12th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General: - (1) Has his attention been drawn to reports in the Sydney newspapers stating that the executive of a semi-military organization is negotiating with Sydney clothing manufacturers for the purchase of uniforms for members of the New Guard? (2) Is it the intention of the Government, in the interests of law and order, to put a stop to anything that would lead to the formation of a semi-military organization? (8) “Will the AttorneyGeneral issue instructions to his departmental officers to set up the necessary federal machinery for the purpose of having a search made of the homes or business places, or properties ofmembers of the New Guard, with a view to ascertaining whether firearms or any other weapons that may be used in conflict between citizen and citizen are stored therein, and, if so, will the AttorneyGeneral instruct his departmental officers to enter those premises for the purpose of destroying or confiscating such war-like material as may be found therein ?
– My attentionhas not been drawn to the press reports referred to. I am not aware of any evidence that members of the New Guard are arming themselves, but I assure the Senate that the Government will take all necessary steps to maintain good order in this country.
– Has the Go vernment given consideration to the advisability of finding some position in Australia for Air Commodore Kingsford Smith, Australia’s and the world’s greatest aviator?
– The Government has not considered the matter.
-i have received from SenatorPearce a letter intimating that, for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The activities of the communist party in Australia,” he desires to move - That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 10 a.m. to-morrow.
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [11.7]. - I move -
Th at the Senateat its rising adjourn till 10 a.m. to-morrow.
I make no apology for taking up the time of the Senate to discuss the activities of the communist party in Australia, because, in my judgment, this is a matter of urgent public importance. I propose, at the outset, to indicate the activities and aims of the communists as disclosed in the propaganda to be found in the Australian communist newspapers, the Workers’ Weekly and the Red Leader. To do this it will be necessary for me to quote somewhat extensively from those newspapers.
I invite first the attention of honorable senators to the following greeting to be found in the first issue of the Red Leader, published in Sydney on the 21st August, 1931 : -
Welcome RedLeader, another link in world chain profinternpublicationsfighting capitalist offensive.
Secretary,Red International Labour Unions.
That definitely identifies the Red Leader with the chain of Soviet communist newspapers throughout the world. Another greeting is from the Pan-Pacific Trade
Union Secretariat, and is in the following terms : -
Behalf American, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Philippine and other sections P.P.T.U. Secretariat greet first appearance Red Leader. Must mean much for successful issue of struggles colonial workers against imperialist exploitation.
There also appears the following, sotting out the policy of the Bed Leader: -
The first issue of theRed Leader is an event of momentous importance in the history of the struggles of the militant workers of Australia.
For the first time in this history, these workers now have their own organ - their own publication.
Sold time and time again by their “labour” leaders and their trade union bureaucrats who, in this period of capitalist collapse, are the most powerful agents of the master class, the militant workers of Australia are rallying in their thousands to the revolutionary line of the Minority Movement and the revolutionary leadership of the Red International of Labour Unions to carry on the workers’ counteroffensive against capitalism.
The lied Leader will unswervingly lend the revolutionary assault in the direction and maimer laid down by the Minority Movement and the RedInternational. Our friends we will support to the limit of our powers and resources. Our enemies we will treat as enemies.
Under the heading, “Why The Bed Leader - Our FightingRole and Function,” W. Orr, National Secretary of the Minority Movement writes -
In face of this offensive against the working class, the Labour party, the leadership of the “reformist” trade unions andthe Labour press have been guilty of the blackest treachery.
During the past two years dispute after dispute has been lost by the workers, because of their dependence on this spineless trinity. Since the waterside officials split the strikers’ ranks in 1028, and with the aid of Scullin, then Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Opposition, assisted to flood the waterfront with “ scabs “, the betrayals have continued.
Scullin assisted to break the strike by advisingwatersiders to take out the licences, and sincehe has been Prime Minister,hehas skilfully kept the workers on the waterfront fighting against each other, instead of uniting and fighting the boss.
In all of the economic struggles the Minority Movement and the Unemployed Workers Movement have been consistent and clear in their advocacy of a fighting programme. The rapid growth of the revolutionary economic organization of the workers now makes it possible for us to issue our own newspaper to serve as agitator and organizer of the broad masses to struggle against capitalism independently of the social fascist apparatus that only smashed the workers’ ranks.
The attitude of this movement towards the British Empire is shown by some rhymes published on page 7. I shall not quote all the verses of this scurrilous outburst -
A grim, red road encircling the earth;
A foul blot stretching far across the sea;
A hangman strangling freedomat its birth;
A black flagflying on a gallows tree.
Your vaunted freedom is a firing squad
For those who dare to be free men, not slaves;
And on the altar of your war-mad god
Stretches a vast expanse of nameless graves.
You laid an unknown warrior to sleep
Within the Abbey by the kingly dead,
While in the streets the soldiers reap
A nation’s thanks . . . the right to beg for bread.
A puppet king in silk and ermine, rides
While poverty is hunted to its slums.
The tramp of marching men a murmur hides,
And bitter curse is drowned by beat of drums.
The Empire totters to its destined doom Upon the tide of revolution’s flood;
An epitaph upon a leprous tomb:
A page of history written deep in blood.
Time will not permitme to read all that I would like to put before the Senate to show how this movement is undermining our present system of government. It is clear, however, that it is directing its energies mainly to the key industries and the transport group, particularly the railwaymen and the waterside workers; that it has already met with a considerable measure of success is shown by this letter published in the issue of the 28th August -
” Explain and Rally,” Says Chapman, State Secretary.
Warmest wishes for the success of your enterprise in publishing The Red Leader.
The crisis through which we are now passing make it a matter of the utmost urgency to explain all issues to the workers. The need for rallying all sincere elements of struggle is likewise all important, particularly in view of the confusion and apathy existing to-day.
Although our own organization has decided to affiliate with the R.I.L.U., much remains to be done in order that that affiliation shall be successfully consummated. Nevertheless, we will render what assistance is in our power.
TheRed Leader of the 4th September has an article headed, “ Class Struggle on Waterfront - Seamen Lead with Bank and Tile Committee of Action.” It deals with the recent activities of members of the minority group on the waterfront. The creation of a strike by rank and file action, and the overriding of the union officials is approved by this journal. The article continues -
The capitalists and ship-owners have succeeded in demoralizing the workers on the waterfront so effectively that they now boast of having reduced wages and conditions of workers who once held the proud reputation of working under the best wages and conditions enjoyed by any section of the working class in the capitalist world.
This victory of the ship-owners was only made possible by the spineless and traitorous attitude of the trade union officials and the open sell-out by the social-fascist so-called Labour Government.
The article goes on to attack those who tried to maintain peace on the waterfront, and sets out the plan by which the trouble was engineered. It is signed by “ Joe Schelley, Marine Transport Group.” Honorable senators will recollect that the discharge of this person from the steamer Canberra was the ostensible reason for the recent seamen’s strike.
As indicating the success of the communist activities, I quote the following paragraph from the issue of the 11th September : -
Eon Struggle Against Wage Cut. m.M. Tactics Adopted.
To-day’s mass meeting of railway men in Brisbane, called to deal with the attacks on wages and conditions, decided to prepare for a mass struggle on the Queensland railways.
A proposal, put forward by T. J. Moroney, to send invitations to the executives of the other craft unions on the railways to attend a further mass meeting was defeated in favour of rank and file action on the basis of the united front from below.
The motion for a rank and file committee to begin strike preparations was ruled “ out of order “ by the chairman, but the ruling was upset by the meeting.
An intensive campaign will now be waged for the setting up of fighting committees to organize all the railway employees against wage cuts, for a shorter working week, and a guaranteed weekly wage.
The meeting also condemned the action of the Lang New South Wales Labour Government for shooting and gaoling eviction fighters.
The issue of the 18th September contains a slanderous attack on the Commonwealth.. There is an article headed -
Slavery in Mandated New Guinea.
Let’s Clean Up our own Backyard First.
The writer asserts that slavery is being practised in New Guinea with the connivance of the Commonwealth Government; this slander against Australia’s control of the Mandated Territory is, doubtless, intended to create trouble for Australia with the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations. As evidence of the manner in which the communists are insidiously eating into the trade union movement, I quote this paragraph -
The Red Leader has secured admittance to the sessions of the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council, and, therefore, in the future will be able to provide the workers of Australia with a real account of important happenings in this moribund body.
Under the headings, “ The Tragedy of Watersiders - Urgent Necessity of New Leadership - What the Movement Stands For,” we read in the same issue -
In the event of a strike occurring, the rank and file must at once organize a strike committee to conduct the strike and carry on the fight on a working class basis. The trade union bureaucrats, with all their pomp and bluster and self-appointed importance, must be told to stand back and look on. Too long have these spell-binders and dope merchants been allowed to betray the working class and sell it out for a consideration. The time has now arrived for the rank and file to take control of all strikes and deal direct with the boss. The workers on the job are the ones vitally concerned. They know what they want, and can put their case in a more direct manner than the quill-driving officials. This method also instructs the workers how to organize and fight.
Then follows a series of instructions which have been communicated from. Moscow detailing how this militant movement is to be organized, how control is to be taken out of the hands of union leadersif they do not meet with the approval of the Soviet, and how minority control of the workers is to be obtained. To showthe attitude of the communists to religion,. I draw attention to the following para- graph in the issue of the 18th September : -
Every Sunday night Prince Alfred Hospital,
Sydney, is invaded toy Psalm singers who endeavour to deal out spiritual healing. But all they succeed in doing is to annoy patients who arc seriously ill. Visitors to the hospital on week nights pay6d. admission. Since the Bible thumpers have the right of free entry and visitors are refused admission on Sunday evenings, it is evident the hospital is losing many valuable pounds, and this at a time when several wards have been closed through lack of funds and when the overworked nurses enjoy the longest hours and the lowest wages of any workers. It is high time these Heaven merchants were given the air. We can look forward to a lessened death roll when that happens.
On the same page we read -
The article sets out how the minority movement for control of the tramway workers is to be conducted. This journal consistently expresses bitter hatred of the New Guard, because, as it points out, that body is organized to check the activities of communism. The issue of the 2nd October contains this outburst -
British Authorities at Shanghai Hand Over Working-Class Leaders to Kuomintang Executioners.
Another Foul Page in the Moody Hook of British Imperialism.
In the same issue I find -
How to Make it Effective.
The publication of the Strassburg resolutions will bc a valuable addition to the armoury of the Australian workers in fighting capitalism and the agents of capitalism, the trade union and “ Labour “ party leaders, who have aided in smashing the living standards of the Australian workers. The material should be very carefully studied and applied by all militant workers.
Paragraph 10 of these resolutions reads -
If the situation is favorable for a strike and the mass of the workers is imbued with fighting spirit, the formation of strike committees elected by all the workers should be advocated (even if the strike is under the leadership of a revolutionary trade union). The workers of all tendencies, the organized and unorganized alike, should participate in the election of these committees.
Another interesting paragraph suggests that strike committees of carefully chosen comrades should be appointed in advance. Another paragraph states that the North Queensland railwaymen have held mass meetings, and endorsed control by the rank and file.
A leading article in The Young Worker, of the 1st October, is headed, “ Our Anti-Militarist Work “, and sets out what should he done to combat militarism. Apparently, the only nation that should maintain a military force is Soviet Russia. The article continues -
Work of an educational and disintegrative character must be conducted within the armed forces of the State, within the thinly disguised reactionary-mil itarist-fascist organizations of the calibre of the Boy Scout movement, Young Mens, and Young Women’s Christian Association, Young Australia League, &c. Also and above all, we must penetrate into the factories with our antimilitarism. Here are the working youths and here we must wage the most energetic and unrelenting campaign, rallying the young workers around the slogan Of the conversion of the imperialist war into a civil war, the workers’ revolution.
Had I sufficient time, I could quote other illuminating matter from a similar publication, The Workers’ Weekly. That journal affords abundant proof that the communist movement is being organized in Australia under directinstructionsfrom Moscow. There is an organization known as the Plenum, and this journal publishes orders issued by that body, and shows how effect was given to them in connexion with the recent shipping strike.
I could quote extensively to show that every section of the workers is being white-anted by the communist organization. Trade union control is being set aside in favour of control by the minority movement within the unions. There is a carefully-organized conspiracy to overthrow the existing state of society and the British Empire, and the trade unions are being used for that purpose. There is clear proof that this movement is being directed from Moscow; orders of Russian origin are disseminated, and the “ cells “ within the trade unions of Australia are acting in accordance with these plans. Are we then to shut our eyes, and comfortably assure ourselves that everything is right? Obviously, if we do, Australia will be the helpless victim of a diabolical, anti-religious conspiracy that is opposed to the best instincts of the British race. The propaganda conducted by these two newspapers is producing results which are joyously hailed by them as indicative of the growth of the communist movement. I could read items from the so-called “capitalist” press to show that, throughout Australia, this carefully directed and deadly movement is striking at the heart of our social and political organization.
I have called attention to this matter, not for the purpose of scaremonger ing, but because I believe that it constitutes a real danger to our community. I appeal to the Government to take action to rid Australia of this cancer. The communist activities are not ordinary political propaganda. Other reform movements appeal to reason, try to create public opinion in favour of their ideals, and trust gradually, by- constitutional means, to change the existing order of society. With such activities we can have no quarrel; but communism is pledged to the overthrow of society, not by constitutional means, but by force and revolution, and it is sapping the very foundations of our nation. Are we to cry “peace” when we know that there is no peace? Recently I supplied the Leader of the Government in this chamber with a series of pamphlets which are being circulated amongst the workers in the shipping industry, and contain propaganda similar to that in the Bed Leader aud the Workers’ Weekly. The activities of these two journals are supplemented by pamphlets and leaflets, and, in addition, there is organized seditious teaching of our youth. This deadly and damnable doctrine of communism is being inculcated systematically into the minds of our young people, and these journals boast of the success qf this teaching, as indicated by a recent procession of young communists in Sydney. Are we to remain quiet and idle while the minds of innocent children arc being poisoned? While the Commonwealth says that control of these activities is the responsibility of the State, and the State says that the responsibility attaches to the Commonwealth, nothing is done.
– One would almost imagine that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Sir George Pearce) is a grand chief of the communist party; he has such au intimate knowledge of its activities. However, I do not level such an accusation against the right honorable senator, as I believe that he was actuated by his convictions when submitting this motion. I assure the Senate that the Government will not hesitate to take whatever action may be necessary to ensure that law and order is maintained. It will not brook seditious interference from the New Guard, the communists, or anybody else.
– Why bring in the New Guard 1
– It has already been introduced into the debate. I do not know any more about the New Guard than I know about the communist party, and I certainly do not know the motive for all this propaganda. One would imagine, from the remarks of Senator Pearce, that the Government is responsible for the existence of the Red Leader. Actually, I have not seen a copy of it, but I think that Senator Pearce has given it an excellent advertisement.
– I neither said nor suggested that the Government was responsible for the publication of the Red Leader.
– Does the right honorable senator fear that the Government will not take whatever action may be necessary to suppress sedition?
– The Government is a long time making a move in the matter.
– What is it to move about? The Government does not want to go about the country chasing ghosts.
– Why does not the Government prosecute these people for sedition ?
– I do not know that there is any necessity to do so. If these people are guilty of seditious practices the machinery exists for the authorities to deal with them. I do not see any need for all this alarm. The Government will safeguard the interests of the community.
– It is very slow in doing so.
– The honorable senator and some of his colleagues are so impetuous that they would rush in whore angels fear to tread. The Government takes a serious view of its responsibilities, and it is doing everything necessary for the good government of the country. That iB its task.
– The honorable senator should not make a joke of the matter.
– I am not doing so. In every country there are coteries who have what appear to many to be peculiar convictions; some are religious, some anti-religious; some think this way, others another way. That is unavoidable in any considerable community. So soon as such people become a menace to the public welfare, it becomes the responsibility of the Government to eradicatethe evil.
– Is not prevention better than cure?
– I ask honorable senators, to allow the Leader of the Government in. the Senate (Senator Barnes) to speak without interruption.
– This Government will not shirk its responsibility. As yet,. I see no reason for alarm. I have noidea whence the publishers of the RedLeader obtain their funds. As a matter of fact, the communist party is engaged principally in fighting the Labour party, lt may be of interest to honorable senators, and to the community generally, toknow that the rules of my party provide for the exclusion from it of communists. That became necessary a few years ago, and representatives of the communist party have since fought Labour nominees bitterly at every election. I do not know who provides their funds. It may be Moscow; it may be the Millions Club. Nor do the Government or I know anything of the activities of the Soviet in Australia. The people of the Commonwealth need have no fear that this Government will fail in its obligations. It will not allow the welfare of the community to be jeopardized.
.- From at least one point of view the speech of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes) is interesting. The honorable senator stated that neither he nor his Government knew anything about the activities of the communist party in Australia, and he promptly followed up that remark by saying that a few years ago the Labour party found it necessary to exclude communists from its ranks. Evidently, it was aware then of the machinations of the communists.
I recognize that the Government is faced with a certain amount of difficulty in’ dealing with this problem, as certain of its members, and also prominent members of the Labour party, were responsible for the introduction into Australia of communism. I have here the report of the Fourth Congress of the Communist
International, which was held at Petrograd and Moscow in November and December of 1922. Mr. Jock Garden who, during the last Federal election, was a prominent member of the executive of the Australian Labour Party-
– He has not been a member of the Labour party for years’.
– I understand that he was on the New South Wales executive of the party during the last federal elections. Mr. Garden attended the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, and, in the official report, he is recorded to have said -
The communist party in Australia has a membership of nearly 1,000 and yet it is able to direct just close on 400,000 workers - that is, including 237,000 in the State of New South Wales, all organized workers - and 110,000 organized workers in Brisbane, Queensland. The communist party is based in Australia on the nuclei system. Every union has its nuclei from twenty down to two. Every nucleus leader must meet- once a week with other nucleus leaders from the unions and discuss the problems of their organizations, and the problems of the working class of Australia.
Mr. Garden continued :
The Labour Council of New South Wales constitutes” 120 unions, yet the communist party has full control of the executive. Out of the twelve members of the executive, eleven are members of the communist party and they direct these 120 unions and the policy of each union.
We cannot idly brush aside the statements, of such a man as Mr. Garden. For many years he has been secretary of the Trades and Labour Council in New South Wales, and we must give him credit for knowing something about the matter. He stated very definitely the work communists were doing among the unions of Australia.
Let me turn now to the report of the 1921 Congress of the Australian Labour Party. Then there was no Scullin or Lang faction. It was at that conference that what is known as the red objective was adopted by the Australian Labour Party. The old first paragraph of the party’s platform was struck out, and in its stead was substituted the objective, “ the socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange”. Of course that is pure socialization. One of the means by which the objective is to be achieved is the establishment of an elective supreme council of all nationalized industries. What difference is there between preaching sovietism and the proposal of the Labour party to nationalize industry and to set up a supreme elective economic council from among the representatives of our industries? The present Commonwealth Treasurer (Mr. Theodore), who is the Deputy Leader of the Federal Labour Party, was so alarmed at the action that was then taken that he gave voice to these words -
You have changed the objective. You might as well change the name of the party, and call it the communist party.
What is still more interesting is that the present Prime Minister of Australia was among those who voted for the new objective and the setting up of a supreme elective economic council. Others who voted for it were: - Victoria: Messrs. Kean, McNamara, Hannan and Stewart; South Australia : Messrs. Whitford, Price, Kneebone, Yates, McHugh and Murphy; Queensland: Messrs. Weir, Riordan and Demaine; Western Australia: Messrs. Cunningham, Panton, Callanan, Eoss, Withers and Halverson ; Tasmania : Messrs. McDonald and Cosgrove. Those who voted against it were : - Victoria : Mr. Blackburn; New South Wales: Mrs. Dwyer, Messrs. Carey, O’Dea, Catts, Lambert and Power ; Queensland : Messrs. Theodore, McCormack and McDonald. So keen was the party on seeing that the new objective should become operative as soon as possible that a council of action was appointed, consisting of the following gentlemen : - A. Blakeley, M.P., President Australian” Workers Union ; J. H. Curtin, Western Australia, Editor of Western Australian Worker; H. E. Holland, New Zealand, New Zealand Labour Party; J. M. Baddeley, New South Wales, President One Big Union and President of the Australasian Coal and Shale Employees Federation ; E. J. Holloway, Victoria, Secretary Trades Hall Council; A. C. Willis, New South Wales, Secretary One Big Union and Secretary of the Australasian Coal and Shale Employees Federation; P. J. Moroney, Queensland, Secretary Queensland Branch Australian Railways Union; J. Scullin, Victoria, ex-member of Commonwealth House of Representatives ; J. Barnes, Victoria, ex-member of Federal Senate; J. S. Garden, New South Wales, Secretary Sydney Labour Council ; E. S. Eoss, Victoria, Victorian Socialist Party; F. W.
Birrell, M.L.A., South Australia, President Adelaide Trade and Labour Council; J. Higgins, Tasmania, Launceston tramway service. That which was brought into being as a result of the changing of the objective of the Labour party in 1921 has probably now reached dimensions that were never contemplated by many of those who took part in that conference.
– They gave birth to a Frankenstein monster.
– I agree with the right honorable senator. It is idle for the Government airily to brush aside such an important question, and to ask, “ What can we do?” The Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) has besought us to tell the Government what it could do. Is it the duty of the rank and file of the Opposition in this chamber to suggest means of dealing with treasonable utterances, such as those quoted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce), and others that I intend to quote? Senator Pearce referred to the communist movement in Australia as an atheistic movement. The truth of that is well known. The following, which appeared in the Moscow News of the 12th April last, is a sample of what is being distributed throughout Australia : -
Onward Godless soldiers,
Marching as to war,
Far-flung scarlet banners
Going on before . . .
Over the snowy streets of Moscow, the shock troops of the Godless marched to-day, defying Easter. The banners that they bore aloft were militant: “Don’t make a holiday out of Easter Sunday “. “ All forces of the atheists forward . . . for the bolshevik spring sowing!” “We are the force against religious holidays!” “Sowing awaits!”
The marchers were sturdy, well behaved citizens. Past Moscow’s “ forty times forty churches,” where the colorful, half-pagan services of the Greek Catholic church were in full sway, they marched. Church-goers pressed in and out of the chapels, often getting in the way of the atheist marchers, but there were no disturbances.
Sometimes the godless broke into a rousing song - “ We are the free ones,
We are not slaves of the long-bearded priests.”
At the railway station, there were big tubs of cottage cheese, shipped from country to town to be baked into the rich, creamy Easter cake (sirnaya pascha).
Rival services were staged last night by atheists and godly.
The iconoclasts pressed the radio into service, broadcasting anti-religious talks in every language from Radio theater. A mass meeting was held at the Izvestia, in which the church was pictured as an instrument of counterrevolution. 3,000,000 Atheists.
The atheist movement in the Soviet Union, which claims 3,000,000 members, is a voluntary organization with which the Government has no official connexion. A monthly magazine, called Godless, is published, as well as a newspaper every fifth day. A Union-wide campaign preceded the Easter holidays, stressing work among shock brigades and farmers in the collectives. Special meetings were held on farms in factory clubs. Speakers were sent abroad in the land with lantern slides and moving pictures. Anti-religious work among the 1,000,000 women, who have entered industry during 1930, was emphasized.
The Central Anti-Religious Museum, housed in the old Strastnoi Monastery, has been open day and night for two months.
Peasants, soldiers, school children have been taken through in the campaign to put down religion.
The following is a choice example of the ideas that are being disseminated. It appears in what is called The Prime Mover, issued by the White Bay and Ultimo groups of the communist party of Australia; issued, I presume, from the White Bay power house, which would be a key position in the event of any trouble in New South Wales : -
We must start now and commence building our stockade, detect the police spies before the day of battle and deal with them.
The Workers’ Defence Corps supplies all the necessary machinery for building up a welltrained organized body, capable of defending the workers’ interests in their physical conflicts with the forces of capitalism.
TheRed Leader publishes the following news from Rockhampton, which shows that the movement is not confined to one State : -
Rockhampton Minority Movement welcomes the Red Leader, which must become a splendid organizing power for the revolutionary movement. As soon as the first bundle arrived, Rockhampton group decided to suspend Sparks for the time being, and concentrate on building a circulation for the Red Leader.
The following is sung to the tune of “ The Doxology “ : -
Praise boss when morning work-bells chime,
Praise him for scraps of over-time,
Praise boss whose wars we go to fight,
Praise him the Leech and Parasite.
The music of “ We Parted on the Shore “ is used for the following: -
For we metthem at the door,
And we knocked them to the floor,
Bankstown and Newtown, we made the Cops feel sore,
They out numbered ton to one,
And were armed with stick and gun.
We fought well, gave them hell!
When we mot them at the door.
Another publication urges all workers to participate in the demonstration that took place recently in connexion with the fourteenth anniversary of the Russian revolution celebrations, in which, unfortunately, children took part. That demonstration has been referred to by Senator Pearce. I quote the following paragraph : -
We therefore frankly admit that they-
The reference is to “ Our comrades of the Soviet Union “ - are the vanguard liberators of our class, and as such, we, along with the working class of all countries, must do them honour on 7th November, for what they have somagnificently achieved.
I have also a copy of the official organ of the Australian section of the Friends of the Soviet Union, of which Senator Rae is a prominent member. This issue contains a long article by him.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– The fact that a general election is imminent was mentioned in this chamber a few days ago by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce). That has been fairly obvious to honorable senators during the last week or two. Election breezes have blown across this chamber at different times, and they are becoming stronger as the days pass. The move this morning is so much propaganda, for use against the present Government when the election takes place early next year. Honorable senators who now profess to be so concerned about the prevalence of communism in Australia, had ample opportunity, in the past, to deal with that menace, and they would have dealt with it had they been as sincere as their protestations might cause one to believe them to be. To-day, we are told that the present Government is dilatory, and that it ought to take preven tive measures. Senator Foll has accused the Labour party of having been responsible for the birth of communism in Australia. He quoted from the report of a Labour conference that was held in Brisbane in 1921, and would have the Senate believe that prior to that date there was no communist movement, and no communists in this country. I wish tomake my position, and that of my party, perfectly plain. I believe that the party is 100 per cent. in step with me when I declare thatI have no sympathy with avowed communists in this country, or with the doctrines that they preach, or the policy that they wish the Australian workers to adopt. I am confident that the workers have such good sense that that policy will never make any appeal to them. The best bulwark against communism, or against any violent revolutionary movement in this country, is the organization of labour represented by the Government, which has been made the main object of the attack that has been launched this morning. The Labour movement has succeeded in organizing those who believe in effecting reforms so that the producers of real wealth shall be able, as the result of their creative genius, and the increased production thereby made possible, to enjoy with each succeeding generation better conditions, a little more leisure, and greater happiness. That is the ideal which impels this Government and the movement behind it. It is an ideal that makes such a strong appeal to the workers and producers that in this country communism will never become a power to be feared.
Let us test the sincerity of those who criticize the Labour party and the present Government. Long before the Labour conference of 1921 was held, elections were fought on this issue. J remember those of 1910,1913, and 1914, when the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) was a member of the Labour party, and many other illustrious members of this chamber were also then associated with the Labour movement. This bogywas then raised in an endeavour to scare the people into voting against Labour candidates. In 1925, the position had somewhat changed. The Leader of the Opposition and. others were then associated with the party which was opposed to Labour. The paramount issue at the election fought in that year, according to the declaration of the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, was “ The maintenance of law and order “. The people were urged to give to his party and Government a mandate to deal Vith this particular menace. Under the heading “ Harbingers of hate “, the following was published in the Melbourne Age of the 10th September, 1925 : -
Unhappily, there are in our midst those who would take from us all our most cherished possessions. They would undermine our democratic system of government; they would destroyall the great constitutionalprinciples which we hold most dear; they would have us accept the pernicious doctrines of communism; and they would foist upon us in place of our free institutions the same oligarchic form of government which has brought ruin and disaster upon Russia and her unfortunate people. These things we will not have in Australia; they are repugnant to our national ideals and our national sentiments. (Applause.) To my fellow citizens I appeal to support me and assist me in destroying this viper which has raised its head in our midst.
During the same campaign, Mr. Bruce is reported as having said -
These mcn have been too successful in the past. Through them the fair name of Australia has been defamed throughout the world. lt is for me to see that the activities of these few menare definitely stopped.
In 1925, an appeal was made to the people of Australia, and the people responded nobly and well. They returned to power Mr. Bruce and his party with a majority in both Houses of this Parliament. What did that Government do? In 1926 it passed the Crimes Act, which, it professed, gave it complete power to deal with communism and all revolutionary movements, but it failed to take any action under that act against the communist movement.
– There were a number of prosecutions under that act.
– Why, then, was not the movement stamped out? Why was it still in existence in 1928?
– The movement was very quiet during those years.
– After the election, the right honorable senator, as reported in Hansard, page 1211, of the 3rd March, 1926, said-
Should we sit supinely by . . . and allow the organization which openly declares that it is white-anting the movement which stands at the back of honorable senators opposite to continue its poisonous propaganda.
The then Leader of the Labour party in the Senate, Senator Needham, challenged the Government to deal with the communist organization, and Senator Pearce replied that the Government proposed to deal with it.
– So we did.
– In 1925, the Bruee-Page Government received a mandate from the people to deal with communism. In 1926, that Government proposed to deal with that movement. In 1927, the then Premier of Queensland, Mr. McCormack, after having dealt with a communist rising in that State, again drew the attention of the Commonwealth Government to the alleged menace of communism. He was reported in the. Sydney Morning Herald of the 13th September,1927, as follows: -
The communists must go. We have dealt with thom here.Now it is up to Bruce to do something about it for Australia. He talks a lot about them, but he never does anything.
That statement was referred to the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, and he replied: ‘“I am not in a position at the moment to make public our policy.” That answer was given two years after Mr. Bruce had been given a mandate to deal with communism, yet the party which supported him now accuses this Government of being dilatory.
I come now to another aspect of the matter. A few weeks ago it appeared as if Australia was to be involved in a serious shipping hold-up, which was being sponsored by some of the gentlemen to whom the Leader of the Opposition has referred. Because of the action of this Government and the strong stand taken by the Prime Minister, that dispute was settled more quickly and with less inconvenience to the public than was the case with any other maritime dispute in Australia. No doubt, some honorable senators were disappointed, because they saw in the spread of that dispute the possibility of securing some political ammunition for use against the present Government at the next election. Fortunately, the dispute was promptly settled, and one of the strongest influences in bringing it to an end was the action of the loyal, conscientious, and hard-working men who belong to the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia. They stood behind this Government in its efforts to prevent the control of the Seamens Union from being taken from its responsible officers. They stood behind law and order, and they were, more than, any other section of the community, responsible for the sudden collapse of the trouble. Their declaration that they stood for law and order was evidence of the sound common sense permeating their organization and their leaders. Because of their loyal action, one would have expected honorable senators opposite to forget the offences that these men were alleged to have committed many years ago; but we find that since the dispute, attacks have been launched in this chamber against members of the waterside workers’ organization, and attempts have been made to deprive them of the well-merited preference which this Government has given them with a view to assuring to them their occupation on the waterfront. Without that preference there would be no encouragement for loyal workmen to stand by the Labour party, whose policy is just service in return for fair conditions.
– The honorable senator is getting further and further from the question before the Chair, which is “ the activities of the communist party in Australia “. I have given the honorable senator a great deal of latitude, and I ask him to confine his remarks to the subject before us.
– The aim of this Government is to secure for the workers fair conditions in return for fair wages, and that is our greatest bulwark against communism. Honorable senators opposite should assist this Government and the workers supporting it in giving effect to that laudable object. If that were done, the workers themselves would deal with avowed communists. I do not believe that there are many real communists in Australia. I have no sympathy with communism, because such a movement is absolutely unnecessary in this country.
– Is it necessary in any country?
– I believe* that, in the dark ages, when the workers of Central European countries had no constitutional means of redressing their grievances, there would have been some justification for the organizing of a communist party.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– .One would have thought that the facts placed before the Senate by the Leader of the Opposition. (Senator Pearce) were so many and so serious as to warrant a definite reply from the Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) ; but I do not think that we have ever before in this chamber heard a reply so pitifully weak as that given by him to the allegations of the Leader of the Opposition.
– We hear it every day.
– But never anything quite so weak as the reply that we had to-day. The Leader of the Government sought neither to justify the communists, nor to condemn them.
– He boasted of hia ignorance.
– That is so. He said that he had never heard of them. He knew nothing of the facts as stated by Senator Pearce. Is the Leader of the Government deaf, blind, and dumb, that he knows nothing of these things? Why has he suddenly become so ignorant of events that are perfectly obvious to everybody else? Let him go into the western area of New South Wales, in which the members of his organization - the Australian Workers Union - work each year. What has recently happened there? In the towns of the western district the people have not waited for this dilatory Government to act. They have, very properly, taken action against the communists, until they almost fear for their existence.
– It took 200 of them to look for one man, and although the chase was over flat country, he could not be found.
– That interjection shows that the sympathy of the Minister is with the communists, whom he seems to regard as martyrs. He lacks the courage to endorse openly their anions. We know where his sympathy is.
– He sympathizes with one man who was hounded by a mob of 200 persons.
– It may be that many people were looking for this man, but they were scattered all over the country. I venture to say that two or three schoolboys could have captured him without a fight. We know that the man who talks the loudest and longest and who advocates fighting for this and that principle, is the first to disappear when actual fighting takes place. I have had experience of that in respect of industrial troubles in Sydney. It is not by physical force that these communists are imposing their will upon the community. It is not by physical force that they have made this Government afraid of their activities. This Government must be afraid of them, because it refuses to take definite action against them. Senator O’Halloran attempted to defend the Government, but his defence was a. mere cloud of words, which had no relation to the point at issue, and you, Mr. President, had to call him to order.
– Why did not the last Government take action against the communists?
– It did take action. The activities of the communists during the regime of the last Government were indeed limited, and they were so scared that we heard little of them for a long while prior to the defeat of the last Government. The communists were not then active. Who would think that, in a country like Australia, which boasts of the freedom of its democracy, there would be permitted in the chief city of the Mother State a procession, consisting mostly of children, displaying banners with texts on them that heaped insult upon most of the things that we hold dear, and that maligned the traditions of our race, and the moral influences that have made this nation what it is? This organization, or movement, holds up to contempt everything that we value in this country.
– Drop the sob stuff !
– I wonder at Senator Rae making that remark, seeing that he openly encourages these people, and is, in fact, one of them.
– Anything else?
– The honorable senator does not deny my statement. I suggest to him that he cannot expect to be allowed to continue to represent the people in the Commonwealth Parliament and at the same time lend his assistance to an organization which is endeavouring to smash the Commonwealth, and to drag down everything we have that is worth maintaining. The Leader of the Opposition has performed a public service in calling attention .to this menace, notwithstanding that Senator O’Halloran has suggested that it is merely a bogy. I remind the honorable senator that the Leader of the Government has said that the Labour movement does not regard communism as a bogy, and that the industrial organization with which he is connected has- been forced to take steps to turn the communists out of its ranks. Which of these two honorable gentlemen is to believed? They cannot both be right.
– A dead cat is not a very serious thing after it is buried.
– Before they finish their operations, the communists will see that the organization with which the honorable senator is connected is the dead cat. This discussion has not been introduced in any party spirit. We have not charged the Government with being responsible for what the communists are doing; but we are endeavouring to force it to take action against these people. Seeing that the Leader of the Government has admitted that the activities of the communists are a menace to the organization with which he is connected, and that it has had to take steps to resist their machinations, why, then, does he not cause the Government to take steps to counteract their activities by refusing to allow the publication of the newspaper from which quotations have been made to-day, and by other means? I venture to say that, if an. attempt were made by the communists to smash, any association with which Government supporters are connected, prompt steps would be taken to meet the position. The Government has legislative power to do all that is necessary to put an end to the propaganda of the communists, and it should
UM it, instead of which it is refusing to do anything. If the situation develops so much as to cause trouble in this country - trouble which, to all intents and purposes, would be civil war - this Government will be responsible for it, because of its refusal to take action. A serious position has already arisen in certain parts of New South Wales, but the people generally are determined that communism shall be destroyed, and they will act, even though the Government may stand idly by. I warn the Government that it is treading on very dangerous ground. This subject has been brought into prominence in order to force the Government to Drotect the interests of the people of Australia, and rid them for ever of a menace which is continually thrusting itself upon them. If the Government will ascede to the requests that are being made for the taking of action against the communists, I promise that I will give it every assistance in my power. I appeal to it to attempt to do something to meet the situation.
– If I had not noticed that the date on which we arc discussing this subject is the 19th November, I should have assumed that it was the 1st April. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) and Senator Duncan became almost hysterical while they were speaking. Let me remind them of a little past history. The industrial Labour movement was born immediately after the conclusion of the great maritime strike of the ‘nineties, and subsequently the political Labour party came into’ being. The Leader of the Opposition gained his first political experience in the years following the maritime strike. We have never since that time had an industrial dispute of the same magnitude. Some honorable senators will recollect that, during that strike, the police and other volunteers rode down the shearers and other workers, and had orders to shoot them down if necessary.
– It is absolutely untrue to say ‘that they were shot down.
– The honorable senator was himself a member of the volunteer force of this country-
– I was never a volunteer.
– Then my honorable friend was a soldier, and rode at the head of the- volunteers in Queensland when the word was given to “ Shoot them down “.
– But when were they shot down?
– I appeal to you, Mr. President, to protect me from these interjectors.
– I must ask the honorable senator to deal with the subject before the Chair, and not with the past history of honorable senators, which isirrelevant.
– I thank you, Mr. President, for guiding me in the proper path of the debate. Senator Duncan did his best to show that the Australian Labour Party and the communist party were associated. The honorable senator was, at one period of his career, president of the Labour Council of New South Wales.
– The honorable senator is again indulging in irrelevancies. The subject before the Chair is the activities of the communist party in Australia, and I ask him to confine his remarks to it.
– I shall trim my sails for another course. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) and Senator Duncan are trying to associate the Australian. Labour Party and the communist party to the disadvantage of Labour candidates at the forthcoming election. We know that Ilansard is a very convenient cold store for material that may be used later on the hustings. The Australian Labour Party has nothing whatever to do with the communist party. Not very long ago, I read in the press that Their Majesties the King and Queen received the ambassadors of the Russian Soviet Republic at a garden party in London. Russia has consular offices in London on which the red flag of the Soviets is hoisted every day. Even now, therefore, the ambassadors of the Russian Republic are carrying on their work in the very heart of the Empire.
– But they are not allowed to conduct propaganda there.
– I do not’ suppose that at a garden party they would mo mt the soap box and deliver addresses on communism; but, in Loudon itself, communism is openly preached as a political doctrine.
But let us return to Australia. In answer to the statements of the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Duncan in regard to the alleged association of the Australian Labour Party with the communist party, I quote the following pledge, which all Labour candidates are obliged to sign: -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the selected candidate of this or any other branch of tins Australian Labour Party. I also pledge myself, it returned to Parliament, on all occasions to do my utmost to ensure the carrying out of the principles embodied in thu Labour platforms and on all such juestions, and especially on questions affecting the fate of a government to vote as a majority of thu Labour party may decide at a. duly constituted caucus meeting. I further pledge myself not to retire from the contest without the consent, of thu executive of the Australian Labour Party, State of New South Wales.
– Is that the pledge of the Lang Labour party, or the Theodore Labour party?
– It is the pledge of the Australian Labour Party, and not the pledge of the Western Australia secession party.
– Some honorable senators opposite have forgotten that pledge.
– That is so. Honorable senators opposite know very well that no candidate of the Australian Labour Party can be a member of any other political organization. The communist party of New South “Wales has openly opposed the party to which I have the honour to belong.
– “What party is that?
– The Australian Labour Party of New South “Wales, the members of which have been vilified by the communist party of that State to a much greater extent than have our political opponents. We have been called social fascists, and, apparently, everything we do is wrong. At the municipal elections now being held throughout New South Wales members of the communist party are opposing candidates of the Labour party. As mentioned by Senator
O’Halloran, the election breezes which can now be felt, will soon develop into a political storm, when the speeches of honorable senators opposite, in which attempts have been made to link up communism with the Labour party, will be used against the Labour party. The fighting platform of the Australian Labour party provides for -
The cultivation of an Australian’ sentiment based upon the maintenance of racial purity and the development in Australia of an enlightened and self-reliant community.
I do not know how honorable senators opposite can associate communism with a party which has that as a plank of its platform. When Government Whip in this chamber some time ago, I had the pleasure of supporting a motion submitted by the present Assistant Minister (Senator Daly) providing for the imposition of an embargo upon the exportation of Australian stud rams to Soviet Russia. During the regime of the Bruce-Page Government, thousands of stud rams were sent from this country; but it was left to this Government to impose an embargo against .such exportations to that country. Australia has exported a considerable quantity of wool to Russia, some of which, I suppose, was produced by Senator Guthrie, and consequently would be of a very high standard.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– The thanks of the Senate are due to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) for submitting this motion, which should warn the people of Australia of the dangers associated with communist, activities in our midst. It is difficult to understand why such scurrilous, traitorous and poisonous rags as the Bed Leader and the Workers’ Weekly are permitted to be published in this country. Those responsible should be prosecuted for publishing papers containing such seditious utterances. The Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) has, at every opportunity, attempted to excuse the action of these disloyalists. His excuses, which have been supported to some extent by others who sit behind the Government, were amazing. The members of the communist organization have shown the most bitter hatred towards this great Empire which has been responsible for maintaining the freedom of the seas and the security of civilization. Senator Rae, wearing a red flower, smiles and shakes his head with derision when reference is made to the British Empire. But this organization has shown its hatred, not only to the British Empire, but to all forms of religious worship. It is endeavouring to poison the minds of the people, including innocent children, who should be taught to love their country, to observe the law, and to respect religion. I should like to know the source from which money is obtained to publish these traitorous rags. As they do not contain any advertisements, and the circulation cannot be extensive, it is reasonable to assume that they are financed from Soviet Russia. If they are not, it is disgraceful to realize that there are people in Australia who will provide the funds. I cannot understand why the Leader of the Government, on behalf of the Labour party, should persist in excusing these people. Attention should be drawn to the actions of this organization, which has publicly shown its hatred to the British Empire, and believes in the complete disruption of the present social system, in bloodshed, and the persecution of the people. Senator Barnes’ references to the activities of the New Guard clearly disclose that he does not realize the objects for which that body was established. Honorable senators opposite are ashamed of their direct or indirect association with the communist party; but they have to make excuses for them merely because they know that at election time every communist in Australia gives his second preferential vote to a labour candidate.
– Their representatives in another place are keeping the Government in office.
– Of course they are. The Minister knows that the object of the New Guard is to assist in maintaining law and order. That organization cannot be compared with these traitorous communists who are preaching bloody revolution day and night, at secret meetings, at street corners, and even in the schools. As the Government is not attempting to check the growth of this organization, the members of which are preaching such poisonous doctrines, we should be thankful that there is a body such as the New Guard to assist in the maintaining of law and order.
– The New Guard is not mentioned in the motion.
– Perhaps not, but it was freely mentioned by the Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) who, a few days ago, compared it with the communists and the communists with Jesus Christ. Instead of making excuses for communists, and condemning the activities of the New Guard, the Government should deal with these treacherous people who are preaching revolution and bloodshed in a country that shelters them, and towards whom so much tolerance has already been shown. If the conditions in Australia are distasteful to them, why do they not go to that country which they are always holding up as an example, namely, Soviet Russia. One wonders why this great and glorious heritage should be besmirched by the activities of people of this type.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I was amazed to hear the Leader of the Senate state that he could not understand why we were directing attention to the activities of the communists in Australia, because he was not aware of any danger. It is the duty of the Minister and his Government to know what is being done and said by this organization, and to take steps to kill it, as any man would kill a snake. It has been said that the previous Government did nothing to check the activities of this unlawful association. It did. It passed the Crimes Act.
– It destroyed the Independent Workers of the World.
– Yes, and it provided the necessary machinery to deal with these blood-thirsty enemies and criminals. Every one who is conversant with the political history of this country knows why this Government makes excuses for these people instead of knocking them on the head. At any time during the last ten years the main parties in every appeal to the electors havebeen the Nationalists and the official Labour party, and the latter has always been cunning enough to encourage the nomination of communist candidates, because thus they have been able to say, “ We represent the safe middle course. We have nothing to do with the communists, and will not allow them to enter our trade union organizations. They are beyond the pale.” Of course, they know quite well that, since the communists are not, thank God, numerically strong in Australia, their candidates must always be at the bottom of the poll, but their second preferences are always given to the official Labour candidate.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– One has only to study the returns to see what happens. “ A “, a Nationalist candidate would poll say 9,000 votes ; “ B “, an official Labour candidate, 8,000 votes ; and “ C “, a communist, 1,000 votes. In nearly every instance the second preference of the communist candidate went entirely to official Labour. This explains why this Government hesitates to deal effectively with the enemies of our Empire. But, as I like to be fair to the Ministry and its supporters, I will admit that although the Government has been guilty of many wrong and stupid acts, it has done one thing for which we should be grateful - whilst it has “murdered” this country, fortunately for Australia, it has committed political suicide.
.- The thanks of the Senate and the country are clue to the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) for having directed attention to the menacing growth of communism in Australia, threatening, as it does, all that we hold most dear. I was surprised to hear the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) this morning confess that he “was unaware of the activities of the communist party in Australia. His admission of ignorance is the more surprising in view of the fact that its activities are reported daily in our newspapers, and although the organization may not bo numerically strong, its influence for evil ia increasing daily. Senator O’Halloran declared that the previous Administration had done nothing to stamp it out, and, evidently, -would advance this as a reason why this Government has failed to take action. Apparently he overlooks the fact that during the last two years the influence of the communist party has so increased that now it really threatens the foundations of society. Only a few months ago the Australian Council of the Australian Railways Union at a meeting in Melbourne, decided on immediate affiliation with the Red International. According to a report which appeared in the Melbourne Argus, the council also agreed upon the - immediate intensification of the fight for the economic and political needs of the working class and organization, in order to transform any future war into a civil war for the overthrow of capitalism.
What I said at that time, when I directed attention to the attitude of the Australian Railways Union, would bear repetition. As it will interest honorable senators to learn what is necessary to secure affiliation with the Red International, I take the following from the fourteenth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica : -
The conditions of affiliation to the Com.munist International prescribe that every party which desires affiliation to the Communist International must develop a systematic and persistent communist activity within the trade unions, works committees, co-operative societies, and other mass organizations of workmen. Within these organizations it is necessary to organize cells which, by persistent and continuous work, must win the unions, &c, to the cause of communism. The communist cells must be completely subordinated to the party as a whole.
As the Australian Railways Union two months ago decided to seek immediate affiliation with the Red International, we must presume that its members are prepared to comply with all the conditions laid down for affiliation.
– Is there anything in the Encyclopaedia about the New Guard?
– If the Minister has at heart the welfare of Australia, he will refrain from sneers or sarcasm regarding such organizations. If the Government fails to take the necessary action to stamp out communism, the people will believe that it is not concerned about the future of the Commonwealth.
Extracts read from the communist newspapers published in Australia make it quite clear that the object of the Communist party is to destroy the British Empire. The Red Leader, in an article headed, “ Slavery in New Guinea,” in its issue of Friday, the 6th November, published a tissue of lies about the conditions in the Mandated Territory.
– How does the honorable’ senator know that?
– I speak from experience. The intention, of course, is to weaken the position of the Commonwealth, which administers the mandate over New Guinea. Senator Poll also quoted extracts from articles that appeared in the Pan-Pacific Worker. I had an opportunity to read that publication a few days ago, and I could only come to the conclusion that its one purpose is to disrupt the Empire. In fact, some of the articles were so foul and seditious that I am surprised that its continued publication is permitted. The heroism of persons prominent in the history of the British Empire is characterized as crimes against humanity. One article, dealing with stirring events in connexion with the Indian Mutiny, in which historic figures which we have learnt to revere played such an important part, described such persons as murderers of the worst type. The position has become so serious that I hope the ‘day is near at hand when the heads of all Christian churches and other organizations will come together to stamp out this communistic menace. The article in the Bed Leader, to which I referred, contained the following statement : -
The recruiter goes to tlie blacks’ village, where he interviews the chief of the tribe. He pays anything from 10a. to 20s. cash for the young boys (called “monkeys”), mostly from nine to fourteen years of age. He later sells them for from £4 to £(> apiece; but, like every other commodity, of course the price fluctuates according to the quantity available and the distance from the village to the market.
That bald statement is a deliberate lie. Prom my knowledge of New Guinea and its administration, I have no hesitation in saying that the conditions described by the writer of the article would not be tolerated. Any attempt to evade the conditions laid down for recruiting is visited with severe punishment.
One of the most unfortunate activities of the communists in Australia is their teaching of hundreds of children, specially in and about Sydney, to regard the British Empire with hatred and reproach. In their so-called Sunday schools they are taught not only to have no regard for God, but to hate the name of God. In their catechism, which I have heard them recite from a lorry in the Domain^ they declare that there is no God. For everything that we hold sacred or dear they are educated to have only hatred and contempt. If the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) does not bring under the notice of his colleagues the representations that have been made in this debate to-day, or if ho does, and no action is taken by the Ministry, on their heads will rest the responsibility. The Minister stated that the Government has done everything in its power to help Australia out of its difficulties. Communism is a danger greater than any other, but if grappled with boldly, it can be removed. Amending legislation may be necessary, but I urge the Government to give serious consideration to what has been said to-day, not for party purposes, but solely in the interests of the Commonwealth, and in order to prevent disaster to the political and social institutions of our people.
– An election is imminent, and once again the opponents of the Labour party have raised the bogy of communism. The Bruce-Page Government Avas elected to office because it stampeded the people with talk about the communist menace, but if our opponents intend to depend on this and the sectarian issue to win the next election they will not achieve much. The last- Government had ample opportunity to deal with communism. Both Senator Pearce and his former chief, Mr. Bruce, declared that it was a public danger, even when they were in office, but what did they do to safeguard the community? The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) said that his Government dealt with the Industrial Workers of the World, and took steps to prevent the growth of communism. The Nationalist Government promised that if returned to office it would obtain legislative power to deport persons who were fomenting industrial trouble and strife.
– We did so.
– The only person deported by the Bruce-Page Government was an innocent priest. Walsh and Johnson, who were ordered to be deported, successfully appealed, the courts declaring that the Government had not the right to send them out of the Commonwealth. Had the priest had an opportunity to appeal, he too might have proved his innocence. The last Government did nothing more than that to prevent the spread of the communist doctrines.
– I remind the Assistant Minister that the subject of the motion is the activities of the communist party in Australia. The honorable gentleman is not entitled to review the actions of the last Government.
– It is a pity that other honorable senators did not confine their remarks to that issue instead of delving into . past history. Members of the Opposition have said that their action to-day has no party significance, but is taken to save Australia from a grave peril. Their assistance is not needed; the Government is capable of dealing with any menace, from whatever source it emanates, and, with a firm hand, will do all that is necessary. There is no justification for accusing the Government, of lack of interest and sincerity in regard to the combating of communism. The recent conference of the Australin Labour Party in Sydney closed its doors to the communists, and said that none would be admitted to its ranks. The Nationalist party does not adopt that attitude. The communist menace is one of its greatest election assets. This skeleton, which is alleged to be in the cupboard of the Labour party, is brought under notice on the eve of every election. The Labour party is not connected in any way with the communists; it is .the real enemy of the communists, who frankly profess that they prefer a Nationalist government to a Labour government, because the Nationalists have never clone anything to restrain their activities. The Labour movement, on the contrary, places a ban on communists. Senator Dunn read the pledge taken by every Labour candidate, wherein he undertakes to belong to no other party. Our opponents do not trouble to ask a man before accepting him as a candidate whether he is a communist.
– Jock Garden signed the Labour party’s pledge when he became a candidate for the Sydney City Council.
– He would as readily have signed the Nationalist pledge; he may be a member of the Nationalist party. Certainly, he is one of those who have said that the Nationalists arc a. greater asset to the communists than the Labour party. The present Government has done all that is in its power to minimize the danger of communism.
– What has it done?
– It is giving them no encouragement. Do not honorable senators realize that unemployment and distress breed communism and social di3order? Men and women rendered desperate by discontent and hopelessness lend a ready ear to the platitudes of stump orators, whose doctrines appear to offer a ray of hope; they believe that, by overthrowing the present system of government, they will obtain a share in the good things of life. I appeal to honorable senators to co-operate with the Government to get rid of the causes of unrest and discontent. That is the surest way to prevent extreme doctrines from making any headway in our midst. Before an agitator can bo deported, the Government must have a good case against him; he cannot be deported merely because he has made certain statements in opposition tt the existing order of society. After all, it is better that these people should work in the open, and that we should know what they are saying.
– We do not.
– Honorable gentlemen opposite have to-day quoted extensively from publications devoted to explaining the activities of the communists. Is it not better that they should operate in the open than in subterranean channels? If these revolutionary bodies are not allowed to work in the open, they will operate behind closed doors, and as secret societies they will be a greater menace than they are now. The Labour movement is endeavouring to better the conditions of the people by constitutional means. It has accomplished much, and hopes to do much more. In that way only will the breeding grounds of discontent and communism be destroyed.
– I welcome this debate as a change from the dry-as-dust discussion of the tariff. The time limit will preclude me from dealing with more than a few phases of so big a subject. It is deplorable that in this debate we should have to listen to a continuous repetition of defamatory adjectives. Senator Guthrie, for instance, used such terms as “ pernicious menace,” “ diabolical conspiracy,” and “ cancerous growth.” Mere abuse is not argument. I have not heard any sound reasons advanced why the communists should be summarily dealt with. From the utterances of honorable senators opposite, it would appear that a war of extermination should immediately be begun against communists. Some of our newspapers have practically been inciting people to murder, by publishing articles and cartoons in connexion with an alleged communist disturbance at Bourke. Notwithstanding Senator Duncan’s statement, I am not, and never have been, a member of the communist party.
– The honorable senator is a member of a society that is allied with the communist party.
– I am a member of several societies in which there are people with whom I do not agree in many matters. Many years ago, as a member of the Womanhood Suffrage Movement, I was associated with some of the biggest tories in New South Wales. The fact that I agreed with them upon that subject justified my joining the organization, despite the fact that our opinions on other matters were as far asunder as the poles. If a communist belongs to aa organization of which I am a member, it shows his good sense in sharing my opinions to that extent. Where I believe a cause to be good, I shall advocate it, and I will accent the advocacy of anybody else in support of it. That is a reasonable attitude.
– The honorable senator does not agree in “Long live the King”.
– Like the chief priests and Pharisees of olden days, who tried to trap Jesus when He was addressing the people by asking what He would do in certain circumstances, the honorable senator is trying to trap me. Jesus replied, “Render, therefore, unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s”; but He did not particularize those things, and so avoided the trap. I, too, shall avoid the trap of the honorable senator. I am a member of the League Against Imperialism. The freedoms and blessings enjoyed by us, which were so loudly proclaimed by certain honorable senators opposite, are due more to the American War of Independence than to the goodwill of Britain. They are the result of the success of America against the autocratic government of Britain. Britain learned the lesson from that disastrous conflict that she must no longer continue to govern her colonies along autocratic lines. The use of the term “ Imperialism “ is not confined in its application to a country that is ruled by an emperor. It must be applied to any country that seeks to extend its domination over uncultured or backward people in order fo exploit them. It is one of the greatest curses of the world. The so-called menace of communism is as a Sunday school picnic compared with the evils that imperialism inflicts upon the human race. I make no apologies for repeating a statement that I made twenty years ago, and with which Senator Pearce did not then disagree, that all empires are founded upon force and fraud, and maintained by the same means. I challenge the refutation of that, statement, which applies to Great Britain as much as to any other empire. The fight by subjugated nations for independence merely conforms with what Great Britain and her allies professed to believe in during the Great War, the right of self determination, and the rights of minorities.
– Is the honorable senator advocating soviet rule in Australia?
– I am not, but I have the most positive belief about the doctrines which have been described as perfidious, cancerous, serpentine, and so forth. They make for the good of the human race, including Australia. That is the opinion of all who have selfreliance enough to think for themselves. Senator Pearce says that these organizations go about denouncing religion. Surely to goodness, the right that is secured to every individual under the Federal Constitution allows him either to advocate or to denounce a religion. We must have it both ways, otherwise it would be only a pretence of freedom. I make no apology for belonging to the League Against Imperialism.
– What about’ the Friends of the Soviet Union?
– I am also a member of that organization, and will continue to be one. If there is one thing that can be called out and out communism it surely is bolshevism. A celebrated journalist, Dr. E. J. Dillon, who for many years was the representative in Russia of the London Daily Telegraph, who is an accomplished Russian, scholar, and served during the Czarist regime as professor of .Comparative Philology in the University of Kharkoff, and who matriculated in the University of St. Petersburg in the Faculty of Oriental Languages, wrote that well-known book Russia Today and Yesterday. In- his introduction he stated -
I owe the sovietists nothing, whereas they owe mc much. Not only did they seize and confiscate my life’s savings, but indirectly they deprived me of one near and dear whose loss all the money in the world cannot make good . . . None the less I honestly endeavoured to forget these things for the time being, and to look upon the aims, achievements, and failures of the bolshevists without prejudice. I hope I have succeeded.
He concluded his book of 338 pages, in which he dealt critically and analytically with many phases of Soviet activities, with these words -
The Bolshevists then have accomplished much of what they aimed at, and more than seemed attainable by any human organization under the adverse conditions with which they had to cope. They have mobilized well over 150,000,000 of listless dead and alive human beings and infused into them a new spirit. They have, wrecked and buried the entire Old World order in one-sixth of the globe, and are digging graves for it everywhere else. They have shown themselves able and resolved to meet emergency, and- to fructify opportunity. Their way of dealing with home rule and the nationalities is a masterpiece of ingenuity and elegance. None of the able statesmen of to-da v in other lands has attempted to vie with thom in their method of satisfying the claims of minorities. In all these and many other enterprises, they are moved by a force which is irresistible, almost thaumaturgical. Bolshevism takes its origin in the unplundered depths of being, nor could it have come into existence were it not for the necessity of putting an end to the injustice and iniquities that infect our superannuated civilization. .It is amoral and inexorable because transcendental. It has come as Christianty came, not for peace, but for the sword, and its victims outnumber those of the most sanguinary wars. To me it seems the mightiest driving force for good or for evil in the world to-day. It is certainly a stern reality, smelling perhaps of sulphur and brimstone, but with a mission on earth, and a mission which will undoubtedly be fulfilled.
I quote that because I think that for Senator Pearce and his colleagues to imagine that they can scotch this alleged menace by deporting communists on the grounds that they are foreign-born - as though that were a crime - or by declaring the organization illegal, is as absurd as it would be to endeavour to prevent the sun from rising. Strangely enough, those who are foremost in their denunciation of opinions with which they disagree are quite willing to profit by dealing with members of the Soviet Republic, who are, according to their teaching, the arch fiends of the universe. Not only is Mr. Eric Campbell the New Guard leader, intimately associated with the move to import Russian oil and petrol to Australia, but his chief-of-staff, Brigadier-General Lloyd, when asked whether he thought that it was compatible with his position in the New Guard to trade in Soviet oil, said “ We in the New Guard are determined to resist communist rule in Australia, and we will .uphold law and order against the threat of communist revolution in our own country. But that attitude does not debar us from trading with Russia.” Apparently those people are not particular where they draw the line, so long -as there is profit in the transaction.
– Order ! The honorable senator is straying from the subject under debate.
– Thank you, sir.
Conditions make movements. Just as in the early ‘nineties conditions gave rise in Australia to the Labour party, so the insufficiency of the work of that organization is causing the rise of other bodies on more radical lines, to cope with more drastic and more disastrous conditions. These cannot be stamped out by legislative or administrative action. As Senator Dooley stated, it is necessary to remove the causes before you can prevent the effects. This Senate is one of the most intolerant institutions of which I know. Honorable senators generally do not condescend to discuss the merits and demerits of a proposal, but, with pure class prejudice they denounce everything with which they disagree, and are prepared to support anything that vitally assists their own interests.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [2.58]. - The speech to which we have just listened should, at all events, have the effect of disturbing the smug complacency of Senator Barnes, and of convincing him and his colleagues that, whatever else one may say of the communist menace, it is not to be laughed at or to be taken lightly.
I have only one purpose in participating in the debate, and that is to ask the member of the Government in this Senate who has not yet spoken on this motion to consider a matter that has not been raised, and, if possible, to give the Senate and the public an assurance that will be greatly valued. In submitting his motion, Senator Pearce drew attention to matter which appears in certain newspapers. I hall not quote from any of those journals, but I draw the attention, particularly of Senator Barnes, as the journalistic expert of the Cabinet, and the managing director of an important newspaper, to two features which The Red Leader, The Working Woman and The Workers’ Weekly have in common. Upon each of them appears, in some form or other, the Soviet sign - the sickle and the hammer. The other feature that they have in common - and this will appeal particularly to Senator Barnes - is that they are almost entirely free from advertisements. The honorable gentleman, I venture to think, has had a convincing experience of the difficulty of publishing a newspaper, day after day, or week after week, without liberal support from the advertising public. I can sympathize deeply with him, having been associated with many successful and not so successful newspaper enterprises. The absence of advertisment^ from these publications excites suspicion as to the manner in which they are financed, and one can hardly come to any conclusion other than that, because they have the Soviet sign, they do not need any lawful and visible means of support.
It is recognized by the Government that these publications have been preaching sedition, and circulating matter inciting to revolution and civil war. One of the earliest editions of the Red Leader which was first published on the 21st August last, was seized by the Commonwealth Government and destroyed. The reason for that action, which was given in answer to a question in the House of Representatives, was that the issue contained matter which was an infringement of the laws of the Commonwealth. In that case the Government acted quite properly. It was challenged by a member of one of the many disgruntled sections which have broken away from it since it was returned by the people a couple of years ago, and an assurance was demanded of the PostmasterGeneral, that other issues should be exempt from seizure and destruction. The Postmaster-General properly and commendably refused point blank to give any such assurance, and said that the law of the country would be carried out. I feel sure that the people will applaud such a stand. But the point to which I direct the attention of the Minister who has not yet spoken, is that since that thoroughly proper answer was given - and if Hansard is consulted it will be found that questions on the subject were answered only after full inquiry had been made - issues of this paper have been published which cannot be regarded as anything but a direct incitement to revolution and disorder. At least three weeks after that answer was given, the following was published : - “ Every factory, every ship, every mine - a fortress of the revolution ! “ All that I want the Minister to do is to state whether the Government still adheres to the attitude that it, announced in another place. Does it still recognize that it was perfectly justified, and that it acted rightly in seizing and destroying one of the issues of this paper? Does it recognize that it acted rightly in refusing to give an assurance that it would not act simi.hi.rly if it thought fit?
– The Government will lake whatever action i3 necessary.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.Can the Minister relieve our minds Ivy giving a satisfactory explanation as to why, weeks after the assurance wa3 given that the law would ‘he observed, this paper continued to publish similar revolutionary matter inciting to civil war and disorder? Perhaps the Government has taken action to suppress it entirely; the latest edition that I have seen of it is dated three weeks ago. But if the Minister would give the Senate and the public an assurance along the lines that I have indicated, we should feel that this debate had not been in vain.
– This is not the first occasion upon which a motion in these terms has been discussed in the Senate. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) stated plainly that he offered no apology for introducing the subject. The Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) might well have kept him company; but instead of doing so he, unfortunately, preferred to adopt an apologetic attitude on behalf of his Government. If we were not engaged in this debate we should be discussing the tariff, which, comparatively, is a minor matter, whereas this is vital. Tariff questions concern only details of the household, while this affects the very foundations of the house itself; and unless we can preserve the house in its entirety and solidity, there is no use our looking after the internal arrangements.
In declaring that this matter had been brought forward because of the imminence of a general election, Senators Dooley and O’Halloran admitted that honorable senators who sit on this side were doing what was likely to appeal to the common sense of the electors of this country. They thus, unconsciously, paid us a compliment. In other walks of life many of us have had experience of the approach of forces that threatened to endanger our safety. When a bush fire breaks out on the country-side, everybody - the old, the young, and even the feeble - rushes to pui it out; because, if allowed to spread, it would bring ruin and desolation to what otherwise is a fair and pleasant landscape. The people realize instinctively that their belongings, their savings, and sometimes their health and life, and their future enjoyment are at stake. Similarly, when an epidemic visits a centre of population, tribute is levied upon every atom of physical and scientific aid that can be commandeered to stamp it out. Yet when a social pestilence like communism appears in this free country, no effort appears to be made to cope with it. In the other two cases, the instinct of self-preservation asserts itself; but when a cancerous growth fastens itself upon our body politic, constituted authority merely folds its arms and, by a display of masterly inactivity, allows it to run its ruinous course. Is that the duty of a government? Was this Government elected for thai purpose? I ask Senator Rae this question : Supposing that to-morrow morning Russia declared war on Australia, would these people be on the side of Australia or of Russia? Wc know well enough wherethey would be. Therefore, we are caressing a serpent. While enjoying the liberty that we allow, these people are sowing seeds of disruption which eventually will weaken our power to withstand the aggressiveness of Russia. They cannot have it both ways. They are either om enemies or our friends. If, having had repeated evidence of the work of these disruptive forces, the instinct of selfpreservation does not arouse us to out danger, we shall deserve to lose the freedom that has been so hardly won for us by our forefathers over many centuries. One may climb a mountain side and yet find one’s goal still lost to vision iD the clouds. Every state of human society has a pronounced period placed to it. The state of freedom that we enjoy to-day was reached only after centuries of struggle and privation, yet there are those who strive to rob us of it. Does nol Senator Rae know that there comes a time when a halt must be called, and when, as the sages of old have told us, you return by slow degrees to the point at which you started? The honorable senator, I presume, runs a household. Would he allow any person to enter it and dispute his authority in it? The same applies to
Senator Barnes. If any person dared attempt to usurp the domestic authority of either of those gentlemen, no kerbstone would be considered too hard to bash his head upon. Why do they not adopt a similar attitude nationally? If a household rightly requires a head to rule it without danger or menace, should not a free country like ours be in the same posi-tion? Let them say to those who would usurp the authority of the nation, “ Out you go, and may your head find the hardest paving-stone in the street.” Senator Barnes and his colleagues, to be consistent, should banish these men from Australia; but, bound hand and foot as they are to the red element in Australia, they bow to the dictation of Jock Garden in Sydney. Because Jock Garden, who has been to Moscow, and his satellites, are to-day the moving force; the real live element, behind the Labour party, the members of this Government must how in abject submission to them.
One would think from the speeches of the Government’s supporters iu this chamber that they are like Cromwell’s round heads. No one is strong enough to withstand them ; no one is fiery or steely enough to intimidate them ; yet when Joel? Garden speaks they bow the knee, and humbly submit. He and his satellites have gained so much power in the Labour ranks that the Labour leaders dare not expel them from the movement. They say, “But we have expelled them.” As has already been stated, they have been expelled through the front door and allowed to re-enter through the back door. The communists are trying to rob us pf our liberty. What have they to offer in substitution for our existing order of society? They offer U3 Moscow rule. If Senator Rae marched along the main street of Moscow in a procession displaying banners and placards, “Back to constitutional government,” somewhat on the lines of the procession which recently took place in Sydney, how would he fare? The following morning before breakfast time he would be placed against a stone wall and given a salute of ten Russian guns. That is the difference between freedom in Moscow and freedom in Australia. In this country those who advocate the overthrow of constitutional government are given freedom’ of speech and action. The communist movement is a pestiferous monstrosity in our midst. Its members stay in Australia to enjoy freedom, and refuse to go to Russia to do some real good in the way of emancipating the serfs there. They remain in this so-called capitalistic land to delude the workers. If they were in Russia and said “ boo “ against constitutional authority, that would be their last “ boo “ on earth. The communists control 30,000 out of 900,000 unionists. Although they represent only 2 per cent, of the population, they are iri a position to hold up the industries of this country. As a result of the slaughtermen’s strike in Melbourne, whi’ch took place at the instigation of the reds, the graziers of Western Australia had to sell their lambs at 3s. a head, which is not the price of a- lame duck. I sold 500 lambs, so I should know what I am talking about. The red element exercises power which has had a disastrous effect upon this- country. Because this Government sympathizes with the communists, and will not lift a finger to curtail their activities, 2 per cent; of the population is able to inflict its will upon the remainder. I have endeavoured to raise a timid voice on behalf of the other 98 per cent, of our population, and the reason why it has not been heard is that the red element in the Labour party is the strong and virile force. The members of the Government in their hearts despise the communists, and would condemn them tomorrow if any manly instinct remained to them. Much has been said about the Bruce-Page Government; but I contend that that Government had no power at all. We have arrived at a stage in our history when there is no real government. There is a’ power within the body politic which really governs this country, and neither the Bruce-Page Government nor the Hughes Government had- any re’al power. At any time at the instruction or the mere beckoning of Jock Garden and his equivalents a strike can be declared in any part of Australia, and there is no remedy for the evil. Forces outside of this Parliament are exercising a supreme control, and can bring industry to a ruinous stand-still at any time.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– The subject before ‘the Senate is particularly important at the present time. I have noticed that no supporter of the Government has said one word against the communists or their methods. That is regrettable. Each Labour speaker has declared that the communists do not belong to the Labour party. As I have already said, the communists have been expelled from the Labour party through the front door, and re-admitted through the back door. Senator Rae complained that many superfluous adjectives had been hurled against this cancerous growth of communism on the body politic. Many of the aims of the communists are more or less in harmony with the ideals of the Labour party; but their methods are altogether different, and that has caused the trouble. The communists preach class hatred and destruction. They have no feeling of citizenship with the rest of the community. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) and Senator Colebatch have stated, communism is based on hatred of citizens outside the movement. Senator Rae said this afternoon that the communist movement is similar to what the Labour movement was when it started. I was a member of the Labour movement at its inception, and I deny emphatically the statement that its ideals were in any way similar to those of communism. The Labour movement was built up by constitutional methods. The programme which we instituted has been given effect, and our success was due, mainly, to the adoption of constitutional methods. To show the vast difference between the original Labour movement and the communist movement, I shall read a few recent statements by some union and communist leaders. According to a published report, the president of the Northern Miners Federation, Mr. T. Hoare, declared that he always remained seated when “God Save the King” was played at picture shows. He said that if the workers could get together there could be only one issue - a fight between them and the other sections of the community which made up only 20 per cent, of the total population of Australia. Mr. Hoare further declared: “This system cannot be mended; it must be ended, but with the least possible flow of blood.” Mr. James Kidd said that the Australian labour army will become what the “ red “ army became in Russia, and that, irrespective of what other speakers might say, the arm was formed to fight. He continued -
The Australian labour army is necessarily a revolutionary movement. The working class must realize that if they are going to fight it will not bc by medium of ballot boxes, but of machine guns. I believe the crisis will become more and more violent until there is a revolution brought about by the working class rising against” economic conditions.
Communism is based on brute force, hatred and bloodshed. Any person who is acquainted with Russian conditions knows that when Lenin gave the “ red “ army a free hand the worst atrocities in the history of civilization took place.
– That is false.
– It is not false. My statement is borne out by dozens of people who were eye witnesses at the time. Mr. F. C. Hutt, secretary of the labour army, said -
If labour was ever to have a mobile force which could be thrown into action it would have to he organized on military lines. The proposal was that each federal electorate should constitute a division of the labour army, to which everybody on the side of the workers could bolong, and that then there should be organization into brigades, and, if numbers permitted, into battalions. A grand council would control the operations of the army from Sydney.
Those are the methods of the “ red “ army and the methods advocated by the communists in Australia. I am not troubled so much about the views of the communists as about the methods they adopt to give effect to them. If it were not for the liberty which people enjoy in this country, the propagation of these views would not be permitted. The only other country in the world where such propaganda could be carried on is England. I should be the last’ to interfere with the expression of new thoughts, and the dissemination of new ideas, except such as involved the adoption of force and the fostering of hate; but I shall always vigorously oppose anything which tends in that direction. In view of the fact that’ we have attained a high degree of freedom in this country, and that every adult, irrespective of his social or financial standing, has access to the ballotbox, it would be the maddest folly for us to allow a section of the community to advocate the adoption of brute force, and the use of machine guns in order to attain their ends. This Government has often declared its intention to uphold law and order. I therefore ask it to give expression to its intention in this connexion. 1 also ask it to prevent the circulation through the post office of newspapers which publish treacherous articles which are antagonistic to the interests of the Commonwealth, and favorable to the adoption of revolutionary methods of government. If an amendment of the Postal Act is necessary to prevent the distribution of such newspapers, let the Government introduce an amending bill.
– An amendment of the act is not necessary.
– That is my opinion, and I am glad to have it endorsed by a learned member of the legal profession. I know that not so very long ago the Government took steps to stop the circulation of a certain newspaper that was being printed in Sydney. During the period that that newspaper was on sale, a friend of mine, who had spent many years in other parts of the world, and who had been in Paris many times, told me, in Brisbane, that he had never known of another newspaper which published so much filth. That shows, surely, that we are a tolerant people, but sometimes the bounds of the widest tolerance are exceeded. The communist’ party is today preaching class-hatred.
– Not. class-hatred, but class-struggle.
– It is preaching classhatred of the worst kind. Recently an article was published in a widelycirculated newspaper under the heading, “ The Truth abo.ut Soviet Russia “. It reviewed the book Russia Unveiled, which contained extracts from many Russian newspapers that revealed very clearly the real state of affairs in the Soviet Republic. The writer of the article stated that- iii spite of the high claims of the Workers Republic, the wages paid to the work-people are miserably low, and even these wages are not paid regularly or without illegal and improper deductions. In some cases, workmen had not received their wages for 1024 (Trud, 23rd March, 1920). While Moscow workmen waited for the wages due to thom, they were forced to buy provisions on credit, paying three times the proper price (Rabochaya Gazette, 23rd June, 1920). A great deal has been said about the provision of rest-homes, san it(,1 la, &c, for the workpeople in Russia, but quotation after quotation is given to show that these homes are managed in a manner which can give nobody any rest or chance of recovery. In any case, these houses, which were formerly princely palaces and sumptuous villas, can accommodate only a few thousands out of the whole population.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I should not have participated in this debate had not Senator Colebatch asked me for an assurance that action would be taken along certain lines by the department which I have the honour to represent here. I assure the honorable senator that the activities of every unlawful association in the Commonwealth are being closely watched by the officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, and that all possible steps are being taken to prevent the publication of seditious matter.
– Doe3 the Assistant Minister regard the communist party as an unlawful association?
– I do not, for it has not been proclaimed as such. I appreciate my responsibility as a member of the Government. I have never at any time favoured the advocacy of communist doctrines in Australia, because the workers of this country enjoy greater liberty and a higher degree of citizenship than the people of any other country in the world. Tho preaching of communism may be justifiable in Russia, but it is not justifiable in Australia, where every citizen has the right to use the ballot-box with the object of influencing his own destiny and that of the nation.
– The time allowed under the Standing Orders for the discussion of this business has elapsed.
Motion (by Senator Sir “William Glasgow) proposed -
That so much of Standing Order (14 be suspended as would prevent the debate being continued until its completion.
SenatorBarnes. -I oppose the motion.
– The question must be put without debate.
Question put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator Hon. W. Kingsmill.)
N oes . . . . . . 7
Majority . . . . 15
– It would appear from the utterances of Ministers that the Government does not appreciate the temper of the people in this matter. It seems to be living in peaceful ignorance of all that is going on around it, particularly such disturbances as have occurred at various country centres such as Mildura and Bourke. The Government fails to recognize that the whole of the press of Australia is directing attention to the seriousness of the situation. In one of Sydney’s newspapers to-day reference is made to the alarm that has been caused by the activities of communists, and what may be termed thinly veiled communists, who are preaching the doctrine of classhatred and class-war. The Government fails to recognize the tide of revolution which has been rising during the last few weeks. Apparently, these irresponsible persons feel that the Government in power will not enforce the law in matters of this kind. Two of the Ministers who have already spoken made a futile attempt to justify the Government’s inactivity, and the smoke screen which they endeavoured to provide was most ineffective. In the first place, they said that our action to-day is mere political propaganda. Before I have concluded I shall show the Senate that there is a real fear in the minds of the public to-day, and that from every State reports are being received concerning the troubles occasioned by these people. This is all a part of their methods, which can be regarded as criminal. It is the duty of any government, regardless of its political colour, to administer the laws of the land, and to prevent the intrusion of the damnable doctrines of communism. They are openly insulting the doctrines which those of the Christian faith hold most sacred. It is idle for the Government to endeavour to shirk its responsibility by suggesting that this matter has been brought before the Senate as a piece of political propaganda, when the whole of the press of Australia, and hundreds of thousands of people throughout the Commonwealth, are clamouring for governmental action.
– How does the honorable senator suggest that communism should be stamped out?
– The Government of which Senator Dooley is a member must have been idle if it has not found means to stamp out this menace. It is clear that the Government is not alive to its responsibilities, as the Assistant Minister (Senator Daly) asked to be supplied with the information that was placed before the Senate this morning. It is clear that the Government has been indifferent, and that it would sooner shut its eyes to what is happening than take action. Another defence advanced by a representative of the Government was that the previous administration was inactive. Let me remind the Government that this vile literature was not circulated, nor seditious doctrines preached, when the previous Government was in office. Those whose actions we are now condemning knew that that Government would enforce the ‘ law which was enacted in 1926, but which this Government is afraid to enforce. This danger is always in our midst, but at a time when thousands of men arc out of employment, communists become particularly active. It is the duty of the Government to let the people realize that it intends to administer the law in the interests of the whole community. According to to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald, a deputation waited upon one of the State Ministers in Sydney in connexion with the activities of communists. It is not the function of the State Government to deal with matters of this kind.
– It is in respect to education.
– I admit that; but. this trouble extends beyond educational institutions. These people are offending against the Commonwealth law enacted for a specific purpose. The report in the paper to which I have referred shows that the minds of the children in half a dozen different suburban schools are being contaminated by the pernicious doctrines preached by the communist element, which one refrains from discussing at this juncture. Every attempt is being made to corrupt the young mind.
– What did the Minis1ter for Education say?
– He protected! himself by saying that he would have investigations made. The Minister for Education, who is responsible for the proper conduct of the institutions of which he is the ministerial head, should see that these pernicious doctrines are not preached in State schools maintained with taxpayers’ money. In the Adelaide Advertiser of Tuesday appears a most interesting article on communism, a portion of which reads -
At a communist conference in Melbourne nearly a year ago. assent was given to a peculiarly diabolical proposal to attack the members of the police force through their children in the public schools. One compassionate delegate said “he would be sorry it the children suffered “, but hastened to add, “ We will not stop at killing any one in the interests of the working class”. The meeting accordingly agreed that it was desirable to “ mobilize the children and other members of working class families against the families and members of the police force “.
The preachers of this nefarious doctrine are ready enough to appeal to the police for protection, even when some working girls in Sydney the other day pelted them with banana peel. The article goes on to state -
The communists know perfectly well that they cannot convert a majority of the people of Australia to the frantic doctrines of Karl Marx and Moscow. For them, the only alternative is to organize a vicious or ignorant minority, as a prelude to the subversion of the Constitution by violence. In the words of the infamous official organ of Australian communism, the intention is to make “every factory, every mine, every ship, a fortress of the revolution.”
I come now to some references to the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes), who, for the moment, is absent from the. chamber -
A law which permits of the open prosecution of a revolutionary plot against society, is manifestly inadequate; and the increasing public realization of that fact is best indicated by recent events at Bourke. Nothing can justify the attempt of a body of private citizen? to take the law into their own hands, unless it be the obvious a.nd long-continued failure of Government and Parliament to administer public affairs with a due regard for public safety. Insofar as the quite illegal activities of the “ defence league “ at
Bourke are the natural outcome of governmental inertia in the matter of communism, the responsibility must be shared by the Governments of the Commonwealth and New South Wales.It is hardly a week since one of Mr. Scullin’s Cabinet colleagues, Senator Barnes,having associated communism with Christianity in an extraordinary speech in the Upper House, found it necessary to explain that he had not attempted to defend sedition. The Minister’s explanations are not very convincing. If we turn to the Federal Hansard for the 21st October, we find Senator Barnes officially credited with the statement apropos of communism, that, although obedience to the law was old-fashioned, “ it was possibly right that it should be obeyed”. Possibly? In response to some startling interjections, the Minister attempted to make his meaning clear, and wound up with the inimitable remark that “ there are times when men have to fight the law with such weapons as they have n’t their disposal “. The time is long overdue, not only for a clean sweep of communism, but for the final removal of those in authority who would attempt to justify the continued growth of this poisonous plant in the political life of the country. We do not need to go to Canada for an example of the means of dealing with red revolutionaries. Australia was able, some years ugo, to extirpate and destroy the Australian organization of the Industrial Workers of the World, which was by no means so grave a menace to public peace as communism has since become, with its widespread and patiently-contrived network of anti-social intrigue. What was done then can, and must, he done again, if this is to remain a free country.
Senator Dooley has stated that the Labour party has closed its doors to the communists. I venture to say that the door is still ajar, for we notice a hesitancy, and a lack of reality about the attempts of this Government to deal with the menace. Recently the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. A. Green), as Senator Colebatch has informed us, dealt with one issue of theRed Leader. Unfortunately, he failed to follow up his good action, because that newspaper is being issued as usual. .
Already we have the legal machinery to deal with the situation.It is not necessary to wait for the issue of a proclamation. Under the amended Crimes Act it is possible for the Government to deal with persons as well as associations that issue pernicious propaganda. Section 30c provides -
Any personwho by speech or writing advo- cates or encourages -
the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of a State or any other civilized country or of organized government; shall bc guilty of an offence, and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for any period not exceeding two years, and in addition (if he was not born in Australia) to deportation by order of the Attorney-General as provided in this act.
Surely that is sufficient authority for this Government. If it is not, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) has intimated that he will assist the Ministry to pass the necessary legislation to permit of effective action being taken. The Government should not hesitate, because, so we are informed, the communists arcno friends of the Labour party, although one honorable senator has said that the line of demarcation between the principles for which the Labour party stands and the principles of communism is difficult to define. The honorable senator who made this observation went on to say that a person should be allowed to practise any religion without undue interference I resent the suggestion that there is any religion at all in the doctrine of com- munism - it is a denial of Christianity.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
SenatorCOOPER (Queensland) [4.7]. - I was glad to hear at least one member of the Ministry admit thathe viewed with alarm the increasing activities of the communist party in Aus tralia. Senator Daly has acknowledged that its influence is disruptive, and that it is endeavouring, by every means at its disposal, to overthrow the present form of society. Other members of the Ministry in this chamber have disclaimed all official knowledge of the spread of communism in this country, but they have made it clear that they dissociate themselves entirely from it. Recently, the Postmaster-General (Mr. A. Green) suppressed the Bed Leader, but he has allowed subsequent issues to be circulated through the post office. If, as Senator Dooley has declared, the Australian Labour Party has no association whatever with communism, why did Mr. Eldridge, a member of another place, ask certain questions relating to the suppression of theRed Leader, at the instigation of Mr. T. Capper, the honorary secretary of the Hurstville branch of the Australian
Labour Party? It seems extraordinary that Mr. Capper was sufficiently interested to bring pressure to bear upon a member of another place to urge that the publication of the Red Leader should be allowed to continue.
Senator McLachlan has already referred to the newspaper reports of the continued activities of the communist group in New South Wales. Communist literature is being insidiously circulated even amongst school children, with a view to winning them over to its ranks. It is high time that the Government took drastic steps to check the spread of this doctrine. Senator Rae has asked if the remedy is to bc a war of extermination. In my opinion, wc should prepare even for that. There comes a time in the affairs of the nation when the most drastic methods must be employed to check a growing evil. No action could be too drastic to deal with this evil if we are to free the Commonwealth from the sinister influence of this group. If a similar menace were to manifest itself in the family life of any member of this Parliament, he would not hesitate to take any steps neccessary to extirpate it. I firmly believe that the time is coming when all who have the interests of Australia at heart will be obliged to come out into the open, and fight the communists to a finish. If wc temporize with them, the evil will grow, and our children may have good cause to regard us as a race of cowards. I hope that definite action will be taken promptly to rid the country of this menace.
– I was very much pleased to hear the outspoken speech of Senator Daly. There is no need for any Labour nian to cri ugo or crawl to the communists. We have less to gain from them than has any other section of the community. They are always attacking Labour governments, but I do not remember them ever attacking the nationalists. The communists have done their best to crucify the Labour movement, and they claim that the revolution will be expedited by the Nationalist party more than by the Labour party, which openly fights them. Proof of the hostility of the communists to Labour is provided by an article in the
Working Woman, of the 1st October, a communist publication, which states -
Sentenced to one month’s hard labour comrade Whitbread, one of Hie arrested at the women’s demonstration held under the auspices of the women’s section of the Sane Democracy League on Wednesday, Oth September, in Sydney Town Hall, is now conlined in Long Bay gaol under the administration of the Lang “ Labour “ Government.
Mr. Lang was, until recently, at any rate, a Labour premier, and, apparently, he had the courage to set the police against the communist section. He did not fear their frowns or abuse. This proves that one Labour government, at any rate, is not “smoodging” to this group of extremists. There is no need for any government to do so; each should have the courage to say what it thinks, and act accordingly. I stated last week that the communists are a menace; and there is no reason why I should conceal my opinion of them. They do not vote for Labour.
– Of course they do. ‘
– I know they fight against us most bitterly, and, as Senator Dunn pointed out, no communist can become a member of the Labour party. Any person who adheres to communism automatically excludes himself from the Labour movement. We have been told that the communists are prepared to reform the political system by means of machine guns if necessary. Any person who advocates resort to force of that kind is a public menace. There is no need for such extreme measures in a country which has the most liberal franchise in the world. People may sneer at the ballot-box and political power, but the power to make and enforce laws is greater than any other. The communists should remember that what is won by force must be held by force. True reform can be effected only by the education of the people. Peaceful evolution will give the only lasting results, because the people will understand the steps they are taking. If the communists could achieve their ideals to-day, all would want to be bosses, and those who were not successful would want some other “ ism “ to-morrow. The leaders of communism are well dressed, and, apparently, well fed, and they are able to travel from State to State for organization purposes. Who provides the money to pay the costs of their travelling, food, and clothing?
– Probably the Millions Club.
– Perhaps it would suit the Millions Club to pay the communists to carry on their destructive work in the hope -that the nationalists will be assisted to win the next election.
– They will win without that assistance.
– The communists Were responsible for the victory of the Bruce-Page Government in 1925. They organized the British seamen’s strike, which brought about the downfall of the Labour party.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that the Bruce-Page’ Government organized the British seamen’s strike?
– But the honorable senator endorsed the remark of Senator Barnes regarding the Millions Club.
– I do not doubt for a moment that the Millions Club desires the downfall of Labour, and the communists may help to bring that about. They have always been opposed to the Labour movement. I advise them to rely on the ballot-box. The reins of government are held by Labour or by the Nationalists, according to the will of the majority of the people for the time being, and the communists will achieve political power only when they have a sufficient following in the electorates. I do not think that that will ever happen. It is the duty of any government to ensure that no individual or organization defies the law; no section has a right to set itself above the Government and the Constitution. The Constitution is what the people make it; if the communists are not satisfied with it, they should endeavour to educate the people to agree to an alteration. Meanwhile they must be made to understand that they have to obey the law. If they depend on force, a Judas will make his appearance in their movement as in every other movement, and they will be crushed by t he political power at, which they sneer.
If the Government has not sufficient military or police force, a few aeroplanes with bombs would cool the fighting ardour of the communists. The power of Parliament cannot be despised; and the communists must learn they are as much subject to the law as are other sections. It is true, as Senator Dooley said, that depression, unemployment, and hunger breed discontent, and make people lend a ready ear to extreme doctrines. I have in mind an engine fitter in South Australia, who was buying a home; suddenly, he lost his job, and was in danger of losing, his house. He was originally a migrant from England and thinking himself superior to the ordinary working man, he was opposed to unionism and the Labour movement. When he was thrown out of employment and was about to lose his home, he said “I shall become a communist. Can’t we begin a revolution here and settle these people?” I asked. “When is the revolution to begin ?” He replied, “ The sooner the better.” Then, in a roundabout way. a Labour supporter obtained a job for him. A little later he was approached, and asked when the revolution was to start, and he said, “ There is no need t* start a revolution here.” The situation was altered. He had work, and was content to mind li is own business.
– Order ! Th<honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Govern ment supporters who spoke in the earlier part of this debate devoted their time to an endeavour t< prove that the present Government wa* free from any association with the communistic movement. That -was not tb< gravamen of the charge that was mad’by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce). His contention was that communism was active in the community, and that the Govern ment was not taking ant action to suppress it. The best support that could be afforded to that contention came from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes), who said that he knew nothing either about communism or the New Guard movement. The honorable senator intimated yesterday that he had no time to read any newspaper, not even that of which he is managing director. Perhaps he has found time to read the latest issue of the Bulletin, which uses his name in connexion with communism, and states -
The only trouble about honest John Barnes is that he does not know much about tho subject. . . . Like every other politician, he reckons the importance of a party by the number of people behind it.
The article asserts that one of the very principles of the communistic party is that the world is open to the daring minority. It cites the position of Russia, where a daring minority of 300,000 holds in subjection a population of over 100,000,000. ‘ The article further points out, and I commend this to Senator Barnes as a sentiment which I support, that, so long as any persons think that the majority rules, and, therefore, democracy is safe, just so long the communists have the hope of capturing world power. The article also deals with r.he difference between communistic and. every other form of propaganda. That matter was very forcibly dealt with by Senator Reid. All power that appeals to force has to be met by force, just as, quite rightly, a power or movement that appeals to reason may have to be met by reason. Undoubtedly, the communistic whiteanting of this community will eventually have to be met by forceful action.
Senator O’Halloran’s response to the points that were raised by the mover of the motion really took the form of asking the question, “Why did not the Bruce-Page Government take action to check communism when it was in power ?” Obviously, the answer is that the call upon that Government to do something was not as insistent as the call upon this Government to do so. The Bruce-Page Government dealt with the communistic menace by passing a far-reaching act. What Senator O’Halloran seems to have overlooked is that the very existence of a government that stands for the principles for which the Bruce-Page Government stood was in itself a check upon communistic activities. There was not then the aggressiveness shown by the communistic movement that has been displayed during the past two years. Again, the very existence of a government which has in the forefront of its platform the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange is in itself an encouragement to the activities of the communist party. Whatever Senator Rae and his more intimate political associates may do or say, I submit that the day will come when such men as Senator Hoare, Senator O’Halloran, Senator Dooley, Senator. Daly and others, who profess religious beliefs will have to face the situation. Whether they realize it or not - and I believe that theydo - they will have to see that there isa connexion between the policy for which, they stand and the policy for which thecommunist stands. It is merely a difference in the methods of attaining end* which are practically the same.
– There is nothing irreligious in the socialization of industry.
– I shall point out what I think is the peril. An official Soviet declaration of a very few years ago laid it down that the anti-religious’ campaign of the Soviet Government must not be restricted to Russia; that it must be carried throughout the world. Are not all the instances given by Senator Foll and other speakers of what takes place in our own capital cities proof of the carrying on of the anti-religious propaganda of the Soviet Government? When talking of this irreligious movement, the general secretary of the Baptists’ World Alliance said that it was the most wide-spread and most carefully-planned irreligious organization since the days of Diocletian. Honorable senators who support the Government stand for a programme which advocates the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. I do not know the difference between the communistic and socialistic ideal, but I do understand fully the difference between the methods of obtaining those ideals. He who plants the acorn intends the oak. In this case the acorn that has been planted is the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The oak that has grown is the oak, as we see it, of the communistic activities in our midst to-day. Honorable senators on the Government side will have to realize that no political movement can stand still; that to stand still is to perish. Before very long they will have to make their choice as to whether they will go forward with the communists, or go back to the well-tried belief that society best rests upon the basis of individualism.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [4.41]. -I must confess that I am most disappointed with the attitude adopted by Senator Barnes and Senator Dooley. They apparently were unable to rid themselves of the political aspect of this matter, which I studiously avoided when introducing my motion. Those honorable senators spent the whole of their time in declaiming that the political Labour party had no sympathy with the political aspirations of communism. That is not the issue. The Assistant Minister (Senator Daly) has shown a recognition of the points thatwe on this side were trying to establish during the debate, and has promised that the propaganda, of which we have given some samples, will be inquired into. The honorable senator has asked that the communist newspapers that have been quoted should be made available to the Government. They were loaned to me, but I have no doubt that the owner will be pleased to place them at the disposal of the Government. I am surprised, however, that it does not possess copies of them. It has a legal department which, if it is doing its job in policing the laws of the country, should have knowledge of these publications.
– Will the right honorable senator permit Major Jones to inspect the newspapers and obtain the dates?
– Certainly. I read from the Workers’ Weekly of Friday, September 24, 1931, that it is registered at the General Post Office for transmission as a newspaper, and the name of the printer and publisher is gwen. I shall give two instances in which these journals have transgressed the law that was referred to by Senator McLachlan. Honorable senators are aware that this revolutionary movement is being promoted in every other part of the British Empire. Recently, it raised its ugly head in the Irish Free State, where the Government took prompt and vigorous action to scotch it. The Workers’ Weekly of Friday, October 2nd, 1931, contains a letter from the publicity department of the revolutionary republican movement in Dublin, which would not, I venture to suggest, have been allowed to appear in the press of the Irish Free State. It reads-
You may wonder how such unjust and evil governments can remain in existence. The answer is that ruthless and unscrupulous use of forcehas hitherto maintained British rule in Ireland. But we arc glad to tell you that foreign domination of this island is nearing its end.
Arming and drilling of Ireland’s faithful soldiers of the Irish Republican Army is taking place all over Ireland. And in spite of special Juries Acts passed recently by the Free State Government, no jury can be got to convict Irish patriots.
Such then is the position in Ireland to-day, two alien governments struggling to prolong their existence, watching powerlessly the gathering forces of an angry and determined people. The coming fight will, it is hoped, be Ireland’s last, Ireland’s victorious fight; nothing short of complete separation, the overthrow of capitalism, the institution of justice and freedom for all will satisfy the people. And not all the Mulcahys or Cosgraves, nor all the Macreadys and Lloyd Georges will prevent the Irish people from achieving their goal in the very near future.
From the Department of Publicity,
That is seditious. Publication of it would not be allowed in the country from which it was sent; yet it is allowed in the Commonwealth of Australia!
The issue of this journal of the 24th September last contains a column of matter under the heading, “ The Royal Navee “- “ Strikes- Sings Red Flag”, which deals sarcastically with the trouble that occurred recently in the British Navy. I quote the following from it: -
Despite all the attempts of the capitalist press to minimize the actions of the lower deck, this fact stands out clearly. Whilst it is true that no officers were thrown overboard during the dispute, still a very definite cleavage was recognizable between the bour geois officers and the proletariat lower decks. Whilst the capitalist press emphasizes the fact that the men cheered the King, they also sung “The Red Flag”. The fact that the navy men know “ The Red Flag “ and are able to sing it will surprise most people. The red flag to the sailor at the present time is the symbol of “revolt”, of “bolshevism “ : that has to bc borne in mind and indicates that the men knew that the action which they had taken was the embryo of revolution.
Later in the same article the following appears : -
The defeatists and calamity howlers have always told us that it was hopeless to think of winning these workers to our side. The annuel forces cannot remain unaffected by the general crisis of capitalism, and when such outbursts are becoming common at the present moment, it must give every true rebel ali optimistic viewpoint of the possibility of winning large sections of the forces to our side in a revolutionary crisis . . . The lesson for the revolutionary movement is that no stone must be left unturned in our endeavours to make contact with, and politically educate, the personnel of the armed forces.
If that is not sedition, I do not know what is. Yet it is published in a newspaper that is registered under our postal law !
A good deal has been said regarding the New Guard, and the attempt has been made to lead us to believe that it is a communist organization, and that I ought to have denounced it. The Red Leader, of the 16th October last, published a private and confidential circular sent out by the chairman of the Finance Committee of the New Guard, Mr. J. R. Patrick, which I shall read so as to show that it is not a communist organization, and that, therefore, I should not have included it in my denunciation. It reads -
You would feel happier to-day if you knew there was a strong, well-organized body of loyal men, under proved leadership, ready at a moment’s notice to assist in fighting for and protecting your rights of citizenship and to prevent communism from getting a grip on Australia. Such an organization has been created, lt is called the New Guard and has been brought to an efficient and effective statu purely by the personal and voluntary efforts of citizens who realize their duty.
The circular then appeals for financial assistance, and concludes as follows: -
The Now Guard is non-sectarian, non-party, and non-political and stands for loyalty to the throne and constitutional government, protection of life and liberty, and the carrying out of the essential services, such as fight, gas, sewerage and transport and the defence of the State against any attempt at insurrection.
I repeat that I make no apology for having moved the adjournment of the Senate on this question. I consider that it was necessary that the attention of the public should be drawn to the activities and the propaganda of this most dangerous organization. I am glad that wc have received the assurance of the Assistant Minister (Senator Daly) that the matter will be investigated. In those circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw my motion.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Report of Tariff Board
In reference to the answers to questions by Senator Sir George Pearce, given by the Minister on the 12th November, regarding the Tariff Board report on pearl buttons -
Is this inquiry still under consideration of the Tariff Board, or has it been completed ?
If the inquiry has been completed, can the Minister indicate when the report will be presented to Parliament?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Has the Minister any information as to the progress of the negotiations for the amalgamation of the New South Wales Savings Bank with the Commonwealth Savings Bank?
– So far, this matter has not been officially submitted to the Commonwealth Government.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Replies will be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 18th November(vide page 1755).
By omitting the whole of sub-item (b) and inserting instead the following sub-item -
Whisky, including liqueur whisky -
1 ) When not exceeding the strength of proof -
If bottled in the Commonwealth under customs supervision subject to such conditions as to the bottling and as to the strength of the spirits as are prescribed by departmental by-laws, per gallon, British, 45s. ; intermediate, 47s. ; general, 48s.
If not bottled in the Commonwealth under Customs supervision, per gallon, British, 90s. ; intermediate, 52s.; general, 53s.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-itemb, paragraph (1) (a), British, 40s.; intermediate, 42s. ; general,46s.
The duties previously imposed were respectively 35s., 37s., and 38s., and the Government has increased them by 10s. in each case. I yesterday stressed the fact that this increase was detrimental to the revenue, and I believe that I demonstrated the extent to which the revenue would be affected.
– I should lite the Senate to mako up its mind quickly as to -what it intends to . de in regard to this schedule. .Honorable senators must realize that if they deprive the Government of revenue from one source the deficit will have to he made good, and the onus will rest upon them to point to avenues in which it can he collected.
– Does not the Minister think that the revenue would bc increased by a lowering of the duties?
– 1 do not think that anybody would seriously contend that the Government would obtain additional revenue by the reduction of these duties.’
– There must be a point at which high duties discourage, consumption.
– I candidly admit, that that is so.
– Has not the Government gone beyond that point?
– :I am prepared to leave that in the hands of those who are more expert than I. The customs officials, in collaboration with the Minister, have attempted to obtain the maximum amount of revenue from this particular item, and we should not capriciously alter any of the duties. Does anybody suggest that this duty imposes great hardship upon the community? If we were considering the tariff under normal conditions, wo should probably apply the pruning knife severely: but these arc abnormal times, and the Government has to raise the revenue for which it has budgeted. If the Senate agrees to the request of Senator McLachlan, it will be gambling with, a revenue of £117,000. That figure, .which has been supplied to me by the Trade and Customs Department, is, because of the rationing system now operating, assessed on half of the 1929-30 importations. If the request of Senator McLachlan is acceded to, it may - I do not say that it will - result in a loss of revenue of £117,000. Senator McLachlan’s argument in favour of his, request is that any loss by the reduction pf the rate would be offset by the increased consumption of whisky. I do not think that it is fair to place that responsibility upon -the Government.
This is a. revenue duty, and I warn the Senate that this request, if agreed to, would nominally result in a loss of revenue .of .£117,000.
– What does the Assistant Minister mean by “nominally”?
– Taking half of the 1929-30 importations, the request, if agreed to, would, result in a loss of revenue of £117,000. It has been argued that that .sum would not bo the actual loss, because the increased consumption brought about .because of the lower rate of duty would make up the deficit. I warn the Senate that that would need an enormous increase in the consumption of imported whisky, with a corresponding decrease in the consumption of the local article.
– What quantity of “whisky is imported ?
– In 1929-30, we imported S93,306 gallons in bulk, the duty paid being £1,048,365, and 53,217 gallons in bottles, the duty paid being £65,147. If £117,000 .of revenue were obtained from the increased consumption of the imported article, it would be at the expense of the consumption of the local article.
– Is the figure quoted by the Minister inclusive of the next item?
– - Yes. It must not be forgotten that whisky is being manu accured in Australia.
– Scotch whisky cannot be made in Australia.
– I am. not suggesting that it can. We cannot at present satisfactorily prove that we can make in Australia whisky equal to Scotch whisky ; but, at the moment, I am not concerned about that. I do not wish the Senate to make a mistake in respect of this item, and I hope that the request will npt be agreed to.
– Like the Minister, I am at a loss to understand the reason for the request, of Senator McLachlan. The argument of the Minister that the proposed reduction of duty under this item would mean a loss to the -department of £117,000 is unanswerable. ‘What is the object of this request? It has been suggested by one or two honorable senators that it would so cheapen the price of whisky as to increase the consumption of that product. It is new to me to learn that a tariff schedule is to bc used to stimulate the consumption of imported whisky. This proposed decrease in. the duty on whisky would not lower the price by more than Id. a nip. Is it suggested that persons will, because of the decrease in price, drink two whiskies, where previously they drank only one? The argument of Senator McLachlan cannot stand against the argument of Senator Daly that the duty, if decreased as suggested, would mean a loss of revenue to the Commonwealth of £117,000. We must have revenue, and it is to items such as this that we must look for it. It is recognized all over the world that wine and spirits and other luxuries should contribute most to the revenue. If we now reduce duties on luxuries, there will be no room for reducing duties when we come to bread and butter items. I hope that the request, of Senator McLachlan will not be agreed to.
– The information supplied to the Minister by the Customs Department is somewhat inaccurate, and I shall give figures showing the effect of the recent impositions of duty upon the revenue of this country. As I stated yesterday, the British Treasury officials, finding that the high excise on British beer had resulted in a loss of revenue, decided to withdraw it with a view to obtaining more revenue by means which, I think, were first instituted in connexion with succession duties by a distinguished member of the British Cabinet, who preached the doctrine of. lower succession duties on the ground that that would lead to a greater return to the government. That principle emerges clearly from the figures which I am about to quote. During the year ended the 30th June, 1926, we imported 1,079,757 gallons of whisky, and excise was paid on 175,573 gallons. During the year ended the 30th June, 1927, we imported 996,742 gallons, and paid excise on 203,108 gallons. For the year ended the 30th June, 1928, we imported 973,734 gallons, and paid excise on 204,457 gallons. During the year ended the 30th June, 1929, we imported 926,314 gallons, and paid excise on 216,006 gallons. During the year ended the 30th June, 1930, we imported 863,709 gallons, and paid excise on 25S,S00 gallons. During those five periods we imported 4,S40,256 gallons, the yearly average being 968,051 gallons. The yearly average in regard to excise was 211,588 gallons. I should have thought that the Minister would base this alleged loss of revenue of £117,000 on the figures for 1931.
– There would not be that loss.
– I agree with the honorable senator. What has happened? During the year ended the 30th June, 1931, the total importations of whisky dropped to 342,S19 gallons, or considerably less than half of the quantity imported during the year ended the 30th June, 1930.
– That was due to the decreased purchasing capacity of the community.
– That is the exact point. If we increase the duty, we shall imperil the revenue, because the importations will drop rapidly, and the drinking section of the community will resort to a cheaper product. I honestly believe that, by decreasing this duty, we shall obtain more revenue through both customs and excise. Last year, excise was paid on only 151,357 gallons. This also was due to the fact that drinkers resorted to some cheaper spirit. I cannot understand bow the Minister gets his figure of £117,000. The departmental officers have wisely called it a nominal figure, for they know that there will be an increased importation, and an increased clearance of Australian whiskies if these heavy imposts are reduced. They have evidently assumed that we imported 46S,000 gallons of whisky last year, whereas, in fact, we imported only 342,819 gallons. But even if we import no more than that quantity this year, the loss by reason of a reduction of the duty by 5s. per gallon would only be about £80,000. On the other hand, it should bo realized that, an increased importation by only one-eighth of the present imports would make up the whole of that loss of revenue. History shows clearly that the increasing of revenue duties beyond a certain point actually causes a reduction of income. These duties are, after all, revenue duties. American and British experience overa long period, and our own experience since this Government felt constrained to increase these duties some time ago, proves that the placing of duties at too high a point defeats the very object which the increase is designed to achieve.
– Then why not reduce the duty to1s. per gallon, with the object of increasing the revenue?
SenatorMcLACHLAN. - The honorable senator reduces the argument to an absurdity. He must realize that economists and financial authorities everywhere are unanimous on the point that if revenue duties are increased beyond a certain point the revenue suffers.I realize, of course, that the Government must obtain revenue from somewhere, in order to meet its obligations, but no argument has been advanced to show that the reduction of duty which I am advocating would result in a loss of revenue.
– The policy to which the Government has given expression in determining the rate of duty to be imposed on whisky is part and parcel of the financial rehabilitation scheme decided upon at the conference of experts. It was resolved that certain imports, of which whisky was one, should be rationed. The point at. which the rationing of whisky should become effective was fixed at; 50 per cent. of the 1929-30 imports. If honorable senators interfere with this provision, they will, to that extent, overthrow the decisions of the conference at. which the rehabilitation plan was approved.
– Is it not a fact that the imports of whisky have not nearly reached the point at which the rationing will come into force?
– That is a fact, but what I wish Senator McLachlan to understand is that if his proposal is adopted, we shall lose £117,000. On every gallon of spirit, even up to the point to which the rationing will become effective, we shall lose 5s. per gallon.
– Will the Assistant Minister give us the exact figures relating to imports and rationing?
– The figure taken into consideration in determining the point at which rationing should take place was 893,306 gallons of bulk, and 53,000 gallons of bottled whisky. It was decided to ration imports to half that quantity in each case. Last year, we imported 342,819 gallons of whisky. My figure of £117,000 was calculated on a loss of 5s. per gallon on that quantity. It must be apparent to honorable senators that very much greater quantities of local whisky will have to be consumed in order to make up that amount in excise duty.
– Seeing that the duty is £2 per gallon, only 50,000 extra gallons would have to be consumed to yield £100,000.
– I must confess that I cannot understand Senator McLachlan’s calculations. We are now more than 100.000 gallons below the amount at which rationing will become effective. I think that, the committee will agree that we should not alter the point at which rationing is to become effective. As a matter of fact, it appears that the Government has attempted the possible and achieved it.
– By means of heavy imposts.
– No, by prohibition, as Senator Payne suggested yesterday. Apparently, many Australians have lately become accustomed to the flavour of Australian whisky, and it may happen that even if the duty on imported whisky were reduced there would not be a very much greater consumption of it. I hope that the committee will not decide to make the request proposed by Senator McLachlan. If it does so, there must inevitably be a decrease in revenue from this source.
– Early in 1929, the duty on imported Scotch and Irish whisky was 35s., but later in that year the Bruce-Page Government increased it by 2s. per gallon to 37s. That increase was made an election issue by the Campaign Director of the Labour party in New South Wales, Mr. Theodore. That gentleman, and those with whomhe was associated during the campaign, said that it was a most iniquitous act on the part of the late Government to impose an additional 2s. a gallon on the grog of the unfortunate working man, who had already sufficient burdens to bear. Such statements carried a good deal of weight during the campaign. But what happened in November, 1929? Intoxicated with victory, the new Government clapped on another 8s. a gallon, which increased the impost from 37 s. to 45s. a gallon, making the duty alone on a bottle of Scotch whisky approximately 7s. 6d. A parson who to-day ‘is fortunate enough to be able to spare 15s. to purchase a bottle of whisky contributes one-half of that amount to revenue. Scotch whisky is regarded as an essential beverage in the most remote parts of the earth. It is demanded even in China, Chile, and Peru, because it has been found, by those who are down in the dumps through physical strain, to be uature’s sweetrestorer. Itwas used by our gallant troops, of course in moderation, and had an indirect but important bearing on our victoryover Fritz. The Assistant Minister (Senator Daly) referred to the system of rationing adopted by the Government. Senator Glasgow will, I know, support me when I say that on the Western Front this essential commodity was strictlyrationed. It was rationed throughout the Empire, but in thearmy the ration,when itwas obtainable,was half a bottle per officer perweek. The Government is killing the goose that lays the golden egg. By increasing the price by reason of theseheavy impositions, consumption has been reduced. Consumers who prefer whisky as a beverage, but can no longer afford to pay the exorbitant price, turn to beer, and if that is unpalatable, to perhaps some other beverage which may be anything but beneficial. The request submitted by Senator McLachlan to reduce the duty by 5s. a gallon is reasonable, particularly when we consider that in 1929 the duty was 35s., and to-day it is 45s. a gallon. Thewhisky-manufacturing industry has been established in Scotland for generations, and in the production of this commodity large quantities of Australian grain are used. We cannot expect our friends overseas to purchase our grain ifwe practically prohibit the importation of theirwhisky.
– They do not take our grain.
– They do. I am surprised that the Assistant Minister should make such a statement. The reduction in the consumption of whisky is due largely to the heavy increase of duty,and if supplies can be obtainedat a morereasonable rate, the consumption will increase, and the revenue will benefit correspondingly.I hope that the proposal submitted by Senator McLachlan will be agreed to.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [5.40]. - I hope that the Assistant Minister (Senator Daly)will correct me if I misquote the figureswhich he submitted to the committee. If I heard them aright they completely disprove his contention. -Before the rationing system was introduced the importations of bulk and bottled whisky totalled approximately 950,000 gallons. It was then decided to ration importations to the extent of one-half, which, again grouping bulk and bottled whisky, would represent 475,000 gallons. The Assistant Minister informed the committee that the actual importation totalled 340,000 gallons. Assuming that the proposed reduction in duty, if adopted, would not be responsible for an increase in importations, there wouldbealossof5s.pergallon on the 340,000 gallons imported, or £85,000. Our contention,which, I think, is abundantly borne out by our experience, is that this duty it too high. The present rate defeats the object the Government has in view, and if it were reduced, the importationswould be greater. An increase in importations of only 40,000 gallonswould make up the totalloss incurred by this reduction. But if, as might reasonably be expected, the increase reached the full quantity which the Government willallow to be imported, it would mean an increase in importation of 160,000 gallons. That 3.60,000 gallons at a duty of 40s. represents £320,000 to compensate for a reduction of £85,000. In those circumstances the Governmentwould be about £250,000 to the good by making this reduction of rates, assuming, of course, that it had the effect of increasing importations. I do not think that those whowish Australia to become a country into which the im- portationofliquorisprohibited are entitled to achieve their objective in this way. This isamatterofimposinga revenue duty for revenue purposes, and experience since this’ increased duty has been in operation shows that it defeats its purpose. If this duty, which is imposed for raising revenue, is reduced - I do not know if the reduction proposed is sufficient, although I shall support the request - importations should be brought up to something approaching the rationing figurementioned by the Assistant Minister. If that increased quantity is imported, the Government will collect approximately £250,000 more per annum than it would receive if it adhered to the present high tariff, which restricts importations to the present figure. A year or two ago the Government arbitrarily decided to reduce the importation of whisky by one-half, and, in addition, imposed such a high duty that importations dropped to the extent of 160,000 gallons below the quota decided to be admitted, largely in consequence of the increased duty. If the duty is reduced to a reasonable rate, importations should be increased to about one-half of what they were a couple of years ago. That is not an unreasonable expectation, and I venture to suggest that if, under a reduced duty, a smaller amount of revenue is collected than under the present rate, and there is not an increase of 40,000 gallons in importations for the year to protect the revenue, not one honorable senator who at present is advocating this reduction would not agree to the present rates being restored. I am confident that if the amendment is acceptedweshallprove to be right and that the revenue collected under the reduced duties will be more than under the existing tariff.
– State Governments, as well as the Federal Government, are levying heavy taxationupon liquor. I have never been a believer in the policy, adopted during the lastfew years, of endeavouring to bring about prohibition by high taxation. If the majority of the people believe in prohibition, there is provision in the Statelaws to make that possible. InNew South Wales there is a licensing fee of 5 per cent. on all purchases. This represents, I understand, about1s.1d. a bottle.
SenatorMcLachlan. - Is that on the landed cost?
– No, freight is not included. It is a charge against the licensee upon all his purchases. Assuming that there are six bottles to the gallon, the duty amounts to 7s. 6d. a bottle. Under Senator McLachlan’s amendment, it will be 6s. 8d. a bottle, towhich must be added the State licensing fee of at least1s.1d. a bottle in New South Wales. According to the figures quoted by the Minister, it would appear that this high taxation is destroying the revenue. Last year importations were 134,000 gallons below expectations.
SenatorRae. - What has been the increase in local production?
– I have not those figures, but I am convinced that thelower dutieswilllead to a substantial increase in excise revenue. I am informed that if the amendment is carried an effortwill be made by the leading importers to pass on the relief to hotelkeepers, so the general public should benefit through being able to obtain cheaperwhisky.
– I intend to support the amendment. The Assistant Minister has said that considerable quantities of illicit spirits are being foisted upon the Australian public, but I am not going to condemn thewhole of the retail trade merely because one or two dishonest licensees may be retailing a quantity of illicitwhisky. We have about 10,000 hotelkeepers in Australia, but no one can sayhow many sly-grog shops. Although I am a supporter of thenew protection, I do not believe in giving 100 per cent. protection to any monopoly.
Question - That the request (Senator McLachlan’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman- Senator Plain.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– I move-
That the House of Representativesbe requested to make the duties, sub-item (b), paragraph (1) (b) - British, 40s.; intermediate, 42s.; general,46s.
This amendment raises in another form the question whether the bottling of whisky in bond should be insisted on by the imposition of a penalty of 5s. for bottling out of bond, which we discussed yesterday at considerable length. I remain unconvinced and unrepentant of my attitude then. The weight of argument was in favour of maintaining the same duty on whisky bottled in bond as on whisky bottled out of bond. We demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that no protection is or can be afforded to the consumer by compulsorily bottling in bond. I have heard the suggestion that if the Government’s proposal is adopted a person may be his own policeman, and protect himself against the sale of whisky not true to label. That contention is untenable.
– If the amendment is carried, those who desire to bottle in bond may still do so.
– Those philanthropists who profess to be so concerned for the welfare of the people may bottle in bond if they so choose, and enjoy all the credit which that practice may give. Ifbottling in bond has the merits which its advocates claim, those who adopt it will automatically get all the business. I do not propose to discuss this proposal at length. I merely summarize my contentions of yesterday that bottling in bond does not protect the public, that the Commonwealth has no power to control whisky outside the customs bond; and that under section 113 of the Constitution, the inspection of foods and beverages is a function of the States. All the prosecutions during the last three years for the sale of whisky not true to name have been in relation to the bottled article. Even if the Customs Department were to go so far as to affix a capsule to whisky bottled in bond, immediately the bottle left the bond, the capsule could be removed and other whisky put into the bottle. If a man intends to commit an offence of this sort, he is more likely to do it with bottled than with bulk whisky. On a previous occasion, I pointed out the hardships which compulsory bottling in bond would impose on country publicans who have been accustomed to buy their whisky in bulk. Such people do not deal in lowclass liquors; they buy the highest grade imported spirit. There is no justification for differentiating between the duties imposed on whisky bottled in bond and those on whisky bottled out of bond.
– The attitude of Senator McLachlan is extraordinary. Yesterday he initiated a full-dress discussion of the policy of the Government in relation to bottling in bond, andwhen the division was taken, the committee supported that policy. Now he seeks to reverse yesterday’s decision. It is obvious that the formal motion for the adjournment of the Senate to-day was made to enable certain honorable senators who were absent yesterday to reach Canberra before the consideration of the tariff schedule was resumed.
– Is the honorable senator in order in imputing unworthy motives?
– I have no wish to offend the honorable senator. But it is obvious that if the decision of the committee on one day is to be reconsidered on the following day when a larger number of senators is present, the Senate is likely to be meeting on Christmas day and singing Adeste Fideles. By agreement between the Government and the Opposition, certain sitting days were fixed and, for good reasons some honorable senators from Tasmania wore unable to attend yesterday; but it is rather unfair to those honorable gentlemen who were in attendance, and discussed this matter at length, and believed that it had been disposed of, to find it revived now.
– We did not fix the amount of duty yesterday.
– That is a quibble. The principle of bottling in bond was fully discussed, and the additional duty of 5s. on whisky bottled out of bond was agreed to.
– The committee did not vote on the duties.
– The committee’s attitude was clearly indicated by the vote on Senator McLachlan’s amendment yesterday afternoon.
– Why not save time by taking a vote now.
– I am quite agreeable.
– I give notice that if Senator McLachlan’s amendment is negatived, I shall move a request that the British preferential duty be 45s.
Question - That the request (Senator McLachlan’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator Plain.)
TheCHAIRMAN. - The ayes and noes being equal, the question is resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 6.16 to 8 p.m.
Private business taking precedence after8 p.m.,
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 12th November (vide page 1640).
After section two of the principal act the following sections are inserted: - “3. - (1.) At least sixty days before making any statutory rules to which this section applies, notice of the proposal to make the rules and of the place where copies of the draft rules may be obtained shall he published in the Gazette. (2.) During those sixty days any person may obtain copies of the draft rules on payment of the prescribed sum, and any representations or suggestions made in writing by a person interested to the authority proposing to make the rules shall be taken into consideration by that authority before finally settling the rules.
On the expiration of those sixty days the rules may be made by the rule-making authority,either as originally drawn or as amended by that authority, and shall come into operation forthwith, or at such later time as is prescribed in the rules. “ 4. Where a rule-making authority certifies that on account of urgency or any special reason any rules should come into immediate operation, that authority may make the rules to come into operation forthwith as provisional rules, but provisional rules shall not continue in force for more than one month unless before the expiration of that period they are approved by each House of the Parliament, and if any provisional rules are not so approved, a rule-making authority may not, at any time before the next session of the Parliament, make any provisional rule under this section which deals with the same subjectmatter.”.
Upon which Senator Sir Hal Colebatch had moved by way of amendment -
That the word “sixty”, proposed new subsection (1.), be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ thirty “.
– It will be remembered that, when progress was reported on this bill, I promised to obtain a report from the various departments concerned. I now have that report, and I think that it would be to the advantage of honorable senators if it were circulated among them, together with the report of the Crown Law Department on the bill itself. The Rules Publication Act of 1903 followed the British practice with regard to the making of statutory rules, but it was more comprehensive, as it applied to all statutory rules-
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Minister entitled to bring forward at this stage matters appropriate to the second reading of the measure?This bill appeared on the notice-paper for several months, so that the honorable senator had ample time to obtain all the information that he desired with regard to its principle. The Senate has affirmed the principle, and we are now considering an amend-, ment to clause 2.
– I undertook to obtain this information for the Senate, in view of certain issues that were raised when the bill was last before us. I should like honorable senators to make themselves conversant with these reports before we proceed, as I am confident that, had the information been available when the second reading was being debated, the bill would not have been taken further. I suggest that the committee should report progress to. give honorable senators an opportunity to peruse these reports.
– I suggest that we should go through the bill in committee. The suspension of the Standing Orders has not been moved to enable all stages of the measure to be concluded at this sitting, so that the motion for the adoption of the report will have to come up at another sitting. In the meantime, the documents could be circulated.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (West, ern Australia) [8.7]. - I move, as a consequential amendment -
That the word “ sixty twice occurring, proposed new sub-section (2), be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ thirty
– I should like to know the reason why the honorable senator desires to substitute “ thirty “ for “ sixty “.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH The word “ sixty “ was originally included in this bill because that was the provision in the principal act. When I came to look into the matter more closely, I realized that since 1913 communication throughout Australia has been facilitated to such an extent that much more can now be done in 30 days than could previously be done in 60 days. A more important point is that the bill gives power to the Government to promulgate emergency regulations, which may continue in force for 30 days without any approval from Parliament. If the necessary notice with regard to permanent regulations were fixed at 60 days, the Government might find itself in a difficult position if it became necessary to make regulations while Parliament was not in session. It might be necessary to issue regulations at once, and make , them continuous in operation. The Government could enact emergency regulations, but they would continue in operation only for 30 days. Since it would be stipulated that 60 days’ notice should be given in the case of permanent regulations, there would necessarily be a lapse of 30 days before the emergency regulations could become permanent. When Parliament is not in session it will be competent for the Government, or any rule-making authority simultaneously to issue emergency and give notice of permanent regulations. If a thirty-day period were operative the emergency regulation would lapse at the end of that time, and the permanent regulations would come into operation. Consequently, the Government would not be embarrassed, as it could make regulations just as easily as it can to-day.
– One of the reports to which I have referred makes it clear that the Senate should hesitate before passing this amendment. It reads -
It will bc seen that clause 3 of the bill, which is word for word the same as section 3 that was repealed in 101(1, proposes to reestablish a practice that was tried for thirteen years and found wanting. The procedure of formally giving notice fell into disuse before the war. In order to make regulations without waiting 60 days for representations that never came, practically all rules were declared to bo urgent. Ninety-nine per cent, of the rules are machinery provisions for carrying out or giving effect to the act. Very few people outside the department concerned are in any way interested in them. But it is absolute waste of money to print and publish each statutory rule twice. Take the Defence Department. The military regulations comprise 261 pages and 833 regulations. The Air Force regulations comprise 163 pages and 513 regulations. There .are many sets of regulations administered by that department comprising 30 or 40 pages of printing. Few persons outside the Defence Department are interested in these regulations, but under the hill it would be necessary for these regulations to be printed as provisional rules, and afterwards confirmed by further rules. Hundreds of pounds would be wasted andno good purpose, or any other purpose, would be served. Honorable senators have referred to the orgy of regulations. Senator Brennan referred to the year 1927 in particular. He did not mention that in the years 1926 and 1927 all the departments were urged to reviseand consolidate their regulations in anticipation of the preparation of a reprint of regulations, which was issued afterthe end of 1927. Consequently, the volumes for1926 and 1927 were much larger than usual; that for 1926 containing 1,485 pages of regulations, and that for 1927 - the year mentioned by Senator Brennan - containing 1,137 pages. The volume for1928, however, fell to 750 pages, and would have been much smaller hut for the fact that it contained the first issue of the necessarily voluminous regulations made under the Bankruptcy Act, which came into force in that year; also aset of the High CourtRules, covering 132 pages, and certain other smaller consolidations which were not ready in time for the consolidation issued after the end of 1927.
In 1929 the volume of Statutory Utiles con tained only 245 pages. In 1930, it contained 349 pages.
It will thus be seen that, in normal years, there is no orgy of regulations, and considering the diverse activities of the Commonwealth, I donot think that the number of Statutory Rules made can be considered excessive. Of course, if the bill becomes law, the size of the volumes, and the amount of printing will be almost doubled, which, in these days of economy, is a serious matter.
There is no necessity for section 3. All rule-making authorities welcome representations or suggestions to Statutory Rules, and very often these are accepted and the rules amended accordingly. Before any rule is made, no one apparently is interested. The experience from 1903 to 1916 proved this. It is only after a rule is in operation that its defects, if any, can be brought to light.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [8.16] . - I direct attention to one statement in what the Minister has just read. It is “ the cost of printing would be almost doubled “. I say deliberately that whoever made that statement either knows nothing about printing or has deliberately endeavoured to mislead. The cost of printing would be increased only infinitesimaly. Once the matter was set up and copies taken from it, the type could be laid aside and used again later. The present Government did not consider the cost of printing when, on fifteen successive occasions, it gazetted regulations that had been disallowed. I believe I know as much about printing as even the chairman of directors of The World, and I say that, instead of being nearly doubled, the cost would be added to only fractionally. The point is not worthy of consideration in comparison with the principle that is here at stake; that is, that the public should know what laws are to be enforced against them.
SenatorLYNCH (Western Australia) [8.17].- -We have just had made to us two positive and responsible, yet contradictory, statements. Thatmade by the Minister is that, if the course proposed by Senator Colebatch is followed, there will be an addition of hundreds of pounds to the expenditure. That has been flatly denied by Senator Colebatch. What opportunity hasany honorable senator of judging who is right?
– They have only their own common sense to guide them.
– The further consideration of the bill ought to be postponed so that the matter might be inquired into by a committee. If I am to accept either one or the other statement, and am unable to judge from experience which is right, I am in a hopeless and helpless position.
– There is no occasion for this display of heat. The statement read by the Minister, I think in his cooler moments he will agree, contains the departmental point of view. That view, I admit, is entitled to our respect. But we are not considering whether a few extra pounds or shillings shall be spent. I agree with Senator Colebatch that these rules are kept in type until they become operative, when they are reprinted in proper form. What we are endeavouring to preserve is the control of Parliament over the rule-making authority. I wish to discuss this matter dispassionately. I believe I can lay to my soul the flattering unction that itwas because of the view that I held in regard to this rule-making power that the Government of the day embarked on the consolidation of all the statutory rules to which reference has been made in the statement from which the Minister has read. There is some substance in one of the arguments advanced by the Minister, although it has no bearing on the amendment that Senator Colebatch has moved. It relates to purely administrative regulations, such as the majority of those that are made under the Defence Act. There must be some method by which the difficulties envisaged by the Minister and the Attorney-General’s Department might be overcome. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce), who has had considerably more experience than I in connexion with these matters, will admit that there are administrative regulations which could be exempted from these provisions. Bearing that in mind, I cannot see that any objection should be offered to the amendment, because its sole purpose is to make of the bill a harmonious whole, dovetailing these provisions with those r,bat come later. Let us agree to the amendment; then, when we come to the proposed sub-section 3 we can take what.ever steps may be considered necessary by the Minister in regard to administrative rules that do not give effect to policy.
– How would the honorable senator differentiate between those and the others?
– I understand that under the English act certain exemptions are made. Surely we can so amend the measure as to leave outside the scope of this portion of it regulations that are purely departmental, reserving the right to disallow them if that action i3 considered necessary. There are hundreds of defence regulations which are of no public importance, and deal only with routine matters of procedure and administration.
– Would the honorable senator exempt health regulations?
– I have an open mind in regard to regulations that are purely administrative. What we are dealing with just now is the substantive provision which Senator Colebatch wishes to make more harmonious with- what follows.
– I arn not resisting the principle.
– This discussion might more properly take place on the proposed sub-section 3. I believe that the Minister desires to improve the measure, which the department may find somewhat irksome after many years of freedom. We are all fond of freedom; but Parliament must have regard to its own powers, and not lightly part with any of them. In the memorandum from which the Minister has read, a number of statutes are referred to, the rules made under which are practically all administrative, and have no public significance. On the other hand, some of the regulations that have been issued’ under the Health Act closely affect the public, and may have a certain amount of political significance.
Amendment agreed to.
[S.29]. - I move -
That the following new sub-sections b>added to proposed new section 4: - “ (2.) Either House of the Parliament may. by resolution of which notice has been given, disallow any provisional rule and thereupon the rule so disallowed shall cease to have effect. (3.) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other act, where any provisional rule has been disallowed during any session of the Parliament, no rule, made during the same session and similar in substance and effect t<> the rule disallowed, shall come into opera tion.”.
I desire to restore fully to Parliament it* control over this rule-making power. 1 do not think that the bill as drawn quite does that, lt would be possible for jj provisional rule, although in operation for only 30 days, to accomplish the purpose intended, contrary to the wish of Parliament. Parliament ought to have the power to disallow provisional rules, and there ought to be a prohibition on the rule-making, authority against the making of a similar rule. Honorable senators are aware that frequently something is accomplished by regulation, after which the regulation becomes a dead letter. I quite agree with Senator Colebatch that the bill as drawn does provide protection in the case of a permanent rule, because of the necessity for 30 days’ notice to be given. A ruling having been disallowed, the Government could not bring in a permanent rule until the expiration of 30 days, but it could bring in a provisional rule I think thai the amendment is necessary in order to restore fully the control of Parliament over the rule-making authority, especially in the light of the events of the past few months.
– I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) that he is proposing to amend the wrong measure. The Rules Publication Act relates to the publication of rules, and section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act, deals with the tabling of statutory rules and their subsequent disallowance by either House of Parliament, if it thinks fit. It would not be wise to place the proposed amendment in this bill, but if the Leader of the Opposition desires, he could incorporate his proposal in a bill to amend section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act. I am relying, not only on my own opinion, but also on that of the Crown Law authorities, and they have advised me that the proper procedure is not to embody this amendment in the bill brought forward by Senator Colebatch, hut to incorporate it in a bill to amend section 1.0 of the Acts Interpretation Act.
– Does the Minister suggest that the same, objection applies to proposed new sub-section 4?
– Yes. The Crown Law authorities consider that this amendment should be incorporated in another measure. A person who refers to the Acts Interpretation Act would, naturally, expect to find in it a provision of this description, and its omission from that act, and its inclusion in another act of which fact the person i3 unaware, might lead to litigation and considerable expense. I, therefore, suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that he bring in a bill to amend the Acts Interpretation Act.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [8.36].- The difficulty which the Minister has pointed out did occur to me, but this hill enacts, not only the procedure in regard to notice, but also the question of the approval of Parliament. Because of that, I deemed it advisable to move this amendment, which was drafted by the draftsman in the Crown Law office. I can quite believe that the Crown Law authorities consider that this amendment would be better in the Acts Interpretation Act, but that, I submit, applies also to the proposed new sub-section 4. This is one of the difficulties with which we are always faced in respect of private bills. I have always thought that the provision in the Acts Interpretation Act was out of place, because that act really interprets certain provisions of acts of Parliament. Yet we have put the provision relating to procedure in that act.
– If that were not so, we should need to put it in every act.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.It is the obligation of the Government, if it meets with the approval of this Parliament, to put that right. I wish to obtain from the Senate an expression of opinion as to the effect of proposed new sub-section 4, and the right of Parliament to disallow rules. I shall be satisfied if the Government is prepared to accept these principles by bringing down the necessary legislation to reconcile the two acts of Parliament. I do not wish to introduce a separate bill, but I shall take this opportunity to obtain from the Senate an expression of opinion on this principle.
– I have no objection to the Senate expressing its opinion ; but I Wish to impress upon the Loader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) the fact that we are now dealing, not with a motion, but with a particular piece of legislation, and that the new clause which he proposes to insert in the bill i3 not appropriate to it. It would not be a great advertisement for this Senate if it became known that, although there were three lawyers in the chamber, it permitted the insertion in legislation of a provision that was noi appropriate to it. The amendment is irrelevant to the measure, and would cause chaos if inserted in it. I shall, therefore, oppose it.
– I rise, not to intrude in legal argument as to whether this amendment is the right thing in the wrong place or otherwise, but to suggest to the Leader of the- Opposition (Senator Pearce) a slight alteration of his proposed amend- » ment. I take it that his object is to maintain the supremacy of Parliament, and not to shackle it where freedom might be necessary. I suggest the possibility of events arising which, at a given period, might require the restoration of a particular regulation which some time previously had been disallowed. I, therefore, suggest that the right honorable senator alter his amendment by adding after the word “operation” these words, “ unless approved by both Houses of Parliament.”
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [8.43]. - I am willing to accept the suggestion of Senator Rae. I therefore ask leave to amend my amendment by adding after the word “ operation” these words, “unless that rule is approved by each House of the Parliament.”
Amendment - by leave - amended accordingly, and, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 (Regulations).
– I understood that the Minister would give us some information about the probable effects of this clause. Had he done so, I intended to offer a few observations on the subject.
.- -After the Senate affirmed the principle underlying this bill, I went to a good deal of trouble to obtain reports from the various departments to ascertain their views on the probable effects of the measure if passed. The report of the Health Department contained the following comments : -
Suppose an epidemic was so inconsiderate as to break out when Parliament or one House of Parliament is not sitting. The health authorities might decide on a certain line of action, and urgent regulations might be made to deal with the situation. They would remain in force a month ; and the epidemic might stay longer. The health authorities would be helpless until there is a new session of Parliament.
The Director-General of Health points out the enforcement of regulations under the Quarantine Act is of vital importance, and the delay of even a day or two may lead to serious results. The Director-General regards it as essential that regulations under the Quarantine Act should be exempt from the provisions of the bill
So far as I can gather, Senator McLachlan’s opinion is in accordance with the view expressed in the last sentence that I have read. He appears to think that regulations of a certain kind should be exempt from the provisions of the measure. I suggest that it would be agood thing to give me an opportunity to circulate the reports that I have obtained. It might also be desirable to appoint a small committee to prepare a report on the whole measure with the object of securing a bill which will not only obtain the endorsement of this chamber but also have a reasonable probability of being passed by another place. It is certainly desirable that we should do everything possible to avoid causing chaos in some of the departments.
Senator Sir Hal COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [8.49]. - If we take the bill to the report stage, we shall have a week in which to give further consideration to its provisions. If the Minister thinks that a bill of this kind will be approved by the departmental officers, he is making a great mistake. The purpose of the measure is to restrict the power of departmental officers, to give publicity to all proposed regulations, and to protect the rights of the Senate. I have just received copies of a number of regulations which seem to me to repeat regulation* which have, in a measure at least, been disallowed by the Senate.
– I am not prepared to agree to the passage of this bill until additional information has been made available to me. I do not think that it is usual for a departmental head to run counter to his Ministerial head. I have never had an experience of that kind, and I do not think it is necessary to pass acts of Parliament to meet such a contingency. My experience has been that departmental heads do not attempt to over-ride the wishes of their administrative heads. To do so would be more than their position was worth. In view of the fact that the officers of the Health Department have asked such serious questions about this bill, I am not willing to give any further support to it until the position has been clarified.
– If the bill is taken to the report stage, we shall have another week in which to consider it.
– That is so.
– In that case, I shall not offer any further objection to the measure at this stage.
– While I accept the view of Senator Colebatch that a measure of this kind is not likely to receive the concurrence of departmental heads, because it seeks to curtail the regulation-making power which they at present exercise, there are some aspects of the subject which require further consideration. The exercise of the regulation-making power has grown to such an extent now that it has come to be regarded as one of the privileges of departments to make regulations. It may be true that many regulations are purely formal, and necessary for administrative purposes, but the fact remains that they have just as much force as a law passed by both Houses of Parliament. I have not had any experience of departmental administration, but I find it hard to believe that regulations are made more in the interests of the public than in the interests of the departments. What Senator Lynch has said about departmental heads seeking to give expression to the wishes of the Minister, is probably right technically but wrong practically. It usually happens that Ministers carry out the wishes of departmental heads. Although I make that statement quite seriously, I do not put it forward as being literally true. The permanent head of a department must necessarily be in a better position than a Minister to offer suggestions on some questions, and I should think that in nine cases out of ten the Minister accedes to the wishes of the permanent head of his department. But I agree that there is room for a good deal of confusion in the administration of measures of this kind.For instance, the provision in section. 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act of 1904 would be quite likely to be confused with the provisions of this measure if the new sub-sections which Senator Pearce desires to have included in it are agreed to. When such provisions are contained in totally disconnected measures, there is undoubtedly a possibility that confusion will arise in the administration of them. Senator Daly has referred to the objection of the Health Department. I lis tened to the very closely reasoned speech of Senator Colebatch, and, as usual, his remarks were made with such clearness that they carried a certain amount of conviction with them; but I must admit that I had previously marked on my copy of the bill, “What will happen if Parliament is not sitting?” I feel a certain responsibility in connexion with this measure, for there arc not many lawyers in this committee. If we agree to the passage of a measure which shows signs of loose drafting, we may meet a certain amount of criticism. In these circumstances, I, like some other honorable senators, desire more time to consider the probable effects of the measure.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [8.58]. - While endorsing the views of my learned friend, Senator Brennan, I am always pleased to do anything to prevent the increase of bureaucratic control in our public! departments. Such control is a curse in unions, political organizations, and, not least, in Parliament. Although it has been said that a few more dayswill be available to us to consider the probable effects of this bill, I think it would be wise to appoint a small committee to concentrate attention upon it, with the object of eliminating provisions that may cause confusion and removing the objections that may be now offered to it. If we are attempting to do the right thing in the wrong way, an amending Acts Interpretation Bill should be introduced, embodying what is desired. Why should we insert in this bill an amendment which the Crown Law authorities say should be in another measure, and, if adopted, may result in expensive litigation?
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Debate resumed from the 12th November(vide page 1643), on motion by Senator Sir Hal Colebatch -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The objection that the Government has to this measure is that it is contended by the honorable senator who submitted it that it is impossible for the matters covered by this bill to be regulated by specific acts of Parliament. The honorable senator proposes to substitute the issuing of regulations for the present system of issuing proclamations, since Parliament has the right to disallow regulations, but cannot disallow a proclamation. If we admit the principle of allowing some authority, apart from Parliament, to legislate, we have to determine the most effective means of doing so. The Government, having given serious consideration to the subject-matter of the bill, is satisfied that the system which Senator Colebatch suggests would be less efficient than that now in operation, notwithstanding its disadvantages. I trust that the Senate will insist upon hearing stronger reasons in support of this measure than those submitted by Senator Colebatch, before it decides to alter the present method of dealing with customs matters. The measure is somewhat similar in principle to that which we have just been discussing. There appears to be a strong feeling iu the minds of honorable senators opposite that the powers of the Executive should be limited.
– Does the Assistant Minister suggest that they should be unlimited, as they are at present ?
– They are not altogether unlimited, as those who create a Government can destroy it.
– And probably they will do so before very long.
– No government can remain in office indefinitely. Generally speaking, when a government is in office, it is also in power. When a government has a majority in another place one would, in ordinary circumstances, expect it to have a majority of supporters in this chamber. If we affirm the principle of government by executive, apart from Parliament, it does not matter in practice whether it is government by regulation or proclamation.
– Only that this chamber has no control over government by proclamation.
– If the legislation had been framed at a time when circumstances were similar to those which now exist, the Government of the day would have experienced considerable difficulty in persuading Parliament to sanction legislation by proclamation. The Senate would have insisted on legislation by regulation. Parliament can limit the powers of the Executive with respect to matters upon which it can issue proclamations. In principle, I sec very little difference between government by proclamation and government by regulation.
– What is the effect of this measure in the light of that just debated? Does it affect it at all?
– I think it does. There is some similarity in principle. The Senate has affirmed the principle that delegated powers shall be exercised by regulation, and that even when exercised in that way there shall be some limitation.
– Both measures deal with a limitation of the powers of die Executive.
– Does the Rules Publication Bill cover regulations or only statutory rules?
– That is a point to which I directed the attention of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) in connexion with the amendment he moved, to that measure. I have expressed my own opinion, which has been confirmed by the Crown Law authorities, and was not dissented from by Senator Brennan or Senator McLachlan. The lay members of this chamber think that there may be something in our contention, and it was unanimously agreed not to take the bill beyond the stage reached until an opportunity had been provided to peruse the reports from the Crown Law authorities and from, various governmental departments. If the Senate feels that this principle should be affirmed, the measure can be disposed of, but, it will still have to be passed in another place, where the majority may not support the views expressed by honorable senators opposite.
– I realize the importance of the proposals embodied in this measure. The necessity for its introduction has been brought about owing to the liberal use which this Government has made of the power of proclamation, under which it has imposed embargoes one after the other to such an extent that it appears to a number of people in this country that it has abused its authority. But while its action may be regarded by some as an abuse of power, I am afraid that a situation may arise which would occasion difficulty, and be incompatible with responsible government. “When an appeal was made to the electors two years ago, the party at present in power was returned with an overwhelming majority. My conception of responsible government is that an executive formed from a party returned with a majority has the undoubted right to be regarded as the mouthpiece of the country. If the Executive wishes to employ the powers of proclamation, it is free to do so.
– Only in Australia.
– The Bruce-Page Government used the power of proclamation to impose embargoes, and the only difference between that Government and this is that this Government has used that power to a greater extent than any other administration within the political history of this country. When a party has waltzed over its opponents, it is the governing authority. But in the matter of issuing proclamations this Government has made it appear that there is no limit to its powers in that direction. This Government in the exercise of its powers could issue a proclamation prohibiting certain importations under the Customs Act, and this chamber might disagree with its action. If the law were altered, as Senator Colebatch proposes, it would be possible for the Senate, constituted as the present Senate is constituted, to take control from a government fresh from the electors and commanding a majority in another place. Where should the power reside? In the party fresh from the polls, or in the Senate?
– The law-making power resides in the two Houses of the Parliament.
– But if the law were altered. this chamber might disallow certain embargoes imposed by a government. In that event, the Senate would really be the governing branch of the legislature.
– The Constitution contemplated that situation, and provided for a double dissolution if the Senate persisted in its objection to government proposals.
– I am merely pointing to difficulties that might -arise if we pass this bill, and I am wondering what would bc the attitude of Senator Colebatch if, in the course of time, an appeal were made to the country, and if a government supported by him were returned with a substantial majority in another place, and had to face a hostile Labour or socialist majority in the Senate.
– I should feel that my party had no right to enact any law that did not meet with the approval of both Houses.
– The honorable senator would have to bow to the inevitable, because the Government would be unable to give legislative effect to its policy.
– If the Senate persisted in its objection, the remedy would be a double dissolution.
– I am postulating a state of affairs which, I think, should be considered. In the course of my somewhat wayward reading, I have learned - I think that I am quoting the opinion of Locke, expressed in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding - that the most prolific cause of differences is the inability of the average man to put himself in the place of the other man. That, I suggest, is what we should do in this case. I should like Senator Colebatch to put himself in the position of any member of the Government, or its supporters, and see how he would feel if there were in this chamber an overwhelming majority of Labour or socialist members opposed to a government which he supported.
– In such circumstances, the Senate should be sent to the country, as it would have been, months ago, if this Government had had any courage.
– The probability is that I shall vote for the bill; but, before making up my mind, I shall wait until I hear what other honorable senators have to say.
– Some “wise words were uttered by Edmund Burke when he said that power, in whatever hands, is never guilty of too strict a limitation upon itself. This Government affords a signal illustration of the wisdom of - that observation. The 70 or 80 embargoes which it has imposed provide exactly that number of food reasons why we should pass this bill, agree with Senator Lynch that we should consider it with great care, and that we should bear it in mind that the present Government may not always be in power. For this reason we should “try to consider dispassionately to what extent this proclamation power should go. It would be helpful if the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) or Senator Daly could indicate some way in which it might be possible to provide for a reasonable exercise of this regulation-making power. Throughout the history of this Parliament, culminating in the action of the present Administration, there has been an abuse of this power, and it is time that this branch of the legislature asserted its right to a full share in the government of this country. I am unable to follow the reasoning of my friend, Senator Lynch. He has put it that a government, fresh from the country, may make regulations which the Senate, should not disallow. I think I pointed out, in the debate on another bill, that regulations made by the Executive are, in effect, the law of the land, because they are addressed to, and must be obeyed by, every person in the land, under pain of whatever penalities they provide. The Constitution also enacts that the legislative power shall be vested in -the GovernorGeneral or the King, and the two Houses of Parliament, and when Senator Lynch suggests that, because the Senate declines to pass regulations made by a government fresh from the country, this chamber is really governing the country, I fail to follow his reasoning. All that the Senate does is to assert its right in the government of the country.
– The effect is the same.
– Not quite. Parliament is elected by the people. The Senate, as one branch of the legislature, has equal rights with another place. I think Senator Colebatch has already shown that the makers of the Constitution intended that the Senate should have some measure of continuity to oppose those temporary currents or waves of emotion which sometimes sway the people to a greater extent than is desirable - a chamber with some measure of stability, to act as a check upon the gusts of passion which too often sweep over the popular chamber. All that this bill seeks to do is to restore the Senate to the position provided for it under the Constitution ; to authorize it, not to pass legislation on its own initiative, but to prevent either the Government or another place from doing that. The bill deals only with that branch of the law-making power which resides in governments. It is only because there has been an abuse of this power that we desire to assert the rights of the Senate by enacting that no regulation shall be the law of the land until it has been assented to by both Houses of the Parliament. The important legislation which has been effected by the long list of embargoes imposed by this Government affords an illustration of a very dangerous position which may arise, because there are in this country people who think that the effect of those embargoes is not going to be so simple and beneficial as the Government, no doubt honestly, believes. We know nothing whatever of the reasons which actuated the Government in this matter. All we know is that probably a subcommittee of Cabinet, which really means one or two individual members of it, determined that the people of this country should be entirely cut off, with regard to certain commodities, from communication with people in other countries. This is altogether too drastic a power to vest in any small body of persons, deliberating in secret; because that is how Cabinet does its business. For this reason I welcome any movement on the part of the Senate to assert its rights.
– Strange as it may appear, I find myself more in accord with Senator Lynch on this matter than with my friend, Senator Brennan. The latter ignored entirely the obvious fact that the exercise by the Senate of its power to. disallow regulations really means taking from an executive the authority to govern, notwithstanding that it hadbeen returned with a substantial majority in another place, with a mandate or a positive endorsement of proposals, including the making, of regulations. One branch of the legislature, fresh from the people, may have received endorsement of a specific policy which includes the reconstruction of the fiscal system. Yet a recalcitrant Senate may, by its power of disallowance, thwart the expressed will of the overwhelming majority of the electors.
– Only temporarily.
– But even a temporarydisallowance of a government proposal may dislocate its plans. A bill which the Senate has just been discussing, apparently with approval, provides that after a regulation has been disallowed by one bran eli of the legislature jio regulation of similar effect shall be enacted during the same session. That is a considerable limitation of the Government’s power to govern.
– Is the language of the Rules’ Publication Bill wide enough to .apply to a proclamation under the Customs Act?
– Does it not apply to every rule, notwithstanding anything contained in any other act? It would preclude the possibility of the Government over-riding, under the customs law, what might be regarded as only a temporary decision* of the Senate. If this chamber had disallowed a regulation issued in lien of a proclamation it would not consent tocarry subsequently a motion thwarting its own powers: We should define and limit the power of proclamation rather than abolish it.
– I suggest that some such limitation might be appropriate to the Rules Publication Bill.
– There may he circumstances in which a proclamation under the Customs Act would be eminently desirable. The abolition of the power’ of proclamation and the substitution of regulations, thus making one chamber the arbiter of a Government’s fate, would be going too far.
Debate (on motion by Senator HOARE) adjourned.
The following’ paper was presented: -
Motion (by Senator Dooley) proposed^ -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.. - On Tuesday when Senator Rae and I were engaged in Sydney in connexion with the municipal elections,Senator Brennan moved the adjournment’ of the Senate to discuss the method of expending this Parliament’s grant of £260^000 for unemployment relief works. The honorable gentleman called attentionto the fact that in Victoria efficient State machinery for’ the engagement of relief workers was in existence, and that the setting up of a Commonwealth establishment for the expenditure of a mere £250,000 was unnecessary duplication. Similar machinery exists in all the other States. Almost from the inception of responsible government, New South Wales has had a Department of Labour and; Industry. There are also labour exchanges. Either Senator Barnes or Senator Dooley stated that in the past the engagement of men through the State Bureau in New South Wales” for Commonwealth work had not been satisfactory. I dissent from that statement. The State officials, as the result of long experience, have evolved very efficient machinery for the employment of men and the distribution of relief.
In the official organs of the Government, The World and the New South Wales Worker, the Commonwealth. Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) has replied to the allegations of political graft and corruption’ iii connexion with the employment of nien at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. We regard his action in connexion with the distribution of the New South Wales share of the Commonwealth grant as neither more nor less than political highjacking, something that one would expect from a Yankee four-flusher. We all are aware of some of the evil practices .that are incidental to Tammany rule in New York and Chicago. I do not say that Mr. Theodore, as custodian of the Commonwealth finances, has taken £5,000 of public funds and put the money into his pocket, but I do say that, as member for Dalley, the electorate in which the Cockatoo Island Dockyard is situated, ho has, through his political organizers and canvassers, used part of this money for the advantage of his supporters, and to the detriment of people in other constituencies. Each of the 36 members of this Senate would like to be able to give to a few hundred men a Christmas box in the form of relief work, but the political high-jacker has been at work in Dalley.
– I draw the attention of the honorable senator to Standing Order 418-
No senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives, and all personal reflections on members shall bc considered highly disorderly.
– In his reply, Mr. Theodore side-stepped the issue, and introduced irrelevancies by attacking Mr. Lang as to the allocation of the dole. Mr. Lang has no control over the apportionment of the dole, which is distributed by the Department of Labour, through the police. It is useless for Mr. Theodore to endeavour to draw a red herring across the trail. On Wednesday next, the 25th, members of my group in another place will carry this fight a stage further, and I can assure Mr. Theodore that he will not then be granted a political non-suit. We have stated definitely that political organizers and canvassers have been at work at Cockatoo Island Dockyard in the interests of Dalley electors. Senator Duncan made it clear that the people of New South Wales are suspicious about the whole affair, and Senator Daly rushed in with the statement that New South Wales is always suspicious-
– I rise to a point of order. Obviously, the honorable senator is not stating what appears in Hansard, but is drawing attention to a statement that was made in the press, a wholly inaccurate report of what occurred between Senator Duncan and myself.
– The honorable senator must refer only to Hansard when quoting the utterances of other honorable senators.
– I am not quoting, sir. At the same time, I have no desire to misrepresent Senator Daly. Members of my group have made these allegations, and the people of Australia realize that something must be done. They are waiting. I assure them that they will not be disappointed, provided that the Government is game enough to appoint a royal commission or select committee to investigate the matter. The other evening, apparently in righteous indignation, Senator Daly said, “ Let me be the committee “. Your watchful eye, sir, prevents my replying adequately to that. Just imagine such a thing. It is a case of, “ All in the snow together, kids, but let me be the committee”. Nothing like that will happen. I have been in the political game only two years, but I have had a long and hard training in the industrial movement, and I know all the tricks of the trade. Senator Daly will not be allowed to put it over my group in that way. I have it in mind that but a few months ago, the honorable senator was put on the “ outer “. At a later date, he was purified, and reinstated as a member of the Government. In the circumstances, I do not blame Senator Daly for protecting one of his colleagues; it is a return for services rendered.
In the course of his reply the other evening, Senator Daly endeavoured to bring in the name of Senator Dooley. I interjected, “Do not bring Senator Dooley into it”. That honorable senator is right out of the picture in this scrap. However, if he desires to protrude his chin, he also will find a stiff political right connecting with it. Senator Dooley, as Assistant Minister controlling the Department of Works, stated that he had full control of the allocation of this £250,000. The honorable senator is aware that £5,000 was set aside for the renovation of machines, machine shops, and other sections of Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and that the allocation of that money is under the jurisdiction of the federal Shipping Board. I assure Senator Dooley that my colleagues and I have nothing against Mr. Todd and other departmental heads of the works section.
Posing as the possessor of strong biceps, Senator Daly has rushed in crying, “ It is all right, Ted ; I am in your corner “. My group has the numbers, and the constitutional power to move the adjournment of another place next “Wednesday, and then the Government will be challenged to a showdown as to the allotment of this money. I know that my group has the sympathy of honorable senators in this matter, and neither SenatorRae nor I intend to retract one word of what we have said on the subject. We intend to see that Mr. Theodore faces the music. All that we ask is that immunity shall be granted to those who are prepared to give evidence before a royal commission or select committee.
SenatorMcLachlan. - Why do they need immunity? They ought not. to be penalized for telling the truth.
SenatorDUNN- We know that strange things happen in such circumstances, and we want to ensure that these people will be granted protection.
I come to another matter, and on this I should like Senator Pearce to give me his attention. This morning, I asked the following questions: - 1.Has any financial agreement been entered into at any meeting of the Federal Cabinet, between Mr. Theodore, the Federal Treasurer, onthe one hand, and the Commonwealth Bank Hoard on the other, for the purpose of making credits available to the extent of £5,000,000 for public and other works throughout Australia?
At that convention, Mr. Theodore stated that quite a large sum of money would be set aside for the building of a lighthouse service ship, and a trawler and survey ship for the Tasmanian service. As is well known, for the past eight months, a resolution has appeared on the notice-paper in my name relating to the building of ships for the Tasmanian trade. Mr. Theodore went to this convention for the purpose of tickling the ears of the delegates who were there assembled. It is a shame that he should build up false hopes in that way. If that is not four-flushing, what is?
– I do not quite understand the honorable senator. What is “ four-flushing “ ?
– You, sir, are too young to hear these things.
– I ask the honorable senator not to be frivolous. He must define the expression that he has used.
– It is to be found in the works of Mark Twain; it refers to a Yankee card trick - “ Now you see it, now you don’t.”
– I am afraid that the honorable senator is out of order in using it.
– Mr. Theodore made the statement that the Government intended to build two ships for the Tasmanian trade, a lighthouse steamer, a trawler, and a survey ship. I suppose the purpose of the trawler is to fish for flathead. The Commonwealth Statistician has computed that the population of Australia is 6,500,000. If many of those persons are deceived by this political dope of the Treasurer, the trawler will have a full cargo. All these political untruths were uttered in the Young Men’s Christian Association’s building, which I have always regarded as the temple of purity. The Treasurer went on to say that it was proposed to issue a loan of £1,500,000,the money to be made available to the farmers for reproductive works. Presumably they are to be given silos, roads, &c. The honorable gentleman further stated that another loan of £1,000,000 was to be raised for the completion of water and sewerage works in Sydney. After listening to these staggering figures it is a wonder that the delegates to this notable conference did not suffer from water on the brain. Here we have the Treasurer, on the one hand, through his canvassers and political advisers, making everything easy for himself in Dalley ; and, on the other hand, throwing out his neck and getting rid of this political dope at the Young ‘ Men’s Christian Association. To my mind, he was “scabbing” on a Chow’s opium den.
– I ask the honorable senator to substitute more appropriate language for that which he has just used.
– I withdraw the wor.d “scabbing,” and say that the Treasurer would put to shame a Chinese opium den.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that the delegates were playing fan-tan at the Young Men’s Christian Association? .
– I would not make such a suggestion. But evidently the Treasurer was playing fan-tan with the delegates.
– “Who won?
– The Treasurer, of course. But let me proceed with this sordid story, which is a tragedy so far as the unemployed are concerned. In Australia to-day there are 400,000 unemployed men and women, who have no hope of getting a job. The Government of every State, including that which I represent, is right up against it in finding money, for sustenance and relief works. Yet this intellectual giant, the saviour of Queensland, struts like a political turkey-cock upon the stage of the Young Men’s Christian Association, and tells the delegates there assembled how he proposes to lead them out of their bondage. If that is not a political crime, I want to know what is.
I have said sufficient. I feel that if I said more I should incur the displeasure of the Chair, and that is not my wish.
– Some time ago the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) requested that copies of the report that was issued following recent investigations in New Zealand into the price of petrol, should be procured. I now inform the right honorable senator that copies of that report are available, and may be obtained upon application to the Clerk of the Senate.
The remarks of my honorable friend, Senator Dunn, apparently had two objects, one of which concerns me and the Government very deeply. The Government made available as much as it could obtain for the purpose of giving hungry men something to tide them over what is customarily regarded as a cheerful season of the year. In doing that, it abrogated all the regulations that have hitherto governed the employment of men. It said that the only qualification which any man need possess in order to share in the work provided was that he was out of work and hungry. That seemed to me to be quite right. Every honorable senator knows that unemployment is not peculiar to any particular part of Australia; there are hungry men, women and children, from one end to the other of this land. Does any honorable senator believe that I should be jealous of any person who obtained fi worth of goods as a result of his participation in this scheme? I believed that honorable senators were unanimous in their opinion that this allocation of money was an offering by the Government to those who were worst off in the community. That offering was made apart altogether from sectional considerations. I cannot understand any objection being raised to it.
An attack has been made upon the integrity of the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore). Let me say that the Treasurer is a colleague of mine, and during his career has held many responsible positions in this country. He has, apparently, been pursued by ill-luck. Recently a charge was levelled against him, and now another charge has been made. On the first charge he was acquitted, with his record unsullied.
– He was dumb.
– Why did he refuse to enter the witness box?
– The Treasurer was tried by a court of his own countrymen, and was acquitted without a stain on his character.
– I rise to a point of order. I spoke on the adjournment on the subject of the allocation of £5,000 for the provision of employment at Cockatoo Island. I wish to know whether the Minister is in order in making personal references to Mr. Theodore.
– Unfortunately, the Standing Orders provide that subjects which are not relevant may be discussed on the adjournment, and I must say that honorable senators take full advantage of that fact.
– I have already dealt with the allocation of £5,000 for employment at Cockatoo Island. I do not care how that money is spent so long as it benefits some one who is in dire distress.
– Senator Dunn referred to persons who were travelling through the electorate of Dalley obtaining lists of names.
– I do not believe that there is any truth in that statement. The Treasurer would not stoop to such a thing. I feel obliged to defend my colleague, who, after all, has fought the battle of Labour in this country bravely and successfully. I have known him personally for many years, and his political career is unimpeachable. I cannot allow this occasion to pass without paying my tribute to his ability and his integrity. He has handled capably the affairs of this country. From time to time jibes have been hurled and mud thrown at him from various quarters, but despite that, his record remains unsullied.
– I pay a tribute of respect to the Minister for the loyal way in which he has fought his battle on behalf of a colleague. I wish to put the facts before the Senate shortly and plainly. I have no desire to hurl jibes or to throw mud, but certain information has come into my possession to the’ effect that an organized attempt, in which the Treasurer was involved, has been made to send in lists of men for relief employment, consisting only of residents of the Dalley electorate. The residents of neighbouring electorates, many of whom had previously been employed at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, were passed over in order to concentrate on giving the friends of the Treasurer the first preference of employ ment. The amount to be expended is not the question at issue. We agree with Senator Barnes that the money has been . allocated for the express purpose of providing a portion of the unemployed with a little Christmas cheer, but we object to the organized effort that has been made to give the supporters of Mr. Theodore preference in respect of relief employment. It is clear that there would be no difficulty if we had unlimited funds, and could provide employment for everybody ; but, obviously, £5,000 will go only a limited distance. It would be all right if all had an equal chance to get a share of the work, but the complaint is that that is not so. It is alleged that organizers connected with the federal Labour party have been collecting the names of certain persons who desire work, with the object of giving preference to them, and that these lists have been confined to residents in the Dalley electorate. We say that the evidence that this has been done is sufficient to justify the appointment of a commission to inquire into this subject. If we were to publish the names of our informants they would bo liable to victimization; but that would not be so if they gave evidence before a commission on oath. In that circumstance, the force of public opinion would be sufficient to protect them. It would be a bad thing if any suggestion of political corruption could go unchallenged in a matter of this kind. We are not asserting that any money is actually passing through the hands of the Treasurer, but that the method that has been adopted in the expenditure of this money savours of political corruption, which should not be tolerated for a minute. Everything possible should be done to remove any suggestion of corruption.
– If the Government had taken the right course, and disbursed this money through the State Governments or local governing authorities, this trouble would not have occurred, and we should have been certain that the unemployed in’ every part of the Commonwealth would receive equal consideration. The State
Governments and the local governing authorities have the machinery for expending this money, and the Commonwealth Government has not. This Government, by its own action, has laid itself open to the charges that have been made against it to-night by Senator Dunn and Senator Rae, because it has sought to obtain political kudos for itself through the expenditure of this money. It should have considered how the money could be expended to the best advantage on the most needy cases, and should not have reserved to itself the exclusive right of saying how and where it should be spent. Our local governing authorities are rendering yeoman service in the relief of distress in even the smallest towns and hamlets of the Commonwealth, and they are the best judges of how and where this money could most effectively be spent. The Government has only itself to blame for any criticism that it has incurred. There can be no doubt that in some cases suspicion has arisen that favouritism has occurred in the granting of work.
– Senator Dunn’s remarks to-night have shown that he did not grasp the main points in. the speeches that were made on this subject a few days ago on behalf of the Government. Great dissatisfaction has been expressed at the way in which previous government grants for the relief of unemployment have been expended by the States. Similar dissatisfaction is at present being expressed in connexion with the expenditure of the revenue obtained from the unemployment tax in New South Wales. It was thought when the ls. in the £1 tax was imposed that the whole of the money obtained from it. would be used for the relief of unemployment. The Commonwealth Government decided that it would take every possible step to ensure that the £250,000 made available for the relief of unemployment before Christmas would be expended in the most effective way. It is realized, of course, that that sum is but a drop in the ocean compared with the need that exists; but we wished to ensure that full value would be obtained for every penny spent. It was. therefore, determined that as much of the money as was possible should be spent on labour. The renovation of certain Commonwealth property has been badly needed for many years, and the Government felt that it would be wise to maintain the value of its assets by expending some of this money on that work. It was surely better to do this than to allow the money to be spent by local governing authorities, possibly in shifting sand from one place to another. We decided to control the expenditure of the money because dissatisfaction was expressed with the manner in which the State Governments had expended similar grants previously. The instruction was issued to the appropriate authorities that the money must be spent, so far as possible, on labour, and I conscientiously believe that that instruction is being strictly followed. I have not had the opportunity of discussing this matter with Mr. Payne, the chairman, of the Shipping Board, but I believe that all the money that has been made available is being wisely spent.
It has been suggested that the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) has engaged officers of the political party to which he belongs to collect the names of some of his constituents with the object of insuring special consideration for them. I do not believe that that has been done. I know that a number of members of Parliament have furnished lists of names to the authorities charged with the disbursement of this money; but I do not believe that the Treasurer has sent in the names of his friends, or supposed friends, nor do I believe that he has engaged members of his political organization to do this work.
Senator Rae and Senator Dunn have both exonerated me from blame in regard to the expenditure .of this money, but if they had any confidence in mc they would furnish me with the names of their informants, so that I could have their complaints sifted to the bottom. If they gave me the names of the persons who. have conveyed information to them I would guarantee that no victimization would occur. My colleague, Senator Daly, said, “ Let me he the judge “, but we were told that the possessors of this information knew too much about politics to do anything of the kind. Personally, I still believe that there is honesty’ in politics. I believe that the members of this Parliament are honest men. If I were in the position of some honorable senators 1 would willingly submit any evidence 1 possessed to any Minister, knowing that the charges I made would be properly investigated. The Minister for Works, who is an honorable man, would immediately arrange for a thorough investigation into such charges. I do not think for a moment that the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) would stoop to arranging for paid organizers of a political party to collect the names of those anxious to obtain work, in order to obtain political advantage for himself or his colleagues. In whatever way the money which has been appropriated is spent, dissatisfaction will prevail, particularly when only one needy man in ten can be provided with employment. When the Treasurer is challenged in another place as he undoubtedly will be, he will be able to explain the position to the complete satisfaction of those concerned, and to reply to the charges which have been made behind his back.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 November 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1931/19311119_senate_12_132/>.