible if the accused attacks the character of the prosecutor, but on the basis that if the act is first proved, as is required by this bill, the circumstances are then proved, and the actions and character of the accused in those circumstances often shed light on the act itself and delineate it indelibly, thereby demonstrating whether or not the act was done with intent or innocently.
Let us take the situation in which there is a receptacle which normally contains a great number of valves, transistors and so on which are vital to a system of communications. Let us suppose that a hammer - not just a spanner but something capable of causing- really heavy damage - is- put through the receptacle and it- turns out that by sheer chance there is nothing in the box at the time. As soon as it is proved that this was done with intent to cause harm, the offence is shown.
– Order! The honorable member’s time, has- expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not propose to reply to the lecture- on some- of the legal principles involved in this measure which the honorable- member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) has just given to the House. I understood him1 to say, if I heard him correctly, that the Government is endeavouring by means of this bill to put into statutory form provisions of the common law. If that is so, we want to know why it is necessary to put into statutory form something which the honorable member says already exists in the common law.
With respect to the honorable member’s interpretation of this measure and1 the legal offences which it is designed to create, I need refer him only to the numerous statements that have already been published by Professor Julius Stone, of the University of Sydney, Professor Sawer and Professor Webb of the Australian National University, Canberra, and Professor Cowen, of the University of Melbourne, all of whom, I should say, are men of no mean legal attainments. I refer the honorable member also to the views of Mr. J. R. Kerr, Q.C., of the New South Wales Bar, who has been most outspoken in the views which he has published in the press in expressing opposition to this bill. It is obvious from the hostility expressed by the newspapers themselves and by members of various sections of our community, including these learned gentlemen whom I have just named, that this is one of the most contentious pieces of legislation introduced in this Parliament for a long time, and perhaps the most contentious in the nine years since the passage through this place of the Communist Party Dissolution Act.
The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said that some portions of this bill hark back to the time of Edward III.
Summing the matter up; particularly with, respect to some of the definitions - Lordknows, some of them are wide enough - I say that I do not. think that we have to go back to Edward III. We have only to go back, to the days of Hitler, when there was suppression of criticism of domestic policy and of foreign policy. That is the sort of thing that is embodied in this measure. The honorable member for Bruce said that, this bill is aimed at everybody who offends. If it goes through in its present form,, anybody who expresses an opinion contrary to. that of the Government on a domestic political issue or an issue of foreign policy could find himself in a concentration camp, as did many of the people of Germany in the days of Hitler-
Is it any wonder that there is an outcry against this bill not only by legal luminaries but by leaders in all walks of life? The honorable member for Bruce made a speech that might have been excellent as a legal lecture, but it is not of much assistance in reassuring the people- outside this Parliament who- are criticizing- this measure. The Australian Labour Party is opposed to- seven of the 60 clauses contained in the 33 pages of this bill. Everybody asks: Why is it necessary to introduce- this measure at this juncture? When we seek the answer to that question, we find, first, that the present Attorney-General bears the same name as did the advocate who appeared for the Commonwealth Government ten years ago before the High Court of Australia in the action concerning the Communist Party Dissolution Act. After the High Court had’ given its decision in that case, this Government took the matter to the people by way of referendum, and the people turned theGovernment’s proposals down flat. We aretold that this bill is not aimed at the Communist Party of Australia. We have to examine it in the light of its overalleffect on the Communist Party and on other sections of the community, and when we do so we find that it bears a strong resemblance to the Communist Party Dissolution Act.
I do not know whether the AttorneyGeneral played Rugby League football.. If he did not, that is a shame, because the game has been denied a marvellous scrumhalf. Since the honorable gentleman entered the political field, he has shown beyond a shadow of doubt that he is pretty good at going round the political scrums. That is just what he has been endeavouring to do by means of this measure. Apparently, he was sore about the High Court’s decision on the Communist Party Dissolution Act or was disappointed about the result of the referendum, for he now seeks to avail himself of an opportunity to put into legislative form the opinions which he holds with regard to the various propositions which were contained in the Communist Party Dissolution Act.
The question I should like to have answered is: Why was the debate on this measure resumed at 8 o’clock last Thursday week, only three hours before the House adjourned for a week? The measure was introduced not to deal with traitors or others who may attempt to interfere with the defence of this country; it was introduced because the Government is conscious of what is happening to our economy. A question to-day showed that in the past four months our overseas balances have fallen by £105,000,000, compared with the position in the equivalent period of last year. In addition, share prices in Australia have fallen by 12 per cent, in the last six weeks. The “ Financial Review “ of last Friday published a statement that 67 per cent, of the economists of the United States of America have said that America will face a very serious recession next year. We know what happens when there is a world recession; we have felt the effects of a recession since the end of World War II.
This Government is preparing for an election at the end of next year. By introducing this bill; it is promoting talk about Communists and communism. This is a pretty good- political horse for the Government;, it has ridden this horse on four or five occasions since 1949. It will trot out the old Communist war horse in another jacket for the next election, and so divert the attention of the electors from the real issues - the failure and incompetence of this Government! The Government is trying to curry favour with some sections of the community in its constant talk about communism. It knows that the people are getting pretty sick and tired of this, sort of talk, and I wami the Government that it can ride this horse once too often. But the Government has used these means to divert attention, knowing full well that it faces pretty heavy economic weather during next year.
The Government in this measure seeks wider statutory powers than were available during either of two wars. A new provision has been introduced to deal with sabotage, but I do not know of any sabotage that occurred here during World War II. Why introduce such a provision now? The basis of democracy is justice, liberty, free speech, religious freedom and the right to express a personal opinion. If this bill becomes law, with the wide scope of some of its provisions, our democratic rights will be infringed. I would like the Government to say what country, apart from Russia, has legislation similar to this, or, if this is preferred, what country in the Western world has in statutory form the power sought by this Government in this measure. All members of the Parliament have received letters from various church organizations. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) read in full a letter from the Methodist Church of Victoria. Members of this church spoke in very straightforward terms of the fears that they hold about this measure. Nobody could say that the Methodist Church consists wholly of people who would want to break the law. I do not know any of the gentlemen who were responsible for the letter - I come from another State - but it is a clear intimation that they have read the bill and realize the full implications of it.
It is all very well for the honorable member for Bruce to say that the bill is not aimed at any particular section of the community,, that its effect will be felt by only a few people. Because of the wide definitions of treason, treachery and so on, it will be possible for a person without any guilty intent to transgress and find himself in trouble merely because he has criticized the foreign policy of this Government. I want to refer to part of a resolution attached to a letter that we all received from the Presbyterian Church in Victoria. The Presbyterian Church points out that its present emphasis on Christian responsibility for freedom has grown out of a concern for the obligation and right of the Churches and Christians to speak on public issues. It is clear that the Church realizes that freedom of speech can be seriously curtailed by this measure. The resolution contains this passage -
The Church realizes that not only is freedom of speech adversely affected but also religious and civil liberties are infringed by this measure. The resolution goes on to say -
Whereas we see in certain clauses of the Bill for an Act to amend the Crimes Act, 1914-1959, a threat to the freedom of the Churches, Christians and others;
Whereas that threat is seen particularly in the facts that the Bill, if enacted:
could stifle opposition, not only to the policies of the Federal Government, but also the policies of any country or countries which both Houses of Parliament chose to “ proclaim “;
This Government has a majority in both Houses, and once it decided that a country should be proclaimed, it would be merely a form to ask the Parliament to make such a proclamation. The resolution continues -
I propose to deal with the matter of known character in a moment. The resolution then states -
Whereas the Prime Minister claims that the Crown “ must prove the elements of the offence “ of sabotage, the Act itself, in this section, states: “ It is not necessary to show that the accused person is guilty of a particular act . . . and notwithstanding that such an act is not proved against him, he may be convicted if, from the circumstances of the case, from his conduct and from his known character as proved, it appears »
I suppose a report from the security service would be sufficient to establish “ known character “. The resolution says further -
Whereas any person publicly maintaining a pacifist position on religious, moral or other grounds would appear to be liable to prosecution;
Whereas Christian missionaries, doctors and others could be placed in an untenable position with regard to acts of compassion on behalf of persons “ against whom . . . part of the defence force is or is likely to be opposed “.
Members of the Government, apart from the honorable member for Bruce have said that this bill is aimed at the Communist Party, yet here we have the Presbyterian Church expressing fears about the implications of the measure. It is quite obvious that this bill has been brought down purely as a diversionary measure to be used during the next election campaign. If it serves no other purpose, it certainly does indicate to the public that this Government is prepared, if necessary, to take the first step towards establishing a police state.
I wish to deal now with the question of treason. The Labour Party believes in dealing harshly with those who would be traitors to their country, and it is true that in 1914, at the outbreak of World War I., a Labour government sponsored the original Crimes Act. In other words, a Labour government was responsible for introducing into legislation passed by this Parliament the definition of treason. The bill now before us proposes to extend that definition. The present definition served the country well during two world wars, and it applied only to acts of treason committed within the Commonwealth or in territories under the control of the Commonwealth. The measure before us proposes to extend the definition to apply to a person who enters Australia after committing an act of treason in some other country. Once that person enters Australia after committing the offence in another country, he may be charged with treason. Actually, the Government is extending the territorial application of the definition of treason.
I come now to the proposed new provision which makes it an offence to levy war or to do any act preparatory to levying war against the Commonwealth. First, I should like to know whether it is proposed to apply this measure only to the person who actually does the levying, whether it is to apply to the man who assists in the preparation, or whether it is to apply to both. When replying to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in connexion with the meaning of the phrase “levy war”, the honorable member for Bruce quoted at length from Halsbury. I think that when we were at school we all read or heard of the Gordon riots. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said that this legislation goes back to the time of Edward III. Let me go back to 1781, and refer to a decision given in that year in the case of Rex v. Lord Gordon, reported in 21 State Trials at page 485. Incidentally, so far as I know, that decision still stands, although I am not a legal luminary.
– That is obvious.
– But my understanding of the law is greater than that of the honorable member who interjects. In giving his decision in the case to which I have referred, Lord Mansfield, who was then Chief Justice, had this to say -
Insurrections by force and violence to raise the price of wages, … to redress grievances real or pretended, have all been held levying war.
Honorable members can visualize what could happen, especially when we contemplate what the economic position could be like next year. For instance, there could be demonstrations against the lowering of wages. The secretary of a union might be instructed to appeal to a tribunal with a view to preventing the lowering of wages. The tribunal might reject his appeal and the members of his union, or certain sections of them, might decide to hold a demonstration as a protest against the rejection of their claim for retention of the existing wage rate. If a riot or disturbance occurs during the demonstration, the union official who made the application to the tribunal at the request of the members of his union could find himself charged with committing an act of treason under the proposed provision.
– It is not nonsense. Unfortunately, all this follows from the decision in the case against Lord Gordon in 1781. In that case, Lord Mansfield went on to say -
The opinion of us all is that if this multitude assembled with intent, by acts of force and violence, to compel the Legislature to change a law, it is high treason. Whoever incites, advises or is in any way encouraging to such a multitude assembled with such intent, though he does not personally appear among them, yet he is equally a principal.
It must be apparent, therefore, that the boundary line between “ insurrection by force and violence to raise the price of wages “, on the one hand, and militant industrial action by trade unionists to “ raise the price of wages “ or to secure other improvements in conditions of employment, on the other hand, may be very narrow. This may be especially so at times of strong public feeling when some industrial action by a trade union or its officers has been under attack by the press, or when feelings are running high during a period of cold war. In other words, my point is that one does not need to draw a very long bow to see how the provision relating to the levying of war, as set out in this bill, could have very adverse effects in the industrial field. Is it any wonder that the trade unions offer such criticism of the proposed provision? The point of criticism is not that all direct action by trade unions may be called levying war, but that some forms of direct action, if met provocatively and perhaps with force or violence by the Government and police, may become capable of being termed treason. These are the things which are causing the trade unions great concern.
Let me deal with sabotage. As I said a while ago, we did not have any sabotage during World War II., and during that war, I remind honorable members that there was no definition of sabotage in the Crimes Act. During that time, the common law applied, and apparently the provisions of common law were sufficient deterrent. It is all very well for honorable members on the Government side to say that conditions are different to-day. It is true in times of peace as opposed to times of war, and, incidentally, this proposed definition applies to times of war. But in peace-time, even under cold war conditions, why is it necessary to bring this measure down?
I hark back to what I said at the beginning. Sabotage can be committed in a time of peace or a time of war. Sabotage means destruction, damage, or impairment for a purpose prejudicial or intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth. The crucial question, of course, is: What is a purpose prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth? Under this measure it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove guilty intent, which is basic to the principles of British jurisprudence. It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that a man had guilty intent when he did damage. All it has to do is to trot out the circumstances of the case and the person’s conduct - that is
No. 1 - or his known character. Under this new definition all those things come into the picture. Even if an accident occurs - a hammer may be placed inadvertently in a piece of machinery - and damage is caused, I think all that would be necessary, the character of the man being known, would be for the security service to report that in 1926 he was a Communist. He might have given communism away in the intervening years. But by virtue of the fact that the man was working on a machine and a hammer fell and did damage of the kind to which the honorable member for Bruce referred, it is not necessary to prove that he had guilty intent. It is only necessary to say that he was a Communist in 1926, as the security service reports, and the fact that he is a Communist means that his purpose would be prejudicial.
The onus of proof has ‘been shifted from the Crown to the individual accused; and this is the very negation of the basic principles upon which British jurisprudence has been built. Is it any wonder that the legal lights whom I mentioned earlier have expressed concern not only about all the other implications contained in the measure but also about the shifting of the onus of proof? Where are we going? Under this measure the Government is taking us along the road to a State similar to that which Hitler developed when he controlled Germany. I want to finish .up on this note-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Never before have I heard such strange arguments on a bill as have been stated in this chamber on this measure. These arguments have been stated by members of the Opposition in a valiant attempt to deal politically with a bill which requires commonsense consideration. Let us consider one of the arguments raised by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) when he quoted the case of the Crown v. Lord Gordon. He quoted Lord Mansfield as saying -
I tell you the opinion of .us all is that if this multitude assembled with intent, by acts of force and violence, to compel the Legislature to change
A law, it is high treason.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh then went on to say that if persons came to King’s Hall - as some unionists from the south coast did - and then by some connivance police were sent into the peaceful demonstration deliberately to provoke violence - I am omitting the immaterial words of what the honorable member said - the gathering could become a riot although originally it was just an ordinary peaceful demonstration. The honorable member said -
Although originally it was just an ordinary peaceful demonstration, it would then be described as a riot, a revolution, .an attempt to intimidate the Parliament and to force upon the Parliament by insurrection the will of the mob.
Here is a perfect example of how one can lift important words of a measure out of their context. Lord Mansfield said -
If this multitude assembled with intent, by acts of force and violence, to compel the Legislature to change the law-
In other words, if the populace, in the circumstances suggested, came to King’s Hall deliberately intending by force and violence to change the law they would be guilty, according to Lord Mansfield. But if they came peacefully and without such intent and then some provocation ensued, all they would need to do in order to escape the consequences of an indictment would be to prove that they came peacefully. I quote that as an instance of how laymen, without knowledge of the law, can misrepresent it to suit party political arguments.
Let us now consider some other examples. We have heard a great deal about the onus of proof. From what members of the Opposition have said .one would think that the Government, in this measure, was introducing an onus of proof clause. Section 21c of the Crimes Act - it has been there since 1926 - provides -
Where under any law of the Commonwealth any act, if done without lawful authority, or without lawful authority or excuse, or without permission, is an offence against that law, the burden of proving that the act was done with lawful authority, or with lawful authority or excuse, or with permission (as the case may be) shall be on the person accused.
So, members of the Opposition - these glorious upholders of our rights - have allowed that provision to remain in the act since 1926 although it places ,the burden of proof on the accused. Section 30h of the existing legislation - this also has been there since 1926 - reads -
In any prosecution under this Act, proof that the defendant has, at any time since the commencement of this section-
been a member of an association;
attended a meeting of an association;
spoken publicly in advocacy of an association or its objects; or
distributed literature of an association, shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be evidence that at all times material to the case he was a member of the association.
In other words, if he does not prove to the contrary, he is deemed to be a member of the association. The Opposition has not bothered about that provision which has been in the act since 1926, although it throws the onus of proof on the defendant. Let me turn now to section 30r which also has been in operation since 1926. Sub-section (1.) is in these terms -
In any prosecution for an offence under this Part, or for an offence to which any provision of this Part is material, the averments of the prosecutor contained in the information or indictment shall be prima facie evidence of the matter or matters averred.
In other words, the prosecutor has only to state his averment in writing and, until the contrary is proved, that averment is prima facie evidence of the matter or matters averred, subject to sub-section (4.) which states -
This section shall not lessen or affect any onus of proof otherwise falling on the defendant.
That onus-of-proof provision has been in operation since 1926, but the Opposition has done nothing about it.
Let us look now at section 78 (2.) which was amended in 1946. It now reads -
On a prosecution under this section it shall not be necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of any particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the Commonwealth or any part of the King’s Dominions, and, notwithstanding that no such act is proved against him, he may be convicted if, from the circumstances of the case, or his conduct, or his known character as proved, it appears that his purpose was a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the Commonwealth or any part of the King’s Dominions’ . . .
That is another section which has been in the act for many years, but honorable members of the Opposition’, who now claim to be worried about the clause in the Crimes Bill relating to known character, have done nothing about it. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had the effrontery to tell this Parliament and the people of Australia that he thought that the section had fallen into disuse. Are we to believe that that statement is honest? The section has been in operation since 1946, but the Opposition has not worried about it because, according to the Leader of the Opposition, it was believed to have fallen into disuse!
Section 89 (1.) of the Crimes Act, which also has been in operation since at least 1946, is in these terms -
Any person who, without lawful excuse (proof whereof shall lie upon him), trespasses or goes upon any land belonging to, or in the occupation of, the Commonwealth, and used for any naval, military or air force purpose or any purpose incidental thereto, and as to which any notice is posted thereon prohibiting trespass, shall be guilty of an offence.
The onus lies on the defendant to prove that he did not go upon the land without lawful excuse.
I should like to deal now with the Queensland Criminal Code which has been in existence in that State since 1901. Section 636 relates to a charge of carnal knowledge or incest, and sub-section 2 states -
The accused person is, until the contrary is proved, presumed to have had knowledge at the time of the alleged offence of the relationship existing between the woman or girl on whose person or by whom the offence is alleged to have been committed and the person charged, or the person with whom the offence is alleged to have been committed, as the case may be.
In other words, until the contrary is proved the accused person is presumed to have had knowledge of certain facts.
Let me turn now to the Queensland Vagrants, Gaming and Other Offences Act which has been in operation for many years in Queensland and which was brought up to date in 1931. Section 4 states -
Any person who . .
Without lawful excuse (the proof of which shall be upon him) -
is found in any dwelling-house, warehouse, &c., or on board any vessel in any port, harbour, or place . . . shall be deemed to be a vagrant and shall be liable to a penalty of £50 or to imprisonment for six months:
Section 25 of that act, which also has been in operation since at least 1931, is in these terms -
Any person who, upon being charged before a court with having in his possession or conveying anything whatsoever suspected of having been stolen or unlawfully obtained, does not give an account to the satisfaction of the court how he came by such things shall be liable to a penalty of £25 or to imprisonment for six months.
This means that if a man who is found to be in possession of certain goods which are suspected of having been stolen does not prove to the satisfaction of the court how he came to be in possession of them, he is found guilty of the offence. This provision has been in force since 1931, but have we heard any honorable member opposite protest that such a state of affairs existed in Queensland? We have not! The Opposition has not said “ Boo “ about it. Honorable members opposite may be interested to know that within the past five days two newspapers which are published in my electorate have carried accounts of two separate cases in which people have been prosecuted and convicted for being in possession of goods which are suspected of having been stolen, so the Opposition cannot claim that the section of the act to which I have referred has fallen into disuse. Section 55 of the Vagrants, Gaming and Other Offences Act is also of interest. Sub-section (6) reads -
Against any person accused of being a vagrant on the ground that he has no visible lawful means of support or that he has insufficient lawful means of support, proof that he possesses money or property shall not be a defence unless it is also proved by the defendant that such money or property was lawfully obtained by him.
That section of the act also has been in existence since 1931 but Queensland colleagues of honorable members of the Opposition - those upholders of the truth and the rights of man - have done nothing about it.
Let me turn now to proposed new section 24ab (3.) of the Crimes Act which states -
On a prosecution under this section it is not necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of a particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial, to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth and, notwithstanding that such an act is not proved against him, he may be convicted if, from the circumstances of the case, from his conduct or from his known character as proved, it appears that his purpose was a purpose prejudicial, or a purpose intended to be prejudicial, as the case requires, to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth.
A very interesting point has been put forward by one section of the Presbyterian Church. I have received a roneoed copy of an overture by the Presbyterian Church of Melbourne West. Portion of the statement is in these terms -
Whereas the Prime Minister claims that the Crown “ must prove the elements of the offence “ of sabotage, the act itself, in this section, states: “ It is not necessary to show that the accused person is guilty of a particular act . . and notwithstanding that such an act is not proved against him, he may be convicted if . . .”
The dots which indicate a gap in the quotation from the bill which has been recited by the Presbyterian Church make all the difference. I remind honorable members that the relevant portion of the proposed new section is -
On a prosecution under this section it is not necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of a particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial, to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth . . .
What a difference we have then! And, of course, this mistake has been repeated by members of the Opposition. They have maintained that all that is necessary is to say that somebody was a naughty boy in the past, and that, in order to convict him, there is no need to show that he has done anything to-day. That mistake may have been engendered by what honorable members opposite read in this Presbyterian statement; but unfortunately for them, as I have said, the Presbyterian statement put in three dots and left out the most important part of proposed new section 24ab, which provides that the act must tend to show - a purpose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial, to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth.
That is what makes the difference. If you read the case of the Presbyterian Assembly of Victoria, with these dots, and relate it to proposed new section 24ab the matter takes on an entirely different complexion, and needs an entirely different interpretation.
Now let us consider other cases where the onus of proof does not lie on the prosecution. It is provided in the Income Tax Assessment Act that the Commissioner of Taxation, if not satisfied with a tax return submitted by a taxpayer, may assess what he considers to be the correct income that is liable to taxation, and unless the taxpayer proves that he did not earn that income he has to pay the default assessment.
Section 11 of the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act 1949 provides as follows: -
Where an organization has committed an offence against this Act, every person who, at the time of the commission of the offence, was a member of the committee of management, or an officer, of the organization or of a branch of the organization shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence, unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he used all due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence . . .
That act became law when honorable members opposite were in office in 1949. It placed the onus of proof on the defendant. What a terrible thing they did then, and they have made no attempt since to alter it.
I should like now to deal with some aspects concerning indictments and summary offences. It has been claimed that this amending bill will not enable people to be tried by a judge and jury if they so wish. If I remember correctly, the Leader of the Opposition said that the act itself should be amended in regard to this matter. Section 12 (1.) of the act states -
Offences against this Act, other than offences expressed to be indictable offences, shall be punishable either on indictment or on summary conviction.
Section 12a (1.) states -
Any proceeding in respect of an offence against this Act, although declared indictable may, with the consent of the defendant, be beard and determined by a Court of Summary Jurisdiction.
Sub-section (2.) of the same section provides as follows: -
A Court of Summary Jurisdiction may, if it thinks fit, upon the request of the prosecutor, hear and determine any proceeding in respect of an offence against this Act, although declared to be indictable, if the offence relates to property the value of which does not exceed Fifty pounds.
That section has been in force since 1926, and members of the Opposition have not attempted to change those two provisions. Then we turn to section 24e, an interesting section which came into force in 1920. Sub-section (1.) reads -
An offence under either of the last two preceding sections-
The two preceding sections referred to deal with sedition and seditious words - shall be punishable either on indictment or summarily, but shall not be prosecuted summarily without the consent of the Attorney-General.
That provision has been in force since 1920. It has been considered quite satisfactory for 40 years, but suddenly members of the Opposition have decided that if a man wants to be tried by a judge and jury he should, in all circumstances, have, the right to be tried in that way. Yet in 1920 it was established that the accused, in the case of an offence of sedition, could be tried either on indictment or summarily, but was not to be prosecuted summarily without the consent of the Attorney-General. In qualification, sub-section (2.) of section 24e states -
If any person who is prosecuted summarily in respect of an offence against either of the last two preceding sections, elects, immediately after pleading, to be tried upon indictment, the Court or Magistrate shall not proceed to summarily convict that person but may commit him for trial.
In other words, if the accused wants to be tried by a jury in this particular instance he can be so tried. That is in the case of sedition. But, as treason is an indictable offence, the accused must be tried by a judge and jury. A case of treason cannot be tried by an inferior court. The proposed new section 24 deals more fully with treason. In 24 (1.) occur the famous words -
Assists by any means whatever an enemy at war with the Commonwealth,
The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) has dealt to quite an extent with the meaning of those words “ assist by any means whatever “. Before I deal with that any further I should like to refer the House to section 4 (2.) of the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act 1947, which reads -
An offence against this section may be prosecuted summarily or upon indictment, . . .
That act was introduced by the then Labour Government. Sub-section (4.) of the same section reads -
A prosecution for an offence against this section shall not be instituted except bv the AttorneyGeneral or with the consent of the AttorneyGeneral or of a person thereto authorized in writing by the Attorney-General.
This Government has been accused, Mr. Deputy Speaker, of introducing provisions which will encourage pimping. Let me quote to honorable members opposite, who make this contention, section 38 of the Queensland Criminal Code, which has been in force since the beginning of 1901. That section provides that -
Any person who -
Becomes an accessory after the fact of treason; or
Knowing that any person intends to commit treason, does not give information thereof with all reasonable despatch to a justice or use all reasonable endeavours to prevent commission of the crime; is guilty of a crime and is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for life.
That provision has existed for 60 years, but now that it is to be enacted in the Crimes Bill it becomes pimping according to opponents of the measure although it has been approved tacitly for 60 years by members of all parties. A similar provision was contained in the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act 1949. That legislation provided that a man must give information when required by a registrar. I wonder whether that would be considered to be pimping also.
I have only a little time to refer to the question of assisting the enemy. An examination of all the authorities over the centuries reveals that there is no doubt at all that the highest courts of the land have dealt with this matter thoroughly. The words “ assisting the enemy “ mean assisting the enemy treacherously or with an intent to assist the enemy against the interests of our country. Therefore, the criticisms of Professor Geoffrey Sawer, Mr. J. H. Wootten, the Methodist Church of Australasia as cited by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) and of the Presbyterian Assembly of Victoria all fall to the ground.
– Why bring in the sectarian issue?
– I am merely pointing out that anybody who misinterprets these provisions loses his case. Clearly, the term “ to assist the enemy “ has a definite meaning in the highest courts of the land. It means to assist them with intent by acting treacherously against our country. Anybody who suggests that the Society of Friends and the Red Cross Society are acting treacherously When they carry on ‘their humanitarian work either does not understand the bill or deliberately misinterprets it.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Since .this bill was introduced by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), he has been overseas. Immediately upon his return, he was credited with saying that there were a number of loosely framed ideas and clauses in this bill and that he would review it. He said that he would correct anomalies that existed in it. Within the last half-hour, the Attorney-General, who has been cloistered with his draftsmen, has told a deputation of trade unionists that they have nothing to fear from any aspect of this legislation because he is going to re-cast the bill and re-submit it. These comments have come from a man who held one of the most exalted positions in the legal firmament and who now holds an exalted position in this Parliament. He is a man who must be given the credit of knowing his trade; yet he proposes, in effect, to re-cast the legislation which he introduced only a few weeks ago. If this were an isolated instance of mismanagement, bungling and carelessness by this legal eagle it could be overlooked. But what are the facts?
After the honorable gentleman was appointed Attorney-General, he introduced into this Parliament a bill dealing with divorce. Subsequently, the honorable gentleman produced more than 30 amendments to his own bill. The Marriage Bill followed and he also introduced about 60 amendments to that measure. In other words, the Attorney-General has had second thoughts on the bill now before the House, and on the other measures I have mentioned. After meeting a gale of criticism, the Attorney-General was chased into his legal rat-hole where he consulted with his assistants in an endeavour to bring more correct thinking to bear on the legislation just as he did with the earlier divorce and marriage legislation. If a labourer working for a shire council filled a hole in the road as carelessly as the Attorney-General has done his work on this bill, he would be dismissed, and rightly so. As members of the Opposition have pointed out, the Attorney-General has failed to prepare the framework .of this bill properly. 33ie Attorney-General, acting -on ‘behalf .of the -Government, has thrown together a mass of ideas.
In introducing the Crimes Bill, the Government has directed a deliberate, unnecessary and provocative attack against the Australian Labour Party, the trade union movement and the free-thinking elements of the community. The Government is endeavouring to sow discord. It is seeking to provide a basis for a platform to hide its deficiencies when it faces the people at a general election next year. The country is torn asunder economically and that fact will be made abundantly clear in the -next few months. The Government is caught in the crushing .effects of its own economic policies and it faces a -debacle. In -desperation, it is pressing this legislation. The AttorneyGeneral stands condemned for incompetence in presenting legislation which would not be .supported by a responsible .government. He -is .most irresponsible.
In presenting this ‘“bill, the Government is aiming to weaken and destroy the very “basis of our Australian democratic society built on freedom of thought and speech and freedom of written expression. These are the very fundamentals of our -democratic way of life. When such freedoms are denied to some of our people - it matters not how few - we no longer retain a democracy. By this bill, Australia’s form of democratic government, developed from and based upon .the best .that the AngloSaxon race and other nations have designed, will be supplanted by totalitarian methods of dictatorship, fascism and communism. As an Australian citizen, a trade union activist and a member of this Parliament, I know that this legislation is not what the Government claims it to be. I know that among great legal minds, churchmen, trade unionists and the general public there exists grave disquiet at the thought that any elected government would seek so brazenly to assault the civil liberties and the freedoms of our people as the Government intends to do through this legislation. Because we are dealing with the bill as a whole and not merely with particular parts of it, I would like to see the bill withdrawn. I would like to see the repugnant parts - which were the subject of an amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.
Calwell) - consigned to the limbo of all discreditable anti-democratic legislation.
The Attorney-General, who introduced this infamous legislation on 8th September, from the very outset of his second-reading speech and including his verbose press statements issued since, has won for himself the doubtful distinction of being the author of the worst gobbledygook this country has seen. He has failed dismally to make the legislation’s intention clear to the Australian electorate. He has tried to make the subject look so technical and obscure that no tribunal could .possibly be expected to define this law as it -is presented.
That is why the review of this law is now a matter of some perspiration to the Attorney-General. He will bring to this House a clutch of second thoughts on this issue. Of course, the second thinking is not only the result of his own bungling. On :his return from overseas he recognized that there was a wave df resentment, an unheaval of thought, and an inflamed public mind in Australia against this iniquitous piece of legislation which has been thrown into this Parliament so haphazardly and carelessly. The Australian people should be told specifically, in very plain terms, what this law forbids. Not only has the AttorneyGeneral failed to do this but he has exploited the wiles of the legal profession in an .attempt to confuse. He is excellent at that
We of the Opposition, in the terms of a unanimous decision that we have taken on this legislation have pointed very clearly to the attack and to the threats, both obvious and hidden, which are contained in the bill. As custodians of the freedom of all men of our democracy, the Labour Party seeks to defeat those sections of this legislation which constitute an attack on the rights and civil liberties of the people, the trade union movement, and other peace-loving and humanitarian organizations. The decision of the Labour Opposition on this matter is concise and clear. It is designed to protect the people of this country and their inalienable rights and is in these terms: -
This Executive recommends -
that the Party strongly oppose the Bill and move that it be withdrawn and redrafted because it fails to repeal objectionable features of the Crimes Act, including political and industrial offences and the death penalty, -and -because it introduces new offences infringing freedom of speech, writing and action by individuals and organisations innocent of disloyal intent, and because, in particular, it fails -
to preserve the rule of law and the principles of natural justice in trial for these offences;
to establish trial by jury for all these offences;
to achieve certainty and precision in the definition of these offences;
to ensure the application of long established rules excluding evidence of the character of an accused person on trial for these offences;
to provide means of specifying enemy countries which or enemy persons whom it will be an offences to assist; and
to guarantee liberty bona fide to express criticisms and to seek alteration of the policy of the Australian or any other Government.
that, if this motion is defeated, the Party vote against the second reading of the Bill.
that the Party authorise the Executive to formulate amendments for consideration at the next meeting of the Party; and
that, if the Bill is not amended as desired by the Party, the Party vote against the third reading.
Nothing could be clearer nor more specific. When the Opposition proposes its amendments to the bill they will follow the same pattern. They will not be ambiguous. They will not have to be carried out to be looked at and reviewed as a piece of ill-considered thinking. Rather will they be concise and unambiguous and they will be clearly understood.
I shall not attempt to deal with the legalities of this bill. They have been adequately discussed by previous Opposition speakers, particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). Later to-day the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) will deal with specific sections. Those honorable members and others of the Opposition will also make their contributions to the debate when the committee stage of this bill is reached. At present, I shall present my views on the broader aspects which are agitating public opinion.
The Australian Labour Party seised, as is ever the case, of its heavy responsibilties as the Opposition of to-day and the govern ment of next year, thoroughly probed this legislation before making the determination which I have just enunciated. It was a responsible, sober, balanced decision, taken after a penetrating analysis which embodied the equally factual assessment of the terms of the bill by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Workers Union representing, as they jointly do, the organized trade unions of Australia. Most eminent legal authorities in this country have expressed high criticism and, indeed, fear of those sections of the bill which are so clearly pinpointed in the terms of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party’s decision.
Trenchant criticism of this legislation has been made publicly by such men as Professor Julius Stone, Professor Geoffrey Sawer, John R. Kerr, Q.C., and Mr. J. H. Wootten, followed by Methodist, Presbyterian and Quaker leaders together with spokesmen for many other organizations such as the Australian Journalists Association. All have joined in the general condemnation. Such views are indicative of the wide public antipathy to the hidden attack on civil liberties which this shameless Government seeks to impose on this young democratic country. These people and organizations are opposing this bill because they believe it to be fundamentally bad and legally indefensible.
Have such men and groups as I have mentioned become unwittingly and unconsciously the willing tools of international communism? This is what the Prime Minister has implied against all who raise their voices in condemnation of the objectionable security clauses which the Australian Labour Party seeks to amend to conform to the rule of law and principles of natural justice. Such an imputation against these people and groups is patently absurd and represents the smear so readily em.loyed by the notorious leader of the Government, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). One might well claim with equal absurdity that the Prime Minister is now the mentor of Khrushchev or has converted Nehru to his own way of thinking. The Presbyterian Church, in a letter to members of this Parliament, expresses concern for the obligation and right of churches and Christians to speak on public issues. It feels that that right is being endangered under this legislation. The letter contains this statement -
Stability, law and order are secure only when they incorporate justice and freedom.
The Opposition has based its strictures of this bill, and of similar past legislation, on principles of justice and freedom. Once legislation moves from that basis it ceases to be entitled to remain part of the fabric of our way of life. The Presbyterian Church further stated in its letter -
We see in certain clauses of the bill a threat to the very freedom of the churches. Any person publicly maintaining a pacifist position on religious, moral or other grounds would appear to be liable to prosecution. Christian missionaries, doctors and others could be placed in an untenable position with regard to acts of compassion on behalf of persons against whom part of the defence force is or is likely to be opposed.
How can Government supporters continue to say that the only people opposed to this legislation are members of or sympathizers with the Communist Party? The Government is seeking, under this legislation, to destroy democratic government and to establish a police state in Australia. If the Government does not bow to the wide public demand to review this legislation to conform to the amendments which will be proposed by the parliamentary representatives of the Australian Labour Party, a reign of tyranny equal to that which existed in Germany under Hitler could commence in this country.
This bill cannot be considered apart from other legislative enactments of this reactionary Government. Recently, the Government used its majority in this House to force through a measure which authorized telephone tapping. This blatant assault on the sanctity of private and business conversations is both repugnant and unnecessary, to say the very least. The Government now brings in this Crimes Bill to buttress its strong assault on the civil liberties of all our people.
The Attorney-General, upon his return from New York, stated that he intended to introduce a bill to authorize the admittance of tape recordings as evidence before courts. No means of record can be so easily altered and falsified as a tape recording. Nothing bearing upon the civil liberties of our people and of the organizations within our social structure is sacred to this Government.
All of the implements of the police state to which I have referred are most repugnant to every democratic nation and to every Australian. Each item of legislation authorizing the use of such implements, and in particular this Crimes Bill, assists in the erection of a legal gallows upon which Australian democracy is destined to be destroyed, and the rights of free men and women desecrated.
In its defence of this infamous legislation the Government has consistently maligned the Australian Labour Party and misrepresented its policies, because of its condemnation and resistance of specified sections of the bill. As the Leader of the Opposition made clear, in his second-reading speech, to those who are ever ready to knock and smear Labour, the Opposition believes, as does every other decent Australian, that there should be stringent laws to prevent offences based upon disloyalty to our country and to punish those who commit them. When the former Liberal-Country Party Government failed to take action to protect Australia and its people during the period of war, when Australia’s very existence was in grave jeopardy, it was the elected representatives of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament, constituting the Government of the day, under John Curtin and later Ben Chifley - and who included a number of members who are still with us - who protected Australia’s national interests at home and overseas. These facts now form an indelible chapter of our history. Of course, there must be laws against treason, treachery, espionage, sabotage and breaches of official secrecy. There must be severe penalties for those who commit such offences. At the same time no support can be given, when persons are charged with such crimes, to any departure, under any circumstances, from our rule of law or from the principles of natural justice.
This bill makes a large number of amendments to the original Crimes Act introduced in 1914 by the Fisher Labour Government, within a few weeks of Australia becoming involved in World War I. This amending bill covers 33 pages and includes 60 clauses. It is a long and complex document. It is the twelfth amendment or extension of the original act. In 1926 the illfated Bruce-Page Government introduced its repressive amending legislation, including sections 30j and 30k, which the Opposition’s amendment to the bill before us seeks to have repealed. The Attorney-General at that time, who is now Sir John Latham, justified the bill as being vitally necessary to defend the nation against the nefarious activities of the Communist Party. Now, 34 years later, the present Attorney-General introduces this all-embracing, far-reaching and equally objectionable bill for practically the same reasons. Yet, in the whole of the intervening period, not one traitor or saboteur, not one act of treachery or of treason perpetrated by a Communist, has been uncovered. Never once, even under nationalist or Liberal governments, has a man or woman been charged with the heinous offences created by the Crimes Act. As was the case with the 1926 bill, this bill is introduced, we are told, as a deterrent. What or who are to be deterred? No one has ever been prosecuted for crimes against the State in the 34 years since the 1926 bill was introduced, so what is the need for these amendments and extensions of the Crimes Act in 1960?
The real reason for the introduction of this legislation is the same as that which motivated the Bruce-Page Government when it introduced its amending legislation in 1926. The Government requires this legislation not as an essential legal aid for the defence of this country, but as another electoral weapon to be wielded at next year’s general election, in a blatant effort to distract the attention of the Australian people from the serious economic conditions that exist, the full appreciation of which will inflame public opinion to such an extent that it will be eager to throw this Government out of office and remove its members from positions in which they may continue to damage our economy and put free men in chains.
The Government is endeavouring to create in this young country an atmosphere of hate, fear and suspicion, so that it may avoid fighting the next general election on the gigantic economic and social issues upon which the election should be fought. The Government is trying to distract attention from the heavy economic burdens being unjustly thrown on to the family man, the primary producer, the worker in industry, the pensioner, those without homes, those in the bondage of debt and those who are being denied adequate education- facilities. We contend that adequate measures already exist to protect the Australian people from traitors and the like, and from those who would seek to overthrow Australia’s democratic way of life by violence and by the denial of the right of. free election of; governments. We also contend that this. Government has failed to enact laws toprotect Australian consumers from the activities of predatory monopolists and financial exploiters. The Government’s policies at all levels are contrary to the interests of the mass of the people.
The amendments in this legislation based on political and industrial considerations are not necessary for Australian defence and security. The Government has set out deliberately to split and to do great harm to the Australian Labour Party by the use of the innuendo, the smear, the half-truth and the downright lie. It has attempted, further, to silence the critics of its foreign and domestic policies. Certain of the alarming proposed new sections are aimed deliberately against the organized trade unions of Australia. They can be used, in fact, to prevent workers from organizing for the improvement of their economic lives. Strike action can result in prosecution of trade union officials and members, who will be liable to, be. sent to prison for life. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, in an editorial on 1st October, said -
There are, for example, contentious clauses about “ assisting by any means whatever “, in orout of Australia, any opponents (or possible opponents) of an Australian defence force . . . Unions might very easily come within this purview if, by strike or other action, they try to impede the Government’s foreign policy. After all, the offence would be “ treachery “, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Spoken or written criticism of the Government’s foreign policy might, not impossibly, be affected.
There are other possibilities in this new. criminal area of treachery, but time will not permit me to outline them. To show the basis of the Government’s thinking in regard to this legislation, let me refer to a book entitled, “History of the A.W.U.”, written by W. G. Spence. The author refers to conditions prevailing in about 1898 and earlier, when the old squattocracy of Australia constituted the ruling junta, and had its own rules for determining a man’s known character. At page 60 of his book Mr. Spence dealt with arrests that took place about 1898, at a time when strikes in the shearing and mining industries ravaged the land, when men lived under gumtrees and fought from the billabongs against capitalism and for a right to attain a decent standard of living. The author says -
A man named C. F. Latrielle got a month and some others two months for calling another a “ scab “. A man named Jermyn was tried eleven times, but the police had no evidence, and he got clear every time. To be a Unionist was enough. This incident in the court of St. George is full of meaning -
His Worship (to the constable): “ Did you search the prisoner? “ “ I did, your Worship.” “What did you find on him?” “ I found a Union ticket, your Worship, which I produce in court.”
That is an indication of the way in which the “ known character “ principle was applied at that time. It could apply again in a similar way under the provisions of this bill.
The Attorney-General said that the trade union movement of this country has nothing to fear. Let me remind those who are inclined to fall for that line of talk that the application of the terms of this bill will not be decided by courts presided over by the present Attorney-General. Somebody else will be sitting in the courts and deciding that in another day and another age and probably in circumstances different from those which exist at present. Those are the people to whom we have to look. We as legislators owe it to ourselves as intelligent Australians and reasonable men to see that whatever legislation we hand down to posterity is properly balanced, that it is equitably applied, and that it ensures justice and freedom and preserves those things for the children of to-morrow. That ought to be the basis of legislation rather than what the present Attorney-General or some other senior member of the government of the day says is its basis. The opinion of the present Attorney-General is not worth one fig with respect to the application and interpretation of the terms of this bill in the courts of this country. That is the point at which we must look. We must keep our eyes focussed on it. I have approached this measure on that broad basis.
The trade union movement is incensed about this bill. Workers and trade union members at all levels are disturbed at the threat that it contains. When all is said and done, the threat in anything is the thing that is important. The public mind in Australia is uneasy in circles quite apart from and beyond the trade union movement. High legal opinion is uneasy. I have mentioned the names of a few of those who are uneasy about the provisions of this bill. Others who are uneasy are known to honorable members. When you cannot get legal men of high standing to agree on a proposal, there is great doubt in the public mind. We, as lay members of the community, are entitled to ask the Government to stay the passage of this bill and to remove the confusion that has arisen. We cannot get unanimity of thought about what this or that clause means even before the bill becomes law. We must be as certain as possible before passing any legislation.
Undoubtedly, the Government will use its numbers and put the bill through by steam-roller tactics. With equal gusto, it will reject the Opposition’s amendments. It will do these things because, for the time being, it has the support of the majority in this Parliament. However, it has not the support of the majority of the people of Australia to-day. It did not win the support of the majority of the voters of Australia in achieving its majority in the Parliament, and it will not have the support of the majority of the voters when it faces them at the next general election. It cannot do the things that it does and get away with them indefinitely, because the people of Australia at all levels are irked by and tired and fearful of this kind of potentially repressive legislation. This bill is drafted in repressive language and jargon and it makes a hidden attack on the people’s liberties. I ask back-benchers on the Government side of the chamber to rise up in the caucus of the Government parties, if there is any semblance of real responsibility on this measure in their ranks, and to put pressure on the Government to withdraw this bill.
The provisions with respect to coinage and the various machinery clauses of this 60-clause bill are all right. We have said that. There is no question about them. But we point the finger at the other clauses which make a hidden attack. They are disastrous, undemocratic and un-Australian.
Perhaps un-Australian is the best description that I can give them. Internationally, judged on that basis, they are not acceptable to jurists of world status and world renown.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) made one observation which rather intrigued me. He said that the whole of Australia was aflame in its opposition to this bill and that the whole of the trade union movement was totally opposed to it. I direct his attention to the fact that the Queensland Trades and Labour Council called a public meeting in Brisbane last Sunday to stage a monster protest against this so-called terrible bill, but it could get only 400 unionists to turn up out of the tens of thousands in that city. I do not think that that indicates a great public upheaval on this issue.
In his opening remarks, the honorable member attacked the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). He suggested that the Minister was so uncertain in his own mind about the nature and provisions of this bill that when he returned from overseas he made a public announcement that he had doubts about the measure and would redraft it. Those who oppose this bill should read and study carefully what the AttorneyGeneral and others actually said. I am unaware of any statement of the kind suggested by the honorable member for Cunningham. I am aware, however, that in response to the plea by certain members of the Australian Labour Party that they were unable to understand this measure, the Minister stated that he was quite prepared to try to bring the explanation down to their level by trying to make his words plainer. But that, as he pointed out, did not alter the law on the situation. So, I think that the remarks made by the honorable member for Cunningham were just so much political eye-wash. They were characteristic of the political propaganda to which we have been subjected in this debate.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, as this bill has been subjected to the well-known tactics of knocking and condemnation before investigation, which unfortunately are characteristic of some people in Australia, I set myself the task of inquiring into four matters: First, what are the amendments to be made in the principal act? What do they seek to do? Secondly, do these amendments establish new principles of law? Do they in any way transgress or negate, or could they be used to transgress or negate, established legal doctrine with regard to these matters? Thirdly, what are the arguments being advanced against the amendments? Are those arguments based on established legal doctrine? Fourthly, what is the weight of the opposition to the proposed amendments, and how is that opposition composed?
Taking the last question first and in the order of what I consider to be the greatest weight in knowledge and prestige with respect to law, I find that the following persons and organizations constitute the major opposition: - Professor Julius Stone, professor of international jurisprudence; Professor Geoffrey Sawer, professor of law and noted constitutional authority and author; Dr. E. G. Coppel, Q.C., some time acting judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria; an unidentified but alleged noted constitutional authority writing in the Melbourne “ Herald “ on 29th September last; the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches of Victoria; the Australian Journalists Association; the Australian Council of Civil Liberties; various newspapers, as shown by their editorials; the Australian Council of Trade Unions; and various union groups. If names and public prestige were the sole criteria in this controversy, right would undoubtedly be on the side of the persons and groups I have named. But mere public prestige never determines judicial decisions on what is the law. Indeed, I should say that one would have to examine the arguments even of the prominent legal men who have made statements in opposition to this bill, and disentangle from them what is pure law and what is pure politics. I think you would find, Sir, that a careful analysis of those statements would indicate that, in the main, there is very little law but a passing reference, and that 99 per cent, is politics.
In this campaign of opposition, two factors are common. First, all the critics claim to have carefully studied the proposed amendments of the principal act and, by inference, to have measured those amendments against established legal doctrine and judicial decision with respect to the subject-matter. Secondly, all such critics make the same major assertions and suppositions and in my opinion thereby clearly demonstrate that in fact their arguments are not based upon established legal doctrine and/or judicial decision. The leaders of the Australian Labour Party oppose the bill not to disprove it - they know they cannot - but simply to try to make political capital. Sir, on the Opposition’s own claim that the onus of proof should be on the accuser, the critics of the proposed amendments should produce not political statements and assertions but unarguable judicial decisions and legal doctrine in support of their accusations. Not one argument advanced to date could stand judicial test. This fact is unarguable. The critics make the charges; let them prove their charges by principles of law, not by suppositions.
I turn now to a brief examination of these unsupported political accusations. They are, first, that the words “ known character of the accused as proved “, “ assisting by any means whatever “ and the definition of “ information “ where occurring in the proposed amendments completely negate the principles of British justice. Secondly, that these words reverse the onus-of-proof principles and place the burden on the accused to prove himself innocent. Thirdly, that thereby innocent men, women, trade union leaders and journalists by the simple act of expressing an opinion against the Government would place themselves within the reach of the amendments.
What are the proven facts measured against these unsupported assertions? The Australian Labour Party, through the Fisher Government, on 29th October, 1914, was responsible for enacting the Crimes Act and included in section 78 the words “ known character of the accused as proved “ and in section 24 (1.) (b) the words “ assist by any means whatever “. Not one speaker, during the whole of the debate on this legislation in both Houses of the Parliament, referred to these provisions or these words. The legal men of the Labour Government of 1914 clearly showed that they knew the real judicial meaning of these words and were perfectly satisfied that they had not the application that the critics now allege.
I come now to onus of proof. The Fisher Labour Government provided that the onus of proof would lie on the accused by sections 65 (2.), 83 (3.), 89 (1.), 90 and 90a of the Crimes Act of 1914. The critics claim that these amendments constitute terror and a dragnet, but I point out that the Fisher Labour Government did not think so and succeeding Labour governments, which could easily have repealed the provisions, did not think so.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I was dealing with the three major criticisms levelled against this bill. Let me repeat them. The first was that the words, “ known character of the accused, as proved “, and “ assisting by any means whatever “ and the definition of “ information “, where occurring in the proposed amendments, completely negate the known principles of British justice. The second was that these words reverse the principles of onus of proof and place on the accused the burden of proving himself innocent. The third was that innocent men, women, trade union leaders and journalists, by the simple act of expressing an opinion against the Government, would place themselves within reach of the terms of the amendments.
I went on then to quote the proven facts which must be measured against these unsupported assertions. The first was that the Australian Labour Party, through the Fisher Government, on 29th October, 1914, was responsible for enacting the Crimes Act, section 78 of which contained the words “ known character of the accused, as proved”, and section 24 (1.) (b) of which contained the words, “ assists by any means whatever “. During the debate on that legislation no speaker in either House of the Parliament even referred to those provisions or the wording to which objection is taken, clearly showing that the legal members of the Labour Government of 1914 fully understood the judicial meaning of the words and were satisfied that they had not the boundary of application which the critics are now alleging they have. As to the onus of proof provision, I repeat that, by section 65 (2.), 83 (3.), 89(1.), 90 and 90a of the Crimes Act of 1914, the
Fisher Labour Government introduced the principle that the onus of proof shall lie on the accused. I have already asserted that if these words constitute the terror and dragnet that the critics of the measure suggest they do, the Fisher Labour Government did not think so, nor did succeeding Labour governments, who could quite easily have changed or repealed them but did not choose to do so. In actual fact, the English criminal code, drawn up in 1890, and the Queensland criminal code, together with the British Official Secrets Act of 1911 drawn up by Sir Samuel Griffith in 1895-96 were the bases of Labour’s drafting of the Crimes Act.
Some 37 years of intense personal research into certain aspects of constitutional law suggested to me that I should not accept without question the views of either the critics or even our Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) in connexion with these proposed amendments. Therefore, in the weeks that have passed since the Attorney-General delivered his secondreading speech, I have engaged in careful research and, as a result of this personal investigation, I challenge the critics of the amendments to prove their assertions with judicial support. Their claims that dreadful things could happen if the proposed amendments become law are completely negated by Lord Dunedin who, during the hearing of the case Rex v. Halliday, said -
The chance of abuse is always theoretically present when absolute powers in general terms are delegated to an executive body, but, practically, as things exist, the danger of abuse is absent.
This statement was referred to by Mr. Justice Starke, of the Australian High Court, in the case ex parte Walsh and Johnson, reported on page 355 of “ Australian Constitutional Cases “, a work by Professor Sawer, who is himself one of the present critics. Unlike the critics, I took the trouble to place the proposed amendments against all available legal doctrine and judicial decisions relating to the subject-matter. Inter alia, they included “ Noakes on Evidence “, Phipson’s “ Manual of Evidence “, Coke’s Reports, both Blackstone and Stephen’s “ Commentaries “, Broome’s “ Legal Maxims “ and his “ Commentaries on Common Law “, Jowitt’s “ Dictionary of English Law”, Stroud’s “Words Judicially Defined “, Radzinowicz’s “ History of
English Criminal Law and its Administration from 1750”, and Russell’s “Criminal Law “. I have examined them in the light of Halsbury’s “ Laws of England “ and the “ Australian Pilot “, which was quoted this afternoon by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) and compared them with the 1898 British Criminal Evidence Act, and the British and Canadian Official Secrets Acts as originally enacted and as amended to date. I carefully checked the appropriate judicial decisions referred to in these works and authorities, and nowhere can I find one tittle of evidence in law that will support the claims of these critics. Again I say, “ Let them bring forth their judicial evidence for challenge, for they are the accusers and the onus of proof is on them “.
Charged with the welfare and safety of this realm, the Commonwealth Government has accepted its responsibility and, in the sure knowledge that we are in line with established judicial doctrine in these matters, supported by a Labour Government’s Crimes Act, we accept the challenge of any who would destroy our institutions, our way of life and our constitutional monarchy. Innocent citizens need fear not the law, for the weight of the law lies not against the innocent but against those who know their own crime.
.- Honorable members will be greatly reassured by the words of the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby). He is not one of those superficial commentators on the known-character provision whom the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) excoriated at the Olympic Pool a few weeks ago. He is much more profound than people like Sir John Latham, Professor Sawer, Professor Stone or Mr. Kerr, Q.C. or Mr. Gregory Gowans, Q.C, or the anonymous writer of the articles for the Melbourne “ Herald “, or Mr. Wootten, all of whom have condemned the very provisions which the honorable member now justifies. He is not one of the persons whom the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) has condemned either for not having books or, if they had books, for not reading them. He has obviously borrowed a host of books and has read some of them.
The honorable member for Griffith referred to the origin of this knowncharacter provision. I shall come straight to it because the impressive lineage of this odious provision comes from an 1871 English act dealing with vagabonds and reputed thieves who were loitering with intent to commit a felony. In order to show their intent it was possible for the Crown to call evidence of their known character, that is, their bad reputation. If they were convicted they were subject to a penalty of up to three months imprisonment. It is true that this provision was put into the English Official Secrets Act in 1911 and we copied it a few months after the outbreak of the First World War. There it has remained, in a solitary place in the English law and a solitary place in the Australian law. It has never been used in Australia and there is no reported case of its use in the United Kingdom.
We are now making this provision ambivalent - to use the phrase of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick). That is, we are not having it in one place only, but in three places. We are not applying it to offences which attract a penalty of three months imprisonment, but to offences which attract a penalty of seven years or fifteen years imprisonment. We are not doing it in the context of 1871 or of 1911, but in the context of 1960, and the ideological atmosphere has completely changed. The portentous pronouncement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) at the Olympic Pool and the Attorney-General’s petulant remarks more recently show that what they have in mind is the political application of this evidentiary provision. Reputation will not be used in the sense in which that word was understood in 1871 or in 1911 in England, but in the sense that people are regarded as politically unreliable, or unsound or non-conformist in this area and in this age.
It is interesting to note the AttorneyGeneral’s performance in relation to this bill. His reason for bringing in this legislation, for which the Government has no mandate - for which it has held out no promise and for which there is no urgency now which did not apply equally at the time of Suez or of Korea or of the Second World War - to give the impression of activity where there is such want of administrative and legislative activity. The Attorney-General has given no earnest of his intention to carry out the promise of the Government made at the last election or the promise of the Governor-General, last February, to bring in legislation dealing with restrictive trade practices. He has obviously shelved the promised amendment to the Constitution which members of both Houses of this Parliament and of all parties strongly recommended as necessary and urgent two years ago and again, with weighty reasons, one year ago. He is bringing in this legislation as a diversionary tactic, for there are no circumstances in Australia or outside it which make this measure necessary. And there are many circumstances which make other legislation necessary, but he is doing nothing about it.
Secondly, we note the great lesson which the Attorney-General admits that he has learned from this legislation. He said -
It has proved to me how difficult it is to get people to trust you and to believe what the truth is.
That is a touching confession from the Attorney-General. It is all the more touching when one realizes that he is the person who inculcated in the courts of this country, more than anybody else has ever done, a distrust of government. He is now finding the same attitude being attributed to him as he has always protested about on the part of other State and Commonwealth governments. He is now using the phrase “ the supreme law is the safety of the people “, or in deference to the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby) I quote the Latin - “ Salus populi est suprema lex “, The Attorney-General always said in the courts that all power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. He is now finding that other people are attributing to him the very motives which he has prospered on attributing to others over the last two decades.
I propose now to take the House through those sections of the bill which are the most odious. The scope and menace of the bill are seen in connexion with the five offences which it categorizes as treason, treachery, sabotage, espionage and official secrets. They are all magnificent titles and they are all serious crimes, if properly defined. But the definition of all those crimes in this bill goes far beyond criminality as it is understood in this country or in other English-speaking countries.
I turn first to the crime of treason. The Attorney-General’s justification of this clause is that it merely codifies, as a Commonwealth law, what is already the law in all the States and in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and that is largely true. He also says that where he is altering Commonwealth law he draws largely on the example of Sir Samuel Griffith, in the Queensland criminal code. He asserts that some phrases which look rather archaic are well known to the law - phrases such as “levying war”.
I will deal with that one because the Attorney-General asserts that it is well known in the law and that he is using it in this bill in the sense which is already understood in the law of Great Britain and in the law of the United States of America. I will quote a definition by Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice of England, in 1781. He said -
Insurrections bv force and violence to raise the price of wages, to open all prisons, to destroy meeting houses, nay to destroy all brothels, to resist the execution of militia law, to throw down all enclosures, to niter the established law, or change religion, or to redress grievances real or pretended, have all been held levying war.
I tell you the opinion of us all is that if this multitude assembled with intent, by acts of force and violence, to compel the Legislature to change a law, it is high treason. Whoever incites, advises or is in any way encouraging to such a multitude assembled with such intent, though he does not personally appear among them, yet he is equally a principal.
Does the Attorney-General intend that it shall be treason in Australia, in these days, to do all those things? I will refer also to Halsbury, as the honorable member for Griffith did. T refer to the third edition, published in 1955. There it is noted that the principles underlying many decisions on the meaning of “ levying war “ are illdefined and the law of treason enunciated, has, according to Sir James Stephens, been unduly stretched. I am glad to have the honorable member’s concurrence, by his nod.
Sir Samuel Griffith, in the Queensland criminal code, used this phrase “ levying war “, but he defined it and particularized it at some length. He said that it was treason for any person to levy war against the sovereign with intent to depose him or in order by force or constraint to compel him to change his measures. I have read only a quarter of the definition, but it will be seen that Sir Samuel Griffith there made precise the definition of “ levying war “. If the Attorney-General did that in modern terms here there would be no objection, but there is a lack of definition and an archaism about the term “ levying war “ which is not satisfied just by repeating it in a contemporary statute. The archaism should be trimmed away. There is no precedent so far as I can see - I admit that my research has not been as thorough as that of the honorable member for Griffith - for making it treason to do any act preparatory to levying war. What does the phrase mean?
The Attorney-General also made some play on the fact that the phrase “ to assist by any means whatever an enemy or opponent of Australia “ or of other countries, is used in three places in the bill. He said it is understood that one reads in, in these cases, a traitorous intent, the intent to betray one’s country or side. We might be inclined to assume that that would be the case. But is it beyond doubt? In 1917 the Chief Justice of the Ontario Supreme Court, construing a similar phrase in the Canadian code, said that assisting irrespective of intent is the test of liability. In 1 944 the United States Supreme Court gave as examples under the corresponding provisions of the United States constitution, the making of a speech critical of the Government or opposing its measures, profiteering, striking in defence plants or essential work, and the hundred other things which impair our cohesion and diminish our strength.
In the court’s view all these things are saved from being treason only by the existence of other words requiring a traitorous intent. It is obvious that the word “ assists “ needs the insertion of such words as, “ by traitorous intent “ or “ with intent to betray one’s country “ if we are safely to have them in a contemporary Commonwealth statute. I believe that the AttorneyGeneral intends to find some such formula, but I have dealt with this aspect in some detail because this is one case where he has depended on the antiquarian justification for his legislation. The traditional law is not completely certain as he claims, and the Queensland criminal code is more precise. Therefore, there is no secure antecedent for these definitions of treason.
There are other parts of this section relating to treason to which I must direct attention. One is that it is treason to assist by any means whatever an enemy at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared. 1 do not dispute that that is the law as it now stands, but should we leave it at that? Should we not specify now what countries are at war with us? Should we not have some means for the Government to make this plain to the Australian people? If citizens are expected to be criminally responsible, the Government should be prepared to take the responsibility of specifying the enemy. Is this one of the deterrent provisions which are designed to ensure conformity and prudence and silence on the part of the Australian people? The Government should be more precise when dealing with such a serious crime which attracts such a serious penalty.
I pass now to the next section, for which there is no historical basis. It creates the new crime of treachery. It is to be an act of treachery to levy war, or to do any act preparatory to levying war, against a proclaimed country; to assist by any means whatever an enemy of and at war with a proclaimed country, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared; or to instigate a person to make an armed invasion of a proclaimed country. There is the same doubt on the meaning of “ levying war “ and here at least one cannot read the phrase “ with traitorous intent “ into the assisting of an enemy of and at war with a proclaimed country. This provision refers to a war between two other countries. The intent to betray one’s allegiance has been regarded as the basis of treason and treachery, but Australians do not owe any allegiance to a foreign country and you cannot read into the provision an intent to betray where there is no allegiance. This is a clear case in which the intent should be made specific. It is not satisfactory merely to proclaim the country which one must not harm. The country or persons whom one must not assist also must be specified. The Govern ment should specify their identity and residents should not have to speculate as to their identity. The Government should proclaim who are our likely opponents and residents should not be left to prophesy who they are. Let me give some examples of this. A year ago, the Attorney-General, when acting Minister for External Affairs, was intent on telling us about the position in Laos. Last September he said that the Australian Government had no doubt that there was North Vietnamese interference. A couple of months later the United Nations committee reported that the information obtained did not establish clearly whether there had been crossings of the frontier. The committee found that although there were actions of a differing scope and magnitude all of them were of a guerrilla character. Suppose that we had proclaimed Laos; suppose a man were put on trial for criticizing the conduct of the Laotian Government or of the Australian Government in relation to Laos, or for undertaking industrial action in pursuit of his views on this matter. How could he obtain evidence that in fact there was no enemy at war with Laos? He could not call the members of the United Nations committee as witnesses.
Let me give another example of the application of this provision. Suppose we had proclaimed the United Kingdom and France and Israel at the time of the Suez crisis. Many Australians send remittances or magazines to Lebanon or to other Arab countries at war with Israel. Would those persons have been guilty of treachery? It certainly seems so, under this provision.
I pass now to that part of the section which relates to proclaimed countries. A proclamation covers not only the country itself, but any of its colonies, overseas territories or protectorates. Therefore, if we were to proclaim all the Seato countries, we would have to cease comment on Algeria, because France would be proclaimed; we would have to cease comment on Cyprus, because the United Kingdom would be proclaimed; and we would have to cease comment on Puerto Rico and Okinawa, because the United States would be proclaimed. This would mean that Australians would have less liberty to criticize the colonial or administrative policy of the French, British or American Governments than have French, British and American citizens in their own country.
Although we have not been given the text of it yet, we have been told that the AttorneyGeneral proposes to insert the same guarantee in relation to these two sections and in respect to sabotage - with which I shall be dealing later - as is already contained in the section of the act relating to sedition. He has told us that the guarantee of free criticism which already is in the section relating to sedition has general application. Sir John Latham did not think so. I am glad that the Attorney-General has concluded that Sir John Latham may have read his books and that the AttorneyGeneral has decided now to make the matter plain.
I pass to the new offence of sabotage. The first objection to the new section is that it includes articles which may have no defence significance. To realize that, one has only to go to the extraordinarily wide definition. Like the definition of espionage and official secrets, it deals with prohibited places. Section 80, which is being amended by this bill, and which should be amended further, defines prohibited places as, among others, any place not belonging to the Queen or to the Commonwealth where any ship, aircraft, arms, or materials or instruments of use in time of war, or any plans or documents relating thereto are being made, repaired, obtained, tested or stored under contract with, or with or for any person on behalf of, the Queen or the Commonwealth. There is no procedure for defining such places; there is no procedure for a proclamation in the Gazette, and there is no procedure for the placing of a notice on the place itself. I ask honorable members to remember how wide the definition is. If they read the definition of sabotage they will see that sabotage can apply to articles which have no defence significance. The second objection to the sabotage section concerns the provision permitting evidence of the known character of an accused person. The provision occurs for the first time in relation to sabotage, for the second time in relation to espionage and for the third time in relation to official secrets. Honorable members know the traditional law on this point - that a man’s character, a man’s reputation, cannot be put in issue at his trial unless he himself puts it in issue, and he can put it in issue either by asserting falsely that he is a man of good character or asserting that the Crown witnesses are persons of bad character. If he does either of those things the Crown can then give evidence of his character. Character, Sir, means no more than a bad reputation, and evidence is given of it by any person who will go into the witness-box and not say he knows the man, but merely the reputation that he knows that that man has.
It is very easy for people to acquire and, in fact, to seek, reputations which would be odious to the present Attorney-General or the Prime Minister. In industrial matters, in particular, titles are given or sought of being an aggressive or progressive unionist, of being a militant or of being a pacifist. In all these cases it is quite plain that the Attorney-General would regard evidence of such a reputation as being material. If evidence of such a reputation is given in a court it is sufficient alone to prove that there was an intent, that there was a purpose on the part of the accused person to prejudice the safety and defence of the Commonwealth. Such evidence alone is enough to prove that there is such a purpose. If a prima facie case cannot be made out against a person without resort to character it simply means that no sufficient evidence of his guilt is available. The mere fact that the allegation against him is a very serious one is no reason for depriving him of the normal safeguards against prejudicial evidence which are accorded to lesser criminals in respect of lesser crimes. In this, as in all criminal procedures, we should proceed on the supposition that a man is innocent until he is proved guilty.
The nature of any of these three offences - sabotage, espionage and breach of official secrets - now will depend not on the act, but on the person who does it. What is malicious damage on the part of a discreet man becomes sabotage on the part of an indiscreet man. The same act can be proved more easily in the case of a factory making, repairing, obtaining, testing or storing materials of use in time of war than in respect of other factories. The prospects of conviction will depend not on the particular act committed, but on who committed it. A person with a bad reputation, or a militant reputation, or an aggressive reputation would be more easily convicted than a clean-skin who committed the same act. An avowed Communist would be more easily convicted than an undercover one or, to take the Attorney-General’s phrase, it will be easier to convict a known sinner than an acknowledged saint. The offences with which they are charged will depend on their previous character - not what they have done in the particular case. The Attorney-General and the Prime Minister seem to have committed themselves to this provision in these three places. The justification here is partly the antiquarian one that this is the same provision that applied to vagabonds in 1871, who could be sentenced to three months. What is more important, they are depending not on the antiquarian argument here, but on the authoritarian one.
On a trial for espionage, the articles and the documents which are the subject of the charge need have no relevance to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth. They need not be harmful. They need not be secret. I will give a couple of instances. They are merely required to be documents or articles that might be indirectly useful to a foreign power. The United States, for instance, is a foreign power. Canada is not. The prohibited places provision here involves any person who approaches or is in the neighbourhood of a prohibited place. How close does one have to approach a prohibited place, or how wide is the neighbourhood of a prohibited place, before one commits espionage under this bill?
I pass to the official secrets provision. Here, Sir, the official secrets need be neither official nor secret. They can concern any documents which are used in a prohibited place. Here there is a very clear case of the difference of the crime according to the character of the man who commits it. A known sinner is liable to seven years for either communicating or retaining official secrets, or failing to comply with a direction with respect to their retention or disposal; an acknowledged saint is liable only to two years for the first of these crimes and six months for the others.
I shall give some applications of the definitions of sabotage, espionage and official secrets. If evidence of his bad reputation can be given against a man he would be wise to stay away from private factories which have government contracts to make, repair or store all those things that are of use in time of war. The bill does not provide that the things are being used for the forces, or that the act must happen in time of war. The things merely have to be of use in time of war. Suppose such a person enters a jeweller’s shop which repairs Royal Australian Air Force watches, to take the instance given by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) on the last occasion on which the bill was being debated, or a factory making army uniforms, or a cannery making tins of bullybeef. If a person against whom such evidence can be given damages any article in such a place he can be tried for sabotage. If he approaches or enters it he can be tried for espionage. If he borrows a street directory or a railway time-table used in it he can be tried for a breach of official secrets. No person with a record can safely have in his possession a map or a photograph of wharfs or marshalling yards, because it is espionage to have in one’s possession things which might be useful to a foreign power. No new Australian can safely send a magazine or a remittance to his land of origin.
It may be said that these are extreme examples. But it is not a question of whether persons are likely to be prosecuted, but whether they can possibly be convicted if they are prosecuted. It may be said that no government would prosecute people on such flimsy evidence or that no jury would convict people on such evidence; but in actual fact any person, under section 13 of the act, which the bill is amending, can institute a prosecution, and if the property involved is worth £50 or less, or if the prosecutor chooses to prosecute in respect of property which is worth £50 or less, there is no guarantee of a jury trial. A magistrate can try and convict in respect of such matters. All these articles or documents which are the subject of a breach of official secrets or of espionage, and a great number of them which are the subject of sabotage, treachery or even treason, are articles worth less than £50.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) spent 30 minutes putting up a whole series of his own Aunt Sallys for the pleasure of knocking them down. He ha9 attacked the Attorney-General on the ground that he is evoking an ancient law. Then, having made a gross attack on the Attorney-General, he admits that the Attorney-General has undertaken an amendment. The honorable member then went on to deal with cases where people honestly criticize, for political purposes, the foreign policy of the Government, or of a government which may be proclaimed by this Government. Then, having made his attack, he directs attention to the fact that the Attorney-General has undertaken to extend to the entire Crimes Bill protections already in the existing Crimes Act in regard to sedition. He has asked, in respect of the other provisions concerning espionage and official secrets: How close has a man to go to a protected installation or a prescribed place before he commits an act of espionage? But he overlooked completely section 78 which states - if a person for a purpose prejudicial . . .
So the whole argument falls down and it is seen to be not a matter of how close one approaches, but for what purpose one approaches an installation. That is a matter which the honorable gentleman has conveniently overlooked. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has said -
The Australian Labour Party recognizes the necessity for legislation to protect our national sovereignty . . .
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition himself has said that the Crimes Act is out of date, and he added - and it is a remark for which I give him credit -
Reform is necessary but you do not have to abandon official liberties or to cast the net too wide in order to preserve our liberties.
The matter of examining this bill to see how wide it casts the net, and how it provides adequate safeguards for a system of security law that is appropriate to the times in which we live, is the subject of this debate. We need to see whether the powers taken in this bill can be misused, whether they could deny justice, whether they import unusual or dangerous principles into the law, and whether they attack legitimate industrial interests and the rights of free speech.
These are matters which must occupy the House.
The Government has produced this bill in good faith. There is no evidence whatever to satisfy the claim that is held in some places that the Government has introduced this bill for purposes other than those stated in the measure itself. The fact is, as the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has made abundantly clear, that the background against which Australia’s security must be considered is changing constantly. Only from periodical review of these things can we see the need to amend the Crimes Act. The Government has acted completely in good faith in putting forward these proposals, in giving ample time for the public to examine and criticize the bill and. in the words of the Attorney-General, in giving an assurance of an open mind on the need for amendments which may come out of such public examination. To my mind, that is a wholly constructive aproach to the passage of legislation of such far-reaching importance to the national security.
The Attorney-General has indicated his willingness to apply generally to the bill the provisions of section 24a (2.) of the existing Crimes Act that it is lawful to criticize the Government or its policy or to urge alteration of laws, provided the endeavour is in good faith and is designed to produce amendments or correction of errors or defects by lawful means. I say straight out that if I thought for a moment the contents of this bill were designed to curtail the legitimate pursuit of trade unions in industrial matters and could in any way curtail free speech, I would vote against it. I am not satisfied that there is any such provision, and none of the arguments I have heard from the Opposition during this debate has convinced me that there is any such provision to fear.
The objection that the bill stifles free speech or criticism or can be used to stifle criticism of the Government’s foreign policy is effectively answered in the negative. It is quite true that these amendments to the Crimes Act constitute quite unpleasant legislation, but they are designed to deal with a thoroughly unpleasant subject and even more unpleasant people who would plot the downfall of this country and exploit the freedom and protection given by this country to weaken its potential for defence against foreign subversion, aggression and ultimate subjugation. I believe it is altogether right and proper that we should satisfy ourselves that the provisions of the bill do not deny justice to an accused person; but at the same time we ought to be equally concerned about the need to protect this nation’s integrity against those who would prejudice its safety or its interests. If this is to be a question of the priority of public interest over private interest, I am for the public interest. We have to consider whether there is any possibility of a denial of justice and what represents greater public interest than the overall security of Australia in these times. For many years Australia, and the countries of the free world, have been engaged in a cold war. Because it is a cold war, it is no less deadly or decisive than a hot war. If we asked the people of Hungary, Tibet or Poland for their views on this point, they would tell us that the result is equally decisive whether it is a hot war or a cold war. It is quite foolish to believe that we ought not to make any move until we are threatened with what is popularly called a shooting war. It would be foolish in the extreme for this country notto arm itself with sufficient powers to guarantee its security and integrity.
I come now to some of the provisions of this bill. Professor Geoffrey Sawer of the Australian National University has stated -
In a modern war, war-time espionage must, unfortunately, be an offence of very wide scope. But to maintain that degree of security in peace would require the abandonment of democracy.
We are entitled to ask ourselves whether that is so. It seems to me that the bill proposes the minimum provisions necessary for security in a period of cold war which is no less destructive or decisive in the long range than a shooting war. The steps proposed to be taken fall far short of the abandonment of democracy which Professor Sawer fears. There is clearly disagreement as to how far essential national protection should be allowed to intrude upon the rights of accused persons and the propriety of importing into their trial evidence not generally acceptable in a free society. The operative word is “ generally “, for reasons that I will talk about in a moment.
It is quite clear that although you can bring eminent legal opinion against the provisions of the bill in a technical sense, you can also bring eminent legal opinion in favour of the technical provisions in the bill. Of course, some of the references which have been cited in the House are not the only references on the subject. Therefore, they are not to be relied upon completely. When lawyers disagree about this matter, it is not unusual. Lawyers can go on disagreeing as do judges up through the High Court and beyond; but when lawyers disagree, it is hardly within the competence of laymen, who constitute the majority of members of this chamber, to decide these matters. It may well be, as in many other cases, that not until this legislation is tested in a court will we know the precise limitations of the legislation. Lest that be held against me, I add: That is not to deny the necessity for putting this legislation on the statute-book at this time and for a very good reason.
There has been an enormous amount of malicious distortion of the Government’s motives in introducing the legislation. A variety of otherwise responsible and intelligent people have produced a series of most fantastic anticipations of what could happen under this bill. Most of them suggest and even presume that the Parliament, the judiciary and indeed the pepole of Australia have suddenly become irresponsible. The combined trade unions in one centre - I speak of my electorate - urged opposition through an advertisement which stated that the death penalty was to be introduced for dangerously vague offences such as an alleged intention to make any statement or act which could be held to assist any enemy even if no war had been declared. That is shooting pretty wide of the mark surely. The advertisement also stated that a man could be condemned on the basis of security police statements about his known character, and that practically any place could be prohibited and any industrial action could be interpreted as sabotage. That, of course, is complete nonsense. Nobody in this House or outside believes that any such statement could be accepted as the truth.
I come now to the new offences of treachery and sabotage and the widened scope of the crime of espionage already covered in the Crimes Act although with provisions which I think are inadequate to meet the present needs. Sub-section (2.) of the proposed new section 24aa provides that a person shall not assist by any means persons who are opposing part of our defence force or a force which includes part of our defence force on service out of Australia or proceeding to service out of Australia.
It then goes further to prevent assistance from within Australia, not only to the enemies of this country but to the enemies of a country proclaimed by Australia for good and sufficient reason, of which the Australian people will be the judges. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that we, as Australians, have no allegiance to a foreign country. But surely we would not proclaim a country unless, for the most powerful reasons, the security of that country were intimately bound up with the security of our own. If we extended to that country the protection inherent in the bill it would not be alone for the security of that country but also for the indirect security of our own. Surely that is a legitimate subject to be pursued in a bill of this kind.
According to Professor Sawer of the Australian National University, it would be better in this sort of situation to prohibit Australians from busying themselves in foreign revolutions and civil wars of any kind at all without this business of picking favourites. Surely this is ah example of shallow thinking on this bill which has little to do with Australians being involved in foreign revolutions and civil wars, but which has everything to do with protecting the security of another country upon which the security of this country may intimately depend. The same gentleman went on to imply some mild criticism when he said -
It becomes an offence to assist by any means whatever any enemy of and at war with a proclaimed country even though Australia itself is not in any way at all involved in the state of war. 1 venture to suggest that if Australia were not in any way involved in a state of war, nobody in his right mind would expect the Government to proclaim a country. A number of fanciful illustrations have been put forward. The legal correspondent of one Australian newspaper cited the case of a certain Portuguese gentleman living in Australia and making contributions to a London fund from which, I take it, money is to be transported to South Africa, there to finance the efforts of an African-
Portuguese organization designed to overthrow Portuguese colonial administration in Africa. The correspondent asked, “ Could you sustain a charge of espionage or something of the sort against such a person? “ Surely all this overlooks the fact that Portugal would not be proclaimed unless for the most pressing needs of this country’s security.
If the security of this country were completely dependent on the security of other countries then, of course, we should invoke the provisions of this bill. In a world which is rapidly dividing itself into two camps, Australa has a right and proper interest in any activities against any friendly power which may tend to weaken our own security. Under the provisions for proclaiming a country, the Government is in a position to see that the best interests of this country are not sabotaged, even indirectly, by Australians or residents in Australia.
I come now to proposed section 24ab. This deals with sabotage which is defined as - the destruction, damage or impairment, for a purpose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial, to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth
The provisions of this bill, as we have heard from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, have excited a good deal of quite legitimate concern, but the provision that evidence of a man’s known character, as proved, can be called to substantiate the essential conditions which turn damage or destruction into sabotage can be explained. This, once again, concerns the question of “ intent “ which is so generally overlooked by the Opposition. On the question of sabotage, Professor Geoffrey Sawer has said -
The Government has now ample power to prevent the active sabotage of its foreign policy, pointing out that export and financial control enable it to prevent Australians from sending aid to a country of which is disapproves and so on.
Mr. Speaker, it is, perhaps, thinking about sabotage in these terms which has led to a great deal of misunderstanding in the mind of the general public, and the unwarranted fear that this legislation could strike at the legitimate interests of the trade unions. In fact, the word “ sabotage “ in the bill has nothing to do with whether you could prevent the sending of aid to another country. Sabotage, in the sense in which it is used in the bill, is confined to the actual destruction, damage or impairment of defence equipment and then only for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth.
As the Attorney-General has pointed out, three conditions are necessary to constitute an aci of sabotage. First of all, there must be ‘destruction, damage or impairment; secondly, it must be to a particular class of commodity or thing; and thirdly, it must be done for a specific purpose, prejudicial to tie safety and defence of this country. It is in relation to the proof of motive that evidence of a man’s known character as proved may be imported to substantiate a charge. Since this provision extends also to espionage, perhaps I might be allowed to generalize oh it a little. I well understand the general difficulty in interpreting the words of proposed section 24ab (3.) of the act which reads -
On a prosecution under this section it is not necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of a particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial . . .
It continues - . . notwithstanding such an act is not proved against him he may be convicted if from the circumstances of the case, from his conduct or from his known character, as proved, it appears that his purpose was a purpose prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth.
This rather hard to interpret clause has been loosely interpreted as meaning that there is no need to prove against an accused the primary guilt of destruction, damage or impairment. This, of course, is not so. The primary guilt must be proved. But the perpetrator of a crime under this section need not also be proved to have done something which clearly indicates his intention. Surely we would be the most innocent people in the world to be charged with this country’s security if we” felt for a moment that a trained saboteur would commit his act of sabotage so clumsily as to deny him recourse to the explanation that it was accidental. It is for this reason that special emphasis is placer], no on the doing of things, but on the proving of intention in the doing of those things.
Once again, there have been some quite fanciful illustrations. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) borrowed from the press a suppositious case of a member of a wharf gang who inadvertently drops and destroys some military equipment. He is prosecuted for sabotage and admits carelessness. The correspondent of the newspaper goes on to suggest that the prosecution will then try to prove that the man had been a member of the Communist Party for a number of years, that he had signed a petition protesting against our troops going to Malaya, that he had attended peace conferences and that, generally, he is regarded as a militant leftist.
Mi. Reynolds. - Is not that valid?
– That is exactly the question I wanted to hear because none of these things can be held to import a character relevant to the charge of sabotage. None of the accused’s activities in any of these things were illegal, regardless of public opinion about them, and no member of the judiciary would be so irresponsible as to accept any of those things as admissible evidence of character on which to prove intent in a sabotage charge. The Attorney-General insists that evidence pf known character must be relevant to the charge, and he has now undertaken to state this precisely in the bill. This, surely, will demolish another major part of the criticism levelled at the bill.
– It is like the case of Professor Gluckman.
– That has nothing to do with this matter. A week or two ago I happened to see the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) on a television programme, making a further contribution to the misunderstanding that exists with regard to this bill. I am bound to say that the honorable gentleman sounded rather apologetic at having to support such a poor case. I have never heard the honorable member, whose intelligence and ability I have always admired, at greater disadvantage than on that occasion. He said that a fault in the legislation was the admission of evidence of character in accusations of treason, sabotage, or breach of official secrecy, and that in order to show purpose the Crown had only to give evidence that the person charged had a bad reputation. What is meant by “ bad reputation “? Does anybody suppose that a responsible judge in any responsible court would, merely because somebody came along and said that the accused had a bad reputation, accept that statement as proving that damage alleged to have been done accidentally was in fact the result of sabotage? Such a suggestion, of course, would be the most complete nonsense.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went on to say that the prosecution would need only to give evidence that the person concerned was a Communist, a pacifist or a Jehovah’s Witness, or had some previous conviction, in order to show that the purpose of an act proved was prejudicial or was intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth.
– He should have known better.
– Of course he should. He must entertain the lowest possible opinion of his own profession and of the judiciary of this country if he believes that such a course of action could be taken with any hope of success. On the honorable member’s own statement we could assume that a man convicted of playing two-up or of after-hours trading in liquor would be presumed guilty, without any further supporting evidence, of prejudicial intent on a charge of sabotage, when in fact he had merely been involved in an accident in which some’ damage had been caused.
In the prosecution of offences involving matters of lesser importance than the security of the nation we would, perhaps, hesitate to accept as evidence the known character of the accused. But the nation has not only a right but also a deep obligation to secure itself against crimes of this kind, threatening the national integrity. In the prosecution of offenders for such crimes, surely the known character of the accused as proved - and the words “ as proved “ are vital - to the satisfaction of the court beyond reasonable doubt, must be the clearest evidence of intention to commit sabotage by destroying advanced defence equipment. In these days of advanced electronic and other equipment, damage to one instrument or the malfunctioning of one piece of equipment might well constitute a grievous blow to the country.
It is suggested that in attempting to establish the guilt of an accused in circumstances such as those under discussion, it would be enough to rely on the judgment of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. That court said that “ the law of treason, like the law of lesser crimes, assumes every man to intend the actual consequences which one standing in his situation and having his knowledge would reasonably expect to result from his own act”. In other words, the court said that proof of guilt of the primary act is sufficient evidence. It seems to me that when this Government writes into the bill the need to have some further proof, even though it is based only on character, it is actually adding a further protection for an accused person in a prosecution of this kind.
On other grounds also the objection to admissibility of character in proving intent must also be dismissed. Such a provision has been in the Crimes Act for a very long time, and there is not much point in the Deputy Leader of the Opposition coming forward to-night and saying, “ It has been in the old English act for many years, but only in regard to some crimes involving penalties of three years imprisonment “.
– Three months.
– I do not mind that correction at all. The point is that the law concerns itself with principles, and if a principle is good in a matter involving a penalty of a mere three months imprisonment, it is equally good in its application to a major crime. If the principle is not good, then all I have to say is that for a great number of years governments of every political persuasion, including that of the Opposition, both here and in the United Kingdom, have been guilty of allowing this trespass on the rights of the people to remain on the statute book, without making any effort to remove it.
There is one matter raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that does cause me a little concern. I refer to the question raised by the journalists, who fear that the inclusion of a provision dealing with information which is likely to be or might be of interest to a foreign power may involve some risk to the ordinary journalist in the ordinary course of his profession. For my part, I would like to hear the AttorneyGeneral on this matter, perhaps importing some further qualification to the provision.
By way of general conclusion I can only say that in the circumstances surrounding any prosecution under the Crimes Act I believe we could rely with complete faith on the judiciary to rise above the commonly held prejudices which have motivated honorable members opposite in their criticism of this measure. In the matters which come before the benches in countless courts daily, there is little cause for questioning the capacity of members of the judiciary to determine the relevance of character or other evidence to the matters before them. In this country we have long relied on the ability of the judiciary to give the reasonable interpretation of the law which the people demand. If there should be any individual weaknesses, surely such cases would be attended to by the machinery of appeal. I believe that if we keep all these matters in perspective, and, above all, if we keep in perspective the nature of the threat to our national security against which the Crimes Act is our protection, the people of Australia will have little difficulty in accepting the provisions of this bill as being quite reasonable.
– I was rather surprised to find the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall), who is well known in this House for his dissecting mind, avoiding very pointedly any reference to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Not once during his contribution to the debate did he comment on the sense of reality apparent in the Opposition’s amendment. When he said, early in his speech, that the Government had introduced this measure for a reason that is clearly shown in the bill, he reminded me of a bril that was before this House some years ago, and which contained some involved drafting. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was at that time Leader of the Opposition, and he said to one of the Labour Ministers, “ Tell us what it means “. The Labour Minister said. “ It means just what it says “. The honorable member for Paterson reminded me of that incident to-night, because I was convinced that when he resumed his seat he still had not realized the implications of the legislation that he spent half an hour discussing.
The honorable member spoke of ample time being allowed for the public to criticize this measure. In what other way can the public criticize such wide, sweeping legislation than through the members of Her Majesty’s Opposition? If the honorable member believes that there should be sufficient time available for criticizing the bill, then at least he should have protested against the decision of the Government to limit debate on the measure and apply the closure on Thursday night, leaving us only three days in which to debate legislation affecting the lives of all members of the community. It is well known that there are enough members on this side of the House wishing to voice public opinion against this legislation and in support of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition to keep the debate going on for many days. It is also well known thai the Government intends to apply the closure, and that those on this side who want to express opposition to the bill will have to draw lots for the opportunity to do so. In approaching a debate of this character in such a way, the Government is following pretty closely the methods adopted by Hitler and Mussolini many years ago.
I want to begin with that point. Regardless of the political complexion of the government of the day, once a start is made on the road along which legislation of this kind leads, one finds that there is no end to that road. Government supporters should not think that the present Government will be the government to administer for all time the provisions of this measure which will become an act when it is forced through by weight of numbers. The personnel of the secret service will change over the years as will the personnel of this Government and of other governments which succeed it. We all must remember that this is legislation of the kind of which the totalitarians dream and of which they will take advantage if they come to power in Australia. We must not forget that at the time when Czechoslovakia went over to communism there were only eight members of the Communist Party in power, but they had legislation similar to this which they were able to use once they had control of the government. This Government, in its efforts to cover up what it is doin?, is introducing legislation of the very kind that totalitarian methods, either
Communist or fascist, will require in a country like this if they ever get the opportunity to assume control.
The honorable member for Paterson said that if he thought this bill provided for any restriction of free speech or of the industrial freedom of trade unions he would vote against it. In the short time available to me, I propose to show that if he meant what he said he will find himself on this side of the House voting against the bill. This evening, I am speaking on behalf of the trade union movement as well as the political wing of the Australian Labour Party, both of which have decided that a measure of this kind is dangerous to the future development of Australia. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, which has the support of the whole of the trade union movement as well as the political wing of the Labour Party. This is the first time in the fight for freedom in Australia that the workers of this country have spoken with one voice through both the industrial and political wings of their movement. Both wings of the movement having spoken with ono voice, the hearts of the workers are warmed by the response of so many legal authorities of high reputation and standing who have come down on their side in this fight. The workers have spoken with one voice through both the political and industrial wings, and even though the political wing is finally gagged in this Parliament when it speaks as the mouthpiece of the workers, retribution will come to this Government more quickly than it believes possible.
The fight of trade unionists of all kinds over a century and a half in this country for the freedom that they finally attained is history. They know that although they present a united front and speak with one voice on this issue, contrary to the suggestion made by the honorable member for Paterson, their words for the time being fall on deaf ears in the Government’s ranks, because Government supporters in their ignorance are falling in blindly behind the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), who, as I shall show in the short time at my disposal, is quite barren of consideration for fie requirements of the trade unions and the efforts of their leadership.
I want to direct my remarks in the main to the first Dart of the Leader of the Oppo sition’s amendment, which is expressed in these words - the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted because it . . . introduces new offences infringing freedom of speech, writing and action by individuals and organizations innocent of disloyal intent . .
I want to concentrate on that aspect of the matter and I shall relate my remarks to the fears that are firmly planted in the minds of so many Australians with respect to the way in which the provisions of this bill may be used against the trade union movement and its members throughout Australia.
With this in mind, quite unlike the honorable member for Paterson, I ask these two questions: What is the purpose of this bill? Where is the need for it? In trying to answer these questions, speaking all the time, as I shall attempt to do, on behalf of the active trade unionists in Australia, I find my mind turning towards a mental review - I emphasize this - of this Government’s industrial and legislative activities. I think first of its intrusion in the basic wage case when it asked that the basic wage be pegged, with the result that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission made a decision that has had the effect of pegging the basic wage for two years. I think of the growing hardship inflicted on the lowerpaid workers and their families by the galloping inflation that has occurred while wages have been pegged. I discern a growing resentment by the great trade union movement throughout Australia against the form of arbitration that this Government has progressively developed by legislative enactment. I think further of the power to inflict penalties conferred on the Commonwealth Industrial Court - a power which is used extensively against trade unions and their members. When I think of these things, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I come to the firm conclusion that this bill represents the next step in this Government’s attack on trade unions by giving effect to its determination to weaken and destroy the trade union movement in Australia.
Two things fortify my conclusion, Sir. First. the trade union movement, through the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has taken up the fight against this bill for the same reason that the Opposition in this Parliament has taken up the fight - with the object of preserving the freedoms mentioned in the part of the Leader of the Oppositions amendment that I read earlier, as expressed in these words - . . freedom of speech, writing and action by individuals and organizations innocent of disloyal intent . . .
If there is one section of the Australian community that has never been found wanting in any crisis that this country has faced throughout its history, that section is the trade union movement. When a government of the same political persuasion as is the present Government found that it could no longer govern in time of war and a Labour government came to office and was faced with the task of marshalling a fullblooded war effort, the trade union movement made that full-blooded war effort possible. The trade union movement which did that is to-day entitled to more consideration than it is receiving at the hands of this Government.
The A.C.T.U., like members of the Opposition in this Parliament, recognized that this bill was highly contentious and could be properly analyzed only by recognized highly qualified legal advisers. The dangers in this measure were closely examined and the legal advisers, not one of whom had Communist tendencies or was a Communist, came down flatly on the side of the view that we on this side of the House are expressing. Knowing that the legal advice obtained by the political and industrial wings of the Labour movement - in many instances from authorities who are not of our own political beliefs’ - is on the side of those who raise their voices for freedom, we believe that there is a tremendous responsibility on those of us who speak for freedom in this Parliament to raise our voices in opposition to this bill.
I said a moment ago that two things fortify the conclusion that I have reached, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have dealt with the first of those two things - the view of the trade union movement. I now turn to the second. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, in its issue of last Saturday, reported the Attorney-General as having addressed a conference of industrial officers held at the Chevron Hilton Hotel, in Sydney. I do not suggest that the fact that the conference was held at that hotel may in some way have warped the Minister’s thinking before he made the public statement which the newspapers attributed to him on the following morning. In an article headed “ Industrial Distrust Must End: Barwick”, the Attorney-General is reported as having said -
When a workman had a grievance it was not against his employer but against all society, of which he was a part.
Let us consider that proposition of the Attorney-General. This is typical of the arguments put forward by the man who introduced the bill. If I want positive proof that the stand I am taking is right, I would get it from this one remark. It displays an immaturity and a lack of understanding of industrial requirements that is almost unbelievable. He has the audacity to say that a grievance held by a workman is not against his employer but against society, and by that he means against the Government. Condensed, it means that the AttorneyGeneral believes that a worker who says anything about a grievance or takes any action as a result of a grievance, is guilty of either treachery or sabotage, because his grievance is against the nation. I am not plucking words out of the air; these are the words used by the Attorney-General -
When a workman had a grievance it was nol against his employer but against all society . . .
With that background, let us consider what effect proposed new section 24aa would have on trade unionists. The AttorneyGeneral is asking me to accept a measure containing a provision which really means that a person shall not do any act or thing in an attempt to sabotage the Constitution of the Commonwealth or overthrow the Government of the Commonwealth or of a State. If the Attorney-General’s interpretation is that a grievance is a grievance against society and against the State, not against an employer, a trade unionist airing a grievance would come within the ambit of proposed new section 24aa.
– That is not so!
– I am prepared to say that neither of the Ministers who have interjected had heard of the statement made by the Attorney-General until I read it a moment ago. Their attitude to industrial requirements is just as immature as is the attitude of the AttorneyGeneral.
– That is just fantastic
– It is not rubbish; it is a factual situation which confronts Opposition members who, after all, speak with the democratic voice of society. We should not be told by an immature Minister that what we put is rubbish. Let me apply the same principle to proposed new section 24ab. This provision deals with sabotage and provides, in effect, that an act of sabotage means the destruction, damage or impairment for a prejudicial purpose of any defence material. What does “ impairment “ mean? We must keep in mind the comment of the Attorney-General, which means, really, that if a railway man becomes dissatisfied with his job, his dissatisfaction is not against his employer but against society and the Government. If he decides not to work, he is acting against society and against the Government. Irrespective of what the Minister for the Interior may think, this is an interpretation that will be applied to the legislation at an appropriate time by some government game to take this fight further than this Government is prepared to take it.
– You forget that the court interprets the law, not the Government.
– We will deal with that in a moment. The Parliament has before it from the Parliamentary Draftsman a provision that contains clear descriptive terms, and the top lawyers of the country are crying out about this legislation. All Government supporters who have spoken during this debate have worn rose-coloured spectacles and have accepted the views of the Attorney-General, speaking for the Government, without paying any regard at all to this country’s desire for freedom. Honorable members opposite in dealing with this legislation should not think that they are dealing with Communists. As I said earlier, this type of legislation is the Communist Party’s dream. It is getting as close to totalitarian legislation as is possible, and the application of it could well be totalitarian. I do not trust the human element and it is useless for any one to say now how this legislation will be interpreted at some future time. British legislation is still being interpreted 500 years after it was written.
The honorable member for Paterson made the bland statement that we are approaching the time when the world will be divided into two camps. This type of legislation commences the action that could put us into the camp on the other side, the totalitarian camp. If you believe in freedom, you live by freedom and you do noi introduce this type of legislation for a mere political purpose - and that is the only purpose for which this bill has been introduced. I do not want any one to take my word for the meaning of sabotage; the meaning is given in proposed new section 24ab. I emphasize that, on the statement of the Attorney-General, a railwayman refusing to continue at work because of a disagreement could easily be charged with an offence under this provision. The honorable member for Paterson said that a cold war could be just as real as a hot war. This is one pointer to the state of mind of Government supporters, who forget that the first fundamental of freedom is that a man can be convicted only for what he has done and not for what he has thought. I shall take my argument a step further by quoting from an article published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 1st November last. Before, doing so, I point out that we must have witnessed an historical event because the Attorney-General found it necessary on successive days to try to explain away his bill before it reached the second-reading stage in this House.
– The Attorney-General’s statement appeared after the second reading.
– The second-reading debate! If I did not add the word “ debate “, I am sorry; that is what I meant. I think any one of ordinary intelligence would have known that that is what I meant. In the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 1st November last, an article headed “ A Man’s ‘ Known Character ‘ “ contained this statement -
In his second weekend statement on the Crimes Kil, the Attorney-General did his best to justify the inclusion of the contentious clauses allowing the “ known character “ of the accused (in charges of sabotage, espionage or breaches of official secrecy) to be taken into consideration. Further careful consideration of his arguments tends to strengthen one’s original impression that this part of his case is unconvincing. The best thing that could happen would be for the clauses to be deleted.
Further on, the same article states -
There are other points, well put, in a letter on this page to-day by Mr. John Kerr, Q.C., and Mr. J. H. Wootten. “ If “, they say, “ a prima facie case cannot be made against a man without resort to his character, it simply means that no sufficient evidence of his guilt is available. The mere fact that the allegation against him is a very serious one is no reason for depriving him of the normal safeguards against prejudicial evidence which are accorded to lessor criminals.”
Speaking of prejudicial evidence, I remind honorable members that time and time again the Prime Minister has denied the House and the Parliament any information relating to the activities of the security service of this country. I ask honorable members to keep in mind at all times the thought that the putting of powers such as are proposed here in the hands of people who are responsible to nobody is the first steps towards constructing the machinery that Hitler used to establish fascism in Germany. When it started, Hitler’s secret service did not have powers as wide as those proposed by this legislation. What Hitler did in Germany should be sufficient to persuade every honorable member of this House to refuse to agree to the application of the gag to the debate on this measure. It should be discussed openly until such time as every one is convinced that he thoroughly understands what the bill proposes to do. I am satisfied that at the moment there are not five honorable members on the Government side who have studied the bill or who have obtained legal opinion as to the effects of what the measure contains. I am convinced that honorable members on the Government side are blindly supporting legislation which, perhaps not now, but in 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years’ time will be an ideal weapon in the hands of any totalitarian authority that attempts to assume control of Australia. When that time comes, that totalitarian authority will need only to refer back to the arguments used by the honorable members on the Government side, not one of whom has as yet dared to face up to the amendments submitted by representatives of the majority of the people of Australia. They have not dared to listen to the voice of democracy crying out for assistance.
Surely we should learn from what happened in Germany, what happened in Italy and what is happening in countries behind the iron curtain to-day. Yet this Government is seeking to clothe our security service - which, according to the Prime Minister, is responsible to nobody - with these dangerous powers. The Prime Minister has told us that if he dared to say anything about what inquiries the security service makes, what telephones it is tapping, or what else it is doing, he will be giving away its methods. The result of granting powers such as this to such a service can only be that trade unionists and others who dare to say outside this Parliament what 1 am saying inside it, in their fight for democratic freedom in Australia and having no intention of doing damage to the country or the community, will be prejudicially affected and unjustly charged. I plead with honorable members to ponder the thought that freedom is a precious thing. I know it can be argued that there are certain elements in the world to-day who do not understand what freedom means and who look upon freedom as licence, but do not let us attempt to fight a cold war by enacting legislation which is a totalitarian authority’s dream. That is what the Government is seeking to do by this bill.
I am by no means satisfied that the legislation we had on our statute-book during the early days of World War II. was not adequate to cope with whatever menace confronted us at the time. I am not convinced by anything that the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) has had to say about the division of the world into two camps making this legislation necessary now. If what he says is true, if we are approaching the stage when the world is dividing itself into two camps, then I can only say that he is looking at the scene through rose-tinted spectacles if he believes that there will not be only two types of government, both of which will be totalitarian. Do not let us provide the legislative machinery that will make totalitarianism possible in this country. The bill before us is such a measure, and I sound the warning that once we take a step along the totalitarian path there will be no turning back.
The other night, the Attorney-General spoke about men who had grievances against their employers and against society. By “ society “, he meant the Government. T remind him of the recent attacks on the workers by way of the pegging of the basic wage and the application before the Commonwealth ‘Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for a lengthening of the working week in Australia. As I said earlier, 1 have come to the firm conclusion that this legislation has been designed solely for two purposes. The first is to try to catch the Australian Labour Party on the wrong foot. The Government is not succeeding in that. The second purpose is completely to muzzle the trade union movement. This bill is simply another piece of the repressive type of legislation which has been consistently introduced by this Government in its attack upon trade unions ever since it attained office.
I warn the Government that there always comes a time of retribution, and that retribution will surely follow in the wake of legislation such as this. Members of the legal profession who support us and the trade union movement know full well that the Government is making a mistake. They know full well that if the Government persists in gagging the bill through next Thursday night public reaction will be against it from then to the day when it is removed from office. I leave it at that.
–Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is odd to hear members of the Labour Party talking about freedom of thought and freedom of speech. Why, they are not allowed to criticize their leader, nor are they allowed to criticize the policy of their party! Where is Mr. Vic. Johnson to-day, and where is Mr. Chambers? Members of the Labour Party are not allowed to speak openly. They pretend to be the protectors of the freedom of the individual, but they advocate compulsory unionism, in defiance of the Declaration of Human Rights. They are not allowed to speak against their leaders. Why can they not criticize their leader? Why can they not criticize their deputy leader? Why can they not criticize anything in the policy of their party without being expelled?
The bill before us is designed to protect the right of the people to freedom of speech and to freedom of assembly. It presents a dilemma to the Opposition. Labour has the right, as it should have, to criticize this
Government for its delay in bringing down the legislation. If Labour wants to criticize the Government for anything, it should criticize the Government for that long delay. I remind honorable members that the Royal Commission on Espionage pointed out the inadequacies of the Crimes Act as far back as 1954.
During his second-reading speech, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) pointed out that many of the provisions in this legislation were drawn from State acts. I remind honorable members that the States inherited the common law on treason and other matters before the Commonwealth was formed. I find it strange that all these learned critics of the bill before us have failed to make that point clear. Many of the people who have been criticizing this bill have failed to point out that some of the provisions we prop’ose enacting here are actually part of the law in Australia néw: They have failed to point out that many of the provisions of this bill were taken almost verbatim from present State acts. That factor has not passed unnoted. Every one of the critics has failed to let the public know that. That is the reason why the Attorney-General administered that rebuke about going back to their books and reading what the law did say. Misinterpretation has taken place and he has clearly pointed it out in his two statements to the press. Misrepresentation is coming from what source? It is coming largely from those who are deliberately frightened of this legislation because they are probably guilty people.
What have people who are innocent to fear from this legislation? What innocent man can be caught up in the net of this legislation? The Opposition has used this legislation for a continual and insidious attack on the security service. Members of the Opposition are always attacking the security service. We know that one stratum of society is always against the police. If a policeman makes an arrest and there is a mob of such people around they knock the policeman down and kick him. The same sort of people are against the security service. But there is no nation in the world which has not a security service; it is needed. Why should we be denied such security? The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is always attacking the security service and accusing its members df being pimps. No member of this House uses pimps more than does the honorable member for East Sydney. During every adjournment debate he brings up some alleged scandal on which he has got information from curious sources. Australia is a sovereign nation and it is not right that the law dealing with treason and such matters should be in the hands of the States. It should be in the hands of the National Parliament. The ‘reason for the Crimes Act is not to seek out offenders and punish them. It is to act as a deterrent to offenders. We do not want to have spies and acts of treason in this country, and consequently we apply the ordinary deterrents used in the process of maintaining law in any sphere.
There is a need for the Crimes Act. Can any one in Australia or in the world to-day regard the present tension of the world with complacency? Can any one say that there are not dangerous factors at work in the world and that we should accept present world conditions as normal? There must be a reason for the present tension in the world. That tension exists because there are people in this world who desire revolution and world domination. Every nation has the right to protect itself. I say that members of Parliament who do not provide for a security service or legislation to protect the country are recreant to their duty. The security of Australia depends upon this National Parliament. We know there have been great changes in the outlook of the world. In the old days when I was a boy, war was declared and 24 hours’ notice was given. But to-day and since the Second World War, no notice has been given. What notice was given of the Korean War or of the Second World War? None. What notice will be given of a new war? There will be no notice and no advice. People who say we are living in a time of peace are stupid. In the old days the protection of Australia depended greatly on the British Empire and the British Navy. We were safe then because we had friendly nations in our area and the aggressor nations against us were not heavily armed. But to-day modern arms equalize all that and we have to rely on ourselves and on strong friends.
Our whole defence is based on collective security and collective security needs to be protected. If we proclaim a country the purpose of doing so is for our security alone. If we have powerful friends we have security. In order to have powerful friends it must be realized that any act of aggression or danger to them indirectly affects our security; and that is the purpose of proclaiming a country. To-day we are more and more sharing secrets with America and with Great Britain and therefore those countries could demand that we have improved security and provide deterrents in our Crimes Act. That is the need for these amendments. If we examine all the criticism of the bill, some of it by learned professors of law at different universities, we find that not one critic has questioned the need of security in Australia. The objection they have raised is that the legislation might infringe the liberty of the subject, but they do not stress the danger of not having security. They neglec to stress the necessity to preserve our freedom and the liberty of the subject and the survival of the nation. I am reminded of a car crossing a railway line and being caught up by the cow-catcher of a train and, while it is being carried along, the driver says to his passenger “ I had the right of way “. We do not want to have that sort of outlook.
The question we must ask is, “ Are we secure as a nation”? Unless we do that we are living in a fool’s paradise. What would happen to us if our defences were to fail? What would be the reaction of our people if we became the victim of Chinese aggression? Those are the risks against which we are trying to defend ourselves. We are living in an Asiatic world. I do not know whether the Opposition would like Australia to be a satellite of China, but if it were not, many Australians would survive. The provision in the bill covering treason was taken from the State laws. In the old days very few people of British nationality were unpatriotic and committed acts of treason against Great Britain, lt was a very rare crime. It happened in other nations, but the British have always been patriotic and, after all, we in Australia are of British stock. But the new concept of communism has changed that and to be a proper Communist one no longer gives allegiance to the British Crown. The Communist owes allegiance to a foreign power. Surely that is known to every one.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said he did not like the new offences created under the measure. He said -
Now I come to the new offences of treachery and sabotage which are created by tins legislation. I do not know where this Government is going to stop in creating new offences.
That statement is reported at page 2493 of “ Hansard “. The two new provisions deal with such things as the overthrow of the Constitution of the Commonwealth by revolution or sabotage. That is the new offence of treachery. Does the Leader of the Opposition believe that is not an offence which should be acted against? Does he believe that to overthrow by force or violence the established government of the Commonwealth, or of a State or of a proclaimed country is not an offence which should be provided for? Again, what about the part of the bill which refers to the defence force which is proceeding to service outside the Commonwealth and the Territories not forming part of the Commonwealth and which provides that a person shall not assist by any means whatever any persons against whom that part of the defence force, or a force that includes that part of the defence force, is or is likely to be opposed? Those are the acts of treachery against which the Leader of the Opposition does not think protection is necessary. That is a new offence. Does the Leader of the Opposition think that action should not be taken against saboteurs? The report of the 1954 royal commission into the origins, aims, objects and funds of the Communist Party in Victoria was in these terms -
The aims and objects of the Communist Party in Victoria do not differ from those of the Communist Party in other parts of Australia. The aims and objectives are (a) to overthrow the capitalist State; (b) to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat; (c) to smash the existing State machine; (d) to introduce socialism by expropriating the present ownership of the means of production and distribution and the great landlords; and (e) ultimately to introduce communism. This overthrow will be achieved at the earliest practicable moment.
That is the finding of the royal commission in relation to the Communist Party. Let us look now at the way in which the Australian Labour party Federal Executive views the Communist Party. The present official ruling of the A.L.P. federal body is that the Communist Party is a treason able conspiracy aiming to destroy the Australian way of life in the interests of a foreign power. Do honorable members of the Opposition deny the interpretation of communism as enunciated by their federal executive? Yet the Leader of the Opposition states that he cannot understand why these new offences have been proclaimed.
I turn now to the question of our defence forces proceeding overseas. During the debate on the defence estimates members of the Opposition stated that we should not spend such large sums of money on defence. They suggested that we should have a small protective police force which would act in concert with the United Nations and which would be sent to different parts of the world under the control of the United Nations. That is an extraordinary view of our defence. But it was expounded by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and others. Honorable members opposite seem to have forgotten that we are seeking to deal with sabotage and treachery against Australia. We must protect ourselves. The Opposition’s defence policy is based on sending troops to different parts of the world under the control of the United Nations. There may be conditions such as now exist in the Congo where Russia is adopting one policy and the Western countries are adopting a different policy. There are Communists in Australia who owe allegiance to a foreign power - Russia - and Australian troops will have to overcome danger from the Communist agents in this country who are working against them. It is high time that the Labour Party considered this question of treachery.
The effect of this legislation on the trade unions has been raised consistently. A number of trade unionists have come to Parliament House. Mostly they are decent fellows but there is a hard core of Communists among them. The decent trade unionists have been misled deliberately by the people who do not want this legislation to become law. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) stated that this bill is directed against the trade union movement. How stale and dreary is that contention! We have heard it time and again. I turned up the “ Hansard “ report of the 1956 debate on the new constitution of the Arbitration Commission, and I noticed that the honorable member for Blaxland, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and other Opposition members claimed at that time that the proposal was designed to weaken and to destroy the trade union movement. Since this Government has been in office the trade unions have become progressively stronger. That is a curious way to defeat the trade union movement. It is high time that the Opposition reviewed its attitude to this matter because a surprisingly large number of trade unionists must have voted for the Government parties at the Calare by-election. They did so because they have confidence in this Government and because they know that they are being protected.
The interpretation of “ assisting the enemy by any means whatever “ was one of the aspects of this legislation that worried the Labour Party. The AttorneyGeneral, when explaining the common law interpretation of this phrase, stated -
It has been decisively held by the highest authority that political discussion or criticism, no matter how wrong-headed or forceful in its nature or extent, is not prevented by these provisions. It has also been decided by the highest authority that industrial activity for industrial purposes is not prevented by these provisions. To come within the offence of treason, there must in every case be a traitorous intent, an intent to assist the enemy or opponent, an intent to betray one’s own side . . .
That is the Attorney-General’s reply to the Opposition’s question. The expression “ assisting the enemy by any means whatever” is included not only in the existing Crimes Act but also in the British legislation. The proposals in this instance are not nearly as stringent as are the provisions of the British law. The honorable member for Blaxland has stated that we are on the eve of becoming a totalitarian state. What norfsense!
Row fatuous must be the Opposition and the critics of this bill to be misled by the extraordinary propositions which have been advanced by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam)! Does any one believe that the judges of the High Court and our other courts are morons who cannot differentiate between what is prejudicial to the interests of this country and what is not, and who cannot distinguish between those who are guilty and those who are not? Are not we in Australia blessed with a free court? I thought that the propositions which were put up by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition were stupid.
I should like to refer now to the attitude of the Australian Journalists Association to this legislation. The association wrote to all members of Parliament stating its view that the official secrets provision was dangerous to journalists who, because of their task of gathering information, would be more culpable than would be others. A journalist’s duty is to gather information. It is an occupational hazard rather similar to that of the postman who has to face dogs during his rounds. The association has expressed concern that the provisions relating to official secrets and espionage may bear heavily on journalists. If journalists were to be exempted from the provisions of this bill, surely a spy would have an ideal cover for his activities by becoming a journalist.
I have great respect for some journalists, but there are others who would be better engaged in dealing with the facts and not with fiction. One journalist referred to the recent debate on the Matrimonial Causes Bill in this way -
As far as the Government side of the Parliament was concerned, there was nothing very non-party about the divorce bill in the House of Representatives last week. Only one Government member had enough courage to vote against the vital clauses of the bill. The remainder blindly followed the leader.
That is an extraordinary way to describe the attitude of Government members to that legislation. No doubt the debate is fresh in the minds of all honorable members, and they will recall that a number of Government members voted against clauses in the Matrimonial Causes Bill. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) proposed an amendment to one clause and received the support of several honorable members. This has nothing to do with the Crimes Act, but it shows how journalism has collected to itself some extraordinary people. The statement that I have quoted is completely false, and its falsity can be proved by reference to “ Hansard “. Honorable members know that very strong opposition came from Government supporters.
In the Australian Journalists Association there are all sorts of people, just as there are all sorts of people among members of Parliament and in other sections of society. To say that journalists must be exempt because of their job would make journalism a popular screen for people engaged in spying or sabotage. I have great sympathy with journalists. They run the risk of being misunderstood, but I am confident that unless there is intent that is prejudicial to the security of Australia they will not come to harm. No innocent person needs to fear the law. Only the guilty need do so.
Unfortunately, we have to have laws dealing with official secrets, because to-day we are exchanging secrets with America and Britain. We passed legislation in this Parliament to provide for that. Does anybody think that America wants the Fuchses and the Nunn-Mays to have a free run in respect of secrets that America has passed on to Australia? Recently two American diplomatic officers, Mitchell and Martin, vanished from America and turned up in Russia. That kind of thing happens, and that is why I say that things are changing enormously nowadays. No longer is it a case of patriotism alone. There are people who will go over to a foreign power on purely ideological grounds. A country is entitled to defend itself against such things.
I am quite certain that the AttorneyGeneral is correct when he says that there has been the greatest misrepresentation of the purposes of this amending measure. The only valid criticism that can be levelled against the Government is that this measure should have been brought in before this. The Government has not introduced the measure in order to gain any political advantage but because there is an increasing need for its provisions.
Look at the international position to-day. We have seen the failure of the Summit conference in Paris, in May. We have seen the actions of Khrushchev in the United Nations. We have seen the desire of Khrushchev and the Russians to break the effectiveness of the United Nations. Yet honorable members opposite still say that these are times of peace. Any criticism of the bill should be weighed against the risks that we face to-day in this world of tension. I strongly support the bill.
– I rise to oppose this vicious anti-Aus tralian measure with all the vigour at my command. I cannot recall in all my parliamentary experience such gutter tactics as were employed in relation to this bill. First, the Attorney-General introduced the bill. Then we had his second-reading speech, which covered 28 pages of foolscap. The debate was then adjourned and the Attorney-General hied off to the United Nations. He was there for six or seven weeks - of course flying kites during has absence in order to see how the bill would be received.
Immediately he returned he made alterations in the bill which it had taken 28 foolscap pages to explain. He panicked when he knew that a very cold reception had been given to the bill by the Australian people generally and then - this is something unprecedented in Australian parliamentary history - he rushed to the columns of the daily press to explain what he meant, after having already written 28 foolscap pages of explanation before he went to the United Nations. His press statements were long-winded articles trying to justify his attempts to destroy once and for all the great institutions of freedom in this country. He has sensed the dismal failure of his bill. He hesitates. He procrastinates. Suddenly he approaches from another angle. In an endeavour to bolster up his shaking confidence he makes still another effort. He says that he is prepared to listen to any reasonable suggestions. He poses as a very reasonable individual. He is no longer Gar the Star, but becomes Gar the Czar. That, of course, is wellknown, and he tries to bolster up his false confidence again. Could I suggest that this so-called brilliant star-studded lawyer, whose vanity consumes him, causing him to be extremely arrogant, making him drunk with power, has become impatient and irritable as the result of what happened to him at the United Nations, when the equally arrogant and vain Prime Minister cut him down to size? The Prime Minister made him take a back seat, completely debunking this cheap, nasty, unscrupulous little man, who has shown the Australian people so early in his parliamentary career that he cannot be trusted to carry out the high office to which he has been elevated. Fuming with rage he has returned to Australia. He is determined to ?o down in history, in company with dictators like
Mussolini, Hitler, Khrushchev, Mao Tsetung and others of that ilk. So he sets about trying to shackle our freedom-loving Australian people with a bill such as this.
The Attorney-General breathes defiance of all his critics, accusing them of being Communists and fellow-travellers. In this bill he proposes to exempt the secret police from the rules of evidence and other court practices that govern all other police and citizens, with a possible sentence of fifteen years imprisonment or death in their minds. This petty dictator intends to reverse British justice by removing the onus of proof from the prosecuting police and placing it on the accused. His one desire is to set up a reign of terror through the agency of his secret police. Has he forgotten what happened to the present vain, arrogant Prime Minister after his attempt to stifle criticism in 1939, when he closed down radio station 2KY in Sydney, through Postmaster-General Cameron, and caused the arrest of hundreds of so-called left-wingers who were later set free by a Labour Government on the recommendation of a royal commission? His Government was thrown out of office. I tell the Attorney-General that the Australian people resent any interference with their long-cherished and dearly won freedom and liberty.
Has the Attorney-General forgotten the great struggles over the last fifty years against such tactics? This Government, year in and year out, tries to give the impression that it is totally opposed to the policies of totalitarian governments like those of Russia and China. It declares that a state of cold war exists. The Attorney-General told us in this House that a state of cold war exists between China and Australia and between Russia and Australia. The members of the Australian Country Party give vociferous acclaim to this allegation, but on the other hand we find that this hypocritical bunch is clamouring for a greater share of the wool markets in both of those countries. I shudder to think of those honorable members when they realize that when this bill becomes law they will become subject to the penalties stated in the bill! I suggest to these members that in their greed for more gold - red or otherwise - they may have overlooked these obnoxious clauses. Let us examine the laws relating to treason, the meaning of which is still to be made clear as no definition has been given. Proposed new section 24 (d) refers to a person who - assists by any means whatever an enemy at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared;
Is the sale of wool to a country with which the Government claims we are engaged in a cold war a form of treason? Where does the Australian Country Party stand? What a fantastic position. We find that half the Government’s supporters are committing an act of treason for taking red gold for wool.
– Order! The honorable member must not be so free in maligning honorable members. He must not impute treason to the Government or any member of it.
– What will happen under the provisions of the bill? I was merely citing the bill. I do not think the AttorneyGeneral should do anything like that either. Proposed new section 24 (2.) states -
A person who-
receives or assists another person who is, to his knowledge, guilty of treason in order to enable him to escape punishment; or
knowing that a person intends to commit treason, does not give information thereof with all reasonable despatch to a constable or use other reasonable endeavours to prevent the commission of the offence, shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
Penalty: Imprisonment for life.
These provisions will encourage the formation of a new army of the lowest type - scabs, pimps and informers who can never have the respect of their fellow men and are despised by all. This Government intends to pit mother against father, sister against brother, mother and father against son and daughter. How do you feel about this, Australians? Is it not obnoxious? Does it not make you retch? Does it not make you sick in the stomach? The truth of the matter is this: The Prime Minister and the Attorney-General travel quite a lot. As a matter of fact, they are more often out of the country than in it. In their travels, they see these tin-pot dictators in action such as the leader of the South African Government who went so far as to expel Church leaders from the country and denied many thousands of people their freedom and liberty on information received from undesirables, pimps and informers who are ever ready to smear the characters of people in order to curry favour and receive the infamous 30 pieces of silver.
I want to make it clear that the Australian Labour Party believes that no decent citizen objects to stringent laws and penalties to protect the interests of our native land; but on the other hand, there is wide-spread objection to the savage attempts of this Government to shackle Australians with laws that are in line with the totalitarian countries of Europe. They are distasteful and will not be tolerated. This is shown by the keen interest in the bill that has been evinced by all sections of the community including the Churches, all newspapers, radio and television stations, the great trade union movement and the great Australian Labour Party. In cities, suburbs and country towns, there has been a demand for public meetings so that people might express their views on this distasteful measure. Let me quote some of the great city newspapers. The Sydney “ Daily Mirror” of 28th October stated under the heading: “ Back to the Dark Ages “ - “ There may be some deprivation of civil liberties under certain provisions of the proposed amendments to the Crimes Act,” the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr. McMahon, said last night in Parliament. “We want it to be as small as it possibly can be.”
Australians who listened to the debate must have felt grave alarm at the specious arguments put forward by Government speakers. The old Communist bogy was dragged out again. In the past it has been a good friend of the Government but last night in the House of Representatives it proved a poor substitute for reason.
The Sydney “ Sun “ stated on 28th October under the heading, “ Why the Wind up in High Places? “-
One of the mysteries of the Federal Government’s present attempt to amend the Crimes Act is what can have happened to weaken the national position to the extent that it must be buttressed by new encroachment on political liberties. If unrest instead of calm is desired, the way to create it is to father legislation over which men will argue, squabble and brawl and do it in the sacred name of security, which can be stretched to cover a multitude of ulterior motives.
The “Sydney Morning Herald” of 28th October stated -
Some clauses of the bill which are worded with dangerous lack of precision most certainly need to be redrafted and amended at the committee stage in the usual way. The AttorneyGeneral has already indicated that he is prepared to consider reasonable amendments. He may well produce some himself.
That is strong criticism indeed. No one could suggest that any of those newspapers have Labour sympathies, but on this bill, their opinions are on all fours with the great Australian Labour Party whose aim is to protect the individual liberties of our citizens. However, the little bantam rooster, the Attorney-General-
– Order! I have already warned the honorable member that he should be more careful about the epithets he employs. He must not refer to the Attorney-General in such terms.
– I simply said the little bantam-
– Order! The honorable member must be more careful.
– Well, I shall call him the little Attorney-General. He has said that the only critics of this bill are the Communists and fellow-travellers. I hope the reporters of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, the “ Sun “ and “ Daily Mirror “ will make a note of that. Why does the Government insist on the destruction of our civil and political liberties? Has the Government forgotten the people’s smashing vote on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill some years ago? Apparently it has, because since then it has passed the telephone tapping legislation which was only a prelude to the Crimes Bill. What will follow when and if this bill goes on the statute book? Australians should take extreme care as this Government is bent on the destruction of their liberties. The evil influence of the little Attorney-General who makes up for his lack of physical bodily development-
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I direct your attention to Standing Order No. 77 which states -
No Member shall use offensive words against either House of the Parliament or any Member thereof . . .
I submit that the manner in which the honorable member is using the word “ little “ is offensive.
– I uphold the point of order completely. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith is going out of his way to be offensive. If he does not cease to be offensive, he will have to do his yelling outside the chamber.
– Why is this Government destroying civil liberties? The AttorneyGeneral, who makes up for his lack of physical development by an abnormal enlargement of the head is determined to enslave the Australian people.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, 1 refer again to Standing Order No. 77. I submit that the statements of the honorable member are highly offensive. I refer you, also, to Standing Order No. 303 which enables the Chair to take appropriate action in such circumstances.
– I am well acquainted with Standing Order 303.
– May I suggest that the gentleman who is interrupting is just another dud lawyer trying to show off his wares. I should like to make some more comments on our Attorney-General in relation to a very questionable provision - proposed new section 29c. This concerns statements in applications for grants of money and shows how miserable the Minister’s mind is. The proposed new section reads as follows: -
A person who. in or in connexion with or in support of, an application to the Commonwealth, to a Commonwealth officer or to a public authority under the Commonwealth for any grant, payment or allotment of money or allowance under a law of the Commonwealth makes, either orally or in writing, any untrue statement shall be guilty of an offence. Penalty: Imprisonment for two years.
I emphasize that the statement may be made orally. 1 think that this proposed section should have been given a little more attention by our Attorney-General as the drafting is very loose. Let us consider the case of a blind, partly blind, or very old person who applies for a pension and who, perhaps because of mental inability to understand the meaning of various questions, makes an innocent mistake. He or she will be liable to imprisonment for two years. I mention this, just in passing, to this big man, as one reason for the alteration of the clause.
Right through this bill there are many passages which, to say the least, give the impression that the Attorney-General is intent upon leaving openings for attacks upon the trade union organization and on behalf of my own organization of 66,000 members I would like to make a few remarks on this aspect. Clearly the Attorney-General is intent upon destruction. This is borne out by clause 55 which deals with offences by companies. The marginal note is purely a subterfuge to disguise the real intent. Proposed section 85a states -
Where an offence against this Part is committed by a company or corporation, or by a member or servant of a partnership acting in the course of the business of the partnership, every director and officer of that company or corporation and a trade union is a corporation - or every member of that partnership, as the case may be, shall be guilty of that offence, unless he proves that the act or omission constituting the offence occurred without his knowledge or consent.
It is most important to notice that the onus of proof is thrown on every official of the corporation. Great care was taken in the drafting of this provision. As the AttorneyGeneral was in great demand in past years by huge business corporations, it is fair to assume that he does not intend to hurt them in any way. But the position is quite different in relation to the trade union corporations. I assume that this portion of the bill is aimed directly at the heart of the trade union movement which the Attorney-General is bent on destroying. A complete coverage is given to every trade union member with the thought in mind that some day, as the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) said, in the near future, this clause will be used. It is clear that the very introduction of this bill was conceived with the express intention of destroying the trade union movement.
The Government’s record while the AttorneyGeneral has been in office shows that its request to the Arbitration Commission to refuse an increase in the basic wage was only a curtain raiser to this bill. The Attorney-General has vented his spleen on organized labour almost continuously, and now he comes to his master stroke - this obnoxious anti-Australian measure. Could I suggest that he does not understand the influence of organized labour in this country? Does he realize its strength? Being a little man, of course, he would not realize the strength of a big trade union. Does he realize its power? It is noticeable, in this clause, that the onus of proof is imposed on every member of every organization - 2.000,000 trade unionists in Australia! This is repressive legislation, and the trade unions resist repression.
I warn the Attorney-General to reconsider this matter. Does he forget that legislation of this kind was brought down by Fuller in New South Wales, and that Flanagan was murdered by scabs during the course of the 1917 strike? Does the AttorneyGeneral remember Weaver and the murder committed at Rothbury under similar legislation? Does he remember Rothbury? Does he remember 1917? Think, Mr. Attorney-General, before it is too late. Withdraw and accept Labour’s proposed amendments. As one who has taken part in all the major industrial unheavals since 1914, I urge the AttorneyGeneral to realize that unionists will not tolerate this legislation.
Does he not remember the early struggles to retain civil liberties and freedom? I urge him again to adopt our suggestion. The Minister should remember that his Government came to power during the hysteria of the 1949 strike which was engineered by men who are now members of the Government. Does he realize that the Government could easily be destroyed by a strike of his own making in 1961? Mr. Deputy Speaker, I support the amendment put forward by my leader. I believe that only trouble can come out of this legislation. The Attorney-General is looking for trouble by making this open attack on the trade union movement.
Another clause of this bill mentions a state of war which has been declared or which is about to be declared. Recently, it was published in the daily press that the Government of Indonesia had brought down legislation to take over all oil produced in Indonesia. On the other hand, we have had the comings and goings of a Dutch aircraft carrier, the “Karel Doorman”. Various excuses have been made, such as that the ship has been on a goodwill visit. Our Prime Minister has visited Indonesia with another gentleman from the other side of the chamber. We are supposed to be on very friendly terms with Indonesia. Yet the Prime Minister gives support to the Royal Dutch Government’s claim to West New Guinea - a claim which is challenged by the Government of Indonesia!
– Order! With what part of the Crimes Bill is the honorable member dealing?
– Shall I read it to you, Sir? Will you grant me an extension of time to read it to you?
– Order! The honorable member will either stick to the bill or sit down.
– I am under pressure. Oil is now known to flow in West New Guinea, and the oil reserves there are controlled by the Shell oil company, which also has extensive interests in Indonesia and is controlled by wealthy Dutch and British interests. Are we about to witness a takeover by force?
– Order! I again ask the honorable member to what part of the bill his remarks have reference.
– I refer to the clause dealing with treachery. I want to know whose side we are on.
– Order! The honorable member will either stick to the bill or sit down.
– I have been obstructed throughout my speech. The Government seems really upset about it. What I want to know is this: Which side will we be on if war breaks out between Holland and Indonesia?
.- I do not think it is necessary, and in fact I do not wish, to say much about the speech of the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin). I make just two comments. The first is this: In the early part of his speech the honorable member described the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) as cheap and nasty. I leave the House to judge, after having listened to the honorable member’s speech, who really is cheap and nasty.
The other comment I wish to make just in passing. I refer to what appears to me to be an extraordinary attitude adopted not only by the honorable member for KingsfordSmith but also by other Opposition speakers. They appeared to imply that there was something reprehensible in the Attorney-General’s coming into this House and deliberately making his second-reading speech at a time when he knew that several weeks would elapse before the debate would be resumed, so that there could be widespread public discussion of the measure, and individuals and organizations could make their views known while time remained in which to amend the bill, and his statement that he would, after hearing views expressed, issue explanations of the legal aspects of the bill and bring in amendments in order to clarify its provisions where necessary. The attitude of honorable members opposite is quite extraordinary, because the method adopted by the Attorney-General appears to me to be the very essence of a democratic approach to legislation of this kind, which may or may not have widespread effects on individual members of the community. For Opposition members to criticize the Attorney-General for adopting a procedure which has given them, if anybody, an opportunity for a real field day in expressing irresponsible criticism is hypocritical, to say the least.
I do not want to deal to-night with the legal interpretation of the bill. That has been done to my complete satisfaction by the Attorney-General and also, in a brilliant and illuminating speech, by my honorable friend from Bruce (Mr. Snedden) this afternoon. I wholeheartedly support this legislation, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I take pride in the fact that I am a liberal - a liberal with a small “ 1 “ - and this measure has been attacked as illiberal, as a threat to basic rights and liberties and as the first step towards the establishment of a totalitarian State in Australia. Because these charges have been made both inside and outside this House by people who mean well and by people who certainly do not mean well at all, I would like to examine the legislation from the point of view of those charges. In other words, does it or does it not represent a departure from the state of affairs which should prevail in a liberal society?
What do we mean by liberalism - using the term in the sense of a philosophy underlying a particular way of life? Using the term in this way, I might say in passing that I would include even some members of the Opposition amongst those who could be called liberals. In some ways it is easier to say what liberalism is. not, rather than what, it is. For instance, liberalism cannot be identified with the traditional belief in specific, absolute or inalienable rights, since every such right is in fact evaluated in terms of its consequences for society and is, therefore, subject to modification. One right limits another, and the final adjudication of the conflict of rights is made in the light of the total situation, or of that set of preferred freedoms the existence of which may entail the temporary abridgement of any one particular freedom. To say, as honorable members have said, and as people outside this Parliament have said, that we cannot preserve our freedom by sacrificing them is an empty piece of rhetoric, because a particular freedom must sometimes be sacrificed to preserve other freedoms.
The most comprehensive and adequate definition in positive terms of the meaning of liberalism, in the sense in which I have been using the word, has been stated, I believe, by that great American liberal, Mr. Justice Holmes. It is the belief, in his words, “ in the free trade of ideas - that the test of truth is the power of thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market”. This, of course, is not a programme of action, nor a philosophical theory, but an attitude or temper of mind towards all programmes. Liberals may disagree among themselves about everything else, but all of them have this faith in common. It is a faith which marks off liberal from totalitarian culture. Any action which restricts the freedom of ideas to develop or to circulate is, I suggest, illiberal.
There are at least two pre-suppositions Mr. Deputy Speaker, of this belief in the free market of ideas which, I believe, are most relevant to the bill before the House. The first of them is that the free expression and circulation of ideas may be checked wherever their likely effects constitute a clear and present danger to public peace or to the security of the country. This is a specific application of the principle that no right is absolute when it endangers rights of equal or greater validity.
In ordinary affairs, this is a commonplace. The right to inquire is innnocent but not when it leads some one to experiment on a human being to determine how long he can survive torture. The right to tree speech is precious, but not when it blasts a reputation by libellous accusation. Truth is sacred, but a person who revealed it knowing that it would be used to destroy his country would be a traitor. Freedom to worship God according to one’s conscience is one of the historical cornerstones of the structure of British liberties but it cannot be invoked to protect rituals which require human sacrifice or practices like plural marriages or a refusal to submit to vaccination against plagues. Honorable members will readily appreciate the application of this particular pre-supposition to the bill before the House.
The second pre-supposition of the liberal’s faith in the free market of ideas is that the competition will be honestly and openly conducted. Unless there are, so to speak, certain rules of honest competition, analogous to those which hold in other domains of testing and inquiry, freedom of choice is an illusion. If the market is rigged by money, power or fraud, anything but the truth is accepted. If ability to withstand honest competition is not a sufficient condition of truth, it is at least a necessary one. What the liberal really fears is the systematic corruption of the free market of ideas by activities which make intelligent choice impossible. In short, what he fears, to use the expressive words of the philosopher Sidney Hook, is not heresy but conspiracy. I will say in a moment what I mean by those terms, but I emphasize at this stage that it is the conspirator in his mid-twentieth century form that this bill is designed to catch. The heretic has nothing to fear.
Failure to recognize this distinction between heresy and conspiracy appears to me to lie at the base of much of the criticism of this bill. Tt is a vital distinction because the inescapable consequence of the identification of heresy and conspiracy is either self-destruction, when heresies- are punished as conspiracies, or destruction at the hands of our enemies, when conspiracies are tolerated as heresies.
A heresy, of course, is a set of unpopular ideas or opinions on matters of grave concern to the community. The right to profess publicly a heresy of any character, on any theme, is an essential element of a liberal society. The liberal stands ready to defend the honest heretic, no matter what his views, against any attempt to curb him. It is enough that the heretic pays the price of unpopularity, which he cannot avoid. In some respects each of us is a heretic, but a liberal society can impose no official orthodoxies of belief, disagreement with which entails loss of liberty or life. A conspiracy, as distinct from a heresy, is a secret or underground movement which seeks to attain its ends, not by normal political or educational processes, but by playing outside the rules of the game. Because it undermines the conditions which are required in order that doctrines may freely compete for acceptance, and because where successful it ruthlessly destroys all heretics and dissenters, a conspiracy cannot be tolerated in a liberal society without selfstultification.
A heresy does not shrink from publicity. It welcomes it. Not so a conspiracy. The signs of a conspiracy are secrecy, the use of false names and labels and the calculated lie. It does not offer its wares openly but by systematic infiltration of all organizations of cultural life, it seeks to capture strategic posts to carry out a policy alien to the purposes of the organizations. Political conspiracy is the concern of the State, but there may be also a conspiracy against a union, a cultural or professional association, or an educational institution which is not primarily the concern of the State but is the concern of the members. In general, whoever subverts the rules of a democratic organization and seeks to win by chicanery what cannot be fairly won in the process of free discussion is a conspirator.
To illustrate the point I am making - I give it only as an example - I take the case of communism. Communist ideas are heresies, and liberals need have no fear of them when they are freely and openly expressed. They should be studied and evaluated in the light of all the relevant evidence. No one should be punished because he holds them. The Communist movement, however, is something quite different from a mere heresy, for wherever it exists it operates along the lines laid down by Lenin as a guide to Communists of all countries. The rules laid down by Lenin have been perfected in great detail over the years. It is necessary - so Lenin instructed all Communists - to agree to any and every sacrifice, and even, if need be, to resort to all sorts of stratagems, manoeuvres, illegal methods, evasions and subterfuges, in order to carry on Communist work in the trade unions at all costs. I.–: said further that in all organizations, without exception - political, industrial, military, cooperative, educational and sport - groups or nuclei of Communists should be formed. They should be mainly open groups, but there might also be secret groups. Lenin said also that in all countries, even the freest from a legal and peaceful point of view - in the sense that the class struggle was least acute in them - the time had fully matured when it was absolutely necessary for every Communist Party systematically to combine legal with illegal work and legal organizations with illegal organizations. Illegal work was particularly necessary in the army, the navy and the police.
Under present conditions of political and military warfare it is not difficult to see what immense dangers to the security of liberal institutions are implicit in this strategy of infiltration and deceit. Even a few men in important posts can do incalculable harm. These instructions of Lenin - and there are many more detailed ones - combined with explicit directives to Communists to transform any war in which their country is involved - except one approved by the Soviet Union - into a civil war against their own government, indicate that members of the Communist Party are not so much heretics as conspirators, and in actual practice regard themselves as such.
There may be some justification for conspiratorial activity in undemocratic countries where heresies are proscribed, but Lenin, as we have seen, makes no exceptions. He maintains that since 1917 in no country of the world can the revolution be peacefully achieved. He said -
To-day, both in England and America, the essential thing for every real people’s revolution is the smashing, the destruction of the readymade state machinery.
How faithfully the Communist movement follows the pattern laid down by its authoritative leaders in the political sphere is a matter of historical record. We have only to look at the report of our own Petrov commission. Unfortunately for the peace of mind of liberals, the same tactics are followed in other spheres of social and cultural life.
It should be apparent, therefore, Mr. Speaker, that the liberals of the twentieth century are confronted by a situation which was quite unfamiliar to their forebears. For they must contend not with fearless heretics - the sort of people who are allegedly supported by Opposition members - indigenous elements of the community who, like the abolitionists and revolutionists of old, scorn concealment and who make no bones about their hostility to the principles of liberalism. The liberals of the twentieth century find themselves in the unique historical predicament of having to deal with native elements which, by secrecy and stratagem, serve the interests of a foreign power which believes itself to be entitled to speak for all mankind and whose victory would spell the end of all liberal civilization, and with it the right to heresy. It is now plain that the Communist regimes of the world have turned out to be the greatest and most cruel heresyhunters in history, not merely in politics, but in every branch of theory and practice. They have even abolished the right to be silent, for on any matter on which the central committee of the Communist Party has laid down the law, silence is construed as treason.
The problems which underground conspiracy creates for a liberal society are of tremendous magnitude. They cannot be dismissed by a quotation or by smart remarks of the sort which have been made by Opposition members time after time during this debate. Those problems require, I believe, the application of constructive intelligence and the discovery and application of techniques in each field which will meet conspiratorial threats to the proper functioning of liberal institutions without creating still greater ones. Failure to take this approach is characteristic of some current wholesale responses to this general problem and also to this bill by certain groups.
The first group is the frightened reactionaries - there are one or two of them in this House - who cannot distinguish between heresy and conspiracy and who identify communism with any decent thing which they wish to destroy. By making reckless charges of conspiracy where there is only honest heresy, they prevent intelligent choice.
The second group - and this is more relevant to this debate and to the case made by the Opposition - consists of those whom I call ritualistic, as distinct from realistic, liberals. They are ritualistic because they approach the question of liberty and individual freedom as if it concerned an unthinking and unintelligent ritual. They ignore or blithly dismiss as comparatively insignificant the mass of evidence concerning the conspiratorial character of the Communist movement in all the institutions in which it is active. They regard communism as merely an unpleasant heresy which is just a little worse than a crotchety theory of disease or finance. They sometimes characterize the prosecution of a conspirator for espionage or perjury as persecution of a heretic. Or they condemn as witch-hunting measures taken to deny access to important posts in government or social institutions to members of the Communist Party, who are under explicit instructions to sabotage the purposes of these organizations. These ritualistic liberals would wait until the sabotage has been carried out before taking action against conspirators like members of the Communist Party.
This, of course, gives a new lease of life to the reactionaries, who now tend to regard the ritualistic liberals as the dupes or accomplices of the Communists, thus confirming the illusions of the ritualistic liberals that there is really no problem of Communist conspiracy. Many of these people scoff at the whole idea of Communists constituting any menace to Australia’s security. Whether out of naiveness or stubborn ignorance of the ways of the Communist Party, they airily dismiss the evidence of planned infiltration. “ The Soviet Union has its spies and we have ours “. they say. It is as simple as that! There might be a point to such remarks, Mr. Speaker, if Australia or the United States of America had organized a political party of Russian citizens in the Soviet Union, or a faction in the Communist party to bore within the army, the police and all other government agencies, and commit sabotage and espionage and strike for power when a revolutionary situation or war developed.
It should not be hard to see the difference between the conventional professional spy - who is rapidly becoming as extinct as is the hired mercenary - or doctrinaire or ideological groups that masquerade as normal political parties and claim the rights and privileges of citizenship in order to do the work of a foreign power. Even the Kremlin makes no bones about the fact that the first *ar ** last duty of Communist parties everywhere is to defend the Soviet Union by all means. Every Communist party which has not broken with the Kremlin has proudly and publicly accepted that role.
It is because I cannot find anything in this bill which will prevent or punish the activities of the honest heretic, and also because it will equip us better to defend this country against the activities of the conspirator, that I support the measure, Mr. Speaker. I do not believe that the person who is not guilty of conspiratorial activities against the security of Australia has anything to fear from the provisions of this bill. I challenge the Opposition to prove that its opposition to this measure is not based at the best - I emphasize the words “ at the best “ - on a ritualistic, unrealistic and unintelligent approach to the problem of fundamental liberties. It is ritualistic and unintelligent because Opposition members do not clearly distinguish between heresy and conspiracy and because their approach does not recognize the problems created in the midtwentieth century by the existence of the Communist conspiracy. I challenge them to mention one fundamental liberty which is not taken care of by section 24a (2.) of the existing act, the particular provisions of the bill itself, known interpretations of the law, or the existence of the courts and trial by jury. I support the bill.
- Mr. Speaker, this bill is a measure of great importance and widespread ramifications, and the inadequate time allowed by the Government for the second-reading stage of this all-important bill is to be deplored. This House will be given only two afternoons and one evening in which honorable members may speak either for or against the measure. That is bad enough. In the Australian Labour Party, we have many members who would like to speak at this stage of the bill and who have forthright opinions about some of its provisions, and for the first time since I became a member of this House the Opposition has been forced to take a ballot of its members who desire to speak. A number of Opposition members who would like to speak have to sit back and say nothing because they were not successful in the ballot.
It is a poor state of affairs when the elected representatives of the people are deprived of the right to say something on a matter that is of far greater importance than some other subjects, yet we have three or four sitting days in which to discuss bills dealing with them. Not only have we been given totally inadequate time for discussion, but in addition, the Minister in charge of the bill, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), has been conspicuous by his absence from the table. It is the accepted and traditional practice of this House for the Minister in charge of a bill that is being discussed, to spend some time in the chamber, to listen to the views expressed by honorable- members and generally supervise the conduct of the debate. Despite the fact that this is a bill that has caused discussion, both in and out of the Parliament, on an exceptionally wide front, we have had the unedifying example of the chief, indeed, the sole architect of the bill showing his contempt for honorable members who wish to discuss its provisions by not being in the chamber to listen to their views. The Australian Labour Party supports the maintenance of the sovereignty of this country at all times and under all conditions. We of the Labour Party believe that adequate measures should be promulgated in the Parliament to preserve the sovereignty of the country. But we do not suggest for one moment that when the Government serves up a bill of this nature and says that its purpose is to preserve our sovereignty, we should accept it at its face value. An examination of the clauses of the bill shows quite positively that instead of preserving the sovereignty and the liberties of the people, in some respects, particularly so far as their liberties are concerned, the bill will have quite the opposite effect.
Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, there occur periodically in a nation’s history occasions when it is necessary for the people to fight against the despotic tendencies of the government of the day. Long periods in office tend to make the occupants of office become increasingly arrogant and dictatorial. History is studded with examples of governments which have enacted repressive legislation that was designed to curtail the liberty of the subject. Such legislation resulted from the contemptuous attitude of. the government towards the people generally, and because the people did not see fit to give the government a prod, either by reducing its majority or by removing it from office. There is not the slightest doubt that as a result of its eleven years of office, the present Australian Government has become increasingly contemptuous of the feelings of the people. It also has become increasingly arrogant and dictatorial. Because of those faults, which are becoming so apparent to anybody who cares to look for them, we now have the legislation that is before the Parliament.
While the Labour Party has already conceded that no exception can be taken to the great majority of the clauses of the bill because they are calculated to see that things run smoothly in a number of directions, there are other clauses to which the greatest opposition must be and will be expressed in the limited time at our disposal. It is not only the Labour Party which is opposed to these provisions, Mr. Speaker; there is also widespread public disquiet because of them. It is idle to say that this opposition to the bill has been stimulated by people with evil or traitorous intent. Suffice to say that when we look at the people who are sponsoring opposition to the bill we are struck by the wide range of interests that they represent in the life of the community.
The opposition does not come from only one section of the community. It comes from representatives of many sections which are at one in their opposition to the bill in its present form. We find that opposition has been voiced by reputable public organizations, such as church bodies, and also by many legal luminaries who could not be termed, by any stretch of the imagination, either Labour or Communist supporters. Those people have expressed trenchant criticism of certain clauses. Universal doubts have been expressed that some clauses of the bill are too loosely framed and that they spread the net far too widely. We are at a loss to understand the reason for the drastic implications of certain clauses, because as far as we are aware, the security of the nation is not in imminent danger, at least from within.
I have not heard of prosecutions, in recent years, being launched under the act as it stands to deal with the matters that we are now discussing. I could appreciate the Government’s point of view if prosecutions had been launched for certain reasons under the Crimes Act - for instance, if it had been thought that people were acting in a manner that was contrary to the interests of the Commonwealth - and the judiciary had ruled that the act as it stood was not adequate to meet the position, or that insufficient provision existed for the successful prosecution of offences. In those circumstances, I could understand the Government saying, “ We will have to look at those sections of the act and re-write them “. But that has not been the case. I cannot remember anyone being charged with sabotage, treason or intent to endanger the sovereignty of the Commonwealth in recent years.
I come now to one of the reasons why there has been such strong criticism from people who, in the ordinary course of events, would not join with Labour agitation of any kind. Let us consider the attitude of the daily newspapers. Nobody could truthfully say that there is in Australia a daily newspaper that favours the Labour Party. At election time, and generally speaking during the sittings of the Parliament, there are very few occasions on which the great newspapers of the respective States support the attitude of the Labour Party. It is a very memorable occasion when they do so. We now have such a memorable occasion, because newspaper:, which, in the normal course of events, would not have a bar of the Labour Party, are so strongly opposed to some clauses of the bill that, whether they like it or not, they find themselves on the same side as the members of that party. Other people, such as eminent jurists, who have never previously shown by precept, example or outspoken comment, their sympathy for the aspirations and aims of the Labour Party, now find that, because of the promptings of their conscience, they have to oppose the bill.
It is not difficult to understand the opposition to the measure. Let us consider, for example, the provision relating to disputes between foreign countries, which may lead to charges of treachery or sabotage in re spect of what appear to be normal or propaganda activities. Those clauses could be used to stifle criticism of the policy of the Government and also criticism of the policy of a country or countries which the Parliament chose to proclaim. These are very serious matters. In the light of them, it is not difficult to understand the widespread opposition to the provisions. As has been pointed out by honorable members on this side of the chamber, the proclaiming of a country does not necessarily mean that we are at war with another country; it merely means that we are sympathetic to one of the countries which may be at war. Yet criticism of warring countries could lead to one being charged with an offence under this bill and to all sorts of fanciful charges being levelled against citizens whose views do not coincide with those of the Government, for example, on foreign policy as it affects countries which may be at war overseas. If it is decided to grant North Atlantic Treaty Organization bases to Spain, or to supply Polaris missiles to West Germany, or if American forces attack the mainland of China, and the Parliament proclaims those countries, any criticism of them by members of the Parliament or by people outside it could lead to their conviction as the bill stands at present. It is apparent to anybody who studies the bill that one of its main purposes is to stifle criticism of countries that are proclaimed by the Parliament.
Another deleterious feature of the bill is the proposed use of character evidence to determine guilt although no specific act has been proved against the person concerned. The bill obviously makes it easy to snare the secret thinker, to intimidate the man with a political record or to enforce silence on dissenting groups - that is, dissenting in the Government’s view. I am not prepared for one moment to take the assurances of honorable members opposite that this legislation will not be misused and that it does not mean what we think it means. After all, this Government cannot speak for its successors. Surely the Government does not think that it will govern this country to the crack of doom, that the Ministers will live forever and that the Prime Minister will continue to put up with them. We find frequent changes made in this Government. The Prime Minister removes a
Minister from his portfolio and returns him to the back-benches. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) assured us when he spoke that the bill would not be used in any way for an attack on the legitimate aims and aspirations of the trade union movement. But surely the Minister does not think that he will be a member of the Government for all time. As a matter of fact, I have an idea that he will be one of the next to get the axe from the Prime Minister. We cannot take any notice of a man whose tenure of office is so insecure, and this applies also to other Ministers.
Government supporters may think that a provision in this legislation should be interpreted in one way, but they will not be the ones to try the cases in court. The judiciary will try the cases and the Crown Law officers will prepare the cases for the prosecution. The Ministers are only transitory - here to-day and gone to-morrow! The fact that they think that the bill does not mean this or that, and that the trade union movement is in no danger, cuts no ice with those who consider the bill intelligently. If public criticism was mounting against the Government, the temptation would be too great for the Government not to use the legislation to stifle criticism. The Government will have the weapons to deal with a political situation that otherwise could lead to its downfall. The weapons are there to be used by the Government to deter action that could mean its end. The power would be there and if I know members of the Liberal Government, they would certainly succumb to the temptation to use these provisions if by doing so they would have a further term of office or would be able to belittle the Australian Labour Party.
That is not solely my opinion. That is the opinion of the Attorney-General himself, who has stated that the main worth of these new provisions lies in the deterrent effect. These provisions would give the Government a tremendous power of vast importance and, human nature being what it is, I find it impossible to believe that the Government would not use that power to preserve its political sovereignty in the Com.monthwealth sphere. We will find that well-timed prosecutions will be launched to stem the tide of public criticism. With this in mind, it is not difficult to understand why so many people, who normally do not support Labour, on this occasion find that they are on the same side of the fence as we are. They realize, as the Labour Party realizes, that the bill destroys basic principles of British justice and removes some of the traditional freedom from the life of the citizen. That, of course, is of no moment to the Government but is of great importance to those who cherish individual liberty.
Considerable concern has been caused by the provision which places the onus on an accused person to prove his innocence. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) intimated that our party was prepared to support provisions which would tighten our defences, and we do not gainsay the fact that there may be a need to tighten our defences against sabotage or subversion. But any proposal that would shift the onus of proof from the prosecution to the defendant must be resisted with all our vigour. This provision proposes that we should depart from British tradition and practice and adopt a point of view that is anathema to all those who cherish British traditions of freedom. The placing of the onus of proof on the shoulders of the defendant is a retreat from long-established British principles and is deplored by all thinking people in the community. The procedure which requires the defendant to prove his innocence smacks of McCarthyism and, if carried into operation, will constitute a serious menace to our freedom. Supporters of the bill find their arguments threadbare and resort to the accepted technique of this Government; they say that this bill is aimed at Communist subversion. All I can say is that that argument does not go down well with a great many intelligent people who have no time for communism, and in this regard I mention journalists, eminent jurists and church organizations which in the ordinary course certainly do not support Labour policy.
If any party has the right to speak for the trade union movement it is the Australian Labour Party. We see in this bill all the elements of a scheme to suppress the legitimate aims and aspirations of the trade union movement. The trade unions assail the present economic system because it does not provide for a more equitable distribution of productivity and wealth amongst the people. When the background and legislative record of this Government are closely examined, it seems that the bill is calculated to preserve the security of ‘the privileged few in an economic system that is opposed by the trade union movement rather than to maintain the military security of the country. I do not believe for one moment that the Government is concerned only about military security; I believe it is more concerned about the security of the present economic structure and is prepared to put all possible armour around it. The Government will do all it can to ensure that this economic structure lasts for many generations to come.
Throughout history, all reformers who have attempted to improve the lot of the ordinary man have been branded as dangerous and subversive. The present issue cannot be clouded by those who aver that all agitation for better social and economic conditions springs from Communist sources. This Government’s record does not give the trade union movement any reason to have confidence that this measure will not be used to stultify the legitimate policies of the working class movement in this country.
The Government has become infamous in recent years for its attacks on various trade union methods and plans. I shall give some recent examples. The Government tried to intimidate public servants in Wynyard Park, Sydney, and deter them from proceeding by lawful means into their demands for wage justice. The Government had men there taking a shorthand record of everything that was said. That was a deliberate and provocative intimidation of a very worthy section of the community. Then we have the Gluckman case. Every one knows that the Government’s attitude in that case arose from a secret report. Should any one have confidence in a government that perpetrates such an act of obvious injustice on a celebrated international visitor? Recently, the Government by legislation obtained power to tap telephones, and we all know, of course, that that power will be used in the main against the trade unions. Then, the penal provisions of the arbitration legislation have been extended in recent years to provide for extraordinarily large fines to be imposed upon industrial organizations which are working for the betterment of their members. But no acts of Parliament have been passed for use against the wealthy monopolist groups of enterprises which are sucking the lifeblood out of this country for the benefit of their members. There has not been one single legislative act against them, although they try to bankrupt the industrial organizations. Therefore, can it be wondered at that the trade union movement has no confidence in this Government’s protestations that the provisions of this bill will not be used against it in the foreseeable future?
The trade unions are apprehensive that the new powers will be used to restrict their activities, and I have not the slightest doubt that that will be done. Supporters of the Government may say quite confidently that they do not intend to do that, but the powers will be written into the act. For that reason, there will come a time when, in order to preserve the vested interests of the Government and the people it represents, the Government will use these powers with no thought for the promises that were made in this Parliament. The wording of the dangerous clauses will be used as an instrument of prosecution and persecution against the trade union movement.
We are not alone in saying this. Eminent legal men have realized that ambiguous terms in the provisions could be capable of interpretations inimical to the interests of a person entirely innocent of the charge laid against him. There is widespread confusion among citizens who by no stretch of the imagination could be accused of having Communist sympathies in regard to the meaning of these clauses.
When one looks at the clause dealing with sabotage it is not difficult to understand how that provision could be used against certain trade unions which are known for their militancy. The fact that a union is militant is no reason why it should be despised or derided. If it had not been for the militant unions in the early days of unionism in this country trade unionists now would not enjoy their present conditions. We have to accept the fact that the heresy of yesterday is the accepted idea of to-day. The fact that a person is militant is no reason for his being despised, and put outside the pale by the ordinary citizen. Unions are militant to-day, but they are militant in the interests of their members, not in the interests of overseas communism. The members pay the union officials to do a job, and naturally those officials look after the interests of the members. After hearing the comments of Government supporters I am satisfied that this sabotage clause could be invoked to break a strike by members of militant unions.
The espionage and official secrets clauses are too wide not to invoke criticism. For example, proposed section 77 defines information as -
Information of any kind whatsoever, whether true or false and whether in a material form or not, and includes -
an opinion; and
a report of a conversation;
That opens up all sorts of sinister possibilities. Fancy launching a prosecution on a report of a conversation! We know that conversations go from mouth to mouth and very often the text becomes different. Words are even added. After the conversation has gone from person to person five or six times the person who originally made the comment would not recognize his comment. But this Government is quite prepared to use a conversation of that nature in the prosecution of trade unions.
Proposed section 78 is the new espionage section. It speaks about an enemy or a foreign power. There are all sorts of valid objections to this clause, because information on the subject matter of espionage need not be secret defence or security information. That is not my opinion - after all, 1 am not a lawyer - but is the opinion of eminent jurists who over the years have proved that they have the right to give opinions on these matters. They are opinions which should be vented, and they should be looked at very seriously by anybody who is prepared to consider the matter dispassionately. Those jurists tell us that these clauses are most objectionable and they could certainly be used in a manner which is not envisaged by supporters of the Government. I think a number of Government supporters are conscientious enough, but they just do not envisage the lengths to which these clauses could be utilized if it came to the point of preserving the solidarity of the Government or preserving the economic structure to which the Government is certainly married.
Clauses have been inserted to facilitate prosecution and to remove normal safeguards. These provisions have staggered the imagination of many people. So, I am not at all surprised that there is increasing anxiety among a great number of responsible and decent citizens who believe that the passing of this bill would bring into this country a state which nobody who cherishes personal liberty has ever envisaged. For example, I refer to the Australian Journalists Association, which has attacked provisions of the bill. I have never been an admirer of that association because, in the ordinary course of events, the point of view expressed by its members is certainly not favorable to the point of view advanced by Labour members in this House However, I recognize that journalists are a responsible body of people who know the implications of legislation such as this. They realize that, as journalists carrying out their normal industrial or professional pursuits, they could come under the provisions of this bill if a government so desired. If a government was not pleased with the actions of a certain newspaper it could use the provisions of this bill to persecute that newspaper, which for the time being was expressing a point of view prejudicial to the interests of the government. I am not at all surprised at the attitude of the journalists, who recognize that they could also come under the provisions of this bill. They are intelligent men and their point of view must be respected. The point of view advanced by the Australian Journalists Association is indicative of the concern of many sections of the Australian community.
Mr. Speaker, this bill is coolly calculated to deter people from being outspoken critics of government policy, particularly foreign policy. It is a bill of intimidation and coercion. It is designed to frighten people who might harbour ideas which are unpalatable to the Government. It strikes a blow at our democratic way of life and, if passed, it will introduce practices which are detested by the Australian people. In short, it is a bill which, in its present form, must be rejected by this Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Malcolm Fraser) adjourned.
House adjourned at 11.28 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 to 3. The attached schedule gives the information requested in respect of boards and committees established by the Parliament or the Government. In the schedule the reference to “ Parliament “ includes any body established by or under regulations or other statutory rules.
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
How many ex-servicemen in each State who were in receipt of 10 per cent. and15 per cent. pensions had their pensions cancelled during 1959 and 1960?
-I have been advised by the Minister for Repatriation as follows: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
What is the number of ex-servicemen under the age of 60 who are receiving a service pension in (a) Australia and (b) each State?
– I have been advised by the Minister for Repatriation that the answer to the honorable member’s question is -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Commonwealth Banking Corporation has supplied the following information: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 to 4. The Reserve Bank of Australia has furnished the following information: -
The Reserve Bank is arranging with the South Australian Government to acquire a site on the corner of Victoria-square and Flinders-street, Adelaide, for its South Australian Branch, in which, for a limited period, some space will be let to the State Government. No other tenancies are at present contemplated.
The preliminary planning for the building is in the exploratory stage and no details as to final design, cost and rentals are available.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What advantage is gained from the national viewpoint by restricting the lending of trading banks if lending by private hire-purchase companies, in which the trading banks are financially interested to a substantial extent, is not subject to any outside control?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The needs to restrain trading bank lending in times of inflationary pressure arises essentially because of the effect that such lending has on the money supply.
t - On 5th October, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) asked the Acting Treasurer a question without notice concerning membership of the Commonwealth Trading Bank in the Sydney Greasy Wool Futures Exchange. The Acting Treasurer at the time undertook to inquire into the matter.
I have now been informed by the Commonwealth Banking Corporation as follows: -
The Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia is an Associate Member of the Sydney Greasy Wool Futures Exchange. There are approximately 90 such Associate Members who all observe the exchange’s rules for the conduct of its business. These rules are in line with ordinary commercial practice and do not involve any conditions inimical to the bank’s interests.
Membership of the exchange places the bank in the position of being able to provide assistance and advice to its clients in all branches of the wool industry, including pastoralists, merchants, exporters and brokers.
I understand that several private trading banks are also Associate Members of the exchange.
The question of the Commonwealth Trading Bank seeking membership of any of the stock exchanges of the various capital cities does not arise, as corporate bodies are not eligible for such membership.
On 18th October the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) asked me a question without notice regarding the scope of the hire-purchase activities of the Commonwealth Development Bank. I promised to examine the matter and to supply him with such further information as I could.
I now furnish the following reply: -
As at 30th June, 1960, the hire-purchase outstandings of the Commonwealth Development Bank, at £18,400,000, had increased by £900,000 over the hire-purchase outstandings of its predecessor, the Industrial Finance Department of the Commonwealth Bank, a year earlier. The Development Bank’s capacity to provide hire purchase finance is governed by the amount of funds that can be allocated for this purpose, having regard to the bank’s important function of providing finance by way of loans and advances. Loans and advances approved by the Development Bank between 14th January, I960, (when it commenced business) and 30th June, 1960, amounted to £3,900,000.
In conformity with section 73 of the Commonwealth Banks Act 1959, the bank’s hire-purchase activities are confined to the financing of producer goods. Published statistics relating to hirepurchase in Australia include both producer and consumer goods and it is, therefore, not possible to make an accurate assessment of the Bank’s proportion of overall business in the field in which it is operating.
The bank has never competed with hirepurchase companies in the consumer goods field and is, in fact, precluded from doing so by statute. Accordingly, any expansion of the Bank’s hire-purchase business would not have direct bearing on interest rates generally.
The Government considers that the resources of the Development Bank are best employed in the provision of assistance for primary production and secondary industry rather than for the acquisition of consumer goods, and, as already indicated, this view was given statutory expression in the legislation governing the Development Bank.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is - 1 and 2. The honorable member will find in my Budget Speech, delivered on 16th August, statements relevant to this question.
z asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The figures quoted include quantities stored for processing and, consequently, may not present a true indication of the level of consumption in each year. However, the figures point to a general uplift in consumption particularly during the last three years and I am hopeful that this trend will gain momentum as a result of the current sales promotion activities of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. ?. Yes. Australian cheese in rindless form attractively packaged and available in several sizes and varieties has proved popular on the local market. In the United Kingdom, Australian rindless cheese has been very favorably received and recently sold al a premium of 32s. 6d. sterling per cwt over the traditional rinded cheese.
t asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honor - able member’s questions are as follows:-
y asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Papua and New Guinea. - The Administration conducts sixteen central clinics, and 369 centres are served by mobile clinics. The Missions conduct a further 108 clinics the majority of which are mobile. In addition the 98 free hospitals in the Territory provide infant care as required. At these centres practical advice is given on feeding and weaning and general care of the infant and child, with special emphasis on hygiene and the use of correct foods. School medical examinations, immunization, ante-natal and post-natal care, pre-school services and the training of indigenous girls in infant welfare, midwifery and pre-school duties are also carried out.
Nauru. - There are eleven maternity and child health clinics. One is at the main hospital and the others are conducted at suitable locations in the various districts.
Papua and New Guinea. - No almoners as such are attached to hospitals in the Territory but adequate follow-up services are provided from the welfare centres and clinics mentioned in 1 above.
Nauru. - An almoner is not employed at the hospital but a mission sister (triple certificate) is engaged full time on infant welfare work and is assisted by a Nauruan medical practitioner at all ante and post-natal weekly clinics and daily clinics at the hospital. A fully qualified Nauruan mothercraft nurse is also employed at the hospital There is complete follow-up of all cases.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
New South Wales. - Building societies registered under the Co-operation Act 1923-1954 and approved by the responsible State Minister. Over the period of operation of the Housing Agreement 1956, 185 such societies have received allocations of funds. No other institutions have been approved.
Victoria. - Housing societies registered under the Co-operative Housing Societies Aci 1944-1954, and approved by the responsible State Minister. Over the period of the Housing Agreement 1956, 98 such societies have received allocations of funds. No other institutions have been approved.
Queensland. - Building societies registered under the Building Societies Act of 1886- 1952 or under the Co-operative Housing Societies Act of 1958 and which are approved by the responsible State Minister. For the year 1956-57 the Queensland Housing Commission was approved as an institution to receive Housing Agreement finance, as was the Brisbane Permanent Building and Banking Company Limited for the financial years 1956-57 and 1957-58.
South Australia. - (i) Building societies included in the definition of “ institutions “ under the Homes Act 1941; (ii) the State Bank of South Australia, the Savings Bank of South Australia and the South Australian Superannuation Board. In this State four permanent building societies have been allocated funds each year: the remaining institution which has received moneys is the State Bank of South Australia. The Savings Bank of South Australia and the South Australian Superannuation Board have not received funds.
Western Australia. - (i) Building societies registered under the Building Societies Act 1920, and approved by the responsible State Minister, (ii) The Rural and Industries Bank of Western Australia. Five permanent building societies have been allocated moneys and also 30 societies of the terminating type. The Rural and Industries Bank has received a small allocation each year.
Tasmania. - (i) Building societies registered under the Building Societies Act 1876-1895 and approved by the responsible State Minister, (ii) The Agricultural Bank of Tasmania. Thirteen societies of the terminating type have received allocations, and the Agricultural Bank of Tasmania has received an allocation each year.
Development and the various State Ministers concerned. According to these agreements -
South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia may not exceed the rate charged on loans under the Agreement by the Commonwealth to the State, plus three-quarters of 1 per cent.; in Queensland the interest rate charged is reviewed each year and agreed between the Minister and the appropriate State Minister (at present the rate is 44 per cent.); in Tasmania loans to the Agricultural Dank are subject to the same conditions regarding interest as those described above for the four States and the rate of interest or loans to building societies is agreed between the Minister and the appropriate State Minister (at present rate is 4) per cent.);
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
What was the amount of subsidy paid to Ansett-A.N.A. during 1959-60 in respect of the air freight of meat from King Island to Melbourne by early morning flights?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer: -
An amount of £1,029 was paid to Ansett-A.N.A. in respect of this particular service which operated approximately for the first three months of this year. The State Government sought Commonwealth financial assistance after advising that a serious crisis existed because transport services were not adequate to transport an abnormal quantity of lambs from King Island to the mainland market. In these circumstances, the Government agreed to subsidize the air freight of lamb carcasses during the crisis at a rate not exceeding threepence per pound on a series of special flights. The subsidy was necessary because these special flights generally involved the aircraft being operated to King Island without forward payload. The subsidy was paid on the strict understanding that it would apply only during the crisis and that steps would be taken to avoid similar crises in the future. The payment of further subsidy for air freight between King Island and the mainland is not contemplated.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice) -
When and how did the Repatriation Department advise totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners that their wives could be received into the Pensioner Medical Service between (a) the Social Services Act (No. 2) 1955 coming into operation on 19th October, 1955, and (b) December, 1953, means test being reimposed on 31st October, 1955?
– I have been advised by the Minister for Repatriation as follows: -
The announcement that the conditions of eligibility for entry into the Pensioner Medical Service would be varied on and! after 31st October 1955, was made on behalf of the Government on 7th October, 1955, by the Minister for Health, the Minister responsible for the administration of that service.
No action was taken by the Repatriation Department to specifically advise totally and permanently incapacitated members eligible for a service pension.
The Minister for Repatriation- advises me that he did, however, by telegram to the various exservice organizations sent on 20th October, 1955, advise them, that persons claiming eligibility for a service pension, should lodge their applications immediately.
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Records have not been maintained of the number of aboriginal natives who have been granted maternity allowances.
Territory the law of which does not make provision for such exemption, and the DirectorGeneral of Social Services was satisfied that, by reason of the character and of the standard of intelligence and social development of the native, it was desirable that a maternity allowance should be granted to her. The number of cases in which the claimants failed to satisfy qualification (a) are: 1957-58, 112; 1958-59, 77; July, 1959- Feb., I960, 70. No claims were rejected because the claimants failed to satisfy qualification (b). Since February of this year, arising out of legislation introduced by this Government, all aboriginal mothers, except those who are nomadic or primitive, are entitled to maternity allowance.
z asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
Have arrangements yet been made for the preparation of plans for the new Commonwealth administrative building in Toowoomba, Queensland?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
r asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. This building has never been occupied by the Department of the Interior and it is now to be taken over by the Department of the Army from the Department of Supply. The State Education Department has not made application to use this building, in fact another building in the Commonwealth establishment at Maribyrnong is temporarily occupied by pupils of the Braybrook High School. It is believed that these pupils are to be transferred to new high school premises next year.
d asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 November 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19601108_reps_23_hor29/>.