19th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the failure of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and- the Parliamentary Secretary assisting him to induce the British Ministry of Food to purchase next season’s apple crop from Tasmania and Western Australia, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state whether the Government has an alternative plan under which, the growers will received some guarantee of a reasonable return for their efforts! If no such plan has been devised does that mean that the industry will again pass into the hands of the big. exporters and retailing firms?
– In the absence of the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, I ask the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper. Meanwhile, I assure him that no failure has attended the efforts abroad of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
– Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral give favorable consideration to the formulation of a scheme under which telephonic Christmas greeting messages may be sent, either free or at reduced cost, between Australia and the United States of America for the ‘benefit of those whose relatives are now resident in America?
– I shall be pleased to bring the request of the honorable senator to the -notice of the PostmasterGeneral.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health consider the taking of a census for the purpose of ascertaining the number of disabled children, including spastics, cripples and those suffering from rubella, so that a unified form of treatment and education may be provided in each State?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to .the notice of tho Minister for Health and obtain a considered reply from him in due course.
– On the 5th October Senator Kendall asked the follow- ing question : -
In view of the large number of schools throughout Australia which have cadet corps and air training corps sponsored by the Army and the Air Force respectively, will the Minister for the Navy request that such schools consider the addition of naval cadets to their establishments and, if so, will he make available from the Royal Australian Navy the same assistance as that given by the other services?
I then replied that I would discuss the matter with the Minister for- the Navy and ask him to confer with the Naval authorities in order to decide whether the proposal is desirable and practicable. The Minister for the Navy has now furnished the following information: -
The Navy Department is’ anxious to assist to the greatest possible extent in the formation of naval cadet units. With this in view, the Naval Board has given official recognition to the Navy League sea cadet corps, and, in conjunction with the Navy League, is endeavouring, consistent with the facilities available, to form additional units.’ At the present time, Navy League sea cadet units exist at the Footscray Technical School and the Geelong Grammar School, Victoria. Owing to the shortage of officers and rating instructors, it is not possible at present to form more units, as all available effort is required for the Permanent Naval Force and Reserve Force training. The naval sea cadet units must also have equipment, such as boats, and be close to a waterfront. At the moment, available equipment is required for the .training of recruit;. I can assure the honorable senator that his interest in the necessity for an adequate training ground for personnel for the Royal Australian Navy is greatly ‘ appreciated, and all possible assistance will be afforded to schools for the institution of sea cadet units.
– Is the’ Minister for Trade and Customs in a position to confirm or deny newspaper reports to the effect that the Prime Minister, during his recent trip abroad, was not permitted to enter Korea to inspect Australian personnel in action in that country?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is “No”.
– In view of the fact that a committee of this chamber is at present sitting to consider the appropriate amendments that should be made to the Constitution in order to reform the Senate-
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in asking a question concerning a report that has not yet been discussed in this chamber ?
– Order ! I do not yet know precisely what the honorable senator’s question is.
-‘ Will the Leader of the Government refer to that committee a suggestion that it consider the substitution of the Federal Labour party executive for the present Labour majority in the Senate for the next two years?
Question not answered.
– On the 5th October, Senator Grant asked a question without notice concerning the quota of dollars allocated to importers of American motor vehicles, particularly of the products of the Chrysler Corporation. The reply to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
In the preparation of the dollar budget an allocation of dollars is made to those manufacturers who have submitted plans to, and had them approved by, the Government for the complete or substantially complete manufacture -of motor vehicles in Australia. During the past year Chrysler-Dodge-De Soto Limited submitted plans to the Government which envisaged the substantially complete manufacture of motor vehicles in Australia. These plans met with the approval of the Government. Accordingly, ChryslerDodgeDe Soto Limited was granted a share of the manufacturers’ allocation. The Government regards the amount of dollar currency made available to individual firms as confidential and I am therefore unable to inform the honorable senator of the extent of the share of the manufacturers’ allocation held by the company in question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether, consequent upon the very welcome arrangement that was made recently by his colleague for the provision, free of charge, of life-saving drugs in co-operation with the chemists and the doctors, the regulations issued by the Chifley Government providing for general free medicine are still in operation or have been modified or repealed?
– I am aware that the Minister for Health has made available on the free list a substantial number of life-saving drugs and medicines. I understand that they were made available under regulations promulgated by the Chifley Government. I shall inquire of the Minister for Health to ascertain whether the regulations have been withdrawn.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health inform the Senate of the number of deaths that occur each year because some persons have not the financial means to enable them to consult specialists or enter private hospitals in which they could receive expert medical treatment ?
– I am not in a position to state the number of deaths that occur each year from the causes to which the honorable senator has referred, but I am confident that, whatever the number may be, it will be reduced by the action of this Government in making available, free of charge, a substantial number of life-saving drugs.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Australian Government has no knowledge of charges made by wholesale butchers in Brisbane to retail . butchers in Brisbane for meat not supplied to them. I suggest that the appropriate authority to investigate such complaints is the Queensland State Prices Commissioner.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers : -
– I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the resumption of the debate upon Government Business, Order of the Day No. 1 (Communist Party Dissolution Bill) being called on forthwith.
– Therebeing an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 5th October (vide page 323), on motion by Senator O’Sullivan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The measure before the Senate Ms not new to the Senate. We have had the provisions of this hill before us, in exactly the same form, on a prior occasion. It is not necessary, therefore, for me to recapitulate all that I have said both during the second-reading debate and in the committee stages. However, I take this, the earliest opportunity, to say that I confirm and emphasize every word that I uttered in relation to this matter when asimilar bill was before the Senate on a previous occasion. The next thing I want to say is that yesterday the federal executive of the Australian Labour party met at Canberra, considered the attitude of the Australian Labour party in relation to this particular measure, and issued the following statement:
The Federal Executive of the Austral ian Labour party has given further consideration to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. It hashad regard to the fact that in June last the Labour majority in the Senate passed the bill in a. form which enabled the Menzies Government - if it so wished - to do all the f ol lowi ngthin gs : -
to ban the Australian Communist party and expropriate its assets:
to ban organizations which supported or were a.gents of the Australian Communist party - and to expropriate their assets:
to render liable to imprisonment for five years any person doing any act in support of the banned organizations or their objectives;
to remove Communists from the Commonwealth Public Service and from office in trade unions.
The Federal Executive has also had regard to -
the refusal of the Menzies Government to accept Labour’s amendments designed to ensure the application of the fundamental principles ofboth British and natural justice in respect of declared organizations and declared individuals;
the entirely untruthful statement of the Prime Minister and members of his Government alleging that Labour supported communism and sought protection for Communists: and
the bill contains drastic provisions which were not disclosed to the people during the election campaign.
The federal executive asserts that the Menzies Government wishes to avoid responsibility for giving effect to the main purposes of the bill; to avoid its election pledges in relation to communism and to conceal its abject failure to take effective steps to prevent the great ills that flow from the spiralling costs’ of living.
The federal executive has decided that, to test the sincerity of the Menzies Government before the people, and to give the lie to its false and slanderous allegations against the Labour party, that the bill should be passed in the form in which it is now before the Senate.
The federal executive affirms that the Federal Parliamentary Labour party is fully justified in its criticism of those controversial clauses of the bill and the amendments proposed thereto.
However, in the light of considerations already set forth it directs the Federal Parliamentary Labour party to withdraw its opposition to the bill in the form in which it is now before the Senate while leaving all members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party free to criticize the controversial clauses.
The federal executive further directs the Federal Parliamentary Labour party to insert Labour’s amendments in the legislation immediately upon its resumption of governmental office.
– That will not be for a long time.
– That is a matter for speculation, of course, but in the political sphere the situation is quite fluid and always unpredictable. I should not venture to predict the future with the same confidence as that displayed by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan). In order to make the position clear, let me explain that the federal executive is the controlling body of the Australian Labour party, and directs all its activities during the periods between the triennial conferences.
– Honorable senators opposite obey orders.
– We do. Not only is every member of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party honorably bound by the decision of the federal executive, but so also is every member of the Australian Labour party throughout Australia. Lest there should be any misunderstanding on that point let me make it clear how the federal executive is elected. In each State there is an annual conference. Every branch of the party, every affiliated trade union, sends to the conference certain delegates according to the strength of its representation, and that conference elects delegates to the federal executive. It is the body thus democratically elected which made the pronouncement that now binds every member of the party. So far as I, and other members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party are concerned, whatever we may say regarding that decision in the halls of the party, we are bound by the decision, and accept it unquestionably.
The next point that I wish to make is that we of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party concur entirely in the statement made by the federal executive, and share the belief it expresses that the Government is dismayed at the prospect of having to proceed under this legislation. We shall watch with very keen interest just how quickly the Government acts, how effectively it acts, and how far it will progress under this measure in the course of the next few months. At a later stage, if we are all here, I shall advert to this comment that I have just made, and raise the matter again in the Senate. In support of what I have just said, I remind the Senate that it took the Government four and a half months after it had been elected to introduce this bill into the Parliament. Within two months of its introduction, the measure had been passed through both Houses in a form that would have permitted the fullest effect to be given to the undertakings that the Government had given to the people at the elections. It was the Government itself that threw under the table in the House of Representatives a bill that would have enabled it to honour its pledges to the people by doing the four main things that are set out in the statement of the federal executive. Therefore, there is good reason to believe that the Government does not want to act. It has already given ample evidence to the people of its inability to act in a crisis.
– “Why has the federal executive changed its mind?
– I repeat that this Government has given ample evidence to the people of Australia of its inability to make up its mind to take straight and decisive action.
I wish to refer now to two things that the Minister for Trade and Customs said in his second-reading speech. The honorable senator, of course, said many things, but I shall take him up on only two of his statements. First, he claimed that the Opposition had not challenged the recitals in this bill. Apparently the honorable senator’smemory is failing because I devoted considerable time to criticism of the recitals.
– The honorable senator did not suggest any amendments.
– I remind both the Attorney-General and the Minister for Trade and Customs that I claimed that if the Government had in its possession information that would have enabled it to demonstrate the truth of those recitals, it was a craven government, lacking in its duty to the people of Australia, if it did not act on the statements contained in the recitals. Therefore, we come plainly to the position that the recitals are no more than a belief and are not provable. I made that point completely and clearly, so the Minister for Trade and Customs was in error when he said that the Opposition had not questioned the recitals in the measure.
– Did the honorable senator vote against them?
– The Opposition believes that the recitals are true, but I put them in their proper perspective from the point of view of the Opposition, and I challenge any Government supporter in this chamber to say that he Call demonstrate their truth. Honorable senators opposite know quite well what the next step would be. I should know what to say to honorable senators opposite and what the people of Australia would say.
The second point to which I wish to refer is the Minister’s statement that a declaration under this bill was nit an allegation of a crime because no provision was made in the bill to fine or imprison a declared person. That is the most amazing argument that I have ever heard from the mouth of a lawyer. It means, in effect, that whether or not a certain action is a crime is determined not by the ingredients of the allegation, hut by the penalties prescribed. That is an entirely novel proposition. Under this bill a person will be declared because his activities are regarded as being prejudicial to the. security and defence of this country. That is a plain allegation that he is subversive and a traitor. Will anyone deny that that is an allegation not merely of a crime, but also of the most serious crime that can be committed against the Australian community?
I leave the Minister’s speech with those two comments and pass to the matter that arises out of the statement made by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party that the bill contains drastic provisions which were not foreshadowed during the general election campaign. It will come as a shock to the people of Australia to realize that any Australian may be declared under the terms of this bill, first, to be a Communist, and secondly, to be a traitor to his country. In order to demonstrate how far the Government has departed from its pre-election policy, let me read carefully what the Government parties jointly said in their policy speech. The joint policy reads as follows: -
No person now a member of the Communist party-
That is, no person who was a member of that party on the 10th November, 1949 - shall be employed or paid a fee by the Commonwealth; nor shall any such person be eligible for any office in a registered industrial organization.
The only persons who were to be debarred were those who, on the 10th November, 1949, were members of the Australian Communist party.
– All of them !
– Yes, all of them. This bill, however, provides for the declaration not only of members of the Australian Communist party, which was the restriction contained in that policy-speech, but also of all persons who may be regarded as Communists within the meaning of the wide definition used in the measure. It picks up all those who are referred to in clause 25, including those who have attended one meeting of the Communist party, those who have distributed its literature, those “who have spoken publicly in advocacy of the Communist party, and those whose names appear on a document or list seized at Marx House, Sydney, in a raid made while the Labour Government was in office, which purports to show that they were members of the Communist party. The provisions of this bill, which purports to relate only to members of the Australian Communist party, not only go far beyond what the Government submitted to the people during the general election campaign, but they are also wide enough to enable the Executive Government to declare any individual in this country. Whether that power is abused or not, it should not be vested in any government without provision for the persons so declared having the fullest right to appear before the courts-
– Why will not the honorable senator vote against the bill?
– I have already intimated the reasons why I shall not do so. Obviously, the Attorney-General was not listening to my remarks.
I shall make another point in order to show the wide scope of this measure. From time to time many unions, because of their legitimate industrial activities, are de-registered. The provisions of this bill could be applied to a de-registered union, and the Executive Government, by a simple declaration, could disband such a union and take the whole of its property. No honorable senator opposite can controvert that proposition. Let us consider that fact in relation to current events. At present the members of the Australian Railways Union, the secretary of which is a Communist, are on strike. The secretary, a man named Brown, makes no secret of the fact that he is a Communist. The Railways Commissioners, with .the support of the Victorian Government, agreed on certain conditions, but the Commonwealth Conciliation Commissioner disallowed them, and as a result the members of the union are on strike. It is highly probable that that strike will become Australia wide, and the union may be de-registered. If that happens, it will be possible for this Government, under the terms of this measure, to take action to have the union declared, and its property confiscated.
– And it will do so, too.
– I am merely directing attention to the wide scope of the bill.
– Its provisions will react against some of the supporters of the Government.
– Then why not vote against the bill?
– The main purposes of this legislation would have been completely and entirely achieved if the measure had been accepted as it was amended by the Senate in June last. The issues that remained had then been narrowed down to some of the methods which the Government proposed to apply in order to effectuate those purposes. We are concerned now about matters of method and procedure, which involve great and fundamental matters of principle. The first point to which I wish to refer briefly is that when a declaration is made against an individual or an organization it states that he or it, as the case may be, is, first, a Communist, or a Communist organization, and, secondly that he or it is a danger to the security of this country. As the provisions of this bill apply equally to persons and organizations, I shall confine my remarks to persons. A declared person may appear before a single judge of either the Supreme Court of a State, or the High Court, in relation to the allegation that he is a Communist, but he cannot go to any court in relation to the allegation that he is a traitor to his country. Such an allegation is the most damning that could be made against any individual. Under the provisions of this bill, the Executive Government denies to the individual all recourse to a court in respect of the allegation that he is a traitor to his country. Such a denial is wholly and completely indefensible.
– That is not the language of the measure.
– I shall quote its exact wording if the Attorney-General desires me to do so. The second allegation in the declaration is that the person concerned is a traitor to his country.
– That is not necessarily true.
– No other construction can be placed upon an allegation that a person is engaged in activities which are prejudicial to the safety and defence of this country, or that he is likely to be so engaged, than that in the eyes of the Government the person concerned is a traitor.
– How would the Government in Moscow treat such a person ?
– I do not know, because I have never been there.
– Senator Robertson should know the answer.
– Failure to provide an opportunity for an Australian citizen to have access to the ordinary courts of the land, in respect of such a serious allegation, constitutes the foulest and worst feature of this bill.
I come now to a new provision that on one allegation alone - the allegation that he is a Communist - a declared person who goes to the court must begin. Let us be completely clear as to what that means. It does not mean only that the applicant must go into the box; it means that he must give the whole of his evidence, with that of all his witnesses. He must present his whole case first. If I were to pose to the Senate a situation where an individual in this country was charged with murder, and we were to see that man immediately put into the witness box, and when he asked, “ Whom am I supposed to have murdered? On what date did I murder him.?”, the Crown was not prepared to tell him, we would be completely horrified. At the end of his attempt to meet the case, he would not know on what date the offence was alleged to have .been committed, or what witnesses he required to call, because a case would not have been presented against him. If he could make no adequate defence, not knowing where to begin, and the Crown presented a charge of plain murder as proof of the commission of murder, we would be horrified beyond words. Yet, that is exactly what the Government has done in this provision. It charges a man with being a Communist, and it says to him, “ You shall begin.”. It does not tell him upon what grounds he is alleged to be a Communist, or whether the allegation is that he. has acted for the party, or that he is a Communist within the definition used in the bill, or that his name has been found on lists, or that he has distributed literature. He is denied the most fundamental natural right, which is to know with what he is charged. He is put in the difficult position that he does not know what evidence he requires or what case he has to meet. He does not know who his accusers are, nor has he any opportunity to face them and cross-examine them. Under this provision the Crown walks in and presents a charge, a declaration, that he is a Communist, and makes that declaration proof of the fact that he is a Communist. In other words, the very matter that the court is adjudicating upon is proved by the charge. I do hope that some members on the Government side will appreciate the enormity - and I use that word advisedly - of that procedure.
On the question of the onus of proof, I shall speak only briefly. It is completely clear, although one finds rare exceptions, that the onus should properly be upon the person making a charge or an allegation. It is completely contrary to the accepted principles of justice, let alone British justice, that a person should be required affirmatively to establish his innocence. As I passed through the House of Representatives the other night, I heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself posing a case that he said illustrated a quite common exception. The right honorable gentleman said that it was provided in the laws of all the States that a person could be charged with being in possession of goods reasonably supposed to have been stolen, and thai that person had to establish his innocence, in order to satisfy the tribunal. That is only partly true. There is no true analogy, because the police or the Crown or whoever makes that allegation, must first put witnesses into the box, and satisfy the tribunal that the goods found in the possession of the individual were reasonably supposed to have been stolen. I have personally figured in many of those cases.
– In what capacity?
– The honorable senator who has interjected should know, because I believe that he has seen me in action on many occasions in relation to those and other matters.
– The honorable senator told us previously that he always had to convert those charges into charges of stealing.
– I said that that was frequently so, and that is quite true. On many occasions, in the course of .the conduct of such cases - and I have no doubt the honorable senator .who interjected has won cases on the police presentation of the facts - the Crown or the prosecution was not able to satisfy the tribunal that it had reasonable grounds for believing the goods to be stolen, and in such cases the accused was not called upon to embark upon a defence. But it was necessary for the Crown to first present a case, so that the man knew what he had to meet. There is no analogy at all between the position set up under this bill and the illustration cited by the Prime Minister.
The next point to which I wish to refer very briefly is the question of appeal. At the moment the bill provides that a declared person may apply to a single judge. On an issue of such vast importance to him there should be a further appeal - for the Crown, too, if it is not satisfied with the decision - to the Pull Court of either the Supreme Court of a State or of the High Court itself., The Attorney-General will no longer contend, I take it, in the course of this debate, that the Crown cannot put security officers in the witness box, because under the new provisions brought into this bill it is provided that the onus will shift to the Crown. The honorable gentleman has already told this Senate that no person will be declared unless all the evidence to justify the declaration is available. To use his own words, “ No person will be declared without the strongest possible evidence to justify the declaration “. The Crown will have all the evidence to set up a case hut it will not put it in first. It desires to put it in late, after the accused has been placed in the awkward position I have indicated. The Attorney-General is not left with the claim that security officers cannot be put into the box, because he is -prepared to do it under the terms of this bill.
The last matter to which I wish to refer - although there are others, they are quite ancillary - is the question of trial by jul’y- My colleagues and I said quite sufficient about that to indicate our viewpoint when this bill was previously before the Senate.
– Does not the honorable gentleman believe in that now?
– -I do. I do not accept the proposition that has been put up in this chamber and elsewhere that one juror, who might happen to be a Com-: mim is t, could set aside the decision of the Cabinet and everybody else. I merely say that if a Communist is allowed to serve on such a jury, there is something seriously wrong with the security service of this country. There is an unlimited right of challenge by the Crown.. I repeat that if a ‘Communist serves on such a jury, the Crown, with its unlimited right of challenge, and the benefit of advice from the security service, will have failed in i.t? job.
– It is still true that one juror out of twelve could upset the whole proceeding.
– I point out to the Attorney-General that the accused nian is not acquitted in those circumstances. The honorable senator knows that as well as I do. There is a disagreement and the accused man is charged again.
– On a new declara-tion.
– On the same declaration.. Now that the die has been cast in relation to this matter, so far as the Opposition is concerned I do not wish to .traverse it very much further, but I do repeat that my purpose in touching upon the provisions I have mentioned was to show that the Government is sponsoring a measure which is a plain denial of British justice, and a casting aside of the courts of the land: It is in breach and violation of natural justice and is completely opposed to the principles of democracy. The Government is seeking to fight the evil of communism with, perhaps, the greater evil of totalitarianism,
– Vote against it, and let the people decide.
– We shall let the people decide. It is highly probable that this measure will be pronounced upon, not in the courts of this country but in the international court of the world. On the 10th December, 1948, a universal declaration of human rights, by which Australia, being a signatory to it, is bound, was made by the General Assembly of the United Nations. I shall refer briefly to two articles of the declaration and then invite the Government to examine the bill in the light of those articles. Article 2 reads as follows: -
Every one is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration, without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
The first portion of Article 11 reads -
Every one charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
– Russia also signed that declaration.
– It may well be that Russia or some other country will raise the question of this bill before the General Assembly of the United Nations. I venture to say that, irrespective of the country that raises it, when the provisions of the bill, divorced from the political acrimony that is, unfortunately, inseparable from debates in this Parliament, are examined in a coldly objective light by the General Assembly, the Australian representatives will be ashamed of it and of the Government that sponsored it. I believe that, for the first time in the history of this nation, Australians will be ashamed of themselves.
.- I rise, not to gloat over those who have withdrawn their opposition to this measure, but to endeavour to correct statements that I believe to be untrue and misleading which have just been made by Senator McKenna and have been made from time to time during the course of the debate on the bill. Honorable senators opposite have sought to lead the Australian people to believe that they have been willing to agree to the passage of a measure under which the Communist party could be effectively banned and Communists removed from office in the Commonwealth Public Service and Australian trade unions, but they caused to be inserted in the bill provisions that would have made it impossible for the Commonwealth to ban an organization on the. ground that it was a Communist organization or remove any person from office in a trade union on the ground that he was a Communist. The Government, realizing that the amendments enforced by the Opposition in this chamber would have’ had that effect, would not accept them. It stood firm and insisted that the bill be passed in the form in which it was presented to the Senate.
Clause 5 of the bill as originally presented, provided for the banning of affiliated organizations of the Communist party. I agree that the Communist party itself could be banned under the bill as amended by the Labour party, but that is not true of affiliated organizations of the Communist party or organizations established under some other name to take its place. The relevant portions of clause 5, in the form in which it was originally presented to the Senate, read as follows : - (1.) This section applies to any body of persons, corporate or unincorporate, not being an industrial organization. . . .
Which is, or purports to be, or, at any time after the specified date and before the date of commencement of this act was, or purported to be, affiliated with the Australian Communist Party . . .
Supports or advocates . . . the objectives, policies, teachings, principles, or practices of communism.
I do not think I have omitted to read any relevant portion of the clause, which covers approximately one-third of a page and which applies to organizations that are Communist organizations or controlled by Communists. The Government sought to declare an organization of that kind when it was discovered. The original proposal was that such an’ organization, having been declared, could apply to a court to set aside the declaration on the ground that it was not a Communist organization or a Communistinspired or dominatedbody. The Opposition would not agree to that proposal. It said that it was not sufficient for the Commonwealth to prove that an organization was a Communist organization or a Communist-dominated organization, and that the Commonwealth should be required also to prove that the organization had been engaged in subversive or treasonable activities.
Similar considerations apply to individual Communists. Clause 9 of the bill, in the form in which it was originally presented to the Senate, read as follows : - (1.) This section applies to any person -
The Government sought authority to declare a Communist when it discovered him, and proposed that a declared person should have the right to apply to a court to set aside the declaration on the ground that he was not a person to whom the provision applied. Once again, the Opposition said that it was not enough to prove incontrovertibly that a man was a Communist, and that the Commonwealth should be required also to prove that he was engaged in treasonable or subversive activities. Under the bill as amended by the Opposition, Brown, Thornton or Healy would be able to walk into a court and openly declare himself to be a Communist, but nothing could be done to him.
I believe that I have controverted the statements made by honorable senators opposite that they agreed to a measure under which Communists could have been dealt with. When the points that I have just made are brought to their notice, they say, “ That is all right. The Commonwealth should have to prove that declared persons are engaged in subversive or treasonable activities “. In answer to that argument, I say only that Opposition senators who took that stand agreed without demur of any kind to the complete banning of the Communist party and the appropriation of its assets and on no occasion argued that the Commonwealth should be required to prove that it was engaged in subversive or treasonable activities. Their action in this instance indicates that they believe that the Communist party is a treasonable organization and it follows that those who are proved to be Communists, or members of the Communist party, are also traitors to this country. I am glad that at least the federal executive of the Australian Labour party has had enough sense to see that it was sufficient to prove a man was a Communist in order to be able to remove him from a position where he could damage the economy of this country. I do not propose to traverse all of the other arguments that have been advanced by Senator McKenna because they savoured more of the legal phraseology of the law court than of any vital principle. I shall conclude by saying that if I were a supporter of a ma jority in this chamber and a measure which I truly believed clashed violently with natural justice and the principles of democracy, and which was a totalitarian measure, came before it, I would be ashamed of myself if I did not use that majority to vote against the measure. It will be interesting to see what will be the result.
– Up to a point, I agree with what has been said by Senator Gorton. However, despite the shame with which he attempts to saddle me, I have not altered my opinion about this matter since the last occasion on which I addressed the chamber on it. I make an earnest appeal to the Government to review the provisions of the measure and extend to persons other than known Communists the right of appeal, even that has been provided for Communists. Opinions that I have obtained from eminent legal authorities in various parts of Australia support the opinions that were advanced by Senator McKenna when this matter was first before the Senate, and which were reiterated by him to-day. I have obtained the opinions of King’s Counsellors and other legal men. all of whom have pointed out that the intention of the present anti-Labour Government is to give to banned Communists the right of appeal from a declaration. Even the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) has stated in this chamber that no right of appeal has been provided in relation to the second charge, that is, that the person is engaged in. or is likely to engage in, subversive or seditious activities.
-The right of appeal against the declaration is provided for.
– I point out that even during war-time aliens enjoyed the right of appeal in order that they might prove that they were not engaged in subversive activities.
– This measure only applies to Communists.
– I shall read to the Senate a statement that I have prepared, incorporating a legal opinion that I have obtained. At appropriate places comment has been added, but honorable senators, particularly those with legal training, should be able readily to distinguish the comment from the legal opinion. It reads -
Mr. Menzies and his Government, forced by public opinion, including his own and the returned servicemen’s press, and members and supporters of his own party, has pretended to relent so as to provide a fair and proper right of appeal. That is a rank imposition. lt is a false pretence which, apparently, has deceived the newspapers, the public, and even some of his own supporters in the House. A man cannot lie declared unless he is supposed to be both a Communist and a person guilty of subversion. The right of appeal is specifically restricted to only one part, viz., whether the person is a Communist. He has no right of appeal on the question whether he has been subversive.
I believe that the Attorney-General admitted that this was so when this matter was first before the chamber. To this point, I think the _ Government will agree with this legal opinion. The Minister has interjected that this provision applies only to Communists. However, I stress that this King’s Counsellor’s opinion states that there are two charges and that there shall be a. right of appeal only in connexion with the charge that a person is a Communist. I shall not go into all of the’ ramifications about whether he has to be a member of the Communist party, because that aspect of the matter has already been dealt with by Senator
McKenna. However, the statement continues -
Even on »the question whether .the person is a Communist, the right of appeal is very much a false pretence. The proposed clause in the bill, it is true, provides that if the person declared “ gives evidence in person “ the hurden of proof shall be on the Commonwealth. Every one knows how difficult it is to prove a negative. It would be specially difficult to prove positively that a “person is not a Communist within the very wide definition of communism which is given in this bill. It is not limited to the revolutionary and unconstitutional aspects of communism. If, on the oral evidence adduced, the court cannot make up its mind positively as to whether a person is or is not a Communist, the appeal would have to be dismissed, because the proposed amendment says that the declaration, which is the subject of the appeal, is to be prima facie evidence of its correctness.
This aspect of the matter was dealt with by Senator McKenna precisely in accordance with the legal opinion that I am citing. The statement containing that opinion continues - :
If that prima facie evidence is not displaced by oral evidence which enables the court to find affirmatively that the person is not a Communist, then the appeal must be dismissed.
Throughout it is a question whether the person is a Communist; there is no provision for an appeal in relation to alleged subversive or seditious activities. The statement goes on to say -
The Commonwealth, therefore, under its proposed Act, in those circumstances, would discharge its burden of proof by merely proving its own declaration - the very thing which is challenged and subject to the appeal.
I emphasize that it does not apply to both charges. Continuing, the statement points out -
The fact that the appeal is only as regards one-half of the declaration and that the dice are loaded against the appellant by making the declaration prove its own truth, make the proposed amendment the worst instance of political false pretences of which even Menzies lias ever been guilty.
– That does not sound much like the opinion of a King’s Counsellor.
– The AttorneyGeneral will recollect that I mentioned at the outset that comment was interwritten with the legal opinion.
– Is the author of the statement a member of the Peace Council?
– I have been very careful to pause where I have added comment at appropriate places. The statement continues -
It is said that we must give no quarter to Communists. Even those who subscribe to that doctrine should pause to remember that the right of appeal is given to a man who has never yet been heard at all.
The thing is preposterous, and yet it is contained in this bill. Apparently, the right of appeal is given so that it may be decided whether the person is or is not a Communist. It would be begging the question to assume that he is a Communist, and to say that he deserves no consideration. What if he has been declared although he is not a Communist? What is the question that must be decided by the tribunal to which the appeal is made? The man has not been charged, but the Government says that he is a Communist. According to the opinion to which I have referred, two charges are implicit in the one declaration : The first, that the person declared is a Communist; the second, that he is engaged, or is likely to engage, in subversive activities. Senator Gorton sought to cast shame upon the Opposition, but I do not know what the parties that support the Government will use for an election cry now that Labour opposition to this bill has been withdrawn.
– We are not afraid of an election.
– I did not suggest that. However, it has been suggested by honorable senators opposite that the Labour party is afraid of an election. Well, let me remind honorable senators that, during the last war, there was a terrible debacle in Belgium, and the British nation was supposed to be down and out. The British forces withdrew to a new strategic line, which was Britain itself, but eventually Britain won the war. There may be justification for a withdrawal by the Labour party to a new strategic line, and eventually we may win. Honorable senators opposite should not forget that, the Government will have to administer this legislation. I appeal to the Government to include in it a provision giving a declared person the right to defend himself against the declaration. The form of the provision I leave to the legal fraternity, but as to the need for it, I have not altered my opinion. During the debate on this bill, the Government and its supporters, and a good many people who are what I may call ranting mad about the Communist element in Australia, have been careful to gloss over one feature of this legislation. The first four clauses of the bill deal with the dissolution of the Communist party, and the confiscation of its funds and assets, which are to be appropriated to the Crown. The AttorneyGeneral may be interested to know that I have obtained a legal opinion on that proposal, too. It is challengeable, and probably will be challenged in the High Court. There is N to be no appeal by the Communist party, but the right of appeal to the High Court, or a Supreme Court of a State or Territory, is to be given to an individual who has been declared a Communist, so that he may have an opportunity to prove that he is not a Communist within the mea.ning of the act. Thus, the right of appeal is to be given to a person who, in the opinion of the Government, is a Communist. That is an extraordinary thing.
However, the bill goes much further, and provides that an organization, other - than the Communist party, may be declared unlawful, because, in the opinion of the Government, its policy has been influenced wholly or substantially by persons who, at any time since the 10th May, 1948, were Communists, and who used the association to advocate .the teachings of communism or any of the teachings of Marx or Lenin. Thus, thousands of persons may belong to unlawful associations without having the slightest personal connexion with the Communist party or its teachings. Any one of those individuals could, under this legislation, be declared by the Government to be a person who “ is engaged, or is likely to engage, in activities prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth “.
– That is not true.
– That is what the bill provides.
– The honorable senator is referring to the old bill, not to the one now before the Senate.
– I have read the bill, and I know what it contains. The provision to which I have referred would give the Government power to condemn in perpetuity an individual as traitorous, seditious, or disloyal. This is the part of the bill that has been so carefully hidden by its proponents. No right of appeal whatever is allowed the individual who may be declared by the Government, through the GovernorGeneral, to be a traitorous, seditious or disloyal person, or a person likely to engage in activities prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth. Thus, the amazing fact emerges that the right of appeal is to be given to the man who is declared a Communist, but no such right is to be given to the man who may have quite innocently associated with a Communist in an organization which has been declared to be unlawful.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong.
– I should be pleased to learn whether the Government proposes to give such a person the right of appeal.
– He cannot even be declared.
– I have said what I believe to be correct, and I am now asking that the persons to whom I have referred should be given the right to defend themselves against the declaration that they have engaged, or are likely to engage, in activities prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth. A declaration, in effect, makes two charges. A declared person may appeal successfully against the first charge that he is a Communist, but, against the second, he has no right of appeal and that is the part of the charge that sticks. That is my objection. By declaring a person the Government say, in effect, “ We are naming you as a seditious person. We shall not tell you in what respect your activities are or are likely to be seditious. We shall not give you the ordinary civil right of being heard before you are declared to be seditious. The consequence of the declaration will be that, if you are a Common wealth employee, you shall lose your job, or, if you are an officer of a trade union, you shall cease to hold office. You shall be branded forever by our declaration. Even after you have been declared, you shall not be able to challenge the declaration before any court of the land. You shall be judged guilty, without a hearing, without a right of appeal, and without even knowing at any time the substance of that which is alleged against you “. That is a denial of fundamental justice extending far beyond the mere question of onus of proof. It means the substitution of totalitarian trial, condemnation and disqualification by a political executive, for the ordinary processes of justice that have been our pride and heritage. It is the considered opinion of the Australian Labour party that legislation of this kind cannot be justified. Consequently, Labour has insisted until now upon amending the bill in such a way that the ordinary course of justice would prevail. We realize however that our efforts are useless, but, at the very first opportunity, we shall take action to ensure that proper access to the courts shall be given to declared persons in order that they may defend themselves. I shall not delay the bill any further. I have no reason at all for altering the opinions that I expressed on this measure previously. I am convinced that the Government will encounter so many grave difficulties in administering this measure that, once again, it will endeavour to lay the blame for all our troubles upon the Labour party and its alleged association with the Communists. That has been the technique of honorable senators opposite for a long time. I have no doubt that before long, merely because of the difficulties that the Government is bound to meet in administering this iniquitous measure, the Labour party will again be spoken of in abusive terms and charged with furthering the ends of communism.
Senator VINCENT (Western Australia) [4.25 J. - Addressing this chamber for the first time - a task which I can assure honorable senators I regard as an honour indeed - I must confess that I am somewhat mystified by the present attitude of honorable senators opposite towards this bill. To my mind, the situation is somewhat Gilbertian. In fact, I am reminded of a passage from one of the well-known Gilbert and Sullivan operas. From memory, it is as follows : -
When in that house M.P.’s divide,
If they’ve a brain and cerebellum too,
They’ve got to leave their brain outside,
And vote just as their leaders tell ‘em to.
That, I believe, expresses some of the feelings and sentiments of honorable senators opposite.
This is a most important measure. I believe, in fact, that it is one of the most important bills that have ever come before this chamber in the history of federation. Modern warfare has seen the development of a completely new and revolting system of espionage. It is a powerful, underhand, and deadly weapon, more terrible than most modern weapons of warfare, and comparable in many respects with the atomic bomb. I refer particularly to the fifth-column of Soviet Russia. In comparatively recent years, we have seen the growth of that column in this country. Hardly a week passes without further evidence of its work being given. Therefore, this bill is primarily a security measure. Its object is to prevent the Russian fifth-column, from ruining this country. The bill has certain secondary aspects which, in my opinion, have been given far too much prominence by the Opposition. On every conceivable occasion honorable senators opposite have claimed that the Government’s reason for bringing down this bill is primarily economic; but the measure goes much further than that. Its economic aspect is incidental. Primarily, as I have said, the bill is a security measure, and that is why I say that it is most important.
I propose to confine my remarks to the onus of proof clause which is the main point in issue between the Government parties and the Opposition. Much irrelevant discussion has taken place in this chamber on that clause. The reason why a good deal of irrelevant matter has been discussed by Opposition senators in regard to that clause is obvious. They have endeavoured to create panic among the people of this country over a normal and ordinary piece of legislation which is strictly in accordance with the principles of British justice. Fearful stories have been told and retold about this measure being contrary to the provisions of natural and British justice. I shall endeavour to demonstrate that it conforms strictly to the principles of British justice. The case for the Opposition was very well expressed by Senator McKenna in the second-reading speech which he made when the measure was before the Senate on an earlier occasion. On the 30th May, 1950, the honorable senator is reported in Hansard at page 3315 to have said -
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 achieve these ends.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls) . ( - Order ! Is the honorable senator quoting from a Hansard “ flat “ of Senator McKenna’s speech?
– No. I am quoting from his second-reading speech asit is reported in Hansard. Senator McKenna continued -
At the outset, putting on oneside 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 BritishCommon-wealth, 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.
There are two other great principles of British justice which also are applied universally by courts except in rare cases wherethey are expressly negatived by the legislation. 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.
I, too, am proud to say that I agree with these principles of British justice. I agree that every word that Senator McKenna h:id to say in relation to these principles. The honorable senator then argued that some of those principles which I have read - he did not say precisely which of them - have been violated by this measure. With respect I point out that the honorable senator made a fatal mistake, for all the principles enunciated by him are principles of criminal law, which have nothing whatever to do with this measure, which deals, among other things, with an application made ‘by a person who has been declared. Incidentally, Senator McKenna agrees with that part of the bill which provides for the declaration of persons and organizations. The onus of proof clause does not specify any criminal offence and it does not contain any provision for punishment. I submit, therefore, that it is nonsense for the honorable senator to claim that the principles of criminal law should be applied in a measure such as this.
– Would a person declared to be a traitor to his country regard it as nonsense?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT Order! Senator Vincent is making his maiden speech and must be heard in silence.
– I am sorry for having interrupted. I had overlooked the fact that Senator Vincent is making his maiden speech.
– The mere repetition of the claim cannot make those principles apply to this measure. But let us assume that the principles of criminal law, including those outlined by Senator McKenna, do apply to this measure. To what extent does the bill outrage those principles ? The first principle enunciated by Senator McKenna was that no person shall be punished without a trial. If, in fact, declaration can be regarded as a punishment, the bill doe3 not contain any provision that a declared person shall be punished without a hearing. In fact, provision for a hearing is contained in the onus of proof clause. So much for Senator McKenna’s first principle ! His second principle was that no person should be punished without being given particulars of what is alleged against him. Again, the bill pre scribes that particulars of the declaration shall be published in the Gazette. No person who has even an elementary knowledge of the principles of law can contend that the second principle enunciated by Senator McKenna has in any way been infringed by this bill. Senator McKenna’s third principle was that noperson shall be punished without being given reasonable time in which to prepare his defence. The bill prescribes a period of 28 days for that purpose. Even if that time were found to be insufficient the court would extend it on the application of counsel for the applicant. Thus, the third principle outlined by Senator McKenna is carefully safeguarded in this measure. His fourth principle was that no man should be punished without a hearing at which he can face his accusers and cross-examine them. I am certain that the Attorney-General would welcome a declared person who sought to face his accusers, and the provisions of this bill do not prevent such a person from doing so. Senator McKenna cannot place his finger on one word in the bill which prevents that principle from being applied. His fifth principle was that no man should be punished without having been given an opportunity to be heard with his witnesses in his own defence. Is there any provision in this bill which would prevent a declared person from approaching the court and giving evidence either himself or through witnesses in his own defence? There is not one word in the bill that would prevent such a person from doing so. The final principle enunciated by Senator McKenna was that no person shall be punished without an impartial trial authority. My only comment in regard to that is that, as far as I am aware, only Communists have ever suggested that the High Court of Australia has ever at any time been unfair.
Senator McKenna forgot to mention another most important principle of British justice which qualifies all the principles to which I have referred - namely that it is not an inflexible rule of British justice in criminal cases that the onus of proof shall rest on the Crown. For the purposes of argument, I shall assume that the proceedings that arise out of the provisions of this bill can be regarded as a criminal prosecution. That principle applies to all eases where the facts relating to. a particular matter are peculiarly within the knowledge of the defendant or the accused, as the case may be. Under clause 9 of the measure before the chamber, the applicant comes within that category, so that that principle of British justice applies to him. I have heard today an opinion said to have been obtained from a learned King’s Counsel, on this matter. I am sorry to say I could not follow all of it, but that portion which I could follow was sheer nonsense. I should like to quote, not only the opinion, but the judgment of the High Court of Australia on this very principle of British justice to which I have already referred.. I refer to the case of Williamson v. Ah On. It has already been quoted once in this chamber, but it does set out the important principle of British justice, which apparently Senator McKenna forgot, that the onus of proof is not invariably on the Crown and not necessarily on the Crown in criminal cases. As is probably well known, Ah On was declared a prohibited immigrant. In a prosecution of that nature the onus of proof is on the immigrant, the person declared, in exactly the same way as it is on the applicant under clause ‘;) of the Communist. Party Dissolution Bill. At the appeal to the High Court it was argued that the onus should nut bc on Ah On to prove that he was not it declared person. Sir Isaac Isaacs, the Chief Justice at that time, delivered a judgment which I shall quote because it is binding on our courts of Jaw a uri it states a principle that all lawyers accept without question. It does not matter very much what ‘Senator McKenna has to say about it, because he is bound by that principle, just as I am. This is what Sir Isaac Isaacs, a very learned and a very impartial judge, said -
The only method so far found effective in which ;i legislature can provide for such a case and secure obedience to its enactments on immigration is to throw the burden of proof as to membership of the community on the suspected person. A nation lias the strongest right to trust its executive officers who are administering the law to be both vigilant and Careful to form, wherever necessary, a fair and honest prima facie opinion us to the citizenship of any person within the territory, and to accuse no one of intrusion except upon strong moral grounds for believing the fact. If such an opinion, however, exists, the public have a right, where the nature of the case requires it, to. call on the suspected person by such ‘procedure as the legislature makes lawful to satisfy a judicial tribunal as to tile actual fact. That seems to me only elementary selfprotection and to be inseparable from any selfgoverning constitution. I must confess to some surprise that it is necessary to justify it. For, otherwise, persons who are criminals, anarchists, public enemies, or loathsome hotbeds of disease, may, by secret or fraudulent entry into the country, and being sheltered for a time by their associates, defy and injure the entire people of a continent. There is nothing in the Constitution and nothing in natural justice, which requires this Court to sanction such mi absurd and almost fatal situation.
Those last few words of Sir Isaac Isaacs are very true and very pertinent to this discussion. Exactly the same principle of natural or British justice - we may call it what we wish - applied in the case of Ah On as will apply in cases to be dealt with under this bill, and nothing that is said can alter the present law of this country and the present principles concerning the onus of proof. For honorable members of the Opposition to say that this simple measure is violating any principles of British justice is utter nonsense. In the words of Sir Isaac Isaacs, there should be no necessity to justify the provisions of this clause.
Some mouths ago, when the Opposition was placed in a quandary as to its policy on communism, it was perfectly obvious that some attack would be made on the bill. But any school boy in Australia knew that that attack was merely lip service to the radical element in the Australian Labour party. Senator McKenna to-day has used some very strong language about this bill-
– And it was justified.
– If such language was justified and if Senator McKenna believes the truth of his statements, why does he not vote against the bill? The honorable gentleman cannot have it both ways. One of the expressions he used was that it was a. foul provision. If he believes that to be true, and if he is a man of integrity-
– The honorable senator cannot question Senator McKenna’s integrity.
– I am not doing so. I am not saying he is not a man of integrity, but if he believes what he says, why does he not vote against the bill, and why do- not all honorable senators opposite vote against it? If they do not wish to do that, why are they not men enough to say they will vote for the bill and help the Government to eradicate the fifth column that is gnawing at this country’s vitals? They have not the courage to do it.
This -is one of the most important measures ever to have come before this chamber. It is a security measure - a vital security measure. It is in accordance with the principles of British justice. Any man, irrespective of his politics, who comes into this chamber and opposes this bill must be regarded as a potential traitor to this country.
– I rise to order. I take exception to the statement made by the honorable senator that anybody who opposes this measure is a potential traitor to his country. I do not think that is a proper statement to make. I agree that a new senator should be accorded all the consideration possible when making his maiden speech, but I think the honorable gentleman has greatly exceeded the latitude to which he is entitled.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Senator Ashley has taken exception to a particular statement and I ask the honorable senator to withdraw it.
– May I ask, Mr. Deputy President, to which statement exception is taken?
– The reference to any person who opposes the bill being a traitor to his country.
– Is Senator Ashley opposing the bill?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order! I ask the honorable senator to withdraw that remark.
– My remark was addressed only to those people who intend to oppose this bill. “With respect, sir, less than an hour ago Senator McKenna stated that all honorable senators opposite would support the bill.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order! The Leader of the Opposition has asked that the statement previously made be withdrawn.
– With the greatest respect, Mr. Deputy President, I submit there is nothing in the statement-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order ! Senator Ashley wishes the statement to be withdrawn.
– Surely I am entitled to know on what grounds?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order! I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the statement.
– May I be told why I am asked to withdraw it, and under what standing order?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I am asking the honorable senator to withdraw it. It is the practice in the Senate that if exception is taken to a remark, the honorable senator who made it is asked to withdraw it, and it is usual for it to be withdrawn.
– If the honorable senator is so thin-skinned, I withdraw it.
– It is elementary psychology that, by a process of mental projection, when a statement is made reflecting on other people, the very traits attributed to those people are usually possessed by the person who makes the statement. I assume, therefore, that, Senator Vincent is heartily ashamed of the statement he made.
On the 20th September last a meeting of representatives of at least 20 or 30 trade unions was held in the Trades Hall, Melbourne, and was addressed by a leading member of the legal profession in Melbourne. That gentleman possesses the highest qualifications, and he discussed what would be the position of trade unions under the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. This is just a brief summary of what he said -
It is my view that a determined and skilful attempt is being made to weaken the position of trades unions by destroying any power on their part to strike, and so to reduce them to a subservient position, acting really as an instrument of the Government to secure what is called “ discipline “ on the part of workers. This is taking three main forms : first, steps are being taken to include in the immigrants into Australia a stream of immigrants trained in Nazi principles which could ultimately develop into a strike-breaking group. The second is the development of attacks based on section 29 (6) and (c) of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the simple provision in the act making the Arbitration Court a “ superior court of record “. This power is being invoked and enforced as a powerful and- strike-breaking instrument and, unless the procedure adopted is declared invalid by the High Court, trades unions in Australia will be faced with an injunction-making power against striking which has been in operation in America. The third method is skilfully embodied in this bill.”
The dangerous wideness of the definition of Communist in the Bill needs no stressing. Itis quite possible that any member of the Labour party who expresses a belief in the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange might be brought within the scope of that definition. “ Industrial organizations “ are denned in the Bill in accurate terms which would include registered and unregistered unions. Clause 5 of the Bill deals with the power to declare associations unlawful. This1 clause has generally been deemed by its terms to exclude trades unions. This is a fallacy. Only registered trades unions are so excluded. Apart from unions at present de-registered, any Commonwealth union could be deregistered upon application by any person interested or the Registrar of the Arbitration Court for any reason that the Court thought fit or for any wilful disobedience of any order of the court. Therefore, if it was desired to break a strike, the procedure would be very simple; first, the strike; second an immediate application to de-register; third, de-registration ; and fourth, the immediate declaration of the union under what would toe section 5 of the act.
Upon what grounds then could a deregistered union be declared unlawful? All unions should carefully read clause 5 of the bill. If, at any time after the 10th May, 1948, the majority of the members of the executive of the union were members of the Communist party, the union could be declared. If, at any time after that date, it had supported or advocated the objectives, policy, teaching principles or practices of communism as expounded by Marx or Lenin, it could be declared. “Socialization” is one of the objectives, and it is debatable whether this might not be sufficient in itself to bring a union within the scope of this provision.
Finally, any union, the policy of which is influenced substantially by persons who after 10th May, 1948, were Communists within the very wide definition of the act and used the union to advance the objectives of communism, could be “ declared “.
If the act were constitutionally valid an appeal would he of no avail because such a union would be within the scope of the provisions of section 5 of the act.
Upon a declaration the whole of the assets of the union would immediately vest in a receiver, and after the appeal period had elapsed or an appeal had been dismissed the assets would be forfeited to the Commonwealth. The Government would quite probably appoint administrators to carry on the affairs and handle the funds of the union on behalf of the Government, a position which existed only in Russia, and the totalitarian countries.
It should be recognized that the proposed bill gives these powers, and their vital importance to trades unionism should be understood by all.
As one who has had more than fifty years’ active experience of the trade union movement, I remind the Senate that power on paper is one thing and that power in -reality is another thing. The Government will find ultimately that it has forged a weapon that will be used more effectively against it than against those whom it would destroy. In October, 1878, a bill similar to this measure was introduced into the German Reichstag. It contained the following provision: -
Societies which by Social Democratic, Socialist, or Communist attempts, seek to overthrow the existing order of State or society, are forbidden.
This applies also to societies in which Social Democratic, Socialistic, or Communistic attempts directed to the overthrow of the existing order of the State or society appear in a manner dangerous to the public peace, and’ especially to the concord of the different classes of society.
What refers to societies holds equally good of combinations of every kind.
– That was sponsored by Bismarck, was it not ?
– Yes. This Government has followed the German pattern. The German Social Democratic party was driven underground in 1878, but in 1890 it had become the strongest party in the Reichstag, and the measure was repealed. During that period, the activities of the German social democrats were not restricted in the slightest degree. All their printing was done outside Germany. Their literature was distributed more widely and their meetings were held more frequently than ever before. I repeat that the Government will find ultimately that it has forged a weapon that will be used more effectively against it than against those whom it would destroy. The people of England and Canada are sufficiently astute to recognize that fact. As far as I know, no legislation similar to this has been passed by the parliament of any English-speaking country.
– South Africa is the only country in which similar legislation is in force.
– They have yet to reap their harvest. In this war of w ords, we should be prepared to allow our opponents to say exactly what they think of any proposition, provided that they arc reasonably careful in choosing the words with which they express their ideas. All that we should do,> if we can, is to submit thoughts and words that are better than those of our opponents and try to win, on an intellectual ha 9is. the contest on any question that has to be decided. What is proposed in this hill is that physical violence should be used r.o suppress those with whom we disagree, or whom we suspect of holding subversive opinions. That has been tried in the past, but it has never succeeded. During the first world war, the resentment of the people at the Illegal Associations Act and the War Precautions Act was so great that the Government was forced to repeal both of those measures. Apparently, this Government has net learned from experience. It will have to accept the consequences of its own acts. I venture to say that it will find itself in a position similar to that in which the present Government of Victoria finds itself. The Essential Services (.Emergency) Act is on the statute-book of Victoria; but, for reasons that are perfectly obvious to all of us, the Victorian Government has not attempted to enforce it. If it did so, it would find that the very difficult position in which it is placed at the moment would be made even more difficult. Our approach to all these questions should be an intelligent one. We should try to see the other man’s point of view, rather than to suppress him with violence. If the Government acts in the way in which it is said it intends to act,’ it will find that the power that it has written into the Constitution is a power on paper and not a power in reality.
– I gave my reasons for supporting this bill when it was before the Senate previously, and they do not need recapitulation. . This is a defence measure. It is not, as has just been alleged, an attempt to control or suppress thought. I shall direct myself, very briefly, to the arguments advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) and his followers. Those arguments were all arguments against thehill. This is the first occasion in my life on which I have heard of a political party or a group of members of Parliament advancing arguments against a measure that they have said they will support. The only reason that honorable senators opposite have given for supporting the bill is - I am choosing my words very carefully - that a body external to the Senate, and in no way responsible to it, has told them to do so. That is a principle previously utterly unknown. It is an innovation that deserves reprobation. It is an admitted change of the system of government in this country.
Opposition senators interjecting,
– The point that I am attempting to make, amid the uproar from the other side of the chamber, is that if people accept orders from another authority, it should be a legal authority.
– The Liberal party always does it.
– It is utterly false to say or insinuate that there is any body or institution in the Liberal party that could, or would, order honorable senators on this side of the chamber to vote against a measure that they themselves had declared to be foul and iniqitous
– What about revaluation ?
– I am using only the words that have been used in this debate. There is no analogy between that kind of action and the necessary compromises that go on in every party. I am not for a moment arguing that one should not be loyal to his party, or to his leader, or that all parties should not confer and arrive at a common policy. The very insinuation that there is something in common between this matter and the issue of revaluation proves the absurdity of it. Whether it comes or not will be as a result of Executive action, and after people who have different opinions have conferred. But that is a totally different thing from the action of a representative of the people in standing up and announcing in this chamber that a bill is opposed to the principles of natural justice, and then saying that he will vote for it because he has been ordered to do so by masterful authority. I cannot find words adequate to express my abhorrence of that kind of action. I believe that no member of this Senate can contract out of the obligation that he solemnly accepted when he subscribed to the oath, to put his mind and his conscience at the service of the Senate and of the country. No amount of sophistry and certainly no amount of mere noise can alter that position. Even while L am endeavouring to make my point I am being subjected to a tirade of abuse by honorable senators opposite. I stress that no man can contract out of the solemn obligation to do what he thinks is right in .this chamber. Yet the Senate has witnessed the spectacle of an honorable senator opposite rising .in his place and saying that the bill is wrong, that certain provisions are not only wrong but are opposed to natural justice and then saying that he would vote for it. By so doing he acted in a manner that is contrary to the ‘Constitution and to any ethical system that I have ever studied.
– I am astonished that Senator McCallum should have expressed himself in the manner that he did. I have always given him credit for knowing something about the constitution of the Labour party. As honorable senators are aware, I have taken the oath many times, and I have yet to learn that the oath that I have subscribed to in this chamber was to put my mind and my conscience at the service of the country. I certainly took an oath of allegiance to the King.. I am astounded that a man who is supposed to be a teacher of youth, should do that.
– It is obvious that Senator McCallum thinks that he is addressing school children.
– “We did not take an oath to ban outside bodies. As Senator McCallum knows, the federal executive of the Australian Labour, party is very democratically constituted. He stated that there was nothing like it in the Liberal party. That is quite true. The Liberal party has a consultative council. It would be interesting if the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) and Senator McCallum would tell the Senate how many persons in New South Wales voted for their election to this chamber. I challenge them to deny that more than a handful of Liberals voted for them; they were elected by no more than twelve people. It is well known that a small group of Liberals get their heads together, and decide on a number of separate ballots, instead of only one. By contrast, the Australian Labour party is the most democratic political party in the world. Representatives of hundreds of unions attend our conferences., The press also is invited. I am speaking of the procedure in New South Wales.
– The procedure issimilar in Tasmania.
– It is similar also in Victoria. After the main business has been disposed of, we hold regional conferences and country conferences. The general conference is held once a year. As Senator McCallum knows, a secret ballot is taken after general business has been disposed of. It was unworthy of him to assert that honorable senators on this side of the chamber owe their election to an outside junta.
– But the supporters of Labour in the Parliament do what they are told to do.
– I realize that the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) seeks sympathy at present rather than justice. The last action of the conference is to elect an executive of between 30 and 40 members, on the vote of hundreds of delegates. A similar procedure takes place in all States. From that executive there aTe elected to comprise the federal executive, two members from each State. Whether the current decision be right or wrong, it is a fact that it has been reached by the right authority. I remind honorable senators that it is very odd that Senator McCallum should have spoken as he did, because he was once a member of the Australian Labour party. I again challenge supporters of the Government to inform the Senate of the number of votes that were cast for the election to this chamber of the Minister for Social Services, .Senator McCallum, Senator Reid and Senator Tate. Undoubtedly the federal executive of the Australian Labour party acted correctly in reaching its decision on this matter. In this respect the Australian Labour party is not different from any other organization; when an alteration is made somebody has to administer it, and it is our duty to carry out the policy of the organization.
I am very disturbed about the situation that has arisen. Obviously the Government has cut off far more than it can possibly chew. Senator Vincent has referred to a judgment that was given by Sir Isaac Isaacs in an immigration case. For the honorable senator to suggest that there is an analogy between the law with relation to immigration and the measure before the Senate is absurd. I point out that it i3 quite impossible for the Crown to prove where prohibited immigrants who have been arrested were born. I remind Senator Vincent that the decision was reached by a majority of the representatives of the unions. At heart I am implacably opposed to the onus of proof clause and the right to dispense with democraticallyelected trade union officials. According to statements in to-day’s press, the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) with his usual flippantry, stated, in exemplification of the fact that he is an economic, political illiterate, that this decision is a retreat from Moscow. That proves conclusively that, by this measure, the present Government is determined to fight not only the Communist party, but also the trade unions and the Australian Labour party.
– Is the honorable senator going to vote against the bill ?
– Because I believe in majority rule, and as the federal executive of the Australian Labour party has decided that the bill should be allowed to become law, I shall vote for it.
– Power without responsibility !
– I am convinced that before long the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) will have responsibility without power. Although the supporters of the Govern ment have claimed that steps will ‘be taken immediately after this measure becomes law to arrest such prominent Communists as Brown, Healy, Elliott and Phillips,, it will be interesting to see what happens. The Government has already sought the assistance of the Australian Labour party to implement its wishes Honorable senators opposite have made scathing remarks about the majority Australian Labourparty decision. I challenge them to deny that although twelve members of theCabinet voted for revaluation of the currency, and seven voted against it, the decision not to appreciate the currency was a minority decision.
– Somebody hasbeen pulling the honorable senator’s leg.
– It is obvious that, in the ranks of the Government parties, the tail is wagging the dog. I am sorry for the Attorney-General, who is the one intelligent member of * the Government. Of course, one swallow does not make a summer.
– This is hard to listen’ to.
– I realize that the Minister has an extremely hard task ahead of him. Why such a difficult assignment should have been handed to such a meek fellow I do not know. Senator McCallum referred to the time when the Iron Chancellor, Bismarck, announced that he was going to wipe out the Social Democrats. I remind the honorable senator that that was the beginning of the end of Bismarck. I could address- the Senate at some length on this subject, and tell honorable senators of the position that arose as a result of the passing, of the anti-combination laws. Although honorable senators opposite have claimed that we lack guts, I am inclined to think that it is they who lack guts.
– Will the honorable senator support the bill ?
– The honorable senator who has just interjected is an outstanding example of the busy fool causing more trouble than the lazy idiot. I remind Senator Vincent that there are 3,000 miles of sand between his home-town and New South Wales. I make no bones about admitting that this situation is displeasing to me. I will vote for the measure in accordance with the decision of my .party. “We have been accused of being allies of the Communists, but that is not true. I have fought the Communist party as bitterly as anyone has. I have no time for the Communist party, as a party. I agree with Senator O’Sullivan that the Communist party in Russia has no regard for human rights. It never had any regard for them, from the time the revolution first started, although there must have been some justification for the revolution. I know what the Communists did in China, and I know what Chiang Kai-shek did in China at the instigation of the Communists. I know what the Communists did when they handed 24,000,000 Poles over to the tender mercies of Hitler. I know that the Communists in Russia allied themselves with the Germans to control practically all Europe with the exception of Great Britain. I know that they decorated von Ribbentrop for his part in bringing about the alliance between Germany and Russia, and were then prepared to hang him when Germany made war on Russia. I have no time for the Communist party, and I know that their professed regard for Marquis of Queensberry rules in political contests is all “ kid-stakes “. The Labour party and the Communist party cannot exist in the same world. One of them must go.
– Then why not help us to get rid of them?
– The trouble is that this Government is adopting the methods of the Communists. It preaches democracy and British justice and free speech, and then does something which is opposed to those ideals.
– But the Labour party is now supporting us.
– As an individual. I tell the Government that it has bitten off far more than it can chew.
– The Opposition was not game to have a go at it.
– The first time I- spoke in the Senate, I had enough sense not to be as truculent as was Senator Vincent. The honorable senator may have some sort of local reputation as a lawyer in the place he comes from, but
I was amazed to hear him to-night attempting to lay down the law with all the authority of the Lord Chief Justice, and to hear him declare that the Labour party was part and parcel of the Communist party. The Labour party has always been opposed to the Communist party.
– Then why did not the Labour party do something about it during the eight years that it was in office?
– I do not believe that the Communist party can be defeated in the way proposed in this legislation, any more than I believe that the Communists can be defeated internationally with atomic bombs. I do not believe that the campaign in Korea has solved any problem. Rather do I believe that it has made the situation worse. I do not believe that anything useful can be achieved by our becoming involved in the trouble in Indo-China. Neither do I believe that it will weaken the Communist party to declare that organization an illegal body, and to put Communists out of office in trade unions. Such action will only make communism stronger in Australia.
The onus of proof provision, which the Government has stupidly inserted in this bill, will bring into the net hundreds of thousands of innocent people. I know many persons who have no Communist sympathies at all, but who, out of intellectual curiosity, read the Communist paper, the Tribune, just as they read the Catholic Weekly. “When this bill becomes law, a person of that kind may be declared because some one sees a copy of the Tribune in his locker. I believe that a man should have a chance to disprove the charge that he is a Communist before he is declared, not afterwards. Under the proposed legislation, it will be possible for some one who wants another man’s job to whisper. “ He is a Communist “, and the person so charged will get the sack. I wish Senator Vincent would read the book recently published by Professor Lattimore, the man who was charged before the Un-American Activities Committee of the United States House of Representatives with being a Communist sympathizer. The charge was brought by a man named Budenz, who had been reared a Catholic, then became a Communist, and later returned to the Catholic faith. The charges were taken up by Senator McCarthy, and pressed home, but fortunately for Lattimore, he was generally recognized to be one of the finest men in the United States of America, as well as one of the greatest authorities on the East. He it was, who told the people of the United States of America that it would be suicidal to back Chiang Kai-shek. When his case was heard, he was able to bring President Truman as well as other leading Americans to testify on his behalf, and he was exonerated. In his book, Ordeal by Scandal, he discusses these and other matters, and he relates how public opinion was turned against him by the unjust charges against which he was called upon to defend himself. When he went to church, he was ostracized by the other members of the congregation. .His children were ostracized at school. Even after he was exonerated, people said, “ There must have been something in it or he would not have been charged at all “. People say the same thing when a person is acquitted on a murder charge. Perhaps Senator Vincent, our learned friend from the wool-sack in the west, can tell us whether a person declared under this legislation will, if he is able to prove the charge unjustified, have to pay his own expenses. Will such a person have his costs paid by the Crown?
– No. The honorable senator should read the bill.
– Well, that is a nice state of affairs! I have a friend who fought in both world wars. He went to the first when he was fifteen, and he went to the second war because he thought he was fighting for liberty. A group of us were discussing this legislation the other night, and some one said to this friend of mine that he had nothing to fear so long as he was innocent. That is nonsense. It certainly did not apply in the case of an unfortunate man in Sydney who was recently caught up in a demonstration in. the street by those who were protesting against the refusal of the Lord Mayor, Alderman O’Dea, to make the Town Hall available for a meeting of Communists. This man had nothing whatever to do with the demonstration, but he was arrested by the police and bundled into the “ Black Maria “. His wife, who was soon to have a baby, just escaped being bundled1 in with him. Fortunately for the man, who was employed on a newspaper, a co-worker was present, and took a photograph of the incident. Later, when the case was being heard, the police witness was asked where the incident had occurred, and he said, “ In front of Nock and Kirby’s premises “. The photograph made it clear beyond doubt that the incident had, in fact, occurred near Wynyard station, just 827 yards away. The magistrate told the accused that he was exceedingly fortunate that the photograph came to light to disprove the police evidence. In another case, a man recently arrived from the United States of America, who was carrying 12,000 dollars with him - I have no idea why - was seized and handcuffed and put into the “ Black Maria “. I believe that the Government will try to administer this legislation fairly but it is only human nature that officials, once they make a mistake, will refuse to admit it. I know a man who was picked up by the police in mistake for some one else. Later, even when the authorities learned of the mistake they went right ahead and prosecuted the man, who was sentenced to ten years in gaol. That is an’ example of the horrible injustice that can be perpetrated under legislation of this kind. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) wears a badge which indicates that he fought in the first world war, presumably for democracy. What does democracy mean if not that, when a person is charged with an offence, the onus of proof lies on the prosecution?
– It means parliamentary rule, not rule from outside the Parliament.
– That is a wonderful definition of democracy ! That is an extraordinary statement to be made by the Minister for Trade and Customs, and he a lawyer. The more I see of lawyers the more I think of navvies! The honorable senator asserts that a law, no matter how unjust, is right and democratic, if enacted by the Parliament. What is the meaning of all this talk about Magna Charta that I heard when
I was a schoolboy? Even Senator Vincent, from Kalgoorlie, must have heard about Magna Charta. What is the meaning of this talk about trial by jury? I believe that an accused person has more chance of a fair trial at the hands of twelve members of a jury than from one man, no matter how learned. What is the meaning of this talk about free speech ?
– It does not exist in the Labour party.
– Yes it does. That is why I am speaking now.
– But there is no free voting for members of the Labour party.
– Yes, there is. If any member of the Labour party wishes to vote against this bill he may do so.
– Does the honorable senator himself propose to vote against it?
– No. The Government has been bluffing about this measure for the last six months, and many Government supporters had pains in the belly last night when they heard that the Labour party intended to withdraw its opposition to the hill. The Government does not know where to start when it comes to implementing the measure. It is admitted that during the last coal strike some men were sent to gaol although they had not done anything wrong. Thereis a considerable difference between the Labour party acting with the backing of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, and the Liberal party acting without the support of the trade union movement or of any substantial section of the community at all.
– What the honorable senator means by that. I assume, is that the Labour party will throw its mantle over the Communists to protect them against the Government.
– What a remark to make! As you are aware, Mr. President, every time an honorable senator on this side of the chamber asks a question, whether itis about the weather, Mars, or anything else, he is told by a Minister that if the Communist party is banned everything will be all right.
– Why does not the honorable senator reply to my interjection?
– What is it?
– Order ! All interjections are disorderly.
– I say, as one who knows something about the Communist party, that this bill will not be effective. Certainly it will not put value back into the £1.
– The honorable senator will do his best to make the bill ineffective.
– Honorable senators opposite want it both ways. The Minister for Trade and Customs, the Treasurer, and even the Attorney-General, in his unguarded moments, have told us that the Labour party is part and parcel of the Communist party; now when 1 warn the Government that this bill will not put value back into the £1, improve production, stop Communist propaganda, or make the people of this country more contented, I am accused of doing my best to render the bill ineffective. I have no hesitation in saying that the passage of this measure will make the community more discontented.
– Well, vote against it.
– Why should I? It is the Government’s baby, not mine. I have no doubt that after this measure has been in operation for three months, production will be even less than it is to-day.
– Presumably the honorable senator will do his best to ensure that production will be reduced.
– That is what the Minister says. It should not be necessary for me to remind him that production is always higher in a free community than in a slave community. In three months time, the value of the £1 will be even less than it is to-day. Instead of fewer ships being held up, there will be more.
– The rolling strike !
– Call it what you will.
– If the honorable senator had a conscience he would vote against the bill. He should sit down and keep quiet.
– Fancy a member of the Liberal party talking about a conscience !
– Order ! Senator Grant must address the Chair.
– I take it that the object of this bill is to ensure more production. How can we be expected to believe that by banning the Communists, closing their mouths, confiscating their funds, suppressing their newspapers, declaring people and throwing them out of their jobs in the Public Service, or depriving them of-union office, value can be put back into the £1 ? I warn the Government now that effect can never be given to this measure. I for one do not believe that the Government ever wanted to have the bill passed by the Parliament. Now, it will be passed, and the Government will be faced with the impossible task of administering it.
I have explained my position as a loyal member of the Labour party. It would be a sorry day indeed for the workingclass movement of this country if members of the Labour party were to resign just because they disagreed in some detail with Labour’s policy. I have signed the Labour pledge, and I shall remain loyal to the party’s decisions. According to Senator McCallum, I have violated my oath. That is ridiculous. As a signatory to the Labour pledge, I shall abide by the decisions of the Labour party. There is only one Labour tribunal higher than the federal executive, and that is the federal conference, which consists of six delegates from each State. Should that conference reverse the executive’s present ruling I should be prepared, to abide by that decision, also. We are told that we have been dictated to by outside interests. The federal executive of the Labour party is not an outside interest. It is part and parcel of the Labour movement.
– Members of the executive are the uncrowned kings of Australia.
– I ask honorable senators opposite who talk so loudly of democracy, how many people in Queensland voted to deprive ex-Senator Foll of his pre-selection as a Liberal party candidate for the Senate some years ago, and chose the present Minister for Trade and Customs in his stead.
– Quite sufficient.
– Judging by the job that the Minister does here, I should say that the number was very small indeed, because Queensland people, on the whole, are rather intelligent. There has been considerable talk in recent weeks about Labour’s alleged domination by an outside oligarchy. I am doing my best to show that the organization to which reference has been made is not an outside body but is part and parcel of the Labour movement.
– The honorable senator does not really believe that?
– The Minister knows that it is true, and so does Senator McCallum. The Communist Party Dissolution Bill in its present form is an iniquitous measure. I have always fought the Communists, and I shall continue to fight them. I am satisfied that, in logic, the Communist party has not a leg to stand on. It has crucified the Labour movement throughout the world. It has assassinated the best social democrats in Germany. It has wiped out the old Bolsheviks in their own country. Banning the Communists will not do any good in this country. Honorable senators opposite object to communism being described as a political philosophy. Obviously they do not understand what philosophy means. Of course communism is a political philosophy. Any teaching is a philosophy. Even nihilism is a philosophy. I challenge anybody to show that a measure such as this is not part and parcel of the Communist philosophy. This Government is doing just what the Communists would do to their enemies in similar circumstances. I was accused by the Communists on one occasion of having supported British and American imperialism. According to a newspaper report, I said, “ What is wrong with British and American imperialism? It will do me”. I did not say anything of~the kind. What I said was that communism was just another imperialism. Honorable senators opposite claim that the Labour party is not fighting the Communists. I say that there is only one political party on earth that can beat the Communists, and that is the Labour party.
– It has not achieved much so far.
– We shall see how the Government gets on when this bill becomes law. No measure such as this has been deemed necessary in Great Britain. With all its faults, British justice is still the best system of justice that has ever been evolved. I shall give an illustration of the fairness of British law and, incidentally, this occurrence did more to undermine the Communists than a thousand bills of this kind can ever do. In America there was a leading Communist named Eisler-
– We have heard the story twice already.
– Apparently the honorable senator will have to hear it three times before he understands it. Nobody could say that his thoughts were original. The story that he told about Sir Isaac Isaacs has been on gramophone records for months, yet he had the effrontery to tell it with the pomposity of original thought! A charge was brought against Eisler in America, and he was released on heavy bail. He “ skipped “ bail and travelled on a Polish ship to Great Britain. There he was arrested at the instigation of the American authorities. Thereupon, Communist newspapers which previously had been describing Great Britain as an aircraftcarrier for the United States of America and a tool of American finance, redoubled their campaign. Eisler appeared at Bowstreet court before a magistrate, who remanded him for 24 hours. Next morning, the magistrate said to Eisler, “ So far as I know, you have not violated any law of Great Britain that would warrant your extradition to the United States of America. You are dismissed “. When Eisler was released he said that he did not believe that there could be such justice anywhere in the world. That one act by wise old England did more to undermine the Communists than this bill can ever hope to do. I invite the Minis-
ter for Social Services, who has looked rather uncomfortable in the last half hour, to contradict that. Shortly after the Eisler incident in Great Britain, there was a general election and even in Whitechapel, the Communist candidate received only 2,000 votes.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– For some time before the suspension of the sitting I had been explaining the attitude of the Labour party to this bill and had been endeavouring to show how grossly untrue was the taunt made by Senator McCallum that the policy of our party is dictated by an outside oligarchy. I was astonished to hear an honorable senator of the high intelligence of Senator McCallum make a statement of that kind, particularly when I recall the manner in which the party to which he belongs, the Liberal party, the United Australia party, the Nationalist party - by whatever name it be known - is constituted. Those who know anything about the constitution of the Labour party know that its federal executive is not an extraneous body but forms part and parcel of the party and that it is elected in the most democratic way. When our friends opposite make statements of that kind my mind goes back to certain occurrences in New South Wales some years ago when a government which they supported was in office. I wonder who dictated the policy of that government which they then supported. Is it suggested that that policy was formulated by politicians? Perhaps an honorable senator opposite will tell us who was responsible for evolving the policy for the reconstitution of the upper house in New South Wales when Mr. Lang was Premier of that State. That policy caused what was perhaps the greatest political scandal this country has ever known. Was that policy determined by a consultative committee ? Who made representations to the Australian Government that Mr. Lang should be got rid of? Was it the banks, the financial institutions and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited? Those interests do not finance the anti-Labour parties for nothing?
– How was the Cain Government in Victoria got rid of?
– I shall reply to the very pertinent question asked by my friend, Senator Sheehan. The Cain Government was got rid of by Sir Frank Clarke-
– Or was it Sir “Bank” Clarke?
– By whatever name the gentleman is known, he was undoubtedly responsible for the removal from office of the Cain Government. Honorable senators opposite contend that the rank and file members of the Labour party have little say in the formulation of the party’s policy. At least the Labour party has a rank and file. The Liberal party is only rank and vile. Is it suggested that the policy of the antiLabour forces in Victoria was formed by their parliamentary representatives? Of course it was not.
I should like much more information about how the Government proposes to implement the provisions of this bill but no information has been given to me. Honorable senators opposite have no idea what a task they are assuming. Do the Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Robert Gordon Menzies, and the Treasurer, the Right Honorable Arthur William Fadden - “Artie in Wonderland “ - really understand the enormous problems that will confront them when this bill becomes law? If they did so the Prime Minister would not have adopted the attitude which he adopted to-day to the Opposition’s decision to support the bill. Had he been wise he would have said, “I know that this bill will be difficult to implement. Although members of the Labour party in the Senate should have passed it more quickly, I am prepared to let bygones be bygones. I know that the members of that party have no time for the Communists and I want their co-operation ! “ Instead of doing so the Prime Minister’ suggested that the Labour party had been dictated to by an outside body, and the Treasurer said, “ This is another retreat from Moscow”. The Government will not secure the co-operation and collaboration of the Labour party by saying that there is no difference between a socialist and a Communist. I have plainly stated my attitude to this bill.
Among other things, I should like t’o know how the Government proposes to implement the provisions of the measure. If the bill becomes law and the Waterside Workers Federation is instructed to get rid of Mr. Healy, and the members of that organization carry a vote of confidence in Mr. Healy, as I am certain they will do, what will be the modus operandi employed by the Government to enforce its decision? Even if Mr. Healy were removed from his position as secretary of the Water- side Workers Federation, there would be nothing to stop him from being given a job sweeping the floors of its premises. He would be able to exercise just as much influence as a floor-sweeper as he does in his secretarial position. How does the Government propose to get rid of Mr. Brown, the self-confessed Communist, secretary of the Australian Railways Union; or Mr. Elliott, of the Seamen’s Union ; or Mr. Wright and the rest of the self-confessed Communists who occupy high positions in industrial organizations? Is it suggested that the Government will get rid of them in one fell swoop? What machinery has it devised to implement the provisions of this bill ? I am sure that honorable senators apposite do not realize the problems that will confront the Government when this bill is placed on the statute-book. Honorable senators- opposite should profit from the lessons of history and not confuse causes and effects. If the Government really wishes to prevent the spread of communism it must first take action to control excess profits.
– What gave rise to communism ?
– Communism grew out of the evil economic conditions of the workers. Do honorable senators opposite hope that workers will increase production while the price of wool continues to range from 10s. to fi per lb.? In the wool-growing industry the sheep do all the work. The wool industry em- ploys less labour per capita than does any other industry. Does the Government. believe the intelligent worker is not aware of that fact? Does it believe that by this simple feat of legerdemain it will be able to increase production at a time when hig racketeering companies issue bonus shares in order to distribute their surplus earnings to their wealthy shareholders? Although this Government has a deficit of £102,500,000, adopting the tactics of the crook share-broker, it has told the people that it has a surplus of £500,000. If a worker employed on a. road job were offered a job at Prince’s or Romano’s, in which he would earn more in tips in a single night than he would earn in swinging a pick for a whole week, would any one expect him tr> continue to swing the pick in order to help increase the nation’s wealth? Economic equilibrium can never ‘he achieved under present conditions. Do honorable senators opposite believe that twice in a generation the people will allow themselves to be robbed of £25 of every £100 in order to grease the fatted pig? Every day we read that some wealthy and influential company has issued new shares or bonus shares to its wealthy shareholders. In some instances one new share is allotted for every three shares held. The Swift (Australia) Company Limited recently issued one bonus share for each two shares held by its shareholders. Conditions such as these gave rise to the birth of communism.
If the Government believes that it can implement the provisions of this bill without first establishing the proper machinery to do so, it makes a great mistake and demonstrates that it has lost touch with the views of the working people. Scarcely one honorable senator opposite has at any time been associated with a trade union or understands the viewpoint of the worker. This Government is carrying out the policy of its masters who financed the anti-Labour parties during the last general election campaign and have not yet been paid in full for their services. Does the Government believe that the passage of this measure will enable it to give effect to its promise to put value back into the £1? Honorable senators opposite are very foolish indeed if they believe that it will do so. Do they think that when this measure is placed on the statute-book the “ wharfie “ will be induced to work harder or that the iron-worker will increase his output? Already the coal-miners have gone on strike as a protest against this bill. If honorable senators opposite sincerely desire to deal with the Communists they should first remedy the conditions that gave rise to communism. If they want to bring about increased production they must force the Government to reconsider its decision to take £103,000,000 from the wool-growers to use to balance the budget, and to repay it as the years go on. Do honorable senators opposite think that Communists and intelligent workers do not know that the Australian currency has been juggled during the last three or four months? The workers know that there can be no democratic government in this country while the Government parties are fighting between themselves. They know that the Liberal party members of the Cabinet did not have the guts to stand up to the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) over the question of the revaluation of the £1 and that as a result of the shilly-shallying that has gone on in relation to the matter the Australian Government has been made the laughing stock of the world. Everybody is aware- of the gambling that has been indulged in all over the world on the chance that the Australian £1 would be revalued. The Government ignores these things and says, “ Let us get rid of the Communists and we shall have greater production and all our troubles will be over “. If honorable senators opposite would read history they would realize that the first objective of the Government should be to remove the causes which give rise to communism. About 100 years ago, anticombination laws were passed in England to bring about the enslavement of the workers. Perhaps Senator McCallum oan state the year in which they were passed.
– Yes; they were passed in 1825.
– Those laws which remained in operation for twenty years were on lines somewhat similar to the legislation now before us. The purpose of the anti-combination laws was to prevent the workers from forming themselves into organizations for the betterment of their conditions. The legislation was drafted in the dead of night, and after it had been enacted any worker who. went on strike was forthwith deported to Botany Bay. Honorable senators opposite should read history in order to see for themselves the results that may flow from legislation such as this is.
– We all recall what happened to the Tolpuddle martyrs.
– Yes, The Tolpuddle martyrs were regarded by the government of the day as even worse than Communists are regarded to-day by this Government, hut as the years went by they became a little more respectable. The repressive action taken against the Tolpuddle martyrs instead of preventing the spread of the trade union movement gave it impetus. Whether or not the Communist party as such continues to exist, Communist propaganda and philosophy will be strengthened rather than weakened by the provisions of this bill. Honorable senators opposite cannot indicate how the provisions of this bill will in any way weaken Communist propaganda, nor can they demonstrate how the bill will in any way enable the Government to honour its promise to put value back into the fi. It is the duty of the Labour party to find out how the Government intends to implement this bill, and it is also the duty of the leaders of the Government parties to inform the members how they intend to do so. As Senator McCallum and other honorable senators will remember, there was a rail strike in New South Wales in 1917, the effects of which lasted for over twenty years. It disorganized the economy of New South Wales. When that strike occurred, the first thing the Government did was to call for volunteers, but I do not know where this Government will obtain volunteers if there are 500,000 unemployed. Eventually, that strike in 1917 was broken, because the Liberal Government then in office told the volunteers that they would retain their jobs after the strike ended. Naturally, there were free fights every day. There were two unions for railway workers, sectarianism was rife, and expressions such as “jacky”, “blackleg” and “lily- white “ were freely used. Then the Labour party returned to power, and its policy was to give unionists preference over those who were termed “ blacklegs “. A further political swing occurred, and the Stevens Government was elected. Mr. Stevens was the gentleman who was accused by Senator Spooner’s brother of “ packing the budget “. The policy of the Stevens Government was to re-employ those men who had been displaced when the Labour Government was in power. That state of affairs continued for over twenty years. I also remind the Government that although it has been at sea for a long, long time, it cannot obtain seamen in five minutes. In conclusion, I ask the Government to be very careful in the manner in which it implements this legislation. I shall be interested to see how it goes about the job.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– We have listened for a long time to Senator Grant’s out-pourings, which, like the old .tale, were full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, except, of course, how ineradicably implanted in his nature is that irresponsible advocacy that is directed to industrial dissension, rather than to the improvement of the lot of the people whom he pretends to represent. During the debate this afternoon, we heard from Senator McKenna a very profound statement, uttered in that sanctified atmosphere that he is accustomed to invoke, to the effect that the die is cast. Let us survey the Labour Senate majority whose die is cast.
– Do- not be so sad about it.
- .Senator Grant seems to be in the process of dying. If that is so, he stands solitary among his confreres. But the dead and the dying both have their nuisance value still.
I recall a speech made by Senator McKenna on the Address-in-Reply debate, at the opening of the Parliament this year, when he spoke about victory with honour. To-night, or to-morrow, we shall witness a vote in this chamber which will be immersed in impenetrable dishonour. Here we have an Opposition that has been elected by the people of
Australia, with all the aids of secret ‘ballot to enable the people properly to choose their representatives. Those people thought they could rely upon the judgment of these 34 gentlemen to decide what legislation they considered necessary in the public interest. But the members of the Labour party Opposition in this Senate are crying and cringing, because the outside junta has pulled the strings. Their faces are growing redder and redder as the debate proceeds. They have covered themselves in what Senator Grant termed disappointment, but what others will call disgrace. Now, humiliated, they have confessed to the fact that for the last four months they have been indulging in cant and humbug, in order to deprive this bill of its efficacy. “When they are confronted with the opportunity to uphold the principles that they have mouthed on previous occasions, and to allow the people to decide the issue, they are afraid and are running away. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) told them point-blank that they had the opportunity to vote, and if they voted in rejection of the essential clauses of this bill, the Government would seek a double dissolution, but they were saved by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party. All their brave words now mean nothing. The 34 gentlemen of the Opposition yielded to the decision of an outside group. They may be typified by one of their number, because we are led to believe that their solitary representative on the executive was Senator Aylett. I should like honorable senators to pause and consider the gentleman, who, by his single vote, has saved his 34 colleagues from confusion before the electors. Now they bow and scrape and cringe to save themselves from the predicament into which they were led by the wonderful leadership of Mr. Chifley, Dr. Evatt and Senator McKenna. I notice that that trio has become inveterate. It is marvellous how, in this chamber, Senator Ashley seems to have been forgotten, but having regard to his anxiety at the moment, I include him in the group. The mere mention of his name will add tremendously to the -ingenuity of the leadership that has resulted in the Australian Labour party coming to the brink of disaster. The federal executive of the Australian Labour party was summoned, and re-summoned. The decision went out. Senator McKenna, who, I understand, was elected as a representative of the people of Tasmania, with an opportune eye, from a distant field, upon his electorate, .smiled again, because, of course, the prospect -of an election at this juncture had particular significance for him.
– The honorable senator might wait till Senator McKenna is in the chamber before he attacks him.
– The honorable senator’s absence is of his own making. I would say as much .as I have said and much more if he were here, but I shall reserve further remarks for another occasion. The honorable senators of the Opposition pose as the newfound champions of the liberty of the individual. Mr. Chifley knew, when he put on a bold front and declared that he would defend the poor people of Australia against victimization by an arbitrary fascist government-
– Hear, Hear !
- Senator Ward’s interjection shows that he is awake, however far behind he may be in his understanding of the debate. Even a fortnight ago, Mr. Chifley said that if he believed something to be right and just, he would not allow threats or the chances of electoral defeat to deter him from fighting for it. The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) characterized the bill as the apotheosis of tyranny in respect of individuals. Senator McKenna talked of the rule of law and described the measure as iniquitous, preposterous, amazing in its injustice and expressing the concept of totalitarianism.
– Hear, hear !
– There is still one feeble voice from the Opposition benches that can say, “ Hear, hear ! “ to all that, yet we are about to witness the shameful spectacle of Senator Ward and his colleagues pocketing their consciences and voting this measure into law. Despite the fact that they hold independent office in the Senate and are required to vote according to their consciences, they will vote for this measure, believing it to be iniquitous and amazing in its injustice.
Can any honorable senator recall an occasion when all the members of a political party in a parliament, holding that view of a measure, did not oppose it with all the force of which they were capable? I am reminded of the high sounding tune by which another procession was led. The leader of that procession was somewhat pied, as are the leaders of this one, but, unfortunately, on this occasion, these followers will not be hidden in a mountain. They will remain here to exercise their nuisance value by obstructing and delaying other measures introduced by the Government.
The die is cast.
Opposition senators interjecting,
– I am amused to see how honorable senators opposite clothe themselves in apparent good humour when I direct their attention to a statement made by Senator McKenna. He said, in effect, “ The die is cast. The executive has spoken “. Then he engaged in a spirited confirmation of all the criticisms he had made of the bill three or four months ago. When we meet persons who conscientiously differ from us upon political questions or matters of public interest, we honour them as long as they fight us fearlessly, but honorable senators opposite, having mouthed platitudes about the liberty of the subject, the arbitrary nature of this bill and its effect upon humble citizens of the Commonwealth, will “squib” it when they are given an opportunity to vote according to their declarations of principle. They will do so because they are frightened of the verdict that the people would give if the question were submitted to them. They will bow to the decision of the executive of their party and will plumb the depths of humiliation.. They are mere puppets.
A significant feature of this debate is that we have listened to an unashamed and unequivocal statement in which an attempt, was made to justify this hypocrisy on the part of a group of parliamentarians by the claim that they are bound by the decision of an outside group. I shall be corrected if I am wrong, but I venture to suggest that on no previous occasion in British parliamentary history have the members of a political party attempted to justify their aetion in voting contrary to their consciences merely by the claim that they owe allegiance to an outside body. Senator McKenna said this afternoon that the die was cast, and that every member of the Labour party was honorably bound to abide by that decision. It is strange that the honorable senator used the word “ honorably “ in that context, because soon he will vote his conscience out of existence, and agree to the passage of this measure because he fears to face the electors. He will be saved from that predicament by voting for the bill. The significance of what the honorable senator said should not escape notice. I suggest that this is tha first occasion in British parliamentary history when a political party has attempted to justify the surrender of its voting power by claiming allegiance to an outside group.
– That is not true. It is not an outside group at all. It is the Labour party.
– Order ! Honorable senators who wish to have an opportunity to express their views upon this bill will have that opportunity. Senator Wright is stating his opinion. He is not infallible, and what he says is not necessarily correct. Honorable senators should try to restrain their anger when another honorable senator gets under their skin.
– In 1910, the highest judicial body in the British Empire referring to a. situation similar to that with which we are now faced, said -
Unless a member becomes bound to the society and to the Labour party by these conditions, and shapes his parliamentary action in conformity therewith, and with the decisons of the parliamentary party, he has broken his bargain. Take the testing instance: should his view as to the right and wrong on a public issue as to the true line of service to the realm, as to the real interests of the constituency which has elected him, or even of the society which pays him, differ from the decision of the parliamentary party and the maintenance by it of its policy, he has come under a contract to place his vote and action into subjection not to his own convictions, but to their decisions. I do not think that such a subjection is compatible either with the spirit of our parliamentary constitution or with that independence and freedom which have hitherto been held to lie at the basis of representative government in the United Kingdom.
That passage condemns the attitude adopted by Senator McKenna.
Senator O’Flaherty inveighed against the fact that, under this bill, a person may be declared, not only because he is a Communist, but also because his activities are subversive. The honorable senator criticized the Government for not providing that a declared person shall have a right of appeal in respect of the allegation that he is engaged in subversive activities, hut the present provision was inserted as an additional protection. Under the Government’s proposals, the Crown cannot declare a person unless he is both a Communist and a person engaged in subversive activities. A declared person will have a free and unqualified right to apply to a court to set aside such a declaration. If the court is satisfied that he is not a Communist, the whole declaration will cease to have effect, not merely that part of it which alleges that he is a Communist. To criticize the bill because a declared person will not have a right of appeal in respect of the allegation that he is engaged in subversive activities is to miss the whole point. It is quite clear that if an applicant shows that he is not a Communist-
– He has got to show that he is not a Communist. The onus is on him.
– To state the position accurately, if a declared person gives evidence and the Crown cannot satisfy a court that he is a Communist, the declaration will be set aside - not only that part of it which declares him to be a Communist but also that part of it which declares that he is engaged in subversive activities. The declaration will cease to exist.
Let me clear away the misapprehension that Senator McKenna wished to create by his references to trial by jury. The honorable senator did not deny the proposition that if trial by jury were allowed, in most States one dissentient member of a jury would be sufficient to prevent the declaration from being upheld. He said that a government would be weak in administration if it could not scrutinize the political opinions of all the men who were called upon to serve on a jury or did not have them all “tabbed” sufficiently to know whether or not they were Communists or, presumably, good Labour men, typified by the 34 honorable senators opposite, who would in no circumstances give a verdict in favour of the Crown in proceedings brought under this measure. The honorable senator’s suggestion that the Government should scan political opinions to that degree reveals a trend of thought that is quite contrary to the proper administration of justice. I need not argue those details because honorable senators opposite have stated that they are not to be persisted in, and that a general election that was offered to them must not be entered upon. Senator Grant, with flowing hair and flowing speech, has stated to-day that he will fight the Communists wherever he finds thom. The fact is that although honorable senators opposite have been painfully conscious of this scourge for years, one of their leaders has prated about the Communists being simply exponents of a political philosophy. Another, who was a member of a Labour Ministry, has said that the precepts of communism are simply teachings of Christ. On election platforms last December, Labour supporters said, “ We do not believe m dissolving the Communist party. We think that that is a wrong approach “. Yet to-day they are all backing down. They must stand convicted of having resorted to all this camouflage, delay and obstruction which has occurred, solely for the benefit of the Communists. Senator Grant, who is apparently in the “ know “. has referred with apprehension to industrial trouble looming up on the horizon. He has predicted that Communists will still be influential enough, either with or without his aid or resistance, to foment industrial trouble. We are soon to witness a vote of honorable senators who indulged in idle boasts and foolish words. They arc going to forget all that they have said about the liberty of the subject, and to vote for this bill, which they have stated is an iniquitous interference with individual freedom. I submit that never before has this chamber witnessed a more despicable incident than the somersault of the Opposition senators, whom we now look down upon.
– Notwithstanding all of the epithets that have been hurled at the Opposition by
Senator “Wright, I have not changed my views on this matter. I cannot see any reason why I should retract any of my former statements.
– The honorable senator said that he would vote against the bill.
– All my life I have fought for free speech, the right of free assembly, and the right of minorities to express themselves. I am not one of those who believe that we should put a minority down because we disagree with its philosophy.
– Not even the Peace Council?
– If the honorable senator who has just interjected had any sense of responsibility at all she would advocate peace rather than war. By this measure honorable senators opposite, in the name of democracy, are attempting to introduce fascist methods into this country. For people to try to put a minority down by the rule of law because they do not like the views of the minority is tyrannical and oppressive.
– Does the honorable senator intend to vote for the bill ?
– I am not voting for it. I have not altered one iota. Honorable senators opposite get their “clap trap” from the newspapers; they do not think for themselves. I shall support democracy in its true sense. In my opinion certain clauses of the bill open the way to absolute persecution and are tyrannical and oppressive. Clause 9 reads -
– (1.) This section applies to any person - (a) who was, at any time after the specified date and before the date upon which the Australian Communist party is dissolved by this Act, a member or officer of the Australian Communist Party; or
I emphasize the words “ and that that person is engaged, or is likely to engage “ which appears in proposed subsection (2.). This savours of absolute’ persecution. How can any one know what is in another person’s mind? I contend; that that provision has been inserted in the measure solely for the purpose of persecution. The pimps will carry information to the gentlemen whose duty it will be to review it, and the person concerned will not even know what is taking place. If he is declared a notice will be published to that effect in the Commonwealth Gazette, and if he does not appeal within 28 days he will be branded. But not 2 per cent of the people of this country peruse the Gazette. The declaration will imply that the person declared is engaged, or is likely to engage, in activities prejudicial to the security and defence of Australia. Having been declared and branded as a traitor, a person must appeal to the court to try to have that stigma removed from his name. The point that legal members of the Government have continued to skip over is that a person will be charged, tried, and convicted without a hearing, and in fact without knowing it. A person would not know that he had been convicted unless he read the notice in the Gazette. Supporters of the Government claim that this is British justice ! Could there be any thing more tyrannical than such a proceeding? I assure the Senate that many people in this country deplore this provision. A lot of my friends have condemned it. Although honorable senators opposite may giggle, the friends to whom I have referred would be considered respectable people. Many of them are eminent in their respective callings. They are looked upon as people with great knowledge. In fact, many of them are engaged teaching our young people how to control the nation in the future. I assert that this bill is based upon persecution. Over 100 years ago Lord Macaulay stated -
To punish a man because he has committed a crime, is not persecution. To punish a man, because we infer from the nature of some doctrine which he holds, or from the conduct of other persons who hold the same doctrines with him, that he will commit a crime, is persecution, and is, in every case, foolish and wicked.
Professor Walter Murdoch, a respectable gentleman, who is considered to be an authority in these matters, was reported in the Melbourne Herald of the 24th June to have stated -
Not even Mr. Menzies, with all his eloquence, has succeeded or will succeed in converting me to the Communist faith. I have no doubt whatever that he has already converted some; and I feel certain that his little bill will help the Communist cause enormously . . . The Japanese, we know, had their way of dealing with political heretics, accusing them of ‘ dangerous thinking ‘. Under the present proposals, any one can bo accused of dangerous thinking, and called upon to prove that he doesn’t think dangerous thoughts . . . The idea of making the accused person prove his innocence, instead of making the accuser prove the truth of the accusation, is quite clearly repugnant to the British idea - which also happens to be the Australian idea - of justice, the idea which is the safeguard of freedom and the basis of democracy. We talk of subversive doctrines; surely if ever there was a subversive doctrine this is one. If ever there was dangerous thinking, this is dangerous thinking, dangerous to the democracy for which wo are striving. Speaking as a believer in democracy, I declare Mr. Menzies. You ask how I . . . would deal with the Communists. I would arrest them if they committed a crime. I would arrest them if they incited to violence. I would arrest them if they interfered with the defence of the country or betrayed state secrets to a foreign power.” For the rest, I would lot them alone. Damning and banning will only strengthen them in the long run.
The following statement that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 18th May was attributed to Professors Julius Stone, A. G. Mitchell, F. Cotton, W. M. O’Neill, and others-
We - ten professors and 23 readers and lecturers at the Sydney University - wish to make certain observations on the antiCommunist bill. In doing so we emphasize that none of us is associated with the Australian Communist Party … In particular ,the following provisions arc obnoxious to liberty . . . (1) The Governor-General . . can ‘ declare ‘ a person without giving that person an opportunity to be heard . . (2) It is quite unnecessary to the objectives of the bil] to extend the power of ‘ declaring ‘ persons, beyond persons who hold or have held office under the Commonwealth or in an industrial organization . . (3) The retrospective operation of the bill means that some people will lose their moans of livelihood because of activities which were perfectly lawful when they were carried out … (4) The drafting of section 7. - (1) Id), making ‘activities in the direct or indirect interest of an unlawful association ‘ a punishable offence is so wide and loose as to permit an absurd result.
The bill’s wide definition of a ‘ Communist ‘ combined with the burden-of-proof clauses, will provide a happy hunting-ground for malicious secret informers, a breed abhorrent to democracy.
Professor P. H. Partridge, Professor A. K. Stout, and 23 other professors, in a statement which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 22nd May last, also commented on this legislation. They are persons charged with the responsibility of educating the younger generation, and of moulding public opinion. This is what he said -
Like, the 33 signatories (above), we are wholly opposed to the aims and methods of the Communist party. We agree with their criticisms of the anti-Communist bill. But we must go further and protest against the bill as a whole . . .
The proper procedure in dealing with treasonable activities is to make overt acts or utterances illegal whoever commits them . . . It is impossible to define Communists so as not to involve others … A law of this type will act as a deterrent to free expression of opinion . . .
I have here another opinion, published over the names of Professor G. S. Brown, Professor R. D. Crawford, Professor R. D. Wright, who is a brother of Senator Wright, and a very eminent man, Professor E. E. Love and eight other professors of the University of Melbourne and two professors of the University of Sydney. This is what they say -
Neither Communists nor Communist sympathizers . . ., we, nevertheless, regard the anti-Communist bill as a dangerous and unwise method of opposing communism.
The bill departs from the fundamental democratic principles of constitutional and criminal law, in outlawing supporters of certain doctrines and associations rather than prosecuting definite actions directed against the State . . .
To ask what will happen when courts begin to inquire into these things is no idle question. This kind of investigation is happening daily in the United States, and seriously undermining the efficiency and security of public servants, and the freedom of academic teachers . . .
But . . . the main effect of the bill will be nut-side the courts. It may become the normal practice to interview applicants for any appointment, as to their political beliefs and associations … A sense of insecurity and fear may pervade all spheres of life . . .
My next quotation is from the Melbourne Argus, which no one can claim to bc sympathetic towards the Communist party. It is as follows: -
The legislation, if it goes through, will put us in a unique position on the extreme right of the English-speaking world …
There are two ways in which the destruction of communism may he attempted. The first is by ourselves becoming fellow-travellers of the fascists. The second is by making democracy work . . . the essential wrongness of the bill that public conscience which would certainly reject its controversial provisions if it were consulted . . .
I have here another quotation from a highly respectable sheet - in the eyes of honorable senators opposite - the Daily Mirror, of Sydney. In its issue of the 24th May it said -
Nothing was said during the elections that Menzies and his Government would proceed . . by methods similar to those used by the Gestapo . . . This newspaper will not support such methods of combating communism . . . The main horror of the bill is that … it takes from the citizen the right oi nial by jury, lt leaves a person answering charges levelled sit him from quarters of which he is ignorant; it makes smooth the path of a man’s private enemies or of public pimps; it brings into action paid informers; it makes possible espionage on the citizen . . .
There can be no quibbling about the principles involved in this issue. The onus of proof must be on the Crown, there must be trial by jury, and the usual avenues of appeal left open . . .
Here is a resolution passed by some friends of mine, the Amalgamated Postal Workers of Australia -
That .this union will oppose any action that may bo taken to interfere with the registered rules of an organization or depriving them of the right to elect officers by secret ballot of the financial membership in accordance with the rules as accepted and registered under th’e provisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1004-11)48.
The next quotation, which is from a statement issued by the Federal and State Public Service Association, and Essential Services Council, of which Mr. E. G. Cook is president, is as follows: -
This Council upholds .the basic functions of trade unions, including professional and clerical officers’ associations, to . . . exercise the right to elect their own officers without outside interference. The Council condemns any legislation which would undermine these rights and threats to take away these rights . . .
A further quotation is from a statement issued by the religious society known as Friends, or Quakers, of Melbourne -
Our objection is to the hill as a whole, though we join in with many other organiza- tions in regarding the onus-of-proof clause as its most objectionable feature . . .
Democracy implies the right to make mistakes and to learn from them; the bill denies unionists this right and puts them into the position of children who cannot be trusted to choose for themselves. The bill can permit any militant unionist, whether or not he is an actual member of the Communist party, to be declared a Communist and incapable of holding office. But there were had strikes and militant union leaders before the Communist party: we suggest that banning this party does not necessarily ban serious industrial unrest rather we believe it may increase it . . .
I have quoted the opinions of some of the most eminent men in Australia, who have viewed this matter through democratic glasses, not fascist ones. Honorable senators sniggered when I said that I proposed to quote from a statement by some friends of mine. They immediately jumped to conclusions.
– What friends did the honorable senator think we had in mind?
– The honorable senator knows what was in his mind. 1 claim to be a democrat, and a tolerant butat that. I believe that every member of the community has a right to express himself, and to associate with others provided they do not break the law. If they do, they should be dealt with in accordance with the law. We have been told that the Communist party has broken the law. The whole justification for this bill is based on the recitals in the preamble. Either those recitals are true or they are not. If they are true, there is ample power under the infamous Crimes Act to deal with the Communist party and its members.
– Does the honorable senator believe that they are true?
– It has never been proved that they are true; therefore, I believe them to be untrue.
– Is the honorable senator going to vote against the bill?
– Honorable senators opposite know where I stand. There is no ambiguity about my position.
– The honorable senator would not ban the Communists at all.
– I would ban no minority. I would give the members of every minority the right to express themselves, no matter what political philosophy they hold. All my life I have fought for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to organize. To ban a person because one cannot meet him in argument is a confession of weakness. If I could not meet a person’s argument I should be prepared to say, “ All right, you win “. Let us now consider the various recitals in the preamble to the bill. The first is as follows: -
And Whereas the Australian Communist Party, in accordance with the basic theory of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin . . .
What is the theory of communism as expounded by Marx and Lenin? In his works, Marx merely analysed the capitalist system, and pointed out where it must lead to. In fact, he predicted the very things that the Government is trying to do to-day. He said that capitalism, in its death struggle, would do everything it could to defeat democracy. The first recital continues -
Section 3 of the Crimes Act provides as follows : - (1.) The following are hereby declared to be unlawful associations, namely: -
Any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, which by its constitution or propaganda or otherwise advocates or encourages -
If the Communist party is guilty of what is charged against it, why has not the Government taken action under section 30 of the Crimes Act? The Government has not taken action because it has no proof. Under the Crimes Act, a conviction can be obtained only if the charge is proved. Under this proposed legislation no proof is required. The next paragraph of the preamble states -
And Whereas the Australian Communist Party also engages in activities or operations designed to bring about the overthrow or dislocation of the established system of government of Australia and the attainment of economic, industrial or political ends by force, violence, intimidation or fraudulent practices:
That paragraph is covered by section 30 (c) of the Crimes Act, which is as follows : -
Any person who by speech or writing advocates or encourages -
the overthrow of the Constitution of the Commonwealth by revolution or sabotage ;
the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of a State or of any other civilized country or of organized government; or
the destruction or injury of property of the Commonwealth or of property used in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for any period not exceeding two years, and in addition (if he was not born in Australia) to deportation by order of the Attorney-General as provided in this Act.
We come now to the next paragraph of the preamble, which reads -
And Whereas the Australian Communist Party is an integral part of the world Communist revolutionary movement, which, in the King’s dominions and elsewhere, engages in espionage and sabotage and in activities or operations of a treasonable or subversive nature and also engages in activities or operations similar to those, or having an object similar to the object of those, referred to in the last two preceding paragraphs of this preamble:
Section 30aa (1.) of the Crimes Act declares the following to be unlawful associations : -
The next recital in the bill provides -
And whereas activities or operations of, or encouraged by, the Australian Communist Party, and activities or operations of,, or encouraged by, members or officers of that party and other persons who are communists, are designed to cause; by means of- strikes or stoppages of work, and Iia ve, by those means, caused, dislocation, disruption, or retardation of production or work in these vital industries.
That is the main provision of this measure. Why is that? It is the main provision because the Government is preparing to protect the people who secured its election to this Parliament. I refer to the monopolies of this country. This bill is not a drive at the Communist party. It is a drive at the trade union movement of Australia. That movement has become so well organized, and the struggle so fierce, that honorable senators opposite are using the Parliament as a means of defending the exploiting class, and downing the workers.
– Why does the honorable senator chair Communist party meetings ?
– Any man who says that I chair Communist party meetings is an unmitigated liar. If the honorable senator makes that claim, then he is a liar.. Not only members of the Communist party can be declared under this measure. The definition of the term “‘Communist” is so wide tha.t almost any member of the community could be declared. Few people do not believe in at least some of the teachings of Marx or Lenin. For instance, Marx advocates free education, the extension of electricity services, the prevention of soil erosion, and many other similar reforms. When this measure becomes law, any trade union that becomes a worry to the people who stand behind the present Government can be declared to be a Communist organization. The whole purpose of the bill is to disorganize the trade union movement. The Government’s fight against the Communists is a sham and a bluff, but the Government will not get away with it. The bill is not aimed at the 12,000 Communists, but at the trade union movement of this country. Honorable senators opposite talk about securing the co-operation of the Opposition. In effect, they are appealing to us to cooperate with them in their efforts to exploit the workers of this country.
Senator McCallum said that the Opposition was controlled by an outside junta. In 1935, that honorable senator, then a member of the Labour party, read a paper to the Summer School of Political Science in Melbourne, containing the following interesting passage: -
The pressure of large property-owners can he made manifest, if other methods fail, by the giving or withholding of party funds. The Hon. D. E. Hall has given convincing evidence, in his paper, of the enormously increased cost of elections since the Commonwealth began, and of the consequent dependence of candidates on party funds. Whence come those funds? Not, to any appreciable extent, from the small annual subscriptions of members of political leagues. They come from wealthy men whose wealth will be increased if certain policies are adopted, and diminished if certain other policies are pursued. “ Business is business “.
These are the people who talk about outside juntas! The paper goes on -
Is it feasible that business men put money into campaign funds at the prompting of unbusinesslike motives? I do not know the precise conditions on: which large donations are made to party funds. But does, any sane person believe that a Prime Minister calls into council the best aud wisest men he can. find, considers every conflicting interest in the Commonwealth with god-like detachment, lays down a policy, and that the money that is to pay for radio, press, platform, and election transport thereupon drops like manna from a heaven inhabited solely by public-spirited, wealthy archangels ?
Senator McCallum went on further to say ;
Many honest poor people support the U.A.P., as they supported its Conservative predecessors, and will support its successors, because they think it stands for great traditions and for sound government.
But behind them stand the great propertied interests of the country. It cannot be contended ‘seriously that, at the present moment, any great group of business interests would oppose the U.A.P. Party. The manufacturers have had a fleeting alliance with Labour. Certain other special ‘business interests, such a.s’ the brewers, and a few buccaneer entrepreneurs, have shown favour to. Labour. But
Mie importers, the wholesale traders, the great retail business men, the manufacturers, the private banks and the insurance companies stand solidly as the economic foundation of the Conservative core in the U.A.P.
We need pay little attention to the U.A.P. political machine. Unlike the Labour machine, it is not intended to be an instrument of government. It is a weapon to win elections. There are leagues, conferences, platforms, and so on; but the political leaders disregard these at will. If there is an outside body controlling, or even seriously influencing, U.A.P. policy, it is neither the elected Executive, nor the enrolled members of the party.
I believe there is an outside influence, which applies continuous pressure to the political leaders of the United Australia Party. The existence of a body called the Consultative Council in Sydney, and of similar bodies in other capitals, may or may not be evidence. Even if the Consultative Council were a coterie of philanthropists, interested in nothing but the welfare of their less fortunate brethren, no serious student of politics could doubt that the interests of large-scale businesses are placed before U.A.P. party leaders expressly with the intention of influencing policy. And the views thus presented, so quietly yet so persuasively, represent the interest primarily of the great property -owners as distinct from the interests of small property-owners and of wage-earners. It is true that these three different sets of interests sometimes coincide; it is equally true that sometimes they do not.
The United Australia Party was, of course, the forerunner of the Liberal party, .and yet honorable senators opposite talk about outside juntas! In that paper, Senator McCallum revealed just what goes on inside the Liberal party, and who controls it. Obviously, it is controlled by property owners and big financiers.
Senator Vincent said that this bill was a defence measure. For once. I agree with him; but, what is it a defence against ? It is not for the defence of this country; it is for the defence of those members of the community who secured the election of the present Government. The bill is an endeavour to draw the teeth of the trade unions, so that the workers may be rendered defenceless. The bill is a part of a plan that has been already laid down. Even now, there is a claim before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for increased working hours and a reduction of wages. Those claims have been lodged by the people whom this bill seeks to defend.
My attitude towards this bill has not changed in the slightest. I am still a true democrat. I am still tolerant. I still believe in giving to minorities the right to express themselves, .and to organize, provided, as I have said, that they do not break the law.
– The honorable senator will vote against the bill?
– I will not vote for it. It is a putrid measure that smells in the nostrils of all decent people. Having applied that description to it, I certainly shall not vote for it. We have seen measures like this before. Senator Grant told us about some of them. I shall cite other examples. A measure similar to this was introduced in Ireland many years ago, and what happened there? The people who introduced it were annihilated. The czars introduced similar measures. Their fate is a matter of history. Mussolini introduced similar legislation, and what happened to him? He was hanged in a most undignified position alongside his mistress. Hitler, too, another sponsor of totalitarian legislation, met a violent death. His anti-Communist bill was followed, in a matter of a few weeks, by an antisocialist bill, by means of which the German equivalent of the Labour party was suppressed. Finally, Hitler was afraid to face the music, and shot himself. His Japanese counterpart, Tojo, was hanged by the Allies as a war criminal. Chiang Kai-shek is hopping from island to island, keeping just one jump ahead of the democratic Chinese. Almost every politician who has acted in the way this Government is acting to-day has ultimately become the victim of those whom he sought to suppress. I fear that the same may happen in this country. This bill is tyrannical, oppressive, and reeks of persecution. It will not accomplish what the Government expects of it. Australians will not stand for legislation of this kind. If the Government believes that it can increase production by placing this measure on the statute-book, it is making a great mistake. We should thank it for having introduced the bill which will awaken the people to a realization of the forces that are behind the Government. A bill of this kind should never have been introduced in any legislature in this country.
Debate (on motion by Senator Spooner) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This very important measure deals with the reconstruction of the Commonwealth Bank, it provides for the repeal of an act under which it was proposed that banking should be nationalized, and it deals with the reconstruction of the Commonwealth Bank Board. Although it is of great importance, I do not think honorable senators will regard me as discourteous if I do not speak at great length on the motion for its second reading. I do not intend to do so because when a bill in identically similar terms was previously before the Senate the second-reading debate on it was extremely lengthy. The original bill was also exhaustively considered at the committee stage. There should be general agreement with my view that the extent to which the original of this bill was previously debated leaves little room for any new thoughts on the subject.
The bill now before the Senate contains three proposals: first, the repeal of the Banking Act 1947, which aimed at nationalization of banking; secondly, the provision of additional capital for the trading sections of the Commonwealth Bank; and, thirdly, the reconstitution of the Commonwealth Bank Board. The arguments on the original bill turned largely on the nature and constitution of the Commonwealth Bank Board. The Opposition view was that the board should be composed of permanent officials with direct responsibility to the Treasurer. The Government took the view that the board should consist partly of permanent officials and partly of men with outside experience. The Government decided that a formula should be provided whereunder, in the event of disagreement between the directors of the bank and the Treasurer, the matters in dispute should be ventilated in the Commonwealth Parliament. I do not propose to re-traverse that field of argument. If it is necessary for me to do so, I shall do so in my reply to the second-reading debate. As a bill in identical terms was passed through this Senate in a few minutes some days ago, this bill will, I hope, also be expediously dealt with and that there will be no need for me to make a lengthy speech in reply to the secondreading debate.
This bill represents a portion of the Government’s well-balanced financial programme. In effect, it provides that the broad structure of the Commonwealth Bank shall remain unchanged but that the bank will be strengthened in . all its various departments. It provides that there shall be collective responsibility for the determination of policy. That objective will be achieved by the reestablishment of a board consisting of men with wide knowledge and experience, who will ensure the integration of the economic and financial policy of the bank with the economic and financial policy of the nation without impairing the independence of the bank. That policy will . be determined by the board, but the day-to-day administration of the bank will continue to be left in the hands of the Governor of the bank. The bill recognizee the principle that ultimate responsibility for the monetary and banking policy of the nation lies with the Parliament and at the same time it preserves the effective working relationship between the Government and the bank. Under the bill provision is made for additional capital for the trading sections of the bank, thu3 enabling them to continue to offer to the community services which are used to develop the Australian economy. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ashley) adjourned.
– In 1946, the people of Australia sent eighteen senators into this chamber and charged them with the duty of sharing in the Government of this country. In 1949, they again sent 42 senators into this chamber and charged them with a similar duty, directing them to apply themselves to their tasks, to make their own decisions, and to be prepared to honour their obligations. In travelling around the country I have observed that one of the things that is worrying the people to-day is the fact that in some instances the conduct of the business of the Parliament is dictated, not by the elected representatives of the people, but by a body which has no allegiance to the electors of Australia. That fact was exemplified by the decision made by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party on Monday last in relation to Labour’s attitude to this bill. To-day we hear about the great Australian Labour party. Earlier it was known as the Australian Labour party. The new title is & clear indication of the split that has recently riven the party. The claim that only trade unionists have the right to decide the policy of the great Australian Labour party is a very different story from what we have previously been told in this chamber. An analysis of the voting figures at the last general election reveals that the number of voters who cast their votes in favour of candidates of the Australian Labour party was very much in excess of the total number of trade unionists in this country. The party now has little or no concern for the great mass of the people who supported its candidates at the last general election, and naturally many people do not know where they stand. History tells us that on one occasion a cock crowed three times before a great betrayal, and history has a strange habit of repeating itself. Yesterday, twelve men betrayed a great political movement. For months honorable senators opposite have crowed, saying that this bill would not be allowed to pass. The average Australlian respects a person who fights cleanly, irrespective of whether he agrees with him or not. A great mass of the people of Australia will look on the Labour party’s most recent betrayal as one of the greatest acts of cowardice that has ever been perpetrated by a political party. Opposition senators have accused tiri 3 Government of cowardice. I fling the lie back into their teeth. If the Government were as bad as honorable senators opposite would have the people believe, and if it were not worthy to govern them, the remedy lay in the hands of the Opposition. If Opposition senators had had the courage to vote, against this bill, they would have had an opportunity to face their masters without delay. They did not have the courage of their convictions. After all the vain talk and the sham-fighting, the Opposition senators hide behind a decision that other men have made. Yet they claim to be democratic. Could hypocrisy or cowardice go further? There are many men in the ranks of the Australian Labour party who are sore and many who consider it a grievous thing that they are not allowed to fight on against this bill. The members of the public know that the Labour party is not happy about the attitude it has taken. If they say we are not happy about it, they could have put us out of our misery long ago had they desired to do so.
– We prefer to let the Government stew in its misery for a little longer.
– The Labour party preferred to take the easy way out. The only conclusion to which I can come is that the members of the Labour party in this chamber desire to shed their mantle of protection over the Communist party. The suppression of the Communist party is a, matter of vital concern to the people and they gave their decision on it on the 10th December last. It is remarkable that honorable senators who talk so much about their great love for democracy should, when the people give a decision contrary to their views, say that the people cannot be trusted and that they have not the brains to form a judgment for themselves. How often have we heard that statement reiterated in this Parliament by honorable senators opposite! The fact is that they are not prepared to accept the people’s judgment, whatever it may be. We hear a great deal about these champions of the workers, but I have never yet known one of them to die of overwork.
Honorable senators opposite have said that this bill represents an infringement of British justice. There is nothing wrong with British justice, and this measure does not depart from its old established principles. Something has also been said about the bill bearing no analogy to any other law of this land. The words that I now read appear in the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act 1949, section 11 -
Where an organization has committed an offence against this Act, every person who, at the time of the commission of the offence, was a member of the committee of management, or an officer, of the organization or of a branch of the organization shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence, unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he used all due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence, and shall, upon conviction, be punishable by a fine not exceeding One hundred pounds or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both.
That legislation was put on the statutehook, not by the Liberal party or the Australian Country party, but by the Chifley Government.
– That provision has since been removed.
– A remarkable fact which I cannot quite reconcile is that some months ago there were introduced into this chamber many amendments to this bill. Why hus the Australian Labour party dropped its amendments overboard ? The public will require to know the answer to that question. Much discussion has also ensued concerning the onus of proof provisions of the bill, but I have never yet discovered that an innocent man has anything to fear. If I believed the bill in any way infringed British justice I would be one of the first to oppose it, but there is nothing in it that interferes with British law and justice. If a man is not guilty of any of the offences which might be alleged against him, he has merely to go into the box and say he is not guilty. The Crown then has to prove its case, and no judge of the Supreme Court or High Court would convict a man unless the evidence were produced to convict him.
– The honorable senator is misrepresenting the facts.
– That is a correct statement of the facts, and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) knows it is correct. [Quorum formed.’] After all the shadow-sparring and the great travail of the past few months we can at least now see some motive behind the actions of the Opposi tion. I sum up the position by saying that the Opposition is unwilling to accept the will of the people which was made known last December. It wishes to bring down the Menzies Government, and although it had the opportunity to do that, it shirked the issue. If the Menzies Government is brought down it will mean chaos and disaster for every one in Australia. This Government stands for prosperity, peace and good government for all, but prosperity for all would be a genuine grief to the Australian Labour party. Because honorable senators opposite know that that aim will be attained, in an effort to cause chaos they oppose this bill. At least, I suppose honorable senators opposite will oppose it. They said they would.
– We are now reaching the final stages of what is, in my opinion, one of the most important pieces of legislation ever introduced into this Parliament. Both here and in the House of Representatives thousands of words have been uttered for it and against it. The Labour Opposition in the Senate has made known to Australia and to the rest of the world its opinion of this bill. It has fought the measure tooth and claw, but it has now reached the stage where, on further examination, it has been decided that a tactical move shall be made. Whilst acknowledging our loyalty to our party, to the Parliament, and to the people, we have decided that it would be in the interests of the Australian Labour party temporarily to let the Government have the bill, to put ii. into operation and see what occurs in the future. Members of the Australian Labour Party have been chided about their loyalty to the people. The party owes a great loyalty to the people of Australia and that loyalty has been exemplified on many occasions, right from the inception of the party. It has had to take a. realistic view on many occasions, as was instanced during the term of the Scullin Government and, at the present time, by this decision on the recommendation of its federal executive. The members of the Australian Labour party are loyal to that executive, whether they believe it has acted correctly or not. They are also loyal to their leaders and to the Parliament. They have attended this Parliament and have presented, when required by the people, the greatest opposition to this bill that they could muster.
In this chamber we have heard many great speeches while this bill has been under discussion. We have heard, too, the iniquitous clauses denounced one by one. Prior to the decision of the federal executive, the Opposition insisted on the amendment of clauses 5 and 9, dealing with declared organizations and individuals respectively, in order to ensure that the onus of proof should rest on the Crown. Those clauses were fought in the name of the law and of decency. The Opposition also insisted that declared individuals and organizations should be given the right to be tried by a jury. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber presented the finest legal and moral arguments against the bill bf which they were capable. They declared that the legislation should provide that an individual who was successful in having the declaration set aside should be entitled to Costs and such compensation as the court deemed fitting in the circumstances. They considered all those things of major importance to the community. Because the Australian Labour party has now decided, as a tactical move, temporarily to forego its insistence on its amendments to the proposed legislation, there have been comments from the Government benches about discipline and leadership. I believe in discipline and leadership, even though I may not always agree with my leaders, because as a subordinate I consider it is a right and a duty to follow my elected leaders. I do not like discipline, because I have a free and independent mind, but I have subjected myself to the discipline that the great Australian Labour party demands of each of its members. I accept the decisions that are made, irrespective of whether I agree with them. That is discipline. In the same way, I accepted discipline in the military forces. I was under an obligation to the Army, and I accepted the discipline that i+ imposed upon me. On many occasions I considered that decisions were wrong and leadership faulty, but I obeyed. I accepted the decisions that were made. In accepting this decision of our executive, I hold the view that it will eventually be for the benefit of all. We shall see very shortly what happens when the Government attempts to put this legislation into operation.
The word “ democracy “ is often used in this Parliament by members of the Government parties, but I have not yet seen a practical example of democracy by this Government. We have been told that the principle of democracy is the rule of the majority and the greatest good for the greatest number. We have seen various kinds of democracy in operation. There is the American system of capitalistic democracy and the British system. Great Britain has refused to have anything to do with a bill of this kind. It is pulling itself up by its shoestrings economically, physically, socially and morally. Doubtless it will rise again and set an example to the world. Let us consider the party system of government that is in operation in Australia now. One great political party, the Australian Labour party, is, unfortunately, in opposition in this Parliament. The Government consists of a coalition of the Australian Country party and the Liberal party, which are joined together in an uneasy marriage of convenience. In relation to the revaluation of our currency, a minority in the Government is imposing its will upon the majority. The Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), who is also the Leader of the Australian Country party, has said that the Australian £1 will be appreciated only over his dead body.
The Government will get its bill, and we shall see what happens then. We shall soon know whether this measure will be the answer to all our troubles. I have no time for Communists, and I have fought them wherever I have found them. I believe that the noisy nuisances in Australia are not the real Communists, and that there must be a great directing force behind them. The Government has named only Communists who are militant trade unionists. It has not named Communists in the legal and medical professions. Those militant trade unionists were elected to their positions by , a majority of the members of their unions. They were elected, not by accident but because of their ability and the force of their personality. They were elected because they were efficient. The history of the Australian trade union movement shows that at one time many of our great trade unions were disorganized and stagnating because those who ran them were inefficient and lazy. They were superceded by strong, virile and active men. Admittedly, they were Communists, but they were elected not because they were Communists but because they were efficient. I am a practical trade unionist, f have lived in fo’c’sles of ships with Communists, and I know a little about what communism is and what its effects are. It has applied the spur to some lazy members of our movement, but I shall fight the Communists because I believe that they are disloyal and dishonest, although I realize that a great number of trade unionists follow the Browns, Healeys and Elliotts, because those men secured many advantages for them. Senator Kendall is an. ex-seaman. He knows that the seamen fought for and secured improved working conditions and safety precautions. For example, ships’ lifeboats are now better designed and more adequately equipped than they were previously. On one occasion my discharge was taken from me because I was guilty of the simple act of smoking in a shed on a wharf. Many others did that, but I was an able boy and they did not like me very much because I was outspoken. Vow I have grown out of those things. My vision has widened. I have a better knowledge of men and world affairs than I had then. I am convinced that this bill will not kill communism. I do not like communism and I hate Communists, but r believe that communism in Australia is not real communism. If the Australian Communists were real Communists, they would follow the example of the Russian Communists and get on with the job of increasing the productivity of the State, “bich is something that the Russians insist upon. The Australian Communists believe that they are following the Communist line, but they are not doing so. T do not know whether they themselves really know what line they are following, because if they had any conception of the real background of communism, which is the development of the State, they would do something about developing the mag- nificent resources that we have in Australia.
We have heard a lot about loyalty and the oath taken by senators. Senator McCallum referred to the oath that we on this side of the chamber took when we entered the Senate, and said that we had not honoured our responsibilities as members of the Parliament. I am pleased and privileged to be here to-day and able to do my humble bit in the interests of this country and the people who sent me here. 1 am loyal to them. When I became a senator, I swore that I would be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King George VI., his heirs and successors according to law. When I took that oath, I was sincere, and I still am, as is every other honorable senator on this side of the chamber. I have nothing to do with outside juntas or anything like that. I am loyal to the Parliament. I am regular in my attendance in this chamber. I observe its rules and respect its traditions. I have never been thrown out. I have always obeyed the umpire and have never been ordered off the field for a breach of the rules. I consider myself, in my own humble way, to be as loyal as is anybody else. There are many persons in this country who have conscientious objections to taking an oath, and some of them fought and died in the forces in the last war. It is not the jelly-bellied flag flappers who are the great patriots of this country, but the practical men who get on with the joh and do things in their own quiet way. The cumulative effect of their efforts means a. great deal in our community life.
I speak from experience when I say that the task of the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) and the security service will not be an enviable one. They will encounter all kinds of difficulties and will have to accept many responsibilities. They will have to give decisions in complicated cases. I urge the Attorney- ‘ General to ensure that the men selected for this job will have some basic training and know what they are required to do. If they do not have the necessary experience, much hardship will be caused and there will be unnecessary dislocation of industry. To do the job properly, we shall have to utilize the services of some of the most tolerant, able and experienced men, not only in the legal profession but also in the industrial sphere. During the last war, the military forces tried hard to control communism, and they had some very able men working for them, but they made many mistakes. On some occasions industry was on the point of dislocation, but, fortunately, the services sought the co-operation of men who had a knowledge of industry, of psychology and of trade union leaders. That co-operation was given wholeheartedly. We all know of the great production which we achieved during the war and of the help that the government of the day received from trade union leaders then. We are now passing through a period in which conditions are almost akin to war conditions, and we shall need the cooperation of everybody to overcome our difficulties. We are very short of bodies - hands, feet, minds and energy. If we pull a man out of industry by acting upon some supposition or accepting some tale, we shall decrease our production. 1 cannot see how production would be automatically increased by removing a man from the leadership of a trade union. In many instances, it is better to have the devil we know than the devil we do not know. If we drive those devils underground, we may cause a lot of trouble.
As Senator Wright has said, the die is cast. It is obvious from the sad faces of honorable senators opposite that they are dismayed at the difficulties and dangers to which this bill will give rise. More venom has been injected into the debate that has taken place to-day than was injected into previous debates on this bill, and I believe that honorable senators opposite are chagrined and angry because they realize that, tactically, they have been outwitted. They know that the Government must now do the things that it said it could do, and they are worried. I should be worried if I were in their place.
Senator Wright indulged in an extraordinary outburst against Senator McKenna. It was a case of abuse versus logic. I ascribe Senator Wright’s outburst to legal jealousy. Senator McKenna presented a reasoned argument, but Senator Wright indulged in a condemnation of a man’s personal view that he should accept the decision of the majority - a decision that will be confirmed by our party at a later date.
A great deal has been said about what happens outside the Parliamentary Labour party and reference has been made to the Federal and State executives of the party. I shall direct the attention of the Senate to what has happened outside the Parliament in relation to the Liberal party. According to a report published in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 28th March, 1950, a motion criticizing the Commonwealth Bank Bill that is now before the Parliament was narrowly defeated at a meeting of the New South Wales State Council of the Liberal party held on the 27th March. One of the members of the council condemned Dr. Coombs as a product of the London School of Economics, which he described as one of the most vile training grounds in the British Empire. The Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) rallied to the defence of Dr. Coombs. Addressing this outside body, which is similar to the body that he criticized us for having listened to, he said -
If the Council debates this ill-informed motion, it will not be doing the right thing by the Liberal party of Australia. The bill is before Parliament and has been approved by the Liberal and Country parties. We have introduced it because it is in the interests of the Australian people. Mr. Jago’s attack on Dr. Coombs is a direct reflection on our own parliamentary leader, who made statements that Dr. Coombs would be made Governor of the bank.
A delegate to the conference then said -
This debate is such dynamite that it should be dropped so that our Cabinet friends will not be embarrassed.
That is an example of what happens in an outside organization connected with the Liberal party.
Let me turn to the Australian Country party. The newspaper article that I am about to read relates to the incident when the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Charles Russell) walked out of the Australian Country party room. It reads as follows: -
” Whatever may be Mr. C. Russell’s personal views on revaluation, he has an absolute obligation, both to this party and to the people who elected him for Maranoa, to be at his post of duty at Canberra when vital legislation is before Parliament.”
That was a directive which came from an outside body, and at an outside place, in the same way as the direction that came to the Opposition, which honorable senators opposite have criticized during their attacks to-night. The following paragraph also appeared in the newspaper article : -
Mr. Fadden said Mr. Russell had left Canberra without advising hmself, as leader, and without having arranged with the Whip for a pair at the time when the Banking Bill’s final stages were being debated, and voted on by Parliament.
There is also a reference in the newspaper article to Mr. Russell’s obligations to the Australian Country party.
– He is still a member of the Australian Country party, because he has not been expelled. I contend that Senator Kendall, Senator Wright, or any other supporter of the Government in this chamber could not have been elected to the Senate in the absence of an obligation on his part to a political party. Surely honorable senators opposite would not suggest that they could have obtained election to the Senate on their own initiative, and by their own resources alone, and without incurring an obligation to a political party.
– Nobody has suggested that we could.
– ‘Supporters of the Government have made continual references to members of the Australian Labour party in this chamber having an obligation to the federal executive of that party. We have acknowledged our obligation in that respect, and have acted sincerely.
– The Opposition is comprised of “ yes-men “.
– We are trying to do the right thing. The following words of Thoreau seem to me to be appropriate : - “Do you ever hear of a man who .has striven nil his life faithfully and singly towards an object, and in no measure obtained it? If a man constantly aspires, is he not elevated? Did ever a man try heroism, toleration, truth, sincerity, and find there was no advantage in them, that it was a vain endeavour? No!
The Australian Labour party has done its best to take the teeth out of this legislation, in order to make it acceptable. We have tackled this matter realistically, and have accepted the decision of a democratically elected organization within our party, which has recommended to us that we should adopt a certain course of action. Whether or not we believe that that is the right course, it will be accepted. There will come a time, in the not-far-distant future, when the reins of government will be again in our hands, and these things can be altered. We look forward to that time, strong in our belief that the people, realizing the combined effects of this legislation, and the lack of any intention to implement the policy that the present Government “ put across “ the people on the 10th December last, will see that their choice was unwise. Admittedly, Labour was too complacent. However, the people will have an opportunity to right their mistake. I am convinced that they will seize that opportunity to return Labour to office, so that this country will be run as it should be run.
– .Unfortunately for supporters of the Government the Labour party has landed on its feet. Senator Murray has said that we on this side of the chamber appear to be very glum. I assure him that his observation was correct. Nothing would have suited us .better than to have met the members of the Labour party on the hustings in order to show the people of Australia the real position. I am convinced that we should have been returned to this chamber with such a large majority that it would have taken probably nine years for the Labour party to have regained anything like its present strength in the Senate. The honorable senator has also suggested that members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party owe to their respective executives an obligation similar to the obligation that honorable senators opposite owe to the Australian Labour party. In other words, he implied that we are bound to vote on any measure in accordance with the direction of our executive. I point out that our executive leaves the decision in the hands of the members elected to the Parliament. Although the federal executive of the Australian Labour party has directed the Opposition in this chamber to allow the passage of this measure, honorable senators opposite have continued to oppose it, all the time knowing that they must obey their masters when the matter is put to the vote.
– Supporters of the Government have to obey their masters, who are the big business people of this country.
– This afternoon Senator McKenna, speaking for all of the members of the Australian Labour party in this chamber, said that the Opposition would vote to allow the Government to have the bill. I remind the Senate that when the bill was introduced in this chamber, the Opposition opposed it clause by clause - -
– The honorable senator is telling lies.
– Both Government and Opposition amendments were subsequently incorporated in the measure, but the Opposition still avowed that it would not pass the bill in its present form, particularly as it still contains the onus of proof provision. However, honorable senators opposite have performed a complete political somersault. Their masters have spoken, and they will now allow the bill through. This is the absolute end of the opposition of the’ Labour party. It is for that reason that we are glum. Labour realized towards the end of last year that it would be defeated at the pending general election. Therefore, the executive of the Australian Labour party decided that the Labour majority in the Senate must be retained at all costs.
– The honorable senator owes his election to this chamber to the legislation of the former Government.
– I do not doubt that the system of proportional representation for Senate elections was decided upon by the Australian Labour party only after many meetings and. in order to preserve its majority in this chamber.
– It is- a good system.
– I agree that the system of proportional representation is sound, but I consider that it should have been applied in a more logical manner than it was. In fairness to the electors of this country, there should have been a complete Senate election at the last general election.
– The honorable senator’s remarks have nothing to do With the anti-Communist legislation.
– I am merely pointing out the reason why there has been so much debate on this measure. I recall that a prominent member of the Australian Labour party said to me shortly after my arrival at Parliament House in February last, “ When we hit, we hit hard “. I replied, “ I hope that you can hit hard when you do hit “. By a strange coincidence, we were travelling together in the same aircraft recently, when I had the pleasure of saying to him, “ The time has come for you to watch us, because when we hit, we hit very hard “. Senator Morrow has stated that he believes in the freedom of the press, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of thought. But does he believe in the freedom of the vote? However, much as honorable senators opposite should like to vote on this measure, in accordance with their expressed views in this chamber, they will twist completely, and they will vote as the. federal executive of the Australian Labour party has decreed that they shallvote.
– So what?
– I suspect that honorable senators opposite will crawl back so far into their shells that they will imagine that they are perfectly safe.’ However, they may be assured that, should they again seek fight, the Government will have an appropriate answer ready for them.
– Order ! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Civil Aviation - R. E. Gillman. Supply - D. G. Collingwood.
Nauru - ‘
Orders - 1948 - No. 1 - Judiciary Ordinance - Rules of Court (Admission of Barristers and Solicitors). 1949 - No. 1 - Quarantine (Animals) Regulations.
Ordinances - 1948 - No. 2 - Judiciary.
No. 1- Oaths.
No. . 2 - Marriages.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 October 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1950/19501017_senate_19_209/>.