20th Parliament · 1st Session
The President - (Senator the Hon. Edward Mattner) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister for Shipping’ and Transport aware that there is a big accumulation of timber and produce awaiting shipment at the port of Stanley in Tasmania, and that this accumulation has come about in consequence of the frequent diversion of ships from Stanley to other ports? Will the Minister make inquiries to rectify the present state of affairs at the port and to prevent a recurrence?
– I shall be pleased to look into the matter and obtain a report for the honorable senator as soon as possible.
– In view of the fact, that many people who live in the northwest of Western Australia have to wait months for goods owing to the shortage of shipping, will the Minister for Shipping and Transport inform the Senate when Dongara, which was sold by the Commonwealth last year for delivery to the Western Australian Government in March this year, will be available to cater for the needs of that important part of the Commonwealth?
– The latest advice I have received from the Australian Shipping Board is that Dongara will be available’ to the Western Australian Government in the last week of August or the first week of September.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport will recall that earlier this week I asked a question regarding the proposed wheat shipment to Tasmania: Is the Minister able to say whether or not Dubbo has yet been able to leave Adelaide ; can he furnish an estimate of the cost incurred in assembling a crew to man the vessel; and will he state who will bear the expense of the freight from Adelaide to Tasmania?
– I regret to have to say that while Dubbo was delayed for fourteen days in Adelaide the estimated cost incurred amounted to £250 a day. Unfortunately,’ it was also necessary to have the crew needed to man the vessel flown from Melbourne to Adelaide. Those expenses had to be met by the Australian Shipping Board. That fact, in conjunction with the fact that we intend to deliver the wheat to Tasmania without charge has imposed a heavy burden on the taxpayers. The vessel will first proceed to Port Pirie, but we hope that it will be in Launceston at the end of next week. Another vessel, Daylesford, is due to leave Melbourne to-morrow morning and is expected to arrive in Hobart on Saturday.
– On the 27th June, Senator Tangney asked the following questions : -
The Minister for Social Services has’ now supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Norn. - Items (a), (6) and (o) are the estimated figures as at the 30th June, 1961, while Hems (d), (e) and (/) are the actual figures as at the 30th June, 1950.
– I ask the Minister representing .the Treasurer whether agl and other pensions could be based on the cost of living as is the basic wage? If not, why not?
– On behalf of Senator Spooner I inform the honorable senator that I am sure that every method by which the lot of pensioners can be improved has been given the fullest consideration by the Government.
– In view of the grave concern among the people of Australia at the alarming increase of the cost of living, will the Minister for Trade and Customs indicate whether, in connexion with the forthcoming referendum on the Communist Party Dissolution Act, the Government, despite its lack of faith in the efficacy of Commonwealth prices control, will hold a referendum on that matter so that the people may decide the issue democratically?
– In view of the forthcoming referendum, it is heartening to know that the honorable senator is disposed to hand over to the Commonwealth Parliament greater powers than it now possesses. He will have an opportunity to express his opinion on thi referendum bill when it has been introduced into this chamber by the AttorneyGeneral. That measure will indicate the exact terms of the referendum that the Government proposes should be held.
– In view of the fact that, during the last ten years, Australia’s urban population has increased by 1,000,000 whereas its rural population has declined by 30,000, will the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration urge that immediate steps be taken to divert a greatly increased flow of migrants to our primary industries ?
– It is true to say, [ believe, that the immigration scheme has already assisted greatly to relieve the pressure on agricultural industries bli: if the honorable senator will place he:question on the notice-paper, I shall obtain a considered reply from the Minister for Immigration.
– As I understand that at the present time immigrants who are brought to this country arrive at capital cities, thus being given a taste of city life, will the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration consider directing that immigrants for Queensland be landed at the various ports along the Queensland coast where immigrant camps exist? I suggest that that would enable immigrants to be settled in country areas before having an opportunity to learn of the attractions of the cities. It is apparent that at the present moment most immigrant labour is going to the capital cities of Australia.
– Whatever merit there may be in the suggestion made by the honorable senator, I should have thought that difficulties would arise from the shipping point of view - in achieving the objective which he seeks to achieve. However, if he cares to place the question on the notice-paper I shall direct the attention of the Minister for Immigration to his suggestion.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether a statement similar to that made yesterday in the House of Representatives on the butter position could be made in this chamber so that members of the senate may have the fullest information on the subject instead of having to depend on newspaper reports. Does the Government not realize that this matter is of vital importance to a majority of the people? Has consideration been given to the new formula that .has been suggested for fixing the price of dairy products? Does the Government intend to withdraw the present subsidy to that industry and thus force the price of butter up beyond 4s. per lb.?
– I appreciate the points that have been raised by the honorable senator. As he knows, there has been a rush of business before this chamber and honorable senators were required to sit until a late hour last night. I have not yet had an opportunity to obtain a copy of the statement.
– Why are we ignored?
– I regret that the honorable senator considers that the Senate has been ignored. The statement was made in the House of Representatives only yesterday. However,- T shall obtain a copy of the statement, which, I understand, contains all of the facts, and read it to honorable senators.
– by leave - A statement on the dairying industry was made in the House of Representatives by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture yesterday, and I am grateful to Senator Ashley for drawing my attention to the fact that a similar statement was not also made in this chamber. The statement is as follows : -
In 1947, the Commonwealth undertook to guarantee to dairy-fanners a return equal to the cost of production on milk produced for the manufacture of butter, cheese, and processed milk products. From the outset, a specific method of determining the cost of production was associated with that five-year guarantee. A part of the proposal was that in respect of butter and cheese exported, when the sale price exceeded the guaranteed price, the surplus should be paid into a stabilization fund, to be drawn upon if the export price fell below the guaranteed price. At the time that that guarantee was introduced in 1947, it waa the policy of the then government to subsidize the price of butter and cheese to Australian consumers. The then rate of subsidy in respect of butter was Gd. per lb., and the cost to the Treasury in that year was £5,000,000. The payment of that subsidy was part of the economic policy of the Government, and in no way related to the guaranteed return to dairy-farmers. The plan provided that there should be an annual review of the cost of production and an appropriate adjustment of the guaranteed price. The basis upon which the cost of production was calculated’ has been subject to growing criticism by dairy-farmers. About a year after the negotiation of that plan, prices control passed to the States. The situation developed in which the Commonwealth was responsible for the guaranteed price on a basis of ever-increasing costs and, therefore, for annual increases of the guarantee. Notwithstanding this, however, the State authorities did not alter the price of butter. The outcome has been that to honour the obligation to the dairy-farmers on home sales, the Commonwealth has made up the difference between the selling price and the guaranteed price by subsidy, at an ever-increasing cost to the Treasury. The cost at the end of the last financial year was at the rate of £16,800,000 per annum for butter, cheese, and processed milk, which represents a payment of Is. 1.3d. per lb. by the Commonwealth Treasury towards the cost of butter to the Australian consumer.
This is the last year of the five-year guarantee. In the terms of the guarantee, dairyfarmers are entitled to a further adjustment of the guaranteed price to meet the revealed increased costs, and this should operate from the 1st July. The Government has reviewed the circumstances of the dairying industry generally in regard to its declared policy of long-term stabilization of the industry, and particularly in regard to the developments in the industry as they bear upon our food and economic requirements. An examination has shown that, during the last statistical period, the level of production of milk for all purposes regained, for the first time, the previous record production of 1930. However, that in itself does not indicate a satisfactory position. Consumption of whole-milk has increased from about 13 per cent, of the total in 1939, to approximately 21 per cent, to-day. Increasing diversion of milk to the manufacture of processed milk products, an appreciable proportion of which go into luxury or semi luxury products such as chocolates and icecream, and also for the manufacture of cheese, represents about double the quantity that was used for those purposes in 1939. All this if a subtraction from the quantity of milk available for butter manufacture, which consequently has diminished sharply. The percentage of all milk used for butter manufacture to-day is 65.2 per cent., compared with 78.3 per cent, in 1939. At the same time, our population has increased by about 1,000,000. and since derationing of butter there has been a sharp increase in the per capita consumption by approximately 6 lb. per head per annum. Projecting these trends forward to, say, 1960, it has been calculated that the continuous growth of our population at its present rate, and maintenance of the dairying industry at approximately its present level, would produce a situation in which we would then have no butter available for export. To ensure a sufficiency to meet our own requirements at all places and at all times, would call for extensive cold-storage planning, and there would certainly be shortages in the event of adverse seasonal conditions. On the other hand, if for reasons of general economic policy it is considered desirable that the dairying industry should maintain a balanced position in relation to the use of agricultural land, and if we desire to he able to export to the United Kingdom or to other countries the same quantity of dairy products’ in 1960 as we are now exporting, we would need by then to have added approximately 1,000,000 dairy cows to our herds - the equivalent of 20,000 farms of 50 cows each.
The Government has given serious consideration to this situation and has decided that from the point of view of equity to the dairy-farmer, the needs of our own population, general economic stability, and thu needs of the United Kingdom, it is necessary to hold out a more attractive future to the industry. To this end the Government has decided that, instead of merely allowing the present five-year plan to run its course, it is desirable as from now to stabilize the industry for the next six years, by a continuance of the principle of the guaranteed price based on cost of production, but with a variation of the costing formula designed to establish for persons engaged in the dairying industry. either as owners or employees, conditions more comparable with the general standards now prevailing in Australia.
The formula of 1947 was based on a 56-hour week award, which is, in fact, still applying to the industry. It allows as costs a return to the owner of 3 per cent. upon his equity. For the purpose of the calculation of this equity, and for the purpose of depreciation and replacement of cattle, capital and cattle values are still treated as pegged at 1942 prices. The return to the average dairy-farmer who owns and operates his dairy farm is designed to ensure the prevailing dairy industry award rate for a general farm hand, which is now £8 18s. a week plus 25s. margin for management allowance. As the plan was calculated to give this as an average return, it follows that half of the dairy-farmers would receive more than these figures and the other half would receive less.
What may be described as the inadequacies andimbalances of this costing formula in comparison with other industries’ to-day are obvious, and as the outcome of negotiations with the dairying industry and recommendationsby the Joint Dairy Industry Advisory Committee the Government wishes to introduce a revised formula. A couple of recommendations of the committee have not been incorporated in the new formula and I shall reveal them in due course.
On Monday last I acquainted the State Prices Ministers of all of these facts, and there was a lengthy examination of the details. On behalf of the Commonwealth, I suggested to the States a plan involving Commonwealth and State co-operation to stabilize the position of the dairying industry for six years. The plan, in the opinion of the Commonwealth, would require both Commonwealth and State legislation. Broadly, the Commonwealth would guarantee to dairy-farmers, for six years, the cost of production on the new. and liberalized formula in respect of butter and cheese produced for local consumption.
The Commonwealth has been pursuing a policy of subsidizing consumers of these products and proposes to follow that policy during the current year. However, to guarantee to dairy-farmers for six years an assured return without control of the selling price ex factory would involve a completely unpredictable liability for the Commonwealth if the authorities controlling prices did not adjust the selling priceto the guaranteed price, or to a level which would make the selling price and the subsidy total the guaranteed price. Such a liability the Commonwealth could not, and would not, assume. An essential part of the stabilization of the industry for this further period of six years, therefore, is that the Commonwealth shall be put in a position where the guaranteed price, plus permitted factory costs, automatically becomes the ex factory price. This is something which, in the opinion of the Commonwealth, would require State legislation. This principle is almost identical with the arrangement which now exists in respect of the guarantee to the wheat industry, in which the guaranteed price proclaimed by the Commonwealth becomes, in fact, the Belling price within Australia, It is then within the prerogative of the Commonwealth to subsidize the cost to consumers below that price, if that be Commonwealth policy. This was once done with wheat and is being done with butter and cheese.
The Commonwealth does not propose to continue beyond the present year subsidization of processed milk products which, as I mentioned earlier, go in appreciable quantities to luxury items, such as chocolate and ice-cream manufacture. In the absence of any Commonwealth subsidy, processed milk prices, as in the case of all other commodities, would be covered by prices orders. The adoption of this more liberal costing formula would produce one problem. It is that the higher level of costs shown, if taken as a guaranteed price for export, would very substantially exceed the present British Ministry of Food contract price. This contract with the United Kingdom, entered into by the government of the day in 1948, stands until 1955 and provides that we shall sell to the United Kingdom the whole of our surplus production of butter and cheese, excepting such quantities as the Ministry of Food may agree to our selling to other countries. It provides for an annual negotiation of the price, with a limitation of price adjustments at any period to 7½ per cent. upwards or downwards. It is, therefore, shown upon examination that if we secure for the coming year the maximum price increase under this contract from the Ministry of Food, that would represent 3d. per lb. Even that highest permitted price under the contract would still leave a substantial deficiency below the cost of production figure according to the new formula. However, the stabilizaton fund would be drawn upon to make good any difference during this last year of the present plan.
The Australian Government is not prepared to raise from tax revenue moneys for the purpose of subsidizing the United Kingdom consumer of butter. For this reason, it is not possible under the proposed six-year plan to extend the guaranteed price to export Bales of butter or cheese. However, the Government will point out to the Ministry of Food that a return to dairy-farmers from exports of less than costs of production would almost certainly result in diminished exports. A couple of months ago I was, however, able to persuade the Ministry of Food to disregard a similar 7½ per cent. limitation in our egg contract and approve a 25 per cent. increase.
The present retail price of butter has been maintained at 2s. 2d. and 2s. 2½d. per lb. according to areas, unaltered since July, 1348. It is unquestionably out of relationship to other commodity prices. As an example, margarine in Canberra is now only½d . per lb. cheaper than butter, and the paper in which the butter is wrapped is dearer per lb. than butter itself.
It the proposed plan is accepted by the States, the Commonwealth will continue for this year the present rate of consumer subsidy; that is, it will contribute £16,800,000 during this year to the subsidization of dairy products. It will do that whether the States approve of a six-year plan or not. It is not possible, for reasons that honorable members will readily understand, to anticipate the subsidy in subsequent years; that would be related to general economic policies and circumstances. All this indicates the possibility of an increase in the selling price of butter and cheese. That indication may lead to some hoarding against the increase by retailers and some attempt at excess buying by consumers. This, obviously, makes it necessary in the public interest that all the governments which are concerned in this proposal make the earliest possible decision upon it. Mention of this situation does not alter the facts, as generally understood by the public to-day.
I am assured that factories, and distributors on behalf of factories, will not withhold any butter. Statistical information of their production and holding is fully known. I point out that under the system of equalization of all returns, which has operated. 100 per cent. in the butter and cheese industry for some twenty years, any price advantage gained by one factory is spread over the returns of ail factories in Australia for the whole period of the year. So, any passing advantage by holding for a higher price would be so infinitesimal in its application to any one factory as to leave no incentive for withholding for price rise. On the other hand, whatever increased return to dairy-farmers is agreed upon will be retrospective to the. 1st July.
I am sure there will be a recognition, that in the interests of dairy-farmers, Australian consumers, the Australian economy and the United Kingdom consumers, it is most desirable that the dairying industry should be given an incentive to expand. This proposal is the outcome of the most careful consideration by the Government and the industry. Of course, price incentive alone is not sufficient to aim at 1,000,000 more dairy cows in nine years. That seems an almost unattainable objective, but it is a most essential objective. It calls for more farms and more fencing materials, cement, building materials, machinery and equipment of all kinds. The Government is eager to co-operate with the State governments in these matters. At present the State Ministers in charge of prices control are conferring with their governments on the proposals which I made to them on Monday last, the general concept of which I have outlined. At their request, and as a matter of general propriety, I do not intend to reveal at this stage the actual increases that are indicated by the application of either the old formula or the desired liberalized formula, but I am hopeful that the State governments may be in a position shortly, perhaps within a week or so, to reach a final understanding with the Australian Government on that point. When that has been achieved all the figures, and the processes by which they have been arrived at, will be made public. This inquiry is too important to be prejudiced by becoming the plaything of party politics or inter-governmental Commonwealth and State politics. The Government is most eager to avoid any developments along those lines and will welcome co-operation in its objective from all quarters.
– In the absence of the Minister for National Development, who represents the Treasurer in this chamber, I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs the following questions: - 1.How many citizens hold Government bonds to the value of £500 or less, that were issued in 1946 or prior to that year ?
– I do not consider that it is appropriate for an honorable senator to seek such information in reply to a question. If the Treasury officials were required to collate all of the information that the honorable senator seeks, they would have little time left to attend to their proper business. I am sure that the relevant statistics are readily obtainable from the Government Statistician and I suggest that the honorable senator approach that officer.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. On several occasions I have directed questions to Ministers in this chamber relating to the conclusion of a peace treaty with Japan, but no definite information has been furnished. According to a report in yesterday’s press, Mr. Dulles is reported to have stated that no more restrictions will be imposed on the Japanese, while in this morning’s press it is stated that Mr. Spender, the Australian Ambassador to Washington, will sign the peace treaty with Japan on behalf of Australia. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether it is a fact that we have reached the “ sign on the dotted line “ stage, and that the Parliament will not have an opportunity to consider the proposed peace treaty?
– The Parliament has had an opportunity to discuss the matter.
– I have never seen the draft peace treaty.
– The whole of the issues that arise in connexion- with the proposed peace treaty with Japan were included in the statement on international affairs that has been read in this chamber and debated by honorable senators.
– A draft of the proposed peace . treaty has not been before this chamber, and it now appears that a draft will not be presented to honorable senators for consideration before the treaty is signed and delivered, probably bt-fore the sittings of the Parliament are resumed after the forthcoming recess.
– Is it not a fact that the treaty will be made known to the people of the world at midnight and will not be discussed either by the House of Representatives or by this chamber?
- .Senator Ashley seems to have some information concerning what is likely to happen at midnight, and if we can bear ourselves in patience until then I suppose that we shall discover whether it happens or not. Concerning the question asked by Senator Grant, ‘I think that I have stated on a previous occasion in relation to this matter that it has been usual in the past, when dealing with treaties of this kind, not, t,o debate drafts but for the treaties to be signed subject to ratification. That was done after the first world war. and I imagine that something of the same kind will be done this time.
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General a further question on the same matter.
– Order ! The honorable senator has already asked a number of questions, and, as other honorable senators also wish to ask questions, 1 propose to take their questions in order. 1 Alter:
– The Minister has stated that it is not customary for a draft treaty to bc presented to Parliament for discussion. Is he aware that, weeks ago, :> majority of the members of both Houses of the British Parliament demanded that all members should he given an opportunity to discuss the draft treaty prior to its signature by the British representatives ?
– Members of both Houses of this Parliament have already had an opportunity for open discussion of all the material issues in the draft treaty.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs noticed that a considerable amount of information and many leading articles have recently appeared in the newspapers, mainly of the capitalist press - because, with the exception of weekly newspapers, there is no working-class press - directing attention to the very serious position of this country due to inflation? A very good article, which had a decided punch in it, recently appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. I think that every Australian is concerned with this problem and with the possibility of collapse of our monetary system. Will the Government consider calling together the leaders of all parties of this Parliament, the leaders and the captains of industry and the leaders of the industrial unions, for the purpose of conferring on this matter and attempting at least to draft a measure that will be the means of offsetting inflation, which, to my mind, is the forerunner of a terrible tragedy unless it is checked?
– It is reassuring to see the interest manifested by the honorable senator in what is certainly a very serious economic situation. I assure him that the Government will explore every avenue to correct the position and, in the interests of our common welfare and of our economic stability, will consult with any person who is in a position to offer assistance and cooperation.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs in a position to make a statement to the Senate concerning the future of Cocos Island? Is it intended that the Commonwealth shall take over the administration of the island, and, if so, is the Minister in a position to say when that is likely to occur ?
– The subjectmatter of the honorable senator’s question comes under the control of the Minister foi Territories. As I have no personal knowledge of what is intended, I shall have inquiries made and furnish the honorable senator with an answer to his question in due course.
– Since the soldier land settlement scheme has been in operation repeated requests have been made to the Australian Government and the State governments for the adoption of 41 uniform policy in regard to what is known as single unit farms. Is the Minis”ter for Repatriation in a position to inform the’ Senate whether an agreement ,has yet been arrived at between the Commonwealth and the States for the purchase and re-sale to ex-servicemen of single unit farms? If such an agreement has not been concluded, will he cause inquiries to be made as to the possibility of that desirable objective being attained in the near future?
– The settlement of ex-servicemen on the land is not now controlled by the Repatriation Department, hut by the Department of the Interior. I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for the Interior, who will furnish a reply at an early date.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that it is not possible for listeners in Canberra to pick up radio programmes from Western Australia ? In view of the fact that newspapers in the eastern States completely ignore Western Australian news, will the Minister discuss with the Australian Broadcasting Commission the desirability of making it possible for radio programmes from Western Australia to be heard in Canberra ?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s suggestion to the notice of the Postmaster-General.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior,. upon, notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : - 1 and 2. It is not considered that such a characterization of Canberra’s architecture would be justifiable. If the reference is to public buildings, it may he stated that some of these, such as the Institute of Anatomy, the Australian War Memorial, the Forestry School, the Patent Office and the Canberra Hospital, have frequently been the subject of very favorable comment by competent visitors. Many people also have praised the simple dignity of the provisional buildings in the governmental area, which comprise Parliament House, and the two secretariats. Them were provided at a stage when neither the time nor the funds were available to admit of the erection of the permanent monumental buildings envisaged in the approved city plan, and in their design care was taken to avoid the adoption of any .pronounced style of architecture so as to leave the field open in that respect for the design of the permanent buildings. The first permanent administrative building in the governmental area is now under construction and it is considered that, when completed, it will be entirely satisfactory from an architectural point of view. Whilst some fine examples of architecture were provided in the Macquarie period, the design of future buildings in Canberra will be conditioned by many circumstances, and it would hardly be appropriate to impose any particular restrictions on the designers. At the same time, the honorable senator’s suggestion will be referred to the National Capital Planning and Development Committee, which is the Government’s adviser on these matters, in order that it may receive due consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
As mosquitoes are carriers of disease, especially in the tropical and sub-tropical regions, will the Minister consider subsidizing, through State governments, any efforts by local authorities to eradicate mosquitoes or control their breeding by means of spraying?
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following answer : -
Except in areas under Commonwealth control, such as aerodromes, the eradication of mosquitoes is -a. matter for State governments. It is not proposed to grant and subsidies for the purpose.
Senator AMOUR (through Senator Critchley asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 and 2. Yes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– I am informed by my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, that the Australian National Airlines Commission did seek approval to place an order for six Vickers “Viscount” aircraft, plus spares, at a total cost of approximately £1,900,000 sterling. It was made clear that the commission’s application was made conditional on the continuance of customs-free entry of kerosene. The commission’s proposal was duly brought before Cabinet, which decided that the application raised an issue of policy which could not be determined at that stage. It is understood that certain of these Vickers “ Viscount “ aircraft have since been offered to AirFrance, but the precise position in regard to that transaction is not known to my colleague.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– My colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, has furnished me with the following information : -
– by leave - The Patent Law Review Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Arthur Dean, of the Supreme Court of Victoria, which Was appointed by me last year has made considerable progress in its task of reviewing the patent legislation of the Commonwealth. It is expected that before the end of this year its report will be received by me and action taken upon it by the Government to introduce an up-to-date consolidating statute.
The task of the committee is not an easy one and involves many difficult problems, both legal and technical. The committee has given close consideration to existing legislation of other countries and to alterations made in recent years to the patent laws of those countries, particularly Great Britain. The committee has received much helpful comment on, and suggestions for, amendments to the present Patents Act from persons and organizations directly interested or affected by it. The committee considers, however, that there are many other organizations and people who, through their experience in dealing with patents and matters relating thereto, could offer useful comment and suggestions. I, now, on behalf of the committee, extend to any person or organization an invitation to forward to it any comment on, or suggestion for, amendment of the patent law and practice in the Commonwealth. In view of the committee’s desire to complete its task at the earliest possible moment, such comment or suggestions should be furnished without delay and should be in writing addressed to the Secretary, Patent Law Review Committee, care of Attorney-General’s Department, Canberra.
The Trade Mark Law Review Committee, also under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Dean, would appreciate any comments on, or suggestions for, amendment of the trade mark law and practice of the Commonwealth which any person or organization may care to submit to it. Such comment or suggestions should be forwarded to the Secretary, Trade Mark Law Review Committee, at the same address.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Callof the Senate: Suspension of Standing Order 242.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That Standing Order 242 be suspended to enable the third reading of the bill to be passed without a call of the Senate.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spicer) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is designed to give to the National Parliament effective power to deal with Communists and communism. It proposes to do that by adding two new powers to the present powers of the Commonwealth Parliament. The first new power will enable the Parliament to make such laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to Communists or communism as the Parliament considers to be necessary or expedient for the defence or security of the Commonwealth, or for the execution or maintenance of the Constitution or the laws of the Commonwealth. The second power will enable the Parliament to enact as a valid law the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950, and to make alterations to or amendments of that act which are with respect to a matter dealt with by that act. It will also enable the Parliament, if it sees fit to do so, to repeal such legislation as it may pass under this power.
In dealing with the second amendment with which it is convenient to deal first, I appreciate, of course, that it may be said that the comprehensive power conferred upon the Parliament by the first amendment would enable it to enact the Communist Party Dissolution Act in the terms in which it was passed by this Parliament last year. That may well be so. AVe seek, however, express power to enact that measure in order to put beyond all legal doubt the right of this Parliament to enact that law and thus to prevent any possibility of time-wasting legal proceedings which might ensue if the measure were re-enacted under the first power.
Unmistakable authority has been given twice to the Government to enact legislation of the kind envisaged in this bill, t say that the authority is unmistakable; in fact I venture to suggest that seldom has there been a measure of a controversial nature introduced into this Parliament which has received more emphatic endorsement from the Australian people. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his policy speech in 1949, in the clearest terms said that if elected we would outlaw communism, it being an alien and destructive pest. He said, “ The Communist party will be declared subversive and unlawful, and dissolved: A receiver will be appointed to deal with its assets. Subject to appeal, the Attorney-General will be empowered to declare other bodies substantially Communist ; to follow the party into any new form and attach illegality to that new association. 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”. This policy received the most emphatic endorsement nf the people of Australia. The Aus tralian Labour party was defeated at the election. The Liberal and Australian Country parties were returned with a large majority in the House of Representatives.
The struggle of the Government, in the face of a hostile Labour majority in the Senate, to give effect to the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister, is a matter of recent history, and is too well known to need recapitulation in detail. It is sufficient to say that the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 could never have been enacted without the direct cooperation and assent of the Opposition. That the assent was given only after one of the most spectacular political somersaults ever known is also a matter of recent history which is easy to remember. But let me say this: The Opposition’s reversal of form was a clear recognition of the fact that a majority of the Australian people supported the legislation. One might reasonably have expected that in view of the Government’s further mandate, the Opposition would now support this bill. But there has been yet another change of front. Does it imagine, notwithstanding the people’s most recent verdict at the polls, that the legislation proposed by the Government is not as earnestly desired now as it was then? The truth of the matter is that the Opposition has got itself, or has been led by its leaders, into a sorry mess over this issue, and still does not know where it stands.
The validity of the act was immediately challenged in the High Court, which decided . by a majority that it was not within the powers assigned to this Parliament by the Constitution. The court did not have to decide, and did not decide, whether the act was a good or a bad measure. The only task of the court was to interpret the Constitution as it stands in its present form. The High Court does not decide, and has no power to decide, what amendments of the Constitution ought, or ought not, to be made. That is a matter for this Parliament, and the people, alone. The court must not be misrepresented as saying that the Constitution could not, or ‘ should not, be amended to clothe the Parliament with power to pass the act of 1950. Such a suggestion is not only unfair to the court, but inconsistent with the basic principle of our Constitution. It would give to the court, and not to the people, the ultimate right to decide what alterations of the Constitution ought to be made. The fair view of what the High Court decided is that, if the people of Australia wish to give effect to the views they have expressed at the polls, an alteration of the Constitution is required.
That the electors of this country support the Government’s policy on communism and that they wish to see in effective operation the very act which we passed, is evident from their emphatic endorsement of the Government at the recent election. The Prime Minister in his policy-speech undertook to seek the new power needed to deal with the Communist conspiracy, either by requesting a reference of the necessary matters from the States, or, failing their support, by placing a proposal for constitutional alteration before the people. Two of the States having refused to refer the necessary matters, a referendum of the people has become necessary. We believe that, given the opportunity to express their opinion, the people will unhesitatingly support the proposals contained in the bill. The Opposition objects even to their being given the opportunity of deciding whether they will do so or not. The members of the Opposition are great democrats !
I do not propose at this stage to discuss in any detail the provisions of the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950, which were debated at such great length in both Houses of the Parliament last year. Its terms, I believe, are well understood by every honorable member of this chamber. The Australian Labour party lias always protested that it did not object to the dissolution of the Communist party. It did raise objections to some detailed provisions of the bill, upon grounds which, I believe, were completely misconceived.
– Our opposition was justified by the High Court’s decision.
– The only thing that waa justified. was that the Opposition was not prepared to stand up to the legislation. It sought, and still seeks, to represent the bill as one that subjects persons to criminal proceedings in which the burden of proving their innocence rests on them. That is quite untrue. There is no provision in the bill under which any person can be charged with a criminal offence except upon the basis that the Crown is called upon to carry the ordinary criminal onus of proof. Apart from the provisions for dissolution of the Communist party and affiliated organizations, the bill is merely concerned with the removal of Communists from certain places of power where they can carry on activities to the detriment of the defence and security of the Commonwealth.
It is true that the measure we propose is of an unusual kind. But it must be remembered that we are dealing with an unusual evil. The Communist party is not a political party in the sense in which that term is normally understood in a democratic community. For it, majority rule is quite irrelevant. It does not expect to become a large political organization with hundreds of thousands of members supporting its policy throughout the land. Its true object is to obtain power by undermining and destroying our Constitution and our democratic institutions, and to do so in the interests of a foreign power which is engaged in vast imperialistic expansion. A government faced with such an evil would be recreant to the trust imposed in it if it did not do all in its power to combat and destroy such a dangerous influence.
What I have said regarding the aims and methods of the Communist party is not a product of the imagination. On the contrary, it is supported by the highest judicial statements on the proved activities of the party. Reference has been made on earlier occasions and in other places to some of those statements, but, illustrating as they do the aims and objects of the Communist party, they cannot be too often repeated.
The Prime Minister has already drawn attention to the judgment of Mr. Justice Jackson in the recent case of Dennis and others v. The United States, a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. In that case a number of Communist leaders had been charged with conspiring to teach and to advocate the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force and violence.
– They were tried before a jury.
– Yes, and the jury found them guilty. All were convicted and, on the matter coming before the Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Jackson had this to say regarding the activities of the Communist party, as proved in the case before the court-
The Communist party, nevertheless, does not seek its strength primarily in numbers. Its aim is a relatively small party whose strength is in selected, dedicated, indoctrinated, and rigidly disciplined members. From established policy it tolerates no deviation and no debate. It seeks members that are, or may be, secreted in strategic posts in transportation, communications, . industry, government, and especially in labour unions, where it can compel employers to accept andretain i ts members.
I interpose by reminding honorable senators that although Mr. Justice Jackson was referring to conditions in the United States of America, his words are equally apt to conditions in Australia. He continued -
It also seeks to infiltrate and control organizations of professional and other groups. Through these placements in positions of power it seeks a leverage over society that will make up in power of coercion what it lacks in power of persuasion. The Communists have no scruples against sabotage, terrorism, assassination, or mob disorder; but violence is not with them, as with anarchists, an end in itself. The Communist party advocates force only when prudent and profitable. Their strategy of stealth precludes premature and unco-ordinated outbursts of violence, except, of course, when the blame will be placed on shoulders other than their own. They resort to violence as to truth, not as a principle, but as an expedient. Force or violence, as they would resort to it, may never be necessary, because infiltration and deception may be enough. Force would be utilized by the Communist party not to destroy government but for its capture. The Communist recognizes that an established government in control of modern technology cannot be overthrown by force until it is about ready to fall of its own weight. Concerted uprising, therefore, is to await that contingency and revolution is seen, not as a sudden episode, but as the consummation of a long process.
The same judge in an earlier case to which reference has also been previously made, the case of American Communications Association v. Douds, made special reference to the decisive difference between the Communist party and every other party of any importance in the long experience of party government in the
United States. Mr. Justice Jackson listed these as the distinguishing characteristics of the Communist party -
Here in Australia, we are dealing with Communists who are no less dangerous than are their American associates. His Honour, Sir Charles Lowe, of the Supreme Court of Victoria, only a year or two ago was appointed a royal commission by the Victorian Government to inquire into the origins, aims, objects and funds of the Communist party in Victoria. From his summary of his findings I quote the following: -
The aims and objects of the Communist party in Victoria do not differ from those of the Communist party in other parts of Australia. The aims and objects are -
To overthrow the capitalist state.
To establish the dictatorship of the proletariat,
To smash the existing State machine.
To introduce socialism by expropriating the present owner of the means of production and distribution and the great landlords, and
Ultimately to introduce communism.
This overthrow will be achieved at the earliest practicable moment.
The Communist party regards itself as the vanguard of the working class and the spearhead of the movement to overthrow the existing system.
If the present possessors do not abdicate power voluntarily they will be violently overthrown.
The Communist party strives -
To rouse the proletariat into class consciousness.
To teach them the need of obtaining power through revolution.
To train them in the means of obtaining power.
To act as their general staff in directing the revolution.
Opposition senators interjecting.
– It is apparent that honorable senators opposite are discovering something which they did not know. In the light; of what has been proved against the Communist party here, in the United States and elsewhere, can any one honestly believe that we are dealing with a legitimate political party? It must be clear beyond any doubt that we are confronted with dangerous and clever traitors against whom extraordinary measures are demanded. The Government, like the Opposition, does not believe in the banning of genuine political organizations, operating within the Constitution and the law. But the Government contends that to invoke the principles of philosophic liberalism for the protection of the Australian Communist party is not only unreal and artificial hut dangerous. We in this Parliament, and the people of Australia, must make up our minds whether international communism in our midst is operating as a democratic political party, or as a political conspiracy and a fifth-column for a foreign power. As I have explained we merely ask, in the second amendment, that the people should give power to this Parliament to enact a measure which has already been endorsed by all parties in the Parliament and by the people of Australia.
I turn now to the first amendment which, as I have already indicated, is in more comprehensive terms. It is limited in its operation to laws with respect to Communists or communism. Under the amendment; if the Parliament sought to pass a measure which was unrelated to that subject-matter and was not supported by any of its existing powers, the High Court could and would declare the measure unlawful. If the law which Parliament enacts is one with respect to
Communists or communism, then it will he for the Parliament, and not for the court, to determine the necessity or expediency of the measure for the defence or security of the Commonwealth, the execution or maintenance of the Constitution or of the laws of the Commonwealth.
This amendment will exactly fill the gap which the High Court pointed out last year in the Constitution as it stands. Just becauseCommunists and communism are not listed among the subjects of Commonwealth law-making power, the Parliament; could not, except in time of war, make a law which depended on its own opinion that Communist organizations, and the activities of Communists, were prejudicial to defence or the maintenance of the Constitution. But the court was at great pains to point out that the position would be entirely different if communism and Communists were included in the ordinary list of Commonwealth powers. Basically, that is what the first amendment does: It places Communists and communism in the list of Commonwealth powers.
The words which follow, and which enable the Parliament to make “ such laws with respect to Communists or communism as the Parliament considers to be necessary or expedient for the defence or security of the Commonwealth “ and so on, are, as a strict matter of law, limiting and not enlarging words. Parliament is not to make laws about Communists or communism for any purpose other than those indicated. The sanction is political, and not legal. But the insertion of the words I have quoted will, as a matter of political practice, make the Parliament’s power narrower, and not wider. In respect of other subject-matters in the list, the object, purpose or motive of the Parliament is completely irrelevant; it makes whatever laws it thinks expedient, and for any reason it thinks fit, and nobody can question it. Here, there can at least be questions, on the political plane. The Opposition scorns tome to have misread the bill altogether on this point.
Even on the erroneous assumption, however, that, the Opposition makes about the effect of this first amendment, its attitude to such a measure is strange, indeed. The assumption is that the words which leave it to the Parliament, and not to the court to determine the necessity or expedience of a measure for the purposes set out in the bill have the effect of extending the power of the Parliament. On that view, after all, we would be asking only for the same power over Communists and communism as the Parliament at Westminster possesses, as the Parliament of New Zealand possesses, and as every State Parliament in Australia possesses. Actually, as .1 have said, wo ure asking for less.
Opposition to such a measure conies oddly, as I. have said, from members of the Australian Labour party. The federal platform and objective of that party as I understand it, include provision for the amendment of the Commonwealth Constitution to clothe the Commonwealth Parliament with sovereign powers in relation to all matters. Indeed, in 1942, the Curtin Government introduced into the Parliament a bill which would have extended the power of the Commonwealth Parliament l.o all measures which “ in the declared opinion of the Parliament would lend to achieve economic security and social justice “. The intention of that measure was to make the Parliament’s decision unchallengeable as to the extent nf the proposed powers. In that case the power of the Parliament was intended to he all-embracing, and its laws would lui ve operated upon all citizens of the Commonwealth without any possibility of challenge in the High Court.
In a booklet expounding the necessity foi- the 1942 bill, for which’ responsibility was taken by the right honorable gentleman who is now the Leader of the Opposition in another place, it was stated with reference to this particular provision -
Thi’ novelty of the propositi is apt to distract attention from its intrinsic merits. . . There is nothing inherently objectionable in conferring legislative powers’, the exercise of which is not subject to judicial review . . . Generally speaking, democracy works best when issues essentially social mid political are determined by those who :u« directly responsible to the people.
It is not surprising that such a proposal should come from the Labour party because, as I have said, it believes or professes to believe, in sovereign powers for this Parliament. On the Opposition’s own view, all that this bill seeks is sovereign power for the Parliament over Communists and communism. Logically, Labour must support the measure. It does not object to the principle of sovereign powers for the Parliament. It cannot object to the measure on that ground. We can only conclude its objection is that those powers will be exercised over a traitorous fifth column - over Communists and communism.
The people, I believe, are not disposed to display such tender regard for the enemies of our democratic way of life as some members of the Opposition appear to possess. I believe that the measure has the support of many members of the Labour party in this Parliament, and of thousands of its supporters outside, and that a vast majority of the Australian electors will readily confer upon the Parliament the powers which are sought in this measure.
– The bill now before the Senate proposes to initiate a major change in our Constitution and, very fortunately, it is not left to the Parliament, where dictatorial power has been exercised so recently by the Government parties, to decide whether it shall become law, but will rest finally on the judgment of the people themselves. Like the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer). I do not propose to review in detail the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950, which was responsible for the introduction of this measure, because that act was discussed at great length in the Parliament and in the High Court last year. I merely take the opportunity now to say that I adhere to, and reaffirm, al! that I said on the various occasions when that measure was under discussion in the Parliament last year, and, if possible, to add emphasis to what I said then.
– With all the inconsistencies qf the Opposition’s attitude !
– 1 shall deal in due course with the. Government’’? claim that the Opposition has been inconsistent in its attitude to that measure. The Labour party objects to this bill, and I can put in one sentence the ground for its objection by saying that complete power already exists in the Commonwealth Constitution to enable the Government to deal with communism and Communists. The fact is that the Government has resorted to wrong methods to deal with them, and has invoked methods that are completely fascist.
– But the Government’s proposal is a very democratic one ; it wants to submit this matter to the people for decision.
– The Government has been putting a complete fraud over the people of Australia in pretending that it has not power to deal with communism. In the course of my speech I shall refer at some length to the judgments of the High Court justices. I do so without apology, because I doubt if more than three or four members of this chamber have ever read any of the judgments.
– They would not have been much wiser if they had.
– I agree, without disrespect to any honorable senator, that they would probably not be any wiser if they had read them. I also agree that those judgments are full of technicalities and legalisms, and I doubt whether anybody but a lawyer would be able to read them and grasp their real significance. Nevertheless, in the course of my speech [ shall attempt to place before the Senate some extracts from those judgments that are not in doubt about the proposition-
– I hope that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) will call on Senator Aylett to help him.
– -I hope the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) will cease helping me to make my speech. I come instantly to the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950, which is the substance of the measure now before the Senate. Although sub-section (1.) of proposed new section 51a seeks power over Communists and communism, I point out straight away that there is, of course, no definition of those terms. Of course, the limitation of the ambit of power over Communists and communism must still remain to be decided by the High Court. The proposed new sub-section provides that the Parliament may make such laws as it considers to be necessary or expedient for the defence and security of the country. Now, it is quite clear from the finding of the High Court when the validity of the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 was considered, that the naval and military power of the Commonwealth falls within a category that is completely different from every other head of power in the Constitution. The High Court has held repeatedly that whereas other heads of legislative power confer authority to deal with particular subjectmatters, the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth is not a subjectmatter but is a purpose. This extraordinary character of the defence power in relation to naval and military defence arises from the fact that it is purposive. In other word’s, whilst the content of other powers is almost arbitrarily fixed, the power conferred upon the Parliament by the naval and military defence power may be expanded or contracted according to circumstances. For the reason that its limits are undefined, it is most dangerous, and because of its expansionist capacity it deserves particular scrutiny by the High Court. Proposed new sub-section (2.) proposes to substitute the will of the Parliament for the judgment of the High Court in considering the necessity or the expediency of defence measures.
Senator Spicer interjecting,
– I wish theAttorneyGeneral would concede to me some of the courtesy that I extended to him when he was speaking. I point out that not even during the most critical period of the recent war did the Government attempt to displace the High Court. The first purpose of sub-section (1.) of the proposed new section is to oust the jurisdiction of the High Court in relation to a head of power that most closely concerns every Australian-
– That is an arrant misrepresentation.
– The honorable senator will have an opportunity in due course to explain his point of view.
– The statement that has just been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) is not a proper one for him to have made.
– The fact remains that it does seek to oust the jurisdiction of the High Court as to what is necessary or expedient for defence. For a period of 50 years the interpretation of that power has lain within the province of the High Court. I have no hesitation in saying that this measure has been introduced because of the Government’s pique that the High Court should have rejected its legislation. Instead of adopting such an attitude, the Government should have felt ashamed that the High Court exposed so unmercifully its legal incompetence.
I repeat that if one looks solely at proposed new sub-section (1.) one would say that it is to be left to the High Court to define “ Communists “, and “ communism “. However, when one turns to sub-section (2.), one finds that not only is the Communist Party Dissolution Act to be written into the Constitution and in addition power to be taken to alter that act, but power is also to be taken to alter that legislation in relation to any matter dealt with by that act. What were the matters dealt with by that act? One important part of the act defined “ communism “ and “ Communist “. Under the power to alter the Communist Party Dissolution Act and to amend the Commonwealth Constitution the Government takes power to define those terms and, moreover, to vary that definition from time to .time, apparently according to developing circumstances. When the Attorney-General replies to the debate I should like him to reconcile the obvious inconsistency that under new sub-section (1.) the definition of “ Communist “ and “ communism “ is to be left to the High Court with the power sought under new sub-section (2.) to take that power from the court. Under present conditions the will of the Parliament means the will of the Government, and the consequence will be that the Government can expand or alter the definitions of the terms mentioned in order to enable it to substitute its will for that of the High Court. The Government can expand those definitions to a point where they will include any body who advocates any kind of socialism, whether it be complete socialism, as defined by the Government, or limited socialism ; and I put it to the Senate that that is a most dangerous power to confer upon any government.
Not only does the Government ask us to confirm the Communist Party Dissolution Act, but it also asks for complete power to deal with the subject-matters covered by that legislation. That measure contained not only definitions of “ Communist “ and “ communism “, but it also provided for the dissolution of bodies other than the Communist party, and that is a power that the Government is again seeking. It is asking the Parliament to confer on the Executive the right to declare any person a traitor, or a potential traitor, and deny him access to any court, because that was one of the subjectmatters of the old legislation. This measure also asks for complete power to remove from office the executives of trade unions. Another power that it seeks is an unlimited right of search, because that power was also taken in the principal act.
If this measure becomes law it will give to the Government of the day a blank cheque to set up the police state. That comment flows from a bare consideration of proposed new sub-section (2.), which seeks power for the Parliament over matters dealt with by the Communist Party Dissolution Act. That is a power which goes further than any other proposition that the Parliament has ever placed before the electors. It is a most clumsy device to validate an invalid act by writing it into the Constitution; and such an attempt is opposed to al! constitutional practice. From a constitutional viewpoint it will make Australia the laughing-stock of the democratic world. To have to pick up an act of Parliament and write it into the Commonwealth Constitution is an acknowledgment that Communists and communism have come to this country to stay. That proposal is, of course, symptomatic of the whole trouble with the present Government. It adopts a defeatist attitude. Although it talks a great deal about communism, it never acts. Again, I say that the bill is a blot on the Australian Constitution. Its introduction arises from pique by the Government that the High Court should have rejected its legislation, and it now proposes to throw back into the faces of the judges of that court a bill which they have already declared to be completely illegal and unconstitutional.
I pass from my comments on the Communist Party Dissolution Act and say that the present bill is designed to enable the Government to place a completely unfair proposal .before the electors. That proposal is far too technical and far too complicated and will not be understood by the people. If constitutional change is to he brought about and new powers are to be incorporated in our Constitution, it is essential that they should be expressed in some simple concept of subject-matters and not in the complicated form presented in the bill. I shall deal directly now with the main point that will be made by the Opposition, and which is the base of our opposition to the bill.’
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I have endeavoured to show that the Commonwealth Parliament already had ample power to deal with communism and Communists. The Labour party took that attitude at the 1949 elections and again at the elections this year. We also stressed that opinion throughout the entire debate on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill last year. I invite honorable senators now to listen to what the seven justices of the High Court had to say on this subject when dealing with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. I hope to show to the Senate that there was not one judge of that court who did not specifically hold that this Parliament has the fullest power to deal with every form of treason, sedi-tion, subversion, spying, and “fifth column “ activity. The quotations that 1 shall make are from the first transcripts of the High Court’s judgments and the pages to which I shall refer are the pages of those transcripts. At page 50, the Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir John Latham, has this to say -
The Commonwealth Parliament has full power-
I emphasize the words “ full power “ -
There is the clearest statement that the Commonwealth Parliament has full power over those activities. I refer next to the judgment of Mr. Justice Owen Dixon, who at page 2 of the transcript has this to say -
But reliance is also placed upon the power which the federal legislature undoubtedly possesses to make laws for the protection of the Commonwealth against subversive designs.
On page 18 he says -
For myself I do not think that the full power of the Commonwealth Parliament t<> legislate against subversive or seditious courses of conduct and utterances should be placed upon section 51 (=Xix.) in its application re the executive power dealt with by section 61 of the Constitution or in ite application to other powers.
I invite the Senate to note this passage particularly -
I do not doubt that particular laws suppressing sedition and subversive endeavours or preparations might be supported under powers obtained by combining the appropriate part of the text of section 51 ( Xxxix.) with the text of some other power.
I pass now to Mr. Justice Williams, win1 at page 16 of his judgment says -
The defence power in peace-time authorizes any legislation which is reasonably necessary lo prepare for war including, as I have said, any legislation which would be authorized by an expansion of the power in view of the increasing probability of imminent war. Any conduct which is reasonably capable of delaying or of otherwise being prejudicial to the Commonwealth preparing for war would be conduct which could be prevented or prohibited or regulated under the defence power.
I ask the Senate to note particularly His Honour’s next sentence -
Amongst such conduct there could be ineluded, I should think, most, if not all, of the serious misdoings with which Communist bodies and Communists are charged in the recitals.’
The whole case against communism was made out in those recitals, and here is His Honour Mr. Justice Williams saying in the most specific terms that all of that conduct could be dealt with under existing power. On pages 17 and 18 he says -
The overt acts set out in the recitals alleged to be prejudicial to the security and defence of Australia are that the Australian Communist party is part of a world Communist revolutionary movement which engages in espionage and sabotage and in activities or operations of a treasonable or subversive nature and promotes strikes and stoppages of work and so retards production in vital industries and by inference interferes with preparing Australia for war. But none of this conduct ia prevented or prohibited or made an offence by the operative provisions of the Act. If the Act did this, the court could consider the -conduct prohibited and decide whether it was capable of being so prejudicial and, if it considered that it was, pronounce in favour of the constitutional validity of the Act. As a preventive measure-
I emphasize the word “ preventive “ - the Act could then provide that injunctions should be granted restraining bodies of persons or persons so conducting themselves and as a punishment the Act could provide that bodies of persons or persons convicted of such conduct in a court should be punished, inter alia, in the manner provided by the Communist Party Dissolution Act or in some other manner.
His Honour continues with a passage that is most significant and is completely in line with Labour’s views. He says -
In my opinion legislation to wind up bodies corporate or incorporate and to dispose of their assets or to deprive individuals of their civil rights or liberties on the mere assertion of Parliament or the Executive that they are conducting themselves in a manner prejudicial to security and defence, is not authorized by the defence power or the incidental power in peace-time.
I ask the Senate to note the element of scorn in His Honour’s reference to steps to wind up bodies, dispose of their assets and deprive individuals of their civil rights on the mere assertion of the Parliament or the Executive that they are conducting themselves in a manner prejudicial to security and defence.
– There is no scorn there.
– Even if the AttorneyGeneral does not perceive any scorn in that passage from His Honour’s judgment, I am sure that it will not take him long to detect a scornful note in some of the other comments that were made by their honours. At page 23, Mr. Justice Williams says -
Most, if not all. of the conduct referred to in the recitals could, I should think, be classed as conduct reasonably capable of obstructing the Government in its powers and duties of executing and maintaining the Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth, so that it would bc an exercise o-f the incidental power to pass laws preventing or prohibiting or regulating such conduct.
In the present case it is necessary to apply the sub-paragraph–
That is the incidental power under paragraph 39 of section 51 - to the power which section 61 of the Constitution vests in the Executive Government. This section gives it power to exercise the executive power of the Commonwealth and says that this power extends to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution and of the laws of the Commonwealth.
I invite the Senate to note this passage in particular -
By the combined effect of the sub-paragraph and section 61 the Parliament has power to punish crimes against the Commonwealth and to make laws to aid the Executive Government in the execution of its authority to protect the Commonwealth against violence or acts that would directly lead to violence.
At pages 9 and 10 he says -
It cannot be doubted that the Commonwealth Parliament could make laws, punitive or preventive, for dealing with them on the basis of their activities, if their activities are shown to be of the required description.
His Honour specifically refers there to the Communists and indicates that there is complete power to deal with .them. Mr. Justice Webb states at page 14 of his judgment -
In peace-time it is lawful to have a defence establishment and to take steps to protect it against spies, saboteurs, fifth columnists and the like.
In other words, it is lawful to prepare for war, and the extent to which such preparations should be made is a matter of policy depending upon the judgment of Parliament on the information it has from time to time. A Court is not at liberty, and is not in any case qualified, to revise that judgment of Parliament, which probably would be made, and properly so, on materials not admissible in evidence. And it is open to Parliament to legislate to prevent interference with those preparations by spies, saboteurs, fifth columnists and the like. The greater the preparations the more active nic such persons likely to become. Parliament is not obliged to rely solely on the Crimes .Act in dealing with them.
There, I say again, is clear approval of the provisions of the Crimes Act by His Honour. He is speaking of peace-time, and he indicates that the Parliament could go much further than it has under the provisions of the Crimes Act. He even goes so far as to say -
It could, I think, legislate for the deportation of a spy, a saboteur, or a fifth columnist as a preventive step.
In the light of those statements, how can it be said that there is any lack of power on the part of the Commonwealth? I propose, before I conclude, to quote from the judgments of all seven Justices of the High Court. Mr. Justice Fullagar says at page 7 of the transcript of his judgment -
The aims and activities asserted in those recitals include the overthrow of established government in Australia by means of force, violence, intimidation and fraudulent practices, espionage and sabotage, and deliberate dislocation, disruption and reduction and retardation of production in industries vital to the security and defence of Australia.
And listen to this passage -
That such activities could be the subject of valid Commonwealth laws could, one would think, not be doubted. Some of them are indeed dealt with in Part Ha of the Crimes Act 1914-1946.
Here is Mr. Justice Fullagar agreeing with Mr. Justice Webb that the provisions of the Crimes Act are not to be controverted. Some of the activities of the Communists, he points out, are already dealt with in part IIa. of the Crimes Act. I shall shortly revert to the question why, with the Crimes Act on the statute-book and providing ample power to deal with sedition, subversion and so on, the Government has hot even attempted to use that legislation in its eighteen months of office.
– It does not want to use it.
– That is what I hope to demonstrate. Mr. Justice Fullagar further said-
But the great difficulty of the present case lies in the fact that the Act in question does not set out to deal with those activities as such. It has an actual direct operation upon a particular association of persons specified by name, and a potential direct operation upon other associations and individuals who become subject to it by virtue of an expression of opinion by the Governor-General.
Honorable senators are aware, of course, that an “expression of opinion by the Governor-General “ means an expression of opinion by Cabinet, or even an expression of opinion by three Ministers assembled together. Referring to the defence power in which he describes as its primary aspect, Mr. Justice Fullagar, at page 9 said -
It could not, I think, be doubted that it includes a power to make laws for the prevention or prohibition and punishment of activities obstructive of the preparation by such means as I have mentioned of the nation for war - and this whether war appears to be imminent or the international sky to be completely serene. Here again, from any legitimate point of view of a court, the only possible purpose or object of such a law is naval and military defence. The possibility of some extrinsic purpose or ulterior motive cannot be investigated by a Court.
At page 15 His Honour says that the “ defence “ to which that sub-section refers is the defence of Australia against external enemies. He continues -
It is concerned with war and the possibility of war with an extra-Australian nation or organism. But it cannot, in my opinion, be doubted that there exists also a legislative power in the Parliament, which it is not easy to define in precise terms, to make laws for the protection of itself and the Constitution against domestic attack.
That is another clear indication of power. At page 26 His Honour says -
Four things are to be remembered throughout. The first, which may or may not by itself be of vital importance, is that the date as at which the matter must be considered is the 20th October, 1950. The second is that the Parliament had, and has, undoubted powers to deal with such a situation as is envisaged by the preamble.
That is, as is set forth in the recitals of the preamble to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. He continues -
The only question is whether it has power to deal with it by the particular means adapted.
That is exactly what the Labour party has contended. It has not raised any objection to the Government dealing with communism and Communists, and it does not consider that there is any lack of power so to do. The Opposition contends that the methods that the Government have chosen are wrong, because they cut across the rule of law and they oust the jurisdiction of the court by denying appeals to the court, which is entirely contrary to all the concepts of British justice that we have been taught to revere. Mr. Justice Kitto’s comment has no point other than to confirm the statement of Mr. Justice Dixon, which was subscribed to by many of the other Justices, that apart from any express provision in the Constitution there is an implied power to legislate for the protection of the Commonwealth against subversive activities. With the approval of the Senate I shall incorporate that comment in Hansard.
At page 6 His Honour says -
As for the implied power to legislate for the protection of the Commonwealth against subversive activities, which was referred to by Dixon ./. in Burns v. Ransley, 79 C.L.R. 101 at 1IC, and in R. v. Sharkey, 79 C.L.R. 121 at 148, all I need to say is that to treat that power as extending to any activities to which the Parliament Bees fit to ascribe a subversive character, would be to transform the power into one far wider than can be justified by the reasoning upon which the implication of the power depends.
At page 17 His Honour says -
For reasons similar to those I have stated in connexion with section 5 (2), I am of opinion that section 9 (2) is not a valid exercise of the defence power, the incidental power, or the implied power to legislate against subversive activities.
I have put before the Senate expressions of opinion from the whole seven judgments, each of which confirms the proposition that there is power in the Parliament to deal with Communists and communism.
– That is not what they say.
– That is what Their Honours have said in the extracts that I have quoted. It is completely true. I remind the Senate that only yesterday I quoted from the judgment of Mr. Justice Fullagar, who pointed out clearly - and I am not claiming support from any other of the justices - that the eradication of Communists from trade union officialdom could be achieved by making a condition of registration of unions that no Communist shall be employed by them, and that if a Communist is already in the employ of a union he shall not be permitted to remain in office. I should like the AttorneyGeneral, if he does not gag himself in the course of the debate and deny to us information that is in his possession, to state his opinion about Commonwealth power in the light of that judicial opinion.
The other purpose allegedly sought to be achieved by the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was to remove Communists from the Public Service. Without looking through the whole of the proceedings, or quoting from the judgment of each Justice, I believe that there is already full and complete power for the Commonwealth to do what it likes in that matter. Furthermore, the Com monwealth is not required to give any reasons for its actions. Mr. Justice Fullagar says that the Government can remove Communists from trade unions by legislating under its constitutional power. There is not the slightest limitation of State power in the matter dealing with Communists and communism. In support of my claim that this Government has been wanting in sincerity in its approach to communism, by not enacting, or at least strengthening legislation, I have cited what Mr. Justice Fullagar and Mr. Justice Webb have opined - that the provisions of the Crimes Act are within its power. Let us consider for a moment the provisions of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950, which the measure before the chamber proposes shall be enshrined with all its atrocities in the Commonwealth Constitution. I shall read to the Senate some of the strictures on the particular measure that it is now proposed to write into the Constitution. Mr. Justice Dixon, at page 19, says -
The extent of the power which I would imply cannot reach to the grant to the Executive Government of an authority, the exercise of which is unexaminable, to apply as the Executive Government thinks proper the vague formula of sub-sections (2.)-
His Honour was referring to sub-sections (2.) of sections 5 and 9 - relating to prejudice to the maintenance and execution of the Constitution and the laws, and by applying it to impose the consequences which under the Act would ensue.
Doubtless the Attorney-General can detect scorn in that comment. His Honour continued -
But because all is made to rest upon the opinion and the discretion of the GovernorGeneral in Council by section 5 (2.) and section 9 (2.), these sub-sections leave the two sections and the provisions by which the consequences are attached to the declarations with no better support as laws with respect to defence or to matters incidental to the execution of the powers of the Executive than has section 4.
Section 4 was the one which dissolved or purported to dissolve the Communist party and to take its assets. His Honour is there pointing to the arbitrary nature of the allegation of subversive activity against an individual and organizations, which is one of the very grave defects of the bill which the Government now proposes should be written into the Constitution. Honorable senators opposite, and other people who support the bill, should note His Honour’s comments about civil rights. At page 29 he says - ls it. possible however to sustain the act on the ground that under the influence of events the practical reach and operation of the defence power had grown to such a degree as to cover legislation providing no objective standard of liability relevant to the subject of the power but proceeding directly first by Hie pronouncement of a judgment by means of recitals and then in pursuance of the recitals acting directly against a body named, and bodies and persons described, in derogation of civil and proprietary rights? . . .
That is exactly what Labour contends. I ask honorable senators to note particularly the words “ political philosophy “ in the following passage: -
At page 30 His Honour says - . . in such a political theory there are beliefs calculated to produce action and the interpretation which a parliamentary government places upon events domestic and foreign will be affected by the complexion it gives to the tenets and precepts of the adherents of the philosophy.
I recall that when a former Labour leader referred to communism as a political philosophy he was slandered and damned as a Communist sympathizer. I invite those who embarked upon that particular course to have the courage to stand up in their places in the Senate and to say what they think of His Honour Mr. Justice Dixon, who used exactly the same terms in relation to exactly the same subject-matter. I pass on these strictures that the Justices have seen fit to pass on this document that it is now proposed shall he written into our sacred Constitution.
– We have not heard any strictures yet.
– At page 9, in speaking of the bill, His Honour Mr. Justice Williams says -
Tt operates to dissolve the Australian Communist party and to forfeit its property to the Commonwealth, and to make other bodies of persons who were in the prescribed period or are likely to be tainted with communism, corporate or incorporate, liable to be dissolved and their property forfeited to the
Commonwealth, and to make persons who were in the prescribed period or are Communists liable to be deprived of important contractual rights without creating any offence the commission of which will entail such consequences, and indeed without proof that they have committed any offence against any law of the Commonwealth, without a trial in any court, and without such bodies or persons having any right to prove that they have not done anything prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth.
Is the Attorney-General so insensate that he does not detect the scorn in that comment by Mr. Justice Williams in relation to Communists liable to be deprived of important contractual rights? We said those things in this chamber, and because we did so the Government claimed that we were sympathizers with or supporter.* of the Communists. What do honorable senators opposite say to His Honour Mr. Justice Williams?
– Why did the Opposition vote for the bill?
– The Opposition did not vote for the bill. Not one member of the Australian Labour party voted for it. There was wisdom in allowing that atrocious measure to go to the High Court, which brought the Government down in the most inglorious flop that has ever been witnessed in the constitution? 1. history of this country. That inglorious flop was made by a government which purported to be active against communism, which boasted six eminent lawyers, who, in preparing a. bill to which they devoted months of consideration, could not even write in one word that would stand up in the High Court. They were even left without the title. The Australian Labour party believes the true position is that the Government knew perfectly well that that would bp the consequence.
– The Chief Justice did not concur in the decision of the High Court.
– No, he did not. but six justices did. When the AttorneyGeneral replies to this debate, I invite him to tell me of a more inglorious flop in our constitutional history than that made by himself.
– The Labour Government also flopped over the banking legislation.
– There were many issues involved on that occasion and in many instances the decisions against the Government were exceedingly narrow. The members of the Opposition believe that the Government expected the Australian Labour party to reject the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 for the second time so that the Government parties could go out on to the hustings, after a double dissolution had been obtained, and spread the falsehood that was invented then and fathered since, that the Australian Labour party is sympathetic to communism.
– The Labour Government treated communism as a political philosophy for eight years. It did not use the provisions of the Crimes Act, as honorable senators opposite now ask the Government to do.
– The honorable senator is completely wrong in stating ti) at the Labour Government did not use the Crimes Act. I remind her that persons were prosecuted, not because they were Communists, but because they had made utterances that were subversive of the interests of this country. A case was proved against them, in one instance before a jury, and they were convicted. If the Government needs any assurance that the Crimes Act will stand up to strain, the Labour Government has provided an example. I cannot imagine why ti government that professes to be eager to dissolve the Communist party has made no reference to section 80aa of that act, which provides that the Attorney-General himself may take out a summons alleging that an organization is an unlawful organization. It should please the present Attorney-General very much to learn that every statement made by him in that summons is deemed, under the section, to b>’ prima facie evidence of its truth. His mere allegation is deemed to be the truth unless it is disproved.
– The honorable senator does not believe in that.
– The Australian Labour party does not, but, knowing that the Attorney-General does, I wonder why he did not avail himself of that provision. I think that it would be something very dear to his heart. Another aspect of that provision that should appeal to the
Attorney-General is that the onus is on the organization to prove to the satisfaction of the court that it is not unlawful, and it should also please the honorable senator that a jury is not provided for. The presence of a jury is excluded. In consequence of obtaining a conviction or a declaration by a justice of a Supreme Court or of the High Court, the body may be dissolved, its property confiscated, its officials may lose .their voting rights for a period of seven years, and if any of its members are not Australian-born they may be deported from this country.
If the Attorney-General is willing to allow this debate to proceed to its ultimate conclusion, I invite him, when he replies, to tell the Senate and the people of Australia why, if he believes in all the statements made in the recitals to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, he has taken no action under that section of the Crimes Act. I suggest that that section favours the course that he approves so thoroughly.
– That section does not cover many of those allegations, and the honorable senator knows that that is so.
– The joint policy speech of the Government parties, delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in November, 1949, contains a suggestion that something would be done to strengthen certain laws. I quote the following passage from that speech: -
The laws with respect to sedition or other subversive activities will be reviewed and strengthened.
I invite the Attorney-General to indicate the faintest attempt to overhaul the Crimes Act. If such an attempt has not been made - and I believe that it has not - why has it not been made? I suggest that the honorable senator tell that to the people of Australia. In the same paragraph of the policy speech, the following pledge was made to the people of this country : -
Conviction under such laws will disqualify from employment under .the Crown or from office in a registered organization. 1 underline the word “ conviction “. It refers to conviction by a court. The members of the Government parties told the people that they would strengthen the laws against sedition. They have not done so.
They also stated that only after conviction in the ordinary courts of the land, under the ordinary processes of law, would a man be taken out of a trade union or the Public Service.
– We said nothing of the kind. If the honorable senator reads the earlier passages he will find that they cover a different set of circumstances altogether.
– I suggest that the passages deal with the subject-matter which we are now discussing. I am not quoting out of contest.
– It is completely out of context.
– To satisfy the Attorney-General, I shall read the whole paragraph. It is as follows: -
Communism in Australia is an alien and destructive pest. If elected, we shall outlaw it.
Yet communism still exists in Australia to-day. Eighteen months ago there were Communist candidates opposing Government candidates at the general election, as there were at the general election last April. The one contribution of the Government towards redeeming that pledge was the bill which the High Court said was illegal. The joint policy speech continued -
The Communist party will be declared subversive and unlawful, and dissolved. A receiver will be appointed to deal with its assets. Subject to appeal, the AttorneyGeneral will be empowered to declare other bodies substantially Communist; to follow the party into any new form and. attach illegality to that new association. 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 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.
Has the Communist party been dissolved ? Has a receiver been appointed to deal with its assets? Eighteen months after that speech was delivered, have other bodies been declared?
– I suggest that it is a very complete programme.
– It is an extraordinarily complete programme. The tragedy is that nothing has been done to implement it.
While I am dealing with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950, I point out that members of the Government in this chamber ridiculed the suggestion that anybody in Australia could be declared under that legislation. They said that that could be done only if a person was a Communist and only if the Government expressed the opinion that he was a danger to security. I now intend to quote the statements of some of the justices of the High Court on that topic. At page 12 of the judgment, Mr. Justice Dixon said -
It enables the Executive to make a declaration against anybody falling within the description of sub-sec. (1.) of sec. 9, although there may be no prospect in his case of a situation to which the consequences arc relevant ever arising.
In other words, there may be no prospect that he will ever seek office in a trade union or employment in the Public Service. At page 38 of the judgment His Honour reverted to that matter and said -
A declaration made in pursuance of the section may be published of anybody whether or not he is in the service of the Commonwealth or an authority of the Commonwealth, or whether or not there is any chance of his ever entering such a service.
Under the legislation which the Government now proposes to write into the Constitution, anybody in the community may be declared.
– If it can be proved that he is a Communist.
– And the individual carries the onus of proof in that matter.
– No, he does not.
– That is an issue which is not dealt with in the judgment to which I have been referring, but in view of the comments that were made by certain of the justices concerned, it may be necessary still for the Government to face that matter. The Opposition propounded to the Government the rule of law and the Government repudiated it, but two justices of the High Court, in the course of this judgment, have stated quite emphatically that the Constitution is founded on the rule of law, and that it is one of the assumptions upon which the Constitution is based. The Attorney-General may find that enshrined in the Constitution. His eyes, which have not been keen enough to draft a valid bill, may yet encounter an obscurely hidden power in the Constitution. From the comments made throughout this judgment, I do not believe that any justice of the High Court would tolerate the methods that the Government seeks to impose by means of this legislation. The judgment contains several warnings that the rule of law is written into the Constitution. If the AttorneyGeneral wishes to know where to find those references, I shall find them for him.
During the debate in this chamber on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950, honorable senators on this side of the chamber also commented upon the fact that there can be no review of the arbitrary declaration by the GovernorGeneral, of either a subsidiary body or an individual, that it or he is prejudicial to security or is likely to be prejudicial. Yet those were the extraordinary terms that this Government adopted in its bill. I do not propose to review all those matters because my time is running out, but I suggest that the Attorney-General cannot contradict the proposition that justice after justice of the High Court stated emphatically that there could be no appeal against the foul declaration of an individual and no recourse to a court. In fact, one of the justices stated that the courts were thrown out of the arena. I point out that the comments made by the justices of the High Court cover the atrocities that this bill proposes to write into the Australian Constitution. Because Labour leaders said all those things in this chamber, they were accused of being Communist sympathizers. Is any honorable senator opposite prepared to stand up and say what he thinks of the justices of the High Court who repeated every one of the statements that were made by Opposition senators in this chamber concerning the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950?
I have already pointed out that the legislation at present before the chamber goes far beyond the terms of the policy speech of the Prime Minister. It also goes far beyond what the Prime Minister put to the Conference of .Commonwealth and State Ministers at Canberra recently when he informed those gentlemen that all that the Government wanted was power to validate the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 in the exact terms in which it was passed by this Parliament. That is what the right honorable gentleman told those present at that conference when he asked them to transfer powers. Is that what this bill proposes to do? I suggest that it goes a lot further than that. The Government seeks power to deal with communism and Communists. The judgment of the Parliament as to what is necessary or expedient from the point of view of defence, is to be substituted for the judgment of the High Court. The Government asks not only for the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 as it was passed by this Parliament last October, but it also asks for power to amend and alter that legislation. Further, it asks for complete power to deal with the subject matters dealt with by that legislation. It goes immeasurably further than that. Those are some of the reasons why we oppose it. The reasons given for opposition to the legislation in the statements issued by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party not long ago puts the viewpoint of the party so effectively that I propose to read it to the Senate. The statement reads -
The Menzies-Fadden Government’s referer dum proposals seek to perpetrate a moat impudent political fraud on the Australian people. Worse still, by seeking to introduce totalitarian methods into the solemn compact, of federation they are a grave threat to democracy in Australia. [Extension of time granted.’]
I thank the Senate for its courtesy. I shall not trespass very much longer.
– Hear, hear!
– I take that comment as a compliment. The statement issued by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party continues-
They are fraudulent in pretending that there is not sufficient power at present in the Constitution to deal with treasonable and seditious activities in Australia. Each of the seven High Court Justices in the course of his judgment on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill in March, 1951, made it clear that the Constitution gives full power to the Federal Parliament to deal with every kind of traitorous and subversive activity of persons and organizations.
They are fraudulent because existing laws which the Government has made no attempt to use are ample to deal with persons and organizations accused of such activities.
They are fraudulent because they seek wider powers than are necessary to enable the Governto re-enact the Communist Party Dissolution Bill which was passed by Parliament in October, 1950, and was declared wholly invalid by the High Court.
They are dangerous in that they represent a complete departure from all recognized standards of British justice.
Under them, property could be confiscated without inquiry by the court, whereas existing law permits of judicial process.
They arc desperately dangerous in that they seek to leave to the Parliament alone - and, in practice, to the nineteen politicians who comprise the Cabinet - the power to convict and punish persons and organizations, even to the point of imposing drastic penalties, whilst denying all access by persons and organizations to any court whatsoever.
The Government proposes that the law so properly denounced by Labour leaders as monstrous when the High Court declared it illegal and unconstitutional, should now bo legalized - and with trimmings even more monstrous.
The Australian Labour party abhors communism and will continue to light it to its destruction, but it refuses to support or employ in that fight the equal evil of Fascism and its methods selected by the Menzies-Fadden Government. Those methods will do faT more to strengthen than to defeat communism in Australia.
The Federal Executive of the Australian Labour party urges every Australian to study and understand the implications of these iniquitous proposals of the Government and, in the names of justice and democracy, to reject them.
– Four members oi the federal executive did not agree to that statement.
– I do not know where the honorable senator obtained that information. I myself do not know whether or not that is so. I should like to read to the Senate another statement, that backs the statement of the federal executive, which was made by His Honour, Mr. Justice Dixon. I do not think that the Senate will have difficulty in detecting in that statement the fact that His Honour saw in this bill just what the federal executive of the Australian Labour party showed that it saw in .the bill. Mr. Justice Dixon’s statement reads as follows: -
History, and not only ancient history, shows that in countries where democratic institutions have been unconstitutionally superseded, it has been done not seldom by those holding the executive power. Forms of government may need protection from dangerslikely to arise from within the institutions tobe protected.
Who is to say that His Honour did not see fascism in the measure upon which he was then commenting? I point out that the very thing that His Honour talked about in March, 1951, was enacted in Panama just two months later. Early in May of last year the President of Panama, Dr. Arias, was flouted by his Parliament, which rejected antiCommunist legislation that he had submitted to it. What was his reaction to that move? It was similar to the reaction of this Government to the decision of the High Court that the Communist Party Dissolution Act was invalid. Dr. Arias dissolved the Parliament and reprimanded the Supreme Court that had previously advised him that the bill would be invalid. He suspended the Constitution of his country, and announced government by decree. Government by decree will be the next measure that we will he considering in this chamber. After Dr. Arias had done those things he had to be shot out of the palace so that constitutional law could be re-asserted. It was re-asserted in Panama only because the police force of that country was “ on side “. Panama had no navy, army or air force; it simply had a police force. I do not need to remind honorable senators that in Panama, as in any other country, the real power is the police force.’ Colonel Remon, who allowed his troops to shoot President Arias out of his palace in May last year, had driven him out in 1940 and put him back in 1949. So, the real governor of Panama to-day is the head of the police force, Colonel Remon. In Australia the police power at the disposal of the Government is the Navy, Army and Air Force which have been encouraged in fascist tendencies by this Government.
I point out that the Declaration of Human Bights to which Australia, in common with other members of the United Nations, has subscribed, contains two articles which are pertinent to my remarks. Article 2 reads -
Every one is entitled to all the rights and freedom set forth in this declaration, without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
The relevant portion of Article 11 reads -
Every one charged with a penal offence has Iiic right to bc presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
Notwithstanding the fact that Australia has subscribed to those declarations) allegations may be made by the Executive Government tinder the legislation with which this bill deals to the effect that a person is a traitor or a potential traitor to his country. Such a declaration may be made in the .absence of the person concerned who may not know who his accusers are. Such a person is to be denied access to the court to have that stigma removed from him. Actions of that kind constitute a complete breach of the Declaration of Human Rights, to which Australia has subscribed.
– That is nonsense.
– That is a very common comment of the AttorneyGeneral, who will be given an opportunity to demonstrate its truth by argument.
I come now to my final series of comments on the measure. Although the Constitution already provides almost complete power to deal with communism, this bill invokes fascism, for which there is no power in the Constitution to do so. As I have demonstrated this afternoon, the Government does not lack power to deal with the Communists. I think that I have demonstrated the truth of that statement to the satisfaction of even the most biased member of the Government parties. What the Government lacks is courage, ability and political honesty in its approach to communism. In pique at the High Court’s judgment it has sought to validate a bill which was rejected by the High Court in March last by six votes to one. In this bill the Government seeks not power to deal with communism, because it already has that power, but only to serve its totalitarian ends. I conclude by describing the bill and its proposals, and in particular the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 in which the Government has plainly disclosed its mind to the discerning, as vicious, fraudulent and dangerous and a means of divesting the courts of their proper powers to the detriment of freedom of thought and expression in this country. In the light of all the arguments I have put to the Senate I can only conclude that the next logical step in the Government’s programme will lead to an Australian Belsen horror camp.
– Having listened to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) I have been inclined to wonder how sanctified the Christian creed would be if it were preached by “ Old Nick “. I invite honorable senators to join with me in congratulating the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) on his magnificent presentation of this bill to the chamber this morning. Not often do I pay compliments or offer congratulations. I usually reserve such expressions of that kind as I make for occasions that evoke within me feelings of deep admiration. Having .listened to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, which followed the learned dissertation by the Attorney-General, all I wish to say is that it . was a presumptuous effort which dealt with the High Court judgment but was delivered by a man who has had little experience in pursuing those judgments to their logical conclusion. His statement that the justices of the High Court had adopted an attitude of scorn was, to say the least, discreditable, and should not have been made on the floor of this chamber. The justices of the High Court treated this country to a magnificent exposition of the process of reasoning that are traditional in courts of British justice. When the bill for the suppression of the Communist party came before them, those philosophical, fair and erudite men listened to the argument at great length and with great patience, and brought all their consummate powers to arrive at a conclusion on the legal question whether the written Constitution of Australia conferred upon this Parliament power to make that law. With the political reasons that impelled the Government to bring the measure before the Parliament, not one member of the judiciary had the slightest concern. I have studied the judgment with care, and I hope, with understanding. I have not come here to-day with a syndicated collection of excerpts from their judgments, each unrelated to the other, or to read and re-read unconnected passages from judicial statements for the purpose of expressing my point of view on this legislation.
I wish to advert’ to the claim of the Leader of the Opposition that the judgments prove that the Government has full power to deal with communism. It is true that six out of seven members of the High Court declared that, in their opinion, the defence power, associated with the incidental power in the Constitution was not sufficient to enable this Parliament, on its own decision, to dissolve the Communist party; but the majority judgment of the court made it clear that the provisions in the Crimes Act in respect of subversive activities are a proper exercise of this Parliament’s constitutional power. What the High Court denied was the right of the Parliament, acting upon its own judgment, to dissolve the Communist party. The judgment did not deny the right of the Parliament to remove Communists from union office or from public office upon a declaration that their presence in those positions was prejudicial to the security of the country. The issue now is whether the Parliament should seek to equip itself with power to pass a law, on its own responsibility, to dissolve the Communist party at this time of grave emergency, as well as to remove from union office and public office persons whose activities, in the cause of communism, are prejudicial to the security of the country.
– On some one else’s say-so.
– On the say-so of this Parliament. I come now to the oftrepeated assertion that under the proposed legislation it would be possible to arraign people, try them without benefit of court or jury, and to punish them summarily. Such a. statement has been made, not by ignorant unthinking persons, but out of a full knowledge of the facts. Within the last ten minutes, the Leader of the Opposition called to his aid the Declaration of Human Rights which, he said, provided that every one charged with a penal offence should have the right to be regarded as innocent until proved to be guilty according to law at a publictrial in which he is provided with proper facilities for his defence. In the legislation which was debated in the Parliament last year, every penal charge upon which a person might be arraigned is justiciable before a court. Persons charged under that legislation would have been tried before a court, and the onus of proof would lie where it has always lain. Elected representatives of the people should not so misuse their position as to make wild and unjustifiable charges of the kind that we have heard in this chamber.
I should not presume to speak in this chamber on the bill did I not recognize its unique significance. The bill provides that the Government, having decided that the safety of the country is threatened by the activities of fifth columnists and Communists, shall seek the authority of the people to deal with those subversive elements. How traitorous to its trust would be a government which failed to act after it reached the conclusion that the safety of the country was being undermined, as was the safety of France in 1939, by fifth columnists. A government so convinced would fail in its duty if it did not persevere,’ in the face of all obstacles, even of a kind placed in its path by the Senate Opposition last year, in its determination to enact legislation that it believed’ to be necessary for the safety of the country. When I listened to the miserable special pleading that fell from the lips of the Leader of the Opposition, I felt bound to express my own opinions with emphasis.
In the government of the country and the administration of law it is best that the ordinary processes of law should be followed. The country is now faced with what we believed to be a grave emergency. There can be no doubt of that in the mind of anyone who harkens to the words of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, supported by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Hugh Gaitskell, as well as to the utterances of President Truman and of our own Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), with his high prestige in world affairs. Those men, who have the benefit of the information supplied to them by their diplomatic representatives abroad, are fully alive to the dangers inherent in
Soviet activities. -They have spoken in grave terms of the Communist menace, and in the light of their utterances we cannot justifiably deny the people the right to say whether their National Parliament should have power to deal effectively with the menace of communism, and to crush the fifth column which, we believe, is threatening the security of the Commonwealth.
One of the arguments which the Leader of the Opposition stooped to employ was that Mr. Justice Dixon poured scorn on the Communist Party Dissolution Act. The leader of the Opposition deduced from His Honour’s judgment ‘ the argument that, once the court has spoken, any government courageous enough to ask the people for power to legislate in respect of Communists was seeking to elbow the court out of its proper function of constitutional interpretation. Surely the information available to the judiciary, and upon which it acted in forming its judgment, oan be assessed by those honorable senators who have given thought to the matter. I hesitate to quote even one passage from the judgment of Mr. Justice Dixon, because the judgment should be studied as a whole. However, 1 take the liberty of quoting the following paragraph from the judgment, as published in the Argus Law Reports, in which Mr. Justice Dixon discusses the material which the court may properly take into consideration : - . . we may rely upon a knowledge of the general nature and development of the accepted tenets or doctrines of communism as a political philosophy ascertained or verified, not from the polemics of the subject, but from serious studies and inquiries and historical narratives. We may take into account the the course of open and notorious international events of a public nature. And, with respect to our own country, matters of common knowledge and experience are open to us (cf. Ex parte Liebmann, (1916) I K.B. 268). But we are not entitled to inform ourselves of and take into our consideration particular features of the Constitution of the U.S.S.R.
The judges can take judicial cognizance only of matters of common knowledge and experience, and they are the first to recognize and admit their limitation because they have not available to them the sources of information that are open to a government. The suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition, who made a laborious parade of his familiarity with judgments of the High Court justices and asserted that the Government introduced this measure because of petulance at the adverse decision of that court, is entirely unwarranted and ill becomes the occupant of a responsible public office. The Government and its supporters believe that the Communist party is a malignant organization that must, in the interests of national security, be dealt with as quickly and as effectively as possible. The view taken during the Boer War of the precautions necessary to ensure national security has necessarily altered since then, because of the tremendous developments that have taken place in international communications; the rapidity of communications to-day presents opportunities for insidious conspiracy that did not exist formerly. In the light of that fact, is it not the duty of any responsible administration to place its proposals for ensuring the security of the nation before the people for decision? I remind the Senate that only last week we had an illuminating example of the rapidity of Communist inter-communications in the international sphere.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the attitude displayed by the Australian Labour party towards the Communist Party Dissolution Act when that measure was being debated by the Parliament, and asserted that the High Court had confirmed its claim. In fact, he made that assertion with so much unction that I was shocked at his hypocrisy. Whilst it is true that during the protracted debate on that measure that took place in the Parliament last year some members of the Opposition suggested that the measure was unconstitutional, the real burden of their criticism - if there was any discernible consistency at all in their attitude - was that the measure should substitutetrial by jury for trial before a court without a jury. Let me remind the Opposition also that although it possessed a majority in this chamber it permitted the Senate to pass the measure. In consequence of the subsequent litigation to test the validity of the measure, some of the justices of the High Court suggested, at least by inference, that it was open to the Government to place the validity of the measure beyond doubt by consulting the views of the electors. «And that is precisely what the Government now proposes to do. It seeks the authority of the Parliament to obtain the verdict of a grand jury of the nation, and it is prepared to abide by that verdict. In reaching that decision the Government has displayed a courage and candour that was conspicuously lacking in the Labour party when it was in office. “When the illegal and highly contentious proposal to nationalize banking was before the Parliament, Labour flatly rejected all suggestions that it should submit that matter to the verdict of the people. Contrast Labour’s attitude then with the attitude adopted by the present Government, which will place its proposals before the people and say to them, in. effect, “ Do you approve of this measure to combat communism, every word of which is in print and is open, to inspection and discussion? “
– Plus the arguments that the Government will use.
– Senator Aylett, who has just interjected, could not add one point to the arguments that will be placed before the people. The reason for taking the unusual course of approaching the people in this matter is that we believe, in our political judgment^ that the security of the country demands the introduction of a measure of this description, and because of the extraordinary nature of the danger which the measure is designed to combat, we propose to go boldly .before the people, invite them to subject the proposed law to the most searching scrutiny, and then vote upon it. Is that not political democracy in its highest form? Although the measure asks the people to empower the Parliament to pass legislation with respect to Communists and communism, the Government is seeking only a limited and specific power, unlike the referendum proposals placed before the electors by a Labour administration in 1943 which sought to acquire almost unlimited power. If the people, in their wisdom, decide that the Parliament shall have power to legislate to combat communism, surely there can be no objection to the enactment of such legislation.
Although I shall cite the judgment of Sir John Latham, the Chief Justice of the High Court, I do so with considerable diffidence. However, I strongly commend that judgment to the consideration of honorable senators. Sir John, who has had an extensive legal and political experience, is imbued with the conviction that the Executive, which is responsible to the Parliament, is in the best position to know who are the friends and who are the -enemies of this country, and the views that he expresses on this matter are in accordance with a long line of legal and philosophical authority which holds that those who are responsible for the country’s safety are the best judges of the measures required to safeguard the country. Honorable senators should also realize that this measure raises higher principles than those involved in mere party political controversies. I remind members of the Opposition that when the Government first announced its intention to introduce legislation to dissolve the Communist party, the then Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives declared that his party would give qualified approval to the measure, and the then Leader of the Opposition in this chamber expressed similar sentiments. Subsequently, of course, the tortuous path of political expediency caused both gentlemen to alter their views. Surely, however, the transcendental nature and importance of this measure justifies an appeal being made to the people. The Labour party must realize that the people of Australia emphatically demand that the Communist party shall be dissolved; and no responsible public man can entertain any contrary view. As I have just said,, we all recall the way in which the Labour party shuffled on the principles that it allegedly espouses. Today that party even denies to the people the right to decide whether the Communist party shall be dissolved. Although it professes to represent the masses, it claims the right not only to prevent the Parliament from taking action to dissolve the Communist party, but also to prevent the people from expressing their views on such a proposal. All this talk about the need to preserve the rights of minorities is beside the point. The judges of our courts have exercised that function for hundreds of years, and the whole force of British tradition ensures that members of even the most unpopular and insignificant minority movements shall receive fair play. The Government does not need to pass legislation to preserve those rights, because, as I have pointed out, they are part of the inalienable traditions of British justice and liberty. Therefore, I say to honorable senators that we can safely leave the care of minorities to the High Court. The important thing is that in expressing our solicitude for members of minority movements we should not lose sight of the majority, who also have certain rights. After all, the rights of the majority, including their civil liberties, their property, and their protection, are being menaced to-day by a small minority, and it is the duty of the Government, which is elected by the majority, to safeguard their rights. “Who is prepared to take the responsibility of denying the people an opportunity to vote by way of a referendum on this timely proposal that the Commonwealth should be empowered to deal effectively with the Communist menace ?
– We have been privileged this afternoon to listen to representatives of the legal profession expressing their views on this measure. I was particularly interested in Senator Wright’s approval of the Declaration of Human Rights; but almost immediately afterwards, he said, in effect, that he would not regard as a criminal -charge an allegation by the Executive that a person or organization was acting in a manner prejudicial to the safety and security of the country. If that is not a criminal charge, what kind of a charge is it ? We are asked by a representative of the legal profession to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable. How can Senator Wright deny that such a declaration would constitute a criminal charge? I hope that he will explain this matter more clearly if it is capable of further explanation. My approach to this problem is, as it has always been, that political or governmental power is one thing on paper and the manner in which it is used is another.
My experience has convinced me that political power in the hands of an anti Labour or employer’s government is never used in the interests of all the people. It is used only in the interests of a section of the people because most of our laws are based not on human rights, but on property rights. At election times, of course, the anti-Labour parties would have the people believe that their intention is to legislate in the interests of the community as a whole, but that is never done. Honorable senators opposite may ask, “ What about the improvements of working and living conditions that have been accorded to workers over the years ? “ That is merely making a virtue of a necessity, because if our experience of politics and of life generally proves anything, it proves that all things yield to pressure and that where there is no pressure there are no results. The pressure of the organized workers has secured for them the privileges that they enjoy to-day. In this country, the battle for those privileges goes as far back as the Eureka Stockade in 1854.
During the recent election campaign T addressed many meetings in the country and in workshops at which people of all kinds were present. Invariably I was questioned about the Communist Party Dissolution Act. I was asked where I stood on that legislation. I made no attempt to evade the question. I said that the act was unnecessary ; that it had been passed merely for propaganda purposes; and that it was an appeal to the fears rather than to the reason of the people. I explained that. in my opinion, not as a lawyer, but as a layman who has always endeavoured to adopt a common sense point of view, that the Commonwealth already had ample power under the Public Service Act, the Defence Act, and last but certainly not least the Crimes Act, to deal with Communists. Every where I went I made that explanation and apparently it found some acceptance in the electorate because I topped the poll in Victoria.
– So did I in Western Australia - defending the Communist Party Dissolution Act.
– Then apparently Western Australians are not so enlightened now as they were when I resided in that State. In support of my claim that the Communist Party Dissolution Act was unnecessary, I told the electors of some of my experiences as a Minister for the Crown for eight year3. I told them how the provisions of existing legislation had been used in certain circumstances. As I have said, judging by the polling figures my explanation must have found fairly general acceptance amongst the electors. Since then, of course, the Government has added, and is still adding to its powers to deal with the Communists. In the present session, it has secured the passage of a bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. That legislation will add considerably to the Commonwealth powers to deal with Communists if it wishes to do so. The Government’s powers will be further increased when the Defence Preparations Bill has been passed. The Government will then have five statutes under which action may be taken against the Communists. To hold a referendum with a view to adding further to the Commonwealth’s powers will be a deliberate waste of time and money. The Government is concerned not so much with giving to the people the right to express an opinion on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill as with saving its face. As one who has taken part in every referendum campaign since federation, I arn convinced that the forthcoming referendum will be defeated.
Senator McKenna drew attention to the fact that the bill does not define “ Communist “ or “ communism “. I should like to know why. the Government has refrained from defining these words. Apparently the Government wants a blank cheque so that it will be able to brand anybody as a Communist and any philosophy as a Communist philosophy. According to my reading, the word “ communism “ is synonymous with “ socialism “ and was coined in 1848 by Marx and Engels to distinguish their philosophy from that of the Robert Owen-ites who classified themselves as social reformers. To-day, however, it is common practice for Government supporters to brand anybody who challenges their policy as a Communist or a fellow traveller. Most people who use the word “ Communist “ have no idea of its origin. The practice now is to place the worst construction upon the words of some people by calling them Communists. For instance, if I were to say as I have said thousands of times and will continue to say in the Parliament and out of the Parliament, that production has been socialized and that capitalized control has yet to be replaced ‘by socialist control, I can imagine Government supporters or agents branding me as a Communist for having advocated something subversive. If I were to say further that democracy meant economic as well as political equality, and that we cannot claim to be living in a democracy unless we have economic equality as well as political equality, I could quite imagine honorable senators opposite branding me a Communist. “When Senator “Wright and his colleagues on the other side talk abou I democracy they are really referring to undeclared or concealed dictatorship. The only democracy that we in this country enjoy is on election day, and then only to the degree of saying who shall be the dictators. Labour, also, acts in a dictatorial capacity when in office, because there is no alternative under our system. However, a Labour government, legislates and administers to the best of its ability in the interests of the producers of the wealth - the people who “ carry “ the whole of society, including members of Parliament. They produce the food that we eat and provide us with clothes, housing, and amenities. We act. merely in an administrative capacity, subject to the goodwill and convenience of the workers. I have always maintained that the workers of this country are satisfied with far too little remuneration. If they were not so easily satisfied, or did not acquiesce so readily in their subjection they would be far better off than they now are. The additional powers that the Government is attempting to secure will, I believe, be used, as have ‘other powers been used in the past, to force the workers down as near to the border line of necessity as is physically possible. The opponents of Labour believe that if the workers became independent they could not be controlled, although.it is realized that toolmakers and tradesmen who are practically indispensable, and, to use a colloqual phrase, they are in a position to write their own ticket. We have now reached a stage in capitalistic production or private monopoly control of production and sei’ vices when profits cannot be increased further unless the workers can be forced down to a lower level than formerly. That is why no action has been taken by the present Government to check uncontrolled inflation. Despite the power that the Government enjoys, it has taken uo action against the Communists or the Communist party since December, 1949. Evidently the Government, realizes that the Communist bogy is politically valuable to it for the time being. I believe that if every member of the Communist party applied for a passport to leave Australia in order to live in Russia, the present Government would refuse permission. If it issued passports then, of necessity, the Government would have to seek another bogy. I can recall other epithets such as extremists, anarchists, socialists and bolsheviks being used by the opponents of Labour to appeal to the fears and prejudices of the people. However, despite all the misrepresentation the Australian Labour party and the trade union movement generally have become a stronger force in the scheme of things than they were formerly.
If the Government has the moral courage to implement the provisions of the Communist party dissolution legislation I am convinced that there will be a very drastic repercussional effect. In politics, as in other spheres of human activity, action and reaction are equals as well as opposites. The more that the Government strives to give effect to the legislation that is being placed on the statute-book, in the way that I have mentioned, the more will repercussion or reaction tend to equal the force that is used against it.
Let us consider the reason why the Government has not seen fit to deal with the Communists since 1949. Its real objective is to establish and maintain a totalitarian state in Australia in the name of democracy, and to discipline or dissolve trade unions in accordance with the policy of the Government from time to time. If honorable senators opposite believe that that objective can be easily attained, they are doomed to disillusionment, which will probably be very painful and very costly. However, the hard and costly school of practical disillusion will educate where reason has failed. Because of my lengthy experience in the political field I pm not losing very much sleep about the proposed legislation. In years gone by trade union leaders have been placed in leg-irons and gaoled on all sorts of imaginary charges. They have been vilified, caricatured, and misrepresented in every way. Yet they and their successors have lived to persist with their ideals. Do honorable senators opposite admit that working men should have equal rights with them? I venture to say that they do not. They treat a working man as if he is a socially inferior person, who has been conscripted into the world for their convenience and to help them to establish and increase credit bank balances. The proof of my assertion lies in the fact that no working man is employed unless he can earn a profit for his employer. This is indicative of the state of mind that prevails among the anti-Labour classes. I am not very much concerned about legalisms one way or the other. What does concern me is the degree to which the opponents of Labour intend to or can continue to disrupt the economy of this country. How long will it take them to gain a more intelligent approach to these problems? I wonder how long it will take to convince honorable senators opposite that they cannot act in the arbitrary manner envisaged by this measure. Unless they realize that fact by a common-sense approach to the subject they will be forced to realize it by other methods. The workers will retaliate. If this measure is passed, a solely propagandist referendum will be held to try to save the face of the Government. When supporters of the Government address meetings of the people during the referendum campaign they will find that they will not be able to misrepresent, the position to the degree that they have misrepresented it in the past. As this Government has not taken action to combat communism, the people consider that the Communist bogy has been greatly over emphasized. There is a growing conviction that this Government’s policy is based on mere bluff. If, during the referendum campaign supporters of the
Government address meetings of waterside workers, miners, seamen, and employees of railway engineering workshops, they will find that their assertions will not be so readily received as in the past.
– I have addressed such meetings and I have been well received.
– But the referendum has not yet been held.
– Honorable senators opposite will find that addressing meetings of the workers is a far different proposition from making statements in the press, based on their imagination and prejudices. For instance, it is altogether different from caricaturing miners as the agents of Soviet Russia. All those things may be done in safety and are not open to question or challenge in the press. I suggest, however, that if honorable senators opposite were to address the workers face to face on the job, at their conferences or at their trade union meetings, they would receive a very different reception. The ‘Government will find that it will not be able to continue to misrepresent the workers as it has done in the past, both in the newspapers and in this chamber.
The Opposition will vote against this bill because it considers that its introduction is absolutely unnecessary, that it is a waste of time and money and that it will not add one iota to the powers of the Government. I am certain that when polling-day comes the defeat of another referendum will be recorded.
– This legislation, the real sum and substance of which is the control of Communists and communism, is making its third appearance in this chamber. It has also been debated three times in the House of Representatives.” The legal members of this chamber have confirmed a notion of mine that it has also been the subject of litigation in the High Court. It has been considered and discussed in almost every workshop and factory, road camp and farm in the country. It has been discussed round the dining tables and fireplaces of thousands of homes. The control of Communists and communism was largely the ground on which the Menzies Government was returned to office in December, 1949. It was definitely the reason for the return of the same Government a few months ago. Indeed, it may be truthfully said that by now the only members of the community who have not a very clear and fixed view of the merits or otherwise of this legislation are the members of the Labour Opposition, or, perhaps, more correctly, the members of the Australian Labour party executive, who dictate to the members of the Parliamentary Labour party the views that they should expound.
Some months ago the Opposition agreed to allow similar legislation to be passed by this Parliament. To-day they oppose the passage of this bill. I suggest that if they were faced again with the prospect of a double dissolution on this issue they would support it. Their opposition to this legislation on this occasion differs in one important aspect from that which they displayed early last year and subsequently abandoned. The difference is that on this occasion, if their opposition is successful, the people of this country, who are the real and final arbiters, will be prevented from passing judgment on this issue. The present tactics of the Opposition obviously are designed to prevent the people from voicing their opinion.
I do not share the views held by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna),” who stated that a referendum would create confusion in the public mind because of the legal technicalities involved. That is utter nonsense. When an ordinary person gives evidence in a court of law he knows that he must tell the truth, although he may knownothing of the laws of evidence. Similarly, when an ordinary person buys a house he knows that he must supply a certain amount of money and that he will receive in exchange a certificate of title to the house but he knows nothing of the law of equity. Just as ordinary people understand such matters, I assure the honorable senator that ordinary people are aware of the menace of communism and are well able to deal with it. Personally, I am extremely confident of the result of the proposed referendum.
I have followed the course of the opposition of the Australian Labour party to this legislation during the past eighteen months. With tiresome ‘monotony it has claimed - and it would not astonish -me if ‘such a claim were made again during this -debate - that the contentious provisions contained in the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1-950, relating to the onus of proof, violated a principle of British justice. To my mind, the weight of argument has come down very heavily in favour of the Government in its assertion that no principle of justice would Be assailed.
– The High Court thought differently.
– I am deeply interested in the High Court judgment delivered in the case of Williamson v. Ah On. .Many honorable .senators are no doubt familiar with that case, but because it is relevant I propose to say something about it. Ah On had been declared a prohibited immigrant, and under the terms of the relevant legislation, the onus of proof rested on him to show that he should not be so declared. Having appealed to the High Court, it was argued that that onus should not be on him.
– -That case has whiskers on it. “Senator PALTRIDGE.- I appreciate that, but I suggest that the honorable senator does not wish to listen to what I have to say, because it is pertinent to this debate. I believe that that case is closely analogous to the circumstances that will exist when this bill becomes law. I wish to quote from the judgment of Sir Isaac Isaacs, a man who was esteemed by all Australians. In the course of his judgment, Sir Isaac Isaacs stated -
The only method so far found effective in which a legislature can provide for such a case and secure obedience to its enactments on immigration is to throw the burden of proof as to membership of the community on the suspected person. The nation has the strongest right to trust its executive officers who arc administering the law to be both vigilant and careful to form wherever necessary a fair and honest prima facie opinion as to the citizenship of any person within the territory and to accuse no one of intrusion except upon strong moral grounds for believing the fact. If such an opinion, however, exists, the public have a right, where the nature of the case requires it, to call on the suspected person, by such procedure as the legislature makes lawful, to satisfy a judicial tribunal as to the actual fact. That seems to me only elementary self-protection and to be inseparable from any self-governing constitution. I must confess to some surprise that it is necessary to justify it, for otherwise, persons who are criminals, public enemies or loathsome hot-beds of disease may, by secret or fraudulent entry into the country, and being sheltered for a/time by their associates, defy and endanger the entire people of the continent. There is nothing in the Constitution and nothing in natural justice which requires this court to sanction such an absurd and almost fatal situation.
Exactly the :same principle of natural justice applied in the case of Ah On as will apply in cases that may be dealt with under this legislation. I like the reference in the judgment to “natural justice “. In other words, it means a fair go. A legal statement has been reduced to terms which can be easily understood “by ordinary people. As a layman, I believe that the real test concerning whether or not -a principle of justice has been violated is to be found in the hearts, and in the minds, of ordinary people who have no information on which to judge the merits of arguments that may be advanced in support of a certain point of view. Those people, however, by instinct and by use of common sense, have a ‘knowledge of what is fair .and what is not. I believe that the majority of Australians have already passed judgment on this bill and that that majority includes thousands of people of divergent political views. It includes people of Labour persuasion as well as those of Liberal views. Indeed, I know of a rapidly expanding body of Labour supporters which is now using, and has used for some time, the principle of declaring, to which the Opposition in this chamber has taken such violent exception. I refer to the Australian Labour .party industrial groups. Let us examine the activities ‘of those groups by considering a union which lias fallen under Com.munist control, so that many of its offices are filled by Communists.
– Does the honorable senator approve of what those groups are doing’?
– Yes, I do. In an endeavour to gain control of the union, the industrial group declares that an office bearer is a Communist and as such is unwanted and unsuited for the position which he occupies. From that time, action is taken to organize his removal and to preclude him from holding office. The principle used is exactly the same as that adopted in initially declaring a person or organization, as is proposed by this bill, except that in the case of the industrial groups no provision is made for a subsequent appeal. I suggest that if the industrial groups are wrong in adopting that practice, this legislation is also wrong; but I have not yet heard from the Opposition side of the chamber any criticism of the activities of industrial groups. Since the Australian Labour party does not condemn the activities of those groups, it should not condemn this legislation. I therefore consider that its opposition to this legislation is revealed as a piece of pure political chicanery.
There is a substantial cleavage of opinion in the Labour party on this issue. That is not astonishing. It is interesting to note that opposition to the official view is coming from Victoria and Western Australia. The delegates who oppose the official view have stated that Labour should wash its hands of the referendum, leaving it to the Government to prepare both a “ Yes “ and a “ No “ case for submission to the electors. I have been interested to observe that that attitude has been stigmatized by the president of the federal executive as “ arrant cowardice “ I believe that his attitude is the proper one to take. On all national questions, public men should take a stand and give some leadership to the people. I trust that at least Labour senators from Western Australia will not meekly accept the ukase of their executives and that they will advocate a “ Yes “ or a “ No “ vote according to their beliefs. Should they decide to advocate a “ Yes “ vote, and so desert the party line, much will be done for politics in Western Australia. It will be a clear indication to the people that on occasions members of all political parties can rise above the party line. They will have nothing to fear from the party. There is ample precedent for departing from the party line. During the period when the Labour opposition to the Communist Party Dissolution Act was dropped the gentleman who is now the leader of the party in another place deserted his paid public post to defend a handful of Communists in the court. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gaggle. Just as he was permitted to follow his conscience in this matter, without penalty, so should any other member be free of party penalty should he do likewise.
The Government can rightly claim that it has a mandate for this measure. I go further and say that in view of the emphatic vote it received at the last general election, it is under direct instruction from the people to implement this very important legislation. Accordingly, ] support the bill with great pleasure and enthusiasm.
– I have hoard many speeches on the subject-matter of this bill but never have I heard confusion more confounded than when Senator Paltridge spoke. What bearing on the bill has the fact that an industrial organization has displaced a Communist from his executive post in the organization? This bill is part and parcel of a planned campaign to abolish the present economic structure. It is obvious that the powers that be have launched a well-planned campaign the object of which is eventually to reach the state advocated by that great adviser of the Government, Professor Hytten, in which 10 per cent, of the workers of this country will be unemployed. Four measures have recently been introduced into the Parliament, each of them being closely related to the others. The first was the Commonwealth Bank Bill, _ the purpose of which was to enable certain financial interests to control the finances of this country. The second was the Defence Preparations Bill, the purpose of which is to divert strategic materials so that they may be Used by the great financial and economic interests that dictate the policy of the Government.
– That is what the Communists say.
– That is what the honorable senator himself used to say before he ratted on the Labour party.
– The honorable senator cannot take it.
– I can take it as well as the honorable senator.
– I can take it and [ can dish it out.
– Order! The dialogue that is going on across the House is distinctly unseemly. I ask Senator Grant to resume his seat whilst I am addressing the chamber. I appeal to both Senator Guy and Senator Grant to realize that this is the Senate. I leave it to their good taste to uphold the prestige of the Senate, but, I shall not permit the proceedings in this chamber to develop into a dog-fight.
– With due respect to you, Mr. President, it was Senator Guy’s interjection-
– Order ! I have made the position quite clear. I believe that, honorable senators possess ability, knowledge and an awareness of the dignity of tha Senate. I hope that they will not disappoint me. I ask Senator Grant to resume his speech.
– The third bill was the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill (No. 2), the purpose of which was to split and weaken the trade union movement, by preventing any individual whom the Government does not like from holding office in an industrial organization. The fourth bill is now before us. The Government is determined to establish a vast army of unemployed. It has said that it is opposed to the imposition of controls of all kinds - I am not opposed to the institution of controls; on the contrary, I strongly advocate some controls, certainly the control of prices of commodities - but now it proposes to institute more drastic controls than we have ever known. It intends to ensure that foodstuffs and other commodities shall be be even more scarce than they are to-day so that the workers will be able to buy less of them, and in the final analysis certain industries will have to close down, thereby establishing a great pool of unemployed. These measures all form a part of a general plan which, has been implemented gradually ever since the Government first assumed office.
I propose now to say a word or two about the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer). I do not know anything about the law, but I was amazed to hear him say that he favoured the granting of sovereign powers to the Commonwealth Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) had some pertinent observations to make on that subject last week. When the Attorney-General was addressing the Senate, I turned to my friend, Senator Sheehan, and said to him, “ I am amazed that a man who is the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth should submit a proposition in such wide terms as that in which he has couched the proposition that he placed before us this morning “. Am I to assume from his words that the Government claims the right under the terms of this measure to declare all Presbyterians or all Christian Scientists? Is it suggested that the followers of the teachings of Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy the founder of the Christian Science Church, may be declared? Is it further suggested that the granting of sovereign powers to the Commonwealth might mean that a minority has no rights whatsoever? Is it suggested that a Government should have the right to declare any person who has red hair ? At one time I myself had red hair, but. as most honorable senators know, that time has long since past. If the Commonwealth were given sovereign powers would the government of the day have the right to determine the date on which a person’s ‘ hair began or ceased to be red? That is the reductio ad absurdum; we should expect something better even from the Attorney-General .
– The answer is “ No “, a thousand times “ No “.
– The AttorneyGeneral’s answer is invariably “ No “. He gave us a similar answer when we posed questions like these when the Communist party dissolution legislation was introduced. The purpose of the bill now before us is to embody in the Constitution the power sought to be conferred upon the Government by the Communist Party Dissolution Act, notwithstanding the fact that that act has been declared ultra vires the Constitution by the High Court. When that great constitutional lawyer, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives declared that that legislation would not withstand for five minutes, a test of. its’ legality in the High Court, and we asked that it be withdrawn, again the Attorney-General’s answer was an emphatic “ No “. His argument in introducing the bill now before us was: equally as illogical as was his approach to the earlier measure.
– At least I am consistent.
– I remind the Attorney-General that Ralph “Waldo Emerson has said that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of a little mind.
Having dealt with the AttorneyGeneral, I now turn to my friend the Prime Minister (Mr.,’ Menzies), whose golden voice and extraordinary faculty for speaking at great length lead unsophisticated people to believe that when he speaks he invariably says something really important.. I listened to his. second-reading speech on this bill withgreat interest. For the first. 40 minutes; or so nothing that he said had. any relation to the bill. He referred to Czechoslovakia and told us what any political pygmy knows about the recent history of that country. He suggested that the Labour party was in some way trying to protect the Communists. I have been and am an implacable enemy of Stalin. Although every school child knows what happened in Czechoslovakia, the sophisticated Prime Minister of this- country incultured and seductive, tones told us what the “ red “ army did there, how a certain Communist obtained, a job as Minister for the Interior and controlled the police, how eventually another. Communist. got control of the land and split it up among the peasants, how yet another Communist obtained control of the education system’ and spread Communist propaganda throughout the country, and finally how the Communists accomplished a coup d’etat after the social democrats had been exterminated. He did not tell us how in earlier years the people of Czechoslovakia had been tricked into supporting fascism. The right honorable gentleman said only what suited his political purposes, but he said it in such a way as to create the impression that he spoke with a profound knowledge of world events.
This Government has perpetrated one political fraud after another. The 19.49 general election was won on fraudulent promises to put value back into the fi and to reduce the price of commodities. The- 1951 general election was won on similar fraudulent promises repeated with even greater emphasis. The Government has dropped the idea, if it ever possessed it, that, it would put value back into the £1. It secured a double dissolution of the Parliament on the ground that the Senate had failed to pass the Commonwealth Bank Bill, but since then it has pretended that the real issue was not banking but communism. It has contended that the Labour party is protecting the Communists. Honorable senators opposite know well that there is no greater anti-Communist party in the world than the Australian Labour party. Now the Government is proposing to perpetrate another fraud. It proposes to ask the people not merely to clothe the Commonwealth Parliament with power to ban the Communist party but also to embody in the- Constitution the power sought by it in the Communist Party Dissolution Act. I was under the. impression that it was intended that only one question would be put to the people. If the Government alters the Constitution by embodying in it the powers sought to be obtained in the legislation to which I have referred, is not that a fraudulent act? Of the thousands of people who may favour the banning of the Communist party at least 80 per cent, may be opposed to the proposal to embody in the- Constitution the powers contained in that legislation. The Government says-, in effect, to the people who may be in favour of banning the Communist party that they may not vote for that proposition unless they also agree to incorporate the legislation in the Constitution. The Prime Minister quoted Mr. Justice Jackson, of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. He has also been referred to with approval by some of our learned friends in this chamber. The more I see -of lawyers, at any rate of those who support the Government, the more I think of navvies. In my opinion, Stalinism is the greatest menace the world has ever known. However, what the Government is proposing to do will not lessen the menace of Stalinism, but will strengthen it. In many respects, the policy of the Government seems to be designed to assist the Communists. To listen to what the Prime Minister said about Mr. Justice Jackson, one would imagine that the learned judge was in favour of this stupid bill. Does any one really think that Mr. Justice Jackson would stand for a proposition that legislation such as the Government is now proposing should be incorporated in the Constitution of the United States of America? Does any honorable senator believe that there is a member of the House of Commons, not even excluding the Conservatives, who really believes that the Government’s socalled anti-Communist legislation will help to defeat communism ? In his broadcast, the Prime Minister deliberately omitted certain facts. Of course, the whole effort was carefully staged. He said that Mr. Justice Jackson said so-a-nd-so, and he implied that Mr. Justice Jackson would be in favour of this bill. He cited the Smith case. I have read a great deal about the prosecution of Communists in the United States of America. Were those men declared by the Executive, and punished without trial ? I shall be ashamed to be a Britisher if ‘ Suck things as the Government now proposes are ever allowed to happen here. The Attorney-General said that a person who was declared under the proposed legislation would not be branded a criminal. Possibly not, but he would be thrown out of his employment and left to ‘starve. In the United States of America, the Communists were tried by a judge and jury on charges of sedition. Honorable senators opposite know that a measure such as is now proposed would not he tolerated in Canada, or in any other English-speaking country outside Australia. In the United States of America, the Communists were convicted after trial by a judge and jury. They were defended by the best lawyers available. There is no comparison whatever between what happened in the United States of America and what the Government proposes to do here.; yet the Prime Minister tried to deceive the people into believing that in the United States of America the authorities were dealing with Communists in the same way as he suggests they should be dealt with here. After the
Communists in America had been convicted, they appealed to the Supreme Court, and it was then, and then only, that consideration was given to the question of whether their conviction had violated the Constitution.
– They will be given a fair g® here.
– The honorable senator talks of a fair go. Is it fair to declare a man, and punish him without trial? He may be declared on mere whispered information as has happened elsewhere, and he will be given no chance to defend himself. I am not seeking to defend the Communist party. I am objecting to the proposed legislation because I know that it will strengthen, rather than weaken, the Communist party, just as will the stupid legislation providing for the holding of secret ballots in -trade unions. That legislation will .strengthen the Communists because it will win for them the support of the average trade unionist. We can imagine a coal-miner saying to Idriss Williams, the president -of the miners’ federation : “You are a ‘Communist, and I am not, but we have worked together in the mines for years, and our fathers before us. I do not believe that the Government has any right to interfere with us. Why does not the Government interfere with the Chamber of Commerce, or with the election of company directors ? “ The result will he that Williams will get a Communist Mock vote, and that hundreds of others who are not Communists will also support >him. .Even some of the antiCommunists will vote for him, because they will resent the idea of the Government interfering in the control of thenunion. ‘The ‘same thing will happen among waterside workers and seamen. The Communist leaders will receive more votes than ever before.
How, one may ask, will this contemplated legislation strengthen the position of the Communists? The Communist agent, who will not declare himself to be a Communist, but will say that he seeks to defend democracy, will ask the unionists whether they think it is fair that a man should be declared without being given a hearing. “ How would you like that to happen to you ? “ he will ask. The Communists will rally all the elements in the unions that are opposed to such procedure, and the last position of the Communists will he stronger than the first.
– And the honorable senator is helping them.
– I have done something to fight the Communists, which is more than Senator Vincent, or his leader or the Attorney-General has done. In every country where repressive measures of this kind were directed against the Communists, the Communist party has emerged stronger than ever. I have here a book in which a noted journalist point.3 out that Mussolini and Hitler came into power with the avowed purpose of wiping out the Communist party. The author writes -
Where Italy’s Communists had less than 100,000 party members before Mussolini, they have a present strength of more than 2,200,000. The pre-war party membership in France had been approximately 350,000, but by 1947 it had approached or passed the 1,000,000 mark. In Czechoslovakia the Communists’ growth, starting from 85,000’ in 1935, was nearing 1,500,000 by 1948. Where Yugoslavia had had a small Communist nucleus of perhaps 20,000 under pre-war regimes, it had now swollen to somewhere between 500,000 and 000,000. In Poland Moscow claimed the Communist jump to be from 20,000 to nearly 800,000.
In Great Britain, and in the Scandinavian countries, where no repressive measures are taken, the Communist party did not gain in strength. Do honorable senators opposite think they can wipe out tyranny with further tyranny? The Communists in Australia will not talk about what is happening in Russia ; they will talk about what is happening here in Australia, and this Government is giving them plenty to talk about. In the magazine The Listener issued by the British Broadcasting Corporation, a writer points out that Stalinism is a religion supported by millions of fanatics. I quote from the publication a psalm which was broadcast over the Prague radio -
You are the hope of the world, Comrade Stalin, its dream, its aspiration ; your name spells immortality; fields adore you, for you have made them green with plenty; the rays of the sun arc grateful to you, for you have made them shine into the homes of” millions that lived in darkness. . . .
– That sounds like Senator Morrow.
– I am more concerned with to-day than with the morrow. As I have said, the Government has no chance of beating the Communists without the help of the Labour party. I feel bitter on this subject. Government supporters pretend that we are the allies of the Communist party, although they know in their hearts that we are not. The extraordinary similarity between the deification of Stalin and the hysteria induced by the present Government’s pseudo campaign against communism is most evident. This Government imagines that it can deal with a revolutionary movement by proscribing it. What an absurdity! Such an attitude overlooks completely the really insidious plan behind world communism. Compared with the Communists, Machiavelli was only a novice, and I am convinced that the present Government is the best ally that the Australian Communist movement could have. I have said before that I believe that in the sphere of international politics the United States of America is the best ally that the United Soviet Socialist Republics could possibly have. Already, I know beyond doubt what will happen. The Communist party in this country will become stronger than ever. If the Government believes that it should outlaw the Communist party then why does it not “ declare “ that body. Let it take the Communists before the courts and establish the fact that they are a seditious, subversive and treasonable body of people Surely, that would be a fair test. I am not concerned about what happens to the Communists, who are simply taking advantage of the democracies in order to chop their heads off. Honorable senators opposite should not imagine for a moment that members of the Labour party do not realize that they are the only bulwark between liberty and communism.
Compare the attitude adopted by the Australian Government with the attitude adopted towards the Communists by the Government of the United Kingdom, that Government has not thought, fit to introduce. an iniquitous measure such as the one now before us. Why is the Communist party able to agitate the present
Government to such a degree that it introduces a measure to subvert all our democratic freedoms? I suggest, of course, that the explanation lies in the fact that this Government is attacking the whole ‘problem of subversive activity not from a realistic, informed state of mind, but from a non-intellectual level. The only weapon with which to fight suppression is liberty - and more liberty ! Even the scriptures tell us that the devil cannot drive out sins. We cannot confound repression by resorting to oppression.
What a magnificent lead the Labour Government of the United Kingdom has given the whole world in this matter. Permit me, sir, to divagate from my theme for a moment to recall what happened in that country recently when the notorious international Communist Eisler arrived there. A warrant had been issued for his arrest in the United States of America after he had absconded from bail, and American secret service personnel . had arrived in Great Britain to apprehend him and take him back to the United States of America to stand, his trial. When Eisler appeared before a. magistrate in a Court of Petty Sessions in Bow-street, London, he avowed that he was a Communist. The Daily Worker, the Communist organ of Great Britain, ridiculed the idea that he would get a “ fair go “ from a British court and contended that because Great Britain was up to the ears in debt to the United States of America, it was absurd to suggest that any British court would liberate him. What happened? The magistrate adjourned the court for 24 hours to consider certain submissions by the lawyers, and when the court resumed he discharged Eisler on the ground that there was no evidence that he had committed an offence against any British law. Eisler himself was so dumbfounded at this manifestation of British justice that he told the world that he did not believe until then that there was such justice in the world. Could such a thing have happened in Russia? Even the Daily Worker crawled into its shell. The action of that unnamed and obscure British magistrate did more to raise the prestige of democracy and to emphasize the injustice of Russian totalitarian government than the introduction of 1,000 measures similar to that now before the Senate could do.
In 1949, the Australian Labour party went as far as any Australian government could to repress the subversive element that was sabotaging our economy. Incidentally, I reiterate now what I have said before so often, namely, that only the Labour movement can effectively combat the Communists in this country. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the courageous action of Mr. Laurie Short of the Federated Ironworkers Association, who has a splendid intellect and is, by the way, a friend of mine. For years that man has fought the Communists. Now he is winning, and all Australia has come to hear of him. He risked a great deal to fight the Communists in a radical union, but, after all, that is the only way that they can be expelled from the trade union movement. The Labour movement is the only real force in this country to combat communism. I realize all the difficulties that confront us, and I know that the present economic conditions provide a’ most propitious opportunity for the Communists to infiltrate industry. The shortage of labour provides the industrial troublemakers of this country with a magnificent opportunity to cause trouble, and under the pretext of improving workers’ conditions they are doing their insidious job. I mention that fact in support of my appeal to the Government to be realistic and face the facts as they are.
In no country in the world have the efforts of the conservatives to suppress communism been successful. The calculation and the cunning of those who direct the forces of international communism are not realized by even the reactionaries in the democracies. Even Churchill, that magnificent war leader, was complete^ defeated by Stalin at Yalta. And the attitude of the Australian conservative*! is exactly similar to that of the conservatives in other countries. They believe that military min-Tit is all-important ii% international affairs and that in domestic disputes tyranny can prevail. Of course, the absurdity of that conception has been demonstrated in the last few years. A comparatively negligible minority of
Communists in Hungary was able to overthrow the allegedly democratic government of that country and to open the way for Russian imperialism. How did that come about? How could such a small number- of people upset the establishedregime? Why were the Communists in Italy able, almost overnight, to upset the regime that Mussolini had laboured so long to establish?’ In Hungary the land was monopolized by a handful of feudal barons, and in Italy 80- per cent, of the people were living in conditions that were not far removed from starvation. Why were the Communists able to score a coup d’etat in Austria? In that country the landed aristocracy had impoverished them for generations, and Russia’s agents simply capitalized the natural resentment of the people; The explanation of the success of international communism is quite clear to any one who knows anything of elementary psychology. No administration in any country can deny the means of subsistence to’ the ordinary people of that country. Communism is flourishing in Europe and in other countries because of the’ continued vicious exploitation of the- masses by the privileged few. Unfortunately, the tendency of conservative governments in the. more enlightened countries when they are threatened with internal, resistance is: to; seek an outlet’ in war. I have been a socialist practically all’ my life. I make, no bones about that.
– The honorable Senator’ should be careful that the present Government does not declare him.
– I do- not care whether the present or any Government declares me. In that event I will be in the exalted company of Clement Attlee* Stafford Cripps, Aneurin Bevan, Jennie Lee and the late Ernest Bevan. If this absurd- reactionary- legislation- is ever enforced, every one who has progressive social ideas is liable to be declared. Members of the single tax movement, advanced educationists and other social experimenters and idealists are all liable to’be proscribed. The Executive will. decide who is’ and’ who ist not dangerous.
– No, the High Court will determine that.
– Then, presumably, the High Court will also define the term “ Communist “. Of course, the most blatant absurdity of this legislation is that, although one proposed new subsection presumes to authorize the High Court to exercise the power that it already possesses to interpret the law, the next sub-section deprives the court of that power and substitutes the’ Parliament as the interpreter.
If the leaders of democracy had realized 30 years ago that economic and financial interests were mainly responsible for war, and that the differences between nations cannot be permanently resolved by resort to force, we should not occupy the unhappy position in which we find ourselves to-day. I shall not mention names, but a right honorable gentleman who is well known to all honorable senators, and whose intellectual- capacity has been grossly overrated foi: the last 40 years, said on one occasion -
If- we had only put into operation the terms of the Treaty of Versailles the world would not be in the position it is.
Of course, we all know now that the terms of that treaty should have been enforced. We also know, however, that if, after World War I., we had split, up the land of eastern Germany amongst the German farmers and taken it from the junkers, we would have destroyed the whole source of man-power for the German General Staff. The tragedy is, of course,, that our leaders were not sufficiently enlightened to do so, and the junkers were again able to mobilize the man-power of Germany in order to plunge the whole world into a new war. Again, if. our leaders had exercised a little foresight Asia would not have been the seething cauldron that it is to-day. Instead of fighting the “ opium wars “ and exploiting the Asiatics, the western peoples should have backed the cause of social justice. Had we done so we would not have been confronted with the alarming situation that exists in Asia to-day and Russia would not have been able to exploit the misery of those unfortunate peoples.
The present reactionary Government of this, country has, unfortunately, inherited the characteristic outlook of its predecessors. It attempts to mislead the people that it is legislating and governing in their interests, but it cannot conceal its real purpose. It makes a hypocritical appeal to the Labour movement of this country to assist it to destroy communism, but it introduces legislation to authorize it to destroy the trade unions. It is a perfectly well-known and simple mathematical proposition that things that are equal to the same thing are equal to one another. I am sure in my own mind that the powers behind this Government classify the ordinary trade unionists and the ordinary decent Labour men with the Communists whom they believe they must subjugate in order to have their way. Of course, having their way means reducing the standard of living in this country, and in order to do that they are prepared to treat us all alike. I am not evil-minded, and I am prepared to be fair even to this reactionary Government, but I am not blind to what is happening before our eyes. The Government, which is at this moment attempting to shut down certain industries and is pursuing a wildly ambitious programme of immigration, hopes that before long an economic recession will enable it to reduce the standards of living in this country because the unfortunate workers will have no jobs and they will be glad to accede to anything that will enable their families to live. What members of the Government do not realize is that that is the situation which the Communists in this country have striven in vain for years to bring about. However, assuming that the members of the present Government and their supporters are acting in good faith, the fact remains that honesty of purpose is no excuse for criminal stupidity. They are putting the cart before the horse. They believe, and they endeavour to convince the people, that the present high cost of living is due to the ‘Communists; whereas the plain fact is that the Communists have achieved some success because of the high cost of living and the hardships inflicted upon so many people. I have said that I am not evil-minded, but I cannot divorce myself from the belief that this bill, and certain other contemporary measures, have been introduced merely as a smoke-screen to distract the attention of the people from the unhappy fact that their wages and their savings are being insidiously filched from them by the current inflation. That is a fact that cannot be denied. Although this Government proposes, with a great fanfare of trumpets, to take a referendum of the people on communism, it will not invite the people to express their opinions about the reintroduction of prices control.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order.’ I cannot permit the honorable senator to discuss that matter. He must direct his remarks to the bill.
– Inflation has come about because of the mismanagement of the former Labour regime during its eight years of office.
– The fact remains that during the last eight months prices have increased more than they did during the eight years when Labour was in office. That is the position as I see it. This Government’s repressive legislation will serve only to foster conditions that the Communists can exploit for their own ends. The Communist, like every one else, is the product of conditions. Communism cannot grow in healthy political and social ground any more than a tree can grow in unfertile soil. The Government is providing the manure to help the Communist tree to grow. Communism, of course, is the Government’s favorite bogy. That bogy is raised time after time to hide the Government’s lack of constructive policy. Government supporters talk, talk and talk, but the people of this country are awake to them. I realize that the Government will not withdraw this bill, but I think it is fair to ask that two questions and not one should be submitted to the people at the referendum. The first question should be, “ Are you in favour of the Communist party being banned ? “, and the second should be, “ Are you in favour of the principles of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill being inserted in the Constitution ? “ Even the most meagre intellect on the Government side will appreciate the difference between those questions. Many people who favour the banning of the Communists do not subscribe to the 1950 legislation. The Government is associating the two matters in this referendum proposal because itrealizes that the anti-Communist bill is a controversial measure the principles of which are, contrary to the British traditions of liberty. Admittedly the liberties that we enjoy to-day are largely capitalist liberties, but at least they are liberties of some kind, and they permit me a freedom of expression that I should not have had under Hitler, and would not have under Stalin. Honorable senators opposite talk glibly about our way of life, but what do they mean by that?’ Do they mean the right of individuals to express their own opinion, the right of trial by judge and jury, and the right of accused persons to bt’ presumed innocent until they are proved guilty? If those things are not what honorable senators opposite have in mind, what do they have in mind? Even if the Government were doing right in introducing this measure, it would not succeed because the trade unions are suspicious of it. Does the Government really believe that nien like Mr. Ferguson, of the Australian Railways Union, who is President of the Austraiian Labour party, and Mr. Monk, the Secretary of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, will co-operate in the administration of this measure? Of course they will not, and their refusal will be justified. As a notable figure in the French Revolution said, “ Oh liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name “. The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) is a mild fellow - much milder than the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), who is Leader of the Government in this chamber - but I recall that the Spanish inquisitor Torquemada, when not burning heretics, used to feed pigeons. He was, by all accounts, a gentle fellow in those moments at least. Even Adolf Hitler u.-:ed to nurse German babies when he was cot chopping off the heads of Communists. This measure is contrary to the traditional British freedoms, the fight for which goes back to the anti-combination laws and the Reform Bill. It is a dishonest bill because the Government knows that its implications will not be fully understood in the electorate. Let us show the Communists that our conception of justice is better than theirs. Let us show them that our system is better than theirs. If we can do that, real economic democracy as I understand it will eventually triumph over the dictatorial systems of both the fascists and the Stalinists.
– Amusing as Senator Grant’s speech may have been, it was contrary to the Standing Orders and virtually a contempt of the Senate, but you, Mr. President, in your generosity, permitted it to be made, and we on this side of the chamber did not object to it as we well might have done. The bill now before us is a referendum measure. The Senate, without one dissentient voice, passed the Communist Party Dissolution Bill last year, and it is not proper to reflect upon a vote of the .Senate. I say, therefore, that criticism of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, which has been the theme of speeches by honorable senators opposite to-day, is entirely out of order. The only question before us is whether or not a referendum of the people should be held. No debate on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill is permissible under the Standing Orders. That bill was passed by the Parliament and subsequently declared by the High Court to be illegal. By returning this Government to the treasury bench, the Australian people have endorsed the principles of the bill.
The system of government in this country is simple. The Constitution starts with the people who elect the Parliament, and members of the Parliament have to account to the electors on polling day. The High Court acts as the referee and ensures that all governments shall abide by the rules of the Constitution. The
High Court having determined that the Communist Party Dissolution Act to be unconstitutional, the Government sought a double’ dissolution of the Parliament so that the opinion of the people on the Government’s legislation could be ascertained. The Government has been returned with a mandate to proceed with its programme. Now, the proper course for the Government to follow is to ‘ go back to the people and say, “Here is your opportunity to alter the rules if you wish them to be altered “. The issue is not the Communist Party Dissolution Act, but whether the people are prepared to change the rules so that ‘ the High Court may judge this Government’s actions by new standards. The Parliament is at present hobbled in its attempt to deal with communism. The Constitution, born 50 years ago, does not meet modern needs’. For instance, at the time of federation, a declaration of war by one country on another was a formal procedure. Sometimes an envoy was sent with a declaration of war and some months elapsed before hostilities actually commenced. There was no aerial warfare, and there was little chance of one nation surprising another. Conditions have changed very much since those days. The process of commencing a war has changed, with the result that we have different problems to face. It is for the government of the day to determine whether machinery is necessary to facilitate faster preparations for an impending war than was required 50 years ago. In the recitals to the Communist Party Dissolution Act, the Government indicated its belief that there was a condition in this country that warranted action. In his second-reading speech on this measure the Attorney General (Senator Spicer) said -
Its true objective is to obtain power by undermining and destroying our Constitution and our democratic institutions, and to do so in the interests of a foreign power which is engaged in vast imperialistic expansion.
Labour’s attitude to the measure was “ Yes - No “, but ultimately the Opposition supported the measure which is now to be the subject of the referendum. Communism is completely anti-christian. It is contrary to our way of life no matter what form of Christianity we support. Communism has been referred to as “ only another political philosophy “. That use of the word “ only “ so narrowed the definition that the Government cannot, agree with it. Like the mistletoe in our forests which grows slowly and is almost imperceptible against the foliage of the trees, communism has grown steadily and almost imperceptibly in this country, but already it has a firm hold. The Government, which is charged with the duty of safeguarding this country is of the opinion that something must be done to curb communism. How has that opinion been formed? First, the Government has the advice of the defence authorities, including the naval, army and air chiefs. Secondly, it has an efficient security service. Thirdly, it has observers throughout the world at the various Australian overseas posts. These observers include not only diplomats, but also military attaches and other experts. Those men are able to furnish the Government with information to which the man in the street does not have access. There io an obligation on the Government to act on such information if it believes action to be necessary. Then, of course, there ls the opinion of the people of other nations that share our way of life. The AttorneyGeneral, in quoting Mr. Justice Jackson, showed very clearly what authorities in that great friendly power, the United States of America, believe to be necessary in the light of world conditions to-day. Although it has been claimed that his remarks do not apply to Australia. 1 submit that they do apply to Australia. Senator Grant has pointed out that neither this measure nor the Communist dissolution legislation has been endorsed by Mr. Justice Jackson, but that has nothing to do with the issue. The Attorney-General has already pointed out that opinions that have been expressed in other countries support the opinion of the Government that action is necessary. Furthermore, the Government must take cognizance of events happening in the world to-day, even though newspaper rep’orts are not always accurate. It must act to combat obvious trends in the world. In addition we have seen, with our own eyes, unmistakable evidence of those trends in this country. Communism is not new. It is a fanatical doctrine. It has adopted many practices of past centuries. Id the Carthaginian war, Hannibal’s armies used catapults and battering rams to enter the Mediterranean cities. Once past the outer defences they found ways to undermine a city and “ soften “ it so as to make it incapable of further defending itself. But warfare in this modern age is not so simple. We cannot, by getting into his cities and by destroying a few soldiery, catapults, and battering rams lay an enemy on his face. To-day the war machine is very complicated. Whole nations wage war one against the other in their every day life.- The complete mechanism of war brings in the whole of the civilized operations of the country as well as its armed forces. Consequently, in order to wage war, it is necessary to have a knowledge of all the mechanisms of the country that it is proposed to attack and destroy or disrupt them. Both sides make considerable use of intelligence services. The Communists alone have developed a system of taking out the screws and replacing them by bolts in places where the mechanism of production and the carriage of goods and all other factors vital to war are organized. There is no decline in the tendency for nations to wage war. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour without notice indeed, while friendly negotiations were in progress. In these days there is no declaration of war. It is the responsibility of the government to decide the unofficial date that war commences. There is never an official date until the overt act takes place. At. that stage, the war has already commenced. This involves preparedness and strength, and our policy is to let the opposing forces see that if they should attack us we would have the strength to resist them. We must prepare, because the opposing forces already have done 30. But we cannot at present act against the enemy of communism within. It is the bounden duty of this Government, having been returned by the people to combat communism, to allow the people to give Parliament the necessary power to enable it to defend the people. As a Parliament no moral obligation devolves on us in the matter other than to place the opportunity before the people, in order that they can provide for their national safety by referendum.
Honorable senators will notice that the Communist Party Dissolution Bill has been included in detail in the measure before the chamber. I am of the opinion that that is as it should be. The Communist dissolution legislation has been mentioned specifically in this measure so that the people will be fully informed on the matter. The present position is unique. Never before in history, with a possible war ahead, has a nation had to deal with such a well organized fifth column or enemy infiltration. It is therefore imperative that before passing this vital judgment on the proposal to alter the Constitution, the people should realize that the proposed constitutional alteration is very different from proposed constitutional alterations of the past, when academic fine points of law could be developed into grounds of necessity to do certain things to improve our comfort, and for other purposes. In this instance, however, the proposed altera- tion is vital to the very safety of every man, woman and child in this country. We must get away from the broad phraseology of the past. In effect, we must say ‘ to the people, “ This is an attempt to get down to earth.” This bill was passed by the Parliament. The question for decision by the Senate is whether a referendum should be held. By framing the referendum bill in this manner the Government has ensured that the people will know exactly for what they are voting. Steps should be taken immediately this measure becomes law to implement its provisions. There is no time to waste. I foresee that in certain circumstances legal action might commence, and although I do not claim to have any direct legal knowledge, I have had a lifetime of experience in the commercial and professional world, during which time I have been associated with the settlement of many legal problems. I consider that it would be dangerous to make any change in the provisions of the act to deal with Communists. It should not be tinkered with,- but used in its present form. If the people agree to the proposal by referendum we should go into action on the original measure, unchanged, in order to deal with the menace to our community. We should not run the risk of making a change in the original act, thus leaving the matter open to challenge before the court.
I strongly urge the Attorney-General to support my suggestion. After the legislation has been implemented and action taken, steps could then be taken, if necessary, to remedy any defects found in the original Communist Party Dissolution Act. That would be preferable to first altering the original measure, which may play into the hands of the people with whom we propose to deal. I point out to honorable senators that provision is made in the measure before us to add to or take away from the powers of the act, if found necessary. We should avoid the possibility of another appeal to the High Court, and consequential delay. I believe that time is running out on us all too quickly, and the bringing forward of the referendum so as to include the original Communist Party Dissolution Act has removed ambiguity.
– Obviously the honorable senator has been bluffed.
– I desire to be sane, sensible, and realistic, and to recognize facts .that are well known to me. The Government has at its disposal reports from its overseas representatives, from military and naval intelligence services, and from other sources. The prime duty of the Australian Government is to protect this country. There is ample evidence of the necessity for the powers sought. If this bill is the action that enables us to shoot out of this country subversive elements, then we should not be told that we cannot pull the trigger. In putting this proposition to the people of Australia by referendum the Government will be carrying out its moral obligation to give them the right to decide the issue. There would then be no intervention by the court, and the Government would get the power to implement the Communist party dissolution legislation in the interests of the people. I support the bill very strongly.
Sitting suspended from 5.48 to 8 p.m.
– During the course of the debate on this very important measure, I have listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks of the legal members of the Senate. I have tried to place myself in the position of a person called upon to decide impartially on this bill. Being one who believes in the supremacy of the Australian Parliament, being a member of a political party that also subscribes to that view, and being a member of a parliament that recently passed legislation to dissolve the Communist party, I’ have endeavoured to make up my mind whether honorable senators on this side of the chamber are justified in opposing this measure. An examination of the bill reveals that it is cunningly drafted in such a way that it leads one .to believe that there is nothing very wrong with its provisions. Proposed new section 51a (1.) reads -
The Parliament shall have power to make such laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to Communists or communism as the Parliament considers to be necessary or expedient for the defence or security of the Common wealth or for the execution or maintenance of this Constitution or of the laws of the Commonwealth.
One would think at first glance that there is nothing very wrong with a national parliament having power to deal with any problem that might confront the country. However, sub-section (2.) of that proposed new section reads, as follows : - (2.) In addition to all other powers conferred on the Parliament by this Constitution and without limiting any such power, the Parliament shall have power -
without alteration; or
That proposed new sub-section proposes that the Commonwealth Parliament should be clothed with powers different from those which I have always considered appropriate. I consider that a parliament should have power to make laws, to prescribe penalties that may be imposed in the event of breaches of those laws, and that persons who are guilty of breaches of the law should be proceeded against either by means of an indictment or by summary arrest, thereafter being tried by the courts of the land. To those courts should be allocated the task of deciding the guilt or innocence of an accused person, and, in the case of his guilt, of imposing the penalty prescribed. The legislation now before the Senate proposes to add to the powers of the Commonwealth by means of legislation which is a negation of all those processes. It is desired to seek the approval of the people of an alteration of the Constitution whereby this Parliament will be clothed not only with the powers prescribed in the Constitution but also with the power to decide what is a breach of the law and the penalties that should be imposed. That seems wrong to me as a member of a political party that is pledged to the- principle of granting supreme power to this Parliament.
The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) in his second-reading speech, and other honorable senators opposite have referred to the fact that the Australian Labour party stands for the principle to which I have referred. That is perfectly true. I have here a copy of the Australian Labour party federal platform and objective. The methods ‘by which that party proposes to obtain its objective are stated as follows: -
The next clause is a very important one. but it has been overlooked by honorable senators on the opposite side of the chamber. It reads -
Amendment of the Commonwealth Constitution - (a) To include in the Commonwealth Constitution a Charter of Civil and Human Rights.
I have searched in vain in this bill for any semblance of a charter of civil and human rights. On .the contrary, when one considers that the provisions of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 are sought to be incorporated in the Constitution, it will be readily seen that if this legislation becomes law there will be a negation of human rights.
If it is desired to widen the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament and to prescribe certain penalties for breaches of our laws, I consider tha,t as Australia has taken a very active part in the establishment of the United Nations, we should subscribe to the Charter of the United Nations. At this moment Australian forces are fighting, with those of other members of the United Nations, in the interests of freedom and in an endeavour to permit a downtrodden people, who have been overrun by an oppressor, to work out their own destiny. That ideal involves the entitlement of those people to the rights of self-government, and one would have thought that the Australian National Parliament, subscribing to that ideal, would have taken some notice of the charter of human rights of the United Nations. I wish to mention briefly some of the ideals that I consider should permeate this legislation. I remind honorable senators that Article 2 of the International Covenant on Human Rights, which was adopted by the Commission on Human Rights on the 17th December, 1947, states -
The states parties to the present instrument undertake to ensure - (u.) that their laws secure to all persons under their jurisdiction whether citizens, persons of foreign nationality, or stateless persons, the en joyment of these human rights and fundamental freedoms;
that such laws respecting these human rights and fundamental freedoms conform with the general principles of law recognized ‘by civilized na tions ;
that any person whose rights or freedoms are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has .been committed hy persons acting in an official capacity; (<2) that such remedies shall be enforceable by a judiciary whose independence is secured; and
that its police and executive officers shall act in support of the enjoyment of these rights and freedoms.
Can any honorable senator opposite inform me where, in the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950. it is possible to find anything resembling those provisions? I suggest that the very antithesis of them is contained in that legislation. Oan an honorable senator point to any provision of that legislation which incorporates the principle that this Parliament should leave to the jurisdiction of a court the decision as to the appropriate punishment for breaches of that legislation? If this bill becomes law the Government may be able to displace people from their occupations, summarily arrest them and detain them. For that reason I believe that the Senate is justified in refusing to assent to it. Article 9 of the covenant, from which I quoted earlier, reads as follows: -
No person shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention. Uo person should be deprived of bis liberty save in the case of -
The arrest of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before a court on reasonable suspicion of having committed a crime or which is reasonably considered to be immediately necessary to prevent his committing a crime.
There is nothing wrong with those principles. The article also provides for the lawful arrest and detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order or decree of a court; the lawful detention of a person sentenced after conviction to deprivation of liberty; the lawful detention of persons of unsound mind ; and the unlawful arrest and detention of aliens against whom deportation proceedings are pending. Those are recognized practices in all self-governing countries, and they are in conformity with the laws of all civilized nations. Honorable senators will observe that they all uphold the principle of lawful arrest, trial and conviction.
Before the suspension of the sitting, the Attorney-General and Senator “Wright, who are representatives of the legal profession on the Government side of the chamber, as well as Senator Tate, referred to the judgment of Mr. Justice Jackson, of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, in the case Dennis v. The United States of America, but they did not tell the Senate and the people that that case was heard by Mr. Justice Jackson in his appelate jurisdiction and that the learned judge was interpreting the law and deciding whether the court that had heard the evidence and had deemed the person concerned to be guilty of a crime, had been warranted in recording the conviction.
Dennis had appealed to a superior court just as an Australian who had been convicted in a court of petty sessions or another minor court may -appeal to the Supreme Court and finally to the highest court in the land. To suggest that the opinion expressed by Mr. Justice Jackson had been voiced at the original trial of the case is to mislead and humbug the people. The Attorney-General’s sole purpose in so doing was to divert attention from the real issue at stake, in the hope that prejudiced persons not well versed in the law who believe that the Communists should be beyond the law, as it were, and that no punishment is too severe to mete out on them, might be led to believe that these opinions had been expressed by the presiding judge at the original trial. Under the provisions of the Communist Party Dissolution Act it will not be necessary to charge a person with an offence before declaring him. It will be necessary only for some person to lay an information against him. In a stealthy manner the informant may report to a Commonwealth officer that a certain person is a Communist. The person against whom the allegation was made would have no opportunity to answer it. The information would then be placed before the Cabinet, which certainly would not call the person concerned before it and say, “ Here are the allegations against you. It has been alleged that on such and such a date you committed such and such an act “. The Cabinet may consist of men and women who are prejudiced from the outset. After examination of the case the Cabinet would tender advice to the Governor-General whereupon the person concerned could be declared. If the person were an officer of the Public Service he would be dispossessed of his job, and if the allegation were made against an organization it could be deprived of its property. Honorable senators opposite suggest that power to do all of those things should be written permanently into the Constitution of the Commonwealth, notwithstanding the fact that the act from which the power derives has been declared ultra vires the Constitution by the highest court in this country.
I am puzzled by the fact that the socalled Liberal party, which bears a very honoured name, and whose forebears have stood throughout the history of British nations .for great reforms and the abolition of irksome restrictions to which the common man and the common woman were subjected down through the ages, should introduce a bill of this kind. The Liberal party has used the word “ liberal “ in its title simply as a political expedient in an attempt to divert the attention of the people from the fact that its adherents have no regard for the liberty of the subject. In this Parliament the Liberal party is attached to the Australian Country party, but in the main the decisions of the Government are the decisions of the Liberal party because of its greater representation in the coalition government. This bill is the very negation of every principle for which Liberals throughout the history of the British peoples have stood and fought for in their parliaments.
I listened with a great deal of interestto the second-reading speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he introduced this measure in the House of Representatives. I was astonished that he should have devoted so little time to it. The proceedings of the House of Representatives were then being broadcast and undoubtedly many thousands of -people were eagerly waiting to hear him justify this proposal to write permanently into the Constitution the powers sought by the Government in the Communist Party Dissolution Act. Although the right honorable gentleman spoke for only about 35 minutes he devoted about 30 minutes to a tirade against communism in an attempt to inflame the passions of the people and about five minutes to the legal implications of the bill. He appreciated the fact that the antagonism of the people to communism was so great that his words would fall on very receptive ears. It would be an easy task for any member of this Parliament, or for any one gifted in the art of speech, to launch a similar bitter attack upon communism and Communists. Any person who did so would know that such a speech would fall on receptive ears because the ideology of the Communists is so contrary to our way of life. Indeed, a speech such as that made by the Prime Minister would be well received by a Labour audience, because the policy of the Australian Labour party is the very antithesis of that espoused by the Communist party. One could rise in his place at a Labour conference and make a similar speech knowing in advance that it would receive the plaudits of those who listened to it because, throughout the years, the Australian Labour movement has consistently fought the Communists. Indeed, it has waged a more bitter fight against them than has the Liberal party which is responsible for the introduction of this bill. I have looked in vain through .the constitutions of the Liberal and Australian Country parties to find that a Communist may not join those organizations. The Prime Minister played on the prejudices on the great bulk of the people of Australia in an attempt to induce them to agree to write into the Constitution the powers proposed to be conferred by that obnoxious piece of legislation, the Communist Party Dissolution Act. I am glad to say that he failed lamentably to achieve his purpose. One would have thought that a man of his outstanding abilities would explain clearly the legal aspects of the measure, but both he and the Attorney-General failed to explain its legal implications, as also did Senator Wright who, too, is a member of the legal profession. Their arguments were not convincing. I believe that we are justified in asking the people to refuse to grant to the Parliament the powers asked for. Senate Tate, the previous speaker, conveyed the impression that the Government was afraid of the courts. He said, in effect, “ For goodness’ sake do not alter the legislation. Do not make any amendments to it. Get if incorporated in the Constitution and then go for your life”. His attitude was that persons branded as Communists should not be given a fair trial before a court of law. A person who is declared on the word of a spy or an informer is not to be given a trial at all. The trade unionist who fights vigorously for his fellow men, the man who is not a Communist, and who does not espouse the doctrines of Karl Marx or Engels. but is a dinkum Australian unionist, may well, under the proposed legislation, be declared for no other reason than ‘that he is a militant unionist. Ever since the Russian revolution of 1917, I have seen many young men, filled with zeal to improve the lot of their fellows, dubbed by the unthinking as Communists. Such men were no more Communist than I am, or than honorable senators opposite are. However, if the Government has its way, whispered information against a man of that kind might be carried to the Executive and to the GovernorGeneral himself, and the young man could be declared under the act, and deprived of his liberty. Is that what the men of Britain have struggled for throughout the centuries ? In our history books we read that devoted men, fighting for freedom, were pilloried and gaoled, and some even gave their lives for the cause. The story of that struggle has made the name of Britain respected throughout the whole world. Now, after a war which was fought for freedom and democracy, and in which thousands of Australian lives were lost and much Australian blood spilled, an Australian government is seeking to fasten upon the country legislation which is itself a negation of the idea of freedom. Men and women from other parts of the world have come to our shores seeking freedom, and an opportunity to start new lives here only to find that a so-called Liberal Government is trying to play on the fears and prejudices of the people to induce them to agree to something which is wrong in itself. The Labour party is in favour of giving more power to this Parliament, but not power to destroy the liberty of the people. Therefore, we believe we are justified in directing the attention of the people to the pernicious and fraudulent proposal which the Government intends to place before them.
I had hoped that honorable senators opposite would make some attempt to answer the argument of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), who quoted from the judgments of members of the High Court when they declared invalid the Communist Party Dissolution Act. The justices pointed out that under the existing law, there is ample power to deal with saboteurs and traitors, and persons charged with subversive activities. The words quoted by the “Leader of the Opposition were not those of second-rate lawyers but of men who had been placed in office, all of them with one exception by anti-Labour governments, because of their legal eminence. Can any honorable senators opposite refute the words of the justices of the High Court? Can they deny that there is no power under the existing law to deal with Communists? I suggest that no Government supporter will have the temerity to declare on the hustings that the learned justices were wrong.
It seems clear to me that the present proposal was born of a fit of pique on the part of members of the Government. Notwithstanding the fact that the original ‘Communist Party Dissolution Bill was framed with the approval of several King’s Counsel, including that eminent lawyer, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and that other eminent lawyer, the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), the legislation was declared invalid by the High Court, even as the Labour party warned the Government that it would be. The legal gentlemen who support the Government had their ego pricked by that decision of the court, and they are now seeking to approach their objective in a roundabout manner.
The other day, I listened to the debate on this bill in the House of Representatives, and I was astonished to hear a junior Minister, Mr. Holt, who himself is a lawyer, trying to answer the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). Instead of locking horns with that eminent gentleman in a legal argument, he resorted to cheap abuse, and referred to the Leader of the Opposition as the friend of Communists, because he was able to stand before the highest tribunal in the land and prove that the Communist Party Dissolution Act was unconstitutional.
This bill will become law because the Government has the numbers, but I trust that the people, when the matter is put before them, will refuse to agree to the Government’s proposal. The Government should tell the Parliament that much as it abhors communism and much as it desires to root out evil in the community, the only practicable method by which communism may be destroyed is to show the people that -we have something better to offer them than the Communist system. We owe a duty to the rising generation to provide them with a better way of life. The opportunities for peace and prosperity and a full and free life should be superior to those offered by communism. Cannot we achieve our purposes without resorting to the imposition of dictatorship? After all, we must safeguard Australia’s reputation as a land of freedom. The Government’s proposals will place the shackles of fascism firmly upon us and will have the effect, not of defeating communism, but of paving the way for Nazi-ism and fascism. I whole-heartedly oppose the bill.
– Although I do not propose to reply in detail to the remarks of Senator Sheehan, I take the opportunity to say that I have been associated with the Parliament for many years and I know that the justices of the High Court have always been regarded with the greatest respect. Ninety-nine per cent, of the members of the Australian Labour party have respected them, but, unfortunately, when members of that party have criticized the justices they have not been rebuked by their leaders. It is extraordinary, therefore, that the Opposition should have accused us of criticizing the court. I think that because of the lengthy discussion that has taken place on communism the people have had sufficient legalism and legal jargon. The Government merely desires to rid the country of a small coterie of people who have proved to be a menace to its welfare. I have the highest regard for the integrity and fairness of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Whatever our personal views concerning the right honorable gentleman may be, I think that everyone must agree that he is the soul of honour and integrity. It is interesting to the layman to observe that in the litigation on major constitutional issues before the courts differences occur, not only amongst the contending advocates, but also amongst the justices themselves. It is not without significance that although the High Court decided in favour of the contentions of the anti-Labour parties in the banking case, it did not hesitate to decide against us in the recent case that arose out of the Communist Party Dissolution Act. The evident fairness of the court must inspire confidence amongst, our people in that tribunal. I wa3 very pleased with the speech delivered by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), more particularly because, by virtue of his office, he has to share some of the tremendous burdens borne by the Prime Minister in these days of stress. I also take the opportunity to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) on the standard that he sets in the Parliament. He put his views and those of his party before the Senate with very great ability and sincerity, and, regardless of our differences of view in political matters, I thing that we should at all times pay respect to sincerity.
Two points made by the AttorneyGeneral stand out in this debate. The first of them appeared in the following paragraph of the Minister’s speech : -
The only task of the court was to interpret the Constitution, as it stands in its present form. The High Court does not decide, and has no power to decide, what amendments of the Constitution ought, or ought not, to be made.
That is a fundamental statement and it is vitally important to this debate. Senator Sheehan contended that the present Government has endeavoured to deliver some sort of rebuke to the High Court, but I think it is clear that such a contention is ludicrous. The second point in the Attorney-General’s Speech to which I shall refer, emphasizes that the present measure seeks merely to provide the machinery to enable the people to decide whether they approve of legislation to combat communism. That is a plain fact. However, members of the Opposition, who pose as the great champions of democracy, are not prepared to accord that right to the people. I challenge them now to say during this debate why they are afraid to permit the people to decide this matter. I refer honorable senators to the following significant passage in the speech made by the Attorney-General : -
On that view, after all, we would be asking only for the same power over Communists and communism as the Parliament at Westminster possesses, as the Parliament of New Zealand possesses, and as every State parliament in Australia possesses.
That is all that the Government seeks. I.’ shall not say any more about that aspect of the matter.
However, I think that the time is appropriate to protest, on behalf of the people whom I represent, at the tactics that have been adopted by the Labour party ever since the general election of December, 1949. At that election the Menzies Government was given a clear mandate to deal with communism-
Senator Grant interjecting,
– Order ! I remind Senator Grant that he had every opportunity to express his views on this measure. The Minister must be given a fair opportunity to voice his views. I therefore ask Senator Grant to refrain from interjecting
– Although the present Government was given an overwhelming mandate to deal with the Communist menace nineteen months have gone by in one of the most critical stages of our history, and, indeed of the world’s history during which amazing changes have occurred, but the Government has been unable, because of Labour opposition, to take effective action. During that time friendly nations have been menaced by the onward march of communism. The Government of this country has been prevented by the Labour party until now from taking effective action to deal with communism in Australia, and I utter my most emphatic protest against its attitude. The Australian Labour party, particularly in this chamber, has prevented the Government from conducting its business, which is, simply stated, to govern the country. After playing the fool for many months, apparently in consequence of certain legal advice that it received which was not as sound as it might have been, the opportunity occurred for the Government to submit this matter to the people of Australia for decision. The people replied in no uncertain voice and gave the Prime Minister a mandate to go on and complete the job that he had begun.
I do not think that any fair-minded member of the Opposition will deny those facts.
I have had the good fortune to be a member of the Parliament for many years and I have been privileged to observe its work, but never in the 50 years of its existence has the Parliament witnessed political somersaulting such as we have observed during the last two years. I say quite frankly that the people are amazed at the conduct of the Australian Labour party in this Parliament. At first Labour opposed the measure to deal with the Communists, but subsequently it withdrew its opposition. That extraordinary change of front occurred onlyafter a small coterie of individuals visited Canberra and convinced the parliamentary members of that party that the people of Australia were opposed to their attitude toward the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Then, like dumb, driven cattle they followed the present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, the learned Dr. Evatt, and agreed to the passage of the measure. However, it was no sooner passed than the learned doctor employed all his technical skill before the High Court to vitiate the measure. By employing forensic tactics, including certain delaying procedures, which might, I concede, have been justified from his point of view, he succeeded in obtaining a victory. “We do not quarrel tfith the decision of the High Court, because we respect that institution. However, as a layman, I take this opportunity to say, regardless of whatever excuses a lawyer may make for appearing in a matter in such circumstances, that it was in extremely bad taste for a former Attorney-General and Justice of the High Court to appear in such a matter.
– I rise to order. T submit that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (“Senator McLeay) is not in order in easting an aversion uran a member cf the House of Representatives
– I do not uphold the objection. T lister °A very carefully to the Minister’s words, and. in my opinion, there was no asnersion on the ability nf the right honorable gentleman concerned.
– My point is that an honorable senator is not in order in criticizing a member of the House of Representatives.
– What standing order does the honorable senator cite in support of his objection?
– If you will examine the Standing Orders, Mr. President, you will find that they support my objection.
- Senator MoLeay will resume his remarks.
– I press my point and I would like your ruling on it.
- Senator Ashley has not indicated the particular standing order on which he relies, but I assume that he has in mind Standing Order 418, which is as follows : -
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
– That is my point.
– I rule that there has ‘been no infringement of Standing Order 418. The Minister may proceed with his speech.
– In April of this year, the Australian people gave to this Government an overwhelming mandate to complete the job that it had started. The Government was returned with a majority in both Houses and I expected the great champions of democracy on the Opposition benches to accept the decision that the people gave in 1949 which they reaffirmed in April of this year. It was interesting to find that although prominent Labour men had been critical of Dr. Evatt’s advocacy on behalf of the Communist party, his loyalty was rewarded by promotion to the position of Leader of the Opposition. Now, when the Government is seeking the approval of the people for its proposal that the Communist Party Dissolution Act should be legalized by an alteration of the Constitution, we find that honorable senators opposite, all of whom supported the measure when it was last before this chamber, have somersaulted once more. I protest emphatically against the delaying tactics of the Opposition. Honorable senators opposite know that a referendum is a costly and lengthybusiness. I warn the Opposition that the victory that the Menzies Governmentwill win at the forthcoming referendum will be even greater than those it won at the polls in 1949 and 1951. I am quiteprepared to leave the matter to the peopleto decide.
I take this opportunity to draw theattention of the Senate once again to the effect that the activities of the Communists have had on the national economy in the last ten years. Every one knows that the coal-mining industry, the stevedoring industry, the seafaring industry and the iron and steel industry have long been under Communist domination. Where is Thornton, the Communist leader of the ironworkers? He is revealing our secrets to the enemy and betraying thecountry that was so good to him. I have no hesitation in saying that until the Communists are removed from key industries in this country we shall never secure the co-operation of those industries in restoring stability to our economy. The Labour party claims that the Government already has all the powers that it needs to deal with the Communists. If that is so, why were those powers not exercised by the Labour Government during its eight years of office? What was the attitude of that Administration to industrial trouble on the waterfront?’ Its policy was to appease the Communists. It even appointed Healy and Roach, the Communist leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation, to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. It stands to Labour’s credit that it finally removed both those men from the board, but Healy has now been put where he should have been long ago because of his attitude to this country - in one of His Majesty’s gaols. The Labour Government sought to bring peace to industry by appointing its own supporters as conciliation commissioners, judges, and so on, but finally, the archCommunists, including Healy and Roach, pulled Labour down. This Government realizes that 98 per cent, of trade unionists are just as eager as any one else to rid
Australia of the Communist menace, and one would expect the Australian Labour party in the National Parliament to give a lead to the trade union movement in that direction, but no such lead has been given.
This Government is convinced that the only way to rid Australia of the Communists is to deal with them firmly, and that is what it proposes to do under the legislation that is to be the subject of the referendum. Most people know what is happening in the coal-mining industry and on the waterfront, so I take this opportunity to say something about what is happening in the Seamen’s Union. I have asked members of the staff of my Department - many of them are Labour appointees, but I am pleased, to say they are not concerned with party politics - to ascertain the truth about the trouble in the Seamen’s Union so that the Senate may know exactly what is going on. As most honorable senators are aware, I- have tried to the best of my ability to restore regular shipping services to all Australian ports, and particularly the outports of “Western Australia and Queensland, which have been sadly neglected for some years. Until those services can be restored the present chaotic conditions will remain. Existing services are unable to meet demands for cargo space. Many commodities are being transported by road from Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney to. as far afield as Brisbane and Darwin. The railways cannot cope with the increased traffic. Freights are rising continually, and, of course, increased freights mean higher living costs. It is most difficult for the Australian steamship owners to provide regular shipping services, as the figures that I have obtained for the Senate will show. I shall quote them in detail because they give a true picture of present conditions and demonstrate clearly that the Communist menace is real, is retarding our defence programme, and is hindering the provision of homes for our own people and for immigrants. The Australian Shipping Board and the Australian steamship owners, together have 193 ships operating on the Australian coast. The following table shows the number of delays caused through crew disputes and crew short ages between the 1st June and the 30 th June of this year: -
In order not to give a prejudiced account of those disputes, I have asked my departmental officers to provide me with the details of one or two cases. 1 have also obtained some of the comments that have been made by the Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. Hamilton Knight, who, I emphasize, was appointed by the Labour Government and cannot be regarded as prejudiced in any way. Last year, SS. Iron Knob was loaded at Melbourne with 2,000 tons of coal and 250 tons of steel. Before it was ready to sail in December, the crew had complained about the bunker coal and had demanded that it be replaced. The crew also sought alterations to accommodation and amenities, and refused to sail until the demands had been met. On the 22nd December, it was clear that the vessel could not sail before Christmas, and the owners gave notice to the men aboard. After the New Year period, daily calls for a crew were unsuccessful. Conferences were held with the union, and the company eventually agreed on the 8th March that, although an analysis, of the coal had proved its standard to be satisfactory, 120 tons of the coal should be removed in an effort to get the ship away. A number of seamen offered and were engaged for the ship, but demands were immediately made for alterations to accommodation and the ship could not be fully manned. The company felt it had no option but to pay off the remaining crew members on the 22nd March. The union then demanded that, before a crew would be provided, a special payment should be made for the run from Melbourne to “Whyalla and back to Newcastle, where the ship would be overhauled. This demand was that for the voyage, estimated to take fifteen clays, one month’s wages should be paid, together with an additional two extra days’ pay for each day that the voyage lasted beyond the fifteen days. The company was eventually forced to concede the union’s claims, and it was on that basis that the vessel sailed on the 15th May.
The following i3 an extract from a statement that was made by Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. Hamilton Knight in connexion with the Iron Knob incident : -
I say definitely that in my view the union should exercise some control over its men. I look to the union’s representatives to have some authority, some control, and some discipline over its members, just as I look to the employers’ representatives who attend before me to act in a way that completely represents their side, so that their views are heard throughout the hearing, and any decisions arrived at are carried out. Any decision I have given has always been accepted and carried out by any of the companies that have appeared before me. I say, in conclusion, that I think the company in this case has been more than fair, and no official recognition or authority is given or any payment beyond that offered by the company.
During the hearing the conciliation commissioner had suggested that the parties should confer, but the Seamen’s Union representative, Mr. Bird, walked out from the private conference.
SS. Colac was held up at Melbourne for 138 days, from the 18th December, 1950. The vessel was due to load 4,700 tons of calcines at Burnie, but with twelve other ships held up in various ports unable to obtain crews, there was no alternative but for notice to be given to the remaining members of the crew. Calls for crew after the Christmas period were eventually successful, and the ship was fully manned on the 22nd January, but on thatday fifteen seamen handed in their notices after they had been informed that their demand to be allowed to knock off at 3 p.m. when the vessel was in port could not be conceded. As there appeared to be no prospect of obtaining a full crew, the ‘remaining members were paid off on the 24th January. Calls for Colac were resumed on the 13th March, but at the end of a week a full complement had not been secured and the crew was again paid off. Eventually a full crew was obtained on the 18th April, but complaints were then made by the seamen about their accommodation. The union had previously agreed to leave over until the next overhaul the matter of accommodation re-arrangement, but the crew insisted that some alterations should be made. The company agreed to undertake some of the work, and eventually, after several crew replacements had been obtained, the vessel sailed on the 5th May.
A somewhat similar position arose in connexion with Bundaleer. The technique adopted in connexion with most of these disputes was similar. A member of the crew was missing on the night that the vessel was due to sail. Under me Navigation Act a certain complement is required .before a ship may put to saa. If that complement is not available and the ship cannot sail, the crew must be provided with free accommodation. If that occurs on a Friday night, the crew is provided with free accommodation for the week-end. Invariably, the missing mau then returns. Recently the Government desired that a certain ship should proceed to Tasmania to move potatoes that were banking up there, but instead the ship went to Adelaide to load wheat. Mr. Elliott, the general secretary of the Seamens Union, had been to Adelaide a month before and installed there as secretary of the union a well-known Communist. According to Who’s Who, the man had come to this . country from New Zealand under an assumed name. Conciliation Commissioner Mr. Hamilton Knight and others have pointed out that these disputes are usually frivolous, and in many instances are not justified.
At 1 o’clock to-day, I received a departmental report with reference to River Glenelg, which is held up at Newcastle for no apparent reason. More than sufficient men have attended the pick-up centre, but none have offered for duty. The vessel was ready to sail last Monday. It has now been held up for three days, at a cost of about £400 a day. Furthermore, the delivery of 6,000 tons of steel for Melbourne has been delayed. The proper course to follow now is to pay off the remainder of the crew, who are enjoying free board and lodging at the Government’s expense. Similar stoppages and hold-ups have been occurring for many years in key industries. It was very disconcerting that recently Mr. “Williams was re-appointed president of the miners’ federation; Comrade Elliott was reappointed secretary of the Seamen’s Union; and Mr. Healy was re-appointed general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. Until we remove from the trade union movement this small coterie, lock, stock and barrel, we shall not have peace in industry or be able to establish a decent system of transport in this country. I am convinced beyond doubt that the proposal that has been put before the Senate, although it is hold, is the correct approach to this matter.
I regret the attitude of the Australian Labour party in connexion with this bill. At the same time I believe, quite sincerely, that 99 per cent, of Labour senators in this chamber have no respect for the Communists. But I cannot understand their attitude. The Communists must be rejoicing because although the Menzies Government is trying to do the right thing it is being prevented by the Australian Labour, party in both Houses of the Parliament from doing so. Labour members of the Parliament are prepared to go out to the people of Australia to try to deny to this Government the right to put its legislation into action. That is an attitude against which I mo’st emphatically protest. The delay that is taking place is monstrous. The change of attitude of the Labour party on this occasion is monstrous, it will be revealed in no uncertain way when the referendum is placed before the people. I venture to suggest that many members of the Labour party who abhor the Communists will not take part in the campaign against the referendum. I believe that the people of this country will ignore the exhortations of some honorable senators opposite to reject the referendum, as they rejected Labour in December, 1949, and again in April, 1951. I believe that as a result of the attitude of the Opposition towards this great national problem Labour will be in the political wilderness for many years.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) has, I think, delivered the best propagandist speech that has been heard from the Government side of the chamber. However, mere propaganda will neither solve our problems nor destroy the Communist party. Labour is undoubtedly strongly opposed to the Communist party and its members, but the Opposition contends that that party will never be destroyed by force or by the wielding of a big stick. Labour favours different tactics. It cannot be gainsaid that Labour’s efforts on the industrial front have been attended by outstanding success recently. In Brisbane several days ago the moderates regained control of the Queensland trade union movement. The happenings in the world to-day demand that methods completely different from those advocated by the present Government are needed to combat communism. Of course, I can understand the reason for the attitude of supporters of the Government. Many have never been members of a trade union, although most of them are closely associated with the direction, of industry. As I pointed out in this chamber recently, a man’s environment has a considerable bearing on his political outlook. Consequently, honorable senators opposite who have never been members of trade unions could not possibly view this problem as the Opposition views it. The Minister stated emphatically that we must get rid of the “ Comms “. I repeat that the Government will not be able to defeat them merely by wielding a big stick. Labour considers that they should be eradicated by education and understanding. Every opportunity should be provided for the forces of democracy to improve their position in the fight against Communist oligarchy. I have repeatedly advocated, both in this chamber and within the Australian Labour party, theexercise of reason and the carrying out of an educational campaign for this purpose. I believe that we should educate our people on democratic lines, in order to develop a weapon against dictatorship. Unfortunately, instead of winning large numbers of unionists to the side of democracy the Government, by legislation recently brought before this chamber, is antagonizing the workers. I contend that no government can defeat communism, unless it has the confidence of the people. The Government can never hope to win the confidence of the Australian workers by adopting dictatorial and big-stick methods.
The Minister also stated that Labour is afraid to go before the people. That is not true. The Minister well knows that the Government already has the necessary power to deal with this matter. Because of the Government’s numerical superiority in this chamber, the measure will he passed and the Government will make its appeal to the people. But I have yet to learn that because the supporters of Labour are in the minority, they should be meek and silent. That is a new conception of politics, and smacks of a fascist dictatorship. The Opposition has a perfect right to voice its point of view in this chamber, both when the proceedings are being broadcast, and at other times. Of course, we have that right. We have our own ideas concerning these matters. We are still free men, we are free to express our views, and it is right and proper that those views should be placed before the people of Australia. E am supported in that contention by the newspapers of Australia, even by those which favour the Government parties. Why is it necessary to become hot under the collar because honorable senators on this side of the chamber criticize the methods that the Government seeks to adopt? We shall continue to criticize those methods because it is right that we should do so. I am not afraid of the decision of the people. If I followed my own views on that matter I should say, “ Let yes-no pamphlets go out into every home. Allow two speakers from each political party to state the views of those parties on a few occasions, publish those views in the newspapers, and let all the other politicians look after their electorates instead of running about the country”. However. I know that that would not meet with the approval of honorable senators opposite.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) has stated, rather pathetically, that all the Government asks is for power similar to that possessed by the English Parliament, the New Zealand Parliament, and the State parliaments of Australia. I do not know whether those parliaments possess such powers or whether they would adopt similar methods in order to obtain them. In Queensland, the State from which I come, there have been fewer strikes and industrial troubles than in any other State of the Commonwealth. Labour governments have been in office in that State sin?e 1915, with the exception of a short period when the late Mr. Arthur Moore was in power. If industrial troubles occur in Queensland it is not Mr. Hanlon’s Cabinet that deals with them; nor is it the Cabinet which decides the punishments that should be imposed for contraventions of the law. Such matters are left to the courts and to be dealt with by the ordinary processes of law. The Opposition in this chamber believes that the Communist menace in Australia to-day also can be met by the ordinary processes of law. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has made it perfectly plain that that is possible aa,l in support of that belief he has quoted the judgments of the Justices of the High Court, delivered at the time that the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 was invalidated. Those judgments show clearly that power to deal with communism already exists. During this debate, honorable senators have heard three irnportant speeches by eminent lawyers. However, the ordinary layman sometimes wonders whether lawyers are right or wrong, because they can almost make black appear to be white and white appear to be black.
– And Wright, right !
– I do not know whether they could succeed in doing that. I do not think that Senator Wright is right. While I admire the capacity of lawyers to present plausible arguments, it is easy to imagine that ordinary men and women who listen to their persuasions may be carried away by a certain argument and later influenced by an altogether different one. Undoubtedly Senator Wright kas presented a sound argument to support his contention that the justices of the High Court dealt with the provisions of the act only as they saw them, and, having done so, they gave their decision, which the Government was obliged to accept. But the important point is. that the decision of the court went against the Government.
The Australian Labour party has no apology to make for its attitude towards the bill now before the Senate. It believes emphatically that it is possible to deal with the Communist party in this country by means other than the introduction of such legislation.
Senator Brown having become ill,
– Order ! The sitting will be suspended until the ringing of the bells.
Sitting suspended from 945 to 10.S0 p.m.
– Order ! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, T formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– in reply - On behalf of my colleagues, I express regret that the debate on this bill had to be interrupted by the tragic occurrence that we witnessed in the Senate to-night. I am sure that I express the views of all honorable senators when I say that I trust that Senator Brown will make a speedy recovery from the affliction from which he suffered to-night.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– I. do not wish to say a great deal in reply to the debate. First, I should like to make some comment, which will not take up very much time, upon the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), which was made without foundation of any kind, that the Government introduced this bill in a fit of pique resulting from the fact that the High Court had declared the Communist Party Dissolution Act to be invalid. I think that I made it clear in my second-reading speech that we accepted without reservation the decision of the High Court on that legislation which simply related to an interpretation of the Constitution as it at present stands. Both before and during the recent general election campaign the Government made it quite clear that it intended to give effect to its policy in relation to Communists and communism by whatever means were available to it within the limits of the Australian Constitution^ including, of course, those provisions of the Constitution which enable that document to be altered by this Parliament with the consent of the people. All sorts of slighting suggestions have been made that we are engaging in some kind of programme that is related to the kinds of doctrines which are described as fascist. I cannot imagine anything further removed from the concepts of either fascism or communism than a proposition which will enable the people of Australia to determine whether legislation passed by this Parliament should become an effective law of the land. This measure was introduced solely for the purpose of enabling the people of Australia to determine that matter.
Perhaps I may be pardoned for reminding Opposition senators that at no time during the debate on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill did they deny the accuracy of the statements that appeared in the recitals in the preamble to that bill. I cannot recollect a single member of the Opposition in this chamber - and I think it is also true of the Opposition in another place - stating that the -allegations against the Communist party in that bill were untrue.
– The present Leader of the Opposition expressly said that they were true.
– I did not say that they were true.
– I am prepared to base my present contention upon the fact that not one of the members of the Opposition was prepared to dispute the accuracy of the allegations contained in those recitals. However, we can take the matter a little further and say that they were prepared to accept their responsibilities as members of Parliament and assent to the expression of those allegations as facts in an act of Parliament. The allegations made against the Communist party and the Communists in that legislation are in line with the findings of judicial tribunals in the United States of America and in other countries as indicating the nature of the activities of the Communists. Once we accept these allegations as true it is obvious that if we have any sense of responsibility we must be prepared to take the necessary action to combat the evil which their organization of Communism represents.
It has been repeatedly said in this debate* that we already have powers to curb subversive and treasonable activities. I do not dispute that fact, but that power, [ suggest, is not effective to deal with this particular evil. We are concerned with the activities of a very clever enemy. I do not discount in any way the degree of cleverness which he brings to bear in carrying on his activities. If he possibly can do so, the Communist seeks to carry on his hideous work without breaking the letter of the law. We have had a great deal of experience of that in recent years. As the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) has indicated to-night, some very strange activities have been undertaken in connexion with shipping around our coasts which the Ministry and the parties on the Government benches have no doubt are designed to undermine the capacity of this country to carry out its obligations in the international field and to prepare itself, if need be, to meet the dangers that are ahead of it. It is not so easy as Opposition senators would have us believe to invoke the provisions of the Crimes Act. Curiously enough, although the members of the Parliamentary Labour party exhibit great enthusiasm for the Crimes Act, the organizations that support them are continually demanding the repeal of the only sections of that act that are effective to deal with difficulties of this kind. In those circumstances, once we accept the proposition that the Communist party and its members are engaged in activities designed to undermine the economic and military strength of this community, that they constitute a fifth column, and that, no matter how they carry on their activities they stand in the same category as do spies in war-time - and I believe that, and the Opposition accepts that proposition - there is every justification for the Government and the Parliament pursuing them by the most direct means in order to ensure that they shall be removed from those places in which they carry on their traitorous activities. That was the justification for the introduction of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill and for its approval by the Opposition. Indeed it is the only justification which the Opposition can claim for having supported that measure. It is justification for the people of Australia writing into the Constitution a power to deal with this particular evil as this measure proposes it shall be inserted.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Edward Mattner.)
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I am sure you will pardon me, Mr. President, if I take a moment to thank the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), on behalf of the Opposition, for his kind reference to our friend and former President, Senator Brown. I join with the Minister in expressing the hope that Senator Brown’s recovery will be speedy and com plete.
Reverting to the bill, I should like to know whether it is true that at the recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) asked for a reference of powers from the States to facilitate the passage into law of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950, and for no more than that? If so, why does the Government now propose to go further than that relatively simple provision?Why seek power over such other matters as are dealt with in this bill? What has happened since that conference to make the amplification of power necessary?
I should like to receive an expression of opinion from the AttorneyGeneral on the proposition that under sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 51a of the Constitution it would be possible for the Parliament to alter and extend the definition of “communism “ and “ Communist “. I should like him also to state what the Government considers to be the relation between the power vested in the Parliament under sub-section (2.), and the power that will rest ultimately in the High Court to define “ communism “ and “ Communists “ as referred to in sub-section (1.). Further, I should like the AttorneyGeneral to express his opinion, or the opinion of the Government, on the suggestion made by Mr. Justice Fullagar to the effect that the conciliation and arbitration power is wide enough to enable legislation to be enacted providing that persons of a particular class may not hold office in a trade union, or that, if they are already in office, the union may be deregistered.
Does not the Attorney-General acknowledge that the Commonwealth has complete power to determine who may or may not remain members of the Commonwealth Public Service? I bracket those two matters because I believe that the problem which the Government is seeking to attack is associated with the removal of Communists from the places where they may do damage, namely, from certain key unions and from the Public Service. If they could be removed from the unions in the way suggested by Mr. Justice Fullagar, and from the Public Service by the exercise of the Government’s own plenary power, what need is there for the more ample powers sought in this bill?
The Attorney-General, in his secondreading speech, quoted with approval the following words of Mr. Justice Jackson of the Supreme Court of the United States of America : -
The Communist recognizes that an established government in control of modern tech nology cannot be overthrown by force until it is about ready to fall of its own weight.
What is the reason for the extraordinary fears professed by the Government? Do Ministers believe that the Government is trembling on the brink, ready to fall of its own weight? The Crimes Act, particularly PartIIa., was referred to by at least two of the justices of the High Court. On a. previous occasion, when I was asked whether I believed that the recitals in the Communist Party Dissolution Bill were true, I said that I believed they were, but that would not justify me in taking action that would condemn the persons involved. I made it clear that, in my opinion, a government would be craven if, being in possession of evidence that would justify charging a person with the crimes alleged in the recitals, it yet failed to take action under the criminal law.
– The Labour Government had plenty of opportunity to take action.
– Yes, and we did so. In spite of all the difficulties which the Attorney-General says are associated with the obtaining of evidence, we nevertheless obtained evidence and laid it before the court, and the Crown assumed the onus of proof.
– We did that, too. Has the Leader of the Opposition ever heard of a man named Burns ?
– In that case, I understand the Commonwealth Arbitration Court itself acted against Burns for contempt.
– No, that is not so.
– I shall be glad to hear the Minister later on that matter. The Attorney-General said that the enemy was slippery and insidious. I agree. He is insidious, and difficult to detect. He seeks to avoid breaking the letter of the law, but what is wrong with the Attorney-General’s security service if men can- conspire to subvert the economy of their country and no evidence can be obtained against them?
When the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was being considered, the Attorney-General gave an assurance that the Government would not move against subsidiary organizations or against any individual unless it had the strongest possible evidence. Those were his words. I remember them because they made a strong impact on my mind, and gave me great assurance. To-night, however, we were told a different story when the Attorney-General talked about the difficulty of getting evidence to secure convictions. I suggest that he make a contribution to the policy enunciated in November, 1949, and repeated in April, 1951, by taking action to strengthen the existing law. A pledge was given in November, 1949, that existing laws dealing with sedition and subversion would he strengthened. However, nothing has been done in. that way, nor has anything been done to deal with Communists occupying positions in trade unions or in the Public Service. If there is a weakness in the criminal law of the country that makes it difficult for the Government to put its hands on people who, although they do not break the letter of the law, strike insidious and damaging blows at our economy, surely it is not beyond the ingenuity of the Attorney-General and his legal experts to evolve provisions to meet such a situation. The present Government is so impressed with the danger that it perceives in communism that it seeks to obtain power that could be wielded against persons other than Communists. Furthermore, it seeks authority for that power to be wielded by the Executive and by arbitrary processes under which no charge would be preferred against an individual, who would be denied the right of trial. I emphasize that that is the criticism of the Government’s proposals that has been voiced by the justices of the High Court.
Let us agree that communism is evil and dangerous to the country and that some corrective measure must be applied to it. The Opposition wholeheartedly agrees that effective action must be taken against communism, and the only issue in dispute concerns the methods that should be employed. I wish that the Government would appreciate the real strength of our hostility to its proposals. Our fear is that it is importing fascist methods into the Constitution which are quite alien to the spirit of the Constitution, while, all the time, it possesses complete power to deal with the menace of communism. The. views that I expressed in my speech during the second-reading debate are the views, I emphasize, not merely of a minority of the justices but of the entire bench. The attitude of Labour in this matter may be summed up by saying, “ Let the rule of law apply. Let nobody be damaged except after constitutional processes have been observed and people have been declared guilty by the courts of the land “. Of course, I realize that if the Government restricts itself to enforcement of the existing law some guilty persons may escape, but that difficulty could be overcome by strengthening the existing law and rigorously enforcing it. Although the Government has been in office for approximately nineteen months it has taken no action in that direction. It has complete power over its public servants, but why has it not taken action in the Public Service during the last year and a half? I particularly commend to its attention the suggestion made by Mr. Justice Fullagar in the course of his judgment, which I outlined in my secondreading speech.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I shall comment first of all on the last part of the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). He suggested that the Labour party would deal with this evil under the Commonwealth’s power to prosecute for offences of a subversive or treasonable nature. The attitude of the Labour party is that, although it reece.nizes that the Communist party is en gaged in traitorous activities, and although it3 members occupy key positions in trade unions and the Public Service, and engage in activities that are detrimental to the peace and security of the country, we should take no action against them until such time as they furnish irrefutable proof of their guilt. In other words, we should not take any action to prevent them from committing such offences. That is the gist of the argument advanced by the Leader of the Opposition. Under the Communist Party Dissolution Act, which was approved by the Parliament, and which the Government now seeks the authority of the people to implement, any person who engages in, or is likely to engage in, conduct detrimental to the welfare of the nation may be liable to be removed from his position of authority. The Labour party has never been prepared to face up to that aspect of the situation, apart altogether from the problems that arise from the fact that we are dealing with a clever enemy, who is having a great deal of success, not by committing criminal offences but by carrying on other activities designed to undermine the community.
The Leader of the Opposition directed to me a number of queries upon which I shall endeavour to satisfy him. It has been alleged that we have not taken action of the kind taken by the previous Government under the Crimes Act. The fact is that the present Government has taken such action. We took action against a man named Burns, who published a seditious newspaper called the Tribune. The Leader of the Opposition may be excused for not having recalled that fact, because I think that the Government of which he was a member also proceeded against Burns. After some difficulty we succeeded in obtaining a conviction, and
Burns was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that any person who is detected in the commission of offences against the Crimes Act will be promptly dealt with under that act. The Leader of the Opposition also referred to the fact that we sought to obtain power from Slate governments to re-enact the Communist Party Dissolution Act. It is true that a proposition of that kind was placed before the Premiers of the States by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), but the proposition was not limited merely to the re-enactment of that act. No one would be so naive as to ask the States, or the people at a referendum, to give the Parliament power to re-enact merely the Communist Party Dissolution Act without also asking for the power to make any necessary alterations to that act. If the Government advanced such a proposition the Leader of the Opposition would be the first to suggest that it was behaving stupidly. Consequently, when we sought power from the States to re-enact the measure, we suggested that they should also confer upon the Parliament power to deal with matters incidental to the subject of the act but not specifically covered by it. In other words, the Prime Minister sought similar powers to that contained in sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 51a. The Leader of the Opposition affects to be surprised that the Prime Minister was unable to obtain the unanimous consent of the States, but I remind him that two of the State Premiers are members of the Australian Labour party.
All that the Government seeks under sub-section (2.) is to include the general power to deal with Communists and communism, and I thought that I had made that quite clear in my second-reading speech. If, at the referendum, we have limited our request for authority to exercise power to deal with Communists and communism, any subsequent prosecution would undoubtedly be liable to challenge in the courts on the ground that the Commonwealth did not possess sufficient constitutional power to prohibit certain things. I think that the Leader of the Opposition will acknowledge that no matter how carefully a measure of this kind is drafted, there is always room for legal argument about the validity of any action taken under it. Consequently, if we had to rely solely on the power sought in sub-section (1) of the proposed new section, there would be a distinct possibility of litigation contesting the validity of the legislation. We want to avoid that; we do not want any more delays. Despite the criticism of the Opposition to the effect that the Government is not eager to take action, the fact is that we want to obtain this power as quickly as possible and to implement it at the earliest possible moment. Therefore, although the wider power would have been sufficient for our purposes, we have said, in effect: “We passed the Communist Party Dissolution Act which was a measure that the people authorized the Parliament to pass, and we believe that it is in accordance with their wishes. However, we shall ask the people to confer on the Parliament power not only to deal with Communists and communism but also to re-enact the Communist Party Dissolution Act “. There is no mystery about it. This is a complete explanation of and justification for the course of action that we have followed.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the definition of “ Communist “. There is a definition in the Communist Party Dissolution Act which is completely effective for the purposes of that act. The Leader of the Opposition has suggested that the definition might be extended, but it could not be extended beyond the meaning that the court will, of its own accord, attach to the words “communists” and “communism “. The definition in the Communist Party Dissolution Act is a good one. I have not heard any one attack it, and it is confirmed by the course of action that has been taken in many other countries. That definition may be narrower than the one that the court would be disposed to attach to the words under the provisions of sub-section (1.) of proposed section 51a and, to the extent to which the court might adopt a wider definition, it is true that we might be able to extend the definition of “ Communist “ in the Communist Party Dissolution Act; but, as I have said, it could not go beyond the definition which the court, in all the circumstances, would attach to the words. I do not profess to be able to tell honorable senators what would be the precise limits of the definition that the court might attach to the words. All I can say is that I know the sort of thing that would influence the mind of the court, and the kind of source to which it would look in determining what the Parliament meant when it used those general expressions. It would have regard to our own legislation and to the sense in which the words are being used in Australia in this year 1951.
- (Senator George Rankin). - Order! The AttorneyGeneral’s time has expired.
Question put -
That the bill stand as printed.
The committee divided. (The Ch airman - Senator George Rankin.)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Spicer) put -
That the bill be now read a third time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Edward Mattner.)
– There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators voting in the affirmative, as required by the Constitution, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 11 a.m.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I take this opportunity to inform the Senate that a communication has been received from the superintendent of the Canberra Community Hospital, to the effect that Senator Gordon Brown has been admitted. He has regained consciousness, and his general condition is good. The superintendent is looking after Senator Brown, and thinks that he will be all right.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The followingpapers were pre sented : -
Public Service Arbitration Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1951 -
No. 62 - Australian Broadcasting Commission Staff Association.
No. 63 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association and Customs Officers’ Association of Australia (Fourth Division).
Wool Products Bounty Act - First Annual Report on operation of Act for period ending 31st December, 1950.
Senate adjourned at 11.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 July 1951, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1951/19510712_senate_20_213/>.