19th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - On Thursday, the 25th May, Senator Morrow addressed a question to me concerning the importation of petrol into Australia and the allocation of dollars for that purpose, which I asked should be placed upon the noticepaper. A number of other questions were also addressed to me on this subject by honorable senators and I undertook to furnish a considered reply.
Practically all remittances in payment for petrol and other petroleum products imported into Australia, are made, in the first instance, in sterling to the London accounts of oil companies, into which are also paid amounts in respect of imports into other sterling area countries. As and when it is necessary to provide dollars against the balances standing to the credit of these aggregate accounts, approval of the United Kingdom Exchange Control authorities must be obtained. It will be apparent, therefore, that the country of origin of shipments of petrol imported into Australia does not necessarily indicate the extent to which payment for the cargoes is ultimately made in dollars, and for these reasons it is not practicable to provide for and to restrict the importation of petrol to a pre-determined dollar allocation. Petroleum products are therefore excluded from the general dollar budget from which allocations are made for the importation of other products of dollar origin.
For the reasons indicated, it is not possible to ascertain whether any additional dollars have been expended by reason of the abandonment of petrol rationing in Australia. Furthermore, it is difficult to determine whether the quantities of petrol which have been consumed since rationing was abolished are in excess of the’ quantities which would have ‘been permitted for consumption, under rationing. I mention, however, that the registration of new vehicles, the bulk of which are obtained from the United Kingdom, results in an appreciable increase of consumption month by month. The Australian Government is fully aware of the necessity to make the maximum use of sterling oil supplies,, and in co-operation with other members of the sterling area is at present considering the means of achieving this objective. The availability of increased supplies of sterling oil should result in a reduced dollar outlay by the sterling area, and this has doubtless influenced the British Government in its recent decision to abandon petrol rationing in the United Kingdom. Insofar as stocks are concerned, the quantity of petrol held at seaboard in oil company installations at the end of April, 1950, was 75,207,000 gallons. The average quantity held at the end of each month of this year has been 70,732,000 gallons, compared with 41,497,000 in 1948 and 53,777,000 gallons in 1949.
– Is it a fact that negotiations for the agreement under which the United States of America will accept British-built tankers and other products as partial payment for increased petrol supplies have extended over almost a year?
– No. Britain has been able to abolish petrol rationing because of the increase of its petrol refining capacity. The United Kingdom has been unable to sell all the motor spirit and fuel oil that its refineries are capable of handling. To help Britain to save dollars, negotiations are proceeding for an agreement under which the Empire countries will ask American companies to purchase a percentage of their motor spirit imports from the surplus stocks held by British refineries.
– Has the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport any information that he can give to the Senate about the use in ‘Victoria of coal obtained from the Callide fields in Queensland?
– As the Prime Minister announced last week, negotiations for the use of surplus Callide coal have been proceeding between the Prime Minister and myself, and the Premier of South Australia, and the Premier of Victoria - the two States in which most of the coal will be used.
– And the Premier of Queensland surely?
– Yes. I hope to be able to make a statement soon on the results of those negotiations.
– Can the Minister inform the Senate what the landed price of Callide coal in South Australia will be and how that price will compare with the price of coal imported from South Africa ?
– From memory I think that the present price of Callide coal is about the same delivered at Adelaide as the South African coal. That is approximately £5 16s. a ton.
asked the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
Senator McLEAY (through Senator O’sullivan). - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows :-
asked thu Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport the following questions, upon notice : -
Senator McLEAY (through Senator O’Sullivan) - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to a press report of a statement made yesterday by the retiring chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in Victoria, Mr. Kimpton, that six months had elapsed since the people of this country had elected a government that was pledged to put value back into the £1, and also that the Australian Government should make an interim statement of policy on this matter? Is the Government barren of such a policy? If not, when will its policy be given effect so that the fears of not only the Victorian Chamber of Commerce, but also of people throughout- the Commonwealth may be allayed ?
– My attention had not been directed to the report to which the honorable senator has referred. The Government does not consider itself to be under any obligation to chambers of commerce. Our main consideration is the welfare of the people of Australia as a whole. As I have endeavoured to explain to the honorable senator previously, the restoration of the purchasing power of the £1 is not exclusively a matter for legislation or regulation. It can be accomplished only by the utmost cooperation of all sections of the people, and I appeal again to honorable senators opposite, who have quite considerable influence with large sections of the people, to do their best to achieve the objective which we all so earnestly desire.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs said a few moments ago, that to put the value into the £1 would require the utmost co-operation. He also used the word “ co-operation “ last Thursday night. In view of a report in the Sydney Daily Mirror, that, after referring to “the rabble that follows the Labour party”, he said-
– I rise to order. Is it in order to read from a clipping from a newspaper when asking a question ?
– Doubtless all honorable senators will recall a debate that took place in this chamber a few days ago. It i3 not in order for an honorable senator, when asking a question, to quote from a newspaper. He may ask, in a general way, whether the Minister to whom the question is directed has noticed a newspaper report relating to a certain matter, but he may not actually read the report.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether his statement that the Labour party abjectly surrendered to the Communist party during the last eight years is to be regarded as part and parcel of his contribution to the co-operation to which he has referred? Is he prepared now to withdraw the statement?
– -I wish that the facts warranted a withdrawal of the statement, but I think it is undoubtedly true that for eight years the Chifley Administration succumbed to pressure by Communists.
– I ask that the Minister be called upon to withdraw his statement that during the last eight years the Labour party had surrendered to the Communist party. It is offensive to me.
– Senator Hendrickson has asked the Minister for Trade and Customs to withdraw certain terms that he regards as offensive, I therefore ask the Minister to withdraw them.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. President, and shall not attempt to defy it. However, I draw your attention to the fact that a former President of this chamber ruled that, to be objectionable, the words complained of must apply to an individual rather than to a party or an association. If that were not so, supporters of the Government would be precluded from criticizing the Opposition at all.
– I repeat what I have said before, that I am not going to be governed by the “ dead hand “ of the past. Although a former President of this chamber may have so ruled, it does not necessarily follow that I subscribe” to that opinion. Standing Order 418 provides -
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 be considered highly disorderly.
If an honorable senator objects to certain words on the ground that they are offensive to him, it is only fit and proper that I should call upon the honorable senator who used them to withdraw them. I therefore again ask the Minister to withdraw the words complained of.
– I repeat, Mr. President, that I bow to your ruling. I should be delighted to know that the words complained of are really offensive to honorable senators opposite. If they are, I shall not use them again.
– I have had numerous complaints from totally and permanently incapacitated servicemen regarding the diminishing purchasing power of their pensions as a result of the rise in prices since the 10th December, 1949. Will the Minister for Repatriation state when the Government intends to fulfil one of its election promises to increase the pension payments to totally and permanently incapacitated and limbless servicemen?
– I can assure the honorable senator that the promise made by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to the electors of Australia previous to the 10th December is being carried out. The right honorable gentleman stated then that if he were returned to power, his Government would institute a sub-committee of Cabinet consisting of ex-servicemen to investigate the whole position of pensions and allowances under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. The report of the subcommittee has been finished. I know that the honorable senator is very concerned about this matter and I assure him that that concern is shared by honorable senators on this side of the chamber. ow that the report of the sub-committee has been completed, the investigations on this important question will be finalized as early as possible.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Repatriation been directed to the following report in to-day’s issue of the Melbourne Argus: -
Disabled soldiers were incensed by Mr. Menzies’ failure to fulfil his election promise to review their pension, Mr. C. B. Laraghy, Victorian Limbless Soldiers’ Association secretary, said last night.
Has the Minister received a telegram on the subject from the Victorian Limbless Soldiers Association? If so, what does the Government propose to do about it?
– I have received a telegram on the subject, and I have replied to Mr. Laraghy in the terms of my answer to an earlier question on this subject.
– Will the Minister for Works and Housing inform the Senate what is the exact number of houses completed during the last three years by the Housing Commission of New South Wales ?
– I have studied this question and the answer is given in the New South Wales monthly summary of business statistics which is published by the Commonwealth Statistician. In the calendar years 1947, 1948 and 1949 9,837 permanent houses and flats were built by the New South Wales Housing Commission. That figure does not include work done by authorities such as the Rural Bank for whom the Housing Commission sponsors material requirements. During the same period the total of houses built by private and government agencies and firms was 50,892.
– When the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) made a vitriolic attack on Mr. Trygve Lie, Secretary to the United Nations, and suggested that he was tha tool of Russia, was he voicing the sentiments of the Government? If not, can the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether the Government intends to repudiate the statement, having regard to the prestige of this great man, Mr. Trygve Lie?
– I have not read, nor am I familiar with, the remarks allegedly made by the honorable member for Mackellar, Mr. Wentworth.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing aware that, for some years past, Commonwealth buildings erected in Queensland have been quite unsuited to the climatic conditions, being obviously patterned on similar buildings in the southern parts of Australia? Will the Minister inquire into the architectural design of future Commonwealth buildings, including those for the Commonwealth Bank, in order to ensure that they will be suitable under the conditions of heat and humidity encountered in the tropical and sub-tropical parts of the State?
– I shall place the honorable senator’s question before my colleague, the Minister for Works and Housing, and arrange for an answer to be supplied.
– Has the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport seen a report in the Hobart Mercury of to-day wherein it is stated that Mr. 0. M. Vertigan said that 70 per cent, of wharf difficulties were caused by lack of shed space and slowness in clearing cargo? He added that it was useless to ask why waterside workers did not clear ships more quickly if more space could not be found on the wharfs for them to work in. In view of the reported statement that waterside workers are not to blame for at least 70 per cent, of the slowturnround of ships, will the Minister retract his previous statement in which he blamed the waterside workers? Will he take action against the importers, warehouse-owners and others, who are really responsible for the slow turn-round of ships?
– I did not make a general attack on the waterside workers, but I can prove that, in some areas, where Communists are in control, the output of work is only 50 per cent. of what it should be. During my trip to Hobart, my attention was drawn to the fact that there was a serious shortage of shed space, and that applies to all the main wharfs in Australia. I discussed the matter with the Premier of Tasmania, and every effort is being made to solve the problem. Unfortunately, there was a fire on the Hobart wharf which added to the difficulty. At the ports where the waterside workers are free from Communist interference they are doing a good job, but where they are still controlled by Communists they are doing a bad job.
SenatorKATZ. - I remind the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport that during the last war the loading and unloading of cargoes in Australian ports was under the control of committees. Will he cause inquiries to be made to ascertain whether it would be possible to evolve a system under which there would be State cargo control committees and a central body with overriding authority? A similar system operated most effectively during the last war, and, to a great degree, eliminated shipping delays in Australia.
– Committees similar to the control committees that operated during the last war have been established in all main Australian ports. On most of them there are representatives of all sections of the shipping industry. They have been doing exceptionally good work. I do not think that there is any need to establish a central body with overriding authority. I point out, however, that my department has an officer in Tasmania and that in other ports liaison is achieved between my department, port committees and the State Government.
Broadcasting of Senate Proceedings
– Some questions that were asked last Thursday by myself and other honorable senators were deleted from the re-broadcast of our proceedings during question time on that day. I ask you, Mr. President, whether it is a fact that if a question is asked and a point of order is then raised in relation to it, that question is eliminated from the re-broadcast of questions? If that be so, many very important questions will not be re-broadcast.
– I have no knowledge of any question having been deleted from the re-broadcast of questions asked last Thursday. I shall make inquiries to ascertain the position.
– In view of the serious difficulties that are being experienced by age and invalid pensioners and widows of civilians in maintaining themselves, owing to the increasing cost of living, can the Minister for Social Services indicate when the Government will attempt to remedy the position?
– The matter is under consideration by the Government, which will announce its decision in due course.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Customs, by reminding the Senate that from time to time I have stated that some members of the Communist party belonged also to the Liberal party, of which they were financial members. Will the Minister inform me whether it is a fact that the Liberal party of New South Wales has endorsed a member of the Communistparty for the State seat of Waverley at the forthcoming State elections?
– Order ! It is not in order for an honorable senator to ask a question relative to a matter falling within the jurisdiction of a State.
– I ask the Leader of the Government whether the federal Liberal party has any connexion with the New South Wales Liberal party, which recently endorsed a Communist candidate for the Waverley seat at the forthcoming State election?
– It is rather pathetic to think that the credulity of honorable senators opposite could be imposed upon to such a degree that they would base a question on such absolute nonsense.
Formal Motion fob Adjournment. The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown). - I have received from Senator MeKenna an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
The failure of the Government in aspects of National Health, namely-
failure to provide pharmaceutical benefits, sickness and dental services for the people of Australia whilst they continue to pay taxes for these purposes;
failure to take any material steps to promote national health;
failure to inform the Parliament of its proposals (if any) in relation to the foregoing matters,
– I move-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 3.15 p.m.
– Is the motion supported ?
Four honorable senators having risen in support of the motion,
– The matter of urgency that has activated the Opposition to submit this motion is the failure of the Government in aspects of national health. The particulars of that failure have already been submitted. I say at once that not in any governmental matter that I have ever known has there been such muddle and confusion, such constant change of front, such kite-flying, such a lack of frankness, such contempt for the Parliament and such abject surrender and subservience to sectional interests as there has been in this all-important matter of the health of the people of Australia. It is completely clear to any one who has given one minute’s consideration to this matter that neither the Government nor the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) has any policy. The tactics that they are following in pursuit of a policy are also completely clear. The technique of the Minister has been made abundantly clear.
He submits proposals to all the sectional interests in the field, the doctors, chemists and friendly societies - and when I use the term “ friendly societies I incorporate, for the purpose of brevity, all the various medical and hospital benefit schemes and the like - sees representatives of each of those sectional interests, explains to them a limited part of his proposals, and then gracefully retires. As parts of the proposals begin to leak through the press to the public and to other interested bodies, those sectional interests that are directly concerned engage in mutual conflict and criticism. The Minister gracefully skirts around the area of conflict, picking out any little points of agreement that he can find, pieces them together like a patchwork, and then throws them into the area of conflict again, where they receive further criticism. He again patches up his proposals in the light of the added criticism, and throws them once more into the arena. Apparently he hopes that ultimately he will emerge from the process with a scheme that will have the co-operation of the doctors, the chemists and the friendly societies. Notwithstanding that any such scheme will be born of the conflict of those sectional interests, he will acclaim it as a national health scheme that has been approved by all. I do not have to point out to the Senate that a scheme born in those circumstances is a pure hybrid, a thing of shreds and patches, the child of ineptitude and compromise. Yet, that is plainly the course that is being pursued by the Minister.
The right honorable gentleman is an expert in the very old game of kite-flying. It is perfectly apparent that he sends his kite into the sky, and when, the first brick is thrown at it and it crashes to the ground, he patches up the kite and sends it up again, and repeats that process. At the moment the Minister’s kite is flying all over the sky in a most ill-balanced and erratic fashion. However, the really serious aspect of the whole matter is that in all his discussions with doctors, chemists and friendly societies, the Minister has overlooked the one vital and fundamental consideration, which is the interests of the people of Australia, particularly of the sick and suffering amongst them. To-day the sick and suffering people are looking for help, for some financial relief from the burden of sickness. At a time when the costs of living are rising, and the expense incurred in diagnosis and treatment of disease is rising daily, notwithstanding that people are already paying for medical services out of their social services contributions, the people are entitled to look for their champion in the National Government and to find him in the person of the Minister for Health. However, it is clear that the sick and suffering are not finding any champion in the present Government.
The one clear course for the Government to follow is to determine what is right in the interests of the people. Having determined that, it should then determine what is right in the interests of national health. Having made those determinations, let its members talk to doctors, chemists, and the other sectional interests grouped in this field. Any one who attempts to evolve a scheme in the manner in which the present Minister for Health has been doing must fail to achieve the purposes that are necessary for the attainment of national health. If we are to wait until doctors, chemists and friendly societies agree, we will wait for ever, because each of those bodies - and I have had a great deal of experience of them - will urge that true justice demands that its particular point of view be accepted. When we find that the conception of justice entertained by each of them collides head-on with the conceptions entertained by the other interested bodies, we realize that they cannot all be right and that they cannot all have justice on their side. There is only one thing that a government of courage, vision and ability should do, and that is to determine, in the interests of the people and of the health of this country, what course it should follow ; and then to do as complete justice as possible between the three sectional interests in the field.
I have already indicated that one of the reasons for submitting the motion is the utter failure of the Minister for Health to give complete, or for that matter, any, information to the Parliament. He has consistently evaded or ignored questions that have been asked in this chamber and in the House of Representatives.
Although he has had three months in which to do so, his representative in this chamber, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), has not yet conveyed to the Senate one clear piece of information concerning the Government’s proposals for national health. However, we find that the press of the country is full of the most complete details of the Government’s health proposals, pharmaceutical and medical benefit schemes, and all sorts of other proposals. The consequence is that the Opposition finds itself in the grave difficulty that it has to look to the press for information, instead of being able to rely upon authoritative pronouncements by the Government or upon statements made by the Minister for Health or his representative in this chamber.
I propose to trace very rapidly the course of events in the last few months. On the 19th December, 1949, the day on which he was appointed to office, the Minister for Health made a statement which appeared in the press the following day, and in the course of that statement he made two statements to which I shall direct attention. The first was that he had asked the Prime Minister to arrange as early as possible talks with State Health Ministers to work out a policy of full CommonwealthState co-operation. That was on the 20th December. On the 11th March the Minister said that the Commonwealth Government would soon hold a number of conferences with State Health Ministers, and that it might be necessary to add to the national health bill provisions covering the decisions of those conferences. To-day is the 30th May. There is no sign of -the conferences, and no suggestion that they be held. The second point that the Minister referred to according to the newspaper report of the 20th December related to another matter. He said that as soon as Parliament met he would be able to present legislation to carry the Government’s immediate policy into effect. The Parliament met on the 22nd February - more than three months ago. Not only have we no information, and most certainly no legislation, but also we find that the Minister, on the 16th May, said - again according to the press - that the national health plan had been deferred until the next session of the Parliament and that legislation would not be introduced before September. But that i9 not the latest report. Let me bring the Senate right up to date. The Minister has now stretched the time from September to December. The following press report of a statement by the Minister was published to-day: -
Legislation would be introduced into Parliament this year, but he could not say when the scheme would be brought into operation.
At the conference called by the Minister in Melbourne on the 17th January last the right honorable gentleman met representatives of the chemists, doctors and various friendly societies. As details of that conference emerged through the press - we have heard nothing from the Minister himself or from the Government - and various organizations voiced their criticism publicly, the Minister denied that any proposals had been made. He said that talks had been purely exploratory and that no firm decisions had been made. However, on the 26th of this month the Sydney Morning Herald published the following report: -
Sir Earle Page said yesterday that last January he had placed the main principles of his scheme before the Federal Council of the British Medical Association and other Federal bodies associated with the care of the sick.
Where does the truth lie? First, the right honorable gentleman said that no specific proposals had been made and that talks had been purely exploratory; then, only a few days ago he admitted that firm proposals had been made. The Minister cannot deny that firm proposals were made. The whole story was disclosed in the Melbourne Herald on the 20th February under a three-column heading on the front page, “B.M.A.’s Opposition Reaffirmed “. I shall read an interesting paragraph from that report. It states -
Although the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and Sir Earle Page have both denied that the Government has any clear-cut scheme, it was learned today that a series of proposals, said to be the Government’s plans, have been presented to the British Medical Association and have been before the British Medical Association on paper in most States.
Then follows a series of proposals occupying the remainder of a column. The proposals relate to all phases of the
Minister’s national health scheme. According to what we have read in the press, one feature of the Government’s scheme was that pharmaceutical benefits would be confined to approximately 40 drugs. Here is a new horror upon us - a disease test. To become eligible for pharmaceutical benefits one will have to select one’s disease. The president of the Pharmaceutical Guild in this country has stated that the 40 drugs listed would be applicable in only from 5 to S per cent, of the cases of sickness in this country. The Government’s plan, particulars of which appeared in the press in February, also provided for a means test. In addition, people were supposed to join friendly societies or medical benefit schemes according to the level of their incomes. The present Government parties which had so much to say about freedom prior to the 10th December last, proposed in the scheme originally presented to the British Medical Association, according to newspaper reports, that the people of this country should be compelled to join friendly societies or medical benefit schemes !
Referring further to the conferences which took place in January, I draw attention to the fact that for the first time in the history of negotiations between the Government and the British Medical Association on this matter, there was no written record of what transpired. To the best of my knowledge, a verbatim record was taken of all previous conferences. The proceedings were recorded by official shorthand writers ; but of course the Minister for Health wanted no witnesses of his abject surrender to the British Medical Association in relation to the pharmaceutical benefits. He wanted also to leave himself free to run for cover when criticism was voiced by sectional interests. If proof is required of that, or of the Minister’s lack of frankness, one has only to refer to questions that I asked in this chamber on the 1st March. I asked -
Was a verbatim record taken of the proceedings at any such conference; if so. at what such conference?
If any such record was taken, will the Minister make available to the Senate a copy of it?
If such record was not taken at any such conference (a) why was it not taken, and (6) at whose request or desire was it not taken ?
If a Minister is to speak in this debate I invite him to answer my questions. They certainly have not been answered yet.
I come now to the second kite that the Minister flew on the 13th May. If one refers to the press of that date one finds a large heading “ Pay Doctor from Taxes - New National Health Plan under Review “. The proposal was, briefly, that the patient should find the whole of the fee in advance and, in due course, obtain a refund of taxation for amounts in excess of £5. As soon as the Minister realized that that proposal was hopeless and missed the fundamental point that people want relief at the time of sickness and not twelve months or fifteen months later as soon as he realized that many family men in this country are not paying any taxes at all, and therefore are not receiving refunds he let that kite stay on the ground. We have heard nothing more about it although it was flown as recently as the 13th May.
Now we come to the piece de resistance, namely, the proposals made at the British Commonwealth Medical Congress on the 23rd May. They occupy fourteen pages of typescript. I defy anybody to produce in any language, on any subject, a more hopelessly confused document. One can read it ten times without knowing what it is about. Any person who reads it “will be in a state of utter bewilderment. One will find if one reads it that it is full of praise for a concept for which he is lost in admiration, hut of which he does not give the slightest particular. Looking at it under a microscope, and using imagination, these appear to be some of its features: The Government is to prepare a schedule of payments which it will make in respect of each service that a doctor renders; the doctor will be paid on a fee-for-service basis; those payments are not to be made to the doctor or to the patient, but to the friendly societies which operate on a capitation basis. They pay a. doctor so much a year for each member. The proposal of the Government intends to superimpose a feeforservice system on a capitation system.
Only the Minister for Health knows how the two are to be reconciled.
The scheme proposes that all people except pensioners shall join a friendly society group, to which they must pay their fees, although they are already paying social services contributions. It is clear that there is to be no payment by the Government to the friendly societies for the administrative work that they will do in connexion with this scheme. ‘But the friendly societies will not undertake the work for nothing, and it is dear that their charges to each of their members must and will go up.
The statement does not give the slightest intimation of what work the doctors will be called upon to do. There is no indication whether the friendly societies will expand their dispensing systems under this scheme, although the chemists need the information urgently. No regulation of the doctors’ fees is suggested, and the inevitable will happen as it did with maternity payments. The Government assistance will be purely a benefit for the doctor and not for the patient.
Not the slightest provision is made in the scheme for people in the outback. A contribution towards a doctor’s fee matters nothing to outback residents. The heavy charge on the country people is for the mileage that a doctor has to travel. He may have to cover hundreds of miles over rough country.
If ever one wanted proof of confusion of mind, I invite attention to page 14 of the statement, on which the Minister for Health seta out a list of voluntary insurance organizations. Honorable senators can imagine my surprise when I found included among health, medical, hospital and sickness benefit bodies the Federal and State superannuation schemes. They are merely a provision for retiring allowances and have nothing to do with sickness or pharmaceutical benefits. The whole -document proves conclusively the confusion in the Minister’s mind and in the minds of the members of the Government.
How were these proposals received? This was the third kite that had been flown. I refer the Government to the Melbourne Age of the 24th May, which contains an article raider the heading -
The Sydney Morning Herald of the 25th May carries a heading -
The Age of 2oth May has a heading -
Rocks Ahead for Health Plan. B.M.A. and Chemists in Full Opposition.
That newspaper includes comment by a representative of the friendly societies which were opposed to the scheme also as recently as the 25th May.
Now I come to the fourth kite. The political liaison between the British Medical Association and the members of the present Government was shown plainly at the last general election, but no more plainly is it shown than in the terms of the published so-called agreement that has been reached between the British Medical Association and the Government. If honorable senators will refer to the story in the press to-day and study the headlines, they will get the impression that complete accord has been reached, but, in fact, two other significant facts are recorded. The first is that certain resolutions have been presented for the consideration of the Minister and the Government as to the procedures to be followed. The details will not be released. The second fact is that there are to be further discussions between the British Medical Association and the Federal Minister for Health. That is a nice piece of political timing between the British Medical Association and the federal Minister, both of whom knew full well that this motion was coming before the Senate this week.
Each one is fooling the other. The Minister for Health is fooling the British Medical Association that he has put up firm proposals. Those proposals have not yet been considered by the Government, and the Government members themselves are worried. For confirmation I refer to the Sydney Morning Herald of the 14th May, which points out that, at a joint party meeting of Liberal and Australian Country party supporters, members strongly pressed the Minister for Health to give details of his scheme and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) had to go to his aid at that meeting. The members of the Government are in distress. The British Medical Association, whose form has been well exposed, is also fooling the Government. It will agree in principle with anything that any government likes to put up but when it comes to administrative details and the machinery provisions, it will be found that there is no co-operation from the British Medical Association. I venture to say that this fourth kite will come crashing to the ground and the first to have a shot at it will be the chemists.
I invite the Minister to reply to the four charges of lack of frankness that I made against the Minister for Health in this chamber on the 23rd March and to which the Leader of the Government (Senator O’sullivan) made no reply, although he spoke immediately after my speech. What proposals has the Minister for Health made? Has he Cabinet authority for all or any of those proposals? Why hold secret conferences? Why not make statements to the Parliament? When will he make a statement? When will the States be consulted? What is the Government’s intention regarding the existing pharmaceutical benefits scheme in which some 200 doctors are co-operating, writing 40^00 prescriptions a month for tens of thousands of people? Is it to continue or to lapse? Those are some of the questions I ask the Minister to answer and I do not want him to tell me that the whole answer is that an agreement has been reached at last between the Government and the British Medical Association. Everybody knows that that is purely a pose for to-day’s debate and will be thrown overboard to-morrow.
In all my criticism of the meanderings of the Federal Minister for Health, I do not include officers of the Department of Health. I know their minds and abilities too well to believe that they would ever have sponsored the harebrained useless schemes that have been thrown around this country. I invite members of the Government to give some thought to public opinion. If they want to see it reflected let them refer to the Sydney Morning Herald of the 22nd April in which there is an article covering three columns headed “ Secrecy on
Page Plan “, and to the Melbourne Age of the 10th May under the heading “National Health Plans Obscure”, the Courier Mail of the 17th May under the heading “ No Health Scheme “ and the Melbourne Herald of the 24th May, after Dr. Page had spoken in Brisbane, under the heading “ Medical Plan too Vague”. Was anything ever truer? The Melbourne Age of the 24th May, 1.950, ran this heading -
A Health Plan with Large Gaps.
I invite the Government to read those leading articles. The Brisbane CourierMail published a leading article on the 17 th May under the heading “ No Health Scheme”. I quote from it as follows: -
How far has the Federal Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) progressed in drafting a national health scheme? It is about time that the public had some assurance that progress has been made.
In every statement Sir Earle Page has made on this subject so far he has mentioned new proposals or suggestions without indicating that any as yet have got beyond the stage of discussion.
There is a final paragraph which I shall 1lot make public, but I invite the Government to consider it. My next quotation is from the Melbourne Age of the 10th May last -
Once more the community must resign itself to a wholly unsatisfactory indefiniteness about the plans, while continuing to pay heavily in taxes for health and medical services that, for reasons that can only be conjectured, are still being withheld. The Minister’s guarded and nebulous statement suggests that, to the extent that the new plans have taken shape, they will embody a set of principles which was unexpected by the majority of the people, and the proposed application of which seems to have caused much dissatisfaction among pharmaceutical chemists, and at least partial resistance by the medical profession.
I conclude by referring to the policy speech of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), delivered in November last, in which he claimed that the Labour Government-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– On behalf of the Government, I protest against this pathetic and irresponsible attempt by the Opposition to frustrate, the carrying on by the Government of government work. Last Wednesday Senator McKenna, speaking of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, a measure declared to be urgent by the Government, said -
I asume that if the Government so desires the Senate will meet on Tuesday next.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The Minister for Trade and Customs cannot discuss that matter now. He must confine his remarks to the motion before the Chair.
– The Opposition has not taken this action in order to discuss the health of the citizens of Australia. Its action is in direct conflict with the promise of Senator McKenna that the Communist Party Dissolution Bill would be considered with celerity to-day. It is common knowledge that, at the present moment, negotiations are in progress, and are being brought to fruition, for a national health scheme. The action taken by Senator McKenna to-day may have been inspired by pique, seeing that he himself struggled in a quagmire from 1943 to 1949 without producing any health scheme acceptable to the people, whereas the present Government, after being in office for only a few months, is on the verge of producing a scheme that is acceptable to the medical profession, as well as to the chemists and the nurses, and all those whose cooperation will be necessary if the scheme is to function. When the Labour Government’s legislation for the inauguration of a national medical scheme was before the Senate in 1948, I moved that the bill be withdrawn and redrafted after the Minister for Health had consulted with the medical profession, the nurses, the dentists, the chemists and the friendly societies, whose co-operation is essential if we are to have a medical scheme that will really work. Labour Ministers derided the proposal, but it is beyond my understanding how sensible people can believe that a health scheme will work effectively and efficiently without the cooperation of those persons upon whom reliance must be placed. While the time of the Senate is being wasted on this discussion, outbreaks o’f lawlessness are being caused throughout the land by Communists who wish to delay, if they cannot defeat, the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, which has been designed to deal with them. It is more than a coincidence that the tactics of the Opposition in this chamber are also designed to delay, if not to prevent, the passage of that bill which the Government believes to be vital. I have finished. My colleague, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), will have something to say, and I trust that we shall then get on with the business before the Senate, the vital legislation to deal with the Communist menace.
– It is extraordinary that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) has not been able to utter one word in defence of the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), or in contradiction of what Senator McKenna ha3 said. His failure to do so proves beyond doubt the statement of Senator McKenna that the Government’s national health scheme is so obscure that even leading Ministers know nothing about it. The minds of the people are greatly concerned over the failure of the Government to implement a national health scheme, which is of the utmost importance to hundreds of thousands of Australians; yet the Minister for Trade and Customs suggests that the subject is not worth the time that will be taken to debate it, even though that time will not be more than three hours. Honorable senators have repeatedly asked Ministers what is being done to put a national health scheme into operation, so that the people may obtain some relief from crushing medical expenses. When can the people expect the Government to honour the promises that were made on the 10th December? The Minister for Trade and Customs has made no attempt to answer that question, but has told us, instead, that the entire attention of the Senate must be concentrated on the Communist problem. When the Communist Party Dissolution Bill is disposed of during the next few days, what excuse, I wonder, will the Government then offer for its continued refusal to supply information about a national health scheme? The Government cannot be allowed to thrust the matter contemptuously aside. Senator McKenna made out a good case, and it is evident that there is utter confusion in the minds of members of the Government. Men and women suffering from illnesses are now subjected to an almost intolerable financial strain.
– Why did not the Labour party do something about it when it was in office?
– The Labour governments that were in office during the last eight years did more in that respect than did all of the non-Labour government that preceded them. When the people of Australia return us to power at the next general election, as I am sure they will do if that is the kind of reply that honorable senators opposite make, we shall do much more for them than this Government is attempting to do.
The bible of honorable senators opposite is the policy speech that was delivered last year by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). The right honorable gentleman realized the importance of health and medicine, and devoted a section of his speech to explaining what he would do in that field if the parties for which he spoke were successful.
– Why be so impatient? Why not give us time?
– Senator Maher asks for time. Senator McKenna has reminded the Senate of the statement of the present Minister for Health that a national health scheme would be presented to this Parliament during its first session, and has pointed out that the presentation of the scheme has already been deferred for months. The latest knowledge that we have of it has been obtained from press reports. We cannot get any information about it in the Parliament. Even though we have raised the matter in this chamber to-day, - the Leader of the Government (Senator O’sullivan) is not prepared to give us any information about it. Therefore, we can assume only that honorable senators opposite have no knowledge of the proposed scheme.
On the 10th November last year the present Prime Minister, in his policy speech, said, dealing with health and medicine -
We must face up to the underlying problem. We must improve the supplies of milk and fruit and other fresh foods.
The Government has done nothing to achieve that objective. Owing to rapidly increasing prices, the great mass of the Australian people to-day find it impossible to buy sufficient milk and fruit for their families. The right honorable gentleman also said -
We must have many more hospitals, both centralized and decentralized.
Can honorable senators opposite tell me where the Government has laid one brick upon another in the building of a new hospital in Australia? The right honorable gentleman went on to say -
We need to extend the services of bush nursing and flying doctors.
The Government has made only an additional £10,000 available for those purposes. The right honorable gentleman also said that we needed salaried medical services in more remote areas. I could continue to read the promises that he made to the people of Australia and contrast them with what has been done, hut I shall not do so.
Some years ago, the non-Labour parties, realizing the urgency of this problem, brought out from England experts to advise them upon a national health scheme. A scheme was prepared, presented to the Parliament and agreed to by the Senate and the House of Representatives, but it was never put into operation. This problem is not a new one. It is an old one that is becoming much more urgent, as is proved by a report in the British Medical J Journal of a speech made by Mr. Bevan, the Minister of Health in the United Kingdom Government. Mr. Bevan is reported to have said -
Since 1946, hospital costs in the United States of America have gone up 40 per cent., in Sweden 50 per cent., and in England and Wales about the same figure. The Royal Masonic Hospital, which is outside the national health service,” and a very good hospital indeed, started off from a high level. Yet, from 1946 to 1948, its cost increased by 58 per cent.
Mr. Bevan said that the costs of other hospitals had increased to an even greater degree. A similar problem confronts us in Australia. The cost of hospitalization in this country is increasing rapidly. Because of increasing prices - about which the Government intends to do something some day - it is now impossible for the ordinary Australian citizen to afford a period of illness. He cannot afford to pay for an operation or for skilled medical attention without incurring a burden of debt that will hang around his neck for years. We ask the Government to give the people some relief. The matter is so important to the people of Australia, that the Government must do something about it. We are now in the midst of a period of prosperity, when our people ought to be able to afford to pay for medical attention, but they are unable to do so. What will happen if a recession occurs and unemployment is again prevalent? It has been said from time to time that the two sections of the community that are well cared for medically are the very rich and the very poor. I wonder whether honorable senators opposite know how well cared for are the very poor people ? Those of us who have to attend out-patients’ departments of hospitals know how forbidding those places are. We know that although we have received medical attention there, we have had to pay for it very dearly in human dignity. Even if it were true that the very rich and the very poor persons in Australia are well cared for medically, the majority of Australians go in fear and trembling that if they become ill, not only will they lose their incomes, but also they will be compelled to meet medical expenses. They know that if they have to go to hospital to have an operation, they will be crippled financially for many years.
The members of the medical profession are engaged in a business as are the members of other professions. Some medical practitioners are very good men, but there are others who are unscrupulous, just as there are unscrupulous members of other professions. In one big Australian town now a controversy is raging. The medical superintendent of the general hospital has told the people of the district that they are entitled to receive free medical attention at that hospital, but some unscrupulous doctors in the area have stated that patients cannot obtain attention at the general hospital because there are no beds available there and that they must go into private hospitals. Some poor people, because of their lack of knowledge, and because they have been influenced by unscrupulous doctors, have entered private hospitals and paid large sum3 of money for attention that should be made available to them by the Government.
We had hoped that before now a bill for a national health scheme would be presented to the Parliament. We believe that a measure of that kind is one of the most important measures that could be presented to the Parliament. I assure the Government that the people of Australia, who have for long looked forward to a comprehensive national health scheme, will bless the political party that enables them to obtain the best possible medical attention at a cost which it is possible for them to bear. Apart from the question of cost, I believe that there should be a new conception of medical services. Australia is very backward in regard to national health, and particularly in regard to specialist services. The need for the provision of specialist attention on a larger scale has been apparent for a long while. At the present time, a person cannot obtain specialist treatment unless he is able to get into the public ward of a hospital or is fortunate enough to have sufficient money to pay for the services of highly skilled practitioners. We look forward to the Government - if it is capable of doing so - introducing a medical scheme that will cope satisfactorily with the medical problems of the people. In addition to providing for medical attention it should make adequate provision for related matters. I remind the Senate that towards the end of the regime of the Labour Administration, arrangements were made for the provision of a dental service to the children of this country. Why has not that scheme been put into operation in order to enable hundreds of thousands of children in Australia to receive urgently required dental attention?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- The Opposition has moved the adjournment of the Senate to discuss the Government’s so-called failure to introduce a comprehensive medical scheme. That has been done either to impede the passage of important legislation that is before this chamber, or in an attempt to camouflage the failure of the former Labour Government to inaugurate such a scheme I remind honorable senators that the Opposition parties themselves had an absolute majority in both Houses of the Parliament in the last Parliament. However, after many years of strife and planning, Labour was completely unable to put into operation any medical scheme. Its record is an unparalleled series of failures. Senator Arnold has referred to the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that was delivered on the 10th November last. In that speech the right honorable gentleman said, in relation to health and medicine -
We are utterly opposed to the socialist idea that medical service should become salaried Government service, with all its implications, penalizing skill and experience and destroying the existing personal relationship between doctor and patient.
That is our conception of the basis of a medical health scheme. On the other hand the basis of the medical health scheme that was proposed by the former Government was the nationalization of the medical service. That is where the former Government fell down on its job.
In December, 1943, the then Minister for Health (Senator Eraser) held a conference at Canberra with representatives of the Federal Council of the British Medical Association to discuss a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Security. At that conference the representatives of the medical profession were informed of the Government’s intention - without consultation with the British Medical Association - to introduce pharmaceutical benefits legislation, which would require doctors to prescribe on Government forms, from a restricted formulary, and be subject to penalties. The measure thus foreshadowed became law in March, 1944. Li the following June the 4rst of a number of conferences in connexion with the matter was held at Canberra. Both the Minister for Health at that time, and the then Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) were present. After an outline of a complete national health service had been given, the Federal Council of the British Medical Association enunciated the following three principles that it considered to be indispensable, and which it desired should be incorporated in any legislation” or agreement with the profession: (1) Preservation of the existing doctor-patient relationship; (2) Lie free choice of doctor; and (J) that private practice, general consultative and specialist, should continue within and without hospitals. I understand that agreement was not reached at that conference. However, the then Treasurer made it clear that the aim of the Labour Government was to introduce a. nationalized medical health scheme. At the conference be said -
As a responsible Minister of the Cabinet, I inform the conference that a plan has been laid down which includes a number of the things that have already been done, and provision for thu future, particularly in connexion with tuberculosis, hospitalization benefits and treatment, and medical treatment. The stumbling block to the implementation of this plan would appear to be reluctance on the part of the medical profession to co-operate with the Government. It may be that many of our proposals are not likely to prove acceptable. Nevertheless, the Government intends to go ahead wit;; its plans. I hope that it will receive from all members of the community, irrespective of their political colour, what any Government could reasonably expect, namely, co-operation in the achievement of its objectives. I believe that the people of this country as a body, irrespective of political thought, consider that there must be at least some semblance of security for our citizens. If cooperation be not given, we shall have to seek for other means to achieve our object. It will be to the benefit of the medical profession to 6ee that co-operation is given. We may have to di.’card some of our ideas. It is also necessary for the B.M.A. to realize that a static position is not possible in a world of evolution, but that all must move forward. There are in the defence services thousands of members of the medical profession who have never practise!. The Government has sought to have training in the higher professions stimulated by the subsidizing of university courses. 1 hope that after the war the university quotas will be increased and that, if the financial position be favorable, subsidies will continue to he (riven. Out of that pool will emerge a considerable number of medical graduates, who, after the war, will be pledged to give their services to the Commonwealth Government for n period of years.
It is abundantly clear that a nationalized medical service was the objective of the then government. The medical profession assumed that that government intended ultimately to introduce a medical scheme which had been fully nationalized. The 1946 election was held shortly afterwards, and at that election a referendum of the people was taken on the desirability of amending the Constitution to authorize the Government to provide social services, including pharmaceutical benefits, sickness and hospital benefits, and medical and dental services for the people, which, however, included the proviso “ but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription “. At the election Labour was returned to office with a substantial majority in both Houses of the Parliament, and the referendum concerning social services was carried. In the new La’bour Ministry Senator McKenna was given the portfolio of Minister for Health. It would appear that during his occupancy of that office he was unable to make any further progress towards introducing a national medical and health scheme than had his predecessor, Senator Fraser. I understand that a conference was held in April, 1947, to discuss the provisions of the new Pharmaceutical Benefits Act, which was intended to replace the 1944 legislation, and that act was ultimately passed in June, 1947. However, it contained many of the objectionable features of the 1944 legislation, although subsequently the penalty provisions for doctors who infringed the act were withdrawn, and instead the GovernorGeneral was authorized to impose penalties by regulation, which was even worse than the original proposal to provide statutory penalties.
In the few minutes that remain to me I point out that nearly three years after hostilities had ceased, out of approximately 7,000 practising doctors, including some thousands who had served in the defence forces, only 150 co-operated with the Labour Administration by using the Government’s formula and prescription forms. That number included government medical officers and all known Communists in the profession, which indicates quite clearly that of the younger doctors who the Government had hoped would be enamoured of the scheme practically none were in favour of it. In the previous Parliament the Government, although it had a majority in both Houses, could do nothing towards evolving a practicable national health service. When the present Government assumed office it found that it was hampered by two useless acts, that the medical profession was openly hostile to the previous administration, that the pharmaceutical profession was somewhat cynical because of the failure of the Labour legislation and that the friendly society movement was worried because it felt that Labour’s activities might destroy it. It is evident that the success of a national scheme depends finally upon the co-operation of the medical profession, not only in the interests of the profession itself, but also in the national interest. The two examples of nationalized health services which ‘.ave been supplied by Labour’s experiments in the United Kingdom and in New Zealand are far from encouraging. In England the scheme cost £167,000,000 i.u 1946, when it was introduced, £308.000,000 in 1948, and £450.000,000 in 1949. For the five months that have elapsed of the current year the revised estimate of the cost is £484,000,000. In New Zealand the actual cost also greatly exceeded the estimate. It is clear that the money that is necessary to finance the national health schemes in each of those countries will continue greatly to exceed the estimates. No government objects to spending money on a national health scheme that can be properly administered and will give the public proper benefits. However, it has been shown that in the two countries mentioned the introduction of a national health scheme has meant that those who should receive the first priority in any such scheme have not received the full benefits to which they are entitled, and that the implementation of the schemes has cost much more than was estimated. Tremendous waste and inefficiency have characterized the nationalized health schemes of Commonwealth countries, and the experience of the people of those countries strongly supports the need for a new approach to a national health scheme in this country. It was clear, therefore, that the present Government had to start from scratch, because the only previous scheme was based on nationalization.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
– The debate was initiated not to deal with past history or to discuss the theoretical “ifs” and “buts” of other nations, but to find out what prospects the people have of obtaining a practicable national health scheme, and to discover, if it is at all possible, what is in the minds of members of the Government, particularly of the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page). At the risk of repeating the point made by Senator McKenna, 1 say to the Government now that it is floundering in the present morass because it has insisted on dragging national health schemes into the political arena, although it is obvious that proposals such as the introduction of a national health scheme should not be made the subject of party politics. Despite the honest and earnest efforts of the Labour party to introduce a national health and medical benefits scheme for the benefit of the “people of Australia, that very important and delicate matter has been subjected to all the heat that accompanies discussion of party political matters. The anti-Labour parties’ willingness to approach the medical profession, and their success in inveigling them into political controversy, even to the extent of inducing some of them to speak from public platforms, has resulted in all sorts of controversial political matters being introduced that have nothing to do with the health of the people of Australia. The consistent policy of the anti-Labour parties to introduce controversial political matters into consideration of national health was carried a stage further in January this year, when the present Minister for Health said -
This Government has achieved in two short months what Labour was unable to achieve in eight years.
Surely, the right honorable gentleman was not so naive as to believe- that his wisdom exceeded the combined wisdom of all the members of the previous Labour Administration. However, the report of his remarks continues -
We now have a promise that he will introduce the legislation into the Parliament, next December, twelve months after their election, but can give no guarantee when that legislation will become effective.
Labour says that, come what may, and however tortuous the maze through which it will have to travel, may be, when it returns to office a national health service will be introduced for the people of Australia. Furthermore, Labour believes that the whole system of social services must be based on a national health scheme. The people whom we represent include those with large families, who will be the first to be affected by any inflationary or deflationary trend. They are always worried about the possibility of sickness in their families and the expense that they will have to bear in consequence. A great deal is said from time to time about the need to free our people from the fear of being in want. A married man who is trying to rear a family is always worried about the cost of treatment for the sickness of members of his family, and he can never be entirely freed from that fear. All national health schemes should be aimed, not merely at alleviating the financial distress caused by sickness, but also at leading people to have confidence and to accustom them to visit doctors regularly so that they may obtain the benefits of modern medical science. Therefore, I felt sorry when both the Ministers who have taken part in the debate so far referred to their sense of frustration, and to other matters that have disfigured their conduct in the last few weeks. The provision of an adequate health service is important, and I believe that the people want the Government to do something, instead of staging sham fights and gagging debates in the House of Representatives. The majority of the people do not care whether or not a board is to be appointed to control the Commonwealth Bank, or whether that board is to consist of one, ten or 50 members. However, they are anxious to know what will happen to the cost-of-living spiral, and to a national health scheme.
The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) made an unfortunate reference to Labour’s plans to socialize medical services. When will members of the antiLabour forces realize that the election campaign is over? They criticized the previous Labour Administration because it had not introduced a national health scheme. However, the two Ministers who have taken part in the debate know perfectly well that the previous Government was not empowered, under the Constitution, to nationalize health services. They also mentioned that the scheme introduced by Labour would interfere with the liberty of the subject. How could it interfere with the relationship between doctor and patient, and the community’s right to choose their doctors freely ? I can go to my doctor in Western Australia, quite freely, and under Labour’s scheme all- that would happen is that I would pay only half his fee, and when I visited the pharmacist to have my prescription dispensed I could obtain the medicine free of all charge if it came within the Government formulary and was prescribed on a government form. How would such a procedure conflict with the rights of the people ? The question has been asked : “What did Senator McKenna do that the present Minister for Health has not done?” The answer is that Senator McKenna, when he was Minister for Health, laid down a scheme with fear of some and with favour towards none. He made public in the Parliament everything that he did. As the honorable senator has himself pointed out, although the present Minister has flown kites all over Australia, he has not come before the Parliament in order to tell the representatives of the people who will be most concerned, that is the sick and suffering, what is happening. Behind closed doors, he has conducted all sorts of negotiations with the vested interests of Australia. I do not want to drag this matter into the realm of party politics. I have the greatest sympathy for the Minister for Health or anybody else whose task it is to formulate a national health scheme. The British Medical Association has led its members into a morass. I believe that general practitioners throughout Australia deplore the fact that their federal body has projected them into a political controversy. I have talked with several doctors about this matter. Some of them have expressed genuine grievances u bout the Labour Government’s national health scheme. They have a perfect right to offer such criticism, and to seek rectification of the anomalies they consider to exist; but, generally speaking, they favour the scheme and would welcome its full implementation. Their only quarrel is with their leaders, who, as I have said, have led them into a political fight. If the Minister for Health finds that, because of the opposition of the British Medical
Association or any other section of the community, it is impossible to introduce a national medical scheme, he should be honest enough to say so in this Parliament. We, on this side of the chamber, would have every sympathy for him, and would offer to him whatever co-operation he sought. When Labour sets its mind on a reform, it will support any government that seeks to introduce that reform. Whether Labour is in office or in opposition, I, for one, shall be prepared to support any equitable national health scheme; but we want something better than a scheme that will provide against only from 5 per cent, to S per cent, of the sicknesses that afflict our people. It is necessary not only to provide the means of curing sicknesses when they occur, but also to encourage people, particularly women who to-day especially are always worried about budgets, to seek medical advice from time to time and take advantage of the vast store of medical knowledge that has been acquired over the years. I appeal to the Government to make a statement to the Parliament on its national health plans, even if it is only an admission that, so far, it has failed to obtain the co-operation of the organizations that are essential to such a scheme. There is no disgrace in a failure as long as one is honestly trying to do something for the betterment of the people. If the Government is honest enough to admit that it has failed, it will gain the admiration of the people of this country and of the Labour party for its frankness. Such an admission would be far better than a continuance of the Government’s present secrecy about the whole matter. When I go back to Western Australia and attend meetings, I have to admit to questioners that the Parliament has not been taken into the Government’s confidence in connexion with the national health scheme and does not know what is going on. That is wrong in principle. A continuance of the present disputes and suspicions can only do further harm to the national health scheme which already has been thrown into the political arena. I appeal to the Minister, even now, to make a clearcut statement on the Government’9 proposal. Again I assure him that he will have the sympathy of the Labour party in the problems that he is facing.
– Replying to Senator McKenna’s scathing indictment of the Government’s failure to disclose its health plans, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) chose to describe as frustrating and delaying tactics, this endeavour by the Opposition to 3how its earnest desire to assist the Government in the dilemma in which it now finds itself in relation to its proposed health scheme. Honorable senators opposite seem to have a phobia about the Opposition in this chamber. Does the Minister for Trade and Customs not realize that the Senate has control of its own affairs? Does he not realize that the Chifley Government, by introducing a system of proportional representation-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! The honorable senator must deal with the motion under discussion.
– “We are dealing with the health of the people of this country, which, I submit, must be the paramount consideration of every member of this Parliament. The Senate as at present constituted is tending more and more to function as the Constitution intended it to function.- In this chamber, the six States of the Commonwealth have equal representation, and, due to the introduction of the proportional representation system, the opposing political forces will have more equal representation than they had in the past.
Only two honorable senators opposite have participated in this debate so far. Whether that is because the case made by Senator McKenna is unanswerable, I do not know. The history of the Government’s national health scheme has been one of’ muddle and confusion, statements and retractions. Arguments have not been confined to the medical profession. Dentists, chemists and friendly societies have been drawn into the controversies. Expression has been given to the views of almost everybody except the common people of Australia, who, after all, are the most concerned in any health scheme and who, through their social services contributions, will have to pay for it. It is the duty of every member of this Parliament to find out when the Government is going to do something. Why should an attempt to obtain information about the Government’s proposal be described as delaying tactics? Health is of major importance in our national life, and we on this side of the chamber have a perfect right to bring this matter to the notice of this Parliament and the people. Surely, in the various reports of the Social Security Committee, of which the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) was a member, there is ample information on which to establish a national health scheme without continuing the seemingly endless consultations, discussions and arguments that have been going on since the Government was elected. Statement has been followed by retractions, and a wordy battle has been carried on between the Government and the various organizations that are concerned with a national health scheme. In the various announcements about the proposals of the Minister for Health. I have not seen any reference to the peculiar problems of country people and country doctors. No mention has been made, for instance, of payments in respect of mileage travelled by country practitioners in the course of rendering their service to the community. Nor, apparently, has any provision been made to meet transport charges incurred by outback patients who have to travel long distances to visit doctors. Responsibility for the administration of the national health scheme is to be saddled on various agencies such as the friendly societies. Are these agencies to compete with one another? What will happen to the 200 or more doctors who co-operated in the Labour Government’s pharmaceutical and medical schemes? Why is it necessary, merely because there has been a change in government, to alter a scheme that had the approbation of the people of the Commonwealth? Surely, if a scheme is good, _it should be retained whether it was initiated by a Labour government or a nonLabour government. The claim that a new plan is required is only foolish procrastination. The Labour Government’s scheme would have operated well had it been supported by the British Medical Association. Now it is to be thrown overboard. Not one adequate reason for the abandonment of that scheme has been offered bv the Minister for Health or by any Govern- ment supporter. However, if new plans are to be formulated, the Minister for Health could well consider the incorporation of some of the features of the medical services scheme now in operation in Tasmania. Under that scheme, salaried or subsidized doctors provide a medical service in remote areas. That is an important consideration in any plan that has for its object the raising of the health standards of all the people in all places, and not merely those of some of the people in some places. In Tasmania, area doctors are providing a service in distant forestry settlements, mining fields and other isolated regions. They are doing a splendid job. Consideration could he given also to an extension of the bush nursing service, which is so valuable to residents of the outback. That service could well be improved and extended. There is a need, too, for the provision of travel facilities for country people who cannot afford to visit the cities or large provincial towns where specialist services are provided. The Government of Tasmania has shouldered the heavy burden of providing air travel for necessitous patients at such places as Flinders Island and King Island. Patients are brought to Tasmanian hospitals either in Launceston or Hobart. Air travel is provided also to carry patients from Tasmania to hospitals on the mainland.
If the Commonwealth Government is sincere in its professed desire to provide a comprehensive health services, some attention should be paid to research. In this connexion I refer again to work of the Social Services Committee. In addition to the Minister for Repatriation, that committee included Mr. H. C. Barnard, Senator Arnold, the late Mr. Maurice Blackburn, Mr. J. A. Perkins, and the honorable member for Flinders (Mr., Ryan). The report of the committee made on the 1st July, 1943, is comprehensive. I insist that if the Government had taken into consideration recommendations made by this committee a greater part of its troubles could have been ended and the foundations laid for an acceptable health service. Among the recommendations made by them was one railing with the provision of medical servi pps for remote areas which now have difficulty in maintaining even one medical practitioner. The committee advocated a full-time medical service for such areas. I bring this to the notice of the Government so that even at this late hour that provision for the outback might be included when the scheme -is finally approved.
– What is the date of the report?
– The 1st July, 1043. The Minister for Repatriation was a member of the committee.
– That is more than six years ago.
– The Minister for Repatriation is handling this measure and the recommendation was his own. I am reminded that the honorable senator was a member of the committee that brought in the recommendation and then voted against it in this chamber.
– That is entirely wrong.
– The replies given by the members of the Government to this indictment have been totally inadequate and unconvincing. If something is not done, the Opposition will continue to press for a scheme that will be in conformity with the wishes of the people.
– The motion is of very great importance and affects a great number of people throughout Australia who are receiving benefits at present under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. According to the threats that have appeared in the press and as a result of the bungling of the Government, it appears that those people will be deprived of the service that they are receiving unless they arc prepared to be conscripted into friendly societies. It is all very well for some people so say that this scheme should he administered by the friendly societies but many people do not want to become members. Up to the 10th December when a conflict was raging about the national health scheme, the members of the British Medical Association complained that they would be conscripted. The same argument can be applied to those who would be forced to join some type of friendly society if they wanted to obtain medical benefits under the national scheme. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) said that nationalization of the medical profession was planned under the Labour Government’s legislation but the Minister knows very well that that legislation incorporated a specific provision that the health scheme would not authorize any form of civil conscription. The High Court decided that under that provision doctors could not be forced to write a prescription on a prescribed form. That should clear the minds of the doctors of any possibility of conscription of their services.
Two hundred doctors have voluntarily joined the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and are prescribing 40,000 prescription? a month or between 400,000 and 500,000 a year. Those doctors have not been conscripted. They came into the scheme voluntarily and in conjunction with many doctors in hospitals and institution? throughout Australia have shown conclusively that the scheme introduced by the Labour Government can be successful. I have discussed with a number of chemists the negotiations that have been referred to in this debate and I have found that they are happy about the scheme that is now in operation but which i? threatened by this new long-winded and nebulous project which has come to honorable senators through the press in bits and pieces. The chemists are not happy about the new proposal but they find that the scheme which was introduced by the Labour Government is working satisfactorily. Doctors who are prescribing under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act are able to supply to people who are paying social services contributions something to which they are justly entitled. Every time the national health scheme and pharmaceutical benefits are mentioned, those who support the Government quote the English and New Zealand schemes. Inevitably, they select the worst features of. those schemes for comment. They talk of people who obtain wigs and never wear them hut they do not speak of the enormous benefits that those schemes have given to the people of tho countries concerned.
– An enormous cost.
– The benefits are worth the cost. Honorable senators opposite measure everything by pounds, shillings and pence. While they have that approach to every aspect of life, there will never be any social justice in this country. Health cannot be bought. Money can only assist towards health. The people of Australia have contributed £100,000,000 to the National Welfare Fund and they are entitled to some benefits for their money. Those benefits should be distributed as equitably as possible. I have heard quoted the case of a doctor working under a national health scheme in another part of the world who was receiving £20,000 a year for fees. It is simple to quote the unscrupulous doctors who would impose on his fellow men and on the Government, but they are the exception to the rule. When children were to be evacuated from London to protect them from bombing- it was said that they would only put coal in their baths. They were prejudged. All these things must be given a trial, and the people must learn as they go along. The pharmaceutical benefits scheme has been used as a political football and, as a result, neither the people nor the doctors have been able to give it a fair trial. The Labour Government prepared a scheme which it considered to be equitable. The fear of the doctors that they were to be conscripted was cleared away by the High Court. Two hundred doctors cooperated voluntarily, the chemists were satisfied and people who are known personally to me have benefited. Their incomes have shown the benefit of the scheme, and their health has improved by the removal of fear of the prospect of sickness, but the bungling of the Government is undermining the little that has been gained by the Labour Government’s legislation and nothing concrete has been given in return.
Those people who are in receipt of medical benefits at present should be consulted and advised as to what they are to have in return. Are they to be offered only compulsory membership of a friendly society? Will the chemists have to alter their present plans? What is the policy of the Government? Honorable senators on this side of the chamber, as representatives of a big section of the Australian people, want to know the facts so that they can pass them on. Honorable senators opposite raise the bogy that the Opposition is using delaying tactics against everything that is brought forward. This chamber is an open forum for members, and honorable senators are entitled to express their opinions on matters of national importance. Any charge that this is not an important issue is part of the attempt to keep a smoke screen before the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 and to cover the mistakes and the bungling of the Government which attained office by false pretences. The whole field of health in Australia has been given the closest consideration. Recently I heard an authority on industrial medicine liken the present setup in Australia to the stone age. He said that Australia was not keeping in touch with developments in other countries. Judging by the progress that is being made by the Minister for Health, the Government will get nowhere in a long time. It seems that the main object of the Minister for Health is to try to reach a compromise which will be neither one thing nor the other. The people who should benefit most should have access not only to life-saving drugs but to all healthgiving medicine. This is a matter of great importance to the people, and I hope that the Government will sort out its ideas on the subject. Honorable senators should be advised of what the Government has in mind, not only regarding the disposal of the money in the National Welfare Fund, but also regarding the Government’s national health proposals.
.- The last thing that any honorable senator on this side of the chamber would say is that the health of the people is not of the first importance, but I think we are justified in claiming that no good purpose is served by bringing the subject up for discussion at this time. There is on the notice-paper one bill that has reached the committee stage, and another, consideration of which has barely begun. No effective action regarding a health scheme can be taken until those bills are out of the way. We shall then be able to concentrate on legislation to implement a national health scheme. We >hall be able to discuss it, and, if necessary, amend it. During the debate which was initiated by Senator McKenna, honorable senators opposite have spoken as if a concrete national health scheme were actually before us.
– It is.
– The Government has not presented any health scheme.
– There is an act on the statute-book dealing with the national health scheme.
– No national health scheme has been put forward by this Government. Senator McKenna complained that the Government had not revealed the details of a national health scheme, and he asked a number of questions. Such a complaint comes strangely from him, because, when he was introducing the National Health Service Bill in this chamber, he said -
The hill, as honorable senators will observe, is an enabling measure, in which may be seen only the broad outline of a proposed national health service, the details of the Service and its administration being loft to progressive development, which will be implemented by regulations.
In other words, no scheme was presented, but only an enabling measure which would give the Minister power to make regulations covering all phases of national health, and even to amend the act itself. Section 22 of the National Health Service Act 1948 provides -
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent . with this Act, prescribing all matters which arc by this Act required or permitted to be prescribed, or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed, for carrying out or giving effect to this Act . . .
This Government has approached the problem in a different way. Ever since it took office, the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) has been working consistently to implement the Government’s policy, and to honour the promise given by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his policy speech, when he said -
A Commonwealth Government approaching this mutter with common sense will work for the co-operation of the States, of the municipalities, of hospital managements, of friendly societies, and of the medical, dental, pharmaceutical and allied professions.
That is precisely what the Minister for Health has been doing. He has been working to obtain the co-operation of the various interests whose goodwill is absolutely essential if any national health scheme is to work. His method has been in direct antithesis to that of the Labour Government which sought to impose a scheme on the medical profession, saying, in effect, “Do this, or else ! “ We want to avoid the possibility of a repetition of what happened in the Northern Territory when Dr. Webster was dismissed by the Labour Government for making public the appalling state of the nationalized health service in operation in the territory. That is the sort of thing the doctors feared might happen to them under the Labour Government’s proposed national health scheme. That is why the Minister for Health has had to calm their fears, and also the fears of the public. He has been working hard to achieve the greatest possible amount of co-operation with the medical profession and the chemists. Eventually, legislation will be brought before the Parliament providing for a scheme that will have the approval of all the interests directly concerned. Then we shall be able to take some really effective action to provide a medical service such as the people want. They have not been able to get such a service hitherto because of the obduracy of the Labour Government in insisting on provisions which would enable it to nationalize the medical profession. This Government will introduce a national health scheme that will work, and will demonstrate the administrative bankruptcy of the Labour Government which, for eight years, tried to implement a national health scheme, and failed.
– in reply - When I initiated this debate, I said that in no other governmental matter had I seen such muddle and confusion, such constant changes of front, such kite-flying, such lack of frankness, such contempt for the Parliament and such abject surrender to sectional interests, as have been evinced by this Government in regard to its national health proposals. I. shall demonstrate the truth of that allegation. When speaking to the motion, I charged the Government with lack of frankness, and asked a series of questions which I shall repeat. What proposals has the Minister for Health made? Has he Cabinet authority for all or any of those proposals? Why hold secret conferences? Why not make a statement to the Parliament? When will the Minister for Health make a statement? When will the States be consulted? What is the Government’s intention regarding the existing pharmaceutical benefits scheme?
The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), replying to me on behalf of the Government, was on his feet for about three minutes, during which time he said not one word about public health. Apparently, he was not in a position to do so, because members of the Government have no information at all about what their own Minister for Health is doing. They are even more in the dark than are member** of the Opposition. The Minister did not attempt to answer even one of the questions that I posed. Neither the Minister for Trade and Customs, nor the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), could utter one word in defence of the Minister for Health or of the Government. One can readily understand why. There is no answer to the charges made hy the Opposition. The Minister for Repatriation filled in his quarter of an hour discussing matters relating to the development of a national health service. His speech was interesting, but there was nothing new in it. We have heard it all before. He mentioned the nationalization of the medical and dental professions. Surely, he must remember that the Labour Government, in 1946, when asking the people in a referendum for power to legislate in respect of medical services, put these words into its proposal -
That is sufficient to dispose of any suggestion that it was intended to nationalize the medical or dental professions, whether doctors, nurses or persons belonging to auxiliary bodies. Indeed, the High Court went so far as to hold that the Government, under that power, could not even tell a doctor on what piece of paper he should write his prescription. The Minister, in talking about the fear of nationalization of the medical profession, was like Don Quixote tilting at windmills, even a.=) the British Medical Association is now doing. Senator Gorton is obviously not in the confidence of the Minister for Health, because he said that no proposals had been made by the Minister. As a matter of fact, I have a fourteen-page memorandum prepared by the Minister, and. laid by him before the British Medical Association. But I can understand that Government supporters know nothing of these matters. They have not been taken into the confidence of the Minister for Health, nor, indeed, has the Government itself.
The Minister for Repatriation, and Senator Gorton, both charged the Labour Government with having made no progress in national health schemes. Let me remind honorable senators of some of the things that were achieved by the Labour Government. First, I mention the vast tuberculosis scheme initiated by the Labour Government in full cooperation with the States. It was evolved, not by the States, but by the Commonwealth, and was submitted to the States, and accepted by them. It is now being put into operation at a cost of approximately £2,000,000 a year. That was a major contribution to the health of this country. Have the members of this Government anything, even in their heads, to match it? Have they anything to match the establishment of a Division of Child Health of the Department of Health? Can they match the establishment in the University of Sydney of a Chair of Child Health, fully endowed and maintained by the Commonwealth? Can they match, even in their thoughts, the establishment in that University of a unit of industrial hygiene to study all the diseases and ills that afflict men at their work? Can they match the establishment of acoustic laboratories throughout the Commonwealth to look after, not only deafened ex-servicemen and women but also deafened school-children and to provide them with free hearing aids? What can they show us in the matter of performance? What has the Government done in regard to immunization?
– In five months?
– The Government has been in office for six months. We made provision for the supply of prophylactics against diphtheria, whooping cough and goitre. We were on the point of launching a vast scheme under which all children in this country under sixteen years of age would have their teeth cared for freeof charge. What has the present Government done in regard to that matter? It has not had even one consultation with the dentists since it took office. The present Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) has only one portfolio, to which he can devote the whole of his attention, but what has he produced? He has flown all the kites to which I have referred, and he will continue to fly them. He is, to use the words of a leading article that appeared recently in a newspaper, “ Headed for the Rocks “. I invite honorable senators opposite to consider the vast record of thought and achievement in the broad field of national health of the Labour party, and, in future, to be as silent upon that subject as they have been this afternoon in defence of the Government and the Minister for Health, and in the face of the allegation that the Government has no health proposals even in mind. I have never known such a frank confession by members of Government parties of utter ineptitude and lack of knowledge of what a Government is doing as that which has been exhibited this afternoon by honorable senators opposite. Although they have had the fullest opportunity to contribute to this debate, they have not said one word in defence of the Minister for Health or the Government, or in answer to the questions that I have posed and the allegations that I have made.
Government senators interjecting,
– I gather that honorable senators opposite would like to know what the Labour party has done to relieve the financial plight of the people. We conceived a pharmaceutical benefits scheme designed to help the sick and suffering of this country and to cover all the medicaments that they needed. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Act is on the statute-book, and regulations have been made under it. The scheme has been operated with complete satisfaction by nearly 200 doctors in the community. If honorable senators opposite will refer to the regulations made under the act that were published on, I think, the 19th November last year, they will find in them the fullest details of Labour’s medical benefits. I invite them to make an intelligent criticism of it on some future occasion. That is our scheme, and it can be read from start to finish. I venture to say that, in the long run, if the present Minister for Health will labour on the trail and the Government will address its mind to the problem, we shall come back to that scheme, because it is designed to serve, not the interests of one section of the community but the interests of the people of Australia as a whole, leaving doctors, dentists and others completely free to co-operate if they wish to do so, or to stay out if they so desire.
Question put -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 3.15 p.m.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . 8
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply :-
Conference, an entirely different body, concerning the general principles of the proposed national health plan, prior to the determination of the financial details of the medical and hospitals benefits schemes.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Under what conditions will the sum of £500.000, being Australia’s share of the £5,245,000 war indemnity recently agreed to be paid to Allied countries by the Government of Thailand, be applied?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minis ter representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Postmaster; General has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice : -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : - 1. (a) 49; (b) 241.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 25th May (vide page 3144), on motion by Senator O’Sullivan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Communist Party Dissolution Bill, with which we are now concerned, deals with a very serious matter, and deals with it by very serious steps. The broad purposes of the bill are, first, to destroy communism in Australia, and, secondly, to remove Communists from key positions in trade unions and in the Public Service. With those particular purposes the Labour party is in complete accord. The Australian Labour party is the greatest force in Australia against communism at the present time. It is the force that has waged unrelenting war against communism. It has done so not only by word but also by deed. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) introduced the measure in the House of Representatives, he was good enough to refer to a resolution of a conference of the Australian Labour party, which condemned communism in unqualified terms. The Prime Minister referred to a conference of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labour party. I propose to quote from a resolution adopted at the level of the federal conference of the party, and I shall place before the Senate the words of the most important part of that resolution, which is binding upon every branch of the Australian Labour party and upon every member of it. I propose to read clauses 1 and 2 of the resolution. The third one is not relevant, but if any honorable senator thinks that there may be something in it that he would like to hear I shall be pleased to read that also. The resolution was as follows: -
There could be no better definition of the attitude of the Australian Labour party than the words of that resolution. Furthermore, I remind the Senate that that resolution was adopted as long ago as September, 1948. It represents the uncompromising stand of the Australian Labour party on communism. But the Labour movement has not been content with words alone. I propose to occupy a few minutes of the time of the Senate to tell them briefly of ten acts that were performed by the previous Labour Administration in order to demonstrate that Labour is not content with words, but is also prepared to fight against communism. I refer, first of all, to the Approved Defence Projects Act, which was passed not very long ago by the Parliament. At the time that act was introduced a boycott against work on the long-range weapons project in South Australia had been mooted by the Communists. Labour met that challenge, branded it for what it was, and introduced legislation which was speedily passed by both Houses of the Parliament, and which imposed the most, severe penalties on any one who interfered with that project. The point which I interpolate now is that, although that legislation was introduced to combat the attack launched by the Communists upon the long-range weapons project, it applied to everybody in the community; it did :not merely select the Communists or the Australian Communist party. In accord.ance with the rule of law, it had broad general application against any one in the community who sought to interfere with that project. I refer next to the Kemira Tunnel dispute, which occurred about twelve months ago, and during the ;time when I was Acting Attorney-General, in the unavoidable absence of the righthonorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). A dispute was generated between the miners’ federation, which was Communistled at that time, and the great Australian Workers Union, about which body should undertake the Kemira Tunnel job, and work was held up. The Chifley Government intervened, and after seeking, and obtaining, the co-operation of the Government of New South Wales, legislation was passed by the National Parliament and by the State Parliament to deal jointly with the Communist threat. Under a joint arrangement, it also provided for the’ appointment of an arbitrator to settle the dispute according to recognized principles of conciliation and arbitration.
My third point concerns the action taken by the Chifley Government against three members of the community who were prominent members of the Communist party, and had said things about what -would happen if Australia were invaded. I was Acting Attorney-General at that time n iso. so that I know the facts at first hand. The Government believed that the utterances attributed to the three individuals were subversive, but it did not judge them upon its own beliefs or suspicions. The individuals concerned were prosecuted according to- the ordinary processes of law in the ordinary courts of the land. Each had the option to select a jury for his trial. One of them, Sharkey, the Secretary of the Communist party, did elect to be tried by jury. He was subsequently convicted by a jury of his fellows and sentenced to imprisonment. Of the two remaining individuals, one elected to be proceeded against summarily. Subsequently, both he and Sharkey appealed to the High Court, and were able to exercise a full right of appeal. However, their convictions were upheld. The third individual, named Healy, who was a prominent Communist in Western Australia, also was prosecuted, but was acquitted. I invite the Senate to consider those three prosecutions as examples of effective action against communism. They indicate the kind of action taken by a Labour government not only in respect of communism but also in respect of every member of the community who breaks the laws of the land by sedition, treason or any activity that is adverse to the welfare of the country.
I come now to the fourth example of effective action by a Labour administration to deal with communism. I refer to the coal strike that took place in New South Wales last year, which had most disastrous results to the people of Australia, interrupted the production of coal for seven weeks, engendered considerable bitterness amongst sections of the community, and caused untold inconvenience to many people. As the present Prime Minister was good enough to acknowledge, the previous Labour Administration branded the instigation of the strike for what it was, a Communist conspiracy. With the support of the legitimate trade union movement, the Chifley Government confronted the Communists, fought them and smashed the strike. By that act it delivered the greatest blow against the prestige of the Communist party that has ever been struck in Australia.
I pass on to my fifth point of action. Honorable senators will recall that the preceding Labour Government did great things for the waterfront. It established the Stevedoring Industry Commission, a body which included representatives of the shipowners and of the wharf labourers and was presided over by a judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
– It also appointed Communists to that body.
– That is not so. The Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, after a free election, elected two Communists to the commission. Those Communists were not appointed by the Labour Government, nor, for that matter, could they have been appointed by any government. As I have already said, they were elected to the commission by the Waterside Workers Federation.
– Does the honorable senator think that they should have stayed there?
– In view of their actions we did not think so. When it was found that they were sabotaging the work of the commission, flouting its orders and behaving in a manner that was unthinkable, the Chifley Government removed them from office. In fact, it abolished the commission, and both the waterside workers and the shipowners lost the body on which they had been represented, because the Government substituted a board which was not representative of any sectional interests at all.
– The Chifley Administration removed them without trial.
– We abolished the whole commission and established a board. We abolished the principle of representation on a commission. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) surprised me by his interjection, because the fact is that we abolished the whole commission. The members of the commission were not charged with any offence. Surely the Attorney-General understands that there can be no trial unless an offence has been committed.
Passing now to the sixth example of effective action by Labour against Communists, I refer to a regulation that was introduced by Labour under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act to deal with the victimization of certain unionists. It is a fact that certain unions were under the domination of Communists, and that nonCommunist members of those unions were harassed and persecuted. When the factwas brought to the Chifley Government’s notice, legislation was introduced to provide machinery whereby any individual who had been victimized in his union could approach the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and, subject to making out a reasonable case to the Registrar, could obtain relief at the expense of the Commonwealth. He did not have to jump a financial hurdle in order to do so.
I come now to what was probably the most important blow struck against communism in this country. I refer to the alteration made to the Commonwealth
Conciliation and Arbitration Act in July, 1949. The Chifley Government, with the full concurrence of the legitimate trade union movement, altered the law in order to provide the heaviest penalties for malpractices or irregularities in the election of union officials. That ‘ measure dealt exhaustively with such offences. It conferred on registered trade unions the right to go to the Registrar of the Arbitration Court and have him conduct an election of officials. It provided a penalty of £100, or twelve months’ imprisonment, or both, for individuals who interfered with union ballots. Any one with intelligence who has surveyed the position will find that union after union, branch after branch and unionist after unionist has availed itself of the opportunity so provided to uproot Communists from the control of its affairs. Communist after Communist has been ejected from union office. Almost the first example of the effectiveness of that legislation was provided immediately after the coal strike in New South Wales last year, when the northern section of the New South Wales branch of the miners’ federation, which was under Communist domination, rejected out-of-hand the Communists who had previously led their executives. In addition, that legislation has had one vastly important indirect result. In the interim the Communists have been afraid to fake union ballots, or to carry on the malpractices and irregularities, that formerly characterized their activities. I refer honorable senators to what happened in the Boilermakers Union only a week or two ago. I quote from the Melbourne Agc of the 15th May -
Communists who last year secured control of the Boiler Makers’ Union by winning all key positions in a two-to-one ballot, lost it yesterday after a fresh vote on appeal.
The legislation to which I have referred brought that result. Had time permitted a. more extensive research, I could have brought to the Senate a most imposing list of branch after branch, union after union, that has had recourse to this legislation to replace Communists with nonCommunists in official positions. Had action under that legislation been allowed to develop a little longer, I doubt whether the Government would have been faced with the problem of removing Communists from key positions in trade unions.
I shall refer to one more point: It was a Labour Government - the Chifley Government - that established the security service, which the present Government favours so completely. This Administration has confirmed appointments made to that organization, and has confirmed its charter. I know quite a lot about that charter, because I had a hand in drafting it. I know that our security organization has a very important function to discharge. Will any honorable senator opposite who has any knowledge of the matter say that Labour failed to attend to the security of this country? The present Government has adopted to the last detail every matter that the Chifley Administration undertook in relation to security. I challenge any member on the Government side who knows anything about security precautions in this country to say that absolutely effective action was not taken by the Labour Administration to weed Communists out of key positions in the Public Service. How that was done I am not prepared to disclose or discuss here, because the information is confidential. However, I issue that challenge to any Government supporter who will follow me in this debate. The debate will continue for days and there will be ample opportunity for any one to take up that challenge. So much for the actions of the Government ; I return again to the ten points in our record of action against communism by referring to the action of the Australian Labour party in setting up industrial groups, in shop after shop, and industry after industry to fight communism on the job. The Australian Labour party has been most active in the field. Members of the Parliamentary Labour party too have been active. During the coal strike last year, members of the then Government, with their Labour colleagues from the New South Wales Parliament, went to the coal-fields throughout New South Wales and Queensland. They were given hostile receptions too in the early days. Considerable courage was required to visit the coal-fields. but members of the Labour party went there and they did a magnificent job in convincing the miners that they were being misled by their Communist leaders. Members of the Labour party also went to the Domain in Sydney and public meeting places in Melbourne. I visited these places myself, and here may I interpolate this comment : I did not see one member of the Liberal party or the Australian Country party on the coalfields or in the Domain in connexion with that disastrous strike. It is true that it was our responsibility. I concede that. We were the Government and the responsibility was ours. I merely record the fact that members of the other parties were not there. I think I have said sufficient about both the line of thought of the Australian Labour party and its actions to give the lie direct to those people who say that the Labour party was an appeaser of communism. The story I have told confounds that allegation, and those who repeat it, as it has been repeated even in this chamber in recent hours, should hang their heads in shame, if not for their false statements, at least for their ignorance.
Whilst supporting the broad principles of this bill which I outlined at the commencement of my speech, namely, the destruction of Communists and their eradication from key positions in trade unions and in the Public Service, we, on this side of the chamber, are in direct conflict “with the Government on the methods that it has chosen to adopt to fchieve these ends. At the outset, putting on one side what we all understand as a well-known concept of British justice, there are certain rules of natural justice that are recognized by every court in the whole of the British Commonwealth, and in every civilized community. I shall read them to the Senate. They are as follows : -
No man shall be punished - without a trial ; without being given particulars of what is alleged against him; without being given reasonable time to prepare his defence; without, a hearing at which he can face his accusers and cross-examine them ; without an opportunity to be heard with his witnesses in his own defence ; without an impartial trial authority.
These principles are enforced by the courts, except on the rare occasions when they are expressly negatived by the legislature. They are applied by the courts of the British Commonwealth even in relation to offences by or in relation to members of mere social clubs. That is how deeply ingrained they are in our judicial system.
There are two other great principles of British justice which also are applied universally by courts except in rare cases where they are expressly negatived by the legislature. The first is the presumption of innocence in favour of an accused person until he has been proved, according to due processes of law, to be guilty. The second is the obligation on an accuser to satisfy the trial tribunal beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of a person accused. In other words, the accused and not the accuser receives the benefit of any doubt about his guilt.’ Those are great principles of natural justice and I am proud to say they are principles of British justice. They have been evolved and safeguarded right down the centuries. They have been observed by courts whether of high or low degree. Their importance is that they constitute a safeguard to the individual of his life, liberty, reputation, property, and everything that he holds dear as an individual. In the comments that I shall make on this legislation my most stringent criticism will be made on behalf of the individuals who may be affected by it. The principles that I have mentioned to the Senate may be summed up in a phrase that lawyers understand perfectly - the rule of law. That rule has been revered by lawyers ever since there- have been lawyers, principally for its protection of individuals against arbitrary action by the executive government of any country. The principles underlying that rule have only to be stated to win instant warm approval from every person in the community. People have fought and died to preserve those very principles. Even outlaws in any community have, intinctively, a deep respect for laws founded on those principles because they know in their hearts that those laws are based on natural justice - what would be described in the Australian vernacular as “ a fair go “. The rule cf !nw has been the subject of discussion by eminent authorities in the British Commonwealth. Lawyer members of this chamber will recognize Dicey as perhaps the greatest of those authorities. “ The rule of law during war” was the subject of the thesis with which the Bowen prize was won at the University of Melbourne in 1917. It was written, of course, during the 1914-18 war. A foreword to it was written by a most eminent jurist, Professor W. Harrison Moore, under whom I, myself, was privileged to study. Professor Moore, writing while the war was still in progress, foresaw the difficulties of the coming peace. I shall read to the Senate only the concluding sentence of the foreword -
Our danger lies less in the present submission to emergency legislation than in the fear that an inconclusive war with an intensification of the “ armed peace “ may leave us under the yoke, for the menace of war is hardly less fatal to liberty than war itself.
That is the very situation that exists to-day. Professor Moore, if he were alive to-day - unfortunately he is not - would have used those very words, and with tho utmost power at his command, to describe conditions to-day. I propose now to say a word or two about the thesis itself. The writer was dealing with emergency legislation under the Defence of the Realm Act, which was the counterpart in the United Kingdom of our War Precautions Act. At page 4 he had this to say -
The measure of the necessity is a matter for governmental determination; there is discretion, and where there is discretion there is always room for arbitrariness.
On page 17 the following passage appeared : -
Once we are prepared to accept the present state of things as more or less of a necessary evil-
He was referring to the emergency legislation of that day which swept away civil rights end liberties as had to be done during World War II. - the only feat that we need have for the rule of law is that, through the usages of war, it* authority may come to be menaced in peace also.
The writer concluded that chapter with these words -
Should the almost arbitrary power of the Executive prove to be anything else but temporary, a very great disaster would have befallen the English Constitution.
The man who wrote those things in 1917 was Robert Gordon Menzies, Ll.B. His thesis was an excellent exposition of the rule of law, a brilliant work, that earned him the Bowen prize. How far has the right honorable gentleman departed from those views in the interim!
I turn now from my general observations to the bill itself. The first thought that occurs to me is whether this measure is constitutional. In the preamble to the bill, the Government founds the measure on three great constitutional powers. The first is the naval and military defence power, which is necessary to preserve the security of our land; the second is the. Executive power which is not expressed in any way in tha Constitution, but which is a power inherent in any Executive to take such action as will preserve its own continued existence. That is a power well recognized by the courts, and the third power is the power to do anything incidental to the execution of any other power.
The constitutionality of this bill is not beyond doubt, and for that proposition I have only to refer to the case which concerned the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1943, when the High Court of Australia decided by a majority that regulations made under the Subversive Associations Regulations, effective under the National Security Act, were bad in law as being too arbitrary, too capricious and vesting too much arbitrary authority in the Executive or a Minister. I mention that word of warning. I recognize that whenever a federal government of any colour embarks on legislation, it must always take the risk that the validity of its measure will be challenged in the courts as long as there is a written limited Constitution. As to whether this will be challenged is for other people and, ultimately, is a matter for the court. I express no opinion on it. I merely say there is a doubt. I do not express any opinion on the other proposition as to whether a body such as the Australian Communist party, which is dissolved by statute and declared no longer to exist, can preserve a sufficient semblance of continued existence to test the validity of this act in a court. I am not prepared to venture an opinion as to whether, if it can, it will still be an offence for the Communist party to do so under the bill as drawn at present.
I shall now review the methods which have been chosen by the Government to achieve the purpose upon which all parties are agreed. This bill does three main 1 hines. In the first place, it dissolves the Australian Communist party, it appoints a receiver of the party’s assets and appropriates its property to the Commonwealth. It completely wipes out the Australian Communist party as a living entity and takes its property and appropriates it.
– Does the honorable senator oppose that?
– I am merely describing what the bill does. The bill also follows the members of that party into other organizations which also may be dissolved and have their property similarly expropriated. Thirdly, the bill authorizes the Executive - and I emphasize that, word ; it means the government of the day - to declare publicly certain individuals. The consequences that flow from that declaration under this bill - that the person declared may not hold office in a union and cannot hold a position in the Public Service of the Commonwealth.
– In certain unions.
– I was thinking of that qualification and I thank the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer). The person declared may not hold office in a key union, that is, in one declared by the Governor-General of the day. The term comprises every’ vital union in heavy industry, transport, mining or in any other industry that the Governor-General may declare. It does not allow the union itself to say what is a vital industry. I propose to deal with the three methods, one by one, and I shall take first the dissolution of the Australian Communist party and the expropriation of its assets. In the preamble to this bill, the Government justifies its action by levelling the most serious accusations possible against the Australian Communist party. I can believe that there could be no more serious accusations against any body or organization. I summarize them as the cause of revolutionary activity, of seeking the overthrow by force of the established government, of espionage, sabotage, treason, and the disruption of work and production in vital industries.
The point to which I draw attention is that each of these acts is a crime under the Crimes Act, with one exception, and that is the disruption of work and production in an industry. That could he made a crime under the Crimes Act, but that has not been done. Those crimes carry the most severe penalties under the Crimes Act. Treason, which is one of the things alleged against the Australian Communist party, is punishable by death. That is how seriously the legislature views treason, and very properly so. The point that I make is that the Australian Communist party, being regarded as a mere organization, cannot itself commit any one of these acts. It can only commit, those acts through its officers, agents and members. Persons have to do the acts in the party which is the entity known as the Australian Communist party. If those individuals were known and were charged under the Crimes Act, the rule of law would apply. They would be given details of the charge, would be faced by their accusers, have the right of crossexamination, tie right to be heard in their own defence, and the important right, if they wished, of trial by jury. The Government has seen fit to ‘by-pass the Crimes Act altogether and abolish the rule of law in relation to the banning of the Australian Communist party.
– But the Opposition approves of it?
– We will not oppose it.
– But does the Opposition approve it?
– I shall develop my theme for the honorable senator if he will have patience.
– That is the test.
– I shall not be obscure. I shall state the Opposition’s position quite clearly. I make the point, that if the Government’s allegations are true and it can prove them, then the Government could and should use the Crimes Act and the ordinary processes of law. There can be no answer to that. If the Government merely believes or suspects that its grave allegations in these recitals are true and is not in a position to prove them, I can only say that it must have the very strongest ground for its beliefs or suspicions before it is justified in following the method that it has chosen to adopt. In this bill it proposes to cast aside the ordinary processes of law, brush aside the courts of the land and make itself the accuser, the judge and the punisher. It thus makes inroads on the two great freedoms - freedom of expression and of association. It must have the very strongest ground for its beliefs or suspicions and if it does entertain them, it is relying no doubt on a position which was perfectly set up by Chief Justice Sir John Latham in the Jehovah’s Witnesses case when he made reference to the philosophy of this particular matter. His Honour referred in part to John Stuart Mill’s essay on liberty, which is to be found in volume 67 of Commonwealth Law Reports, at page 131. Sir John Latham said -
He expressed his opinion as to the limits of liberty when he said : “ The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is selfprotection.” It may be going too far to say that self-protection is “ the sole end “ which justifies any governmental action. But I think it must be conceded that the protection of any form of liberty as a social right within a society necessarily involves the continued existence of that society as a society.
That puts the position from the philosophical point of view in perfect perspective. In the light of its special knowledge, the Government has decided that the Australian Communist party is a threat to the continued existence of society as we know it. It makes that decision in the light of the facts that are known only to itself, and which justify the grave allegations that it has made, and therefore the Government must take the full responsibility. The decision is a grave one that no government should lightly embark on ; and only a government can make it. No Opposition could have the facts that would justify such a decision being made by it. The Government has accepted the responsibility of being accuser, judge and punisher of the Australian Communist party, and it is proposing in this bill, not that the Government abolish it, but that the Parliament shall do so.
– So Parliament takes the responsibility.
– The Parliament accepts the responsibility ultimately, but the initial decision on which the Parliament must act must be the judgment of the Government on facts which are peculiarly in its own possession, and not available to anybody else.
– And fully justified.
– The honorable senator is a supporter of the Government and may have information that is not available to honorable senators on this side. Up to the point that the Labour party ceased to be the government, the facts which justified that action being taken had not arisen.
– It is in accord with the honorable senator’s own declaration.
– I say that there is a great difference between being in a position to prove facts and having a belief or a suspicion that a thing is so.
– There is a great” difference between a sham fight and a real one.
– The Labour Government has shown by its actions that it believed and suspected certain things. When people took action which could bring them to the courts of this land, the Labour Government took them there. I concede that there is extraneous support for the Government in the fact that when it went to the electors of this country it told them unequivocally and plainly that, if returned to office, it would abolish the Australian Communist party and take its property. There is no argument about that. It put the position plainly before the people, and I think there is further support for it in my belief that at least a majority of the people of Australia favour that course. But I add that neither of those factors justifies arbitrary action being taken against the Australian Communist party unless the facts known only to the Government justify that course.
I have intimated to the AttorneyGeneral that the Opposition will not oppose those portions of the bill banning the Australian Communist party and appropriating its assets. I think I have demonstrated adequately that the Labour party has no sympathy for the
Australian Communist party. If this bill succeeds in destroying communism - and I say deliberately that I hope it will - then the Liberal-Country party Government is to congratulated. But we believe, as we have stated on many occasions, that the Government has chosen the wrong method to exterminate communism. No law can suppress thought, whether it be good or evil. The only way thought can be suppressed is by killing the thinker, and that is where legislation of this kind ultimately leads one. Any one who denies that denies all the lessons of history. Christianity thrived and grew on persecution, on crucifixion and on martyrdom.
– Surely the honorable senator does not compare communis]!! with Christianity?
– I am merely pointing out how ineffective is repressive legislation in dealing with ideas. The best way in which to make an idea flourish is to persecute it. Honorable senators opposite may not be familiar with all the examples of persecution recorded in history, so let us take an example from very recent history. During the last war, Germany, possessing the greatest military might in the world, over-ran France. Before long, an underground movement was organized in France to fight German military power. The organization had its own radio station, and published its own newspapers. The resistance movement was organized, and its adherents were armed, in spite of the efforts of the great German military machine, and when the Allied forces landed in France in 1944, the French resistance movement emerged from its hiding places, organized and fully armed, and was a powerful help to the Allies.
– They were patriots, not Communists.
– I am giving a philosophic treatise on the proposition that persecution does not suppress thought. The Labour party believes that this legislation will not produce the results which we and the Government hope for. We are supported in that belief by many authorities, the first being the
Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Speaking on the 1st May, 1947, in the House of Representatives, he said -
One reason why I have repeatedly expressed the view that these people should he dealt with in the open, is that I have complete confidence in the basic sanity of our own people, [f we deal with these people we shall defeat them; but we cannot deal with them openly unless their operations are known, unless they themselves are known.
In the Melbourne Herald of the 22nd J une, 1946, there was published an exclusive interview with Mr. Menzies, in which he was quoted verbatim. I refer to what he said, not because the statement wa3 made by Mr. Menzies, who is now Prime Miniser, but because of the fundamental truth of what he said. Speaking of the political Liberal party, Mr. Menzies declared that -
Our views were these. In time of war a ban was placed on the Communist party on the grounds of national security. In time of peace it is a very, very serious step to prohibit the association of people for the promulgation of any particular political views. Therefore, in time of peace we do not propose to place a ban on the Communist party, as such.
We believe that if the Communist party’s views constitute a real danger to the public, they will be expressed through acts which will represent breaches of reasonable law.
If the Communists are, on investigation, found to be committing breaches of this law, then they will be among the first people prosecuted. In other words, we should deal with the Communists as breakers of the general law of the land and not purely as Communists. And the reason for that is that in any country in normal times all doubts about freedom of speech, thought and assembly ought to be resolved in favor of freedom.
– Times have changed since then. Russian imperialism is now on the march.
– Mr. Menzies has ako changed. Neither in the United Kingdom nor in the United States of America, where real trouble has been encountered with Communists, has the Communist party been banned. Canada has banned the Communist party, but the banning is completely farcical, and communism has reared its head in another guise. Only the other day, the Prime Minister of Canada spoke of the futility of banning the Communist party. That has been demonstrated by the situation in the Communist-ridden Balkan Peninsula to-day. The men at the head of affairs in the Communist states in the Balkans are those who were previously gaoled as Communists. There is Rakosi,. the Deputy Premier of Hungary, whospent fourteen years in gaol, three of them in solitary confinement, because he was a Communist. One of his colleagues is Vas, who spent sixteen years in gaol. He was sentenced to death as a Communist at the age of sixteen. He was reprieved, and now sits at the right hand’ of the dictator of Hungary. Dimitrov, former Premier of Bulgaria, was once banished as a Communist. He returned to Bulgaria at the tail of the Russian, armies, and. became dictator of Bulgaria. I pass on with the comment that, whilst in our opinion, the method chosen by theGovernment to achieve our joint purposeis futile, we are not opposing it, and’ the Government must accept full responsibility for its decision.
I come now to the second phase of the bill, that dealing with the banning of affiliated and auxiliary organizations. Of course, conceding the banning of theCommunist party, I concede at once that the Government must be in a position tofollow that party into other organizations which it establishes or infiltrates.- How far has the Government gone in dealing with such organizations? Once an auxiliary organization is declared, it will bedissolved, and its property confiscated. The bill contemplates four classes of such organizations. First, there is the organization that was affiliated with the Australian Communist party at any time after the 10th May, 1948. It may have been affiliated on the 10th May, 1948, but not affiliated on the 11th May of that year. Nevertheless, it would come under the definition to which I have just referred. The second kind of organization is one in which either a majority of members were Communists at any time after the 10th May, 1948, or in which a majority of the executive are persons who were Communists at any time after the 10th May, 1948, even though noother members of the organization are Communists.
The third class of organization is one which at any time after the 10th May, 1948, supported or advocated the objectives, policies, teachings, principles, or practices of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin. I wonder whether those who were responsible for drawing up- that clause know anything about the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism. I have in my hand a copy of the Communist manifesto by Marx and Engels. Some of the objectives in that Communist manifesto would be approved by every one in this chamber, even by members of the Australian Country party. The first is -
A heavy, progressive, graduated income tax.
That has been the objective of every Australian government during the last ten years. The next objective is -
Bringing into cultivation all waste land, and the improvement of the soil generally.
That would catch every member of the Australian Country party. The third objective is -
A more equitable distribution of the population of the country.
Surely every one in Australia would agree to that. Finally, we come to this objective - ‘
Free education of all children in public schools.
Under this legislation, any member of an organization which advocates or teaches the principles or practices of communism may be proceeded against, and I have just recited a few of the teachings and policies of communism.
There are two very bad features in this bill, the first being the retrospective provisions. It is a grave legislative fault that an action which, when performed two years ago, was perfectly innocent according to the law of the land, and carried with it no penalty, should in 1950 lead to proceedings that could destroy an organization or deprive a man of his freedom. The Prime Minister recognized that, and had the grace to apologize for it when introducing this bill in the House of Representatives. I give him full marks for that. The second bad feature of the bill is that the net which the Government is casting to catch organizations associated with communism is too wide.
The fourth kind of organization to which the legislation applies is one the executive of which is wholly or substantially influenced by Communists, that is, by persons who have been
Communists at any time after the 10th May, 194S. First of all, what do the words “ influenced substantially “ mean? Let us consider organizations which are not registered under the law of a State or of the Commonwealth. I concede that the provision would not apply to trade unions at thi9 stage, but it could apply to the Australian Council of Trades Unions, and to various Trades and Labour Councils throughout Australia. I invite honorable senators to consider the case of the Australian Council of Trades Unions. Suppose that, in an executive of fourteen members, there are two Communists, and that, in the consideration of ordinary, everyday industrial matters three out of ten motions are moved or sponsored by the two Communists. Would that be interpreted as meaning that the Australian Council of Trades Unions was substantially influenced by persons who are Communists? Such an interpretation could certainly be placed upon it under the terms of this clause.
– That is nonsense.
– The fact that the Attorney-General says so does not make it nonsense. I invite the AttorneyGeneral, when the bill is being considered in committee, to carry his assertion a little further than the bald declaration that what I have said is nonsense.
– Does the honorable senator support the provision?
– If the AttorneyGeneral has patience, he will know all. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the Senate for its courtesy. The real danger that I see in this wide net that can pick up almost every organization in Australia is its effect upon individuals. I shall develop that theme later. I think that, although I have not said all that I have in my mind, I have said enough about the auxiliary organizations that can be banned to show that the net cast by the Government can pick up practically every organization in Australia. It certainly could pick up the Australian Labour party, because we have advocated those things. I ask the Attorney-General, who will be charged with the administration of this measure, whether the Australian Labour party is to be banned under it. Is he prepared to say “Yea” or “No” to that, or does he reserve his defence?
– It is a silly question that is not worthy of contemplation.
– It surprises me that the Attorney-General should hesitate. If, by his remark that my question is silly, he means that the Australian Labour party is not to be banned, what I say to him is that it certainly is time that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) and Ministers who are members of the Senate ceased to state that the objectives of the Communist party and the Australian Labour party are the same.
– They are the same, but there is a difference in ,the method of achievement.
– Earlier to-day I referred to an interjection by Senator Maher as a wise interjection. Now he has made the wise observation that they are the same but that there is a difference. Again I congratulate him. I believe that the net cast by the Government is so wide that it can, at the will of the executive government, pick up any organization in Australia, without exception. I. could tell the Senate of two kindergarten associations that are influenced in their decisions by Communists. I could name school committees that are influenced in their decisions by Communists.
– There is the United Nations.
– Yes, the United Nations organization, of which Russia is a member. The provisions dealing with organizations are liable to do another thing. They will, in fact, make it dangerous for any one in Australia to belong to any organization. Very soon nobody will join a club or organization in Australia unless he gets a certificate from the security service regarding every club member or member of the committee. What a nice Australia that will be!
Concerned as I am with the effect of this bill upon organizations, I am infinitely more concerned with its effect upon individuals. My colleagues and I entertain the gravest anxiety about that. It behoves every man, woman and youth in this country to understand what this measure does. Clause 9, the vital clause dealing with individuals, covers three classes of persons who may be called Communists. They are, first, persons who were, at any time after the 10th May, 1948, members of the Australian Communist party. That is all right ; we shall pass that. The second class consists of persons who, after that date, were members of the four kinds of organizations that I have already discussed. I think I have said sufficient to show that the net is sufficiently wide to pick up nearly every individual in Australia if the government of the day, armed with this great power, likes to exercise it.
– And. declares the association to be unlawful.
– That is so. Once an organization is declared, every member of it, whether or not he has ever heard of the Communist party, is caught up and can also be declared. The third class may include persons who have nothing to do with the Communist party. The definition clause defines a Communist as a person who supports or advocates the objectives, principles or practices of Marx and Lenin.
– Of communism.
– Communism is an all-embracing concept. I should not like the task of defining it. Recently in Newcastle a prominent Catholic priest made some severe comments about monopoly capitalism. That is something that the Communists attack. His remarks could not have been more trenchant, and I invite the Senate to consider them. He began by saying -
Communism is an evil system in every respect.
He went on to say things about monopoly capitalism that the Communists themselves say. They are to be found in every Communist writing and are uttered by every Communist. The priest said -
The three most flagrant abuses of capitalists, especially when they were combined in trusts and monopolies, were contempt for the Tights of the workers in the interests of profit, the use of money to elect agreeable governments or to corrupt elected members of governments, and war for reasons of trade.
Is the reverend gentleman to be declared under this bill % Every word of that statement is to be found in the propaganda of the Communists and in their objectives, teachings and policies.
The present Prime Minister, during the course of the last general election campaign, went on to the hustings in South Australia and said that if he found that monopoly capitalism, or capitalism through monopolies, was exploiting the people, he would socialize or nationalize it. Every word of that statement is to be found in Marx, and in the tenets, theories and teachings of communism.
– “We are dealing with a party that has a tie-up with a foreign power.
– The honorable senator has said too much already. Clause 9 provides that the GovernorGeneral may declare a person upon two counts. He must state two things when he declares a man : first, that the man is a Communist according to the definition in the bill, and secondly, that he is engaged in activities prejudicial to the security of the country. Let nobody forget that. The Governor-General does two things: he says, first, that the man is a Communist, and secondly, that his activities are dangerous to the security of this country, or even only that they are likely to be dangerous to the security of the country. That is all that he has to say. I do not want there to be any misunderstanding about the term “ Governor-General It does not mean that the Governor-General himself will be involved in this matter in any way. When the term “ Governor-General “ is used in a bill of this kind, it means, according to the Acts Interpretation Act, the Governor-General in Council. That means the Governor-General sitting with the Cabinet. The Cabinet is the effective Executive Council. It is as well for everybody in this country to realize that the Governor-General so functions effectively when only two Cabinet Ministers attend an Executive Council meeting. It will not even be necessary for the Minister who has prepared a declaration that a man is a Communist to be present. If two members of the Cabinet are present when the Clerk of the Council reads the nature of the matters that are to bo considered, and if they say, “Aye” to a list covering pages and pages, that is all that will be required to declare a man. The final responsibility is that of one man - the Minister charged with the administration of the bill. I wonder how many of the electors realized on the 10th December last year that Mr. Spicer, K.C., of Victoria, a candidate for election to the Senate, was to be the man in the Parliament of the Commonwealth who could, with the concurrence of one of his colleagues, in the presence of the Governor-General, declare a person to be a Communist. Is any honorable senator prepared to say that at the last general election the people were told that that position could arise? I point out to the Senate that although the Government had a long time in which to consider this bill, it has been amended by the Government itself. Many of the criticisms emanating from the Opposition have been met. For instance, it is now provided that a man may appeal to the Supreme Court of a State, and the wide powers of search that the Government imported into the bill have been reduced to reasonable and proper proportions.
Let me deal with the effect of a declaration upon a man. If he is a public servant, he is suspended immediately. When he leaves the Public Service, he receives no superannuation payments.
– Plenty of men get the sack.
– It is- a pity that more do not. He may not hold a position in a trade union. Those are the consequences of a declaration to which reference is made in the bill. Put what of the other consequences that will follow? What of the social damnation that will afflict a man -who has been declared publicly to be an enemy of and a traitor to his country? What of the social odium that will attach to him until his dying day, and to his wife and his children? It will be an odium that he will never begin to discard.
– He should keep good company.
– One of the worst consequences of a declaration is not mentioned in the bill. Where is a man to get a job when he has been so declared ? Will any one in this country employ a man who has been declared to be a traitor to it? Let me tell the Senate of what has happened in Nebraska, according to a report in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph of the 14th May. The report is as follows: -
A Nebraska District Court ruled last week that no Communist is entitled to unemployment relief. The Court’s reason - “ Under the law an unemployed person must be available for employment, and no one in this part of the country will hire a Communist “.
We shall get very close to the position that obtains in some of the Communistridden Baltic countries, where, when a man offends the Communist regime, his employer is told that if he wishes to continue to carry on his business as a private individual, he must dismiss the man. The man is then dismissed on the spot. Because he is not then a worker or a producer, his ration card is taken from him. Then he starves and dies. He has nothing else to do. That is plain murder no matter to whom it is done. That is happening in the Balkans to-day, and it could be one of the results of the operation of this bill upon individuals.
Let us consider for a moment how a man can be declared. He wakes up one fine morning to find his name in the Gazette and in the press of Australia as having been declared, under this bill, to be a traitor. That is the first that he knows about it. No charge is made against him. No particulars of any charge are given to him, and he has no opportunity to know who his accuser is or what he has to answer. He cannot face his accusers or cross-examine them. He has not even a right to be heard, let alone the right to a trial. Where does the information come from? Presumably it comes from the security service. From where does the security service get it? It gets it from informers and agents. What a marvellous vista that opens up f or the lowest section of this community - the anonymous poisoned pen letter writers ! The anonymous letter writers, who comprise the very lowest class of society in this country will have a perfectly open season.
– Any person who has a grudge against another might report him to the security service. That could happen in the Public Service. If an officer had a grudge against another, or wanted to replace him in his position, he could “ plant “ Communist literature in his desk and in his clothes. If the desk were searched nightly, the result would be obvious. That public servant could be declared under this measure. Of course the fact9 would look all right to the Attorney-General. That the man was found with Communist literature in his possession would probably be sufficient justification for his being declared. The sole judge would be the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth. Doubtless the present Attorney-General is an estimable gentleman. But what a dreadful power to repose in any man! The reputation, indeed the very life of a man and his children would reside in the dictum and decision of one man. I warn the Senate that this bill paves the way for Such actions by persons of evil intent. Under its provisions nobody will be obliged to substantiate his statement about another. The Government should be influenced by the press of this country. Recently articles in relation to the vital question of placing the onus of proof on the individual, the presumption of guilt before innocence, and the application of the rule of law, reflecting public opinion, have appeared in the press. The following article appeared in the Hobart Mercury - a very conservative journal - on the 15th May -
The man in the street knows justice and trusts it. He knows that this measure is “ loaded “ against the individual. He is not alone in that opinion. I refer to the ten professors and the twenty-three lecturers and readers of the University of Sydney who have openly declared their opposition to the passage of this measure because of its application to individuals.
I refer also to the University of Melbourne. This report appeared in the Melbourne Age of the 12th May -
More than 500 students of the University of Melbourne yesterday vigorously applauded four professors who attacked the Communist Party Dissolution Bill as an implicit threat to freedom of thought and personal liberty. The speakers - Professors K. D. Wright, I. Maxwell, H. MacLean and 0. A. Oeser - described the proposed legislation as “ dangerous “ and “ frightening and in contradiction to the teaching of history. . . . Professor Wright said one clause aimed in effect, at abolishing an organization and then accusing a person of being a member of it. From that viewpoint the placing of the onus of proof on an accused was “ devilish “.
Incidentally, Professor Wright is a brother of Senator Wright. I sincerely trust that the honorable senator will listen to the voice of his brother. The report continues - “ Only one person can say if you are a member of an organization, and that is the recording officer. The bill would start off by abolishing him “, he added. Professor Wright said the community would become prey to abuses if the measure became law. Strength would go out of thinking, but what was said now would in future be said behind locked doors.
When introducing this measure the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) referred to a view that had been expressed by an eminent prelate in this country about the Government’s approach to this matter. He quoted His Eminence’s remarks with approval. I point out that His Eminence, in referring to the broad aspects of this bill, was doing no more than commenting on its broad purpose to attack communism and had no reference to the machinery chosen by the Government to achieve that purpose. This statement was included in an independent Australian Broadcasting Commission news broadcast at 7.45 a.m. on the 23rd May.
South Africa’s House of Assembly yesterday approved n government proposal to refer the anti-Communist Bill to a select committee. It is hoped that consultation with the opposition might produce a united front against communism. Earlier the Opposition Leader, Field-Marshall Smuts, had published an amendment before the debate on the bill. The amendment asked the Government to appoint a select committee, as the present form of the measure gave the Government tyrannical control over political activity through the “onus of r,rn. f “ clause. [Ill]
So far as I know, it was not published in any Australian newspaper. The attitude of the Government of South Africa suggests that the Australian Government should further consider the matter before the chamber. I cannot resist referring to one more wholly delightful authority that I think the Senate will enjoy. I refer to an article by Professor Murdoch, which was published in the Melbourne Herald on the 13th May. I understand that the Professor writes these articles regularly. In the course of answering a question “ What’s wrong with Russia ? “, when he was dealing with the subject-matter of the bill now under consideration, he said -
If we are not careful, we shall find that the ignoble business of snooping has become respectable among us. A nation of informers - what an abyss to full into! Man and Snooperman - what a description of human relationships! From what I know of the character of my fellow-countrymen, I don’t believe they will put up with this kind of thing for long. I believe it is possible to draw the teeth of the Communist Party and frustrate their knavish tricks without allowing our social life to be poisoned in the way I speak of. But of all the dangers to which their activities expose us, I do believe this to be the most menacing, because we seem to be unaware of it.
The Labour party is doing its best to make the Government realize that in dealing with one evil it may create another. The Government has two inescapable duties before it. It has the great responsibility of protecting the security of this country, and ako the responsibility and the duty of preserving the very high standard of justice enjoyed in Australia. If it does not face up to those responsibilities we shall degenerate into a very low-class race. Australia will become a country in which no decent man will have pride enough to live. He will lose his pride in his country. I beseech the Government when considering the amendment that the Opposition will move, to have regard to the very strong views that the Opposition has expressed, the need for safeguards, and the feeling of the people of Australia as expressed so strongly by the press of this country. I urge the Government, as Professor Murdoch did, to let us not import into this country the very set of conditions from which many new Australians have just escaped. We should not make them feel ashamed of their new home. I believe that the Government will long regret it if the Government lightly abrogates the rule of law. If the principles of natural justice are disregarded, retribution will follow in many ways. I invite the Government to consider the ‘ arguments that I have addressed to it on my own behalf and on behalf of my colleagues. I have endeavoured to develop my opposition without heat. The Government should heed the reasoned arguments of the Opposition. It should not treat them merely as arguments that have been used because of a political situation. We are gravely concerned to our foundations about the Government’s approach to this matter. In the interests of the Australia that we all love, whether we be supporters of the Liberal party, the Australian Country party or the Labour party, I implore the Government not to make a mess of its treatment of this subject. It should review this legislation and look objectively at the amendments that will be proposed, which, for Heaven’s sake, it should accept.
– I am becoming accustomed to hearing Senator McKenna commence by telling us that the party to which he belongs proposes to support the measure before the chamber and then devote practically the whole of the remainder of his speech to an attack on the bill. I venture to say that if any one had come into this chamber to-night at almost any stage of the honorable senator’s address, he could not have escaped the conclusion that the honorable senator was opposed to this measure. However, he has stated two or three times that the Opposition is not opposed to the measure, but supports it. The Opposition is going to vote for the abolition of the Communist party and also for the clause of the bill which provides for the abolition of affiliated bodies and other bodies into which the Communists might form themselves. In the long run the Government is asked to believe that the Opposition confines its attack to specific clauses that deal with the onus of proof and the extent to which a person who is declared under the measure is placed under an obligation to prove that he is not a Communist or a member of a Communist body. The preamble to this measure, which has been transmitted to the Senate from another place, contains a number of very serious allegations against the Communist party of Australia. They are allegations that that organization is engaged in operations that are designed to bring about the overthrow or dislocation of the established system of government in Australia; that it engages in activities and operations of a treasonable and subversive kind, and that it directs its activities to the carrying on of strikes and stoppages of work for the purpose of retarding production in this country and of interfering seriously with the operations of vital industries. Those declarations now appear in a bill which has been passed by the House of Representatives, and so far as I know, no Labour member of that House criticized that preamble. At any rate, no Labour member of the House of Representatives voted against the adoption of that preamble. I want to know whether or not any of the Opposition in the Senate will vote against the adoption of the preamble. I will not accept the suggestion made by Senator McKenna that that preamble is solely the responsibility of the Government. It. is not a mere statement by the Government, but will, if accepted, be incorporated in an act of Parliament and will go into the statutebook. It represents the voice not only of the Government but also of the National Parliament of Australia. No member of the chamber, when faced with the question whether or not he shall support the bill, can escape the responsibility of making up his mind whether he approves the allegations made in that preamble. Unless members of the Senate are prepared to vote against the preamble, then we must proceed upon the basis that this chamber, as well as the House of Representatives, has solemnly declared that the statements in the preamble represent the truth, and that the matter of what we propose to do with the Communists must be determined in the light of the allegations of which we all approve.
It is not necessary for me, I gather, to justify everything that appears in that preamble. However, because this is the very essence of the issue, I direct attention to the constitution of the Australian Communist party.
– The Attorney-General might be “ declared “ if he has that document in his possession.
– I do not think that there is any need to fear that I will “ declare “ myself. Incidentally I am surprised that in all the fanciful suggestions made by Senator McKenna he did not include that suggestion. I have with me a copy of the constitution of the Australian Communist party, which was adopted in 1948. If we really want to know what that party is and what it intends to do it is not very difficult to discover the truth from this pamphlet. I intend to read only one small sentence, which appears on page 11 of the pamphlet, and states -
The Communist party fights to withdraw Australia from the imperialist war-mongering camp of the Anglo-American monopoly capital imperialists and to realine this country with the peace-loving, progressive forces of the world, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the peoples’ democracies, the colonial liberation movements, and the international labour movement.
I have thought for a long time that when one is reading a piece of Communist literature it is not a bad idea to have in mind that the Communists follow the practice of employing against those whom they regard as their enemies epithets which are most appropriate to themselves. When one reads, for instance, that Australia is to be withdrawn from the “ imperialist war-mongering camp of the Anglo-American monopoly capital imperialists “, that is to be regarded simply as a plain statement that Australia is to be withdrawn from its association with the British Commonwealth of Nations and from association with its kith and kin in the United States of America - and forsooth, we are to do that in order to join with the very people to whom the epithets quoted are most appropriate. In other words, we are asked to join the only imperialist war-mongering government in the world to-day, which is the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Such ls the organization with which the bill is concerned. Because of the character of that organization the Government has decided, and the people of Australia have decided, that that organization . shall be dissolved.
– Hear, hear !
– I am happy to hear Senator Hendrickson say, “Hear, hear!”
– And I believe it.
– And I am happier still to hear him say that he believes it. By his interjection Senator Hendrickson agrees that, having regard to the actions of the Communist party, that party should be dissolved out-of-hand. We are satisfied, and, as I understand it, the Opposition is satisfied, that it is the type of organization that we have described in the bill. So, as I understand it, we are on common ground up to that point. We accept the preamble and the conception that the Australian Communist party is to be dissolved, on the say-so of the Parliament, without trial, and without any appeal whatever; and I believe that that is sound common sense. We propose to dissolve an organization that is an enemy to the welfare of this country-
– Dissolve the organization or the members of that organization ?
– Dissolve the organization. I was tempted to say, “ Dissolve the members also “.
– Where do you go from there?
– I am more interested to know where Senator Grant goes from there. It must be apparent to members of the Opposition that merely to dissolve the Communist party would not achieve the result that we desire. It is quite obvious that those who are at present members of the Communist party will, if nothing more is done about it, simply turn themselves into another organization. They might perhaps call themselves “ The Australian Peace Council “ !
– Or, “ The United Australia party “ !
– They might even do that. Unless provision is made in the bill to deal with such circumstances it is quite obvious that the dissolution of the
Communist party would be meaningless. Therefore, it becomes necessary, accepting the preamble and the dissolution of the Communist party - indeed, it follows as a matter of necessity in a measure of this kind - that we should then proceed to indicate the ways and means by which we propose to prevent that organization from functioning in some other guise. Clause 5 of the bill, which has been attacked somewhat trenchantly by Senator McKenna–
– And effectively.
– I think, ineffectively. That clause is designed to bring about the effect that I am indicating and no other. I cannot but doubt the sincerity of those who say that they believe in the dissolution of the Communist party, but at the same time create all kinds of fanciful objections to a provision that is designed only to prevent the Communist party from functioning in another form. Let us examine the clause. Members of the Opposition accept the fact that the Communist party should be dissolved. Do they think that organizations affiliated with the Communist party should also be dissolved? If not, why not? What is the sense of abolishing the parent body but not abolishing organizations that tire affiliated with it? So, presumably, the affiliated bodies must also go.
– That is all right.
– I am glad to hear it. We are making progress. The next step is to deal with an organization, “ a majority of the members of which, or a majority of the members of the committee of management or other governing body of which, were, at any time “ after May, - 194S, and before the date of commence- ment of the act, members of the Australian Communist party. In other words, the clause will apply to any organization that is controlled by Communists.
– That is all wrong. It deals with the retrospective membership of that party.
- Senator Large might just as well say that we should not abolish the Australian Communist party itself because it has existed since the 10th May, 194S, and that therefore any action taken against it would be retrospective action. In this clause, all we say is that we shall abolish certain organizations, and we define them as being organizations that have been controlled or managed, in the very real sense, by members of the Australian Communist party during the time that that party existed under its present constitution. I do not intend to go through each. of the clauses at present, but I say now that it is fanciful and absurd to suggest that clause 5 will be directed against any organization other than organizations that were affiliated with the Communist party during that party’s existence, or organizations into which the members of the Communist party see fit to enter after that party has been dissolved in order to carry on activities similar to these carried on by the Communist party itself. I confess that Senator McKenna disappointed me very much when he tried to belittle a declaration that would be made by the Governor-General. Under clause 5 of this bill, no body can be declared unless the Governor-General is satisfied that it is a. body to which the clause applies, and that the continued existence of that body would be prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth or to the execution or maintenance of the Constitution or the laws of the Commonwealth.’ The Governor-General would make such a declaration on ministerial advice.
– That means on the advice of the Attorney-General.
– It would be made on ministerial advice. It might be the advice of the entire Cabinet; but, in any case, I cannot accept the notion that a responsibility of the Crown such as that envisaged in this clause would be carried out in an irresponsible manner. I do not know whether honorable senators opposite, in expressing their views on this subject, are indicating the manner in which they approached their ministerial responsibilities. I hope not and I do not believe it. I ask the Opposition to consider the processes of thought that a Minister would necessarily go through in dealing with a problem of this kind. Is it seriously suggested that any responsible Minister of the Crown who has taken the oath of office would ask the GovernorGeneral to make such a solemn declaration, unless he had the soundest possible evidence to support his request? Every time a Minister acts in relation to a serious matter of this kind, he must be satisfied that there is on his files, among the material on which he acts, all the evidence that is required to support his signature.
– What about the list of 53 names that had to be altered?
– There were slight mistakes in connexion with five of those names, but they related mainly to the offices that the individuals concerned held. There has been some unfair criticism on this point. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself, in answer to a question, indicated that certain mistakes Cad been made. For most of those mistakes he himself took responsibility. Under this measure, Ministers will be required to advise the Governor-General that certain organizations come within the provisions of clause 5 and are carrying on subversive activities. I cannot imagine any one on this side of the chamber, or on the other side of the chamber for that matter, doing that unless he was perfectly satisfied with the information on which he was acting.
Much of Senator McKenna’s attack on this bill was directed to the onus of proof provisions. There appears to be some misunderstanding on the part of honorable senators opposite and amongst the general public on this subject. First, I emphasize that no offence is created under this bill that can be proved with the aid of any averment or in relation to which the onus of proof will not rest on the Crown. No claude of the bill creates an offence and places the onus of proof on the person charged.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral sure that that is right?
– Quite sure. I shall amplify that statement. For instance, clause 9 deals with individuals who mav be declared. It creates no offence. It merely SH VS that the Governor-General, if he is satisfied that a person is a person to whom the clause applies, and is carrying on subversive activities, may make a declaration to that effect. That is all that happens at that stage. The actual makins of a declaration creates no offence by any one.
– A person may lose his job.
– Yes, if he is in the government employment he may lose his job. Is there anything objectionable in that?
Opposition Senators. - Yes.
– I am very interested to hear that. Honorable senators opposite, as I understand them, are advancing this argument: Mr. X is in government employment. The Executive of the day comes to the conclusion that he is a Communist and is carrying on subversive activities. In these circumstances, would any government be worth its salt if it did not get rid of that person from the employment of the Commonwealth ? Why, Senator McKenna himself admitted to-night that the Labour Government had found it necessary to do something like that.
– He did not.
– My impression is that Senator Mckenna said -
I challenge any Government member to say that the Labour Government did not, through its security service, t,ke the strongest steps to weed out Communists from key positions within the Public Service.
Did the Labour Government give those people a trial?
– I rise to order. I object to the Attorney-General’s incorrect quotation of Senator McKenna’s remarks.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order 1 The honorable senator may not make a personal explanation at this stage.
– I submit that I have quoted Senator McKenna quite fairly. I understood him to mean that, during the regime of the Labour Government, if that Government found a man in a key position whom it suspected of being a “Com”, it did not declare him; it did not give him a right of appeal to the High Court or to the Supreme Court as this bill proposes; it just tossed him out. What honorable senators opposite are suggesting in regard to this legislation is that if there is in government employment a man who is believed by the Executive Council to be a person engaged in subversive activities, he must be permitted to continue in government employment, free to carry on his subversive activities, unless the Government can prove to the satisfaction of a court that he is in fact engaged in such activities. That is the effect of the Labour party’s proposed amendment. There is no escape from that. What the Opposition says is that it is not fair to dismiss from government employment a man who is a Communist and is suspected of being engaged in subversive activity. According to the Labour party, the onus of proof should be on the Crown, and unless the Government can prove that a man is in fact engaged in subversive activities, he should be allowed to continue in his employment, presumably until he engages in direct acts of sabotage for which action could be taken against him. That would be the effect of the Labour party’s proposals in relation to this bill, and I suggest that a government that was prepared to accept such a situation would not be worthy of remaining on the treasury bench. If that is the view of the Labour party as to its obligations in regard to this matter, it is not surprising that the people of this country should have found it necessary to make a change on the 10th December. I shall take another illustration to drive home the point because I am afraid that some honorable senators on the opposition side still do not understand it. Is it seriously contended that if I had in my employment a person whom I suspected strongly of taking money from the till, I would not be justified in questioning that person, and if he could not satisfy me that he was not doing what I suspected that I should dismiss him? Would that be unreasonable conduct? I suggest that that is exactly the course of conduct that members of the Opposition would follow in those circumstances.
– .Would the AttorneyGeneral put the man’s name in a government Gazette on suspicion?
– Now the attack is changing. I have chosen to deal with the attack made by Senator McKenna. As I understand it, that attack centred on the onus of proof. The moment members of the Labour party see precisely where their proposals will lead them, the attack changes.. The complaint then is not this question of onus of proof, but the question of declaration which is another matter altogether. The complaint of Senator McKenna as I understood it was that the obligation would be thrown on the person concerned to prove that he was not a Communist. Senator McKenna wanted to substitute for the provisions of the bill, a provision which would enable the person concerned to escape the consequence of the declaration unless the Government could prove the allegations made against him. In other words, suppose that a man in government employment were suspected of being a Communist and carrying on subversive activities and the ultimate state of mind of the judge on an appeal was, “ I am not sure whether this person is carrying on subversive activities. He may be or he may not be”. In those circumstances, the Labour party would suggest that the man must continue in government employment. That is a proposition which I cannot accept and I suggest that no selfrespecting government could accept it. I believe that the Labour party itself, on reflection, will see that such a proposition is quite unacceptable to any one who is responsible for carrying on the government of this country.
– Why brand him for life?
– The interjection suggests again that when one objection is broken down, up comes another. The objection first was the onus of proof. Now it is the declaration. Having regard to the nature of the organization named in the bill and the kind of activity which its members are carrying on, it is just as well that the people of this country should be informed authoritatively by their government as to who are the members of the organization. A great deal has been said by Senator McKenna on this question of onus of proof. He sought to rely on the rule that a man should be presumed innocent until proved guilty and the rest of it.
– Does not the Attorney-General subscribe to that?
– The reference I am making has nothing to do with the question of law. Senator McKenna made that point in answer to an interjection of mine. He said that when it was found that there were Communists on the Stevedoring Industry Commission, the commission was abolished by the Labour Government. In other words, the Labour Government sacked the members. When I interjected and suggested that that action was taken without trial, Senator McKenna tried to suggest that I was being very silly indeed. He said that there was no trial because there was no offence. The position under sections 5 and 9 of this bill are precisely expressed in those words. There is no offence. A declaration by the Governor-General carries with it certain consequences. They are the consequences which flow from such a declaration, but the Government proposes to give to the person in respect of whom-the declaration was made the right of appeal to the court. It says to him, “ If you can satisfy the judge of the court on the balance of probabilities that you are not the sort of person we have declared you to be, the declaration will cease to have any operation “.
– How very kind of it !
– I can quite understand the honorable senator thinking that that was very kind indeed. I could understand him saying that he might think the proper thing to do would be to dismiss such a person out of hand. That comes from members of the Labour party who told honorable senators that they were carrying on unrelenting war against the Communists in this country. Yet they are hanging on tenaciously to the conception that a man as to whom there are doubts whether he is a Communist or not, and whether he is carrying on subversive activities, must remain in government employment to carry on his subversive actions.
– We do not say that at all.
– Honorable senators opposite do say so. That is the effect of the amendments that have been foreshadowed by Senator McKenna. I want to make one other observation in relation to this question of onus of proof, because it has been completely torn from its context in the debate. The question that an offence, if there is one, is normally proved by the prosecution is a very good and sound rule of English law. It is one which I would not like to see discarded. But it does not represent all the wisdom of English law by any means. The rule operates in its proper place, but it has always been subject to very real exceptions. If I am not boring the Senate I shall quote a passage from a legal work entitled Legal Duties, by Professor Allen, a very highly esteemed and well-known writer on legal subjects, who is recognized as being among the most liberal of the legal authorities of to-day. He wrote on this subject under the heading “ Presumption of Innocence “, and stated, at page 294 -
The presumption of innocence is merely one of the safeguards against handicapping the prisoner with undue prejudice, and in that aspect it is an indispensable and a beneficient part of the administration of criminal justice; but if allowed to become obscured by rhetoric and sentiment - which are very different things from humanity - it may be an obstacle to those principles which aire “ best fitted to elicit the truth as to guilt” and, it need hardly be added, the truth as to innocence. The quality of mercy is not strained, but it may easily become strained by unreflective cliché
I hope that nothing here written conveys the impression that the writer advocates or admires a spirit of vindictiveness towards the criminal; his effort has been only to see, if he can, this important principle of justice in its true perspective, and it seems to him to lie somewhere between the elevating impulse of compassion and the unlovely necessity of self-protection.
In those last words, the writer of that article hints at the justification for a measure of this kind when dealing with a matter of dire necessity as far as the community is concerned. Mr. Justice Isaacs considered this matter also and no one would accuse him of being an illiberal thinker on these subjects. In the case to which the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) has referred of Williamson v. Ah On, Mr. Justice Isaacs was dealing with certain provisions of the Immigration Act. He said -
These evidentiary provisions have been found necessary to prevent or counteract the surreptitious or fraudulent evasion of the actual immigration laws by persons who, in truth, are smuggled into the country and are only discovered, if ever, with difficulty. This is the class of persons with which this case is concerned, and broadly speaking the only class of persons intended to be reached by the legislation impeached by the respondent Responsible Government is the constitutional check on arbitrary administration.
I repeat that “ Responsible government is the constitutional check on arbitrary administration “. That quotation is very apt from the point of view of the consideration of the operation of these particular clauses. At page 113 of the same case reported in volume 39 of the Commonwealth Law Reports the same judge said this -
One governing principle can, I think, be gathered from the decisions and it may be thus stated : The burden of proof at common law rests where justice will be best served having regard to the circumstances both pub.ic and private. There are some primary and general rules, and these are sometimes required to give way in presence of special circumstances. Judges have, by a process of reasoning, evolved these rules and subsidiary rules which in essence are judicial legislation, and which now govern all judicial tribunals as firmly as if enacted by statute. The broad primary principle guiding a court in the administration of justice is that he who substantially affirms an issue must prove it. But, unless exceptional cases were recognized, justice would be sometimes frustrated and the very rules intended for the maintenance of the law of the community would defeat their own object. The usual path leading to justice, if rigidly adhered to in all cases, would sometimes prove but the primrose path for wrongdoers and obstruct the vindication of the law.
– There is a big difference between the immigration laws and this proposed legislation.
– I do not know that the difference is so great. The immigration laws are directed against persons who improperly claim the advantage of citizenship in Australia. This bill, in its final analysis, is directed against persons who do not understand the full obligations of citizenship, and seek to destroy the’ institutions under which they now shelter. The very principles to which they are appealing now they would destroy immediately if they had the opportunity. Because we wish to prevent them from carrying on their nefarious activities, we have brought in this legislation. I wish to emphasize once again the fact that this is special legislation to deal with a real emergency now facing the country. The legislation is based on the facts and allegations which appear in the preamble, and Senator McKenna and his associates cannot escape the responsibility of either accepting the statements in the preamble or of voting against the bill. If he does not vote against the bill he admits, in effect, that the statements are true. A solemn responsibility devolves on every honorable Senator. If we accept the truth of the statements, it follows logically that the organization attacked in the preamble must, for the security of the country, be dealt with, and the various measures set forth in the bill must be taken in order that we may preserve Australia for those who are entitled to enjoy its institutions and freedom.
.- The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) devoted a great deal of his time to attacking the Labour party because we admitted that, when we were in power, we either sacked Communists from the Public Service, or removed them from employment in which they might endanger the safety of the country. The Attorney-General tried, to show that what the Labour Government had done in that connexion was the same as the present Government proposes to do under this legislation, but he confused the issue, whether deliberately or not. I had experience of this sort of thing in administering my own department. When I was convinced that a Commonwealth employee was likely to constitute a danger to the safety of the country, I either had him sacked, or had him removed from the employment in which he might do harm. That was a matter between him and me. He was still able to obtain employment elsewhere, perhaps even in some other branch of the Commonwealth Service. We did not deny him the right to work. Under this legislation, however, the Government proposes to publish the name of a declared person in the Commonwealth Gazette, which circulates all over Australia. He will be branded as a subversive person, and yet Government spokesmen say that it is not proposed to do anything to him ! We know that if such a person gets employment elsewhere it will not be long before the calumniators get to work. The character assassins will attack, and that man will probably not be able to get a decent job all the rest of his life. Senator McKenna,’ in an extraordinarily fine exposition of the feelings and views of the Australian
Labour party, stated where the Labour party stands on the Communist issue.
– Honorable senators opposite still do not believe him.
– They believe him, but for political reasons they deny it. Senator McKenna showed that, throughout the years, the Labour party has been the only organization to attack the Communists consistently. Notwithstanding this, our political opponents have stumped the country in an attemptto tie the Communist party to the Labour party. When Marx wrote his first thesis upon which the revolutionary Communist movement was founded, his first words were : “ I hate all the gods “. Atheism and communism go together. All decent men abhor the principles of communism. The Labour party has fought communism more successfully in recent years than has any other organization. I brand the Communist Party Dissolution Bill as a piece of political stunting by the Government. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has deliberately run away from his stated policy, and this bill has been brought in for the political advantage of the LiberalAustralian Country party coalition Government. Honorable senators will recall the manner in which the bill was introduced in the House of Representatives. In every newspaper there were advertisements paid for by the Liberal party calling on the public to listen to the Prime Minister’s speech on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Every door and window of Parliament House, except the front door, was locked so that the Prime Minister’s person would be safe. In order to get to our accustomed places, we had to enter the building by the front door through a phalanx of security men and attendants. However, when the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) introduced the bill in the Senate, and it was identical except for nineteen amendments, there was no locking of doors or windows. Apparently, the person of the Minister for Trade and Customs is not nearly so important as is the person of the Prime Minister. Honorable senators will recall the packed galleries in the House of Representatives, and the theatrical atmosphere. When the Prime Minister finished his second- reading speech, he laid his papers on the table and said, in effect : “ This is the answer. This finishes the Communist party. As from to-day, the Communist party is no more “. The press of the country took the matter up next day, but since then some of the newspapers have come to realize how wrong the legislation is. The Prime Minister introduced the bill six months after the Government had come into office, but it was just two days before the Queensland State election. The timing was perfect, a9 has been the timing of everything the Prime Minister has done since he took office. In everything that he has done he has sought to gain votes for his party. We remember that before the by-elections in New South Wales, he abolished petrol rationing. We are all agreed that communism must be fought, but the Prime Minister has used the Communists in an attempt to gain political advantage. The Labour Premier of Queensland, Mr. Hanlon, stated clearly where his party stood on the Communist issue, and he was returned at the recent State election. Immediately after the Prime Minister introduced this bill, the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Hollway, jumped onto the band wagon, declaring that he supported the measure. He declared that if he were returned to power, he would sack all the “ reds “ in the Victorian Public Service. He had been Premier for some years, and had not sacked one “ red “. All the anti-Labour premiers attack the Communists at election time, but between elections they do nothing about the matter. The personal integrity of the Minister for Trade and Customs stands very high, but in this connexion he has gained no marks. He has attempted consistently to tie the great Labour movement to the Communist party. He has said to-day that during the last eight years we have been cheek by jowl with the Communists, although history proves that we have fought them al every turn. No one knows that better than does the Minister and other honorable senators opposite, who are even only reasonably well-informed. When au honorable senator on this side of the chamber related how we had fought the Communist party, the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) said, sneer.ingly. “ That will be the day “. Tor the last twenty years the non-Labour parties have endeavoured to create a Communist fear complex. All that Australian Country party speakers talk about on the street corners of country towns is the Communists - the men in the cities who tie up industry, who want to collectivize farming and do in Australia all the things that have been done in Russia. They say that the Labour party is the Communist party in this country. In Sydney yesterday I saw Liberal party banners that referred to the “Labour-Communist party”. To my mind, the real reason for the introduction of this legislation is that the Government believes that it will gain a political advantage from it.
– It will distract attention from the failure of the Government to put the value hack into the £1.
– The principal task of the Government should be to safeguard the standard of living in this country by ensuring that the £1 will buy more than it does now, but, in order to take the minds of Australian housewives off the increasing cost of sugar, bread, meat, fruit and vegetables, they are waving the red flag in front of them again. “We say that if the Government wants to ban the Communist party, lot it do so, and we shall vote in favour of the ban in this chamber, but, as Senator McKenna has explained, we do not think that is the best way in which to deal with the matter.
When the present Prime Minister made his policy speech during the last general election campaign, he said -
The laws with respect to sedition or other subversive activities will be reviewed and strengthened.
He made no mention of this bill. He referred only to existing laws, under which he has the power to track these rats to their lairs, if he wishes to do so. The Crimes Act and the laws relating to treason provide for the imposition of sentences of death, life imprisonment, and lesser sentences for treasonable seditions and subversive activities. The promise that the right honorable gentleman made to the people was that the laws with respect to sedition or other subversive activities would be reviewed and strengthened.
He said -
Conviction under such laws-
I emphasize those words - will disqualify from employment under the Crown or from office in a registered organization.
The present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) deputized for the right honorable gentleman when, owing, to a cold, he could not speak at Randwick. On that occasion, in November, 1949, the honorable gentleman, referring to what the present Government parties would do to the Communist party if they were returned to office, said -
Those who were members of the Communist party on the 10th of this month shall not hold office under the Crown, in the armed services or in an industrial union. That deadline of the 10th November was kept very secret, because we knew the Communists, and if we had waited to fix a date after we got into power, they would have been running for cover.
When the present Government parties were returned to power, they fixed the date as the 10th May, 1948. The honorable gentleman went on to say -
So that it cannot be said that we are going outside the processes of law, we shall allow any organization that we name, other than the Communist party, the right to go to the High Court or the Supreme Court to establish that they are not carrying on any subversive activity.
When the bill was introduced into the Parliament, it was discovered that provision was not made for an organization to go to a Supreme Court, but only to the High Court. This great document, this brain child of the AttorneyGeneral and the Prime Minister, as it has been described by the press of this country, was presented with all the pomp and ceremony that normally accompanies a coronation. It was put forward as the complete answer to the Communist menace. However, before the ink on the paper was dry, the holes became apparent. The next morning the Sydney Morning Herald published some photographs that purported to be photographs of some of the well-known Communists who had been named by the Prime Minister. One was a photograph of none other than the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales, Mr. J. W. R, Hughes, who is known and respected throughout that State. He was described by the newspaper as the federal secretary of the Clerks Union.
– What has that to do with the bill? The Government did not insert the photograph.
– The Prime Minister, in the House of Representatives, read a list of 53 Communists. The persons to whom the right honorable gentleman referred were the really bad Communists. They were the ones who had to be dealt with if this country was not, as it were, to sink beneath the sea. They were hanging on trees, ready to be plucked. Almost immediately, the right honorable gentleman, in a public statement, had to revise the list that he had read. We have not in this country a security service in which I have complete faith. The events to which I have referred justify that lack of faith. For an hour and a half the Prime Minister enthralled the people of this country with the wonderful story of what the Government was going to do to combat the Communists. It must be assumed that his speech was checked and doublechecked in an endeavour to ensure that every statement in it was completely accurate. He read a list of 53 Communists. Included in the list was a Mr. Ticehurst, who was described as the President of the Newcastle Branch of the Transport Workers Union of Australia. A week before the right honorable gentleman made his speech, the Newcastle transport workers stated publicly that if a Communist union was represented in the May Day procession in that city they would not drive a truck or a wagon in that procession, yet he referred to Mr. Ticehurst as the President of the Newcastle Branch of the Transport Workers Union. The truth of the matter is that Mr. Ticehurst had been removed from office four years - not four months - previously. We shall have to depend upon a security service that undoubtedly provided the Prime Minister with inaccurate information. It is had enough to have to put up with a security service in war-time, but it is worse in peace-time. My personal experience is that a security service is too often a refuge of the coward. What he cannot prove he states. I remember that in the early part of the war I tried to discuss one or two cases with the security service, but I was told on each occasion, “ This is a security matter ; it cannot be discussed Later I referred to other cases of men who I knew had been treated wrongly, and I was given the same answer, but I refused to accept it. It is true of all security services that when they cannot prove, they make statements.
Time, an American magazine, published the interesting story of an American G.I. who married a German girl and brought her to America with him. When she reached Ellis Island she was stopped by officers of the Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service. Standing on their war-time rights, they would not say why she had been stopped. They said that she was not a fit person to enter the United States of America and that she must leave. She was given a reprieve twice. Then the newspapers learned of the story of this girl, Ellen Knauff. A special House Judiciary Committee of the American Congress investigated her case. They found that she had worked with the Royal Air Force during the war and with the United States forces after the war. The theory was that a jealous rival for the affections of her husband had spread false rumours about her. The House Judiciary Committee fumed when the Department of Justice refused to state a case against her. All that they could discover against the girl was a letter from a former AttorneyGeneral to an un-named friend in which it was said that the Department of Justice was convinced that Ellen Knauff was a paid agent for the pre-Communist Government of Czechoslovakia while she was working for the United States forces. Congress passed a law to enable her to be admitted to America as an American citizen. Before the law could become operative, an appeal that she had lodged with the Court of Appeal was dismissed. Within twenty minutes of the dismissal of the appeal, the immigration authorities put her in a motor car and took her to La Guardia airport, her trunks having been packed, with the intention to put her on an aeroplane going to Germany. Her attorney rushed to the judge who had decided against her, and. in view of the circumstances, she was given another reprieve. The judge, Justice Robert Jackson, said -
Bundling this woman into an aeroplane to get her out of this country within hours after a decision of the Court of Appeals would defeat the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction and would circumvent any action by congress to cancel her exclusion.
The point is that once these things start they are not run only by Ministers. Do not let us delude ourselves. They are sometimes run at very low departmental levels, and, because of the iron curtain that hides security activities, when Ministers ask what is happening to certain persons they are told, as I was told during the war, “ It is a security matter , we cannot discuss it with you “. The case that I have quoted shows how the administration of the laws of a country can be removed from the control of the government. I am referring to the congress of the United States of America, a powerful democratic establishment. Even after it passed a law to keep this woman in the country the Department of Justice tried to .put her on an aeroplane bound for Germany, in order to defeat the democratic set up of the country. Nobody can have complete faith in a security service, because it cannot be perfect. We have teen how M.I. 5 in the United Kingdom fell down on its job. Similarly the body established by Mr. Edgard Hoover in the United States of America did not accomplish its purpose. I By and large we must be careful. I admit that during war-time it is essential that a security service should have wide powers. However, during the last war, Labour made a tragic mistake. which affected the lives of many people. We cannot run away from that fact. The Australia First movement, which the Australian security service harassed, comprised men who were able to prove their complete innocence so far as the safety of Australia was concerned. We know how the security service worked in North Queensland. My opinion is that a list of Italian cane-growers was compiled and almost every second man named on it was interned. In another instance, a man who was overheard to make a certain remark when drinking freely in a hotel in the Riverina was grabbed and thrown into a concentration camp, where he remained for a number of years. On another occasion a city man sold an interest in his business to two refugees. When it became evident that they wanted to run the business other than in accordance with his views, he made representations to a man, who is now a senior Minister in the Government, and those two refugees were placed in a concentration camp. 1 stress, that unless great care is exercised, these things will recur. The Prime Minister has said that we are not, in a technical sense, at peace. That seems to be the Government’s excuse for establishing a set-up that will endanger the things that men and women have fought through the years to safeguard and develop. Despite the right honorable gentleman’s assertion, we encourage the Russian buyers to bid our wool up at the auction sales every week, so that they can establish a stock-pile. The price of rubber in Malaya has risen 300 per cent, in twelve months, because of Russian buying. If the Prime Minister honestly considers that a war is imminent, why do we continue to sell to the Russians the necessities of war? The truth is that the right honorable gentleman knows that the prospects of war materializing are fading as the days pass. This completely political approach to the matter has earned very great disfavour amongst every section of the Australian community. Bishop Moyes, of Armidale, in a letter that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald recently, stated - lt is obvious that Communists are doing what they can to disrupt Australian industry and that they cannot be allowed to do this as a first step to further disruption. But it is essential that in seeking to defeat them we should not deny the principles of our way of life and thus give them a victory. For the Australian Commonwealth to develop an or ler that has even faint resemblance to the police state of totalitarian countries, with its huntin;.’ for victims, is to give communism ite first victory. For we shall be adopting its methods and using Satan to cast out Satan. That could only mean that communism had already debauched our way of life. It may be replied that in order to break up this subversive group it is expedient to make people accused of being Communists prove their innocence. Expediency is a treacherors guide. It may bring short-term success, it always brings longterm disaster: and the violation of an accepted axiom of British law, that a man is innocent until he is proved guilty, for the sake of the immediate safeguarding of our security, may lead to untold trouble in the future. The history of Europe in the last 20 years- is sufficient evidence of the danger of expediency as a guide.
The Reverend H. P. Phillips, who was elected President of the Methodist Church of Australasia early this year, was reported in the Melbourne Herald to have said in an address in Wesley Church on the 26th February -
The proposal to ban the Communist party represented a “ policy of despair “.
– Why does’ not the honorable senator quote the “Red” Dean?
– I shall leave that to the honorable senator who has just interjected.
– But Labour is going to vote in favour of the bill.
– It is unfortunate that the Attorney-General (‘Senator Spicer) has not been in the chamber during the whole of my address. 1 have examined this matter fully. Although I am unable to go over it again now. if the Minister chooses to call at my office tomorrow morning I shall explain the difficulties to him. The newspapers of English-speaking nations have been most critical of the action of the Australian Government in this matter. I am thinking not of “ red “ newspapers, but rather of journals such as the London Times, the Manchester Guardian and others. This comment appeared in the Spectator, a conservative newspaper - . . But the best answer to Communism will remain, nut a legal burrier, but a population determined not to be exploited and duped.
The Economist had this to say -
The bill was more likely to spread around Communism “ an atmosphere of clandestine adventure and martyrdom “ which might attract better and more people to its cause.
Last week an ex-Liberal member of the Victorian Parliament, Mr. J. S. Lechte formerly member for Oakleigh, according to a report in this morning’s Age, stated -
I didn’t think I slim ld live to see the day when a Labour Senate stood as the last bulwark of the principle of British democracy . . . )”!( Liberal Tarty claimed that it was bared on loyalty to the Empire and British traditions. lt was a British tradition that people were innocent until proved guilty, yet the Liberal Party seemed willing to abandon that principle.
– He is merely a babe in the wood.
– That is where the honorable senator is in error. In this citadel of Canberra, some honorable senators are out of touch with what many people are thinking. When one moves around amongst the great masses of the people and talks with them in trams and buses he finds that there is a fear of this legislation. Ninety per cent, of the people agree that the Communist party must be banned but all disagree with the methods suggested by the Government. I think that the Labour party will vote with the Government on this measure although its members know that in order to make it effective certain other things must be done automatically. The people of this country know full well that when the antiLabour parties banned the Communist party previously, that party did not in fact disappear. For the first time in the electorate of Hunter, a Communist candidate did not forfeit his deposit by polling an insufficient number of votes at the general election. The Communists got their impetus in other forms.
– Is the honorable senator opposing the other aspects?
– To make a ban effective it would be necessary to turn this country into a police state, in which officials would have the right to open letters and go to the front doors of people’s homes at night and take them away. Those are the methods that are used in Communist-dominated countries throughout the world. It would be necessai y to do in Australia what Stalin does in Russia, and Tito in Yugoslavia, in order to make a ban effective. Senator McKenna has said that it is not possible to kill an idea unless the person who thinks it is killed. Under this measure the Government will bear an obligation to do certain other things which lead finally to concentration camps and to prison walls studded with lead. Although supporters of the Government have always won the wordy battle against communism, they have not yet embarked on the battle of action. It is the men who attend trade union meetings night after night that will in the long run defeat communism. It will not he a short, sharp battle, but rather a long and severe grind. Communists must be beaten gradually and firmly as our people become educated about their activities. The Opposition will support the second reading of the bill. In doing so it will say in effect, “ This is the mandate that the Government got from the people. Put it into operation quickly and show the people of Australia that the supporters of the Government are men of action rather than men of words and straw”. The people of Australia must be shown in a tangible way that the Government parties are sincere in their desire to ban the Communist party.
– I rise to support this bill, because probably it will be the major legislation introduced by the Government during its term of office. The Communist party has done more to disrupt conditions in Australia than has any other political party in the history of this country. To-day that party is at times supported by various members of the Labour party. Recently we had in Australia a person known as “ The Red Dean “.
– I rise to order. I ask that Senator Scott be called upon to withdraw the remark that he has just made to the effect that the Communist party has been supported by members of the Australian Labour party. That remark is offensive to me.
Hendrickson has complained that the remark is offensive to him, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the remark. I was saying that recently we had in Australia a person who is known as “ The Red Dean “, who is not allowed in many free countries, and at a meeting at which he spoke, a member of the Australian Labour party, who is a member of the Senate, was present on the platform and made a speech.
– Order! Under the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
The the Senate do now adjourn.
– I take the opportunity to let honorable senators know that, in view of the urgent business that is now before the Senate, I shall ask them to-morrow to sit on Friday from half-past 10 o’clock until 1 p.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1950 -
No. 24 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 25 - Commonwealth Medical Officers’ Association.
No. 20 - Australian Workers’ Union and others.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Civil Aviation - B. M. Hall.
Defence - R. L. George.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -
Banking purposes - Whyalla, South Australia.
Defence purposes -
Cannon Hill, Queensland.
Port Kembla, New South Wales.
Immigration purposes - East Hills, New South Wales.
Postal purposes -
Crystal Brook, South Australia.
Stirling West, South Australia.
Postmaster-General’s Department - Thirty- ninth Annual Report, for year 1948-49.
Overseas Telecommunications Act - Third Annual Report of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia), for year 1948-49, together with financial accounts.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - National Memorials Ordinance - Determination (dated 24th May, 1950) by the Minister for the Interior regarding the nomenclature of publicplaces in the Canberra City District, together with plan.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 May 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1950/19500530_senate_19_207/>.