19th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the fact that the control of price* of commodities, including beef, is a matter that comes under State administration, can the Minister representing the Prime Minister advise the Senate: (1) Whether the Queensland Government is a participant in the beef and pork production project in. Queensland ; (2) whether the Queensland Government sells its cattle at prices that would enable cheap meat to be made available to the people,, or by auction on the open market; and (3) whether the Queensland Government charges less for the live-stock in which it is interested than the best price obtainable by auction?
– I am not in a position to answer in detail the questions asked by the honorable senator. I understand that the Queensland Labour Government is a party to the project to which he has referred and also that it sells its beef on the open market at the best obtainable price.’ If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper I shall furnish a detailed reply.
– In view of the fact that several of the heavy industries in Newcastle have bad to slacken work owing to the shortage of steel, will the Government direct the Joint Coal Board to make available increased supplies of coal to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited so that the production of raw steel may be increased and these heavy industries may be kept in full operation?
– One of the principal objectives of the bill which the Labour party has delayed for the last six months is to provide an increased supply of coal, so that additional quantities of steel maybe made available to the Australian economy. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper I shall give him a considered reply.
– In the event of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill becoming an act and subsequently being declared ultra vires by the High Court of Australia, what steps does the Government propose to take to give effect to the purposes of the legislation?
– The honorable senator’s question is based on a hypothesis. As I indicated yesterday, there is no guarantee that the masters outside the Parliament of the Labour senators who sit in the Parliament may not Again change their minds and direct them to oppose the bill. If, or when, what the honorable senator has suggested happens, the Government will consider what action it should take.
–I ask the Leader of the Government whether, in view of reports in this morning’s newspapers that it is the intention of the Communist party and various other organizations to appeal to the High Court in order to prevent the Government from implementing the provisions of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950, it is the intention of the Government to use the Crimes Act in order to overcome its difficulties?
– Many results may follow the delay in putting theComniunist Party Dissolution Bill into effect. One definite result is that the Australian Labour party, by its opposition to the bill, has afforded the Communist party a six months’ amnesty within which it has been able to do all manner of things to protect itself from the possible application of the legislation. As to the balance of the honorable senator’s question, it deals with a purely hypothetical case, and I am not in a position to answer it.
SenatorCAMERON.- Has the leader of the Government in the Senate read the statement in the leading article in yesterday’s edition of the Argus - which is a non-Labour publication - that a “wholly obnoxious reversal of British judicial procedure, throwing the onus of proof of innocence on persons accused under the anti-red bill, is being written into the Australian law “ ? If so, does the Government intend to reply to that statement ?
– I have not read the article to which the honorable senator has referred regarding the reversal of the procedure of British justice. However, if the Labour party really believed that there was a fundamental attack on British and natural justice, one would have thought that the members of that party in this chamber would not sit idly by and allow the measure to go through on the voices. There was a time when the Labour party fought for its principles, and did not lie down on them.
– I ask whether the Government intends to reply to the article, or to ignore it?
– I am quite sure that the article will receive all the respect to which it is entitled.
. - by leave - In to-day’s Canberra Times the following report appears : -
After a clash with the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senate Ashley, last night, Senator Courtice a Queensland Labour senator, became the third Labour senator to refuse to vote for the Communist Party Dissolution Bill.
Further on, the report states -
Senator Courtice interjected last night while the Attorney-General, Senator Spicer, was speaking on the bill.
When he said that he would not vote for the bill, Senator Ashley turned to him and said, “We have to”.
When Senator Courtice reddened and said, “ No, I am not “, Senator Ashley turned away.
– That is quite correct.
– The “galahs” on the Government side of the chamber may laugh and interject, but there is not one atom of truth in the report, I have never questioned the right of the press to criticize me, or to place any interpretation or slant on statements that I make in this chamber or anywhere else, but I strongly object to the lying report published in to-day’s Canberra Times, the object of which apparently is to convey to the public the impression that there is dissension among members of the Opposition in the Senate. I do not ask for drastic action against the Canberra Times on this occasion, but I suggest that steps be taken to ensure that there shall be no repetition of the offence against either Opposition or Government senators. Apparently, the reporter made a mistake yesterday. I have observed that no other newspaper published a similar report. The only occasion on which I spoke to Senator Courtice yesterday was when I asked him to rem’ain in the chamber while I absented myself for a little while. I defy any honorable senator to say that any other conversation took place between Senator Courtice and myself. I ask that action be taken to ensure that there shall be no repetition of misrepresentation of this sort.
– I sat in this chamber throughout the day yesterday, and I did not hear the statement purported to have been made by the Leader of the Opposition. In the past, action has been taken against newspapers which have been guilty of misrepresentation and their reporters have been denied access to this chamber. Although on this occasion I do not propose to follow that course, I shall look into the matter further. I hope that the editor of the Canberra Times will do the right thing and apologize for the report, which the Leader of the Opposition has characterized as being completely untrue.
– I rise to order. Standing Order 427-
– “Why not get on with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill instead of wasting time? Are you afraid to do so ?
– Why should we be interfered with by the jackass of the Opposition ?
– Order !
Senator Grant interjecting,
– Order ! Honorable senators must obey the call of the Chair for order. If they do not do so this Senate will become a bear garden.
– I apologize for my interruption, Mi-. President.
– I accept the honorable senator’s apology.
– I ask you to rule, Mr. President, that a complaint with respect to a breach of privilege by a newspaper should be made only on a substantive motion.
– The point of order is not well taken. No question of a breach of privilege has been raised in this instance. The Leader of the Opposition obtained leave to make a statement. He has made it and I have indicated what action I propose to take in relation to the matters with which it dealt.
– I am well aware that drastic penalties may be imposed for breaches of privileges, but I do not ask that they be imposed in this instance.
– I desire to ask you, Mr. President, whether in view of the fact that many questions have been asked in this chamber and left for long periods on the notice-paper without being answered, it would be possible to have the date on which the question was asked shown at the side of the question on the notice-paper? If that were done, it would be possible to see for what period questions had remained unanswered.
– -I see no great difficulty in complying with the honorable senator’s request. Such a course has never been followed, and I, of course, realize that many honorable senators are sticklers for precedent. However, I shall look into the matter.
– I also desire to address a question to you, Mr. President, and I preface it by stating that I am really asking for information.
– I point out to tho honorable senator that it is not strictly in order to ask the President questions, but I shall hear what he has to say.
– I notice that on the back of the notice-of-question paper, it is stated that questions should not refer to debates of the current session. For the past two or three weeks, that rule has not been strictly observed.
– There has been a certain amount of laxity, no doubt, in regard to that matter. Possibly, we should endeavour to be more careful to observe such rules, but I have never been a martinet where the public interest is concerned. If I consider questions to be of public interest, naturally I allow them to be asked. To date, there has been no objection, except from the honorable senator.
– I am not objecting.
– There has been no objection, but the honorable senator now” draws my attention to the matter. The Clerk has pointed out to me that the rules governing the asking of questions are not embodied in the Standing Orders. They are printed on the back of the form upon which questions on notice are written, and they are not, strictly speaking, part of the Standing Orders. It is left to the discretion of .the President to allow a question or not. If it is desired, the Standing Orders committee can be called together to deal with the matter. I am offering .this explanation because I heard an aside by a Minister that a certain question was not in order.
– At the beginning of this session I asked the following question of the Minister for Repatriation : -
Is it a fact that Dr. James was dismissed from his position at the . Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital because of a defamatory rumour, accepted and acted upon without question and investigation-
– Order ! Is the honorable senator reading a question that is on the notice-paper?
– I am repeating a question that is on the notice-paper.
– The honorable senator is not in order in doing that. A question that is on the notice-paper will be answered in due course.
– Will the Minister say when a reply to the question will be given ? This man is still suffering from persecution.
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is not yet available.
Sena tor CRITCHLEY. - I have received many complaints from exservicemen regarding the time that has elapsed between the rejection of an application for a pension and the hearing of an appeal against that decision. In some instances, there appears to have been undue delay. Will the Minister for Repatriation cause inquiries to be made with a view to ascertaining the reasons for the delay?
– I shall consider the matter that the honorable senator has raised and furnish him with a reply to his question as soon as possible.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, by saying that the area covered by Western Australia is one-third of the total area of the Commonwealth, and that there is great scope for development in that State. Will the Minister inform me whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has an organization in Western Australia comparable with those in the eastern States? If so, in what fields of research is the organization engaged in Western Australia?
– I shall obtain the information for which the honorable senator has asked and supply him with it later.
– I direct a question to you, Mr. President. I find the lighting in this chamber to be very trying, and it must be exceedingly trying for the unfortunate officials who must be present here all the time that the Senate is sitting. It is too glaring. Will you consult with the appropriate authority to ascertain whether fluorescent or some other form of lighting can be installed? We are trying to do a good -job, and it is only fitting that our eyesight should be protected in the process. The lighting is affecting my eyes and causing me frequent headaches.
– This matter has been brought to my notice by Senator Aylett on two or three occasions. Owing to the bad lighting in the chamber, I made a mistake recently in calling on a question upon notice. I have noticed of late that some honorable senators have lost their usual calm. I am informed by doctors that if a man’s eyesight is affected, his temper is often affected too. If we can have a lighting system that will provide a good soft light, it may affect the emotions of some honorable senators and result in calmer debates. The lighting in the chamber is not good. It certainly is not satisfactory to Senator Aylett. I know that if the lights are too powerful and the glare too great, the eyesight of the Clerk is affected. Complaints having been made by several honorable senators, I think steps should be taken to improve the lighting. Some time ago I discussed with the engineers the question of installing fluorescent lighting, and I shall go into that matter again.
– In view of the fact that the Government proposes to increase payments to most classes of social services recipients, will the Minister for Social Services consider increasing the rates of sickness and unemployment benefits ? If not, will he consider raising the minimum payments for those benefits?
– There is no provision in the budget for an increase of the rate of unemployment and sickness benefits. I point out that the number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefits is not great. Primarily sickness benefits are provided for persons suffering from temporary sickness; if they become permanently ill they are entitled to invalid pensions. The view was taken that the available money should be applied to the relief of persons who are most in need. For that reason age, invalid and widows’ pensions have received priority.
– When asking a question of the Minister for Social Ser.vies yesterday in relation to the Melville Rehabilitation Centre in Western Australia, I spoke in terms of high commendation of the excellent work that is being done there. I did not criticize that institution, as the Minister’s answer implied. As the third stage of the project has not been constructed, and work of the centre is being hampered, will the Minister assure the Senate that the £13,000 that is required to complete the centre and which has been withheld for some time, will be made available for that purpose at an early date?
– I am not aware that the Melville rehabilitation centre is being handicapped by not being extended. I have not received any reports to that effect. On the contrary, the reports that I have received indicate that the centre, as at present constituted, is doing an effective job. I do not really need to make inquiries about the matter at this stage. If the work of the centre develops and there is justification for the expenditure of the amount of money that has been mentioned, I shall certainly do my best to see that it is made available for extensions. I point out that strong demands have been made for extensions and additions to other establishments doing similar work. I am keeping in close contact with the position, and if the Western Australian activities develop to an extent that warrants development of the Melville Rehabilitation Centre, I shall be glad to see that that is done.
– -Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health consider applying the free medical scheme to persons on small superannuation pensions?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s request to the notice of the Minister for Health, and ask him to consider it.
– Will the> Minister representing the Treasurer bring to the notice of the Government a request that sales tax be removed from imported fruit tree stock seedlings.
– I shall convey the honorable senator’s request to the Treasurer, but as the sales tax provisions were only recently reviewed, and decisions leached, I doubt very much whether the request will be acceded to.
SenatorFRASER asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Are all officers and men of the services who have been retired on pensions before reaching the age of 05 years, and who are now employed in the service of the Commonwealth Government, having deductions made from their pensions because of their earnings in their various occupations?
If so, will the Treasurer, in view of the man-power shortage and the defence needs of the country, and also the fact that if they were privately employed no deductions would be made fromtheir pensions, review the position in respect of those employed by the Commonwealth Government?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Debate resumed from the 18th October (vide page 964), on motion by Senator O’Sullivan-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– When the debate was interrupted in accordance with the sessional order last night I was developing the argument that during the last 25 years the political parties which now form the Government of this country had been sordidly dishonest in their approach to the menace of communism in this country. The leaders of the anti-Labour parties, whether in office or out of office made a political bogey of the subject of communism. During general election campaigns they endeavoured to hoodwink the people into believing that some connexion existed between the Communist party and the Australian Labour party and that if they were returned to office they would deal with the Communists ; but when they were in office they failed to live up to their threats. Indeed, they collaborated with well known Communists and other disrupters in this community. Some honorable senators will remember the “slush fund “ that was established by theFadden Government from which large sums of money were paid to the Communist leaders of certain unions and other disrupters of industry. “While that dishonest liaison with the Communists continued the leaders of the anti-Labour parties said on political platforms throughout this country that they would deal with the Communists. When the Chifley Government was in office two members of the present Government were discovered drinking with prominent Communists in the liquor bar of this House. Those Communists were enjoying privileges that are strictly reserved for members of the Parliament, at a time when the Labour Government was engaged in a life and death struggle with the striking coal miners. Although a complaint was made about the presence of the Communists in the liquor bar, no action was taken against the members concerned. We have been accused of having changed face over this bill. What has been the attitude of the Liberal and Australian Country parties to the Communists throughout the years? On the 27th July, 1946, the Melbourne Herald published a statement issued .by the Liberal party stating that that party did not believe in declaring the Communist party illegal or in suppressing it by law. The Liberal party said that the Communists would thrive underground and that if they engaged in subversive activities they would be dealt with as. other subversive elements were dealt with.
– That statement was not issued by the Australian Country party.
– The anti-Labour parties have never been able to agree on a common policy in relation to communism or anything else. During the war they were completely unable to agree on matters of policy. More recently they have had differences of opinion over the desirability of revaluing the pound. The Australian Country party invariably disclaims any responsibility for what the Liberal party does. That is the history of .all coalition governments. One party blames the other for every difficulty that arises.
– That is what the honorable senator hopes for.
– History proves that both of the anti-Labour parties have been guilty of the grossest political dishonesty. The leaders of those parties were responsible for introducing this obnoxious measure but they hoped that as the result of the decency *f the
Labour Opposition they would be able to escape responsibility for having to implement it. The Labour party has decided that the Government must accept full responsibility for it.
– As usual, the honorable senator is endeavouring to cover up.
– When this measure was first introduced into the Parliament the Government took extraordinary measures to prevent unauthorized entry into this building. Armed guards and policemen were stationed at many points throughout this building and members and supporters of the Government reserved all the accommodation in the public galleries for their own friends. When the first Communist Party Dissolution Bill was introduced the Prime Minister announced that it would not be amended in any way. He said that tho fight was on and that it would not bo amended by even so much as the dotting of an “ i “ or the crossing of a “ t “, but it is now apparent he did not intend to proceed with it if he could avoid doing so. Clause 20 of that bill when it was first introduced - and it was read with great gusto and very fine language by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) - reads -
An authorized person–
Who was at that time any peace officer - > shall at all times have full and free access to and may, if need bc by force and with such assistance us is necessary, break open, enter and search, any house, premises or place in which lie suspects that there is any property of, or documents or papers relating to, an unlawful association and may search any person found in the house, premises or place and may take possession of, remove and impound any property, books ( (including documents or papers) in the house, premises or place which the authorized person is satisfied belong to that association;
That obnoxious clause permitted action to be taken similar to the type of action which could be taken when Nazi-ism was at its highest peak in Germany. It meant that a man could break open a door, enter premises and search the occupants without any warrant or authority, because the Attorney-General had no responsibility in regard to the issuing of warrants. I suggest to honorable senators that that provision would have been a total abrogation of British law and that it was probably one of the worst provisions ever- introduced in legislation by any administration in any country. I believe that that clause was inserted because certain members of the Government, evincing th at political dishonesty which they have displayed all along the line, knew very well that no member of the Australian Labour party would stand for it. The members of the Government hoped that the Labour party would cast out this legislation and that they would then be able to go to the people and scream to high heaven about what they would like to do, when in reality they had no such intention.
Throughout this debate members of the Australian Labour party have been accused of delaying the passage of the bill and of protecting communism, and numerous other innuendoes and slurs have been bandied about. The members of the Opposition have no desire to protect any subversive person in this country. As proof of that statement, I point out that when the Australian Labour party was in office it took action against such persons. But it acted in accordance with the principles of British justice. It took them before juries and had them convicted under existing laws. This Government has been remiss, weak, ineffective and cowardly in not invoking the same laws in order to deal with a situation which it has alleged has been in existence for so long. This bill has no parallel in the history of British legislation. The members of the Government may argue legal points concerning criminal, moral and natural law, but there has never yet been a law of this country under which a person may be politically declared. Under this bill a man may be judged, tried, branded by a political party and given no recourse to law or justice. The members of the Government say that if such a nian enters the witness box the Government will then prove the case, but that is not so, because there is no charge. He is already adjudged guilty, and he is convicted.
– He is not.
– I say that he is. He is removed from his job, and up to the time when he is declared by a notice appearing in the Commonwealth Gazette, bc is given no chance to present any evidence on his own behalf. He is accused by a person unknown to him, his declaration is determined by a political junta which reports to the GovernorGeneral that he must be declared. Although the man has been given no opportunity to defend himself, and no. charge has been made against him, he is declared. If he is in a position to finance an appeal, as many Communists no doubt will be, he may do so, but if he happens to be a citizen who, by virtue of his position, has been honestly fighting a cause bearing no relation to communism, he is in a very unfavorable position indeed. The Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner), speaking last night in a much more realistic manner than his colleagues, said quite frankly that the Australian Council of Trades Unions and the Sydney Trades and Labour Council would never be declared. His statement was concurred in by the Attorney-General Senator Spicer) and by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan). But is the Government going to dispense with the law in certain cases? If those bodies are Communist dominated, then the Government has no right to apply the law to one set of organizations and not to another, i am sincerely concerned about the way in which this legislation will be administered.
I warn the Government that it has taken ;i dangerous and an ill-considered step which will lead to something quite foreign to British decency. I also warn it that if it enacts legislation with the idea of being able to penalize some people and to excuse others, it will find itself up against the Australian Labour party and the trade unions. How can the Prime Minister honestly say that he is not concerned with the fact that the law will be used to penalize some people and to excuse others when all have been guilty of the same offence? What manner of law is it which a political party may enforce against an individual so that up to the time he is convicted, branded and removed from his position, he has had no recourse to justice? I consider the whole of this legislation repugnant and badly drafted. It is the product of sordid political hypocrisy and dishonesty, and I use the word “ sordid “ in its dictionary meaning of “ mean and squalid “. I am sure that any decent member of the Government must be of the same opinion. The Government parties have brought before the Parliament legislation which represents nothing more than an attempt to evade a responsibility which they have acknowledged for 25 years. They have neither strengthened the existing laws nor provided themselves with sufficient intestinal fortitude to meet the problem of communism in clean open combat, an action which would be admired by any section of the Australian people.
– Is the honorable senator speaking about what the Australian Labour party has done?
– There is no need to speak about that. If the Australian Labour party brought into the world a child such as this, it would not ask some one else to strangle it. The bill is the creation of the Government parties and their moral outlook is incorporated in it. They claim that they have a mandate for it. If that be so, they should stand up and be proud of it, but, instead, in order to conceal the fact that their morale is low, they say to the Labour party, “In decency, save us from it”. The Labour party will try to save the people that the Government will attack unjustly. Let there be no mistake about that. If acting under the terms of this measure, the Government lays a finger, unjustly, upon any person in this community, we stall fight on his behalf. The Government, having its bill, will have to stand by it.
For 25 years the members of the present Government parties have lied cravenly at every election and bracketed together the Communist party and the Labour party. They have also done so in the cou’rse of the debate on this bill. I heard one of them say, “We stand behind the people in this country”. That is where they stand now - behind them - but when this bill has been passed they will come to the front. Then they will have to fight those people, and in the event of an innocent person being made to suffer they will have to fight us with them. They will have to explain to the people why they conceived a measure that, in its original form, not only abrogated the British rule of law but also sought to introduce into this country a vicious system of brute force. It was proposed that, regardless of the human dignity of Australian citizens, security officers should be permitted to break into Australian homes, without a warrant, and confiscate property without authority from a judicial tribunal or the AttorneyGeneral. If honorable senators opposite believed that to be right then, doubtless, they still believe it to be right.
We believe that all that we have said about this bill is correct. We do not believe the Australian people will stand for it. We believe that, in its original form, it would not have been upheld by the High Court. The Government will soon be required to administer the measure, and then we shall see whether it will act in accordance with the statements that have been made in the Parliament by its supporters, which reveal a craven attitude. Some people have been told that they will be exempted from proceedings under the measure, and others have been told that action will be taken against them. In the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) read a list of names of persons with whom he said he proposed to deal as soon as the bill was passed, but within a week many of those persons had established their innocence. Is the right honorable gentleman still of the same mind? We shall soon learn the real intentions that underly this sordid and dishonest measure, which the Government had no intention to implement in the form in which it was originally presented to the Parliament. The introduction of the measure was a device to force the Labour party to make a political decision before it had ascertained the concensus of opinion of all party members, to distract attention from a broken promise to arrest the prices spiral and put value back in the £1, and to conceal the facts that the Government was evading its responsibility to age and invalid pensioners by allowing them to starve while prices increased and repudiating an agreement in relation to health and social services which it said would not be repudiated. The Government hoped, by its ruse in introducing the measure, to be able to fight a general election on an issue dishonestly raised in order to conceal its inability to solve the difficult problems that confront this country. The moral calibre of the minds that conceived the measure is not great. After 25 years of trickery, the Government parties have a mandate to do something in relation to this matter, but they have produced something of which they cannot be very proud and of which, I am sure, Australia will ultimately be ashamed.
Motion (by Senator Hannaford) put -
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I should have preferred this debate to terminate, because the bill has already been fully discussed and it appears that the views of the Government and of the Opposition are irreconcilable. Therefore, no good purpose can be achieved by continuing the debate at length. However, I desire that my support of the measure should be recorded in Hansard. During thelast two days we have wit nessed in this chamber the greatest climbdown of a great political party in the history of the National Parliament. It must be extremely humiliating for honorable senators opposite who have consistently opposed certain provisions of this bill to have to accept the decision of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party. I have never before heard Senator McKenna to such disadvantage. To put it mildly, his speech was pathetic. So also were the speeches of other members of the Opposition - pathetic in the extreme. I do not think that the statements of honorable senators opposite that they intend to vote for the bill in order to prove the Government’s sincerity, because it is our baby, is a valid excuse, particularly when the uncompromising attitude of leading members of the Opposition from the beginning of the debate is recalled. Although honorable senators opposite have repeatedly asserted that this bill would undermine the fundamental principles of British justice, they now come cravenly into the chamber and say that they will support it.
– We agreed earlier to the main provisions of the bill.
-I firmly believe that some honorable senators opposite favoured supporting the bill in its entirety from the outset.
– I do not believe that any member of the Opposition would have done so.
– It is reasonable to assume that those honorable senators will derive a certain amount of satisfaction from the fact that the Australian Labour party has decided to fall into line with the Government. Another section of the Labour Opposition has treated the matter in a light-hearted fashion, because the honorable senators comprising that section were most apprehensive about a double dissolution. They realized that in such an event they were for the “ high-jump “, and that their political careers would probably be at an end.
– Will the honorable senator mention their names?
– I do not wish to mention their names at the moment.
– Apparently, the honorable senator does not possess sufficient courage to do so.
– It would be virtually impossible for some members of the Australian Labour party to be returned following a double dissolution, in view of the operation of the system of proportional representation. Honorable senators opposite in still another section, including Senator Morrow, have stated that they will not support the bill. 1 do not know how they will avoid their obligations to the party that they support. I suppose that they will conveniently leave the chamber before the vote is taken. I am concerned that this bill shall become law.
– Can the honorable senator state any intelligent reasons in support of it?
– I shall not, as Senator Cooke has done, enter upon a long diatribe, but shall confine my remarks to a simple point of view as a result of a careful study of the provisions of the bill. I consider that the bill is a good one. It is a security measure, the more important because of the Communist menace that is at present assailing the world.
– What about the Liberal fascists?
– If the honorable senator who has just interjected will hold his peace for a little while, I shall endeavour to state my point of view clearly.
– Senator Ward is still back in the days of the Boer War.
– In a speech in Adelaide recently, Dominie Paul McGuire, an Australian author, clearly outlined the extent to which communism has developed throughout the world in recent years. He specifically detailed Communist ambitions in Australia. By its support of the recitals in the preamble to this bill, the Australian Labour party has acknowledged that communism constitutes a menace to this country. In accordance with its pre-election pledge, the Government is determined to take steps to subjugate and, if possible, eliminate that menace to our land. The Communists in Australia constitute a fifth column of very dangerous proportions.
In his policy speech, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) aptly described the Communist menace in this country as “ an alien and destructive pest “. As has been stated already by other supporters of the Government, I consider that this bill is necessary in the interests of industrial harmony. The Communist party is not concerned primarily with the welfare of the workers in this country. It has never been concerned with the welfare of Australia as a nation. It follows a plan directed from Moscow in accordance with the Marx-Lenin-Stalin precept. I propose to quote a short extract from the book The Trade Unions, written by a very prominent Communist, Mr. L. L. Sharkey. Honorable senators will be familiar with his name. He wrote -
Political strikes are a higher class of struggle than economic strikes. Such strikes challenge the government, the State, the rule of the capitalist class. One of our chief trade union tasks is the politicalisation of strikes. Strikes properly led and properly timed are a revolutionary weapon.
We realize that the infiltration of key trade unions by Communists has been going on for just that purpose, and this bill is designed to remove them from office. Surely honorable senators recognize that events connected with the coal strike of last year prove the truth of what Sharkey wrote in his book. Working conditions and pay, on the admission of the Chifley Government, did not come into the picture. The proposed strike in 55 Australian ports as a protest against the Government’s proposals has nothing whatever to do with industrial conditions. It would be a political strike, and an indication of the influence wielded by the Communist officials who occupy key positions in trade unions. Nearly all the big strikes that have occurred in Australia have been inspired by Communists, as is evident when we remember who handled those strikes - such men as Brown, of the Victorian Railways Union, an admitted Communist, Williams, of the miners’ federation, Healy and Roach of the Waterside Workers Federation, and many others. Such men are not concerned with improving conditions for the workers and the Government has told the people that it will eradicate the Communists from the positions in which they have been able to wield so much power.
So much for the recitals in thebill. There is no need for me to discuss the clauses in detail, because many of them have been approved by the Labour party. It is necessary, however, to reply to some of the statements made by members of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) said that a declared person would not know the nature of the charge he had to face. That is not true. If a man is declared, he will know that he is charged with being a Communist, or with engaging, or being likely to engage, in subversive activities. The arguments of members of the Opposition on the subject of the right of appeal do not bear close examination. Some honorable senators opposite have claimed that there is no provision in the bill to give a person the right of appeal against a declaration that he is engaged, or is likely to engage, in activities prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator believe that there is such a provision ?
– I certainly do. I claim to be a reasonably intelligent man, and I cannot see how clause 9 of the bill can be interpreted in any other way. I quote from the clause as follows : -
– (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
– There is no provision for an appeal against a declaration on the second count.
– I cannot understand the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition.
– Get the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) to deny what I have said.
– I am not concerned with other people’s interpretation of the bill. I claim to have a fair command of the English language, and I can understand for myself what the clause means.
– The honorable senator may have a fair command of English, but he has not much common sense.
– The Leader of the Opposition is being offensive. However, I know he does not mean what he says. He does not even mean what he has said about this bill, and neither do other honorable senators opposite. I can afford to treat the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition with contempt.
Much has been made in this debate of the onus of proof provision in the bill and conflicting legal opinions have been expressed on it. I do not propose to trespass on the territory of those who possess legal qualifications. I am not a lawyer.
– The honorable senator is none the worse for that.
– In all probability I am not. To form an opinion on matters such as this, one has to listen carefully to both sides of the question. Having listened to the legal gentlemen on this side of the chamber and also to Senator McKenna, who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and undoubtedly is a well-qualified lawyer, I have decided that the onus of proof clause in this bill is sound and’ in accord with legal practice and British justice. For that reason, I support its inclusion in the bill. I do not believe that it will impose any injustice on any decent, honest man.
The Parliament, and the general public, have had enough of this bill. I am heartily sick of it, and the sooner this debate is ended the better pleased I shall be. However, it is a good bill which, I believe, will achieve its purpose, and I have very much pleasure in supporting it.
Senator RYA3T (South Australia) [12.22 j. - I rise to make my criticism of the bill and to justify the Opposition’s attitude to it. I -was rather surprised at the Government’s attempt to stifle further criticism of the bill by moving, through Senator Hannaford, for the closure of the debate. That action was particularly surprising in view of the fact that yesterday, when the proceedings of this chamber were being broadcast, we had the unusual spectacle of several Ministers rising to support a measure that had’ been introduced by one of their colleagues. If that is to be carried to its logical conclusion, there still remains one Minister to express his views on the bill. In view of the barrage of criticism by honorable senators opposite of the Opposition’s decision to withdraw its objection to the passage of this measure, I wish to justify my position as a representative of the people of South Australia. The various sections of the Labour party in South Australia have consistently opposed the contentious clauses of this measure, including the onus of proof clause. The trade union movement and the Australian Labour party in that State have not deviated one iota from their stand on those clauses. That was made manifest as recently as Monday last, when, at the meeting of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party, the South Australian representatives strenuously resisted any departure from the party’s earlier stand against the bill. As a Labour representative of the people of South Australia I place on record my unqualified support of that attitude. The withdrawal of Labour’s opposition to this measure has been widely publicized in the press throughout the Commonwealth. The event has become quite a big feature of the current political news, so much so, in fact, that one wonders why the Opposition should be so severely criticized by Government supporters for having decided to permit the passage of the measure. According to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), Labour has made the most abject surrender in the history of the once great Australian Labour party and the Government now expects the support of the Labour party in giving full effect to this legislation.
On the one hand therefore, we have trenchant criticism of Labour’s attitude, and on the other, expectation of full moral and material support in the implementation of this legislation, which, in our opinion, is designed to weaken and split the great Australian Labour party.
I am amazed at the enthusiasm of honorable senators opposite. In the last couple of days they have risen one after the other to make their contribution to this debate. That has been in marked contrast to their attitude last week when they were far from enthusiastic about joining in this debate. There was complete apathy on the Government benches, and an obvious disinclination to participate in the business of the Senate. Apparently, honorable senators opposite have now become revitalized. They are wrathfully criticizing the Labour party’s acquiescence in the passage of this measure. Surely they should be grateful that the bill is to be passed after all. “We are accused of having abandoned our original stand merely for tactical reasons. In my opinion the. introduction of this measure originally by the Government was a part of a battle of tactics. This bill was designed solely for the purpose of bringing about disunity in the Labour party, but it has failed to achieve that objective. The Labour Opposition in the Senate amended the original bill and returned it to the House of Representatives in a form which would have enabled the Govern-“ ment effectively to deal with the Communist menace. I shudder to think what may have happened but for the existence of the Labour majority in this chamber. If the bill as it was originally drafted had been translated into law industrial anarchy would have reigned throughout the length and breadth of Australia. The Labour Opposition in the Senate used its majority to amend the bill in such a way as to make it more acceptable to the Australian people. “We hoped that the measure as it left the Senate would be accepted by the Government and placed cn the statute-book. The Government and Opposition parties agreed that the Government had received a mandate from the people on the 10th December last to. deal with communism. Although all the great democratic countries of the world uphold the principles of free association, the people of Australia then decided that the Communist party should be abolished, that its funds should be expropriated and that Communists should be prevented from occupying key positions in the trade unions and the 1’ublic Service. The political parties represented in this Parliament were in complete agreement about that proposal. The onus of proof clause became the principal bone of contention. The line of demarcation between the views of the Government and of the Opposition in respect of that vital clause was so thinly drawn that the differences of opinion could have been overcome by a common-sense approach to the problem. I understand that when one House disagrees with amendments made to a bill in another House the customary practice is to appoint a committee of management for the purpose of obtaining agreement on the matters in dispute. That procedure was not. followed in connexion with this bill. When the Prime Minister introduced the measure he uncompromisingly stated that he would accept no amendment of its vital clauses. That is why we contend that its purpose was more a political measure than an attempt to protect the country from its enemies. Had politics been dispensed with by the Government and had logic and reason prevailed, the delicate situation that has arisen in relation to this bill could have been avoided to the satisfaction of all concerned, the legislation could have been implemented months ago and a great deal of industrial turmoil and strife could have been prevented. Not long ago the secretary of a key industrial union made certain statements about the United Nations participation in the Korean incident which were considered by Government authorities to constitute a threat to our security. The statements were closely investigated by the AttorneyGeneral with a. view to taking appropriate action. I believe that such action was withheld so that the Government could claim that its hands were tied because this bill had not become law. The Government, instead of attending to its obligation to protect the security of this country, played the game of politics.
Honorable senators opposite have twitted the Opposition for having accepted the decision of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party not to oppose the passage of this bill. It is possible that the decision of the federal executive was influenced by the circumstances which I have recounted. The federal executive . may ako have played the game of politics. At all events, the Government will now have the responsibility of implementing this legislation and if we can believe press statements it seems likely that it will experience grave difficulties in attempting to do so. The differences of opinion that exist in respect of the onus of proof clause stem principally from the wide interpretation of “Communist “ contained in the bill. We regard as Communists all those persons who are either directly or indirectly associated with the Communist party or its auxiliaries. A simple definition could be framed to cover all members of the Communist party and active supporters of its doctrines. The Opposition fears that if the definition be left unaltered innocent persons will be declared and suffer all the penalties that attach to such declaration. As the result of the representations made by the Opposition the Government decided to appoint a special committee to examine the evidence relating to suspected persons. Who, in the main,’ will they be? Under this legislation any person may be declared. I assume that evidence concerning the activities of such persons would be furnished in the first instance by the security service, and that the files would then be passed on to the special committee for examination and recommendation to the Attorney-General I have no doubt that the recommendation of the special committee will be based on the evidence submitted to it. Thus, the Attorney-General will ‘ be the final authority who will determine whether or not a suspected person shall be declared, fs it intended that he will personally investigate all the circumstances surrounding the declaration? Of course it is not. The Attorney-General will undoubtedly accept without question the recommendation made by the committee. We greatly fear that innocent persons. having first been submitted to the ordeal of scrutiny and investigation by the security service, will subsequently be declared on the recommendation of the special committee. .Because such wide powers are to be conferred on the Attorney-General we believe that the definition of “ Communist “ should be confined to embrace only those persons who are or have been, during the relevant period, actively associated with the Communist party or its auxiliaries. No person should be declared until he has been given an opportunity to confront hisaccusers and answer the case made against him. As a layman I have always understood that it is a principle of British justice that an accused person should be charged with his offence before any punishment is inflicted on him. The danger of the onus of proof provisions of this bill were well illustrated by the reference of my learned colleague, Senator Grant, to the case of the Bishop of Winchester. Honorable senators will recall that the honorable senator likened the powers proposed to be conferred by this bill to those exercised by King Henry VIII., who is reported to have said to one of his colonels, “ Arrest the Bishop of Winchester; try him and hang him “. Under the provisions of this bill a suspected person is virtually found guilty and punished before he is charged with an offence.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I wish to make some comment upon the definition of “ Communist “ as contained in the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. The Australian Labour party has disputed that definition, and that was the principal reason for the passage of this bill being protracted. It has also caused considerable ill feelings between the members of the Opposition aud the Government. The Opposition contends that the definition is too wide, and that’ it is ambiguous. As I stated earlier, the definition would be more acceptable to the Opposition if it were stated in simpler terms. As it stands, it presents too vast a field, and may well cover practically any individual in this country. There may come a time when the Government wishes to arraign an individual. As the definition stands, it will be easy for it to be applied to any person who dares to criticize the Government. The Labour party also believes that it is wrong that once a person has’ been declared a Communist, regardless of the fact that he may not subscribe to the philosophy of communism, the declaration is placarded throughout the length and breadth of the country, because of its publication in the Commonwealth Gazette. It needs no stretch of the imagination to visualize the implications involved in the declaration. I know that the Gazette is not a publication that is popularly sought after, but it is nevertheless true that the fact of his declaration will be immediately broadcast throughout the locality in which he lives. Honorable senators will no doubt agree that it is surprising how quickly whispering campaigns commence. They are very much like bushfires, which before very long become vast conflagrations. It is possible in such circumstances that a man who has incurred the censure of the Government may be declared a Communist, and then have to run the gamut of local criticism and prejudice, with its resultant ignominy. He may well be boycotted in the community, because of a whispering campaign, and, if he is prominent in the community, it may not be long before his previous good reputation is disregarded by his fellows, with serious results to his economic circumstances. The fact of his declaration may detrimentally affect his wife and, particularly, his children. The Government says that such a set of circumstances will not occur in the case of a reputable citizen, but will arise only in respect of Communists. If the Australian people have given the Government a mandate to dissolve the Communist party, appropriate its funds, and disqualify Communists from holding positions in trade unions and the Public Service, the Opposition does not quarrel with the bill, but insofar as it carries out that mandate, we should like to be assured that the general application of the legislation will be only along those lines. Why does not the Government legislate specifically to draw a line of demarcation between Communists and reputable citizens ? That is a fair question, but the Government has clouded it in ambiguity. One may well wonder what sinister motive lies behind the wide implications arid the ambiguous nature of the definition of “ Communist “. The Opposition is fearful that the Government will gather in the net any person who incurs its displeasure.
The members of the Opposition are alarmed that a person may be tried before being given an opportunity to deny that he is a Communist. Irrespective of the degrees of communism, he is declared definitely to be a Communist, and within the framework of this legislation he has no possible hope of establishing his innocence. He is deemed to be a Communist, and he therefore is a Communist within the meaning of the legislation. It is so much hypocrisy for the members of the Government to say that he will be given a trial, and, conditional upon his entering the witnessbox and proclaiming his innocence, the onus will be upon the Government to prove the charge. I listened to Senator Wright, a very able member of the legal fraternity, giving his exposition of this clause. I do not profess to be a lawyer, but I possess a certain degree of nous, to use a vernacular expression. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) has pointed out, a man may also be declared a Communist if his actions are deemed to be prejudicial, or likely to be prejudicial, to the security of the Commonwealth. It is true that such a person may appeal and declare that he is not a Communist, but prima facie he is one because the legislation says so. What hope has he of proving that he is not? Senator Wright has said that if he can establish his innocence, he automatically escapes the second “ leg “ of the charge.
– He would not have a second chance.
– He would not even have a first chance, because he would have been declared to be a Communist, and prima facie he therefore i3 a Communist. Despite al] his protestations, the Crown Prosecutor could say, “Your Honour, within the terms of the act this man is charged with being; a Communist. He has already been declared a Communist within the meaning of the act. He should be tried and hanged “. I make no apology for my statements. I hold no brief for the Communists, but I do hold a brief for the radical person, the staunch unionist, and the average Australian. It is that section of the community that I wish to protect. The Labour party maintains that, in accordance with the concepts of British justice contained in Magna Charta, before a person can be found guilty of an offence particulars of the charge made against him should be supplied to him. On a memorable day in 1215, the workers of England having revolted because they were burdened by heavy taxes upon which they had no opportunity to express an opinion through their representatives in Parliament, King John was brought to heel and arraigned before the barons and representatives of the common people of England. Magna Charta was formulated then. It contains all the concepts of British justice of which we are proud and which have been handed down to us through the centuries. Our democracy should never depart from them. Two of the principles enunciated in Magna Charta are that only by the law of the land can a man be found guilty and deprived of his liberty or rights, and that in the eyes of the law all men are free ; but, under this measure, a free man may be found guilty without trial and deprived of his rights. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber, as representatives of the common people, conscious of our obligations and responsibilities and mindful of the centuries of tradition upon which British justice is based, contend that the principles to which I have referred should be observed in proceedings under the measure that we are now discussing. We believe that only by the law of this land should men be found guilty and deprived of their rights, and that all men should be free until then. We are fortified in our stand by the Atlantic Charter - that great document that stimulated the democracies during the last war to fight for all that they held dear - and the Charter of the United Nations. Are we going to subjugate those principles for political purposes? Honorable senators on this side of the chamber, by their actions and protestations, have endeavoured to protect the traditions of justice in this community, and I hope the Government will administer this measure in a manner that will conform to those traditions.
History proves that an idea or a philosophy cannot be suppressed by tyranny or oppressive measures. In that connexion, I direct the attention of the Senate to the following paragraph, which appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser yesterday:-
The surest method of spreading Communism was to try to suppress it by force, the adviser to the Burmese Government (Mr. J. S. Furnival) said at Melbourne University tonight. Mr. Furnivall, an Englishman, is in Australia lecturing on behalf of the National University. . He said that a nation wishing to rid itself of Communism must find some less drastic method than force. Communism had no chance of success in Burma in the foreseeable future.
The only way to destroy the forces of communism is to provide better economic conditions for the people.
One honorable senator opposite said that .the Government would use this measure only to suppress strikes. He added that, in his opinion, almost all the strikes that occur now are caused by Communist agitation. I believe that, in most instances, strikes are not caused by the activities of Communists. They occur when dormant discontent and unrest in an industry or organization reaches the point at which human nature boils over, and then no intervention by responsible trade union leaders can settle the strike until the factors causing the discontent have been removed and calmer counsels prevail. Only then can negotiations for the settlement of the dispute begin. I urge the Government to leave the industrial sphere well alone. It may be that members of the Government believe that Communist agitators are directly responsible for many industrial upheavals, but I cannot think of any circumstances in which a trade union leader could persuade all the members of an industrial organization to take part in a strike to further the aims of the Communists if there were no factors causing discontent among the members of the organization. The decision to strike is taken by the members of a trade union. I have confidence in the Australian worker. He knows what must Iv done to make a better Australia. He wants continuous work, because he has economic and domestic responsibilities. Do honorable senators opposite .believe that Australian workers or trade union officials enjoy dislocating industry? Some Communists may do so, but to succeed in their aims they must have the support of the rank and file members of trade unions. They can do nothing without that. During the last general coal strike, the members of the Chifley Government went among the miners. Despite the stranglehold that Communists had on the miners’ federation, an overwhelming majority of the rank and file members of the federation subsequently reversed the decision of their Communist-controlled executive. We believe that all trade unions should be run on democratic lines, and that every member should have a voice in determining what is to be done by his branch.
That brings me to my next point. The Labour party is a democratic party. Its attitude to this bill has been determined by party members throughout the length and breadth of Australia. The decision was made by the rank and file of the party, not by an oligarchy or clique.
– Who instructed the South Australian delegates?
– The federal executive of the Labour party is composed of two representatives from each State. The rank and file members of the party in South Australia, through the delegates they send to the State council, determine the attitude that should be adopted by the South Australian members of the federal executive. I was privileged to attend the last conference of the Labour party, which was addressed by Mr. Chifley and other Labour personalities upon this measure, but, before then, the Labour party in South Australia had determined the attitude that it would adopt.
– Both South Australian delegates to the federal executive were opposed to the stand now being taken by the Labour party in relation to this bill.
– We believe in the rule of the majority. That was also reflected in the poll last December. Consequently, I cannot now understand the attitude of supporters of the Government who have been most vitriolic. The legal senators opposite have severely castigated the Labour party for its non-opposition to the bill. Why this reversal of form? I remind the Senate that the Opposition has a mandate to protect the interests of about half of the entire Australian community. We have advanced logical arguments, and the Government, seeing eye to eye with us, has enabled all hurdles but one to be negotiated. Although the Opposition has indicated its willingness to give the Government the bill, apparently honorablesenators opposite are not happy. I am astounded and amazed that the Government will not accept its own bill.
– Is the honorable senator speaking in support of the bill?
– I have said that I would not oppose the bill. It seems to me that now that the Government is charged with certain obligations, and the end of its political propaganda has been reached, it should do something definite. Thepeople of this country are awaiting the promised activity of the Government to ban the Communist party, the expropriation of its funds, the removal of Communists from executive positions in trade unions and the Public Service. I earnestly advise the Government to be very careful to implement this legislation in accordance with the mandate given to it by the people of Australia and to ensure that only persons who definitely come within the definition of “Communist” in the bill will be declared.
Motion (by Senator Robertson) put -
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I support the bill, and I trust that it will have a speedy passage. I must express my very keen disappointment, however, that, being a woman, I was not allowed to say the last word, in accordance with the popular fallacy. I consider that the procrastination on this matter is due to the attitude of the Opposition. Having previously spoken at length in this chamber about communism, I wish merely to express my intense amazement at some of the statements that have been made by honorable senators opposite. For some years prior to my election to this chamber I listened to the broadcasts of the Senate debates, and I always considered that Senator Sheehan presented well-balanced statements. However, I am impelled to challenge some of the statements that he made last night. He stated that in the 1949 general election the Communist party assisted the Liberal and Country parties to gain the government benches.
– The Communists always assist the anti-Labour parties.
– Is it logical that a party marked down for destruction for its sinister work in this community would help to place in office where they could strike the first blow the parties that they are alleged to have assisted? That statement is altogether too naive to be considered seriously. Senator Sheehan also stated that the Victorian railways strike, which is paralysing transport in that State, is justifiable. I am inclined to think that the honorable senator did not fully consider the matter before making such a statement. As honorable senators are aware, in this country a strike is a lawless act. Yet Senator Sheehan has described it as “ justifiable “. Strikes hurt most the workers of this country, whose interests honorable senators opposite claim to protect. Senator Sheehan knows as well as I. do that this strike is one of many that have been planned mid inspired by the enemies within our shores. As I told Senator Grant recently, and as he already knew, a plan was formulated in 1027 to bring about strikes in this country. 1 believe that this is. oik* of many rolling strikes that unfortunately Iia ve been designed to take place in Australia. Honorable senators opposite have stated that they have received their instructions from the federal executive of the Australian Labour party, to which they give their allegiance. Have they no other allegiance as representatives of flip electors of Australia in this chamber? I regard myself as a representative ,of nil classes of people in thi.? country, not of any sectional interest, and T am astonished to find that there are honorable senators in this chamber who are making their representation absolutely sectional. In n highly denunciator*; speech about the amendments to the bill, Senator McKenna used some drastic expressions and phrases-.
– They were fully justified.
– He referred to the onus of proof clause as a foul provision which would deny to alleged Communists the principles of British justice. He even went so far as to accuse the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) of making an untruthful statement, and to accuse the Leader of the Government in this chamber (Senator O’sullivan) of making a. statement in error. In spite of all those serious allegations that he made against the bill, and against those who are responsible for it, he concluded by saying that the members of his party would vote for it. There was a biblical character who sold his birthright for a mess of potage. Senator McKenna and other Labour senators are prepared to sell their souls for a mess of potage. I should have more respect for them if they stuck to their guns, and said : “ We represent the people of Australia. We think the bill is contrary to the principles of British justice, and we are going to vote against it “. Senator Ryan said that the present delicate situation could have been avoided had certain action been taken. It certainly could, and the Opposition is responsible for the delicate situation that exists to-day. Members of the Opposition have said to us, “ The bill is your baby ; you mus; carry it “. I tell honorable senators opposite, that during the next election, they will have, not one baby to look after, but triplets.
Being a woman, I was particularly interested in the attempts of the Opposition to use prices as a “ red herring ‘’ to confuse the trail. I am interested, fis are other women, in the subject of prices. Opposition members were at pains to drag in that particular “ red herring “, and they were very disappointed when we did. not allow ourselves to be diverted from the course we had set ourselves. I am prepared to discuss prices at the proper time. The Labour party was afraid of committing political suicide by going to the country on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Well, I can assure honorable senators opposite thai their action in passing a bill which they claim to be a terrible travesty of British justice will prove to be a much more effective way of committing political suicide. Women are interested to note the solicitude of the Opposition about prices and the hardships of housewives, but they would be even more interested to see the Australian Labour party executive and the Parliamentary Labour party make an honest attempt to prevent the strikes and industrial stoppages that are putting up costs and reducing production. Recently, I received a letter from one of the pressure groups, the Progressive Housewives Association of NewSouth Wales, which is affiliated with the Federated Association of Australian Housewives, with 100,000 financial members. No doubt, other honorable senators have received copies of the letter. Probably, if I had sought an’ expression of opinion from other women’s organizations, they would have written to me in much the same terms. We hare heard a great deal about prices in New South Wales, and we know that the price of cauliflowers, for instance, is very high, largely due to special circumstances. The Progressive Housewives Association of New South Wales carried the following resolution : -
That we write all federal members’, and ask that the anti-Communist bill be passed as soon as Parliament meets.
What issue did they put first? With their usual good sense, they placed industrial peace in the forefront. They know that as soon as the Communist Party Dissolution Bill is passed, the Government will make an honest attempt to remove Communists from key positions in trade unions, so that they will no longer be able to hold up industrial production. Women are not so stupid as to think only of clothes and lipstick. They have minds to consider the problems of their country, and reach conclusions about them. They know that if less coal is produced, there will be less electric power, less production of goods, and higher prices. They know that if electric power fails thousands of eggs will be ruined in the incubators, there will be fewer chickens, fewer egglaying hens, fewer eggs and higher prices, so that only the capitalist will be able to afford to buy eggs for his children. Women of every class expect all honorable senators to play their part, and to ensure that this bill shall be not only passed, but also implemented. I have here a letter from some of the uncrowned kings of Australia.
– Who signed it?
– It carries four very interesting signatures. It is signed by Robert B. Gibson, organizer, Division 10, Amalgamated Engineering Union ; P. R. Lawrence, secretary, Waterside Workers Federation, Fremantle Branch ; R. Hurd, secretary, Seamen’s Union of Australia, Fremantle branch, and Patrick L. Troy, secretary, Coastal Dock, Rivers and Harbour Works Union of Workers, Fremantle. Those men, whom honorable senators opposite would protect, control the unions that are holding up the production and delivery of goods, so that women all over Australia, including those in outback areas, are finding it difficult to obtain the necessaries of life. I quote the following from the letter that they signed : -
In the name of the freedom which is the very core of our Australian Democracy, we call upon you to use your vote and influence to ensure the defeat of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill which, we understand, is to be again presented to the Parliament in the current week.
We warn the Western Australian members of the Parliament, and the Government that responsibility for action taken in defence of our liberty (should this foul bill become law) will be entirely theirs.
Honorable senators opposite should reflect on the terrible thing they are proposing to do. They are proposing to give the Government the bill ! I can hardly believe it. In one breath, they tell us that they stand for British justice; in the next, they admit that they are going to obey the directions of a few men who, however democratically elected - and I do not claim that their election was undemocratic - have no part in the work of this Parliament. To-day, however, they are the uncrowned kings of Australia, directing what the Parliament shall do. I support the bill, and I believe that the sooner it is passed the better.
.- This bill has been well discussed, and I have listened with great interest to the speeches. I have seen honorable senators with ruffled tempers allowing political hatred and bitterness to come to the surface. Some honorable senators have conducted themselves in a deplorable manner. Surely no legislation could warrant honorable senators losing their tempers, and expressing themselves as some of them have done. I believe that a majority of honorable senators are eager to free Australia from the threat of communism, but some of them forget what they owe to their position. Those who value capitalist democracy should try to preserve it, and should uphold the decorum and prestige of the Parliament on all occasions. It should not be forgotten that a large part of the population of the world, perhaps a majority of the world’s people, is under Communist rule, while other sections of the world’s population are drifting in that direction. In Europe, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary,
Roumania, and Czechoslovakia are under Communist direction. Not long ago, the elections in Italy, of all places, were fought on the issue of communism. In Asia, China has gone Communist, and Korea very nearly went the same way. Honorable senators know what the position is in Burma, and what might happen at any time in Indo-China, Siam, Borneo, and Sumatra. In spite of this, there are people in Australia who behave as if they were unconscious of the threat to our civilization. If there is anything worth preserving in our present form of society, they should do their best to preserve it.
On several occasions during this debate, references have been made to Labour’s majority in this chamber. I emphasize the fact that every honorable senator has been constitutionally elected. It is true that the parties that have a majority in the House of Representatives are in a minority in the Senate, but we respect the Government’s majority in the House of Representatives, and the least that honorable senators opposite can do is to respect our majority here.
We have heard frequently from honorable senators opposite the allegation that the Opposition is delaying the passage of this measure, but to discuss the many features and provisions of the bill, and the effect that the measure will have on the community, is surely within the rights of all honorable senators. I say deliberately that there is no need for haste in the consideration of the bill. In my opinion, if ever there was a need for the urgent passage of a measure such as this, it was back in 1930, 1931 or 1932. I give full marks to honorable senators opposite for their sincerity. They are honest in their beliefs and in the opinions that they have expressed. They do believe that communism can be dispelled by legislative action.
I come now to the provisions of the measure itself. First, we have the recitals. I have examined many bills in my time, but never have I seen one with such long recitals. There are nine long paragraphs in the preamble, which I believe to be the longest of any measure ever introduced into an Australian Par liament. It should be clearly understood, however, that no one can commit a breach of a recital, either by contravention or by non-observance. One is left wondering, therefore, why those nine paragraphs have been inserted in the bill. I gave this matter my careful consideration three months ago., when I was writing to a journal. This is what I wrote -
It was anticipated that when assent to the bill is obtained, and the Prime Minister commences to have the Act administered, the Communist Party will have cause to test the’ constitutional soundness of certain parts of it.
There was at that time a doubt in my mind about the legality of certain provisions of the bill, and, in to-day’s press, we have read reports that nearly every King’s Counsel in Sydney and Melbourne has been briefed by the Communists to challenge the bill in the courts.-
– Do not be absurd. Only three have been briefed.
– I was excluding, of course, the honorable senator. During this debate, we have heard the rustle of the gown, and we have had the visions of the wig. There are lawyers in this chamber, and they never miss an opportunity to air their legal knowledge. I have had considerable experience in the administration of laws, and I have appeared in the courts. My experience has been that about 5 per cent, of court proceedings consists of evidence, another 5 per cent, of law, and 90 per cent, of bluff. I am sure that all laymen in this chamber have felt humble when lawyers have risen to speak. I suggest that in future, they bury their humility, and say to themselves, “ This is merely a. show. It is all bluff “. Earlier in this debate, we were told dramatically by a lawyer on the Government benches - “ The die is cast “. I felt like crying myself, and I am sure that several honorable senators on this side of the chamber were already weeping. That, of course, is the reason for the insertion of the long recitals in this bill. Considering the main provisions of the measure, one finds that there are ample means to deal with the father bear, the mother bear, and all the little bears. The Communists, of course, have to be extirpated, and all the organizations that are part and parcel of the Communist movement have to be disbanded. However, after considering the main portions of the bill, we come to what axe termed the averment provisions. Many people, I am sure, do not really understand clearly what an averment is. Many statutes have averment clauses. They are usually essential if laws are .to be enforced in the manner in which legislatures intend them tooperate. One has come to expect to find such clauses, but generally speaking, they are regarded by the legal fraternity as being obnoxious. There is a genuine desire on the part of legislative institutions to avoid the use of the averment if possible. Under this measure, a person may be declared to be a Communist upon the recommendation of a certain body. Peculiarly enough, that body will consist largely of public servants. As the name implies, public servants are servants of the public, and, as such, are controlled by the Government. Because the Government controls them, it can also direct them. Therefore, the public servants upon whose recommendation a declaration will be made, will take their instructions from the Government.
– The honorable senator is implying that public servants will be dishonorable.
– It would not be dishonorable to comply with an instruction. The mind of the public servants will be made up for them. They can still be honest, although acting upon a ministerial instruction. I am merely pointing to the weaknesses of the bill. At this stage, the averment provision has not been brought into operation. It does not operate until a person has been declared, and appeals against that declaration. He lodges an- appeal, and the mere fact that he does so is an acknowledgment of his guilt. In other words, he must acknowledge his guilt before he can move to prove that he is not a Communist.
– Complete rot!
– The laws of evidence deal with the use of the averment. They explain in detail how the averment operates, and how certain evidence must be adduced when proceedings are being taken on averment. A person who is declared under this bill to be a Communist and appeals against that declaration, has to prove his innocence. I have no doubt that, in some instances, the Government will be in possession of records of his past conduct and his personal standing in the community. The declared person will not know just what the Government does hold. He will not know why he has been declared to be a Communist. He will not have been present when a committee considered the material upon which it recommended his declaration as a Communist. Therefore, his position is this: In circumstances that did not permit bis voice to be heard, he has been declared to be a Communist; then, without knowing the information on which he has been declared, he is required to prove that he is not a Communist. Such procedure may be approved by the Government, but T am sure that at least h few of its supporters do not wholly approve of it. A. better way of dealing with this matter could have been devised, and even now, perhaps, it is not too late for the Government to withdraw this measure and replace it by one, the provisions of which are in accordance with British practices and procedure. Proceedings could be taken against any person who is suspected of being a Communist by ‘way of complaint-
– Under the provisions of the Crimes Act.
– I was thinking rather of the Justices Act which operates in each State. Complaints made under the provisions of the Justices Act are heard by a stipendiary magistrate from whose judgment an accused person may appeal to a higher tribunal and thus obtain a second decision. In Australia we are accustomed to having all these matters decided in conformity with British law and in accordance with the principles of British justice. Many years ago Ned Kelly, the famous bushranger, who had committed many crimes in Victoria and New South Wales, was apprehended, brought to trial and hanged. He is still remembered affectionately by many living Australians. Although he was hanged, the responsible government of the day in Victoria has lost none of its good repute because he was dealt with fairly after his capture and sentenced after a fair trial.
He was tried according to law and was hanged according to law. In future, however, Communists will not be given a trial. They are to be denied the privileges that are extended to criminals, including murderers.
The main question that we must ask ourselves is : Can communism be destroyed by legal action? It must be remembered that the Communist party is partly political and partly industrial. Although it may be weak numerically it is fairly strong economically. In proposing to ban the Communist party the Government is treading on dangerous ground. LC it is lawful for. the Government to ban the Communist party to-day, will if not be lawful for this or some other government to ban the Australian Country party to-morrow ?
– Very desirable, at any rate.
– And will it not be lawful for this or another government to ban the Australian Labour party in the following week? Once we commence the process of banning a political party there is nothing to stop us from extending it until only one political party remains. Then Ave should need only the military or the police. A few days ago an election was held in Eastern Germany. Although the representatives of two or more political parties may have contested it we have been told by the press that as the result of fear in the minds of the people all the members elected were representative of one political party. If it is feasible to ban communism by legislation it should also be feasible to ban love, light or the winds. If we wish to eradicate the evils of communism from our midst we must first remove the causes of communism. “What has caused the growth of communism ? Does it not represent a struggle for economic security?
– Not in Australia.
– There is a vast difference between the conditions that exist in. Australia and those that existed in Russia when communism was first established in that country. In Russia communism was born out of the hopelessness and helplessness of the Russian people, who had no opportunity to express their feelings. To them communism offered the only way out of their miseries.
Economic conditions in this country are by no means hopeless, but even if they were twenty times worse than they are now, our people would not be helpless. Every honorable senator knows that when he returns to his State at the end of the week, or at the end of the month, his electors interview him about various matters concerning their welfare and interests. On his return to the seat of government he makes appropriate representations in respect of their grievances. In this country the people enjoy the right to give expression to their political views. No matter how lowly a constituent may be his grievances are always heard and considered by the Parliament. In these circumstances communism does not find a healthy breeding ground in this country. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that communism is. international. I have no doubt that the communists in Australia do the bidding of their masters in Russia. Communism spreads its roots in bad economic conditions and in helplessness and hopelessness among the people. Many people in this country have embraced the Communist doctrine as a means of escape from bad economic conditions. Prom 1931 until 1939 there operated in this country a system of employment known as intermittent relief work. From 1931 to 1934 the very best that Australia offered an unemployed single man was one day’s work a week, for which he received lis. 6d. From 1935 to 1938 for one day’s work a week he was paid 14s. 6d. From 1931 to 1934 an unemployed married man was provided with lj days a week for which he was paid 17s., and from 1935 to 1938 he was paid £1 6s. 2d. Between 1931 and 1934 an unemployed married man with three children was provided with 2J days a week for which he was paid £1 7 s. It was to be expected that conditions such as that would lead to the formation of a political party somewhat different from the parties that are represented in this chamber. Could we expect single men to live for years under such conditions without being affected by offers to improve them, from whatever source they emanated?
– Those conditions mav have existed in Queensland where a Labour government was in office.
– They existed throughout the Commonwealth. For all I know, conditions in Tasmania may have been worse; certainly they were not better. During that period approximately 250,000 Australian people were out of work and the best that Australia did for them was to provide them with relief work under the conditions that X have outlined. If in a time of recession a single man cannot look forward to something better than that is it to be wondered at that he should be attracted to any political party that offered better conditions ?
– Does the honorable senator claim that 250,000 persons were put of work in 1938?
– Yes. In 1939 when the war broke out many of our people were still unemployed. After this bill has been assented to and the Government has done all the things that it desires to do under its provisions, should we have a return to conditions under which 250,000 of our people are out of work we shall have communism here whether we like it
Or not. During the last period of great unemployment in this country the unemployed were almost all Australians who had an Australian outlook and typical Australian tolerance. If similar conditions exist again a large proportion of the unemployed will be new Australians who have not the outlook and tolerance of our own people. In those circumstances we may have something worse than communism in this country. I should like this measure to have been accompanied by another measure designed to ban unemployment for ever. It would be just as possible to ban unemployment as it will be to ban communism by means of this legislation. I think it was Shakespeare who said that “ The mind shall banquet, though the body pine “. If we are going to starve men and give the people insecurity, then we are going to give them something on which to feast their minds. We shall make them think. At the outset, I said that I thought the principles of the Government members were sincere, and I repeat that statement. I still think that they believe the best is in this bill. I forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.
– Having spoken on the original bill when it was before the Senate, I do not intend to take up the time of honorable senators for very long, but during the debate on this subject over the last three days we have heard so many very long and windy arguments that it seems to me that the members of the Opposition are arriving at the stage where they cannot see the wood because the trees are in the way. Apart from challenging any of the various statements that have been made, all I propose doing is to go very slowly through the various stages that occur during the averment and the other processes in connexion with .the bill. I join issue with Senator McKenna, who quoted from the Declaration of Rights and stated that, amongst other things, it called for complete freedom of political thought, because I do not consider that,, communism is a form of political thought. To my mind, communism in Australia is merely espionage on behalf of a foreign power. I therefore consider that Senator McKenna is quite wrong in suggesting that freedom to practise communism is in accordance with the provisions of the Declaration of Rights.
I should like to congratulate Senator Benn on a moderate, well thought-out and constructive speech. Whilst I naturally do not agree with some of his points, I should very much like to hear more speeches in a similar strain from the members of the Opposition, instead of the continual and unnecessary villification of honorable senators on this side of the chamber.
In the few minutes I propose to speak, I wish to go slowly through the various stages of the> averment and possibly what might be termed the conviction. I am rather doubtful about using a name for the purposes of illustration in case it should subsequently be mentioned, but I shall take Senator Mattner as my example. Let us suppose that Senator Mattner acts in such a way that the security service of this country suspects that he is a Communist, and that he is, in fact, one of the people mentioned in this bill as being detrimental to the safety “ of the country. The first thing that happens is that the security service makes a thorough investigation. If, as the result of the investigation, it is decided that Senator Mattner is a Communist, and is likely to act to the detriment of this country, the security service then reports to the committee of five members, consisting of the SolicitorGeneral, the permanent head of the Department of Defence, the head of the security service, and two others.
– Who are the two others ?
– That is rather an interesting point, because it was hoped that a leading member of the trade unions would be one of those two others, but, unfortunately, the unions have refused to recommend anybody. However, those five men - and I. do not believe any member of the Opposition would even suggest they were not suitable men with responsible ideas of life - thoroughly investigate the charge. If they, in turn, come to the conclusion that Senator Mattner is what he is alleged to be, they report to the Cabinet. The Cabinet examination will be either cursory or long, according to the reports that are put in; but in any case the reports are examined by the Cabinet. All those people having decided that Senator Mattner is detrimental to the safety of the country, they declare him. He is not put in gaol, nor is he hanged or shot. All that happens is that he is prohibited from holding office in certain key unions or in the Commonwealth Public Service, and in that I include the defence forces. Nothing further happens as far as the law is concerned.
– He is socially damned !
– Let us suppose that Senator Mattner then decides that he does not like this averment and thinks to himself, “I am not a Communist, so I had better do something about it “. If, within 28 days of the declaration, he makes an appeal to the High Court, he is heard just as is anybody else who has committed a crime or has contravened the law. He then goes into the witnessbox a;nd says he is not a Communist, . he has never been a Communist, and he has never had anything to ‘do with “the -move ment. Then this onus of proof, of which we have heard so much, shifts entirely to the Crown in order to prove that he is, in fact, guilty of the offence with which he is charged.
– And he is crossexamined straight away, is he not ?
– Of course he is cross-examined. As soon as he says “ I am not a Communist” the Crown must
Prove that he is. In any court of law in the Commonwealth, if the Crown wishes to prove a person guilty of something, it has to cross-examine him.
– Then they must first have evidence.
– His own barrister or lawyer is also entitled to. question him, as in any ordinary law suit before the courts. I think it is rather a silly remark to say that he has to be cross-examined. Of course he has to be cross-questioned. He makes a definite statement: “I am not the man you. say I am “. The Crown must try to prove that he is, and by crossquestioning him it can, in very many cases, either obtain admissions of guilt or assumptions of guilt, and his own lawyer , is there to see that he gets fair play. I really cannot see what all this hullaballoo is about and I do not think any honorable senator could possibly disagree with the various stages I have demonstrated.
It seems to me that the reasons for the long-winded speeches from the honorable senators opposite fall into three categories’: That they have not read the bill properly and thoroughly, and therefore do not understand it ; or that they are deliberately misconstruing it in order to oppose it, thus carrying their duties as members of the Opposition to extreme lengths; or that they may be endeavouring to talk themselves out of the position in which they find themselves to-day. I think the last-mentioned category is probably untrue of most of the Opposition in this chamber, because I should not like to feel that there are very many men in the Opposition to-day who are willing to stand up and say what a shocking bill this is, and ‘how bad it would be for Australia, and then not to oppose it when the time comes to vote on it. Because I should not like to think that, I consider that most of the members on the other side of the chamber really do not understand the clauses that they have read in this bill, in spite of the hours they have spoken on them. I do not think any honorable senator will be able to fault those stages through which I have gone.
Senator Benn said that a man who is declared’ is not afforded the opportunity to defend himself before he is declared. A man who is accused of murder, or any other crime, does not have a little court set up for him in the police station so that he may be tried before he goes to the real court. His trial commences and finishes in either the High Court or the Supreme Court or the Privy Council, whichever it may be. There is not some sort of subsidiary trial before the real trial is commenced.
Senator Benn also mentioned ; and I confess to some surprise that it did not provoke an interjection - that if a man is declared he is finished socially and cannot be again employed, and so on. Senator McKenna, or for that matter any legal man, knows that many people are accused of acts and that they must go to court to prove their innocence. In general, once they are acquitted by the court they are back in practically the same position as they were before. When it has been proved, by all our excellent methods of justice, that a man is not guilty of an offence, he returns to the society from which he came, and nothing further happens.
I do sincerely support this bill. I should like to add that I am quite in accord with Senator Benn when he says that it is useless to pass the Communist Party Dissolution Bill through this Senate and to make it law unless we do other things at the same time. However, I have sufficient confidence in the Prime Minister and the Cabinet at present in this country to believe that they have a plan which will work in conjunction with the passage of this bill. This measure is so important that it affects the whole production of this country, on which the other parts of the plan so greatly depend.
Senator KATZ (Victoria) [4.0”! .-In dealing with this bill I have no desire to cast personal reflections or to descend to’ personalities in any way. I shall endeavour to deal with it purely from the political angle. Before I deal with the general points that were made by honorable senators opposite, I shall reply to statements that were made by Senator Hannaford and Senator Robertson about two honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Senator Hannaford, referring to the case presented by Senator McKenna on behalf of the Labour party, said that it was the worst speech that he had heard the honorable senator deliver. I believe that the statement by Senator McKenna was one of his best efforts. It was one of the best dissertations on an important question to which I have listened, and I am sorry that the proceedings of the Senate were not being broadcast when the speech was delivered.
Senator Robertson condemned Senator Sheehan for some remarks that he made. She said that she always listened attentively to the speeches made by Senator Sheehan and that ‘generally she was pleased with him, but apparently on this occasion he disappointed her. Senator Sheehan, as an ex-railwayman, can speak with authority about the present railway dispute in Victoria. Senator Robertson and other honorable senator;: opposite do not appear to take much notice of the industrial position occupied by Australian workers, and apparently have not devoted much attention to a study of the development of trade unions in Australia. Pew honorable senators opposite know of the tribulations that the railwaymen suffered in their attempts to secure the right to form a trade union. In 1903 the antipathy of the Victorian Government to the railwaymen of Victoria was so great that it sponsored a measure to prevent them from being treated as Victorians. Their names were removed from the Victorian electoral roll and they were given separate representation in the Victorian Parliament. They were not allowed to associate politically with their fellow citizens in Victoria. We can visualize the environment of the men employed in the Victorian railways service from 1903 onwards. It has always been the policy of the Victorian railways to pay wages lower than those paid in other branches of industry. Time went on, and the Commonwealth arbitration system began to take shape. Eventually, the Victorian railwaymen linked themselves with the political and industrial movement of Australia, but at one time, when I was a delegate to a trades and labour council in Victoria, they were not allowed, under the laws administered by the Victorian Commissioners of Railways, to affiliate with a trades and labour council.
– What has this to do with the bill?
– I thought the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) was overseas, because he has not been in the chamber for some time. Senator Robertson, although not attacking Senator Sheehan in a personal manner, condemned a statement that he made when speaking upon the bill we are now discussing. Let me say for the edification of the Minister that, although the Liberal party is now engaged in a sham fight with the Communists, the actions of that party in Victoria during the last ten or fifteen years were responsible for the election of Jackie Brown, a Communist, to control the affairs of the Australian Railways Union. The Minister knows that that is so.
– The honorable senator is still supporting him.
– I have never supported Jackie Brown in my life. Legislation sponsored by the Liberal party is responsible for the Communist party occupying ‘its present position in this country. I am not blaming the Minister for that. I am aware that he has no knowledge of what occurs in the industrial movement of this country.
– It does not appear that Senator Katz is very up to date in that respect.
– I forgive the Minister because, coming from South Australia, he does not know what transpires in the more densely populated States of this country. I Was replying to Senator Robertson when the Minister rudely interrupted me. I think Ministers should set an example to the rank-and-file members of the Senate, not only on this side but also on the other side, by refraining from interjections. If the Minister had been present in the chamber during the course of this debate, he would know that I did not interject when honorable senators opposite were speaking. Let us consider the Victorian railway dispute. The Victorian railwaymen had a dispute with the Victorian Railways Commissioners. The chairman of the commissioners then conferred with representatives of the ralwaymen’s union and with his own industrial officers. The men claimed that they should be paid for overtime on a daily basis. At present, the commissioners can order them to work for any hours they like to specify, and overtime is paid only after a certain period and not after each day’s work. The men claimed that they should be paid overtime on a daily basis, and also pressed a claim that they had been making for many years, that they should be paid for what is known as passive time. The commissioners agreed to accept the men’s demands. The Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. Hall, declined to ratify the agreement made between the commissioners and the trade union. The commissioners were, and still are, prepared to accede to the men’s claims. Why is it that J. J. Brown and the Communistcontrolled executive of the union now have the men behind them? It is because of the way in which the men have been treated during the last ten or twenty years. That is one of the reasons why Communists have secured control of the Victorian railwaymen’s union. The Communists fought strongly for the men, who were not being paid rates similar to those paid in other fields of employment and were not enjoying conditions in relation to overtime, &c, equal to those enjoyed by men in other industries.
Why does the Labour party oppose the onus of proof provision in this measure so strongly? Let me tell the Senate of an incident that occurred in Sydney last week. An American citizen was in Martin-place. He had on him the equivalent of £12,000 in American dollars. He was not wearing a collar and he was questioned by the police. They jumped on him and were taking him. with them to be charged with being an escaped lunatic. When that happens in a city like Sydney, it can easily lie understood why the Labour party has adopted the attitude that it has to the onus of proof provisions in this measure.
We believe that every man should have the rights to which he is entitled under our British system of administration of justice.
When I consider the history of the Liberal -party and its connexion with Australian Communists, I recall that, following an industrial dispute, a Liberal government announced that it proposed to deport two men, Walsh and Jacob Johnson. The. attempt to deport them was merely a sham, because Walsh was subsequently employed by employers’ organizations and -Liberal party organizations in New South Wales and fought the Labour party as bitterly as the Liberal party is fighting it now.
I turn to the attacks that have been made upon the Australian Council of Trades Unions because it has consistently opposed this bill. Although members of the Government parties have attacked the Australian Council of Trades Unions, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has invited the president of that organization to attend a conference to discuss methods of achieving greater production in Australia. Whilst Government supporters condemn members of the Australian Council of Trades Unions as Communists, the Government is quite prepared to confer with the president in regard to production.
I am convinced that the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport would give a great deal to get rid of this bill, which the Government knows perfectly well is a loser. The Government wants the Opposition to reject the bill, but we shall not do so. The Government wanted the bill and will get it. At the moment the Government has no intention to do anything to implement the measure, because it knows that it can not do anything. During a strike in Victoria, the Hollway Government secured the passage through the Victorian Parliament of the Essential Services (Emergency) Act. I am not saying a word against Mr. Hollway, because I believe that at the time he really thought he could achieve something with the measure. It was along the same lines as the bill before the Senate, but it was not half as bad as the bill that we are considering, because it was thought out by a Victorian, not by representatives of the Liberal party from all parts of Australia. As honorable senators know, there is now a rail strike in progress in Victoria. When Mr. McDonald, the Premier of that State, was asked recently why he did not put the Essential Services (Emergency) Act into operation, he replied, “ I cannot do it. The act is not workable “.
– He could not do it under the yoke of Cain.
– I remind the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport that the legal gentlemen who examined the bill at the time that it was brought down expressed the opinion that the Government would never be able to put it into operation. I am not referring to agricultural pursuits, in which the Minister and Senator Mattner may be engaged. The Government is hopelessly at sca when it endeavours to deal with representatives of trade unions. The Government intends to remove certain trade union officials from office. But what will happen then? Would the removal of Mr. Idris Williams, the president of the coalminers federation, from office produce coal? Would the Minister go into the pits himself ? No ! Coal can be won only by the men who are employed in the mines.
– How much coal does Williams get?
– It is well known that Mr. Idris Williams became incapacitated after working in the mines.
– I am glad that the honorable senator supports him.
– The Minister is putting words into my mouth. I am not supporting the Government in connexion with this bill, and I shall not vote to enable its passage. The Government parties will be able to commit political suicide by attempting to administer it. Whenever a coal strike has occurred while an anti-Labour government has been in office, no attempts have been made to settle it. Liberal and Country party members have never had the courage to address the miners on the coal-fields, as Labour Ministers have done, to try to secure coal to assist Australian production.
– The Labour Government put the soldiers into the mines because it was afraid to take the Communists out of them.
– Labour did nothing of the sort, but realizing that coal was needed, the former Government took certain action. If the coal-miners strike as the result of this legislation, what will the Government do?
– I would not seek the honorable senator’s support, in view of the way that he is talking.
– I shall refer to the seamen’s union. Would the gaoling of Bird make possible the sailing of ships?
– That was under a Labour Government.
– Would the goaling of that official make possible the carrying of freight from one State to another? Honorable senators opposite know perfectly well that it would not. That is why I doubt the Government’s genuineness in this matter. During the war period the trade union movement of this country pledged itself to co-operate in every way possible with whatever government was in office.
– The railway men are on strike in Victoria now.
– Although we have been trying to settle that dispute, the Government has made no attempt to do so. Every time that supporters of the Government utter a word about it, they make the position a thousand times worse. The objective, of the Australian Labour party is to protect the trade unionists of this country. Following the allegations that were made by Senator Kendall about the position of a person who was declared, I obtained an opinion from eminent counsel, in the person of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), who has been a High Court judge. It reads as follows : -
If, at the end of your evidence, the judge is in doubt, the Crown discharges its onus by merely putting in the declaration. You lose your case without ever seeing or hearing your accusers, without the opportunity to crossexamine them, without in fact even knowing the circumstances or persons who caused your declaration.
Senator Kendall asserted that if a declared person subsequently won his appeal, he could go back to his job. I remind the Senate that when the public is hysterical, anything is likely to happen. We should remember what happened during the war period. If persons were thought to be subversive, even without trial they became marked men in the community. In many instances they lost their jobs, although a charge was not preferred against them. A certain stigma always attaches to the individual.
What has the Government against the amendments that were moved by the Opposition? We supported the Government right up to the hilt in connexion with everything concerning the banning of the Communist party. What else does it want? We also agreed that Communists who were occupying certain posts in trade unions should be ousted. It will Be remembered that when Labour was in office a bill was passed to enable secret ballots to be conducted by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, upon the application of individual members of an organization. The present Government has never introduced any such measure. A lot of discontent has been caused amongst the people of this country because the Government has refused to accept the amendments that were moved by the Labour Opposition in this chamber.
Senator Robertson read out a lengthy letter that she had received. It may interest the honorable senator to learn that we have received from the Housewives Association of New South Wales telegrams by the score as long as the letter received by her. We have received piles of correspondence, including hundreds of telegrams, condemning us for the very action that we are taking in the Senate, and for the action that has been taken by the Opposition in the House of Representatives. We have been condemned because of the support that we have offered to the Government. We have been condemned because we have adopted a certain course of action, not in our own interests. What have we to gain from the actions that we have taken ? We represent the workers of this country, not large financial organizations.
– The honorable senator should not talk such nonsense. Does he think that we do ?
– Not one workingclass organization in Australia supports the Government parties. The leaders of those parties are afraid of losing what they have. They were the most disappointed people in Australia when they learnt that the federal executive of the Australian Labour party had decided that this bill should be allowed- to go through. I presume that they realize that the action that we have taken is a presage of the destruction of the anti-Labour parties in this country. Labour is well aware of the difficulties that confront the Government. We have had experience in dealing with trade unions that are controlled by Communists. We have fought them, and we know what the Government is up against. Most trade unionists, even if they are not Communists, insist that everybody should receive a. fair “crack of the whip “. The onus of proof provision will enable them to gain support that they would not otherwise have been able to get. Labour is the only party that has anything to lose as the result of the action that we are taking. Although this action has not been taken as the result of a unanimous direction from the trade union movement, I point out that the action of the Government in this matter is receiving the unqualified support and backing of the large financial institutions, as well as of the press of Australia. Immediately before a political fight is due to commence, and as soon as the date is fixed, almost the whole of the broadcasting system of Australia is booked by the anti-Labour parties. We expect that the people of Australia will be so much on the side of Labour, because of the fair stand that has been taken by the Opposition in this chamber, that the anti-Labour parties will lose in the long run. I believe that when supporters of the Government learned of the decision of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party, the entire, stock of aspros available at the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms was soon sold out. I am firmly convinced that the supporters of the Government were very disappointed to learn of that decision.
The members of the Cabinet know perfectly well what is going to happen.
The Prime Minister is as keen a judge as I am in these matters. He knows exactly where he is going. The Government will get the bill to-day, but when will it be put into operation? When does the Government propose to act on it? Even the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) cannot say. As a matter of fact, the Government does not propose to act upon it at all. At the moment, members of the Government are pinning their hopes to the Commonwealth Bank Bill. “ We will catch them on the bank bill”, they say. Probably they will go to the country, and never say a word about the bank, bill, because they, will hope to frighten the people once more on the Communist issue. We in Victoria have had a taste of what the banks will do. and what they are prepared to spend their money on. We know how they used their Liberal sympathizers in the Upper House of the State Parliament. The Lower House was controlled by the Labour party, but the banks got their friend, Sir Frank Clarke, in the Upper House to insist upon a. policy acceptable to the banks, and to withhold supply. The Legislative Council, elected by onethird of the people of Victoria, forced the Lower House, which had been elected on an adult franchise, to go to the people.
– What did the people do about it?
– It does not matter what the people did. I am pointing out what the banks did. If honorable senators, elected on an adult franchise, endorse the action of the banks on that occasion there appears to be little hope for democracy. I go further, and say that if the legislation now under discussion is administered in the same way as some State governments have administered legislation, it will not be long before the Chifley Government is back in office.
– I do not propose to speak at length, because the Government wants to get the bill. I listened to Senator Sheehan make a melancholy speech last night, and to-day I listened to Senator Katz. They are both Victorians, and it is a terrible thing that, at a time like this when conciliation commissioners appointed by the Chifley Government are trying to settle a strike, responsible senators from Victoria should be doing their best to encourage the strikers. The Labour party was in office for eight years in the Commonwealth, and Labour governments have been in office in the States. It was/because of the spineless attitude of those/Labour governments to the problem of Communism that we are faced with So many difficulties to-day. We are threatened with Communistinspired strikes, but the Labour party is doing nothing to help to get this bill through so that we may attack the vicious group of people who are doing so much barm. I listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley), and I am sure that the public must have been disgusted with the political humbug that he displayed. I appreciate that every honorable senator opposite, with the exception of one, realizes that the Communists are a menace to Australia and to the peace of the world. Great sacrifices are being made in other parts of the world to check the menace of communism, and it is. not very encouraging to note the behaviour of the Labour party in this Parliament. Our own lads are making heavy sacrifices overseas, and millions of pounds are being spent in Australia on defence to enable us to play our part in the defeat of commu-111 Sn] ; yet, for six months, the Government has been prevented from getting legislation which it believes is essential if we are to destroy the red menace in this country. For months we listened to speeches from honorable senators attacking certain clauses of the bill. I am sure that Senator McKenna must blush to remember them. Perhaps he is incapable of blushing, but he must surely hang his head in shame to recall the speeches that he made in opposition to parts of the bill. And now he is committed to vote on the bill, not as his conscience dictates, but in accordance with the decision of a small coterie of twelve men outside the Parliament who are dictating to the representatives of the people what they must do. Was it not sufficient for the Opposition to hold the bill up for six months ? Now, after it has been decided to give the Government the bill, they are still delaying its passage, as they have delayed it for the past three days. What is going on in Australia at the present time? Communist leaders of trade unions are sabotaging the steel industry. Important coal mines in New South Wales are repeatedly idle. Strikes are occurring in various parts of Australia, and reports come to hand that they are inspired by Communists. The same sort of thing is going on in the maritime industry. Ships are constantly being held up. Because Mr. Elliott has some influence in the seamen’s union he is able to persuade the seamen to hold up the sailing of ships so that steel urgently needed for defence purposes and for housing cannot be delivered. Yesterday, at most of the ports in Australia, there was a strike inspired by the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. Healy, a wellknown Communist, who was kicked off the Stevedoring Industry Commission by the Chifley Government. Yet he is able to hold up 250 ships at a time when shipping is scarce, and goods are urgently required. There is a conspiracy among Communist trade union leaders in certain key industries to sabotage Australian industry, because they do not want Australia to get on with its _ defence projects. Labour senators are well aware of all this. ] appeal to them to stop playing the fool, and to pass the bill so that we may go on with the job.
We know that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is working at only 70 per cent, of its capacity because of the shortage of coal, and that Lysaghts Limited, in Newcastle, have had to put off men because they cannot get steel. If the Communist party had paid Labour senators they could not have done a better job during the last three days in the interests of the Communists. As soon as the leaders of the Communist party knew that the Australian Labour party executive had forced the parliamentary Labour party to surrender on this bill they got busy, and for the last three days they have been burning papers, and getting rid of their cash as a prelude to going underground. The Labour Opposition in the Senate has held up the passage of the bill, thus providing the Communists with time in which to act. On behalf of the Government, I protest emphatically against such behaviour. As -the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) said a few days ago, the task of the Government will be difficult. Throughout the whole of these protracted debates not one member of the Government has attacked the genuine trade union movement. At all my meetings on the coal-fields I have been only too pleased to meet representatives of the workers, and I have found that 95 per cent, of the trade unionists are decent men who are anxious to get rid of the Communists. For some unknown reason, however, the Communists have a grip on the executives of some of the unions and can prevent the moderate unionists from acting as they would like. It is a disgrace to the Senate that the bill should be held up in this way. I appeal to Senator McKenna and to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) to put an end to this humbug, and let us get on with the job.
– This measure has been discussed from all angles. I have listened to the outbursts from honorable senators opposite, including some Ministers, who have accused the Opposition of wasting time. Generally, only one Minister speaks on a particular bill, but the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) was the third Minister to speak on this bill. All of them abused the Labour party. We have been accused of holding up this legislation, thus providing the Communists with an opportunity to go underground. I assure honorable senators opposite that the Communist party was getting ready to go underground quite a long time ago, even before the last general election. I quote the following from the Melbourne Herald : -
STEPS by Reds to Dodge Bill.
When the Government moves to seize the assets of the Australian Communist Party - when the anti-Red Bill becomes law - it will find little to seize in Melbourne. Even before the Labour party, through its action in the Senate, gave the Communists six months’ grace, the communist party had:
Arranged for non-communists to become the owners of its buildings and premises, even made genuine sales of some;
Delivered such seizable assets as typewriters and furniture into the hands of party members and fellow-travellers. . . .
During the election campaign, the leaders of the present Government announced that, if they were returned to power, they would ban the Communist party, but the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was not introduced until six months after the election. During the. current debate, very few Government supporters were t first prepared to speak 6n the measure. They were waiting until proceedings were broadcast, but they got a terrible shock when Senator Sheehan told the Senate and the people how honorable senators opposite are controlled by outside authorities. If the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport sincerely believes that yesterday’s Commonwealth-wide strike on the waterfront wa9 inspired by the Communist secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Mr. Healy, why did he not invoke the Crimes Act? He is as spineless as the rest of his colleagues. Section 30.i (2.) of the Crimes Act states - (2.) Any person who, during the operation of such Proclamation, takes part in or continues, or incites to, urges, aids or encourages the taking part in, or continuance of, a lockout or strike -
in relation to employment in or in connexion with the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States; or
Why has the Government not acted under that provision ? It has not acted because it has not the “ inside “ to do so. When this measure has been passed, the Labour party will give the Government every possible assistance in its efforts to suppress communism. I hope that it will be successful. I have fought the Communists for the last fifteen years, and will continue to do so, but I can see that the implementation of this legislation will present many serious difficulties. That is why the Government has endeavoured to dodge the issue. I repeat that, without this legislation, the Government already has all the authority necessary to deal with subversive elements in the community, but it has not had the “ inside “ to do so, and “I do not think that it will have the “ inside “ even when this bill has been passed.
The Opposition’s criticism of this measure has been castigated by honorable senators opposite. I remind the Senate that every member of this chamber - and that includes those on the Opposition side - has been elected by the people, and is entitled to criticize any legislation that comes before the Senate. I for one shall not hesitate to criticize a bill if I consider that it merits criticism. The Labour Opposition in this chamber has criticized this bill because of certain provisions which are considered to be unjust. There will be no need for the onus of proof clause in dealing with the Thorntons, the Healys and others whose affiliations with the Communist party are well known. Our object is to protect the honest trade unionist who will be in danger of being declared under this bill. “We challenge the right of the Attorney-General to authorize people to enter the homes of private citizens merely on the ground that they may be members of the Communist party or of some affiliated organization. Many innocent people have joined Communistinspired organizations, not knowing their true character. In many such organizations the majority is ruled by the minority. I know several people in Perth who, because of their pacifist leanings, have joined so-called peace organizations. They are genuinely disturbed by this measure.
The Liberal party and its predecessors have raised the Communist bogy at elections for the past 30 years. A former Prime Minister, Mr. S. M. Bruce, was elected to office on one occasion at least by hoodwinking the people into believing that he would suppress the Communists. In 1925, Mr, Bruce stated that there were men in Australia who were a menace to the community; who would destroy Aus tralia, and therefore must be removed. In his electioneering appeal he said -
I appeal to my fellow citizens to support and assist me in destroying this viper which has raised its head in our midst.
That statement was made on the 10th September, 1925. Mr. Bruce said also that the Government was determined to defeat the nefarious designs of the extremists, and promised that, if armed with the mandate of the people, he would take all the necessary steps to that end. According to a report published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 6th January, 1940, the then Leader of the Australian Country party, Sir Earle Page, said -
I’ll wipe or.lt the Australian Communist Party pretty soon. I have all my plans prepared and the Country Party is 100 per cent, behind me.
The present Government parties have been in power in this Parliam.3nt for most of the time since 1925, bug what have they done? Can any one show that there are more strikes to-day than there were ten or fifteen years ago ? I invito honorable senators to cast their minds back to the depression days of the early 1930’s. Although the Scullin Government was in office, the anti-Labour parties had a majority in this chamber, and what did they do ? Acting under instructions from one or two financiers, they permitted the people of this country to exist on. a starvation diet. Honorable senators opposite talk about the alleged domination of the Australian Labour party by a body consisting of two delegates from each State. In the depression years, the anti-Labour parties were dominated by one man, Sir Otto Niemeyer, who came here from Great Britain and told us that we must tighten our belts. The result was that nearly one-third of the people of this country had to exist on mere sustenance for a couple of years. They pulled in their belts all right. The sustenance allowance was about 7s. for each person. A married man with a wife and one child had. to live on 21s. a week. If he earned even 10s., that amount was deducted from hi3 sustenance payment. Any one who had a few pounds in the bank and therefore was ineligible for sustenance payments, was unable to secure government employment.
We hear a lot to-day about the high cost of living and the need for increased production.’ On more than one occasion when the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) was one of the “lonely three” Opposition members in this chamber, he said that the high cost of living and the low production was due to the activities of the Communists. In my opinion the shortage of labour is the cause of low production in most of our industries to-day. In every daily newspaper one reads advertisements by most of our leading industries for labour. Even the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which, during the Chifley Government’s regime, was supplied with three or four hundred migrants, is still appealing for brickmakers, toolmakers and so on. I had an opportunity to inspect the Newcastle steelworks of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited some time ago, and to speak to a number of the immigrants who had been given jobs in that undertaking. They are doing excellent work. The inadequacy of steel production is not the fault of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. It is due to the shortage of labour and of material including coking coal. ‘ Senator Simmonds said yesterday that the Labour party, if returned to power, would repeal this bill. Apparently the honorable senator was not aware of what Senator McKenna had said on Tuesday, which was that the Labour party would insert its amendments into this legislation immediately it resumed office. Those amendments include, of course, an alteration of the onus of proof clause. The injustice of that clause has already been dealt with fully by Senator McKenna and other honorable senators on this side of the chamber, and I shall not refer further to that matter. We are fully aware of its dangers and it is against those dangers that we are seeking to protect the trade unionists of this country. It is all very well for Senator Robertson to talk about the trade unionists not being satisfied with what we are doing. The honorable senator may belong to a trade union, but she has never belonged to one that is affiliated with the Labour party, so she does not know what she is talking about. A fortnight ago Senator
Senator TI arris.
McKenna introduced a bill in this Senate to provide for the taking of a referendum on the subject of prices control. No sooner had he concluded his speech than the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced over the air and in the press the measures which the Government proposed to take to curb inflation. During the following two or three days he gave full details of his proposals. Although the evils of inflation had been apparent for many months, only after Senator McKenna had introduced his bill in this chamber was the Prime Minister awakened to the importance of the problem and the need for action to solve it. The press carried full page advertisements, which were paid for by the taxpayers of Australia, setting out the measures proposed by the Government to curb inflation. The whole of the propaganda machinery of the Liberal party was put into operation in order to ensure that the widest publicity should be given to the Prime Minister’s plans. During the last two weeks when the bill to deal with prices was under discussion in this chamber Senator. Robertson, who to-day ha,3 complained about the high prices of commodities, had not one word to say. I am sure that she has no idea of the difficulties of the wife of a working man who is in receipt of the basic wage. The honorable senator claims to be the champion of the workers and of the women of Australia but she had not one word to say on a bill which was designed for the sole purpose of alleviating the distress that exists among them.
– I will -do so at the right time.
– Doubtless the honorable senator and her colleagues remained silent under instructions from the Prime Minister who feared that they would say something that ran counter to his ideas on the subject. While that measure was under discussion honorable senators opposite continually interjected, saying, “ Let us get on with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill “. We have decided to accede to their request and now they appear to be astonished by our decision not to oppose the passage of that measure. In fact they have invited us to vote against it. What sort of a sham fight is this ? Do they want the bill to be passed or not?
Last night the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) said that the Labour senators were the elected representatives of the people who had voted for them, and that they wore paid, not by the Labour party but by the people of Australia. The Minister also said that they were elected to state their true views on the legislation brought before them and that it was contrary to all previous practice for them to come into the Senate and vote in accordance with the recommendation of an outside body. What a statement to come from the mouth of a responsible member of the Liberal party! Let us recall the history of that party since the days when it was led by Mr. Bruce, now Lord Bruce. When that party was in power it was responsible for the sale of the Australian Common wealth line of steamers: it sold the Commonwealth woollen mills and played a prominent part in other swindles which it engineered at the behest of its financial supporters in Sydney and Melbourne. What a record ! Some of the new members of that party should examine the records of its past activities in order to discover what sort of a political party they have joined. Honorable senators opposite have said that the Labour party is dominated by twelve men. I shall not disclose to them the details of the inside working of that party. I merely remind them that its policy is dictated not by twelve men but by the whole of the trade union movement throughout the Commonwealth. Its political machinery is the envy of other political parties. Let those who have criticized us in the last few days examine the history of the Liberal party in both the State and Commonwealth spheres. What was the record of the Liberal party of Australia in connexion with the general election of 1 949 ?
– A very honorable one.
– When this bill has been placed on the statute-book I shall do everything in my power to assist the Government to implement it.
– I am glad to have that assurance from the honorable
– The Labour movement generally will assist the Government in its efforts to implement the provisions of this legislation. That assistance should be worth while because the trade union movement, particularly in Western Australia, has bitterly fought the Communists for many years. In spite of the activities of the Communists Western Australia has a great industrial record. Very few disputes have occurred in that State, particularly in the coalmining and waterfront industries which are so important to our economy. Such differences as have arisen between employers and employees in the coal-mining industry have almost invariably been settled overnight by Mr. W. J. Wallwork, the chairman of the Western Australia Local Reference Board. Mr. Wallwork has never hesitated to speak plainly to the coal-miners and the coal-owners alike, and all sections of the industry are content to abide by his decisions. With his assistance production from the Collie field has reached record dimensions. The future of the industry in Western Australia looks very bright. Open-cut mining is being extended and new machinery is being obtained. It is hoped that as a result of these improvements the coal production in Western Australia will bp greatly increased during the next few months. The Government will encounter great difficulties in its efforts to implement this legislation but it may rest assured that we shall give it all the assistance we can in carrying out its task.
Motion (by Senator Wordsworth) put -
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Like myself, my contribution to this debate will be very brief. Although honorable senators opposite are pleased to receive that assurance from me I remind them that they are not anticipating much because throughout the whole of my public life I have invariably been warned to be brief by the chairman of every meeting that I have addressed. I am well aware of the saying that brevity is the soul of wit. Indeed, I have just complimented Senator Wordsworth on the brevity of his remarks a moment or two ago when he proposed that the question be now put. I have participated in this debate not because I am afraid of being declared - I am already approaching the sere and yellow - but because I want to have my views recorded in Hansard so that those who are sufficiently interested in politics to read that publication may know and understand them. I regret that the proceedings of this chamber to-day are not being broadcast, because I should like to tell the people of my antagonism to those who masquerade as Communists. Twelve months ago or more I made a dissertation in this Senate on the subject of the various “ isms “ that have been inflicted on mankind including socialism, communism, anarchism, nihilism and liberalism ; and I characterized liberalism as the worst of all of them. However, I shall not turn the knife in old wounds by a repetition of my views on that subject.
On the occasion when I dealt with communism I made it clear that I had a wholesome respect for it, but little respect for the people of this country masquerading as Communists. I wish to be a little more explanatory now, because since I delivered that speech I have learned something that has changed my mind towards communism as it is at present operating in Russia and the various parts of the world. The basie principles of communism were : from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs. There is nothing much wrong with that. In fact, it is a splendid idea, and no one can gainsay it. It is a claim that the State has the right to expect something from each and all of us according to our ability, and that it guarantees something to each and all of us according to our needs, thereby making provision for the halt, the lame, the blind, and the physically incapable. I regarded that as a glorious ideal. But I have discovered from a booklet sent to me by a prominent Communist - I have been cheek by jowl with some of them in past years - that in 1936, at the Communist convention in Moscow, that ideal was altered. That, of course, does not alter communism, but it alters the “ ism “ as practised in Russia under Stalin. One word in that preamble was altered, so that instead of reading “ from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs “, it reads “ from each according to his ability; to each according to his work “. That might sound democratic and quite proper, but when it is realized that another plank in their philosophy is based on the principle of work, so that “ if any work not, neither shall he eat “,’ we are able to see the pernicious effect of that alteration. It means that instead of helping the halt, the lame, and the blind, if they do not produce, neither shall they eat.
I believe that there has been liquidation to an alarming extent of people who have been inept and incapable in Russia. I am not speaking empty phrases. When I use the word “ comrade “ I use it in the real sense, and not in the sense that people now mouth it. bringing it into disrepute. I once had a Russian friend, a workmate, who was injured and was dying. While I am not asking for any pats on the back, I took over the responsibility of his two little children. I have no regrets, because they both turned out very fine citizens, and I am proud of the fact that I did so.
The very fact that I did so meant that I had the fullest respect from all types of Russians in New South Wales. Thousands of them visited me in their natural concern for the children. I obtained information from those people which was not then generally known. People speak about an “ iron curtain “ now ; it was an opaque curtain before, and very little information came from Russia. I think I can rely on the information I received from both “ White “ and “ Red “ Russians to know what was happening in their country. The “ White “ Russians spoke of wholesale liquidation. I know that I am painting a terrible picture for honorable senators, but I do it so that if there are Communists who have sufficient interest to read in Hansard what I have said, I shall be proud to let them know my opinion of them.
I once met a Russian, who, with the father of the two children I have mentioned, had been a member of the Czar’s bodyguard, and was standing behind him on Red Sunday, 1905, when he gave the order at Tsarskoye Selo to fire on peaceful citizens presenting a pleading petition. It was in disgust at that act that those two men escaped. They came through Siberia, passing through Omsk, Tomsk, Irkutsk and Harbin, and eventually finding their way to Australia, where I came in contact with them. The friend of the man with whom I was closely associated decided, some ten years ago, to go back to Russia. He was then aged about 58, and he went back with his wife and daughter. They have never been heard of since. He had reached the stage when he was physically inept, and I honestly believe that the man, whom I was proud to call friend, and who had been very prompt in discarding the Czar after the incident I have mentioned, thereby showing that he had some manliness, in. conjunction with hundreds of thousands of others, was liquidated, because he was no longer useful as a producing unit of the Soviet. 1 have said that the Communists are operating from Russia and in association with Russia. I know that another of their doctrines is that the end justifies the means. That is anarchy. For that reason I prefer to describe as anarchists those people who masquerade as Communists, because anarchy is the negation of all forms of constituted authority. There is no doubt as to where these so-called Communists stand. They are really anarchists. I do not blame them entirely for what has happened, because, after all, we have just been through ‘two world wars. We have heard of field-marshals, generals and admirals, but emerging from all that war period there is one general compared to whom all other generals pale into insignificance. That general is general apathy. Quite frankly, I believe that the Government is only using -this bill as a stalking horse, because I think communism is a dying, or a diminishing power in this country. General apathy is responsible for all the ills of the trade unionists. I am a trade unionist, and for many years I was the senior union delegate in every shop in which I worked. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) said to me some months ago, “ I could not imagine any one declaring you, senator “. As a matter of fact, in the eyes of the general public and of this excellent committee of five which is to be set up, I may ‘appear a very dangerous individual. I was the man who declared that terrible - and I say that advisedly - 1917 strike, which brought so much havoc in its train. That declaration fell to my lot. Confidentially, I did not believe in it at the time. I have heard nasty epithets thrown across this chamber at people who vote against their conscience. As senior union delegate in the Eveleigh workshops, it was my duty, when a majority decided on a course of action, whether I believed in it or not, to implement it, and I did so. Having implemented action to commence that strike, and having been associated with militant unionism in every workshop in which I have worked during my 37 years in the engineering industry, I consider that I would come immediately within the purview of this power to declare, and that the onus would then be on me. It would be my job to work my way out of that difficulty. First, there would be a stigma attached to me, to my home, and to my wife and children. It would be my responsibility to ward off skilled cross-examiners and endeavour to prove that I was not closely associated with various institutions. The onus would be on me
There is nothing that impresses us so much as that which we do not understand. I have had quite a lot of court experience, and I know the legal habits of trying to impress and then brow-heat witnesses or accused persons who are under crossexamination. On many occasions I have acted as an industrial inspector conducting prosecutions, and I have seen people tricked into saying something that was not true or that they did not mean. They became the victims of ‘the advocates, and I can see that possibility emerging from this legislation. 1 repeat that the responsibility for all this apathy rests with the trade unionists who take so little interest in union affairs that they do not attend their meetings. They can bc forgiven to some degree because, in 1950, there are many more forms of diversion and entertainment available than there were in, say, 1910 or 1914, when the cinema was in its infancy, radio had not been introduced into Australia and the social evening, musical evening or conversazione was the principal means of entertainment. In those days, working men attended meetings of their trade unions, benefit lodges or labour leagues and were interested in the proceedings because there were not many counter attractions, but the advent of modern entertainments has made them somewhat lazy in this regard and encouraged their apathy. They can sit in a chair on a cold night with their feet up and listen on the radio to the best prima donna, comedian or lecturer. Unfortunately, trade unionists do not realize the value of modern inventions to the employing class ; otherwise, they would try to harness them so that they could be used to their own advantage-. I believe that that could be done.
When this legislation was first introduced, the Labour party agreed to give the Government all that it had asked for at the general election, or all that was necessary to enable it to implement the promises that it made then in relation to communism. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when introducing the bill, said that he would not accept any amend- ments, but we know that, after lengthy debates, 35 amendments were made. The dangerous provisions relating to the onus of proof are still in the bill. If the Prime Minister and his party junta were sincere in their statements that they want to implement this measure, and that they would like the Opposition to assist them in doing so, they would meet the Opposition and endeavour to compose the difference in relation to the onus of proof that exists between the two sides. But the Government has been adamant in insisting that what I believe to be the very dangerous onus of proof provisions shall remain in the bill. Because the Government has been adamant, I suspect that it wishes to retain those provisions foi- a pernicious purpose. I am trying to speak temperately. I congratulate Senator Sheehan on a wonderful speech, and Senators Benn and Kendall on temperate speeches. They dealt with this subject decently.
One of the greatest problems facing the Government is to put value back into the £1, but I am afraid that that is a hurdle that it will not surmount. Value could be put back into the £1 either by revaluing the currency-
– Does the honorable senator believe that that should be done?
– If Senator Guy asks that question of his colleagues, he will find that- many of them do not believe that it should he done. One way of putting value back into the £1 is by revaluation of the currency. The other is by creating in this country conditions similar to those which caused the depression that cursed Australia between 1929 and 1935.
– There is a. third way - by hard work and greater production.
– I admit that thews are many persons in industry to-day who do not work as hard as they did during and before the war, and I have told them 90. Many of them are soft-pedalling because the iron has entered their souls. They -felt the scourge on their backs for many years, and now, for the first time in their lives, they find themselves in the box seat and are swishing the whip regardless of whom they hurt. I do not agree with their attitude, but I can understand it. I have said in previous debates that the depression was man-made. It was made by the men who went to the bankers and said that they would withdraw the money they had lodged with them on fixed deposit unless they put value back into the £1 for them. The bankers began immediately to call in overdrafts at. short notice, and hundreds and thousands of people were thrown out of work. Then the banks lost control of the situation. The circulating money in a community is the money of men who invest it in one enterprise and then another. They let their money do its work in one enterprise, and then put it back into their pocket. Then they go to their bank managers and ask them to recommend some good shares to buy. When the men with those few pounds in their pockets hear that their friends have been lectured by bank managers on the state of their finances; when they hear their friends say how bad business is; and when they hear what has happened to Jones and what is likely to happen to Robertson because of a bank manager’s threats, they become alarmed. They think their money will be safer in their pockets and they keep it there. That is how depressions are caused. 1 am afraid that this Government is wilfully leading Australia towards another depression in order to put value back into the £1. How else can it do so?
– The Government thinks this bill will do it.
– I do not think this bill is likely to do so unless the Government intends to use it to smash the fighting spirit of trade unionists and establish a. reservoir of unemployed, so that there will always be men waiting outside the factory gates, constituting a menace to men with jobs and forcing them to accept wages and conditions that normally they would not accept.
Sitting suspended from. 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– In common with other honorable senators on this side of the chamber I was amazed and amused by the air of despon dency and gloom that was apparent on the faces of supporters of the Government when they learned that the Opposition intended to allow this bill to pass, because they did not want that to happen. It has been apparent for some time that this bill is aimed not at the Communist party, but at the Labour party. This afternoon the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) treated the Senate to his usual outburst. He referred to what he termed was the Government’s intention to attack the vicious group of Communists, and he asserted that the Labour Opposition in this chamber was dictated to by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party, comprising twelve men. Although he claimed thatthe Opposition, is holding up the passage of this measure, it is indeed strange that Government senators have spoken on it one for one with Opposition senators. It is evident that the Government is delaying the passage of the bill because, I repeat, it does not want the bill. Honorable senators opposite are afraid of the consequences of any efforts that the Government may make to implement the provisions of this measure.
– What nonsense!
– If the honorable senator who has just interjected does not refrain from interjecting I shall tell the Senate about the telegram that he sent to me. The Minister had the amazing affrontery to make another appeal to the Opposition to expedite the passage of this legislation. At the same time he said that because of Labour’s opposition the Communists had been granted six months in which to burn their papers and to go underground. That is a complete lie. If the Minister is not aware of the true position, other responsible members of the Government know that had the Government been sincere it could have banned the Communist party and confiscated its funds and other assets months ago. That is an undeniable fact. The only thing that the Opposition has steadfastly endeavoured to induce the Government to do has been to alter the machinery clauses of the bill. In his usual flambuoyant style the Minister stated that the Government intended to take drastic action to fight this vicious group of Communists. However, it is interesting to reflect on the record of the Minister’s industrial activity. I regret that he is not in the chamber at present, because I have before me a cutting from the Daily Mirror of the 20th January last which contains a report of a statement he made which I intend to discuss. The report reads -
Mcleay asks for adoption op incentives.
The Minister for Fuel and Shipping (Senator McLeay) to-day announced a ten-point programme aimed at industrial peace in heavy industries, higher production and swifter transport of goods. He appealed to employers to acknowledge the worker as a partner in industry with the proprietor and manager, to safeguard his economic interests and to adopt profit-sharing.
The author was none other than the Minister himself. It is significant . that before the end of January the industrial section of his department had been taken from him. He had been given the sack. The administration of that section became the responsibility of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt). Another indication that the Government is not sincere in its desire to have this bill passed is contained in an article in yesterday’s issue of the Age, which has alreadybeen referred to during this debate. One almost needs armour-piercing arguments to penetrate the thick skulls of supporters of the Government. Although I may be guilty of repetition, I intend to read pertinent portions of the statement. It is obvious that the Government is now trying to get out from under. It realizes the futility of this measure and the utter helplessness and hopelessness of endeavouring to put it into operation. One paragraph of the article reads -
There is an element in Cabinet which believes that the best way to handle the new powers given by the anti-Red bill is to use them more as a threat than to rush in and use them blindly. It is claimed that if this line is acted upon it would not be necessary to interfere too severely in union affairs. The Government would be in possession of reserve powers against Communist trade union leaders and would use them only if such leaders persist in pursuing the Communist party line inside the unions. In the light of past experience many senior
Government members claim that repressivelegislation is most effective when it is not used.
– Who wrote that?’
– The Ministerfor Labour and National Service stated that it seems likely that theGovernment, once it gets the green, light - it does not want the red light - will proceed at once to declareorganizations, but will stay its hands in relation to individuals and trade unions.
– The honorable should be fair. That statement was made by a correspondent, not by theMinister for Labour and National Service.
– It is a statement of the Minister’s intention. In. some way it must have been communicated to the press on the Minister’s behalf. It is well known that supporters of theGovernment depend on newspapers for their very existence. They would not now be in office had it not been for the support that they have received from the newspapers and private banks in this country. Surely, therefore, they place reliance on press reports.
– We do not depend for our arguments upon stating deliberate untruths.
– It appears to me that both the Leader of the Government in this chamber (Senator O’sullivan) and the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) have much paler countenances to-day than they had yesterday. Further evidence of the Government’s insincerity in this matter is contained in a report in to-day’s Sydney Sun, which reads -
No satisfactory explanation is forthcoming for the (act that Government members are talking as much as Labour senators on the bill, and thereby impeding its passage. An attempt was made last night by the Government Leader in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) to close the debate, but it was half-hearted. . . . The original tactic was that there should be one Government speaker - the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) - to reply to the Deputy Opposition Leader (Senator McKenna). Thereafter the Government was to concentrate on getting the bill through. . . . The effect of this has been to drag the debate on. It looks now as if it will be fairly late to-day before the debate is concluded. Government leaders in the Senate could provide no real explanation for the hold-up. One said: “It’s the fault of the air - every one likes to talk when we are being broadcast”. Another said: “It’s a case of one thing leading to another. A Labour member says something and some one on our side feels that he has to reply “.
– “Were those statements attributed to the Minister for Labour and National Service also?
– No, I have read out a newspaper report. Apparently, the Minister is endeavouring to get out of his dilemma. Probably somebody else gave that information to the Sun. Although it is stated that the Leader of the Government in this chamber made a half-hearted attempt to close the debate last night, I should have described it as quarter-hearted. It is particularly noticeable that Government senators are very ready to continue the debate when the proceedings of this chamber are being broadcast. The Government has made many attempts in this chamber to have this bill declared an urgent measure, despite the attempts of honorable senators on this side of the chamber to maintain a fight against inflation. In that respect they have been backed by no less a public figure than the repatriated rajah. I refer to the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey), who was reported as having said that the problem of inflation was more important than that of defence.
Although I have great regard for the ladies in this chamber, I shall refer to statements that were made by Senator Robertson. She said that she was amazed at the statements of some honorable senators. I have no doubt that she is a very truthful person, and I am convinced that her amazement was caused by some of the statements that have been made by supporters of the Government. During her speech an honorable senator on this side of the chamber interjected to the effect that the Communist party had helped the Liberal party. Senator Robertson became very indignant and asserted that the Liberal party had never received any assistance from the Communists.
– What I said was that Senator Sheehan was simple if he believed that the Liberal party had been assisted by the Communists. ‘
– Senator Robertson has probably heard of the State seat of Prahran in the Parliament of the garden State of Victoria - not in the seventh State of poverty that the present Government is endeavouring to establish. Thousands of citizens in this country were compelled to live in such a state during the regime of anti-Labour governments in the past. The State seat of Prahran wa3 held for many years by Mr. Ellis, a member of the U.A.P. I understand that that abbreviation means unemployment and poverty. As a candidate at the last election in Victoria before he died, Mr. Ellis was opposed by an endorsed Labour candidate and a Communist party candidate, lie was beaten in the preliminary count, but obtained more than 50 per cent, of the Communist preference votes and was able to retain his seat. That is not an isolated instance of the Liberal party being assisted by the Communist party. In the last New South Wales election the Liberal party endorsed a Communist for the Waverley constituency. Of course, when it became generally known that he was a Communist, the Liberal party fell head over heels in its haste to withdraw the endorsement. That was not an isolated instance either. In Victoria, there is a State constituency of Geelong. Has Senator Robertson ever heard of it? On the death of the sitting Labour member, Mrs. Brownbill, who had held the seat for many years, the endorsed Liberal candidate, Mr. Montgomery, was opposed by a Communist candidate, Mr. Baker, and a Labour candidate. In the final count, Mr. Baker’s preferences gave the seat to the Liberal candidate. Yet honorable senators opposite proclaim that they have never received any benefit from the Communist party.
– I never said that.
– The honorable senator implied as much or does she now admit that the Liberal party has received support from the Communist party? The honorable senator also said that she condemned dictation to members of Parliament from outside, and she suggested that members of the Liberal party made up their minds in the chamber on the various issues that came before them. Apparently, she does not know everything that happens. Last night, Senator Sheehan pointed out’ how Senator Foll was ruthlessly and unceremoniously dumped from the Liberal Senate team in Queensland by a small band of persons who had power to select candidates. 1 make no mention of the consultative committee of the Liberal party in New South “Wales about which Senator McCallum threw a fit last night. Has Senator Robertson ever heard of two ex-Liberal members of parliament in Victoria, one named Edmunds, and the other named Lech te. who were members for Hawthorn and Oakleigh respectively, and were expelled from the Liberal party by a small group of men sitting in Collins-street, headed by a man named McKinnon ? That is proof of outside dictation to the Liberal party when things like that can happen. Will honorable senators opposite not admit that members of the Liberal party were dictated to by the banks during the last election? Do not honorable senators remember that the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), because his ego had been wounded, walked out of the Australian Advisory War Council when this country was at war, and our national existence was at stake? Have honorable senators ever heard of the .expulsion from the Liberal party of “ Pistol Packin’ Percy “ - in other words, the Honorable P. C. Spender, and Mr. William Morris Hughes, because they would not follow Mi’. Menzies out of the council ? Yet honorable senators opposite say that their party is not dictated to from outside the Parliament!
It is obvious that the Government now realizes that this legislation will not enable it effectively to suppress any political party. I have never seen anything so pathetic as the Attorney-General last night when he was trying frantically to hide the. inability of the Government to do anything effective to suppress the Communist party. Senator Robertson had a lot to say about some one having to carry the baby. We know that the Government does not want to carry the baby in the form of this repressive legislation. The honorable senator said that the Labour party would find that at the next election it would have to deal with triplets. I am confident that, after the next election, we shall come back trebled in strength. At any rate, it is better to have live triplets than a stillborn baby, and that is what the Government has produced in this legislation. It would be better for the Government to admit frankly that it cannot put this legislation into effect, and that it does not really want the bill. It merely wants to hold the legislation as- a threat over the Communists, just as the Victorian Liberal Government used the Essential Services Act as a throat. The essentia] parts of this bill were passed months ago, and the Government, could have acted on them then if it had wished to do so. My mind goes back to 1940. What did honorable senators opposite call themselves then? Were they members of the Liberal party or of the United Australia party? Apparently, they do not know. Anyway, round about 1.940, an anti-Labour Australian Government banned the Communist party. At the following federal election, two prominent,’ self-confessed Communists, in the persons of Mr. Ralph Gibson and Dr. O’Dea, stood for Parliament as Independents. 1 ask the legal luminaries on the other side of this chamber what, will be the position of the Government, if this legislation comes into force, if persons such as those gentlemen seek election to parliament as independents? I suggest that there is nothing in the Constitution or in this legislation to prevent them from standing as independents, or even as Liberal candidates. Of course, they could not stand as Labour candidates, because we do not allow Communists to nominate as Labour candidates.
Honorable senators opposite condemned the Opposition for allegedly obeying the dictation of twelve persons outside the Parliament, because that amounted to minority rule. There is no need for me to say that the Labour party is the mast democratic party in Australia. That point’ has been well made by previous speakers. I. merely point out that a fine example of minority rule has been provided by a recent decision of the Menzies Cabinet on the subject of revaluation of the £1. Three members of the Cabinet are in this chamber at present. It is known to the press and the public that the voting in Cabinet on the question of revaluation was twelve to seven in favour of revaluation. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs ‘ (Senator O’Sullivan) whether he was one of the twelve who surrendered to minority dictation, or one of the seven who overruled the majority?
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that Senator Sandford has not referred to the bill during the last five minutes. He should be directed to discuss the bill.
– I am in charge of the Senate. In the discussion on this bill, honorable senators have wandered from Dan to Beersheba and back again. Senator Sandford has followed the example set by previous speakers, and has strayed somewhat from the subject-matter of the bill. Perhaps, within the next minute or two, he will connect his remarks with the bill.
– I am sure that you are grateful, Mr. President, for the assistance offered you from the other side of the chamber.
– We are still supposed to be discussing the bill.
– These mutual recriminations had better cease. I suggest that Senator Sandford should get back to the bill.
– I submit that my remarks are definitely connected with the bill because I am speaking of suppression. Honorable senators claim that we have been suppressed by a, small body of men. I contend that a majority of the Cabinet has been suppressed by a minority of it. When Senator Grant mentioned the 1917 strike, Senator Kendall, by way of interjection, made the despicable remark that that strike had been led by the present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Chifley). T remind the honorable senator that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. During World War I., Mr. Chifley did a job of national importance; T know of one gentleman to whom honorable senators opposite owe their allegiance who, after having been trained as an officer at the expense of his country, resigned his commission at the outbreak of war, and remained in a lucrative legal position in this country.
– He stayed here because his three brothers had gone to thewar.
– The honorable senator’s reference to Mr. Chifley was despicable, and I am merely reminding him of some truths which, to him, are a little nearer home. There was little in Senator Hannaford’s speech that calls for a reply. He, too, claimed that the Opposition was acting upon an outside direction, but I have already dealt fully with that matter. Mention has been made of the Cain Government in Victoria. At. whose direction was that Government dismissed in 1947? The Government had a majority in the lower house only, and the upper house, led by Sir Frank Clarke,. perhaps better known as Sir “ Bank “ Clarke, refused to grant supply and precipitated an election on an issue which was not primarily a State concern at. all. That action was taken at the behest, of private banking interests, becausecertain legislation was before the Commonwealth Parliament.
I have never seen the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) more pathetic than he looked last night. He was as white as a ghost because he realized the enormity of the task that would rest upon this Government in administering this legislation. The honorable senator is not in thechamber to-night. He was not here when the last division was taken. I have beentold that he has flown to Melbourne. I have no doubt that the purpose of his .trip is to consult with some of his brother King’s Counsel in an endeavour to expedite the hearing of the Communist party’s appeal to the High Court against this legistlation, and I am sure he is praying to God that the appeal will succeed.
In an endeavour to explain the onus of proof provision of this bill, Senator Hannaford said that a declared person would know that he was a Communist,, or was likely to be a Communist ; yet, the honorable senator says that there isnothing in the onus of proof clause towhich objection can be taken ! What a pretty state of affairs that is.
– I did not say that..
– I wrote downthe honorable senator’s words.
– Order! I suggest to Senator Sandford that he ignore all interjections and continue with, his speech. He must address the Chair.
– I repeat that, in an endeavour to justify the onus of proof clause, Senator Hannaford claimed that, if a person were declared, he would know that he was a Communist or was likely to be a Communist; yet the honorable senator and his colleagues say that there is nothing to which objection can be taken in the onus of proof provisions. Apparently, the Government hopes to employ some professional thought readers to determine whether or not a person is likely to be a Communist.
– The honorable senator should read the bill. There is nothing like that in it.
– I am dealing with what .Senator Hannaford has said. The honorable senator’s presence in this chamber seems to me to confirm the rumour that the Liberal party has adopted a new system for admitting members. I am informed that a prospective member has to be examined by two doctors. One looks into each of the candidate’s ears, and if the doctors can see each other, he is admitted. I assume that that is how Senator Hannaford became a member of the Libera] party.
Tim danger of this bill has been amply demonstrated by honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Fortunately, we have already succeeded in inserting some important amendments. This country would have been in a chaotic state had the measure been, passed by the Parliament in its original form. I am afraid that, upon the proclamation of the measure, even in its amended form, there will be confusion throughout the Commonwealth. What does the Government propose to do with trade union leaders who have been deprived of their right to hold office? What does the Government propose to do about the present Victorian railway strike? Obviously, it cannot imprison or fine all those participating in the strike, or even the leaders of the unions. What practical steps can the Government take under this legislation to end the strike and prevent the recurrence of a similar hold-up ? No reference has been made to these things by honorable senators opposite. This bill is purely an appeal to the emotions of the people. It is designed to cover up the hopelessness and helplessness of the Government ever since it has been in office. Its purpose is to distract attention from the Government’s failure to do any of the things that it promised to do prior to the elections.
There is no evidence of any attempt by Ministers to curb inflation, or to improve production. The Government’s hesitation to revalue the Australian currency has caused dangerous speculation by overseas investors. We are told that “ hot “ money totalling £300,000,000 or £400,000,000 lias been brought to this country because the Government has advertised its intention eventually to appreciate the Australian £1. Every one knows that twelve members’ of the Cabinet favoured appreciation, and only seven opposed it. Shrewd investors know very well that the tail cannot continue to wag the dog, and that, eventually, revaluation will come. . That problem, and many others, have been neglected by the Government, and this legislation has been brought down in an endeavour to cover up the Government’s sins of omission and commission. So far the Government has honoured none of its election promises, which included, of course, the undertaking to put value back into the £1. It has no intention of even attempting to fulfil some of its promises, and, to distract the minds of the people from this failure, it is making a great song about the banning of the Communist party. The Government can have the bill. Honorable senators opposite can have their baby, but I warn them that ‘ when they pick it up they will find that it is more like a porcupine, for it has so many sharp points that they will be glad to drop it on anybody’s doorstep to be rid of it.
The Government has no intention of implementing the measure. The bill is aimed not at the Communist party, but at the Labour party. That has been made clear by the ranting of honorable senators opposite throughout this debate. We are told that there is dissension in the Labour party. I say that the Labour party is a democratic organization, unlike the Australian Country party, one member of which has already resigned over the currency appreciation issue. The Australian Country party has won the first round against the Liberal party in the revaluation fight. It has pointed the gun at the Liberal party, and has threatened to end the coalition if the Australian currency is appreciated. I assure honorable senators opposite that there is no such dissension in the Labour party, and that there never will be over this issue, because we believe in majority rule. There is no need for me to elaborate on the method by which officials of the Labour party are elected. That has already been adequately explained by other speakers on this side of the chamber. It is sufficient for me to emphasize that the Labour party is a democratic organization in which the principle of majority rule is observed. Now that we have decided to give this bill to the Government, honorable senators opposite are suddenly afraid of it. I have never seen anything so pathetic as the faces of Government supporters when it became known that we intended to withdraw our opposition to the bill.
– We were sorry that there would not be a double dissolution.
– The Government is no more interested in a double dissolution than is the man in the moon. Senator Kendall knows that his seat at least would be occupied by some one else should an election take place. I have sufficient faith in the intelligence of the people of Queensland to know that he would not be returned to this chamber.. A similar fate would befall many of his colleagues as a result of the hopeless mess that the Government has made of its administration since the 10th December last. All we can get from honorable senators opposite now is a challenge to vote against the bill. They are hoping against hope that we shall vote against the bill because they do not want the responsibility of implementing it. The Government introduced this measure for the purpose of distracting the attention of the people from its sins of omission and commission but, to use a colloquialism, it came a thud. It does not want to have to implement this bill because it realizes that political thought cannot be effec- tively banned by a legislative enactment. An honorable senator opposite has said that communism is not a political thought. I do not agree with him ; but whether or not communism be a political thought the fact cannot be denied that neither communism, nor any other “ ism can be wiped out by suppression. The only effective way to deal with communism or any other similar “ ism “ is so to improve the conditions of life of the people that they are not attracted by the false promises of any of those who advocate these strange philosophies. That can best be achieved by the return of a Labour government in this Parliament. The people have been completely hoodwinked by the anti-Labour parties. When an honorable senator this afternoon mentioned the Victorian State election of 1947 Senator Gorton asked what the people did then. We know very well that at that time a campaign of fear had been whipped up by the anti-Labour parties and that the people had been so greatly influenced by it that they were completely hoodwinked. Senator Gorton should recall that at the last general election in Victoria his party lost all the seats that they had gained at the earlier election and that it was thrown out of office. Prior to the election Mr. McKinnon, the head of the Liberal party of Victoria, kicked Mr: Edmonds and. Mr. Lechte out of the party because they had the temerity to criticize Mr. Hollway and his Ministers. When the people are given an opportunity to decide the fate of the Menzies Government they will remember how they were hoodwinked by the specious promises that were made by that gentleman and his colleague, Mr. Fadden. They will recall the chaos and confusion that followed the Government’s attempt to implement this bill, and they will realize the wisdom of returning a Labour government to carry on the great work that was commenced by the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments.
The people are aware of the grave dangers that are inherent in this bill. They fear that its provisions may be used by this Government to victimize innocent people. The Prime Minister, in his second-reading speech, when this bill was first introduced into the House of Representatives. named a number of men as Communists who, he said, would be declared under it, but on the very next day he had to swallow some of his words and admit that his list of Communists contained many mistakes. That fact alone indicates the grave dangers inherent in this legislation. The Government has never really wanted to implement the provisions of the bill, nor did it expect to have to do so. Now that we have decided not to oppose the bill the Government realizes the difficulties which it will encounter in attempting to implement it. It realizes too, that this hill, far from stamping out communism in this country, will cause industrial chaos and confusion. The Labour party did its best to make the bill workable, but its proposals were rejected by the Government. We now throw responsibility for the implementation of this legislation fairly and squarely on the Government. Months ago we agreed to pass the main clauses of the bill which would have enabled the Government to ban the Communist party, to expropriate Communist property and to prevent Communists from holding office in key unions and in the Public Service. The Government rejected our offer and insisted on the retention vin the bill of the iniquitous onus of proof clauses. We have done our best to protect the liberty of the people and to prevent innocent people from, being wrongfully declared. We now leave it to the Government to implement this legislation as best it can. Like the Irishman with a wheelbarrow, it has its job before it. I trust that the people will realize the great mistake that they made on the 10th December last and that before the normal effluxion of time a Labour government will again be in office in this Parliament.
. - in reply - After having listened to the extremely poor and for the most part completely irrelevant speech - if one could call it a speech - of Senator Sandford, it might be well for me to remind the Senate that the subject under consideration is a bill to dissolve the Australian Communist party. In order to create the correct atmosphere I propose to preface my remarks by reading an extract from a broadcast speech made by the Labour Prime Minister in the United Kingdom, the Eight Honorable Clement Attlee, as recently as the 30th July last. Mr. Attlee said -
Make no mistake about it, the evil forces now attacking Korea are part of a world wide conspiracy against the way of life of the free democracies. Communists, whether they make war in Korea or cause disruption in Malaya, India or Burma, whether they destroy the liberties of the Czechs and Poles, or try to wreck the economic recovery of Britain, France or Australia, aru all engaged in an attempt to mould the whole world to their pattern of tyranny. They seek to sweep democracy and liberty from the world. They are ready to destroy our lives if we do not agree with them. They talk of freedom while they murder it. They talk of peace while they support aggression. They are ruthless and unscrupulous hypocrites who pretend to virtues which their philosophy rejects.
I am sure that the overwhelming majority of the people of Australia share those sentiments. That being so, it can well be imagined that the decision of the Australian Labour party not to oppose this measure must have been received by them with a certain amount of gratitude and relief not unmingled with a certain amount of contempt for the manner in which the decision was made. The stature of the Australian Labour party would have been considerably enhanced had its change of attitude been actuated by a change of heart, particularly on a matter which affects so vitally the safety and security of our country. Unfortunately, such was not the case. The Parliamentary Labour party has cravenly and, if we are to pay any regard to the speeches of honorable senators opposite, in bad faith betrayed its parliamentary responsibilities to a. body which was not elected by the Parliament or the people, and which is not answerable to, or removable by, the people. In words of shame and humiliation it has indelibly recorded for a.U time the fact that no pledge given by it can be certain of being given effect to and that any decision made by it might have to be abandoned, varied or altered, or in fact dealt with especially by being carried out. How can this once proud party again go before the electors and promise them anything? The hundreds of thousands of solid Australians who through the years
Lave seen the gradual disintegration of the once great Australian Labour party will, I am sure, seriously lament this sell-out of its political soul. The act of people in changing their views, whether political or otherwise, is not necessarily reprehensible or a matter for adverse criticism. We have seen many instances of such changes. In this instance we have been faced with the spectacle of a change of attitude which was unaccompanied by a change of view. In many instances the changes that have characterized the political lives of many people who have made real contributions to the development and progress of their country have been the result of enlightenment or conviction or on account of a principle. Generally, they have been made at the risk of political oblivion. Rarely if ever in the history of parliamentary government in this or any other country has political principle been betrayed for the sake of servile security. These may be regarded as severe words. They were provoked by the very severe words that wore used by Opposition senators when the bill was first introduced and they described it as violating human dignity, human decency, and human rights. In order to emphasize my point I propose to refer to the stand taken by Lord Milverton, a man who spent the best years of his life in the service of the British Labour party. Speaking as a Labour peer in the House of Lords on the Steel Nationalization Bill in June, 1949, Lord Milverton said -
I have been told that I knew the Labour programme when I. joined the Labour party. That is true. I knew it in outline; but I did not, in joining, sign away my right to think; nor did I anaesthetise my conscience or my principles, nor, I hope, did I lose the power to learn. 1 had certain aims and ideals, and T thought that the Labour party could, in vulgar parlance, “deliver the goods”. I am now appalled at the type of goods which are being delivered under a false trade label - the national interest. I thought I was participating in a crusade and 1 found myself a camp follower in a “ rake’s progress “. I am one of a large number of people of independent minds who saw the merit of the Labour party programme of social justice,, but who are now beginning to feel uneasy about the lengths to which the rest of that programme is taking them.
The noble lord, after having spent a lifetime of service in the British Labour party, was cast into political oblivion because he stood for his principles. Here, Opposition senators have made a complete about face, not because of any change of view, but purely and simply because of a change of orders. That is a clear case of a man whose heart, in his earlier and more immature years, ruled his head at the expense of his judgment. As an older, more experienced and more mature man, he realized that not only did the Labour party not offer an exclusive haven for idealists who also wanted to be realists, but that in that tough, unbending, tyrannical atmosphere there was no room for idealism and realism to co-exist. Compare the attitude of that man - and his is only one of many instances in which people have risked political oblivion for the sake of conviction or principle - with the attitude of honorable senators opposite. I challenge any one who thinks I am wrong to correct me when I say that not one honorable senator has indicated his willingness, desire, intention or courage to vote against this bill. If there are two such honorable gentlemen, let them call for a division and put their colleagues on the spot. If there are two, they can secure a division on this bill. The Government would welcome a division, but if it calls for one it would mean that those two honorable senators would have to vote in accordance with their voices. If honorable senators opposite are in any doubt as to where they stand and if they are not voting against their conscience, or permitting by their silence, a bill to pass which they in their hearts claim to be the greatest betrayal in parliamentary history, I appeal to them to take a stand on it.
Shades of the great Australian Labour party! There was a time, and within living memory, too, when it did have some idealism, when it had a certain amount of spiritual significance for and upon the lives of the people. There were men, again within living memory, who at the slightest suggestion that a law was an unjustifiable infringement of natural human rights or dignity, would fight for its removal. Even the most mild backbencher would fight tooth and nail and even to the point of political extinction rather than, in abject and shameful silence, permit the passage of a measure that he considered to be a betrayal of the people’s rights and interests. The voice and the vote of honorable senators opposite could destroy this bill. They can if they wish, prevent this so-called iniquitous measure from going on to the statute-book, and they can take the Government before the people.
– And would not the Government love the Opposition to do that !
– We would love it. Let me remind the Opposition what Senator McKenna and others have said. Senator McKenna, in his description of the bill, said -
The 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 the hill.
Are honorable senators opposite going to vote against it? Senator McKenna went on -
The Government is sponsoring a measure which is a plain denial of British justice and a casting aside of the courts of the land, lt is in breach and violation of natural justice and is completely opposed to the principles of democracy.
Are honorable senators opposite still going to vote against it, or will they soullessly and shamelessly sit there and let such a measure go through without a division ?
Senator Cooke has described the bill as a vicious, rotten piece of totalitarianism. God forbid the day to dawn when we on this side of the chamber, by our absence or silence, permit to go unchallenged a measure about which we feel so strongly, even if it means going into political oblivion ! I do not see how the people of Australia are to retain any respect for a party which has it in its power to prevent such a measure from being placed on the statute-book and while holding the beliefs it says it does fails to exercise that power. The Government is prepared to let the people be the judges, but the Opposition is not. Labour senators opposite are in a cleft stick. If they really believe that this bill violates the very fundamentals of natural justice and common decency, and yet are not prepared to take the only effective measures to stop it from passing through the Senate what will the people think of them? On the other hand the members of the Opposition may not really believe that the bill violates those principles because it is really difficult to conceive that honorable senators who were elected by free, independent electors to represent them here in Parliament, to cast free, untrammelled and independent votes, would do nothing whatever to prevent the passage of a bill that contained all those evils. But that is the position, or else the Labour senators for the past six months have been mouthing hypocritical humbug.. They cannot have it both ways. I believe that the people of Australia will say that their attitude is a craven betrayal of political principles for the sake of ensuring servile security in the decayed and decadent bosom of the once great Australian Labour party.
What is the result of the Opposition attitude? There has been a delay of six months in dealing with what we on this side of the chamber believe, and what I am quite sure the Australian people believe, to be a real live threat to our national existence and security. Six months’ delay has been afforded the Communists by the Labour party tactics. Honorable senators opposite place great reliance on newspaper reports, and from to-day’s newspapers we learn that in the backyards of certain trades halls records are being burnt because it appears, so the newspapers say, that the hour of doom is approaching. The Communist party has had that six months’ protection afforded it, and it has had six months in which to prepare against the day when the weight of this legislation will fall upon it. Then, after all that delay, there is an abject and servile surrender by Parliamentary representatives on a matter of expediency, not of principle. I repeat, and I hope that I shall have the opportunity of repeating it on the hustings very soon, that this change of attitude of the members of the Opposition in the Senate has been brought about not by a change of mind, opinion or principle, but entirely by dictation from outside, while they still profess to hold the same views as they have previously expressed. That change represents a public declaration that the Australian Labour party lacks the courage to meet the Government before the tribunal of the people. The Opposition knew quite well that if this bill were not put on the statute-book the Government would appeal successfully to the people. Members of the Australian Labour party say they are protecting the people, and they say that this legislation is an infringement of the people’s rights. If that is so, why do they not go out and let the peple decide whether they want this legislation or not? The members of the Government are prepared to meet them there. In the days gone by, the once great and militant Australian Labour party fought valiantly for its principles and’ ideals, regardless of petty risks, but where is it now?
In conclusion, I merely say that this bill is directed only against those who are the servile slaves of an alien power seeking to destroy our country by sowing the seeds of social discontent and by other foul means. Wo Australian, no matter how radical his political views or how militant he may be in his industrial activities, need have any fear whatever of coming within the ambit of this bill as long as he is faithful to his fellows and loyal to his country. The Government recognizes the important and responsible part played in our industrial and economic life by the great trade union movement, and it also appreciates that the only alternative to a powerful, representative, democratically controlled trade union movement is industrial chaos. It is because of those and other reasons already stated in this chamber and elsewhere .that I commend this bill to the Senate in complete confidence that it will be hailed with relief and satisfaction throughout Australia and condemned and resisted only by the enemies of Australia.
– I rise to a point of order. I have been misquoted bv the honorable senator who has .just resumed his seat, and I desire to make a personal explanation.
– The honorable senator may not introduce any new matter into the debate, and no debate mav arise from his explanation.
– In reference to the lie spoken bv the Leader of the Government (Senator O’Sullivan) to-night - -
– I rise to a point of order. I ask for an immediate withdrawal of the word “ lie “. If the honorable senator thinks I have misquoted what he said, he is at liberty to refer to the Hansard report. I insist upon the withdrawal of that word.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the word “lie”.
– I withdraw the word and humbly submit that an untrue statement has been made. In speaking of the bill, I referred to sordid, political dishonesty. In referring to the clause concerning breaking and entering, which the Opposition had deleted from the bill, I said that I proposed to read the clause, seeing how vicious, rotten and totalitarian it would have been had it had application. . My remarks referred to that one clause only.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
, - I wish to refer to the, definition of “Communist”. As it is defined, “ Communist “ means a person who supports or advocates the objectives, policies, teachings or practices of communism as expounded by Marx and Lenin. I wish to draw the attention of the committee to the fact that in placing this bill before the Senate the Government has gone far beyond the proposals that it put before the people last November and December. I should also like to refer to what appeared on page 15 of the joint policy speech relating ,to communism. I shall read them to the com’mittee so that I can develop my points from references to the exact words of the speech. The first passage that I wish to read is as follows: -
No person now a member of the Communist party 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 first point that I make is that that pledge related to persons who, on the 10th November, 1949, were members of the Communist party, but the measure covers persons who were members of the Communist party at any time after the 10th May, 194S. Retrospective effect has been given to that pledge. If I confine the passage that I have just read to the point that I wish to make eventually, it reads, “ No person who, on the 10th November, 1949, is a member of the Communist party, shall be eligible for any office in a registered industrial organization “. The Prime Minister also said -
The laws with respect to sedition or other subversive activities will be reviewed and strengthened. Conviction under such laws will disqualify from employment under the
Crown or from office in a registered organization.
The Government put two propositions to the people. It said, first, “ “We shall render ineligible for trade union office those persons who, on the 10th November, 1949, were members of the Australian Communist party “. They had to be, not only members of that party but also members of it on the date on which the right honorable gentleman delivered his speech. The Government said to the people, secondly, that only persons who were convicted under the laws of Australia - I emphasize the word “ convicted “ ; it means convicted in accordance with the usual procedures of the law - would be taken out of employment in the Public Service and from office in registered trade unions. Putting those two propositions together, the Government told the people that this legislation would be directed against persons who were members of the Communist party on the 10th November, 1949, and that it would apply only to those who were convicted by the courts of the land under the then existing laws of the land. Has there been any review of the laws with respect to sedition or other subversive activities? “We have not been told whether there has or has not been a review. Have those laws been strengthened ? Honorable senators know perfectly well that, in ten months we have not had a measure before us affecting those laws. There is no indication in this bill that only persons convicted under the laws relating to sedition and other subversive activities will be taken out of employment in the Public Service or from office in registered trade unions.
The definition of “ Communist “ is drawn in the wide terms to which I have referred. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), on a prior occasion in this chamber, intimated that “ communism” in the definition means communism in its total concept - in its totality. There are many things in communism that are accepted by honorable senators on both sides of this chamber. Graduated income tax, free education and the decentralization of industry are all planks of the platforms of modern political parties. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) whether the definition means that nobody who supports or espouses something short of the full concept of communism will be declared. If that be the case, at what point will the distinction be made? Will the definition let out people who believe in communism as an abstract philosophy but are not prepared to be revolutionary? Will it let out those who believe in 50 per cent, of the Communist platform but not in the other 50 per cent. ? I should like the Minister to answer those questions.
A person may, under this bill, be declared to be a Communist under two heads; first, because he was a member of the Australian Communist party at any time after the 10th May, 1948; and secondly, because he is a Communist within the meaning of the definition, although he has no association necessarily with the Australian Communist party. Persons right outside that party are intended to be picked up by the definition. Clause 9 makes it perfectly clear that declarations can be made in respect of members of the Australian Communist party and other persons who fit the definition. The application of the bill is far wider than was suggested to the people at the general election. The Government could direct a declaration against an individual in this country who did not hold office in a trade union or a position in the Public Service, and who had no thought of being employed in either capacity. Pursuant to the definition, the Government would have power to declare a person who, in its opinion, was a Communist and a danger to the defence and security of this country so that he could never be eligible for employment in the Public Service or to hold office in a trade union. I suggest that, in the respects that I have indicated, the Government has gone far beyond the propositions that it put to the Australian people.
Senator O’SULLIVAN (QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs) 1 9.22] . - The point raised by Senator McKenna is not a new one, and 1 hope that he does not expect a new answer to it. It was dealt with at great length by the honorable senator and, in reply, by the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) when the clause was before the committee on a. previous occasion. I do not propose to elaborate the reply that was given then by the Attorney-General. Dealing with the extent of allegiance or subjection to communism necessary before a person could Ite declared, the Attorney-General said that “communism” in the definition meant communism in its totality. In debunking the contention of Senator McKenna, he pointed out that Christian churches have a lot in common. Unitarians, Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists believe in God and in the fundamentals of Christianity, yet it cannot be said that each of those denominations is. in its totality, identical with the others. A churchman associated with them would know which was which.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) used a very strange argument when he compared the Christian churches with communism. I believe that the Government has missed the bus by adopting this definition of “ Communist “. I do not think the Australian public is very much concerned whether a person advocates a particular philosophy, especially if the philosophy was expounded over 100 years ago. Communists are hated in this country to-day because they owe allegiance to an international power, but there is no mention in the definition of the international characteristics of communism. If a strike occurs and there is a certain degree of right on the side of the strikers, the Australian people always have some sympathy with them, but when a strike is called for purely political motives, designed to further the objectives of the
Cominform, as laid down by a certain great power, the Australian people object to it strongly. Under this definition, a man could say from a public platform that he believed in everything that Stalin, Molotov and Vishinsky had said in relation to taking over other countries by infiltration, but he could not be declared if he proved that he did not agree with a large portion of the teachings of Marx and Lenin. I repeat that the Government has missed the bus by not stressing in the definition of “ Communist “ the international characteristics of communism.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania 1 [9.26]. - I remind the Minister for Trade and Customs (.Senator O’Sullivan) that he has not replied to the point I made at some length that the Government has gone far beyond the propositions that it put, to the people in November and December of last year. Am I to assume that the Minister agrees with my submissions ?
– I was under the impression that Senator McKenna. was satisfied with the explanation given on a previous occasion by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer). I cannot see that any useful purpose would be served by Senator McKenna asking precisely the same questions and my giving precisely the same answers as were asked and given three months ago.
– It has been said by honorable senators on this side of the chamber that the Government is not concerned so much with members of the Communist party as it is with members of trade unions, especially those who are regarded as militants. The absence of a precise definition of “ Communist “ makes it possible for the Government to accuse of being a. Communist anybody who advocates certain planks of the platform of the Labour party. Many of the measures advocated by Marx and Engels in 1848 are now planks of the platforms of all parties in the Parliament. Marx and Engels, in their Manifesto of the Communist Party, advocated the abolition of property in land and the confiscation of ground rents to the State. Those are classed as single taxers now. They advocated a heavily progressive income tax. All parties agree with that, and have imposed a tax of that kind. Marx and Engels urged the abolition of inheritance, but we have not gone as far as that. They advocated the confiscation of the property of emigrants and rebels. That is what the Government proposes to do under this measure. It regards the Communists as rebels and proposes to confiscate their property. Marx and Engels advocated the centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly. The Labour party has advocated the nationalization of banking, and will continue to do so. Under this definition, every member of the Labour party who stands on a public platform and advocates the nationalization of banking could be declared a Communist.
Marx and Engels advocated centralization of the means of transport in the hands of the State. Rail transport in this country is centralized in the hands of the State. They advocated the extension of national factories and instruments of production, and the cultivation and improvement of waste lands in accordance with a. general social plan. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber have -advocated those things. They have, with limitations, given effect to the Communist manifesto issued in 1848, which also advocates the following proposals : -
Obligation of all to labour; organization of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
Combination of agricultural and industrial labour, in order to remove the distinction between town and country.
Free public education for all children. Abolition of factory labour for children in its present form. Combination of education with material production, &c.
Therefore according to the definition, members of both sides of this chamber could be declared Communists if they advocated that programme. This is palpably ridiculous. I shall refer now to a question that was asked by Mr. Oldham in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, on the 28th March last, in relation to the employment of Communists in the Education Department, which was referred to during the recent Communist inquiry in Victoria. In his reply, the Minister for Lands, on behalf of the Minister for Education, furnished the names of three persons, whom I shall not mention. In the latter part of his question Mr. Oldham asked whether the Government approved of the employment of Communists in the Education Department. The answer was -
The Government does not approve of the employment of Communists in the Education Department. The only power for the dismissal of Communist teachers is that contained in sections 55 and 58 of the Public Service Act, 1946, the provisions of these two sections being applied to the teaching service by section 60 of the Teaching Service Act, 1946. The persona named were in the service of the Education Department during the whole period of the previous Government, and no action was taken by that government to amend the law to provide for the dismissal of Communists from the teaching service of the Education Department.
The previous government referred to was the Hollway Government. That answer proves conclusively that the Government was concerned not so much about a few Communists, as about an all-embracing definition to pick up anybody but Communists. It show3 how perfectly ridiculous are the recitals in the preamble to this bill, and the definition of Communist. Anybody who advocates modern measures which are not revolutionary, but merely evolutionary, or a modification of capitalistic conditions, according to the definition could be declared and punished as Communists. This proves that the Government desires not so much to abolish communism, or to penalize Communists, as to disintegrate the unions, in a manner somewhat similar to that suggested in. a proposition that was made to the Bruce-Page Government when a referendum was taken in 192’6 on the question of amending the Constitution which included the right to dissolve industrial organizations. The referendum was overwhelmingly . defeated by the people. I repeat that this all-embracing definition has been included in the bill not specifically to deal with Communists, or the Communist party, but to deal with the trade unions and their members.
– I express my dissatisfaction with the answer that has been supplied by the Minister. It is not sufficient to say that he relies upon an answer that was furnished to a somewhat similar question on some other occasion. I put it to him that when supporters of the present Government were wooing the electors, they stated that they would, if returned to power, take out of the Public Service, and out of the trade unions, two classes of people - those who were members of the Communist party on a particular date, and those who were convicted in the courts of the land. I thought that I had made it clear to the Senate this evening that the Government had gone far beyond those two classes of persons, and that, under this bill, it would be in a position to attach the label “ Communist “ to anybody that it selected, when what it put to the people was that it would have to be assured that a man was a member of the Communist party, or a person who had been convicted of sedition in the ordinary courts of the land. This very broad definition of “ Communist “, which enables that tag to be attached to any person in the community, is a very great extension of what was put to the people. I want the Senate to understand that that label mav be attached to any individual in Australia, so as to prevent him from ever becoming eligible for service in a trade union or in the Public Service. It does not matter that he may never contemplate such service. I am pointing out that this is a grave and undue extension of the pledge and the promise that the Government made to the people at that time, and in the absence of any specific denial of that by the Minister, my proposition stands.
– When this matter was first discussed I expressed my amazement at the scope of the definition of “Communist”. I now wish to make an observation on a different aspect of the matter from that which was dealt with by Senator McKenna. According to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer), a person would have to accept this philosophy in its totality. Apparently, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) lias no ideas about the matter. I am quite sure that a good lawyer with a knowledge of sociology could show con clusively that Stalinites do not support Marxism in its entirety. Marx did not do things that many Stalinites have done during the last twenty years. According to leading socialists in the world, Stalinties are not Marxists. Stalinites have been described by members of the Labour party in Great Britain as conspirators. The Social Democrats in Germany and Prance also have been regarded as conspirators. No one could maintain that Stalinites are Marxists in the sense that they accept the philosophy of Marx in its totality. Lenin himself admitted that if he was confronted with antagonistic people outside Russia. he would resort to the new economic policy, which was a step back towards Marxism. I do not know who framed the definition of “ Communist “ in this bill, but I should not be surprised if it was conceived by the honorable^ member for Mackellar in the House of Representatives (Mr. Wentworth). It is the most assinine and stupid definition that it is possible to imagine. As has been pointed out by another honorable senator on this side of the chamber, it does not deal with the international conspiratorial aspect of the subject at all. I am convinced that even if a man said that he was a Stalinite, a good lawyer with a knowledge of sociology) would have no difficulty in showing that he had not violated at least 50 per cent, of the teachings of Marx, and would not, therefore, be liable to prosecution under this measure. Although honorable senators opposite stated repeatedly, early in the debate, that the Government required this bill urgently, when it was announced that the Opposition would allow the passage of the measure, honorable senators opposite directed a tirade of abuse at the Opposition. They cannot have it both ways. I submit that this assinine and elementary definition of “ Communist “, which is absolutely absurd, should be re-framed.
. I shall put the minds of honorable senators opposite at rest by assuring them that the definition does not contemplate that those who think, and think only - those who might be called philosophical Communists - shall be guilty of any overt act . of subversion. We are not interested in those who only think. The definition must be read in conjunction with all of the recitals contained in the preamble to the bill. I suggest that the term should be applied in the manner that the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) intended it to mean when he wrote Hands Off the Nation’s Defences. He had a certain concept in mind, and we probably have a similar concept in mind. In that publication he stated -
The necessity for this measure in the interests of the defence and security of Australia was clearly shown at a recent time when a few persons of Communist sympathy attempted to impose a black ban on the longrange weapon project in Central Australia.
In a broadcast speech, Mr. Attlee, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, said -
Communists whether they make war in Korea or cause disruption in Malaya, India or elsewhere . . . are all engaged in an attempt to mould the whole world to their pattern of tyranny.
, - I shall direct another question to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’SuIlivan), arising out of what he has just said. The Minister said that the Government was not in the least interested in people’s thoughts alone, and yet the clause provides that a person may bo declared if he is likely to engage in activities that are of danger to the country. How otherwise than by penetrating the thought of a man could it be determined that he was likely to engage in activities prejudicial to the safety and defence of this country?
.. - If I saw a man unarmed and harmless - say completely naked - I would know that he had no intention to shoot me. However, if a man with a gun approached me furtively, I would be inclined to think that he had thoughts which were not in my favour. In circumstances that have been referred to by Senator McKenna, where people are likely to be a danger to the safety and security of the country, there must be present all the surrounding, circumstantial details which would permit a normal reasonable man so to conclude;
Clause agreed to.
– As long ago as the 22nd June, the Government had a hill before the Senate that contained a clause identical with the clause now before the committee, which reads -
(4.) . . .
In other words, on the 22nd June last, the Government was empowered by both Houses of the Parliament to ban the Communist party, and to appoint a receiver of its property. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) told the Senate that the Opposition had prevented the Government from putting these provisions into effect. Well, this particular provision authorizing the Executive to ban the Communist party, to expropriate its assets, and to impose a term of five years’ imprisonment upon, any one attempting to further the purposes of the Australian Communist party could have been put into effect as long ago as the 22nd June last. Not one word of the clauses authorizing the doing of those things was altered by the Senate.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Affiliated organizations maybe declared unlawful).
– Clauses 5 a.nd 9 are in almost identical terms. Clause 5 deals with organizations deemed to be subsidiaries of the Australian Communist party. Clause 9 deals with individuals. It will save time if I defer my comments until the committee is considering clause 9. For the moment, I shall refer only to subclause (1.) of clause 5 which reads, in part, as follows : -
That is the provision which caused me to state on a previous occasion that if a trade union were deregistered it would immediately become liable to be declared under this clause.
– Not automatically.
– Not automatically, but it would become liable. The clause confers power on the Executive to declare such an organization, and to expropriate its property.
, - Senator McKenna is partly right. There will be complete immunity for any industrial organization registered under a law of the Commonwealth or of a State. The honorable senator mentioned the hypothetical case of an industrial organization which, having been registered, becomes deregistered by order of the court. That could happen only if the court found that the organization had violated an industrial law, or disobeyed an order of the court. That, however, would not in itself be sufficient. It would also have to be such an organization as Ls described in paragraphs (a) to (d) of sub-clause (1.). That is, it would have to be affiliated with the Australian Communist party; or a majority of its members or a majority of its committee of management would have to be members of the Communist party; or its policy would need to be directed, controlled, S] aped or influenced, wholly or substantially, by Communists. In other words, it would have to be substantially a Communist organization.
– The provision could be applied to the Australian Bailways Union, for instance, if it were to be deregistered.
– Not necessarily.
– The Australian Railways Union is a body which, one might claim, is influenced substantially by Communists, who use the organization as a means of propagating communism.
– A further condition must be satisfied. Sub-clause (2.) contains the following words: - (2.) Where the Governor-General is satisfied that a body of persons is a body of persons to which this section applies and that the continued existence of that body of persons would be prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth or to the execution or maintenance of the Constitution or of the laws of the Commonwealth, the GovernorGeneral may, by instrument published in the Gazette, declare that body of persons to be an unlawful association.
I do not think that even the Australian Railways Union would come under that definition.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) has given an assurance that a trade union that has been deregistered by the court because of an industrial dispute will not be automatically declared under the act. Paragraph (i) of sub-clause (1.) provides that an organization may be declared if a majority of its members, or a majority of the committee of management, are members of the Australian Communist party. Does that mean that if six out of a management committee of ten are Communists the whole organization can be declared, and that every one of its members may also be declared ?
– ‘Clause 5 deals only with organizations. There is nothing in it which renders any individual liable to be declared. Individuals are covered by clause 9.
– Paragraph, (b) of sub-clause (1.) reads as follows: -
If six out of ten members of the committee of management are Communists, and the rest of the membership of the organization numbering, say, 3,000, are not Communists, would the organization be declared unlawful under this provision?
– That is only one of the items. Other circumstances would determine whether an organization would or would not be declared, and those circumstances are set out in various parts of the clause.
– In the light of paragraph (c) that suggests to me that if only six members of the controlling body of an organization come within the provisions of this clause, the entire organization consisting of perhaps 3,000 members can be declared unlawful.
– The organization would have to have all the attributes of paragraphs (a), (b) and (c).
– That is the point I am making. This is a most important matter. As I have said, an organization may consist of 3,000 members. On its controlling authority of ten members there may be, say, six who come within the provisions of paragraph (6). As those six constitute a majority of the controlling authority, I take it that under this clause the whole organization can be declared to be unlawful.
Senator GRANT (New South Wales) [10.2”. - I too am most concerned about this matter and I should like to hear an answer from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan). This clause appears to be an extraordinary attack on trade unions. The Minister has not made any attempt to give honorable senators on this side of the chamber a clear answer. Paragraph (d) deals with organizations, the policy of which is directed by members of the Communist party or by persons who advocate the principles of communism. Does this clause mean that the whole of such an organization may be declared?
– Did I understand the Minister to say that all the conditions set out in paragraphs (a), (6) and (c) of sub-clause (1.) must be present before an organization can be declared, and that the alternative begins only with paragraph (<2) ? If the honorable senator did say that I have no hesitation in saying that he does not understand the bill. Clause 5 (a) deals with any body of persons that is affiliated with the Australian Communist party. We can put that to one side. If an organization is affiliated with the Communist party there is no question about the Government’s right to declare it. Then we come to paragraph (b) to which reference has been made by Senator Aylett and Senator Nash.
– That is a separate ingredient.
– If that is so, it is all right; but that is not what I understood the Minister to say in reply to Senator Nash. What he said on that occasion may have been a slip of the tongue, but it is clear now that (a), (6) and (c) are not cumulative conditions, but alternatives. Coming now to the second point mentioned by Senator Nash in relation to paragraph (fe), my view of the matter is that the Government is completely free to declare unlawful, and to dissolve, a body if six out of ten members of its management committee are Communists. The whole organization, even if it consists of 3,000 members can be dissolved and its property confiscated. The Governor-General - in effect, the Executive Government - must be prepared to make a declaration first that the body is, in effect, Communistcontrolled and secondly, that it is a danger to security. The entire organization is dissolved, its 3,000 members disbanded, and its property confiscated. I submit that under this clause no action can be taken either to declare the six Communist members of the committee, or any of the 3,000 members of the organization.
– No, not under clause 5.
.- Take the case of the Building Workers Industrial Union, which has been, deregistered and has one Communist official. Do I understand the Minister to guarantee that the whole union will not be declared?
– Nobody gives guarantees without evidence. Before the union could be declared, the provisions of clause 5 would have to be complied with. The conditions set out in (a), (6), (c) ot (d) would have to be present.
– I have stated the circumstances and I am asking whether such a union could be declared.
– It would depend on how many Communists were on the executive. The honorable senator has not said whether the Communists would be in a majority or in .a minority.
– I am citing a case in which only one official is a Communist. Could such a union be declared under this bill?
– Not unless one constituted a majority of the controlling body, or a Communist was in sole control. That is perfectly clear.
– The answer is “No”?
– If there is only one Communist, it is.
– The point raised by Senator Grant relates to circumstances for which there is no provision in the bill at all. The honorable senator was referring to a union with a Communist secretary. Obviously, unless the management committee, including the secretary as an ex officio member, had a majority of Communists, the organization would not be affected by this measure.
– That is what the clause provides.
– I am still not satisfied. Subclause (2.) of clause 5 states - (2.) Where the Governor-General is satisfied that a body of persons is a body of persons to which this section applies and that the continued existence of that body of persons would be prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth or to the execution or maintenance of the Constitution or of the laws of the Commonwealth, the Governor-General may, by instrument published in the Gazette, declare that body of persons to be an unlawful association.
I understood the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) to say that paragraphs (a) (o), (c) and (d) of sub-clause (1.) were to be considered separately, and not jointly. Compliance with the conditions specified in any one of those paragraphs is sufficient to bring into operation subclause (2.), which requires the Governor-General to be satisfied in respect of certain matters before he can make a declaration. If six out of ten members of the committee of manage ment of an organization are Communists or fellow travellers, then the whole organization, even although it may consist of 3,000 members, may be declared unlawful.
– .Sub-clause (1.) deals with organizations to which certain circumstances apply, but the mere fact that an organization comes within the provisions of that sub-clause does not mean that it shall inevitably be declared. The organization must also come within the provisions of sub-clause (2.) before it can be declared. In other words, in the opinion of the Governor-General, the continued existence of the organization must be prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth or to the execution or maintenance of the Constitution or of the laws of the Commonwealth.
– If an organization is controlled by a committee, six out of ten members of which are Communists, and the GovernorGeneral considers that the continued existence of that organization would be prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth, he may declare the whole of that organization to be unlawful?
– That is so. Under clause 5, there is no declaration of individuals.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Unlawful associations to be dissolved).
– In view of the answers given by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) to my questions on clause 5, I take it that clause 6 provides the machinery whereby the provisions of clause 5 may be given effect.
– Yes. This clause carries into effect the action contemplated in clause 5. The dissolution of an organization follows automatically after its declaration in the Gazette. Subclause (2.) deals with an appeal against a declaration.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Property of unlawful associations to vest in receiver).
– A person who is not a Communist and who is not likely to engage in seditious activities, may innocently join a society which appears to have no connexion with politics. The executive of the society may subsequently be dealt with under the provisions of clause 5, in which event, the society would be declared and its assets taken over by a receiver. In such cases could persons who were able to prove that they were innocent of the charges made against the executive recover any investments they had made in the society?
– The Government does not contemplate the declaration of charitable or benevolent institutions.
– I was referring to organizations other than charitable or benevolent institutions.
– The bill deals with institutions the principal objective of which is the destruction of the security of this country. If a misguided person has contributed to the funds of an organization which is not patently carrying on nefarious work, but which is subsequently declared, nothing in this bill would prevent him from making an application to the Commonwealth for the refund of all moneys so contributed. Under the provisions of clause 8 the property and assets of a dissolved organization are to be vested in a Commonwealth receiver and become Commonwealth property. All applications for the return of moneys paid to a dissolved organization under misapprehension as to its true purposes, will be dealt with by the receiver on their merits. There is no need to provide legislatively for such cases.
– Such an application would be made to the receiver?
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (Declaration of Communists and members of unlawful associations).
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania) declaration of individuals as Communists and as being persons who are engaged or who are likely to be engaged in activities to the danger of the security or defence of the Commonwealth. I propose to submit a few propositions to the committee in regard, to this clause. It will save time if the Minister in charge of the bill will indicate whether or not he agrees with them. Sub-clause (3.) reads as follows : -
The Executive Council shall not advise the Governor-General to make a declaration tinder the last preceding sub-section unless the material upon which the advice is founded has first been considered by a committee consisting of the Solicitor-General, the Secretary to the Department of Defence, the Director-General of Security, and two other persons appointed by the Governor-General.
I direct attention to the word “considered “. I point out that no duty is cast on the members of the committee to make a recommendation. Does the Minister agree with that proposition?
– Nor is the Executive Council hound to accept any recommendation that may be made. Does the Minister also agree to that proposition ? 1
– That is correct.
– I propose to consider sub-clause (2.) in conjunction with sub-clause (4.). The declaration made under the provisions of sub-clause (2.) states, first, that the individual concerned is a Communist, and secondly, that he is engaged in activities that are prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth. Under sub-clause (4.) a right is given to the declared person to apply to a court to have the declaration set aside. I submit that such a person may apply to the court solely on the allegation by the GovernorGeneral that he is a Communist and that he will have no right of access to the court on the allegation that he is engaged in activities prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth. Does the Minister agree with that proposition ?
– Having regard to the statement that has been made in this Senate to the effect that a declaration is not an allegation of crime, I invite the Minister to indicate whether or not an allegation that a person is engaged or is likely to engage in activities prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth is damaging to him. If the declaration is not in fact an allegation of crime, what kind of allegation is it? Would the Minister regard it as praise of the individual or a reference of good character? How otherwise could it be regarded than as an allegation of treason, subversion, sedition and sabotage?
– I shall answer first the last of the honorable senator’s questions. Senator McKenna has a very good idea of the circumstances which he contemplates, and so also has his colleague, Senator Armstrong. When this matter was debated some time ago, Senator Armstrong said, “ We do not need an act of Parliament in order to sack people. We know those who are dangerous and not fit to be in the Public Service and we can sack them out of hand.” Referring to the members of the Stevedoring Industry Board, Senator McKenna said, in effect, “ When we found that they were not behaving in a fit and proper manner, and that they were not worthy of the trust and confidence of the Government, we abolished the board and removed its members from office”. Senator McKenna is well aware that in many instances insufficient evidence may be available on which to found a criminal prosecution against a member of the Public .Service but there may be good reason for taking action against him. Probably we would err more on the side of generosity than he would.
.- I thank the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) for his very interesting commentary. Unfortunately it did not constitute an answer to my question. If the allegation that a, man is engaged in activities that are prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth is not. an allegation of a crime, what is it? The Minister has completely evaded the ques tion. However, as I do not wish to delay the committee, I shall proceed to my next question. Sub-clause (5.) reads as follows : -
At the hearing of the application, the applicant shall begin; if he gives evidence in person, the burden shall be upon the Commonwealth to prove that he is a person to whom this section applies, but if he does not give evidence in person, the burden shall be upon him to prove that he is not a person to whom this section applies.
Am I correct in assuming that the provisions of the sub-clause oblige the applicant to present the whole of his evidence with that of his witnesses at the outset?
– In this clause there is no departure from existing practice. A person who applies to have a declaration set aside must voice the grounds of his application.
– And give all his evidence, together with that of his witnesses s
– That, of course, would depend on the circumstances. Each case would be determined on its merits. If an applicant were keen to have his application granted, he would endeavour to submit sufficient evidence to justify the court in granting it. If the court was satisfied his application would be granted.
– I again put the question to the Minister in a very simple form., If an applicant desires to call evidence must he not submit the whole of his evidence before, the Crown begins to tender any evidence at all?
– Not necessarily. I should imagine that an applicant would be confident that his application would be granted or he would not appear before the court. In some instances it might be sufficient for him to say, “ I am not a person who should be declared “.
– I ask the Minister to keep to the point. If an applicant wishes to call evidence, must he not call the whole of his evidence before the Crown is obliged to embark upon the presentation of its case?
– No. An applicant may prefer to ca.ll evidence in rebuttal. Nothing in this bill would prevent him from doing so.
– If that is so, why does not the bill so provide? There is nothing in it to suggest that an applicant may call evidence in rebuttal.
– I should be amazed, as I am sure Senator McKenna would be, if it contained such a provision.
– This clause provides that notice of the declaration of a person shall be published in the Gazette and that within 28 days the declared person may apply to have that declaration set aside. Will such persons be notified of their declaration through the post? Will the Minister consider the adoption of such a course as probably only one person in 10,000 ever sees a copy of the Gazettal Unless a declared person is so informed, he may know nothing about the issue of the declaration for months.
– It is the intention of the Government that a declared person shall have 28 days after he has been notified in which to consider his position. Notice of the declaration would in the first instance appear in the Gazette. As the honorable senator has indicated, it is conceivable that the notice published in the Gazette would not be seen by the person concerned. Provision is made in the bill for the making of regulations. I am certain that that aspect will be properly covered by regulation in order to ensure that the declared person shall have reasonable time within which to take action to have the declaration set aside..
– Sub-clause (3.) provides for the constitution of a committee, to consist of the Solicitor-General, the secretary to the Department of Defence, the DirectorGeneral of Security, and two other persons to be appointed by the GovernorGeneral, foi- the purpose of advising the Governor-General in respect of the declaration of any person or organization. The Minister has requested the assistance ind co-operation of Opposition senators in the implementation of this measure.
– Order! In accordance with . the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– The Minister stated during the second-reading debate on this measure that he was looking for the co-operation of honorable senators on this side of the chamber in implementing this bill. May I ask whether the Minister is in a position to state the names of the other two persons who are to be appointed to the committee? He has said that immediately this bill passes through the Senate it will be proclaimed, and that immediate action will be taken against certain persons.
– There are two reasons why I am unable to answer the question asked by the honorable senator. First, I personally do not know who the additional members will be, and secondly, if I did know - and I think that, on reflection, honorable senators will agree with me - it would not be proper to make such an announcement before this bill becomes law.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 (Disqualification of persons declared).
– Under this clause, a person in respect of whom a declaration is enforced under paragraph (c) of sub-clause (1.) shall be incapable of holding office in an industrial organization to which this clause applies, or in a branch of such an industrial organization. What would be the position of an officer of a union which has been declared? Would he have to leave the union, or could he obtain other employment within the union, and would he be permitted to appear before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in relation to union matters?
– If the honorable senator refers back to the definition of “office” in clause 3 he will see that it provides that it covers - every office within the industrial organization or branch for the filling of which an election is conducted or an appointment is made within the industrial organization or branch.
If the function performed by that person is not an office within the contemplation of the definition, he would not be prevented from carrying on in circumstances other than those specifically defined.
– If the secretary of a union is declared to be a Communist, will he be permitted to remain in that union in some other occupation, and may he appear before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in relation to union matters?
– My view is that he would be debarred only from the holding of an office as defined in clause 3. As I see it it would not prevent his being an honorary office bearer. Nor would it prevent him from occupying any position other than those defined by that clause.
– Referring to the same matter, what would be the position of a well-known Communist, say, Miss C.-Jollie Smith of Mr. Paterson, who will, I understand, appear before the High Court of Australia in connexion with the appeal that is to be made by the Communist party. Would such a person be eligible to appear before that court under this clause?
– Yes. As I see it, this bill will not have any impact on him.
– I refer to paragraph (6) and its effect on a person working for an unlawful association, or for a branch of an unlawful association. I assume that any person so engaged would be, in effect, working for the association. Must he be a fully paid employee? The clause does not specifically say working for remuneration. It is possible that a lawyer could bc continually briefed to work for an association. Would he, under the terms of the clause, become an officer?
– I think the question raised by the honorable senator is precisely the same as that to which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) has referred. The clause is quite clear. It provides - ( 1 . ) A person in respect of whom a declaration is in force under this Act: -
As I indicated earlier, “ office “ is defined in clause 3. A person would not be prevented from working as a contractor or as a typist.
– The officers of a union may be the secretary, the treasurer, and a number of trustees. Under the union’s constitution they would be the officers of the association, but the definition defines an officer as a person working for a union.
– I think that the honorable senator is confusing “officer” with “office”. “Officer” is referred to in clause 7, which deals with unlawful associations. That is the only instance in which the word “ officer “ appears. It does not appear in clause 10 at all.
– But “ officer “ would mean any person working for the association.
– It would be any one coming within the definition. The word is associated only with clause 7, which deals with unlawful organizations, not with clause 10.
– I pose three questions, which are relevant to declaration and the process of declaration. First, is it still the decision of the Government that it will not alter its mind regarding the Crown assuming the onus of proof in relation to applications to the court? Secondly, does it reject the Opposition’s suggestion that there should be an appeal from a sinsrle judge to a full court? Thirdly, does the Government still reject the proposal that at the discretion of the court, compensation should be paid to an individual who has been wrongly declared to be a Communist ?
Senator O’SULLIVAN (QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs) 110.40]. - In regard to the onus of proof, I cannot do better than quote, with approval, a reason that the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) gave; it appears in volume 186 of *Hansard, of the 15th March, 1946. Replying to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), in the Blouse of Representatives, he said -
I altered the regulation to make it mandatory on the chairman of the tribunal to say to every person appearing before it, “The charge against you is this. What is your answer to itv” It is perfectly true that the proceedings were not open to the public-
These proceedings will be open -
How could they be when the very matter being investigated by the tribunal affected the security of the country? We all know that there were enemy agents in Australia. If the proceedings had been open, information given to the tribunals would have come into the possession of those enemy agents and the very disaster which detention was designed to avoid would have been facilitated.
I think the right honorable gentleman was quite wise in those circumstances. This is not an ordinary matter, but one which affects the security and “ safety of our country. I now quote from the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act 1949, where the so-called onus of proof was put upon a person charged or suspected. Section 11 of that act reads -
Where an organization has committed an offence against this Act, every person who, at the time of the commission of the offence, was « 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 nf 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 was an instance where, rightly or wrongly, the onus was not on the Crown at all, and where a person suspected or charged had to establish the falsity of the averment, or had to rebut the presumption that he “ shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge “.
In regard to appeals to a full court of the Supreme Court, or the High Court, the Government sees no reason to extend the provision for appeals already made.
Concerning the granting of compensation, and bearing in mind the very limited type and description of people who will be affected by this legislation, and having regard also to the nature of the proceedings that will be involved, the Government sees no good reason to depart from its previously stated intention not to make provision for the granting of compensation to a person who is successful in having a declaration set aside.
– Had the Minister (Senator O’Sullivan) been as brief in his answer to my first question as he was to the other two, the matter would have ended there. I posed to him three questions asking whether the Government adhered to its previous attitude, and the honorable senator could have answered me quite satisfactorily with “ Yes “ or “ No “. I expected those answers, but as he has taken the opportunity to raise the question of the onus of proof and to quote cases let rae distinguish the case that he has quoted. He referred to the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act 1949, and cited that as an instance of the onus of proof being thrown fully upon the accused, but he failed to make clear that, the very clause which he read states -
Where an organization has committed an offence . . .
What the Minister did not pose to the committee is that, first, the company or organization must, in the ordinary courts of the land, be proved to have committed an offence. It must first be charged and convicted. An abstract body like a corporation cannot be punished by imprisonment, and individuals must be held responsible for its actions. It is provided that the directors or committee of management should be held responsible for an offence committed by that organization unless they can show that they did not know of it or took steps to prevent its commission. The great difference between the procedure under this measure that the Government seeks to justify and the procedure under the act cited by the Minister is that in the latter case an offence must first be proved, by the ordinary processes of law and in the ordinary courts of the land, to have been committed by the corporation. A corporation, being unable to act on its own, must act through individuals. Therefore, every director is liable to be punished for the offence committed by the corporation unless he can establish either that he knew nothing about it or took proper steps to prevent it. Under this measure, no offence need be established. If an individual wishes to refute the allegations made against him, he must go into the witness box, give evidence and present his case. He may, as the Minister said, be given leave to adduce evidence in rebuttal at a later stage.
Let us consider the plight of an individual who is declared to be a Communist. I should like to sec one honorable senator opposite who has a wide experience of the law handling a case of that kind. It having been alleged that -his client was .a Communist and a danger to the security of this country, I should like to bear his comments when he was told that no particulars of either allegation would be supplied to him. His client could not apply to a court at all in respect, of the allegation that, in effect, he was a traitor. The honorable senator would ask his client, “ Why do they say that, you are a Communist?” Under this measure, a person can be declared to be a Communist if he was a member pf the Australian Communist party. Clause 25 provides that evidence that a person distributed Communist literature, attended a meeting of the Communist party, wrote anything in support of the Communist party or that his name appeared on documents found in Marx House, in the possession of a Communist or in the possession of -any person anywhere in Australia, if there is any presumption that the document may be a list of Communist party members, shall be evidence that that person was a member of the Communist party. Where would the lawyer begin to prepare the defence? He would ask his client, “ What is the allegation? Is it that you are a member of the Communist party, that you have attended a meeting of the party?”, and so on through the various heads to which I have referred. He would ask, “ Is the allegation that you espouse communism? If so, what did you say, and where and when did you say it ? “ He would tell his client, “ I am in a hopeless position to present a case on your behalf, because I do not know the case that I have to meet “. That is the criticism that wc level against this provision.
Yesterday, the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) referred to the Black Marketing Act as a measure in .which the onus of proof is thrown upon a person charged. The section of that act that he read is identical with the section of the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act to which the Minister for Trade and Customs referred. The Black Marketing Act provided that where an offence was proved to have been committed by a corporation, the directors of the corporation were to be held liable unless they could establish that they did not know of tho offence or took steps to ensure its prevention. That provision and the provision now before the committee are not comparable.
I had no desire to embark upon a debate on this matter until the Minister, unable to resist dragging in the name of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), referred to the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act.
– Am I to- understand from the reply given by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) to Senator Ashley that, of the many persons in Australia who are likely to be declared to be Communists or subversive persons under the very wide definition of “ Communist “ in this ‘bill, the only ones who may be deprived of their livelihood are those employed in the service of the Commonwealth or holding office in a trade union? Does the Minister mean that, apart from persons of the type to which I have referred,’ anybody can be a Communist, espouse the cause of communism and be a subversive person, but suffer no penalty other than that of being declared under- this measure?
– The only penal provisions in the bill are those contained in clause 1, relating to persons who continue to act in violation of the legislation. This clause applies, not to every officer of a trade union, hut to officers of organizations connected with vital industries. The only disability from which such a person would suffer as a result of a declaration being made against him is that he would be ineligible to hold office in a trade union connected with a vital industry.
– Apparently a person can be declared to be a Communist or a subversive person and still practice, for example, as a lawyer, a doctor or an engineer.
– The Law Society, under its code, could deal with a lawyer who was declared. The Crimes Act could be invoked against other declared persons. It must not be assumed that it willbe permissible and legitimate for declared persons to act in any manner not prohibited by this measure.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 agreed to.
Remaining clauses, Title and Preamble - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill read a third time.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Publice Service Act - Appointments: - Department -
Interior - H. A. Johnson.
National Development -R. Inglis, R. C. T.Riddell.
Treasury - W. L. Davies, J. A. Howard. Works andHousing - H. J. D. Garrett.
Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinances - 1950-
No. 18 - Ordinances Revision.
No. 19 - Administration Contracts.
No. 20- Supply (No. 2) 1960-51.
No. 21 - Commerce (Trade Descriptions ) .
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance - 1950 - No. 7 - Motor Traffic.
Senate adjourned at 10.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 October 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1950/19501019_senate_19_209/>.