13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. H. Mackay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral yet in a position to announce the personnel of the broadcasting commission ?
Mr.FENTON. - The Government has decided to appoint the following persons to be members of the Broadcasting Com- - mission : Mr. 0. Lloyd Jones, Sydney, chairman; Mr. Herbert Brookes, Melbourne, vice-chairman; Mrs. Claude Couchman, Melbourne, Mr. R. Orchard, Sydney, and Professor R. Wallace, Sydney. The salaries -will be - chairman, £500; vice-chairman, £400; other members, £300 each.
– As the contract with the Australian Broadcasting Company expires in a little over five weeks, and as it takes four weeks to prepare a programme, I ask the Postmaster-General what arrangements have been made to continue broadcasting services after the 30th June?
– The Broadcasting Commission which has just beenappointed will take this matter up immediately.
– It was reported on the 29th February that a deputation representing twelve organizations waited on the Prime Minister in Sydney, and recommended certain persons as worthy of appointment to the Broadcasting Commission. Not one of the persons recommended has been appointed, and seeing that it is of supreme importance that the commission should be entirely free from political control, will the PostmasterGeneral state the qualifications of the men who have been appointed to the commission?
– No deputation waited upon me. The qualifications of the persons appointed to the commission will be published in the newspapers.
– Has the Commonwealth Government made any arrangement or agreement with the Stevens Ministry in New South Wales, to the effect that if confirmed in office at the approaching general election it will arrange for the State to repay the amounts paid by the Commonwealth on behalf of New South Wales?
– There is no arrangement between the Commonwealth Government and the Premier of New South Wales (Mr. Stevens) ; but immediately on assuming office Mr. Stevens gave to the Commonwealth Government a definite undertaking that the State of New South Wales would meet all its interest obligations.
Mr. GARDNER brought up the report of the joint select committee on public accounts, together with minutes of the proceedings of the commitee.
Ordered to be printed.
Preference in Employment.
– Last week I introduced a deputation to the Prime Minister to protest against a resolution of a meeting of returned soldiers in Canberra, that the Government be requested to find employment for returned soldiers by dismissing non-returned soldiers from the Public Service. Can the Prime Minister inform the House of the Government’s decision?
– The deputation protested against a reported resolution by returned soldiers that non-returned soldiers in the Commonwealth Public Service should be dismissed to make room for returned soldiers. I understand that no such request has been made. In any case the Government does not intend to create vacancies to be filled by returned soldiers. The dismissal of several redundant officers has been found necessary, and in connexion with these changes preferential treatment is given to ex-soldiers, but no employee of the Commonwealth has been dismissed to make room for a returned soldier.
– As the term of the war debts moratorium will expire on the 30th June next, can the Acting Minister for External Affairs make a statement to the House regarding the present position of reparations?
– War debts and reparations will be considered at the conference to be held at Lausanne on the 16th June. Invitations have been extended to all countries which were parties to the Young Plan, and the Commonwealth will be represented by the High Commissioner in London, Sir Granville Ryrie, who will be accompanied by Mr. Collins as financial adviser. It is hoped that the conference will produce a permanent settlement of the urgent problem of war debts and reparations, but if it fails to achieve that, it is certainly to be hoped that some arrangement for an extension of the existing moratorium may be made.
– Having regard to the large importations of a spray known as “Blackleaf Forty,” which is manufactured from low grade tobacco, will the Minister for Commerce take steps to ascertain whether that spray could be produced in Australia, thus providing a use for lower grades of locally grown leaf ?
– I shall be pleased to bring the honorable member’s suggestion to the notice of the Minister in charge of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and, if a favorable report is received from that body, I will do everything in my power to encourage the use of Australian tobacco for spraying purposes.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has decided that a publicity officer shall accompany the Australian delegation to
Ottawa? If so, will he disclose the name of the appointee?
– The Government does not intend to send a publicity officer to Ottawa.
– Will the Prime Minister instruct the Commonwealth Statistician to include in the statistics supplied to honorable members particulars of the cost of living and rates of wages prevailing in the Federal Capital Territory similar to that furnished in regard to the various States?
– I shall consider the honorable member’s request.
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether Victoria’s share of the unemployment relief grant has yet been paid to that State?
– I understand that the Unemployment Relief Council is at presentdrawing up a list of works upon which the relief grant may be expended. The Commonwealth has two representatives on the council. As soon as the list of works is approved, money will be made available by the Commonwealth.
Select Committee’s Report
– Will the House be given an opportunity to discuss the report of the Select Committee which has inquired into the manner of presenting the public accounts to this Parliament?
– At the last Premiers Conference an arrangement was made for a consultation between treasury officials of the Commonwealth and of all the States, with a view to determining a more uniform presentation of public accounts. The report of the Select Committee will be submitted to those officials, and will be considered by them in relation to the matter. Honorable members will be given an opportunity of discussing the committee’s recommendations, but even were they adopted, it would be impossible to apply them in the budget papers for the coming financial year. Time would not permit of that being done.
– Will the Minister for Commerce state whether any effort will be made at the Ottawa Conference to obtain preference in Britain for Empire-grown tobacco? . I understand that there has been a marked development in the production of tobacco within the Empire, and an increased duty on foreign tobacco entering Britain would help the Empire product.
– Empire-grown tobacco already enjoys a substantial measure of preference in Britain, and the Australian delegation will do what it can to support the tobacco exporting dominions which are seeking to maintain or increase that preference. Australia, however, needs such very high protection for her own tobacco-growing industry that it is not likely that she will be able to place this matter in the forefront of her requests.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral yet in a position to state in what way the New South Wales Transport Act is affecting mail contracts in that State, and what the department proposes to do to overcome such difficulties as have arisen ?
– The New South Wales Transport Act, together with the curtailment of rail services, has affected mail contracts in various parts of the State, but it has been impossible to decide on a general policy for dealing with such matters. Every case has to be considered on. its merits.
– Is the Minister for the Interior able to state whether it has been decided to proceed with the taking of a census?
– It is all a matter of finance. A decision, it is hoped, will be arrived at shortly.
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Will he inform the House what restrictions arc placed upon unemployed persons in obtaining a share of the unemployed relief work in the Federal Capital Territory?
– In order to obtain a share of unemployment relief work, it is necessary that the applicant must have been resident in the Territory during the period December to June, 1929-30.
agricultural MACHINERY– cost ofcollection.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Persons who pay sales tax are called upon to furnish monthly returns of taxable sales, but are not required to supply a detailed dissection of those sales. There are also no detailed records of primage duty. It is regretted, therefore, that the desired information is not available, and could only be obtained at considerable expense.
On the 11th March, the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) asked the following question, upon notice: -
Is he in a position to give an estimate of the cost of collection of the sales tax?
The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The estimated cost of collection of the sales tax up to 31st March, 1932, is £106,693. The estimated cost of collection for the period 1st August, 1930 to 10th July, 1931, during which the rate of 21/4 per cent. was in force is £57,397. The estimated cost for the period 11th July, 1931, to 31st March, 1932, during which the rate of6 per cent. has been in force is £49,296.
– On the 12th May, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the following questions, upon notice : -
Great Britain, and in New Zealand?
I am now able to furnish the following replies : -
On Other Income.
The above rates (Australian) also apply to other income, subject to following variations : -
– On the 3rd May, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) asked the following question, without notice: -
Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether there is any foundation for the statement in to-day’s issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph to the effect that money lenders are buying for 15s. in the £1 cheques signed by the Government of New South Wales and marked “Refer to drawer”?
The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The Commonwealth has not been able to ascertain whether there is any foundation for the statement referred to.
North Belmore Soldier Settlement
– On the 20th May, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I now desire to advise him as follows. -
Distribution in South Australia.
– On the 20th May, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am cow in a position to inform the honorable member that there are now no surplus stocks of army clothing and boots available for distribution. Certain quantities of unserviceable and part-worn clothing, &c, however, are returned by units to ordnance stores from time to time. These articles are made available for the relief of distress, but the quantities are likely to be very small.
– On the 20th May, the honorable member for
Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the following question, upon notice: -
What is the estimated cost for 1928-29, 1920-30, and 1930-31 for the maintenance of the grounds and gardens in and around the
Hotels Canberra, Kurrajong, Acton, Wellington, and Ainslie, including the upkeep of grounds and buildings for tennis, croquet and golf?
I now desire to advise him as follows: -
In each case the amounts given include the cost of maintenance of the sporting facilities connected with, or adjacent to, the establishment. The golf links, however, are not connected with any hotel, but arc conducted independently.
Murder and Assault of Whites - Police Uniforms
– On the 27th April, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) asked me a question, upon notice, relating to the death in New Guinea of a prospector named Baum, portion of which was as follows: -
Wore the murderers apprehended; if so, when?
In reply to that question, I stated that the efforts pf the Administration to apprehend the natives concerned in the incident had up to that time been unsuccessful. I have since received advice from the Administrator to the effect that an Administration patrol, which recently returned from the area in which Mr. Baum was killed, had arrested eight natives from among the inhabitants of the villages involved in the attack.
On the 27 th April last the honorable member for Richmond asked me the following questions, upon notice : -
I am now in receipt of advice from the Administrator of New Guinea, which en ables me to furnish the following replies to the honorable member’s questions : -
On the 27th April last the honorable member ‘ for Richmond asked me, upon notice -
I am now in a position to furnish the following replies to the honorable member’s questions: -
The eight natives who have been recently arrested in connexion with the death of Mr. H. Baum have not vet been tried.
The following sentences were imposed upon whites: -
Fine of £500, in default two years’ hard labour.
On the 27th April last the honorable member for Richmond asked me questions, upon notice, on the subject of a Court of Criminal Appeal in the Territory of New Guinea.
I furnished the honorable member with replies to portions of the question, and intimated that information was being obtained in relation to other portions reading as follows: -
I am now in a position, as a result of the receipt of advice from the Administrator of the Territory, to supply the following information : -
On the 27th April last, the honorable member for Richmond asked me the following questions, upon notice: -
Replies to parts 1, 3, 4, 6, and 7 have already been furnished, and I am now in a position to supply the following- additional information: -
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Trade Commissioner in Canada. - Report for 1931.
Debts, Inter-Government - Suspension of Payment for One Year -
Protocol in relation to Germany, dated 11th August, 1931.
Protocol in relation to Czechoslovakia, dated 11th August, 1931.
Bankruptcy Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1932, No. 43.
Cotton Industries Bounty Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1932, No. 49.
New Guinea Act - Ordinance of 1932 - No.6 - Native Labour.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance of 1932 - No. 14 - Advisory Council.
Debate resumed from the 20th May (vide page 1142), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Crimes Bill is the most important of an unholy trinity which this Government has brought down, the others being the Immigration Bill and the Arbitration Bill. The last named has been shelved until after the New South Wales and Queensland elections, for what reason we are left to imagine. The bill now before us provides that any body of persons, either incorporated or unincorporated, may be declared an unlawful association, and it sets up machinery to that end. Section 30a of the principal act is amended to provide that the AttorneyGeneral may apply to a judge of either the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State for an order calling upon any body of persons to show cause why it should not be declared an unlawful association. That is contrary to the fundamental principle of British jurisprudence, which throws on the accuser the onus of proving his charge. Under British law, even a person accused of murder is regarded as innocent until he has been proved guilty.
– That is not so under our immigration laws.
– This bill reverses the principle that an accused person shall be given the benefit of any doubt; it throws on the accused the onus of proving that he is not a member of an unlawful association. The departure from an accepted principle of British justice will be strenuously opposed by the Opposition, because it is a deliberate attack on the working-class organizations of this country.
– It is being done for the safety of the nation.
– It is significant that the scope of the bill is not sufficiently comprehensive to include non-working class organizations which obviously are formed for unlawful purposes.
– Can the honorable member name one such organization?
– The New Guard in New South Wales is an organization which should be brought within the scope of this legislation.
– What about the “Red “ army?
– If its doctrine is the same as that preached by the New Guard it should be dealt with under this legislation. The bill discriminates between working-class organizations and bodies which are not associated with the Labour movement.
A further provision authorizes the Attorney-General to require any person to answer questions, furnish information, and allow the inspection of documents relating to any money, property or funds of an unlawful association ; any payment made by or to such association, and any transactions to which it is reasonably believed to be a party. Failure to do so renders him liable to a fine of £100, or imprisonment for six months. A further amendment dealswith newspapers, periodicals, and other’ publications.
The partisan nature of the bill is evidenced in its attack on certain broadcasting stations. Obviously, proposed new section 30fb is aimed at the stations controlled by the Trades Hall authorities in Sydney and Melbourne.
– If they broadcast communistic doctrines, they deserve to be punished.
– Some of the propaganda broadcast by the New Guard and by representatives of the United Country party and the United Australia party is worse than the items broadcast by the two stations to which I have referred. Those responsible for the framing of the bill have deliberately sought power to close the broadcasting stations conducted in the interests of the Labour party.
The . proposed new section 30fd is abhorrent to every member of the Labour party. This vindictive section provides for the disfranchisement for seven years of persons who are officers of an organization which has been declared an unlawful association. The proposed new section is interesting in the light of section 41 of the Constitution, which reads -
No adult person who has, or acquires, a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State, shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
On previous occasions, we have directed attention to the discrimination in the punishmentof migrants for alleged offences against our laws. Under this bill, any member of a committee or executive of an organization which may he declared to be unlawful will, if not born in Australia, be liable to disqualification as an elector for a period of seven years, while fellow members, being native-born Australians, will retain their qualification, and be entitled to vote at all elections. This is grossly unfair discrimination against migrants who take part in the deliberations of industrial organizations.
– They get the benefit of the law.
– They enjoy privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their citizenship. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) for thirteen years supported a government which was responsible for the introduction of many thousands of foreign migrants to Australia, so he must now accept his share of any responsibility that attaches to their residence in this country. Since a migrant member of a trade union executive may be entirely opposed to militant action which, possibly, is determined by fellow members who are Australians, it is grossly unfair that he should be punished under this new law while fellow members of his executive, being Australianborn citizens, escape.
-Does the honorable member think that they should be. deported?
– I do not think that any man should be deported in pursuance of a political vendetta, or in order to gratify the political ambitions of people who run amok during an election campaign, and declare that, if returned, they will bring about peace and goodwill in industry. This class-biased measure and the other two bills of the unholy legislative trinity have been introduced by this Government merely to gratify the political ambitions of its supporters.
– What does the honorable member mean by class-biased legislation ?
– This amendment of the Crimes Act is class-biased legislation. So also are the bills to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the Immigration Act. The extraordinary discrimination in the punishment that may be inflicted under this amending measure on a migrant member of an industrial organization is grossly unfair. Probably no greater penalty could be imposed upon him than to order his deportation to the country whence he came. Possibly a sentence of five years imprisonment in Australia would be preferable.
– The member of an executive should resign if his organization is breaking the law.
– Why should any man resign membership of his organization because of legislation of this character, which is so bitterly partisan in its purpose, and hostile to the trade union movement of this country? Why should he strike his flag-
– Which flag?
– The flag of the working class movement which, apparently, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) does not understand or recognize. Why should one man who has been granted citizenship rights and privileges in this country have all these taken from him and be deported, while fellow members ofhis organization get off scot-free, and subsequently may even secure election to this Parliament, and be accepted on an equal footing with other members?
– Only on the honorable member’s side.
– Certainly they would not be in the ranks of government supporters. The proposed new section 30l gives authority to the Attorney-General to direct that any person, not born in Australia, who is convicted of an offence under section 30c, 30j, or 30q shall be deported from the Commonwealth. Section 30c of the act provides that-
Any person who by speech or writing advocate’s or encourages -
the overthrow of the Constitution of the Commonwealth by revolution or sabotage ;
the overthrow by force or violence of the established Government ofthe Commonwealth or of a State or any other civilized country or of organized government; or
the destruction or injury of property of the Commonwealth or of property used in trade or commerce with any other countries or among the States shall be guilty of an offence.
The bill containing that provision was introduced just after the election, and in that respect resembles that now before us. I make it plain now, as did the Leader of the Labour party (Mr.
Charlton) at that time, that this party is totally opposed to violence and the destruction of property, whether private or public. The words in that section to which we object are “ or of any other civilized country.” The Labour party’s attitude on these matters was made clear in 1925, when the then Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) introduced an amendment of the Immigration Act, and again in 1926, when the Prime Minister of the day (Mr. Bruce) introduced an amendment of the Crimes Act. But during every election campaign, when feeling runs high, anti-Labour candidates reintroduce the red bogy.
– There is no anti-Labour party in this House.
– The fact that these amending bills dealing with our arbitration, immigration and crimes legislation have been introduced demonstrates very clearly that there is an antiLabour party here.
– Order ! Honorable members must cease interjecting. The Standing Orders do not permit replies to be made to statements by interjection. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) has the floor and is entitled to be heard in silence.
– It was quite like old times to hear the Assistant-Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) paint a lurid picture of the dangers that are confronting the Commonwealth. I have a vivid recollection of the right honorable gentleman doing so in 1925 and 1926, during which period he was ably assisted, in that respect, by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham). On the 5th October, 1925, the right honorable member delivered his policy speech in connexion with the election then pending. I hold a pamphlet containing that, speech. It was issued by the National campaign council. Had it been issued recently it would have borne the imprint of the United Australia party. The statements in it are similar to those made during the last election campaign. These platitudes are the stock in trade of honorable members opposite at election time. The right honorable gentleman addressed these words to his admiring audience -
The paramount issue in this campaign is the maintenance of law and order, and the supremacy of constitutional government. No more important issue can ever come before a democratic people. The laws of the country have been defied, and constitutional authority challenged. An attempt has been made to subvert democracy to domination by a few extremists. At the period of our greatest prosperity and most glowing opportunity, there are wreckers who would plunge us into the chaos of misery of class war.
To-day there is a great opportunity for the Australian workers to show to the world that that standard of living and measure of comfort which they have fought for and achieved can be enjoyed without economically crippling the nation in competition with the world.
Industrial peace and the enthusiasm of the Australian workers, however, depend upon our assuring to the worker a fair wage, and conditions of reasonable comfort for himself and those dependent upon him.
If the Government had given practical effect to those sentiments everything would have been right, but it did not do so. The right honorable gentleman proceeded to say -
Bolshevism and communism ure obviously against the workers’ interests, and have inevitably brought degradation and suffering to those who have adopted them. The only antidote to these evils is a happy, contented and adequately remunerated people.
Unfortunately, we have in our midst men who strive to foment industrial strife, class war and direct action. They are- methods foreign to all our instincts, and they have no application to Australian conditions. Unhappily, these men have gained influence far beyond what their numbers warrant. If we are to ensure the industrial peace and the progressive advancement of the condition of our people, the influence of these men must be ruthlessly destroyed. Just as the canker of these men advocating communistic doctrines must be cut out of our national life, so must the efforts of those reactionaries be fought with unrelentant hostility.
In view of the fact that the Government was returned to power on that occasion, and introduced legislation to give effect to its policy, one might have expected all our troubles to be remedied. When the new Parliament assembled after that election the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) stated that the appeal to the people had resulted in a’ reduction of the number of members on the Opposition benches, and an increase of Government supporters, and that the mandate which the Government had been given would be carried out. The Government thereupon proceeded to force through Parliament amendments to the Arbitration Act, the Immigation Act and the Crimes Act. It had complete power to do as it liked, and it used its power. One might have thought that having done so all these troubles would have been ended. After its brave words the Government should certainly have scotched the red bogy. On the 15th March last, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) asked the question : -
Has the Acting Attorney-General seen the statement with regard to communism in today’s Sydney Morning Herald reported to have been made by Mr. -Maitland Paxton of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, and, if so, will he take steps to expedite the introduction of the long delayed measure dealing with Communists ?
The reply was given by the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce), as follows: -
I have seen the statement attributed to Mr. Paxton. 1 understood him to refer to certain children who, it is suggested, are being taught communistic doctrines. If that is so, and proof can be furnished that there is any such practice, ample powers are provided under the Crimes Act to deal with the matter. I shall be obliged to the honorable member if he will give me any further information on the subject that he may possess.
The right honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) indicated that after the mighty efforts of the then National and Country parties, which have, for obvious reasons, terminated their unfortunate liaison, the Government has adequate powers to deal with those who dared to teach communistic doctrines to the children of Australia. During the last election campaign, as during that of 1925, a number of people, and particularly new aspirants to political honours, made certain declarations, and gave the solemn pledge to their constituents and to “the country generally that if elected they would definitely, and for all time, scotch the communistic doctrines that were being disseminated in the Commonwealth.
– For which they were applauded.
– Precisely, and-
– This is the result.
– As the honorable member says, this is the result. Oldtimers also adopted those tactics, and particularly the honorable Minister for the Interior (Mr. Parkhill). The honorable gentleman has lived on such propaganda for 20 years and more, and, realizing how effective it is, he uses it on every possible occasion. The Tory parties expended up to £400 a day with the different newspapers to have lurid pictures drawn of the “ dreadful communistic bogy.”
The result was to their satisfaction. In justification of the huge sums of money that were so spent, and the extraordinary statements that were made by both new and old politicians, this legislation is introduced. I am wondering whether this legislation is on all-fours with the political gesture that was made by the BrucePage Government in 1925-26 when, with a blowing of trumpets and beating of drums, it ushered in amendments of the Crimes Act, Arbitration Act, and Immigration Act.
The Labor party deprecates violence and lawlessness, and every Labour administration that we have had has governed wisely and well, but we take “exception t» the proposal of the Government to declare any industrial organization unlawful because of the irresponsible utterances of a few hot-heads. It is improper that> because of some political indiscretion, an individual should be condemned to perpetual banishment from Australia. We object even more strongly to the vicious punishment which will be inflicted in debarring individuals from exercising the franchise. Deportations made under this legislation will be the result of political vindictiveness. The measure is merely a political move to save the faces of - people who went about the country making irresponsible statements during the heat of the campaign. But, as I have said on previous occasions, no matter what majority may pass a law, if that law is not acceptable to the majority of the people, it can never be brought into operation. Every honorable member who supported the Bruce-Page Government in 1925-26 declared that the coercive- legislation then introduced would destroy the “ dreadful communistic menace “ once and for all. About 500 pages of our exclusive ‘ publication, Hansard, were devoted to recording the frenzied speeches of those honorable members who supported the Bruce-Page Government in its action, but I cannot recall that one indictment has been brought under that legislation. No government introducing such biased legislation can hope to continue in power after the next election. I am not so young in politics as to be unaware that those who make irresponsible promises which result in legislation of this nature, will be removed by the people at the next election. I know, too, that after another Labour administration has been in power for a few years the same old bogy will again bo dragged into the limelight. In the old days, the alarming bogy raised in Australia was the “ socialistic tiger “.
– You have changed your name so often.
– The one thing that the honorable member cannot honestly say of us is that we have changed our name. We have always been the Labour party. I speak of the real Labour party, not of any spare parts that have broken away from it. I certainlydo not refer to that party which the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Parkhill) is alleged to have designated a party of spare parts. We have a name that we honour and we have no desire to change it.
The Labour party is not responsible for the migrants who are alleged to be causing dissension, and are threatening the overthrow of the Constitution. We repudiate any such responsibility. From 1916 until 1929, we did not participate in the government of the Commonwealth. First, there was the Hughes Administration. That was followed by the Bruce-Page Government, which during itsterm of office brought to these shores 250,000 migrants, and must accept responsibility for that action. My contention is that, having allowed, nay, encouraged, people to come to Australia, we must accept responsibility for them.
– We did not encourage the “ crooks “.
– No provision was made to prevent “ crooks “ from coming here. When a man has resided in Australia sufficiently long to assume the rights of citizenshipship in the case of a Britisher, and to take out naturalization papers in the case of a foreigner, we should accept him as our responsibility.
The problem of the so-called red menace confronts all nations; but probably Australia has a greater volume of cranky legislation to deal with it than have the countries that are in close proximity to the Soviet itself. Those who have been connected with the administration of our immigration laws know that there is an increasing reluctance on the part of the various nations, not excluding Great Britain, to accept deportees from Australia. Negotiations on the subject have been taking place for many years. During the two and a half years that I administered the immigration and other sections of the Home Affairs Department, I was constantly brought up against the problem. It is inevitable that, in the very near future, lines will be laid down by different countries, but particularly by those which comprise the British Commonwealth of Nations, governing the procedure to be adopted. They undoubtedly will provide that after a certain period of citizenship or residence, the dominions concerned must accept this responsibility. The laws of this country are sufficiently drastic to enable the Government to cope with any unlawful outbreak. That was admitted only a few weeks ago by even the right honorable the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) himself.
– Does this bill embody provisions for dealing with the New Guard ?
– It certainly makes no reference to the New Guard; nor does it contain any provision that can be construed as aiming at that obviously illegal and unconstitutional organization.
In opposing this bill, the Opposition is not taking up a stand that is new.
– Yet it is not in favour of communism !
– Nor are we in favour of the blatant political propaganda that is embodied in this particular legislation. This party stands for freedom of speech and of organization. We uphold the basic principles of humanity, one of the foremost of which is that a man must be proved guilty, and not have thrown on him the onus of proving his innocence. The provisions of the bill are entirely at variance with the fundamental principles for which we stand, and we shall fight it just as we did its predecessors. Linked up with it are the Immigration Bill and the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. They have only one purpose; that is, to break up the working class organizations, so that cheap labour may once more reign in Australia.
– The sensible working men of this country, without exception,” will welcome these amendments to the- Crimes Act, which have been too long delayed. This country has suffered, as have other countries, by the infiltration of undesirables, who have spread their cancerous ideas throughout the length and breadth of the land. So far, we have not been in a position to check them. This legislation will afford a better opportunity for dealing with imported agitators, who are doing their level best to upset constituted authority, and to make Australia unfit for any decent man to live or work in.
There is no novelty about the methods that are being employed by imported agitators. The history of this country furnishes ample proof that they have been almost solely the cause of the strikes and industrial troubles of all kinds that have occurred in the past. During the war period, . when our soldiers were struggling against tremendous difficulties in France, the Independent Workers of the World considered the time opportune to push its propaganda; and, unfortunately, found a fertile field for. its operations in the coal-mining and shipping industries. For some time it appeared that the reinforcement of our troops overseas was likely to be interrupted. Incendiary outbreaks which occurred in New South Wales about that time were distinctly attributable to the Independent Workers of the World, some members of which occupy prominent political positions in New South Wales at the present time. That organization was doing its best to disrupt the Government of this country at a. time when we could least afford to have public disorder.
In times of prosperity we hear little of the Communists’ activities. They live in mud, and they sink back into it in good times; but when depression stalks through the land, this hydra-headed monster appears, and by means of insidious propaganda, does its best to cause strikes or revolution, and to upset the accustomed order of society. The impetus which this- movement has received lately is not of local origin ; it is due to a worldwide scheme, emanating from Russia. Owing to the need for power to deal effectively with Communists, the bill before the House is absolutely necessary. Part of their scheme is to infiltrate their pernicious doctrines through European countries, and we have had evidence of this in the recent disturbances in Spain and Portugal, which ran absolutely counter to the religious beliefs of the people of those countries. We have observed this organization exercising its malign influence in China, and particularly in the Canton district, where the nucleus of the modern Chinese army was formed by Communists. The influence of the organization went so far as to suborn one, if not two, of the leading Chinese generals, for the purpose of achieving its nefarious purpose. In South Africa, Communist doctrines are being spread even among the black population, not in a half-hearted way, but by propaganda printed in the native language. In India, a similar course is being pursued. In Australia, the Communists are proceeding on lines exactly similar to those pursued in Asia and South Africa,” and up to the present time, the Commonwealth authorities have not been able effectively to resist this propaganda.
The recent more intense activities of the Communists were not unexpected by those of us who have made it our business, during the last ten years, to watch their movements. We knew in May last, that an offensive had been ordered, particularly against the British Empire-. Special attention was to be paid to India, and in that country, unfortunately, we have recently had evidence of the serious results of the operations of Communist agitators. The orders issued to agents in Great Britain counselled the abandonment of legal methods, and the adoption of “ unconstitutionalism,” as solemnly promised last year. That promise was given by the agents who attended a Communistic gathering overseas. The letters containing the orders to the agents state that the unemployed are “ excellent material for defying the law, if they are properly utilized.” We have had evidence of that in Australia during the last two months. These Communist agitators have gone among the unfortunate unemployed, and have used them for their own purposes. It was further stated in the orders to agents that they must “ undertake the leadership of hunger marches, and other means of public disorder.” Again “ agents on committees of labour exchanges must facilitate law-breaking. The bourgeoisie must be prevented from curing the economic crisis.” Perhaps we have had some evidence of this influence in the shape of opposition to the Premiers plan. The Communists wish to take advantage of the economic crisis. They are waiting for an opportunity to push their heads further out of the ground, and to come forward openly as a rebellious element.
The progress that Communist agents have made in Australia recently is rather alarming, for we find that the Communist doctrine is gaining favour among the leaders of certain industrial organizations. It is within the recollection of honorable members that the secretary of the Australian Railways Union in Melbourne, Mr. J.F. Chappie, recently released the information that application had been made by that body for affiliation with the Red International League of Unions, one of whose rules states -
The 5th Congress firmly insists on the continued carrying out of the resolution of the first Red International of Labour Unions Congress The closest possible relations with the Communist International, the vanguard of the workers’ revolutionary movement all over the world must be entered into.
– Is Mr. Chapple an Australian ?
– I cannot say; I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting him, but I venture to claim that the policy of the Red International of Labour Unions has not the approval of the majority of the railway men, and certainly not of those in Victoria. My experience among railway employees, and for that matter, among the workers of this country as a whole, is that they are a sane, level-headed lot of men, and that they do not want to be stampeded into affiliations with foreign organizations, only tofind out afterwards that, unknown to them, their union has been placed in such a position that its members can be branded as Communists.
– The honorable member will surely be obliged to oppose the clause of the bill which makes members of such an organization liable.
– I hope that the members of the union itself will have sufficient sense to take control of their own affairs, and see that an executive which goes red is turned out of office, and replaced by a saner body of men.
It is just as well to appreciate a little of what communism would mean to Australia. First of all, it would mean a denial of our religion. Whatever diffidence we may have about parading our religious beliefs, at heart we Australians are a religious people. We could not stand for atheistic doctrines which would deny us the right to worship where, when, and how we please. It would also mean the abolition of the sanctity of the marriage tie. Under any communistic regime which the world has hitherto known, it has been sufficient for a marriage to be brought about in a most casual, haphazard style without requiring the blessing of the Church, as is the custom in a British community. The marriage bond has been dissolvel in an even more casual way. Family life in Russia to-day has become more like that of the barnyard than anything else. We do not want such principles applied in Australia. We are capable of looking after ourselves. We have a country worth living in, and, despite our present troubles, we are proud to boast that it is better run than any other country in the world. If agitators, mostly foreign bred, and frequently foreign paid, prefer the social systems of other countries to the life they can lead in this country, by all means let them get out; but if they are stupid enough to think that the conditions which they find here are suitable ground, for sowing with their malicious foreign doctrines, this hill makes provision for their removal from this country. Deportation will follow only after a declaration by the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State. Proposed new section 30l reads as follows: -
Where, in consequence of an application made by the Attorney-General under section 30aa of this act, any body of persons has been declared by the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State to be an unlawful association, the Attorney-General may, by order under his hand . . . and so forth. Ample protection is afforded to the individual by the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State. From what the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) said it could be inferred that a person could be whisked away at dead of night without trial or application to any judicial body. That is not so. The principles of British justice, which the honorable member was a little inclined to think were being swept to one side, are amply maintained. In any event, this legislation is not unique. By our customs law and by our immigration law the onus is thrown on the defendant or on the person questioned. During the regime of the late Government, several undesirables were deported, but an earlier enactment of this legislation would have prevented the re-entry into Australia of others previously deported. It would have prevented us from having in our midst an individual like Thomas Barker whose name has been freely mentioned in this chamber during the last three or four sittings.
Whatever we may do to keep Australia a sane, level-headed community, without irritation from outside agitators, will help to get rid of the present depression. Happily, it does not look like continuing for long; but if it should, and communism is not checked, I am afraid agitation would spread in all directions. The amendments of the Crimes Act now proposed are, therefore, not only necessary, but even overdue.
– If you remember, Mr. Speaker, on Friday I drew your attention to your failure to give the call to a member of the Country party, I regret having to complain of the same oversight again. I rose when the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) sat down, but you, sir, have given the call to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin).
– Had I seen the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) before I saw the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition, he would have been given the call.
– Speaking on the second reading of this bill, I propose to refer only to general principles which I think ought to be observed in a community like ours, and from which I consider this bill proposes to depart. Two things which are traditional in British countries are freedom of speech and freedom of the press. They are privileges to be cherished and not restricted too readily. I do not mean that in respect of either we should permit licence or abuse without let or hindrance, but that the freedom of people and of the press to advocate and express opinions should be jealously guarded. Any advocacy of violence of law-breaking by an individual or a group of individuals is an offence which should be, and can be, punished under existing legislation. Any newspaper which offends by advocating or inciting violence is to-day punishable under the existing laws. But to declare newspapers and organizations illegal and subject to deregistration because we may not agree with the opinions they express is a violation of the principle of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Many criticisms of the actions of British Governments in years past have perhaps ‘been justified and warranted, but British traditions relating to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and principles of justice have unmistakably given a lead to the whole civilized world. In Australia we have endeavoured to follow that lead, and we should hesitate before we take any action that departs in any degree from it. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison), in a temperate speech, gave certain reasons for supporting the bill. Let me examine one or two of those reasons. He said that the doctrine of communism was gaining ground in Australia. I am not certain that that statement is correct. The fact that the Communist candidate at Federal and State elections has almost invariably lost his deposit, is clear evidence that the doctrine of communism is not gaining ground in this country; but even if it were, then the way to combat it is to meet argument with argument. With logical argument, if we have it, we should meet the doctrine of communism. If, in the presentation of any doctrine, whether it be communism or any other “ ism “, force and violence are resorted to, then the person or group of persons responsible are guilty of an offence, and can be punished under the law. I take exception, not to that, but to the argument that persons who propagate doctrines which we dislike should be subject to a draconian law declaring them subject to deportation. That would be a violation of the principles of freedom of expression, and should not be tolerated in a British country.
– Surely this bill does not propose that!
– I can show the honorable member that it does. I go a little further, and say that too much interference, even where we can detect certain breaches of those principles that I have referred to, is not always advisable. [ ask honorable members to take a pattern from the attitude of Great Britain during the last century. One of the boasts of that country is that it is the home of the political refugees of the world, that it has given refuge to those who have been driven from other Europeancountries because of their political views. It is true that Great Britain has at times penalized persons for holding certain political opinions ; but it is also true that the political agitators and outcasts of the world have found sanctuary in that country. When I was in London a little over a year ago, I spent an hour or two in Hyde Park, where 1 heard every doctrine under the sun preached. I heard persons advocating violence, irreligion, and the overthrow of the monarchy, yet all the time the police were quietly walking up and down watching the crowd. At times persons interjected. As the night shadows fell the speakers, those who advocated religion, irreligion, loyalty and disloyalty, picked up their boxes or bundles and peacefully wended their way home.
– They were protected by the very police against whom they declaimed.
– That is so. That sort of thing has been taking place in Hyde Park for practically a century. There has been less evidence of revolution and violence in Great Britain than in any other country, yet, in most of the other countries harsh laws of repression have been in existence for centuries. My advice to those who hold responsible governmental positions is not to drive underground persons whose opinions we dislike, but rather to keep them on the surface. They can be punished under exi sting laws if their actions and utterances are stirring up serious revolution in the community. When trouble is feared and an offence takes place, we have, under the existing law, the power - even greater power than the Government requires - to deal with it. I recall two recent instances in which the principle of freedom of speech was violated. In both instances what occurred merited condemnation, and has received condemnation in many quarters. The first incident occurred on May Day. A body of speakers from the Melbourne Trades Hall and the Australian Labour Party went to the Yarra Bank to express certain views. Upon arrival, they were met by a body of several hundred men who, it is said, were members of the Communist party - I have no evidence to that effect, but it has not been disputed - who fell upon the Labour speakers with violence, driving them from the lorry from which they were speaking, and injuring several of them. Actions such as that are condemned, I think, by every section of the community, and the perpetrators of the deeds of violence, if captured, should be punished under the laws of the country. Within a day or two, a somewhat similar incident occurred at the Melbourne University. Some young students who expressed communistic doctrines, but did not, so far asI can learn, advocate violence, were attacked and roughly handled by their fellow students. Such incidents as these should be condemned, and the individuals responsible for them should be punished. An article which was published in the Melbourne Herald, of the 3rd May, referred to the disturbance at the Melbourne University in these terms: -
Last night’s disturbance at the meeting of the Melbourne University Debating Society was discreditable to those responsible. Those who ill-used a student holding communist opinions were only imitating the hoodlum and antiAustralian foreigners who broke up a meeting on Sunday afternoon at the Yarra Bank. They were not acting as educated men, but as disturbers displaying mob intelligence. An institution that stands for the free play of the intellect does not need defence by personal violence. As members of the professional staff indicate, it can afford to listento error in the knowledge that there is perfect safety in enlightenment and truth.
The article goes on to suggest that we should meet argument with argument. I draw attention to these things, because the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) has voiced the opinion of certain persons who are prepared to justify a departure .from the principles of free speech, of proper trial, and of British jurisprudence. They are actuated by their hatred of certain doctrines rather than by what have been done by those who advocate those doctrines. Letus deal suitably with an overt act of violence, and with those who incite to violence, but let us not be prejudiced in our judgment, or pander to prejudice for the sake of votes. There is wide-spread public opinion which abhors the doctrines preached by certain groups of persons in Australia. The honorable member for Bendigo said that he intends to support this legislation because, among other things, of the Communists’ denial of religion. The honorable member could not be accused of prating about religion, and I hope I shall not be; but I support the honorable member’s contention that religion and a high spiritual life is the greatest safeguard of any community. Although I have only condemnation for those who definitely deny religion,’ those who do so are entitled to their opinions even upon that subject. Those who hold strong religious convictions, and who believe that the world’s salvation, both temporal and spiritual, lies in the administration to our religious and spiritual needs, do not wish to deny legitimate freedom of expression of other views. If we are to1 deport Communists because they are opposed to religion, there are many others who are not Communists who should also be deported because of the doctrines which they preach.
– If that principle is to be adopted we should have to go back hundreds of years.
– Yes. There are irreligious bodies who send publications, some of which are registered as newspapers, through the post advocating anti-religious doctrines. The argument of the honorable member should not he used in this instance. It is one of the most potent which could be put forward in order to inflame the people’s minds. The mind readily becomes inflamed on matters involving religious or political differences, or on such matters concerning rights as the rights of property. A departure from principles set up as guide posts to us for decades is not justified, and we would he all the poorer as a community were such a departure to be made. I join with the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) in saying that the members of. this party are ‘ strongly opposed to acts of violence which can be dealt with under the existing law. During the last election campaign, frequent reference was made to the necessity to deal with certain lawless people. During the two years the Labour government was in office, there was a remarkable absence of rioting and violence, notwithstanding the fact that it was a period of unprecedented depression, when misery and want were manifest. The existing laws are, as I have said, ample to meet the situation. They are direct and definite, and provide for practically every offence that one could imagine. Why this change? What is the fundamental principle in this bill? We ought to get to the kernel.
– Hear, hear!
– It is that departure from British jurisprudence that compels an accused person to prove his innocence to which I am opposed. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr Maxwell), has had more experience in cases of this kind than any other honorable member, and he would use his eloquence before any judicial tribunal to declare that the benefit of the doubt should be given to the accused. The onus of proof should lie with the plaintiff, and not with the defendant. This legislation entirely upsets that principle. It is a recognized principle of British jurisprudence that the guilt of the defendant must be proved by the plaintiff. The benefit of the doubt must be. given to the defendant. It has been pointed out by interjection, and in the. speech of the honorable member for Bendigo, that that principle has been departed from in our Customs and in our Immigration law, and I believe some of the States have departed from it in certain cases under their licensing law; but if such principles are to be departed from it should not be when a man’s liberty is at stake.
– Does the right honorable member think that any real hardship is involved in the case of a man who is innocent?
– Yes, a person has to prove his innocence; he does not receive the benefit of the doubt. The honorable member, because of his experience in conducting defences in criminal cases, knows of many in which innocent men have had circumstantial evidence brought against them that seemed almost unanswerable, but who received the benefit of the doubt, and thus escaped punishment. No such loophole is provided under this measure. When it is a political offence the accused has to satisfy the court of his innocence, and if he cannot do so, he is deemed to be guilty. The greatest criminal offender is not asked to do that. That is one of the fundamental objections to this class of legislation.
– Under the New South Wales Consorting Act the accused has to prove innocence.
– I am not familiar with that act, which may be good or bad ; that does not prove that this provision is right. One clause provides that any body of persons may at any time be called before a Supreme Court judge or a High Court judge to show cause why they should not be declared members of an unlawful association. If they are members, or thought to be members of such an association, they have not only to prove by the presentation of their rules, and by their conduct, that the organization of which they are members is not an unlawful organization, but they have also to prove that the organization with which it is affiliated is not an unlawful association within the meaning of the act. Surely the onus of proof in that case should rest upon the Crown, and not upon the organization ?
– Not necessarily.
– It should. The AttorneyGeneralcan deport without a trial an individual who is a member of an organization or who is said to be a member of an organization at the date of the declaration. He will not have an opportunity to say whether he is or is not a member of the organization; he will not have an opportunity to resign. Subclause 2 of proposed new sub-section l reads -
The Attorney-General may, by order under his hand, direct that any person not born in Australia, who is convicted of any offence under sections 30c, 30j, or 30q of this act shall be deported from the Commonwealth.
– The whole section has been re-drafted, and that sub-section repeats only what is contained in the existing act.
– That may be so, but it is one of the fundamental objections to the bill. Some line of demarcation should be drawn between prohibited immigrants, criminals, the physically unfit or the insane, and those who have legally entered this country, and who may later be charged with committing a political offence. We allow the last mentioned to become citizens, and then take them away from their wives and families, who, too, in some cases, may be deported, although they may not have committed any offence. The punishment of any person charged with a criminal offence can be determined by a Minister of the Crown. A person guilty of the vilest criminal offence, such as murder or even worse, whether born in Australia or elsewhere, is tried before a judicial tribunal, and punishment is meted out by a judge, but under this bill, the Attorney-General can impose even the penalty of deportation upon a political offender. Personally, I would prefer a Minister to have power to impose punishment in a criminal rather than in a political case. What may be termed an offence by one Minister may not be so regarded by another. We hear expressed from . one side of this chamber feelings of heated indignation against the red army or some other working-class organization, and from the other side wholesale condemnation of the New Guard. Any organization that seeks to go outside the law and usurp functions that properly belong to constituted authority, whether such action be taken for the protection of property or of wage standards, is guilty of an illegal act. But the eulogium that is bestowed upon one party and the condemnation on the other, and vice-versa, illustrates the danger of giving to a Minister the right to punish a political offence without trial.
– The High Court must first declare an organization unlawful. Does the right honorable member suggest that the High Court would be biased ?
– No ; but the court is bound by this legislation to refuse the benefit of the doubt to the person charged. [ ask honorable members to refer to a recent judicial decision in South Australia on the licensing law. Inthat case the learned judge held that the words “ to the satisfaction of the court “ excluded the accused from the benefit of any doubt. But in any case the High Court is not to decide whether a person is or is not a member of an organization; the declaration of the Minister is sufficient. I draw attention to the disparity of the punishments that may be meted out to two persons guilty of the same offence. The first, an Australian born, may be sentenced by an impartial tribunal to imprisonment for three months. The second person, born in the British Isles, because he has been sentenced to three months imprisonment for an offence which had its genesis in political or industrial agitation, may also be subsequently deported on the order of the Minister. This power, I know, is already contained in the Crimes Act, but we need not deepen that stain on our statutes by making this extreme punishment more easy of infliction. What special need has arisen for this legislation? Where and when have the existing laws failed, when they should have succeeded, to safeguard Australia? What special danger threatens this country at the present time to necessitate such a draconian Jaw? No evidence on that point was furnished by the Minister who introduced the bill in the Senate, or by the right honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce). Both honorable gentlemen repeated the same generalities as were expressed in 1926, when the drastic Crimes Bill was introduced to carry out an alleged mandate from the people, and to save the faces of a party that had won office by exploiting the communistic menace. When has the existing law failed to deal with criminals or with a person who has caused riots and other disturbances? If Ministers will mention one specific instance I shall understand why this legislation has been introduced, but I know of no development to justify it. This bill is giving to Australia a bad advertisement as a country in which severe legislation is necessary. We should protect our country from such a reputation, and avoid driving organizations underground where they may do more harm than they do above ground.
.- The need for this legislation arises largely out of the circumstances which obtained during the regime of the Scullin Government. The Crimes Act was passed in 1926, and while the administration of it was directed by persons who were prepared to enforce it, the need for enforcement seldom, if ever, arose. But when, in 1929, a new government, which disapproved of the Crimes Act, assumed office, and was not prepared to enforce the law, the offences against which it is directed increased. I remind the House of a German agitator named Schelley, who fomented the last shipping strike. Ever since that unfortunate occurrence the people have strongly demanded a tightening of the crimes legislation, and a more rigid enforcement of it. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) that before a person is deported for being a member of an unlawful association, his membership should be determined by an independent tribunal, and not merely by a Minister. That is the procedure in relation to organizations; before punishment can be visited on them they must be declared unlawful by the High Court. Some tribunal, not necessarily the High Court or Supreme Court, should decide whether a man is, or is not, a member of an unlawful association, before the Minister takes steps to deport him. The Leader of the Opposition rightly stressed the virtue of tolerance towards the opinions of political opponents, and the need for preserving freedom of speech. It is true that in the United Kingdom the greatest freedom is allowed to speakers in the parks. But the essential difference between that country and Australia is that in the former the loyalty of the people to their country and the established system of government is so assured that authority need not fear the influence of agitators, whereas the existing condition of affairs in Australia does not justify us in regarding agitators as harmless. I remind the Bouse of the political and industrial ferment in Sydney at the present time, and the references by members in this House to the possibility of violent revolutionary action in that city. Would the Leader of the Opposition think it wise to permit persons in Sydney to advocate the doing of some of the things forbidden by the Crimes Act - the burning of warehouses and the blowing up of wharfs and railways?
– No; but existing Commonwealth and State laws are adequate to deal with those offences.
– Those are the offences specified in the principal act. When persons advocate the breaking of the law by the commission of such acts, it is only right that their freedom of speech should be curtailed: It sounds very well, to say that we should deal with the agitator by meeting argument with argument, but there are limits even to free speech. Liberty can be enjoyed only when it is properly used. When liberty is abused, it becomes licence, and the State should take action.
I find it very difficult to understand the attitude that is taken in regard to this legislation by members of the direct Opposition. They represent, I believe, responsible Labour opinion in this country, and, knowing them as I do, I cannot believe that they are really in sympathy with the persons of destructive tendencies who are aimed at in the Crimes Act. Their interest no longer runs with those persons and organizations against whom this legislation is directed. At the present time, those extremists are, perhaps, the most vigorous opponents of the direct Opposition in Australia. Yet, whenever any proposal is made in this Parliament for dealing with those extremists, the members of the direct Opposition seem to feel it their duty to apeak as their advocates. They are putting themselves in an entirely false position. The public would respect them more if they said openly that they stood for honest conduct, and for observance of the law, and that they refused to tolerate the sort of person we” have been importing too freely from Russia.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) made plausible references to
British justice, and said that this bill was a departure from the principles of British jurisprudence, in that it threw on the accused the onus of disproof. It is rather late in the day to raise that point, however, because a similar provision has existed in the Immigration Act. since 1901. Section 5 of that act contains no fewer than nine instances of the onus of disproof being thrown on the defendant. No party in this Parliament has been more enthusiastic in carrying out that act than has the Labour party. They used it vigorously when deporting the friendless Kanaka, and the defenceless Chinese, whose only vice was that they were too much given to industry. The Labour party were prepared to use this instrument, or any other which came to their hand, to eject such unfortunate people, but they are not prepared to use it to eject a Russian bomber, or a Chicago gunman. When it is proposed to do anything of the sort their hearts fail them, and they feel that it is their duty, to say a word in favour of such disreputable persons. I believe that the bill is a useful one. Our existing legislation needs tightening up, and when the bill is amended as I have suggested, it will be a useful and workable piece of legislation . [Quorum formed.’]
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) opposed this bill because he said that it violated certain fundamental principles of justice and of government. I find myself at variance with the right honorable member on that point. Unlike him, I believe that if immigrants refuse to obey the laws of Australia, they should either get out of their own accord, or be put out. It is proposed in this legislation to give them an opportunity of ceasing their law-breaking, or of severing their connexion with unlawful associations. If they refuse to avail themselves of that opportunity, it is only right that there should be power to deport them.
– I desire to draw the attention of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) to the standing order which says that no honorable member may leave the chamber after a quorum has been called for. The honorable member,, left the chamber just now without my observing bis departure. I remind him that the Chair, in the exercise of its authority, could have ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms to require him to remain in his place.
– I intended no discourtesy to the Chair, nor did I think that I was breaking the standing order. Although your attention had been called to the state of the House, you had not ordered the bells to be rung when I left the chamber.
– It is not in order for any honorable member to leave the chamber when once my attention has been called to the state of the House.
– The Leader of the Opposition, when defending the right of free speech, referred to the addresses he had listened to in Hyde Park, in London. In this country, too, we have our Yarra Bank, in Melbourne, and Domain, in Sydney, where great freedom of speech is permitted. Unfortunately, in this country, we are overrun with a host of union parasites to a greater extent than is the case elsewhere. Compulsory trade unionism has not yet been tried in Great Britain, but it was tried in New South Wales under the last Government, and the Scullin Government sought to- introduce it into the Federal Public Service. The man who talks on the Yarra Bank or in the Domain in Sydney is not doing much harm, because I regard the speaking that goes on in such places as operating like the escape of steam from a safety-valve. This legislation, however, is ‘aimed chiefly at those who use the trade unions of the country as a means of attacking the established social order. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) said that ho opposed the bill because he regarded it as a blow at trade unionism. It is not a blow at the unions as such, but it is certainly directed against those who use for their own nefarious purposes the opportunity which compulsory trade unionism provides them. The Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Darling, said that they could see no use for this proposed legislation. If we find that the law as it stands is inadequate - that all the rat-holes have not been stopped up - then we should take such steps as are necessary to make the law effective. The problem of compulsory unionism has come to a head only recently. In 1925, when the present Crimes Act was passed, there was not so much need for coercive legislation as there is now. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) said that because this legislation will affect certain individuals who happen to be trade unionists, it is directed against trade unionism itself. That is wrong; the prosecution of an individual does not necessarily involve the organization to which he happens to belong. During recent years, a new term has come into general use; we now frequently hear of “ union bosses “. The word “ boss “ means some one who exercises absolute control over his fellows. Accepting that definition, one would not expect to find any union bosses, because trade unionism, like a co-operative society, is supposed to exist for the benefit of all its members. Unfortunately for the movement, trade unionism has got into the hands of a few self-seeking individuals, whose dictatorial methods have given rise to the term “ union bosses “.
The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) spoke of class bias; but he did not give a definition of the term. The doctrine of class consciousness, Ilka the term “ union bosses “, is comparatively new to Australia. During my school years, the children of both rich and poor ‘parents, the children of employers and employees, played happily together. It is significant that the preaching of this new doctrine coincided with the entry into Australia of individuals whose aim was to spread throughout this fair land the worn-out nostrums of older countries where, unfortunately, the class struggle had continued for many years. These are the people against whom this legislation is directed. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) appears to have allowed himself to become permeated with his new doctrine. The Labour party was once a happy family; but since Mr. Lang and those associated with him espoused the new doctrine, a change has come over the spirit of the scene. I- have here a document prepared by the International Class War Prisoners Aid, Australian Section, whose president is Senator Arthur Rae. At the time of his election to the Senate about three years ago, that gentleman and his colleagues, Messrs. Dooley and Dunn, were members of the Socialist party - I give the Labour party its proper name - for socialism is its avowed objective. The document to which I referred is dated the 2nd November, 1930, and makes special reference to “ Bob Shaylor “. Referring to something which happened on the Yarra Bank the previous Sunday, it states -
Some of the comrades arrested are threatened with deportation, and it cannot be expressed too strongly that deportation would mean for them imprisonment, and, in all probability, death, at the hands of the Fascist Governments of the country to which they would be sent.
That these men, if deported to their own country, would be liable to death or imprisonment is no concern of ours. The document mentions Alex Glowow, Otto Stallmans, Joe Santrich, Mick Malat, Nick Cetenich, Adolph Credli, Vincent Cotti, and Gus Marusich as persons who were then facing deportation. Opposite their names is a picture of a hangman’s noose, and underneath it the words, “ They must not be sent to this “. These men have broken the Australian law; and if, in the country whence they came, their misdeeds would bring them to the gallows, we, in Australia, are notresponsible. The honorable member for Darling says that any attempt to deport men of this type is evidence of class bias. There is something wrong when an honorable member ‘ states that legislation directed at law breakers is aimed at trade unionism.
Who are the men now in control of the trade union movement?. Another pamphlet which I have in my possession states -
The following are a few of those who have been to Russia to receive instructions from the Soviet: Casey and Parker, Sydney Seamens Union; Norman Jeffries, mentioned in Arcos raid, went to Russia in 1926 ; J. Ryan, Labour Research Bureau; H. Moxon, chased out of Bourke by citizens and not heard of since, went to Moscow from Queensland; Eric Roels, appointed by Lang to the Legislative Council, went to Russia two years ago; Hannet and Walsh, were arrested in Japan on the way to Vladivostock.
I amglad to see in the gallery a number of distinguished gentlemen from Japan, and I compliment them, and the nation they represent, on knowing how to deal with these Communists when they reached their country. Others included in the list are -
Glyn Richards and William Orr, representing the Northern and Western miners, went to Russia-
– The statement that those men represented the Northern miners is absolutely incorrect.
– The next name is. that of J. S. Garden who, in 1922, went to the Red International Congress at Moscow. In the Sydney Morning Herald, of the 16th January, 1931, the following paragraph appeared: -
Alderman Garden a Member.
The Secretary of the Labour Council, Mr.
In the light of that statement, it is useless for honorable membersto say that any attack on Mr. Garden is a blow at genuine trade unionism. The same journal in its issue of the 31st October, 1931, contains a letter reported to the Australian Railways Union members as having been sent to Moscow on the 10th of that month by Mr. J. F. Chapple, the General Secretary
At a meeting of the Australian Council, which is the supreme governing body of the Australian Railways Union, an organization embracing a majority of the railwaymen in five of the six States of Australia, it was resolved that the union should affiliate with the Red International of Labour Unions, and, in accordance with the decision arrived at, I herewith formally make application for affiliation. Although the work of the Red International of Labour Unions is known in a general way, we have not yet had the privilege of closely studying your organization in its detailed activities. I should be pleased, therefore, if you would furnish me with the fullest possible information regarding our desired affiliation, and also with any explanatory or propaganda literature issued by your organization.
In other words, they say, “ We do not know much about you, but we have decided to affiliate, and we should like to have some of your literature ; we may be able to make use of it “. Two other wellknown trade union secretaries who have been to Russia are Mr. E. A. Chapman, secretary of the Australian Railways Union, and Mr. George Rymer, of the Queensland Railways Union. Yet, in the face of obvious facts about’ the increase of communism in Australia, honorable members in Opposition would have the people believe that there is no need for this bill, the purpose of which is to compel industrial parasites to release their hold over the organizations in question, [f this bill results in the deportation of undesirable extremists in the industrial world, saner men will take their places, and guide the destinies of our industrial organizations along right lines. The interests of the Commonwealth would be safeguarded if we returned a number of these persons to the countries to which they belong.
Other industrialists who have been to Russia are Paddy Lamb, representing the Broken Hill miners; “Will Smith, of the Victorian Railways Union; John Howie, president of the Labour Council in Sydney; and W. J. Earsman, of the Engineers Union. Only last month the following delegates representing Communists and trade unions left Australia for Russia as guests of the Soviet: -
The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) has declarerd that this bill is a blow at the trade union movement, and the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has urged, in defence of the Communists, that they are so small in number in Australia that whenever they have nominated condidates for election invariably they have lost their deposits. The right honorable gentleman overlooks the fact that the Communists are not so much concerned with success at the polls as they are about the spread of their propaganda, and an election campaign gives them the desired opportunity. Their purpose is served admirably if Labour members representing industrial constituencies throw dust in the eyes of the people, and thus obscure their real objective. If we take no notice of them they will continue their evil ways in the dark. Our purpose must be to bring them into the light by exposing their fell designs. They are content to be numerically weak if they can enlist the services of dupes in the public life of this country to mislead the people as to their objective. But although they are supposed to be small in number, they were surprisingly prominent recently when there was some trouble in Sydney over evictions.
Merely to declare any particular organization an unlawful association will not be sufficient. The act must give the Government power to deal with organizations that suddenly change their names, because this is one of the means that has been adopted by them, hitherto, to evade the law. The Communist party of to-day might to-morrow be known as the Friends of the Communists. Under whatever name they may masquerade they are jug as offensive and dangerous to the community, and they should be dealt with.
Opposition to the bill by members of the socialist party in this chamber may, I believe, be traced to their well-founded belief that these militant organizations are assisting them materially to reach their objective - the completely socialized state. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 6th April, 1931, there appeared a report of the Easter Conference of the Australian Labour Party, which resolved -
That a plan to be known as the Three Years’ Plan of Social Transition be propagated to provide for government by regulations, such regulations to aim at the establishment in three years of a socialized state by the vesting in the people’s government all rights, ownership, and control of all specified property; by the administration of specified industries, including banking; by national and industrial commissions, and sub-commissions with direct workers’ and producers’ control during the three-year period; and by the establishment of compulsory pools for the handling of the nation’s Empire production.
Stated in other terms, this means the complete sovietization of the Commonwealth at the end of three years. That conference was held prior to the break between the two wings of the > Labour party, and the Australian Workers Union supported the “ plan “. Only thirteen months ago the complete socialization of
Australia was the objective of Labour in this country, and now, because this Government and the party supporting it ure determined to get rid of Communists, Labour members in this House are perturbed, and declare that this legislation is a blow at trade unionism. For some considerable time the Labour movement in this country has been playing definitely into the hands of these Communists and disruptionists. The Lang Government of New South Wales and the Scullin Commonwealth Government sought to force all public servants into trade unions. Therefore, we may assume that the opposition to the bill by the socialist members in this House is due to their fear chat it will restrict the activities of their Communist friends, and thus delay the attainment of their objective, which, as I have shown, is the complete sovietizing of Australia. [Quorum formed.]
– I agree with the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) that this bill will be received with satisfaction and enthusiasm by the majority of the people of this country. It is, perhaps, the most important of three measures introduced to give effect to the Government’s election pledges, and to put into force the policy outlined in the Governor-General’s speech. The reason for this legislation is not far to seek. The public conscience has been impressed by three significant facts. The first of these is the existence in this country of a Communist party, whose aim is the overthrow of constitutional government by armed revolution. This organization is rapidly growing in strength, and the newspapers in which its policy is advocated have greatly increased their circulation in the last two years. The second reason is that certain unions are controlled by men who subscribe to the political theory of communism; and the third, that a concerted effort is being made to undermine the loyalty, and poison the minds of the youth of this country.
These circumstances furnish the main reasons for the introduction of this bill, and the complementary measures to which reference has been made by earlier speakers. Not only is there a Communist party in Australia ; there are twelve other such organizations, of which the designations are the “ Friends of the Soviet Union,” the “International Class-war Prisoners Aid “ - to which certain members of this Parliament belong - the “ International Seamens Club,” the “League against Imperialism,” the “League against War,” the “ Minority Movement,” the “United Front against Fascism,” the “ United Workers Movement,” the “ Workers Defence Corps,” the “Workers International Belief,” .the “Young Communist League,” and the “ Young Pioneers.” Should any honorable member doubt the revolutionary character of these organizations, the reading of the Workers’ Weekly, and the Red Leader - which I make it my business to read regularly - or the A.B.C. of Communism, or the Communist Party Training Manual should remove that doubt.
We were told by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) that no danger to the Commonwealth need be apprehended from the activities of these organizations. He quoted from a speech delivered by the right honorable the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) when Prime Minister, and proceeded to sneer at it, and at the concerted effort of the Bruce-Page Government to introduce legislation aimed at the maintenance of law and order.
To show that there is need for the legislation now proposed, I shall read a few extract’s from these revolutionary organs. The first is taken from the Workers Weekly; the issue of the 17th April, 1931. It reads-
The Communist Internationale is the leader of the revolutionary struggle of the workers in all countries. Rally to the banner of the Communist Internationale, the banner of world revolution. Join the Communist party of Australia, the Australasian section of the Communist Internationale.
Referring to the Minority Movement, which receives comparatively little publicity, but is one of the most effective of the revolutionary organizations, the Red Leader, on the 21st August, 1931, declared that it - . . will unswervingly lead the revolutionary assault in the direction and manner laid down by the Minority Movement and the Red International.
My third extract deals with the work of the Young Communist League, an organization which has set out to proselytize the youth of this country. I quote from The Young Worker, of the 1st March, 1931-
It must fan the sparks of discontent into the roaring flame of revolt.
Those extracts are fairly typical of what may be read any week in any of several revolutionary organs published in this country. I do not suppose that the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) would sponsor such statements, yet any one who had listened carefully to his speech might well think, if he did not know the honorable member, that he supported them.
The Red International has been mentioned as being closely linked with the Communist party. The organization goes under several names. It is known as the Third International, the Red International, the Communist International, or the Comintern, and it is indistinguishable from the Soviet Government. This has been denied, but is nevertheless evidently true. Not long ago, the British Foreign Secretary made the following remarks on the subject: -
The plea that the Soviet Government is one authority and the Third International another . . is of so transparent a character as not to deceive any one who has the slightest acquaintance with the case.
That there are newspapers and organizations in this country in active and militant work for, and in close sympathy and touch with, the Soviet Government is certainly not an over-statement.
In the past, measures have been taken in Australia to combat this evil. The Unlawful Associations Act was passed in 1916-17. It coped successfully with the evil ; but it was a war measure, and contained provisions inapplicable in peace time. That measure has been repealed. The Crimes Act, as amended up to 1928, is still on the statute-book. It was thought that its provisions would be sufficiently effective, but its administration has not had the results expected of them. This is probably because, as the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) mentioned in introducing this bill, intimidation has been used to prevent the giving of evidence, making it virtually impossible to get men to give evidence, for fear of their lives. That is why this bill has been framed in the form which has raised such a storm of indignation from the Opposition.
It has hitherto proved an impossible task, apparently, to get sufficient evidence to bring revolutionary agents within the reach of the law, by reason of the absolute rabbit warren of alibis that they may exploit. To meet this, it is proposed to place the onus of proof that it is not an illegal organization, upon such bodies as are alleged to be of that character.
This bill is connected with the Immigration Bill through Clause 7, which amends section 30l of the Immigration Act, probably its most important provision, and for that reason it is difficult to discuss this measure entirely by itself. I hope, therefore, that we may have an early opportunity to make some relevant remarks on the Immigration Bill.
Personally, I dislike the word “communist “, because it is misleading, as it is applied loosely to-day to many persons who are merely advanced “ left-wingers “ ; I prefer the .plainer, old-fashioned word “revolutionary”, which is more truly descriptive of the people against whom this measure is directed. There are two kinds of persons engaged in this revolutionary propaganda. There are men of some brains and organizing ability at the back of this movement who very seldom appear, but who use their influence to incite and inflame the less fortunate and misguided folk who join the organizations; and there are these misguided workers themselves. There is no desire on the part of the Government to victimize or injure those who, probably through ignorance, or because of adverse economic circumstances, join these bodies in the hope of thereby bringing about an improvement of their conditions; it is against those who insite and inflame the masses that this bill and the ancillary measures are directed. The Government, as I understand its intention, is fully determined to put an end to revolutionary- agitation. It has no desire to hinder freedom of speech which is used to voice real or imaginary grievances, but it will bring those who preach revolutionary doctrines within the scope of the law.
Honorable members of the Opposition make light of the number of Communist and illegal organizations in this country; but I remind them that revolutions the world over have always been earned out by active, energetic, militant minorities - insignificant minorities in most cases working on mass inertia. The statement one often hears, that the ordinary Australian working man has no revolutionary tendencies, can be discounted when it is considered that probably the Russian population had no revolutionary tendencies in the beginning, and that this is true of most peoples.
The Government is to be commended for having introduced these measures to strengthen its powers of dealing with subversive organizations and revolutionaries. I have no desire to magnify the importance of this bill, and honorable members on this side have no wish to make political capital out of its introduction. I trust and believe that the opposition to the bill from honorable members of the Labour party is only formal, in keeping with the idea that it is the duty of an Opposition to oppose. The honorable member for Darling, however, made what seemed to me, as a new member, some rather extraordinary statements. He said - or E understood him to say - that the provisions of this bill were aimed at the Trades Halls in Melbourne and in Sydney. That appeared to me a most remarkable and sinister admission.
– He said that it was aimed at the wireless stations in those Trades Halls.
– If I have misrepresented the honorable member’s statement I am sorry; but it must be admitted that the wireless stations at the Trades Halls express the views of those institutions, so there is still the same sinister and remarkable admission. The honorable member also said that if this bill were passed, alleged malefactors would be at the mercy of the tender susceptibilities of the party on this side of the chamber; but the fact is that the High Court will decide all the cases which arise under the measure, and I need not remind honorable members that the High Court is jealous of its prestige and its honour as the highest tribunal in this land. It would be unfair to suggest that the speech of the honorable member for Darling was a defence of communism; but, if the honorable gentleman’s utterance is to be regarded as the official expression of the opinion of the Labour party - and the honorable gentleman opened the debate on behalf of the Labour party - we can only reply that the party, while dissociating itself from the Communists, and expressing virtuous though qualified disapproval of its activities, displays a masterly inactivity when action is called for to check them. I can only believe that which is now being spoken is being said for political purposes, the “dirty work” being left to thi, Government to do.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) made some play of the fact that, in Britain, subversive characters were free to make any speeches they liked in the public parks. That may be true of the poor, harmless babblers who waste their time in Hyde Park. These are usually persons of no consequence or ability. But in England there are men of considerable ability, whose names are not well known to the public, and they are kept under close observation. Those who know the situation in Great Britain will not need to be told that there are frequent deportations from that country of really dangerous characters. Deportation in Great Britain is an everyday affair.
We were told that the opposition to the second reading of the Immigration Bill would be more or less formal, because the big guns of the Labour party would be directed against this bill; but although I have waited in anticipation of hearing these big guns there has not been the weight of metal from the Opposition that one was led to expect. In the Senate there was comparatively little opposition to the measure even from certain honorable senators who conceive it to be their duty to oppose and criticize every measure that the Government brings down with the object of upholding the State and Empire. This country may some day change its system of government. Conceivably it may even become communistic; but we must do everything in our power to see that the present order of society is not overthrown by force. If it is to be altered, let the change be made gradually, and by constitutional methods.
.- I am opposed to this bill. It, and the two measures with which it is linked - the
Immigration Bill and the Arbitration Bill - have been introduced with the specific object of attacking trade unionism. In that respect they are like a number of other measures with which this Parliament has dealt. The bill provides that organizations may be declared illegal by a High Court judge or by a judge of the Supreme Court for certain reasons and that persons who are members of them may be deported. The machinery for giving effect to this provision is provided in the amending Immigration Bill. The Government is attacking trade unionism under the plea that it is attacking communism. The real intention of the Government is to destroy the workers’ standard of living, through the awards of the Arbitration Court. It will be found that there is no genuine desire on the part of the Government to stamp out communism, which is so useful to it at election time. It is a mystery where the Communist party obtains its electioneering funds. I suspect that they are supplied by the big business interests which support this Government.
We hear a lot about communism being a growing menace. I claim that the movement is not growing in Australia. [ am opposed by Communists probably more than any other honorable member, and come from a centre in which communism is stronger than in any other part of Australia. Yet the Communist candidate who opposed me at the last general election lost his deposit, and recorded a total of only 1,891 votes out of the 50,185 that were cast.
– That person said that the honorable member is a Communist.
– I stand for things in which I believe, and communism is not one of them: I have never advocated communism, and I never shall. At the same time I refuse to subscribe to a proposal to whittle away the liberty of the subject by curtailing freedom of speech. This is the only British community where that is being done. England permits Communists to take their seats in the House of Commons, if elected.
– Communists are allowed to nominate for this Parliament.
– They will not be permitted to do so after this measure has become law. The Prime Minister (Mr.
Lyons) has said, “ Let us follow England,” and we boast of the freedom of speech that is permitted in British communities. Yet we prepose to deport anybody who professes to be a Communist !
We shall never scotch communism by deporting or imprisoning anybody. Coercion simply gives rise to “ Black Hand “ secret organizations such as those whose activities are a curse in the United States of America. The most effective method to suppress communistic tendencies is to find employment for our people, and to meet argument with argument. I quite believe that unfortunate persons who are in necessitous circumstances are usedby the emissaries of communism to disseminate extreme propaganda, but that does not justify the introduction of such a drastic measure as this, nor does it justify our denying any individual the right of trial by jury, a privilege that is granted in every portion of the British Commonwealth of Nations. to even the greatest criminals.
This measure gives power to the Attorney-General, or, in other words, to the police, to arrest and deport any foreigner if he belongs to an organization that is declared illegal. One judge of the Supreme Court may declare a trade union, as an auxiliary of the Communistic party, an unlawful association. That isan improper procedure. The judge concerned will probably be appointed by the Government of the day, the administration which is introducing this law. We have heard of juries being “ framed “. It is quite possible that a class-biased judge may be appointed; and he will be the person to determine whether the organization that is cited by the Attorney-General is illegal or otherwise. We can easily forecast the verdict.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purpose of a bill for an act to amend the Cotton Industries Bounty Act 1930.
– We do not know what the object of the bill is. Will the Minister give us some idea of it?
– This measure proposes to amend the Cotton Industries Bounty Act, by substituting a duty for the existing bounty. It is really consequent on the new duties that were recently introduced.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Gullett and Mr. Lyons do prepare and bring in u bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Gullett, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill proposes to abolish a section of the bounties that are in force for the encouragement of the cotton industry, namely, that payable on the production of cotton yarn, as from the beginning of the new financial year; it does not affect the bounty that is paid on seed cotton to the cotton-growers. Already resolutions have been introduced into this House proposing new duties, which are to take the place,of the bounty that it is now proposed to abolish. Those duties are in force, but the cotton spinners are not to take advantage of them until the bounty ceases to operate.
Honorable members are aware that under the act passed in 1930, provision was made for the payment of the following bounties until the 30th September, 1932: Seed cotton, 1-Jd. per lb. on highgrades, and $d. per lb. on low-grades; cotton yarn -J-d. per count per lb., up to ls. per lb. from count 40.
Under that act, ‘ each year from the 1st October, 1932, these rates were to have been progressively reduced by one-sixth of the .full bounties; and both bounties - that upon seed cotton payable to the growers and that upon cotton yarn payable to the spinners - were to have ceased to operate on the 30th September, 1936. The Financial Emergency Act passed last year imposed a reduction of 20 per cent, with respect to these bounties. The bill provides for the abolition of the bounty on cotton yarn delivered from the factory after the 30th June next. This action, I may say, has been taken on two grounds, of which the chief is the state of Commonwealth finances at the present time. Honorable members will remember that during the last year or two, a number of bounties have been abolished and duties have been substituted therefor, on account of the financial situation in which we found ourselves.
The bounties payable on yarn have been of varying amounts, ranging from £30,000 in 1926-27, to an estimated payment this year of £.120,000. I am not able to estimate what saving we shall make in the next financial year, because the cotton crop in Queensland this season has been a somewhat light one; but it can be said that, broadly speaking, the Treasury will be saved by this change the payment of something like from £100,000 to £120,000 a year. If cotton-growing in Australia develops as many persons anticipate that it will, the saving to the Treasury will be substantially greater than that.
It is true, of course, that as a result, of this change the added cost of cottonspinning in Australia will pass from the taxpayers as a whole, through the Treasury, to the wearers of clothes that are made from yarns that are spun in Australia. In a sense, it may be said that the tax will be changed from one of a specific nature to another of a general or indirect nature. But inasmuch as the majority of people wear cotton goods in some form or other, the change will not be so marked as in the case of some other bounties that have been removed. The burden will be shifted from the general taxpayer in one capacity, to the general taxpayer in a real sense in another. The Commonwealth will be relieved of the necessity to impose taxation up to an amount of something like £100,000 a year; or, if not so relieved, the amount will be released for other services and payments for which the Commonwealth is responsible.
Another reason for the change is this: It is a well-established practice to replace a bounty by a customs duty in cases such as cotton yarns, when the output of the commodity is sufficiently great to meet the bulk of the local consumption. The cotton-spinning industry is approaching that position.
This is not the first occasion upon which this matter has been discussed in this House; it was mentioned when I submitted the resolution imposing the new duties.
The bill should not occupy the attention of the House very long. Clause 2 proposes to limit, to the period which ends on the 30th June next, the old maximum expenditure of £260,000 a year on account of bounty payable on both seed cotton and cotton yarn, the reason being that subsequent to that date bounty will no longer be payable with respect to cotton yarn. By paragraph b the maximum expenditure will be reduced from £260,000 to £150,000 a year as from the 1st July next. It is considered that the latter amount will be ample to cover the payments that may become due in connexion with the bounty on seed cotton. The words proposed to be omitted from the act by paragraph c are no longer necessary, and the reference in the act to cotton yarn would be irregular under the new arrangement. Paragraph b of subsection 1 of the proposed new section 6, which clause 3 proposes to enact, gives effect to the abolition of the bounty on yarn as from the 1st July, 1932. The remainder of the proposed new section applies only to seed cotton, and will have exactly the same effect as the old provision; but it has been re-drafted in more suitable terms.
Broadly speaking, the duty that is being imposed slightly exceeds the bounty that was paid. That is particularly true of the lower or coarser counts of yarn. On the higher counts, the duty is slightly less than the bounty. It was considered reasonable fully to cover the spinner in this matter. He has entered into a very definite undertaking, however, not to increase his prices per count per lb.; and that undertakingcan be checked in the simplest way. I notice that my friend, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), smiles at the suggestion of there being any check on prices in connexion with a matter of this kind.
– He has heard that “ yarn “ before !
– He thinks that he has been caught before. I assure him, however, that the whole of these counts, of which there are dozens, are scheduled by the number of the count, and run into fractions of farthings. We have in our possession the old price-list, and also the proposed new price-lists. I consider that we have an actual and a positive check. I should not be so foolish as to say that we have complete control. But, as a further safeguard, it is intended immediately to refer the whole matter back to the Tariff Board Board for revision.
– Are the yarn manufacturers selling at the same rate to the public without the bounty as they did under it?
– Yes. We have, as far as possible, given them a duty under which they can increase their prices to the extent of the bounty which is being taken away from them.
– Have they done that?
– No; they will not do that until the end of June. At the present time they are still receiving the bounty, and they have not increased their prices to the extent of the actual amount of the duty which was imposed. It was deemed desirable to put on a duty before the bounty was removed. If we had left the position open, there might have been substantial imports of cotton yarn during the intervening period. Although the duty is now operating, I can give the House the assurance that no change whatever has taken place in the price since it was imposed.
– But there willbe an increase in the price as soon as the payment of the bounty ceases.
– To the extent of the bounty, yes, unless it were established, through the Tariff Board, that neither a bounty nor all the duty was necessary for the maintenance of the cottonspinning industry.
When the present Government came into office, the total protection was a flat-rate import duty on cotton yarn of (Id. per lb. plus an ad valorem duty of 35 per cent., and a bounty of 4£d. per lb. on what is known conventionally as count No. 16. We have taken off the fixed duty of 6d. per lb., and also the bounty, these together representing a specific assistance amounting to 10£d. per lb. The total assistance to the industry will now be the new duty of 5d. per lb., so we have actually reduced that part of the assistance by a little more than half. I am glad to say, however, that the spinners are relatively satisfied with this new position, and they say that they can carry on their industry under it. I have much evidence to the effect that the Queensland cotton-growers also are content under the new arrangement. The price paid by the spinners to the cottongrowers this year is about the same as that given for last year’s crop.
– Does the old undertaking in that regard stand?
– Yes. We can insist on the purchase of the Queensland cotton crop upon reasonable terms, by reason of the fact that that crop is not sufficient to meet the whole of the spinners’ requirements. That being so,- it is necessary to allow the spinners to import under departmental by-laws the raw cotton not obtainable in Australia, and we shall allow that by-law admission only when the Queensland crop has been purchased at what is deemed to be a fair price. I commend these changes, and also the bill, to the House.
.- The Minister intends to accept the policy laid down, by the previous Government, and to substitute protection for the bounty where he considers that that can be done ; but he intends to do in one stroke what the previous Government proposed to do gradually over a number of years up to the 30th September, 1936. The cotton industries “bounty legislation introduced by Bie when I was Minister for Trade and Customs provided for a gradually diminishing bounty up to the end of 1936, and after that the industry would have to carry on under protection and without a bounty. Now the Minister intends to abolish .immediately the bounty ob cotton yarns, with the result that the expenditure which the Treasury will save will be transferred to the buyers of cotton yarn, and to the consumers of cotton products made from those yarns in Australia. I should have liked the Minister to continue the legislation enacted by the last Government.
– This is only a matter of finance.
– In my opinion, the Minister has been unfortunate in his handling of the cotton industry. When he was a member of the Opposition, he showed a hostility to the industry that probably led him to wipe out the flat rate of bounty on the 25th February.
– I dealt with the case on its merits.
– I am afraid that the Minister dealt with the matter too hurriedly, without fully considering the merits of the case. No doubt, he desired to be able to tell the Country party, and certain other honorable members opposite, that he had reduced the duties on - 68 items. He has taken action four times, since the 25th February last, in his efforts to deal with the cotton industry.
– Improving the position all the time.
– The Ministers present action shows how ill-considered was his first move.
– One action was consequential upon another.
– The first big blunder resulted in subsequent action being necessary. The fact that the Minister abolished the flat rate, and then brought down an amending schedule for a new duty almost equal to the flat rate which had been abolished, shows that his first action was taken without mature consideration. In my opinion, it is a mistake to wipe out the bounty immediately. It should have been diminished year by’ year, ap to the end of 1936, instead of imposing on the working people of Australia an increased cost of £120,000 per annum for cotton products. In his speech the other evening, the Minister said that the object of every move he had made in regard to the tariff was to cheapen the cost of production. He was then speaking about the reduction of the duty on almonds by 2d. per lb. I do not suppose that two workmen out of a hundred consume an almond each in a year ; but every workman wears cotton goods, and the price is an important factor in considering the cost of production in Australia.
The cotton industry has great possibilities, and I took a deep interest in it when I was Minister for Trade and Customs. As a result of what I may refer to as a stabilization conference, which I convened in January, 1930, the industry was put on an improved footing, and legislation was passed providing for the payment of a bounty up to the end of 1936, when the price to the grower was to have been stabilized at about 5d. perlb. for seed cotton. The cotton-spinners at that conference asked for the same rate of duty on cotton yarns as had been granted on woollen yarns, namely, ls. per lb., plus 35 per cent, and 50 per cent, ad valorem. After examining the matter, I decided to give a duty of 6d. per lb. on yarn, plus ad valorem rates of 35 per cent, and 50 per cent. That brought about a gradually increased demand for Australian cotton yarns, and it gave great stability to the industry, because the growers knew approximately what price they might expect. The spinners felt that they ‘would be justified in increasing their plants, and these were doubled when that action was taken. The. third, and now the largest company to come into the field, is Davies Coop Proprietary Limited, who have established a plant at least as large as the two others put together, and the demand for Australian-grown cotton - that is, the demand for lint for manufacturing the yarn - went up from 1,600 bales in 1929 to 20,000 bales last season. That was due largely to the protection given to the spinners, and the gradually increased demand for the product of the cottongrowers in Queensland. Unfortunately, as the Minister pointed out, owing to the severe drought in the cotton belt of Queensland, the crop this year is not up to expectations, and the Queensland growers will not be able to meet the Australian demand, but, with anything like a good season next year, they will, I hope, again be able to supply the local requirements. Seed was planted for 70,000 acres this season, as against 30,000 acres last season; but, unfortunately, less than half the normal crop will be gathered.
I asked the Minister why he had left a flat rate of ls. per lb. on woollen yarns, and wiped out the flat rate on cotton yarns. It is true that that decision has now been modified, but the spinners have every right, after having put their capital into the industry, and given employment to some thousands of persons, to expect adequate protection against cheap yarns imported from other countries. The Minister, by his ill-considered action, caused panic in the industry, and disturbed the confidence of the growers, and of the private banks and storekeepers in the cotton-growing districts.. Even the Commonwealth Bank reduced its advances from 2.3d. per lb. to 1.5d. per;, lb. on top staples. Certainly when the Minister reconsidered his decision, and granted the flat rate of duty to which he was opposed on the 25 th February, the Commonwealth Bank increased its advances to the Cotton Board, storekeepers, and private banks, which had been so panic stricken as the result of the action of the Government that they had refused to give further credit to the growers. Unfortunately, this fact, combined with the effects of the dry season, has placed many of the growers in a parlous plight. The growers, as well as the spinners, suffered a reduction of their returns owing to the 20 per cent, reduction of the bounty payments last year under the financial emergency legislation. Last year’s returns amounted, on the average, to about 4d. per lb. for seed cotton, while an average return of 5d. per lb. is needed to enable the growers to pay their way, and enjoy even a moderate standard of living. A further reduction of their returns, which would have been necessary if the Minister had adhered to his drastic cut, would have destroyed the industry in one year. I hope that the Minister will not take any further hasty action in regard to this industry, which gives casual employment to between 3,000 and 4,000 cotton-pickers, as well as to thousands of farmers and their dependants.
The Minister, after abolishing that flat rate duty, at first would not restore the flat rate on imported cotton from Great Britain, but he put a flat rate of 3d. per lb. on foreign yarns shortly before this Parliament adjourned for Easter, plus an ad valorem rate of 55 per cent. After a time he realized that he had not done the job properly, and that, if he persisted in his attitude, every vestige of confidence in the industry would disappear, and a large number of persons would be thrown on the unemployment market. I am glad that the Minister has now seen the error of his ways. It shows that I was not wrong when I castigated him for foolishly rushing in and aiming a fell blow at this great primary industry. I pointed out at the time that it was one of several foolish moves made against the great primary industries of Australia by a Government which claimed that the welfare of those industries would be its first consideration. The Minister has stated ,that a perfectly satisfactory arrangement has been made between the manufacturers and growers for the purchase of the raw cotton of the 1932 crop at a minimum price of 7¾d. per lb. plus the usual grade and staple premiums. But that arrangement is for one year only. I am aware that it is not the policy of the Nationalist party to enter into arrangements with big commercial interests for the fixation of prices, and when the Minister said that he had entered into an arrangement with the tobacco combine to pay an average of 2s. 3d. per lb. on tobacco for this season the Melbourne Herald took him to task. It said that, while it might be advisable to make such an arrangement in regard to tobacco, it would not be all right to make similar arrangements in regard to any other product.
– The honorable member’s remarks are not relevant to the bill.
– I thought that they had a direct bearing on the bill, because the Minister has said that he has entered into an arrangement with the cotton spinners for the payment of a fixed price to cottongrowers, and I am anxious to know if he will be able to continue that policy and still remain a member of the Nationalist party, which is opposed to the fixation of prices. However, the present arrangement is for one year only. Next year the growers and spinners will have to barter all over again for a fixed price. They will miss that stability which was given under the stabilization scheme I set up to continue in operation until 1936. Next year we shall find the growers asking the Minister to compel the spinners to pay a reasonable price. I regard the lack of stability and of continuity of price as a great weakness in the present scheme.
Apart from the fact that the Minister’s arrangement is for one year instead of the five-year arrangement I put into operation, the price this year will be approximately 3.70d. per lb. to the growers for seed cotton. The basic price of cotton lint to the Cotton Board will be 7.75d. per lb., and the average grade and staple premium will be about 1.35d. per lb., making a minimum total return on lint, of 9.10d. per lb. This is equivalent in seed cotton to 3.03d. per lb. less .53d. per lb. for ginning expenses, allowing for oil mill profits, &c. The net return on seed cotton to the grower will thus be 2.50d. per lb. plus the 1932 bounty of 1.20d. per lb., or a total return of 3.70d. as against about 4d. per lb. last year, 4.7d. per lb. for the previous four years, and 5-Jd. per lb. prior to that. The industry was given its first great stimulus in 1920, when the Queensland Labour Government guaranteed a price of 5½d. per lb.
It is true that the Minister has entered into an arrangement with the spinners, under which they will increase the cost of cotton yarns only to cover the loss of bounty, approximately £120,000 for this year ; but it would have been better to let the cotton industry bounty legislation passed by the last Government remain, and not tinker with this industry in the haphazard way which has characterized the present Minister’s control. We have heard a lot about the need for reducing the cost of production ; yet here no less than £120,000, instead of being provided by the whole of the people in the form of a bounty, is to be loaded on to a section of the people who cannot afford to buy silk goods, and probably may not be able to afford to buy woollen goods. If honorable members will give close consideration to this question they will realize that the cotton industry should not be interfered with, and that the diminishing bounty should be allowed to remain until 1936, as proposed by the previous Government.
.- I can easily understand the dissatisfaction of the” honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde). He would not be satisfied with a bounty, a duty of 500 per cent., and an embargo in regard to many industries in Queensland. I can, on the other hand, easily understand the endeavour of the Government to reduce expenditure, but when a bounty is replaced by a duty the cost of an article is always increased. The Government’s proposal is, therefore, likely to have the effect of increasing instead of reducing the price of cotton goods. If it were not for the activities of combines, and the effect of total prohibitions of importations, a bounty should put Australian manufacturers in the position of being able to compete on an equal footing with goods manufactured in other countries. I do not know what cotton yarn costs per lb., but a duty ranging from 4d. to ls. per lb., plus 35 per cent., which always means 38 per cent., because the customs officials add another 10 per cent, to the invoice value, together with the natural protection and exchange of 25 per cent, should so increase the price as to make the ordinary housewife realize what a large proportion of her husband’s income has to go out in the* purchase of cotton goods. The Minister said that an arrangement had been made with the various leaders of the parties in regard to the introduction of this bill. I hope that no such arrangement has been made in regard to the duties imposed.
– No such arrangement has been made.
– When we come to those duties we should be able to discuss them free from any entangling prearrangements.
– Hear, hear!
– I hope also that we shall be given the fullest information in regard to those monstrous duties, so that we can estimate what they are likely to cost the people, since they are being imposed on commodities which are purchased by the poorer section of the people. While I agree to the passage of this bill,
I hope that we shall have a full discussion on the proposed duties, and that the reduction made on the cheaper classes of goods will enable them to be supplied at fair prices to the people.
.- I have no desire to delay the bill, but there are one or two questions which ought to be answered before it is passed. The first is whether the arrangement with the spinners is such as to make it certain that the growers will get the same good deal as they have been getting in the past. When the original bounty legislation was passed five or six years ago, one of the conditions of the payment of a bounty to the spinners was that they should take the whole of the Australian crop at a reasonable price. The Minister says that’ he is operating that particular condition by virtue of his power to admit cotton yam under special terms. I should also like to learn exactly the prices that are being paid, and whether they are definitely satisfactory to tho growers. There is a second,point I should like to have cleared up. The duties for which this bounty is being substituted have been altered since the Minister first brought them down to the House. I understand that the first amendment was the result of a report by the Tariff Board.
– Hear, hear !
– Is the second amendment also the result of a report by the Tariff Board. If so, what has led to the change of attitude on the part of the board? I have not seen a second report by the board, and I should like to have the matter cleared up.
– The right honorable member asks whether the arrangement made with the spinners is satisfactory to the growers, and whether the price paid under that arrangement affords a reasonable return to the grower for his labour. I cannot do better than read a letter dated the 5th April, and forwarded to me by the Chairman of the Queensland Cotton Board immediately after the announcement of this change had been made public. The letter, by the way, comments with some little force on the statement of the Deputy Leader ot the Opposition (Mr. Forde) that this change left Queensland cotton-growers panic stricken, reduced their credit, and generally was a blow at the industry.
– That letter was written after the second change - after the Minister had backed down.
– I shall deal later with the alleged backing down. These changes have all been part of one policy, the step taken in February being the first.
– But then the Minister backed down under duress.
– The honorable member is staggered to find that the industry is quite as well off as itwas in his time, although I have taken off the unnecessary fixed duty of 6d. per lb. on cotton yarn which he imposed in face of the report of the Tariff Board, fresh in his hands but undisclosed to this House, that no such additional impost was necessary. The honorable member put on that duty, but I, on the report of the Tariff Board, ventured to take it off. That the industry has not suffered, is borne out bythis letter -
I have to advise that at a meeting of the Queensland Cotton Board held to-day, it was decided to approve of and accept, on behalf of the industry, the arrangements covering the sale of the current season’s cotton crop to Australian spinners, particulars of which have previously been communicated by you to the general manager, and which were confirmed in your letter of the 1st April.
I desire to express appreciation for the assistance which you rendered during the course of the negotiations, and it is sincerely hoped that the arrangements made will work out smoothly and to the satisfaction of all interests concerned.
I think that that answers the first question of the Leader of the Country party.
– It certainly shows no evidence of panic.
– That is so. The question of the Leader of the Country party concerning the price to be paid under the arrangement has also been answered. The price is practically the same as it “ was last year. The right honorable gentleman also asked whether the change that had been made was in accordance with the recommendations of the Tariff Board. The answer is definitely in the affirmative. The first change was the removal of the additional fixed rate of 6d. imposed by the ex-Minister in the face of the report of the Tariff Board. The Tariff Board said that the specific rate was unnecessary, and, therefore, I felt justified in removing the duty of 6d. generally against cotton yarns from all countries. Immediately afterwards there were sudden and striking changes in certain foreign exchanges, and in respect of one foreign country it was necessary to impose a slight additional duty. I then made the general rate of duty 3d. foreign, in order to safeguard the position in respect of yarns from Great Britain, whence most of the Australian imports come.
– Did the Tariff Board report on that?
-No. It was merely a safeguard. I could not remain idle in the face of an unexpected menace brought about by accidental circumstances. Then we introduced the policy of substituting a duty for the bounty. The right honorable member for Cowper will agree that we have subscribed to the measure of protection recommended by the Tariff Board. “Whether we should give that protection by way of duty or bounty, was a question of legitimate Government policy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Limit of amount of bounty).
.- The Minister very unfairly tried to mislead honorable members by quoting from a letter dated the 5 th April, to the effect that the Queensland Cotton Board was satisfied with the arrangements that he had made. When he removed the flat rate of duty on the 25th February, there arose, to put it mildly, absolute consternation among the whole of the cotton industry. A deputation, including the general manager of the Queensland Cotton Board, and the Minister for Agriculture in that State came to Canberra. It waited on the Minister and the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), and urged them to re-con sider their decision. After the Minister had re-considered his decision, and imposed a flat rate of duty almost equivalent to the one which be had removed on the 25th February, the Cotton Board wrote to him on the 5th of April to the effect that under the circumstances it was satisfied with the arrangement that had been made. The Board was satisfied, because it knew it could get nothing more from the Minister.
– The duty of 6d. has been removed.
– Yes, but on certain counts a higher duty than 6d has been imposed.
– We have not imposed a duty of 6d. plus the bounty.
– I have a letter from the Queensland Cotton Board, dated the 3rd March, which contradicts that quoted by the Minister. It is in reply to the point made by the Government that the alteration of duty would not adversely affect the industry. It pointed out that if the Minister persisted in his attitude in removing the flat duty of 6d., the cotton industry would be destroyed altogether. The Minister was not fair enough to admit that the cotton-growers and their representatives were against his action, and he tried to mislead honorable members by reading a letter dated the 5th April.
– The honorable member cannot, at this stage, reply to the Minister’s speech on the second reading of the bill except in sofar as it dealt with clause 2. He must confine his remarks to the clause under discussion.
– The Minister is not fair enough to admit that his original proposal caused absolute consternation among the cotton industry, and that the industry would have been destroyed altogether had he not backed down. The letter which he quoted was written after he had agreed to meet to some extent the wishes of the Cotton Board.
– Although I did not intend in the first place to interpose in the controversy between the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), I think that it must he admitted that the Minister’s first proposal created a feeling of unrest among the cotton areas throughout Queensland. I have innumerable telegrams from progress associations, local producers associations, and from one or two members of the Queensland Cotton Board, all strongly protesting against the original proposal of the Government, and giving strong reasons for their attitude. The Minister made certain proposals, but he did not appear to calculate their effect upon the industry, and subsequently saw fit to reconsider his decision.
– There was no miscalculation.
– We know that a certain proposal was made and another proposal substituted later.
– The second proposal was consequential.
– It was made on the representations of a deputation.
– Not at all.
– We know that there was great dissatisfaction among the industry, and a desire for an alteration of the original proposal. The Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Walker, came to Canberra-
– Scores of persons came to Canberra.
– However it was subsequently announced that an agreement had been entered into hetwee n the Federal Government, the Cotton Board, and the spinners. In confirmation, I quote the following extract from a letter addressed to me by Mr. R. J. Webster, general manager, Queensland Cotton Board: -
The whole matter has been satisfactorily settled between the Federal Government, the Cotton Board, and the spinners. The spinners have agreed to abandon completely the bounty which they were receiving, and the Government has in turn agreed to give sufficient protection to that side of the industry to enable them to purchase the Queensland production of cotton at a reasonable price.
– The duty of 6d., which I removed when I first took office, has not been reimposed.
– I congratulate the Minister on having entered into the agreement. The agreement is acceptable to the Cotton Board and apparently to the spinners. In those circumstances everybody concerned is pleased, and there is no need for further discussion. I believe that the Minister has the interests of the industry at heart, and that he will do all within his power to encourage it as a means of developing the northern parts of Australia.
– I cannot accept for one moment the story of the alteration in the duty as told by the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom). The position is that the specific assistance as represented by the bounty and the duty has, under this change, been reduced by half. The position of the grower is precisely as I found it. The position of the spinner, about whom the ex-Minister is .specially concerned, was that he was grossly overprotected. He had the opportunity to exploit almost to a limitless extent the people of this country. I, therefore, removed half of his specific protection. The change from the bounty to the duty had nothing whatever to do with the representation of the growers and the Queensland board.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3: (Specification of bounty).
.- This clause deals with the bounty to be paid under the act. If the spinners were so grossly over-protected that the Minister had to remove half of their protection, why was it necessary to enter into an agreement under which the Minister will permit the spinners to take out of the pockets of the consumers the £120,000 needed to pay the bounty? On the Minister’s own showing the loss will be met not by the spinners but hy the consumers; yet the other night he stated that it was necessary to reduce the duty on almonds so as to lower the cost of production to the consumers. The Minister, iu justification of his action in reducing the duty, has stated that the Tariff Board did not recommend a flat rate of duty. Let me point out that at the time the board made its inquiry, values were 100 per cent, higher than they are to-day. Obviously circumstances have changed since the Tariff Board made its report. The imposition of an ad valorem duty, when low prices are ruling, is obviously useless. The Minister was amply justified in reimposing the flat rate of duty without reference to the Tariff Board. I understand that he has now referred the whole matter of cotton duties to the board for reconsideration. The Minister is not always so particular in accepting the recommendations of the board respecting the cotton industry. He refused to levy the duties recommended by the Tariff Board in its report of the 6th of March, 1929.
– I had no time to do anything then.
– The Minister was in office for eight or nine months, and went out of office towards the end of that year.
– I do not suggest that I intended to accept that recommendation.
– Originally the Tariff Board recommended a bounty of 2d. per lb. on seed cotton, but the Government granted a bounty of only l£d. per lb. On that occasion it did not adopt the recommendation of the board. The Minister rejects the recommendations of the board, which suit the cottongrowers, and accepts those to which the growers object. The Government then gave only. l£d. In 1929 the Tariff Board recommended that a bounty of one half-penny per pound per count should be paid to the spinners, but only one-third of a penny was paid, and this was reduced by 20 per cent, under the Government’s financial emergency scheme. The Minister has not always adopted the Tariff Board’s recommendation in connexion with the cotton industry. Although he has criticized me for accepting the board’s recommendations when they have been in the best interests of the industry; he accepts them only when it suits him. The Minister should not hand over to any outside body the responsibility of determining the amount of bounty to be imposed. A Minister is not a cipher, he must assume full responsibility for his actions.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from page 1176.
Mr. JAMES (Hunter) X9.3].- The AttorneyGeneral may apply to a Supreme Court of a State or to the High Court for an order for any body of persons to show cause why it should not be declared an unlawful association ; but, as I have said, the judges of such courts may be biased. The proposed new sub-section which gives the Attorney-General that power, reads -
The Attorney-General may apply to the High Court or to a Supreme Court of a State for an order, calling upon any body of persons incorporated or unincorporated to show cause why it should not be declared to be an unlawful association.
An amending arbitrationbill, now before another place, provides in effect that if a trade union is affiliated with any international body whose politics may not be the same as those of the Government of the day, it can be declared an unlawful organization. That provision is aimed particularly at the Australian Railways Union, which it is alleged is affiliated with the Red International League of Unions.
– I do not know that it is ; it is the honorable member who seems to be conversant with the activities of such organizations. That provision is aimed directly at trade union organizations. Sub-section 4 of proposed new section 30aa in this bill reads -
Service of a summons under this section upon the body of persons specified in the summons may be effectedby publication of the summons in the Gazette, and in a daily newspaper circulating in a city or town, in which the head office in Australia of that body is stated in the summons to be situate . . .
The publication of the summons in the manner stated is to be regarded as service of the summons. That is grossly unfair, as are many other features of the bill. In ordinary circumstances, a person charged with committing a breach of the law is served with a summons, but in the case of a person alleged to have committed an offence under this measure, the publication of the summons in the Gazette or in a newspaper is to be considered to be sufficient. Sub-section 6 of the proposed new section provides that the case shall be heard by a single justice of the HighCourt or of the Supreme Court of a. State. A person charged with murder or manslaughter has a right to be tried before a iury: but members of the executive of a trade union organization which has been declared an unlawful association may be deported without a trial. Proposed new sub-section 30ab reads -
If the Attorney-General believes that any person has in his possession any information or documents relating to an unlawful association, he may require the person, or. ill the ease of a corporation, any person holding a specified office in the corporation-
to answer questions;
to furnish information; and
allow the inspection of documents belonging to, or in the possession of, that person or that corporation as the case may be.
Such extensive powers are to be conferred upon the Attorney-General that he will be able to intimidate trade union organizations and to confiscate their funds. The proposed new section is entirely foreign to British justice, and has been framed with the idea of suppressing freedom of speech by those holding political views differing from those of the Government of the day. The Immigration Bill, with which this measure is closely related, provides for the deportation of a member of an organization declared to be an unlawful association. Not only is the person not born in Australia, who is alleged to have committed a crime, to be deported, but his wife and children may also be deported. An Australian woman who married a British or foreign migrant may be deported. The Government proposes to deport Australian women who have married men not born in this country. All the relatives of the wife may be in Australia and she may therefore not wish to leave this country until her husband has been able to provide a home elsewhere. When a man is deported we do not know what other country will accept him, and are his wife and children to roam the seven seas with him?
Another provision in the bill extends the existing power of the Postmaster General to deregister a newspaper and to prevent the circulation of working-class literature. Studying the legislation which has recently been brought before this Parliament, I have come to the conclusion that the right honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) is seeking again, but in a more subtle way, to abolish industrial arbitration, a policy which the people decisively rejected when ho appealed to them in 1929. Measures allegedly directed against the Communists are really intended to undermine the trade unionists. The anti-Labour parties do not want to get rid of the Communists, because these are very useful at election time in splitting the Labour vote. The proposal to disqualify from voting, any member of the committee or executive of an association declared to be unlawful, is one of the most reactionary clauses of the bill. In all other countries, except Italy, Communists may not only vote, but are allowed to sit in Parliament. Honorable members opposite boast of British justice, and sing “ Britons never shall be slaves;” but they are ready to enslave men with whose political beliefs they do not agree. Proposed section 30fd involves the destruction . of personal freedom and liberty of conscience. When the measure was introduced intothe Senate, it provided for disfranchisement for life.
– And related to, not only the executive officers, but also every member of an association.
– That is so, but even some of the ministerial supporters rebelled, and the bill was amended to apply to executive officers only, and to limit the disfranchisement to seven years. People will not tolerate this oppression. Persecution will not stamp out conscientious beliefs. Men and women have gone to the stake for their convictions, religious and political, and some of the advocates of communism sincerely believe in that doctrine, and are prepared to die in defence of it. Why should they not be allowed the same liberty of speech as they are allowed in England ? A Government which is always counselling Australia to follow England is in this instance following Mussolini. The bill places upon the person charged the onus of proving that he is not a member of an unlawful association, and if, in the opinion of the Minister, his connexion with the organization is established, he may be deported - a punishment not inflicted on our worst criminals. In fighting to maintain or improve industrial conditions a man may come into violent conflict with “ scabs “ who have deprived him of his job and taken the bread out of the mouths of his wife and children. When a policeman sees a “ scab “ and a unionist fighting, he usually takes the latter to the “ boob “. If the unionist happened to have been born out of Australia, and was, in such circumstances, convicted of an act of violence in connexion with an industrial dispute, he might be deported. But when another set of individuals committed the crime of locking out the miners on the northern coalfields in defiance of an award of the court established by this Parliament, and 12,000 miners were ultimately starved into submission, the right honorable mem ber for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) did not put section 30.7 into operation against the mine-owners. Certainly the Government issued a summons against the late Mr. John Brown, but speedily withdrew it. The law was not allowed to harm him; it was kept on a string and when it seemed likely to bring trouble upon Mr. Brown the Government hauled it back saying, in effect, to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham), “You must not’ touch him, he belongs to us “. But against the workers the law is ruthlessly applied. A man who fights for sustenance for his wife and children may be not only imprisoned, but also deported. This bill clearly indicates the determination of the present Government to smash arbitration. In 1929 the right honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) was skittled when he proposed to abolish the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, but he is now engaged in a more subtle attack upon that institution. On this occasion he has three cunningly-devised weapons - the Crimes Bill, the Arbitration Bill and the Immigration Bill. The Arbitration Bill includes a penalty for unions affiliated with international organizations, and gives protection to “ scab “ unions. If this legislation is enforced, arbitration will go by the board. Nobody will be left to fight for the retention of award rates and conditions. The open economic ring desired by the right honorable member for Flinders will obtain.
Mr.Maxwell. -Does not the honorable member believe in freedom?
– Certainly; but there can be no freedom under this measure.
– The man whom the honorable member calls a “ scab” is not to be free to take a job !
– Call him a “blackleg” or starver of wives and children if you like. He should not be allowed to break the law as expressed in arbitration awards as was done in the case of the coal-owners’ lockout in 1929-1930. The provision empowering the PostmasterGeneral to cancel the licence of a broadcasting station is, obviously, directed against the working-class station 2KY. That was admitted by interjections by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin), and the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane). Any broadcasting station that dares to put on the air a defence of an organization that has been declared illegal under the Crimes Act will lose its licence. Another far-reaching clause is that which provides that the owner of a property who permits meetings of an unlawful association on his premises shall be liable to a fine of £100, or imprisonment for six months. Often on Sundays people call at my home; I receive deputations from organizations such as those at which this bill is directed, or I may be entertaining several men connected with them. The gathering in my house might be held to constitute a meeting of an unlawful association, and the onus would be placed on me to prove that it was not.’ The more one analyses the bill the stronger is the conviction that the Government is not aiming at Communists, who are a negligible faction in the community, having the right to advocate the political and economic principles in which they believe. It is a Government which’ acclaims British freedom of speech that declares that they must not do this. Having regard to the trinity of coercive measures which the Government is submitting to Parliament - the Crimes Bill, the Immigration Bill and the Arbitration Bill - we can no longer claim to be a free British people.
– I rise to support the ‘bill.
– How surprising!
– The honor- . able member should not be surprised at my support of a. bill which, I feel, will promote peace, order, and goodwill in this community. Many Labour organizations have been suspected for years of having “ red “ affiliations, and I should have thought that members of the Opposition would have welcomed this measure, because of the opportunity it affords to them to cleanse themselves of the taint of communism. I see in this bill no- more than a declaration that persons from abroad, who share the privileges enjoyed by Australian citizens, must be prepared to obey the laws of the land in which they live. If they obey our laws they will have nothing to fear from this legislation. Honorable members opposite have spoken as though this measure were aimed directly at trade unionism. I cannot agree with them in that. It is certainly not directed against the decent trade unionist who joins a Labour organization in order to protect his industrial interests, and to obtain the assistance of the law to redress his grievances. Such unionists have to be protected against the militant minority in their unions, comprising groups of irresponsible youths without ties, who use their association with the unions as a means for furthering their political ambitions,, and for obtaining “cushy” jobs. That this is ‘ their chief -object is borne out by the number of trade union secretaries and organizers who find their way into Parliament. If a moderate unionist attempts to speak in favour of peaceful methods, he is subjected to intimidation. Unionists are even denied a secret ballot when a decision on important matters has to be made. The militant minority makes it so uncomfortable for the moderate man at union meetings, that, when a serious issue has to be decided, the moderates are inclined to stay away. I remember, in my youth, hearing the old Marxian cry, “ Workers of the world unite, and strike off the shackles that bind you “. Now is the time when the workers should strike off the shackles of militant trade unionism, because they are bound as they never were before.
The trade unionists are being used by certain persons to gain political advantage, and to further their own sectional interests. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) said that the
Government had introduced this measure to strike a blow at the trade unions. Honorable members opposite deny that they have any association with Communists. They claim to be “ Simon Pures “ in this respect. In view of that claim., it is interesting to place on record once more a letter dated the 7th December, 1925, which was read in this House some time ago. It shows that even then the party opposite was flirting with Russian Communists with a view to upsetting the social order of this country, and bringing about a state of revolution. The letter, which was addressed to the Secretary, Postal Workers Union, Moscow, is as follows: -
Dear Comrade. - While in conversation with Comrade Garden, who no doubt is known to you all in Soviet Russia, as not only a member of your party, but also as oner of the trade union delegates who visited your country in 1922, he asked me to got in touch with the postal workers of your wonderful country. I st m u member of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia, and in furtherance of making this organization a. more efficient fighting machine I am desirous of obtaining information from you with regard to the character of your organization, general conditions, and remunerations. Needless to say, your organization embraces all workers in the postal service. Unfortunately for us, wc have as yet only the letter sorters, letter carriers, and telephone linemen. We are known as the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia. We held our first interstate conference recently. Much good work w;is done to break down the relics of the old craft ideology which seems to linger in tho minds of many workers - even their leaders. We arranged definite affiliations with the political Labour party, but as yet we deferred our affiliation with the organized industrial movement as is expressed in tho Labour Council.
Honorable members interjecting,
– I have repeatedly called honorable members on both sides of the House to order, because they were interjecting freely. If members persist in interjecting I shall name them.
– The letter continues -
We did not push this affiliation, as many of the conference were adverse to making it binding in branches throughout the Commonwealth because of the Sydney Labour Council’s affiliation with the Third International. In dealing with a body of workers like the postal workers of this country, one has to go very gingerly, as they think’ in terms of bourgeois idealism. Despite the strong opposition, the Sydney branch has affiliated with the Sydney
Labour Council. This was accomplished after a very strenuous encounter with the reactionaries whose chief stock-in-trade argument was the fact of the Sydney Labour Council being dominated by the Communist party and the Red Trade Union International.
At the conference mentioned above, we decided to conduct a journal for the whole union throughout Australia. I am hoping by my keeping in touch with you much valuable information might be obtained, and I can then pass it on in homeopathic doses to thu members of my union. The question of our affiliation with the International Postal Workers Union was also discussed, the matter being deferred until the executive council furnished branches with a detail report setting out its objects and other material of value to the postal workers of Australia. I understand attempts are being made by this international of postal workers to effect an affiliation with your body. If you have any information on this subject, I shall be extremely grateful to you if you will supply it to me. Also reply to my three questions on page 1. I am enclosing a pamphlet used during my campaign for the secretaryship of the New South Wales branch of our organization. I missed the position by 185 votes in a poll of 2,400 votes. My support to the leadership of the Communist party was used by my opponents against me.
– What is the date of that?
– The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) does not usually give much trouble in the House, but it is obvious that his interjection was frivolous, and, therefore, in defiance of the request of the Chair. I do not wish to take extreme action, but honorable members must control themselves, and refrain from interjecting when remarks are made with which they do not agree.
– The letter proceeds -
I am at present an executive officer of the State branch and also general vice-president of the union. I also represent the State branch as delegate to the Sydney Trades and Labour Council. I am also an executive member of the Labour Council. It is always my fervent hope that Soviet Russia will maintain her leadership of the world’s workers, and that the great destiny entrusted by the operations of the present ;node of capitalist production will finally work out into that grand and glorious era which has ever been the hope of oppressed humanity.
Yours for the revolution,
– What position does the writer hold now?
– Mr. MacPherson was asked whether he wrote that letter, and he denied its authorship. Again, when he was asked to make an affidavit ho acknowledged its authorship, was dismissed by the Postmaster-General, and was subsequently engaged by the Australian Labour Party at a salary of £8 a week. He is now employed as organizer in New South Wales of the Federal Australian Labour Party.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) has spent the last ten minutes talking about Mr. MacPherson, and I suggest that he now get back to the bill.
– Honorable members opposite should welcome this measure, because, with their record, they should be anxious to whitewash themselves by denouncing the Communist party, and supporting legislation which aims to establish order and decent conditions. I have here a telegram of more recent date than the letter I have just read, dealing with the linking up of trade union organizations in Australia with the Communist party in Russia. Thetelegram was sent by J Stewart, president of the Sydney Labour Council, and a candidate for South Sydney at the last election. On the 16th October, 1930, Mr. F. Roels, now a member of the Legislative Council, returned from Russia bringing a letter from Stalin condemning the Labour Council for taking part in industrial peace conferences. This is what the council decided to advise Stalin -
The Sydney Labour Council, both before and since the break up of the Bruce Industrial Peace Conferencehas uncompromisingly indicated by word and deed its open hostility to all forms of class collaboration and industrial peace.
This legislation is not an attempt to destroy trade unionism; its object is to reach those union officials who are using their position for nefarious purposes.
– To what , unions does the honorable member refer?
– There is no need for me to mention any particular union; this legislation will apply to all unions which are controlled by militant minorities, and to officers of unions who are using disruption and strife as stepping stones to greater powers for themselves.
Proposed new section 30fa provides for the deregistration of newspapers and periodicals in certain circumstances. This matter seems to occasion the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) considerable concern, as does also the provision dealing with broadcasting stations. By means of newspapers, periodicals and other publications, as well as by wireless broadcasting, certain organizations in our midst are reaching the people in their homes with their pernicious doctrines. It is our duty to protect the homes of our people from this propaganda and insidious literature. I am not so concerned with what is placed before the adults of the community as I am with what our children read and hear. Only recently, during the Empire Day festivities at our schools, pernicious literature was handed out to little boys and girls, who should have been playing in the sunshine and enjoying their games. Literature of this kind, if distributed without restriction, will injure the morals of the community. One organization which I hope will be dealt with under this legislation, is the League Against Imperialism which, through its agents, is distributing to our children pamphlets which aim at the destructioinof the British Empire. Among the statements distributed by this organization, the following are given in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 18th May : - “ Empire moans unemployment and starvation for millions of workers.” “ If youare told the truth … by your teacher, you willkonw that the British Empire was founded and exists at the expense of the sufferings of the common people and their children. Do not follow in the footsteps of those who have been victims in the past, but learn now, and help to usher in a happier world, where children and their parents do not have to go hungry or homeless. When that is done, you will remember what a sham and fraud the British Empire was.”
It is our duty to protect harmless and inoffensive children from contamination by these disloyal organizations, which know that if they can instil their pernicious doctrines into the unformed mind of the young, they will have some hope of bringing about the destruction of the Empire when these children reach the age of maturity.
– Rubbish !
– How are we to instil into the minds of the younger generation, the ideals of patriotism that make a country great, if these pernicious doctrines are allowed to be broadcast throughout Australia? Does the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) agree that those doctrines should be broadcast?
– The honorable member has raised a bogy.
– I deplore the necessity for the proposed new section 30fd, which disfranchises the members of unlawful associations. Honorable members opposite seem concerned about one person in our midst, who is an executive officer of an organization which has linked up with the Red International of Labour Unions. If this man is the Simon Pure that they say he is, he should either resign from the organization, or the organization should get rid of him.
– And join one of your “ scab “ outfits.
– Order !
– If the man is honest, no hardship will be inflicted on him; but if he intends, by underhand methods, to undermine the Constitution of this country, and is unwilling to obey its laws, then I submit that he has no right to a vote. So long as these undesirable persons retain the franchise, there is a danger that they may place in power a government which will give effect to their unlawful desires. If men are not satisfied with the powers conferred on them by the Constitution, but seek to undermine the law of the land by preaching pernicious doctrines, with a view to overthrowing constitutional government, they have no right to take part in framing the legislation of any portion of the Empire.
– More platitudes.
– It has been said that the deportation proposals, which have caused so much controversy to-day, are linked with the Government’s immigration proposals. That is so. We boast that 98 per cent. of our population is of British descent, and we have adopted the White Australia policy with a view to keeping the blood of the race pure. I submit that, if to that end we are justified in keeping out Asiatics - most of whom are gentlemen compared with these criminals - we should be just as particular to keep pure the morals of our people, and to maintain clean and upright laws.
– The Government spent a good many pounds to-night in entertaining visitors from Japan; yet is leaving our own people to starve.
– Not only should we deport these persons, who doubtless left their country for their country’s good ; we should also tighten up our immigration legislation to keep out men and women who are not prepared to abide by our laws. Unless we take action in that direction, and because of the economic condition of the world in general we may expect an influx of criminals and others who will disseminate communistic dectrines throughout this country. These disloyal organizations have endeavoured to sow the seeds of communism in the minds of the unemployed, but fortunately, they have not been wonderfully successful in their efforts. An amendment of the Crimes Act is long overdue, and I am pleased that the Government is endeavouring to honour its pre-election promise to relieve us from the menace in our midst.
– We will put it over the New Guard when we get into office.
– I have frequently called the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) to order. If he thinks that he can defy the authority of the Chair, he is mistaken. I shall name him if he offends again.
– In another place, the Governmenthas introduced further legislation which is evidence of its intention to honour its promise to the electors to legislate for the good of the people generally. I shall support the bill.
.- The House has just listened to a typical oration from a young Nationalist speaker. I imagine that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) has delivered the same speech scores of times to councils of the women’s branch of the Nationalist Union, the Nationalist Women’s Guild, and similar bodies. The dear ladies partaking of afternoon tea, delight, no doubt, to hear these agitators, communists and disloyalists denounced by impassioned young orators and would-be members of Parliament. I understand that the same dear ladies voted solidly for the honorable member for Wentworth. In view of its pre-election promises, in the making of which the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Parkhill) was most prominent, the Government no doubt feels that it must introduce legislation which at least makes some pretence of carrying out that promise. There is no necessity for this legislation, there being ample power in the statutes already in existence to deal with communists, unlawful associations and criminals.We are frequently advised by honorable members opposite to follow the example set by Great Britain. The British Parliament has never enacted legislation of this kind. It believes that it is well to furnish the people with a safety valve; and for that reason, it allows the people of Great Britain freedom to speak and write as they please. Mention has been made of the speeches delivered in Hyde Park, London, by revolutionaries, rationalists, atheists, and others, including those who denounce the monarchy; but it is well known that although these men. are not restricted, no harm conies to the Empire from their talk. The Government has brought out the same bogy which has worked wonders on previous occasions. A few years ago we were told that it was necessary for the safety of Australia that Tom Walsh, Jacob Johnson, and others should be deported. To-day one of those gentlemen, Tom Walsh, is found advocating the same policy as that enunciated by the honorable member for Wentworth. Indeed, the gentleman referred to is now a propagandist for the Nationalist party.
– He is in that party’s pay.
Mr.FORDE. - That is so. He and his wife-
– Hold up the Empire flag for £2 a week.
– The honorable member may not proceed along those lines.
Mr.FORDE.- Mr. Tom Walsh was at one time regarded by extreme Nationalists as a man who ought to be deported ; but now both he and his wife are members of the British Empire League, and are considered respectable citizens.
– I insist that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition shall obey the direction of the Chair. The House is concerned not with these matters, but with a bill which has a definite object. Any argument relevant to the subjectmatter of the bill will be in order, but nothing else. I ask the honorable member to obey the ruling of the Chair, and proceed with the discussion of the bill.
– The honorable member for Wentworth said so much about Mr. A. J. MacPherson that I desire to reply to him.
– The honorable member will remember that I checked the honorable member for Wentworth.
– This measure is calculated to intimidate the leaders of workingclass organizations throughout Australia. The honorable member for Wentworth just said that he had no objection to decent trade unionists, and that the bill was not directed at them. When does a trade unionist cease to be a decent citizen? According to the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), and other honorable members supporting the Government, he ceases to be a decent member of the community immediately he advocates the betterment of the conditions of his fellow workers, and steps must then, in their opinion, be taken to get rid of him. The honorable member for Wentworth expressed regret that trade unions, so he said, were being used for political purposes. There have been a great many complaints about politicians being used by industrial organizations, and honorable members supporting the Government declare that the Labour party is now in the hands of militant trade unionists. They cannot have it both ways. It cannot be true to say that trade unions are being exploited by the politicians, and also that politicians are being exploited by red trade unionists of this country. When the honorable member for Wentworth was asked to name one of these trade unions which was overstepping the mark, he was unable to do so, for the simple reason that the charge is merely intended to camouflage the intentions of the Government, and to hoodwink the people into believing that, by the introduction of this measure, the Ministry is doing something to rid the Commonwealth of influences which, we have been told, threaten to disrupt society.
I direct the attention of honorable members to the following comments made by the Melbourne Herald on the 3rd May, the actions of certain university students who took the law into their own hands, when dealing with Communists: -
It is not wise to fight communism according to its own tyrannical and brutal methods. False doctrines are not to. be destroyed by repression ; the British-Australian way is to hear what their protagonists have to say and to give them effective answer. Communism may mislead an unfortunate people like the Russians, only two generations removed from chattel slavery, and still benighted throughout vust territories to the verge of barbarism. In a free and enlightened democracy like Australia its teachings revolt common sense, and its mental and moral perversions repel ordinary conceptions of decency.
Repressive legislation of this nature is likely, in my opinion, to make martyrs of individuals who are propagating certain political views, because it gives them undeserved prominence in the eyes of the people, for it is indisputable that the prosecution of a man for the expression of political views, however extreme they may be, will bring to his aid a number of sympathizers desirous of hearing what he may have to say. The Government should adopt what its’ supporters, on other occasions, would describe as the “ British way “ of handling this subject. It should not interfere with individuals whose habit it is to give expression to their views on a variety of subjects in our public parks and domains.
My objection to this bill is that it gives to a Minister dealing with political offences far-reaching powers that are not given to a Minister dealing with criminal offences. In all criminal cases the trial of the offender is left to a judge and jury, but under this bill the opinion of the Minister will suffice to cause the person concerned to be penalized to the extent of £100 or be ordered to undergo imprisonment for six months or be deported. Some of the people who will come under this measure have lived in all parts of the world, probably for n (jpca.de under one name, and for a second decade under another name so this legislation is, in reality, so much “ eyewash “ for people outside, calculated to fool them into the belief that the Government is doing something new to rid the country of extremist agitators whereas, in effect, ample powers are to be found in the existing legislation to deal with them.
One of the fundamental principles of British justice is the assumption that a person charged with an offence is to be held innocent until he has been proved guilty. In this bill we are casting 011 the defendant the onus of proving his innocence. I was glad to find that the Nationalist party in this Parliament is not unanimous with regard to it, for we have heard the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) declare that he does not approve of such f ar-reaching powers being given to any Minister.
Applications for a declaration that an organization is an unlawful association within the meaning of the act may be made to a justice of the High Court or to a justice of the Supreme Court of a State. The differential treatment which may be meted out to individuals, as -compared with organizations with property is0, in my opinion, most objectionable. Organizations have the right of trial in our courts, whereas individuals who may be members of an organization that has been convicted, have no such right, although they may hot have had an effective voice in the decision that brought the organization within the reach of .the law. This abrogation of a recognized principle of British justice should be strongly resented. It will not rid the country of extreme industrial trade unionists; on the contrary it will bring to their support a great many people who, to-day, are not sympathetic towards them. I think that, on reflection, the Minister will admit that it is unfair to disfranchise persons who may be members of an organization at the time that it is declared to be an unlawful association.
The bill is aimed principally at the Australian Railways Union. I do not know what is the membership of that body, but I should say that it is between 60,000 and 70,000 in all the States, and its policy would be determined by themajority decision at the annual conference. This amending legislation will bring its members within the reach of the law, notwithstanding that a great many of them may have been opposed to the decision, and those who happen not to have been born in Australia, will be liable to deportation. The bill is a sham and a delusion. It has been introduced to whitewash the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Parkhill), who made a number of flamboyant promises on the eve of the last election, as also did the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison). These honorable gentlemen declared that if their party were returned to power they would rid Australia of these trade union agitators who, they said, had affiliated with the Red International and the Communists. They have set up a great bogy in Australia to frighten *the people. It is true that there is a handful of Communists here; but their numbers will never grow, because their doctrine is not acceptable to our people. If they were given absolute freedom to express their views, the people would still decide against them. The introduction of this measure shows deplorable weakness on the part of the Government, and indicates that it is afraid of the doctrine which these people preach ; but the Labour party regards their views as being so unsound that it will not allow One of them to join a Labour organization in any part of Australia. Instead of reducing the number of Communists, this measure is likely to increase it. The time of Parliament should not be occupied in these days “with such measures. We should be debating the tariff, or unemployment relief measures, or the Government should be giving us an opportunity to hear the views its representatives propose to place before the Ottawa Conference. We should be told what concessions the Australian manufacturers will be asked to make to the British manufacturers. Our time should not be occupied with the discussion of useless measures of this kind.
.- As a New South Wales representative, I shall support this bill. When we were before the people on the hustings we declared that if the United Australia party were returned to power communism would be dealt with. I have been surprised to hear honorable members opposite declare that this bill is aimed at trade unionism. The object of trade unionism is to improve the wages and working conditions of the people. But, unfortunately, the management of many trade unions has got into the hands of a few individuals, who have used their opportunities to preach Communist doctrines and the ideal of revolution. No honorable member who is closely associated with the Labour movement can deny that the great majority of our workers are good, honest men. It, is unfortunate that men of a different class have in many cases secured control of the industrial organizations, and are doing their best to destroy the system of government under which we are living. To show how our trade UniOn: have come under the control of these agitators, one has only to refer to the coal strike which was mentioned by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). Whatever differences of opinion there may have been between the employers and employees on that occasion, we know that the terms of settlement offered by the Bavin Government would have been accepted had not the minority group of Communists among the coal-miners held out threats to the majority of the members. The result was that that strike dragged on for two years, after which the terms originally offered were accepted. If it had not been for the Communists, the strike ‘would have been settled long before. We all know that the Communists did their best to continue and extend the timber-workers’ strike.
Mr. Jock U arden, and others, nave brought their “ basher “ gangs into operations, and have had men trapped on their way to their homes and dealt with by brute force. This is what the honorable member for Hunter called the freedom of the worker. The honest trade unionists in our midst will br> glad that this measure has been introduced. We have set up arbitration courts for the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes, and these should be allowed to operate without hindrance. There is surely no Labour man in a prominent position to-day who will deny that the political leaders of the working men have allowed Communists of the worst class to obtain control of the industrial organizations. Mr. Lang himself said quite recently before the Australian Labour Party conference - “ The revolution is here by peaceful methods “. By legislation this gentleman betrayed the working class of New South Wales. He obtained power, and used it to seduce trade unionists from their legitimate loyalties. As soon as his Government succeeded to office, he proceeded to show how valueless were his promises. He introduced legislation which was totally contradictory to his policy, and ‘allowed the Communists to take complete charge of many organizations. He also appointed Mr. Jock Garden to a position of honour. We do well to remember that this Mr. Garden visited Russia in 1923, in the company of Mr.Rymer, Mr. Chapman, Mr. Howey and Mr. Smith. These persons, had, no doubt, done their work well up to that time; but after Mr. Garden’s return from Russia, he renounced communism and accepted certain important positions at the Trades Hall. We have since seen that this leopard has not changed his spots. Communism is a real menace in New South Wales. I know that we may hear men on the street corners saying that Lang is no good, but that is part of the policy which has been adopted for white-anting the Labour movement. Mr. Lang has been focussing all his attention upon the task of destroying the system of government under which we live. If honorable members care to visit the Sydney Domain on any Sunday, they will hear Mr. Tom Barker and others with like views, speaking about the revolution. I heard one man say in the Domain that he would get out of the movement if there was not a revolution before August in this country. Since this Government has come into office, such people have gone underground. There was a time when Mr. Lang was supplied with certain information by the officers of the police department respecting persons who were making seditious utterances, and was only too ready to accept the help of the Federal authorities in dealing with such offenders, but since then his methods have changed. Although I know that twelve police officers attended a certain meeting, took shorthand notes of what was said at it, and afterwards handed these notes to the Government, instructions were issued that they were not to be passed on to the federal authorities. I know many members of the New Guard. They are young men, Australian born and educated, who recognize that our future is imperilled by this sinister doctrine. Like true Australians, they have taken up the cause of their country, and are prepared to present a stiff front to lawlessness and disruption.
– As a result, some of those young men are serving six months in gaol.
– I am not too sure that the honorable member ought to be jubilant over that fact. It calls to my mind a very similar incident which took place in November, 1925, when the Labor Daily offices were raided one night by three masked men who seized the watchman and held him at the point of a pistol. The watchman saw those men rush up the steps to the office of Mr. Spedding, the editor, with pickhandles in their hands. A blow aimed at the editor was avoided. The men brought Mr. Spedding down to the door, and, when they got him there, let him go. Spedding saw them enter a car - but could see no number plate. That occurred at half-past 11 at night, when all hands were bringingout the paper for the next day! That frame-up of 1925 is on all fours with the incident that occurred at Maroubra recently. It was all engineered by the same master mind, a Communist possessing the qualities of Jock Garden. On the next day, we hoard another story of the raid - that a Mr. Rogers, of the Labor Daily, seeing one of those strange men chasing a shop boy with a pickhandle, he jumped off a staircase to intercept the scoundrel. A Mr. Whittaker saw the man about to strike Rogers, pulled the latter away, and then both watched the young fellow rush out of the door. It was suggested by some newspapers that the workers- on the Labor Daily watched the raid but refused to join in, realizing that it was a “ frame up “. Mr. Lazzarini, chief secretary of the State Labour Government, declared that he would have the matter sifted to the bottom. As a political stunt, it all came to nothing, and the Bruce-Page Government was returned to office. Now we have the recent frame-up at Maroubra-
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the bill.
– I scarcely believe that a Communist with the knowledge and experience of Mr. Garden would allow several men to come into his house by the front door, four others through the back door and others into his back yard, to assault him; that he would then dress the wound on the hand of one of the intruders bitten by the dog, and have that individual driven home by his son. The Criminal Investigation Department -ought to arraign Garden for taking the job out of their hands.
– I am sorry that I was led astray by the interjection of the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Baker). This bill is necessary to weed out from our midst criminals and Communists who would destroy our fair country. The honorable member for Hunter knows what a sinister influence communism is in connexion with strikes. He will remember that when trouble occurred on the northern coal-fields in New South Wales the executives of the Coalminers Union were prepared to sign an agreement that their members should return to work, but the minority Communist group stepped in, caused the trouble at Rothbury, and the subsequent disturbances.
We know that both State and Commonwealth Labour Governments have dodged their responsibilities, and have failed to cope with the encroachment of communism. They have simply offered passive resistance. We also know that the majority of the workers do not wish to be led by Communists. Therefore, honorable members in Opposition should welcome this bill, for it will relieve them from the position into which they have got themselves by the cowardice that they and their colleagues have always shown when confronted with strikes and other industrial upheavals.
Some honorable members opposite claim that the measure is aimed at trade unionism, while the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) and his deputy (Mr. Forde) admit that there is a body of men known as Communists, and urge that we should treat them as is done in England, saying nothing and leaving them to their propaganda. That indicates that the leaders of the Labour party are neither for nor against communism ; they have no opinion on the subject. But. when strikes occur, Labour’s political leaders slink into the background, and allow starving women and children to bear the brunt of [he trouble. They are afraid to face their responsibility to the trade union movement.
Communism has for decades whiteanted the Labour movement. I have known Tom Paine for 30 years, and Garden and Grant for a long time. Only a little while ago it was agreed at a conference that Paine’s proposals should be put into effect, but when an election became imminent, they were rejected. Those men are Communists to the backbone.
– They have no backbone.
– I agree. They batten, on the workers. I have here a letter stating that the Lang party of New South Wales is sending representatives from door to door in my electorate telling persons that if they do not vote for the Lang party they will not get another job.
– Order ! That has nothing to do with the bill.
– If these threats are made by Communists, that Ls a very good reason for the passage of the bill, ‘throughout my electorate, men have been tula that if they would join the Lang-planners, they would be given a fortnights work on the railways ; and that if they did not, they would be taken off the dole, lt is evident that these people are extending their propaganda by a house to house canvass. The electorate that I represent has a population of 70,000 persons, who are prepared to denounce the Communists.
Honorable members opposite say that they do not believe iri communism. At the same time, they urge the Communists to do all that they can to down the capitalist, promising to stand behind them, but declining to accept any responsibility. The Acts of Parliament that have done the most good in ridding the community of criminals are those that throw on the person accused the onus of proving that he is not guilty. The Consorting Act, in New South Wales, has had the effect of cleaning up the streets of Sydney. If this measure rids Sydney of Communists, it will have served an admirable purpose. I shall have very great pleasure in discovering and making known those who ought to be deported. In 1925, I was able to put my hand on some stalwarts who accompanied a few Communists overseas, and I am prepared to do the same again. I have lived in an industrial area for 38 years. The honest industrialist does not object to fair and reasonable laws, and will be glad to see the country rid of criminals.
.- For a considerable period in the past, particularly at election time, the communistic menace has proved a most powerful weapon in the armoury of the opponents of the Australian Labour party. In the early years of the present century, the usual election cry was the socialistic tiger or the breach of the marriage tic. But it so happened in 1917 that Russia presented our opponents with what they regarded a’s a Heaven-sent opportunity by deciding to instal a new government by revolutionary methods. The opponents of the Australian Labour Party used every occasion to try to connect up those revolutionaries with the members of the Australian Labour Party. It is not my intention to-night to discuss the rights or wrongs of the Russian revolution. I content myself by saying, in passing, that die most conservative historians agree that prior to that revolution the Russian people suffered from many disabilities that were unknown to the people of other civilized races. To-night the endeavour has again been made to prove that there is some connexion between the members of the Labour party and the Communists, who assumed control of the Government of that country. This attitude is similar to that taken up by the United Australia party member for Oxley in the Queensland Parliament at a meeting that he addressed last Wednesday week. He then said that if the Labour party were returned to power at the forthcoming Queensland elections, there would be no more God, no more freedom, and no more religion. That is the sort of cant, humbug and hypocrisy that has taken the place 6f argument on this bill.
In 1925 there was a strike of British seamen on the Australian coast, with the object of having their wages raised above £9 a month. Two persons who were most prominent in that dispute were Messrs. Walsh and Johnson. At that time a Nationalist Government was in power in the Federal Parliament. That Government amended the Immigration Act for the avowed purpose of deporting these two men. A deportation board was setup. It considered the case, and recommended deportation, which ‘ accordingly was arranged to take place; but the decision was upset upon appeal being made to the High Court of Australia. The present Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce), who was Prime Minister at the time, shortly afterwards commenced a preelection campaign, in which he urged that the menace of -communism must be destroyed. An election was to take place within six months, and he asked that his Government be given wider powers that would enable it to deal with cases of this sort. The elections were held at the end of 1925, and a government of the same political colour as the present administration, but with the title of “Nationalist,” was returned with a large majority. The Governor-General’s Speech that was delivered at the opening of the first session in 1926 contained the following passage : -
The election has shown that the people of Australia are determined to maintain law and order, and to protect the Commonwealth against the sinister activities of persons who pursue a policy of disturbance and unrest in order to promote revolutionary objects. To give effect to this mandate, and to ensure the safety of the Commonwealth, my Government will submit to you proposals forbidding the establishment of associations having for their object the forcible disturbance or overthrow of constitutional government, and providing for the punishment of persons promoting the objects of such associations.
Those sentiments might well have been expressed prior to the introduction of this particular measure. The present AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham), held a similar position in that administration. In introducing the legislation foreshadowed in the Governor-General’s Speech, he made the following statement: -
When the Prime Minister went before the electors of Australia he said - “Tho Ministry is determined to defeat the nefarious designs of the extremists in our midst, and, armed with the mandate of the people, will take all necessary stops to accomplish this end. Although under our Constitution there is a King’s peace of the Commonwealth which coexists side by side with the King’s peace within each of the States, up to -this dato in the history of Australia there has been little need for the Commonwealth to take action for its preservation. Generally speaking, the authorities and laws of the States have been adequate to deal with what may be generally regarded as breaches of the King’s peace. Recent happenings have clearly demonstrated the existence of actions prejudicial to the peace of the Commonwealth. The time has now arrived when’ the Commonwealth Parliamentshould exercise its powers and pass effective legislation to deal with offences against the peace of the Commonwealth, including action against those persons who are actively engaged in associations and propaganda work having as their object the overthrow of the Constitution, interference with Commonwealth activities, resistance to its laws, and generally taking part in unlawful action for the purpose of subverting external and internal commerce and intercourse in Australia.” He concluded his policy speech with the statement - “ The paramount issue in this campaign is the maintenance of law and order, and the supremacy of constitutional government.”
Following upon that speech, a bill was introduced for the purpose of amending the Crimes Act by the insertion of a new part, described as “ Part Ha - Protection of the Constitution and of Public and other Services “. One would have believed that after such a statement,, on the introduction of the bill, such full powers would be taken, that there would be no need, at any future time, for the Government to ask for increased powers. Yet the cry that communism must be destroyed was again raised at the 1928 election. It was also mentioned, to a slight extent, at the 1929 election, but Labour having been in office for two years, it was difficult to ‘“put over” the same ‘story at the last election. Nevertheless, the party opposite said that if it were returned to office, communism would be destroyed for all time. It is of interest to note that during the last sixteen years, anti-Labour Governments have been in power for almost .fourteen years. During a part of that time the Labour party was in office; but owing to the representation of parties in another place, during no period in the last sixteen years has the Labour party had a majority in both .branches of the legislature. For fourteen years of that period, a government of the same political character as ‘ the present ministry has been in power, and has had ample powers to deal with communism. Although once again the party opposite has fought an election on its old cry, in my opinion the Nationalists will certainly not make any serious effort to deport well-known Communists; they are much too valuable to that party at election time for it to permit them to leave Australia. Presumably, the Government must make some pretence of honouring at least some of its election promises, and now it declares its determination to deal with Communists.
– Why does not the Trades Hall deal with them?
– The trade unions have not the powers in that regard that this Parliament enjoys. As I have already indicated, the Labour party has not been actually in power for sixteen years, and the Communists are much too valuable to the party opposite for it to make a serious attempt to get rid of them. While it pretends to be trying to deal with them, it makes an attack on the industrial unions, and in doing so, it proves the inconsistency of its action.
Its first move, on assuming office, was to repeal the legislation introduced by the last Government, giving preference to members of the Waterside Workers Federation. Its next action was to repeal the legislation under which only members of Public Service organizations were entitled to the benefits of the awards obtained by those unions. Speaking on that measure, the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett) admitted that one of the reasons for its introduction was that the Public Service organizations had used their funds forparty political purposes; in other words, that they were a force which assisted Labour at elections. That is the real reason underlying the action of our opponents in regard to this bill. They believe that if they can smash industrial unionism, they will destroy the foundations of the Australian Labour party, and they are certainly endeavouring to do that.
It is noticeable that those who prate so loudly about destroying illegal associations do not attack the New Guard. Some, in fact, like the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane), speak in appreciation of the activities of that body.
Under section 27 of the Crimes Act, any person who trains or drills any other person to the use of arms or the practice of military exercises, movements or evolutions, is guilty of an indictable offence, which is regarded as being of so serious a nature that the penalty provided is imprisonment for five years. Imprisonment for two years may be imposed on any person who, at any meeting or assembly, held in contravention of the directions of a proclamation by the Governor-General, is trained or drilled to the use of arms, or the practice of military exercises. Therefore, members of the New Guard who are training as toy soldiers are deliberately contravening the Crimes Act. They could be sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, without any amendment of the present law; but this Government does not see fit to take action against such persons. I make no excuse for the failure of the last Premier of New South Wales to proceed against the Now Guard. 1 believe that just before going out of office he instituted certain proceedings, but he should have taken action at an earlier date. It was his duty as Premier to see that law and order were observed, and that no unlawful body, whether the New Guard or the Red Guard, was permitted to take the law into its own hands. It was the duty of Mr. Lang to take action against the New Guard, just as it was the duty of the present’ Government to take immediate action under section 27 of the Crimes Act.
The heresy of to-day is the orthodoxy of to-morrow, and if some of the amendments proposed to be inserted in the principal act under this bill had been in force years ago, numbers of those who are to-day prominent members of the Nationalist party would have been liable to deportation, because some of the present members of that party were formerly Labour men of extreme views. It is a strange fact, apparently due to the perversity of human nature, that men who hold most extreme views in one political party, often in later years completely change their political ideas, and become just as extreme in the opposite direction. Mr. Tom Walsh is now a member of the same political party as that with which the Government is associated, although at one time that party endeavoured to deport him. To-day he stands for the upholding of the Constitution as advocated by the Nationalists.
– Does the honorable member object to that?
– I object to the upholding of the Constitution and the maintenance of law and order by the peculiar moans advocated by members of the party opposite. Although the sponsors of this bill are among those who loudly boast that the purity of British law should remain unsullied, the bill itself, in its essential features, is fundamentally opposed to many principles of British law. Section 4 of the Crimes Act reads -
The principles of the common law with respect to criminal liability shall, subject to this act, apply in relation to offences against this act.
Honorable members will notice the use of the words “ subject to this act “, because many of the amendments contained in this bill over-ride several fundamental principles of the common law, notably that which declares that no man shall be deemed guilty until he has been proved guilty. It is a basic principle of our law that, if there is any doubt, the accused shall be given the benefit of it. The onus rests upon the accuser to prove his case, except when, for some particular reason, the matter required to be proved or disproved lies solely within the knowledge of the person charged. This bill throws upon the accused the onus of disproving the charge against him, and it also sets aside trial by jury. For a great many years, it has been one of the proudest boasts of the British legal system that every man, no matter how lowly his position may be, is entitled to be tried by his peers. Yet, to-day, in this enlightened twentieth century, Ave have before us a proposal to discard this fundamental principle, centuries old, which has always been regarded as eminently just.
Honorable members opposite argue that no one should object to obeying the law. We are not objecting to obeying the law; we are merely pointing out that the law is being changed. Part II. a of the Crimes Act, which was inserted after the 1925 election, for the special purpose of strengthening the constitutional powers for maintaining essential public services, and dealing with such organizations as Communists, contains section 30a, which gives a list of what are declared to be unlawful associations. It is now proposed to insert a new paragraph c to give to the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State absolute power to decide what is an unlawful association. I believe that this provision will be found to be unconstitutional. No indication is given to the High Court as to how it is to decide what is an unlawful association. At present, there is no need to ask the court to come to any such decision; certain unlawful associations are defined in the act itself, but under the amendment now proposed, any organization whatever, incorporated or unincorporated, may be declared by the High Court or the Supreme Court of the State to be an unlawful association. If that provision is not unconstitutional, it certainly proposes to give absolute powers to a judge to decide at his own discretion what constitutes an unlawful association.
– Who should decide it?
– The judiciary, but it should be guided by definite provisions laid down by this Parliament. This proposed new paragraph gives the court no guidance, and will probably be found to be unconstitutional. I have a particularly high respect for the British judiciary, but judges are human, and I say it without in the slightest degree intending to cast any aspersions upon them. Human beings are all influenced by their political environments. Every judge has his own particular political leanings, and if he is not restricted by the law itself, he may, perhaps unconsciously, be influenced by those leanings.
– I do not agree with the honorable member.
– It applies to every section of our judiciary, and to every judiciary. In fact, it is recognized by the law itself that no judicial officer should be invested with absolute authority. Every criminal code prescribes the maximum penalties that may be inflicted. A judge is given a certain amount of discretion, but he must not exceed the prescribed penalties. In this bill, however, judges are to be given an absolute discretion to declare what is an unlawful association.
– Provision is made for an appeal to the Full High Court.
– But that does not get away from the fact that the justices of the Full High Court will have no guidance from this Parliament as to what they may regard as an unlawful association. Once an organization has been declared unlawful, the AttorneyGeneral will have power to decide whether its members should be deported.
Another provision which will also probably be found to be unconstitutional is proposed new section 30fd. It provides that any member of the committee or executive of an association, which is declared to be an unlawful association, shall be disfranchized for seven years, and shall not be entitled to vote at any election for the Senate or the House of Representatives “ unless so entitled under section 41 of the Constitution “. Section 31 of the Constitution provides -
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, hut subject to this Constitution, the laws in force in each State for the time being relating to elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State shall, as nearly as practicable, apply to elections in the State of members of the House of Representatives.
Then section 41 says -
No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
There is one other provision to which I wish to refer. Proposed new section 30fd provides that a person shall not be penalized unless he is a member of the unlawful association at the date of the declaration, yet under the proposed new section 30l., if he is a member of the unlawful association at the date, not of the declaration, but of the application to the court, he is liable to be deported. This provision gives too much power to the Executive. The Attorney-General is being given absolute power to call upon any organization whatever, and the onus is upon it to disprove in the Supreme Court or the High Court that it is an unlawful association. The obvious result will be that even though there is no possibility of proving an organization to be unlawful, once its members learn that it is going to be taken to court, then, knowing that if it is declared unlawful they will be liable to penalties, such as twelve months’ imprisonment as provided in the section, many will be certain to resign. They will not wait for the case to be heard in court. It will be an easy matter for the Attorney-General to bring any large union before the court, and it is possible that the majority of its members may resign as soon as the application is made.
– Does the honorable member suggest that an association might be so guilty as to cause a stampede among its members so soon as it was called upon to appear before the court?
– The penalties provided in the case of an unlawful association are so drastic that there is a possibility that, in. order to avoid any threatened loss of freedom the majority of the members of any organization called upon to appear in court would resign, realizing that the moment the court’s decision was given to the effect that the associaiton was unlawful they would be liable to penalties.
– That argument is a shade fantastic.
– One of the objects of the Government in bringing down this legislation is to force men to resign from unions.
– That will be its effect.
– I am not an apologist for communism. I realize that there is such a doctrine. But it is not the cause of all our social evils; it is merely an effect. We shall eradicate communism, not by making martyrs of its apostles, but by removing the root of our social evils. The majority of persons in Australia today who call themselves Communists do not understand the fundamental principles of communism. They have not the faintest idea of what it really means. Being the victims of economic pressure, they turn in desperation to anything which they believe will give them relief. Legislation of this sort will not prevent them from doing so. The Commonwealth Government, which is the most powerful Government in Australia, should realize that we are going through a transition period; that we live under a social systemwhich is rapidly changing. It is an historical fact that the world has lived under different systems - the one immediately prior to the present capitalistic era being feudalism. We are now in a transition period which may last for a few or many years. Unemployment and monetary problems have to be dealt with from new angles, and the only solution can he found in the policy of the Labour party. If that policy is given effect to we shall be able to remedy the social evils from which the great mass of the people is suffering. When that is done there will be no need for us to worry about communism, because that and other “ isms “ will have become non-existent.
– In rising to support the bill I wish at the outset to congratulate the Government on having brought down legislation which is long overdue in Australia. This measure will receive the support of the vast majority of the people because it embraces one of the planks of the platform on which the party to which I belong was elected to office. Like other honorable members I promised my electors that I would support legislation which would deal effectively with thecommunistic menace in Australia. There is no need for me to refer to the doctrine of communism because that has already been fully explained to honorable members. Communism is opposed to not only the Australian Constitution, but also the social, family, and economic life of this country. . It is opposed to religion and religious institutions, and by its very existence is undermining the good order and peace of the community. Honorable members opposite contend that this legislation is unnecessary, but let me give one or two illustrations to the contrary. At the last federal election, when addressing a meeting of government employees, I was handed a pamphlet entitled The Parallel Notch, which was issued by a concentration group of the Communist party of Australia. It is apparent that one section of the Labour party is carrying on a flirtation with communism. In other words it is courting political death. The Communist asks for everything but will . give nothing. The pamphlet reads -
Since the advent of the Scullin-Theodore Government at the commencement of the present crisis an offensive on a scale unsurpassed in the history of Australia has been conducted upon the wages and conditions of the workers. The acts of treachery perpetrated against the working class by the Federal Labour Government will go down in history. The history of the Lang Government is a record of intensified drive to smash down ‘what semblance of conditions was still left to the workers at the time when the Bavin Government was ousted by a disgusted working class. It is a record of airy promises, of strike breaking, police bashings, vicious evictions, of ruthless wage and pension cuts, and of direct robbery of the small savings of the -workers . . The Lang plan means inflation, and the nationalization of banking means deliberate deception . . The workers have nothing to hope for except a more determined offensive, a more ruthless suppression than hitherto . . . The Communist party proclaims that only by the forcible overthrow of the capitalist state can the present crisis be solved, and the socialist reconstruction of society commenced.
Any labour man who reads this pamphlet must lose what enthusiasm he has for communism. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) referred to a pamphlet issued by the League against Imperialism. It was distributed in hundreds to the Randwick school children at an Empire celebration on the 4th May. The pamphlet contains many disloyal references; it states that the British Empire is a sham and a fraud. Fortunately the officials at the school were able to squelch this propaganda effectively.
During the recent federal election in New South Wales many instances occurred which clearly convinced us that communism is active in that “State. There were occasions on which it was openly advocated that the red flag should have preference to our own national flag. These people cannot have it both ways. They must be either for or against our Constitution. They cannot carry on their revolutionary propaganda under the protection which the Australian flag and Commonwealth Constitution provide. In passing on the eve of Empire Day, it is appropriate to suggest that we should emulate the example in the United States of America, and provide that the Australian flag shall be carried at the head of all processions in this country. Honorable members on this side of the chamber would like honorable members opposite to explain why a man named MacPherson, who was dismissed from the Postal Department for indulging in revolutionary proganda, was appointed by the Labour party to a position of organizer for that party at £8 a week. I understand that he is still in the employment of the Labour party. Perhaps honorable members opposite will give the reason; an explanation might throw some light upon their attitude towards communism. By passing this legislation we are carrying out a promise made to the electors. I feel sure that the people of Australia will feel that the communistic menace is being effectively dealt with, and that this Administration is carrying on the government of the country under the influence and within the power of our liberal Constitution.
.- I desire, but not at great length, to express my views on the subject of communism, in which I am keenly interested. I do not intend to wander off on a trip to Russia and back again. I read nearly all the books worth reading on Russia and its present system of government, and I have come to the conclusion that, generally speaking, most of them convey only the ideas of the writers. Most writers on Russia express the views of the particular political party , with which they are associated. There is one publication which appeals to me more than any other, written by Professor Goode, who spent some years in Russia. He is a member of the House of .Commons, and, as a professor of economics, visited Russia. I have had the privilege of meeting Professor Goode, and have taken a good deal of interest in his opinions of the position in Russia. But he, too, may be influenced by the views of the political party which which he is associated in Great Britain. I do not know with what party he is associated, but, generally speaking, most English people have very fixed ideas on Russia’s present form of government. When the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) was explaining the deportation provisions of this measure the other day, he said that the members of an executive of an association declared to be unlawful would be the persons who would suffer. I asked the right honorable gentleman what would happen to an executive which was opposed to the action taken by a body of unionists. The reply he gave was in the’ form of a general statement to the effect that it might reasonably be assumed that the executive was responsible. I have been a member of a union executive for many years, abd I oan recall, an instance when a strike occurred, in spite of the wishes of the executive, and which was eventually brought to a satisfactory conclusion by the executive. It might be suggested that the executive should have resigned, but that would have been cowardly. Under this measure the members of an executive other than those bom in Australia can be deported. As pointed out by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), two forms of punishment are to be meted out under this proposal. Persons born outside Australia, who have carried out the duties of citizenship, and have assisted in building up the industries of this country, will be liable to deportation. I denounced the Crimes Act before I became a member of this Parliament, and I denounce it now as a cowardly and dis.tardly piece of legislation.
– Order! The honorable member must not describe legislation passed by this Parliament in those terms.
– They may be unparliamentary; but I am merely expressing my opinion. I shall continue to oppose such legislation, because I do not believe it is likely to cure the evils said to exist. On the contrary, it will make the position more difficult.. A strike which occurred in Queensland lasted for six months; but was ultimately settled at a round table conference, when the employers agreed to every one of the claims of the men. Some of the members of the committee of management controlling that dispute were not bora in this .country, and had this amending measure been in operation they would have been deported. Had this measure been in force the Attorney-General could have asked the High Court or a Supreme Court of a State to intervene, and the organization concerned could have been declared an unlawful association.
– Does the honorable member think that that organization could have been declared an unlawful association ?
– A State Supreme Court or the High Court could have declared it an unlawful association, because there is nothing in this measure to define such an association.
– There is.
– Eminent legal authorities say that there is not. If the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) will refer to the report of the debates in another place, he will find that Senator Brennan, who is a recognized legal authority, says that there is not. As a layman, I cannot argue that point; but I contend that there is nothing in this measure to guide the court in determining whether a body is or is not an unlawful association. The court has to decide what is an unlawful association.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member for Fawkner had an opportunity to enlighten honorable members on that point when the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Baker) was speaking. That honorable member has studied law, and, therefore, is more competent to discuss that phase of the measure than I am. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) directed our attention to proposed new section 30l, which he said afforded protection to individual members of organizations, but I contend that there is no protection such as he suggests. A member of an organization not born in Australia may be deported from this country without a trial, while a person charged with the vilest crime cannot be. A~~man who takes an active interest in industrial matters, such as leading a strike, is, at the discretion of the court, liable to deportation. Persons charged with something infinitely worse than has ever been attempted in the industrial field are given a trial. Those committed for trial at a coronial inquiry have the right to be defended even at the expense of the Crown. Recently in Sydney the coroner committed for trial a man charged with the brutal murder of two young “people. No doubt when the accused takes hi3 stand in the dock of the Criminal Court he will be defended by eminent counsel briefed by the Government, and the prosecution will have to establish his guilt to the satisfaction of the judge and jury. But a person charged under this bill with a merely political or industrial offence will have to prove his innocence. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) interjected “ So he should “. I hope the honorable member will never have to prove his innocence in a court of law. This is opposed to the principle of equity and British justice. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) and the Minister who introduced the bill in the Senate said that it was necessary to place the onus of proof on the accused organization because of the difficulty of getting evidence of the activities of unlawful associations. The Crown has to cope with similar difficulties when prosecuting a person for a criminal offence, and the onus of proof should be on the prosecution in all proceedings under the Crimes Act also. After all, what are unlawful associations? Who are the Communists of whom we hear so much? Most of the members of Communist organizations in Australia to-day are men who have become restive on account of the depression and lack of employment, and do not understand the principles of communism. How many members of this House have read the Communist manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engle, or William Morris’s News from Nowhere? In Hyde Park, London, absolute freedom of speech is allowed. We have been told by one honorable gentleman that that is because tin.’ speakers are mostly featherbrained people of whom nobody takes notice. Some of the finest thinkers the world ha3 known, the value of whose teachings is recognized to-day, were men who were driven by persecution in their own country, or by objection to a despotic form of government, to seek sanctuary in Great Britain, where they could write what they wanted to write, and preach the doctrines in which they believed. Nobody will deny that Prince Kropotkin was a wonderful teacher, whose writings are well worth while, and he taught the true philosophy of communism.
– He never spoke in Hyde Park.
– No, but men probably just as good as he have spoken there. William Morris spoke in Hyde Park regularly, and he was just as great a writer and teacher as was Prince Kropotkin.
– Would the honorable member mention William Morris in the same breath as the Communists as we know them?
– The honorable member does not know the Communists, but he uses communism to frighten the people at election time. The men whom he designates as Communists are anarchists, who are seeking to destroy everything in the existing social order, but their violent doctrines are vastly different from the ideals of communism. I do not defend those who preach and practice violence, but honorable members opposite who seek to make political capital by representing a few extremists as Communists are resorting to the methods that have ‘ been practised throughout the political struggle in civilized countries. In the early endeavours to organize the agricultural workers in Great Britain, Robert Owen and others we’re branded as dangerous undesirables. Why should I ask that any man be deported because his views differ from mine? The Government has no right to deport any Australian citizen whether native born or naturalized. We have heard talk about the ease with which foreigners become naturalized, but I have never found the process easy. I have endeavoured to help men to become naturalized, and as testimony to their conduct and character, have produced scores of references from ministers of religion, bank managers, real estate agents, mayors, and others; yet the Minister for Home Affairs in the Bruce-Page Government refused to issue papers of naturalization to them, for” no other reason than that their industrial outlook was extreme. But they are good citizens of this country, and no government is entitled to commit them to the high seas knowing that no other country wants them. When men have become Australian citizens to what country are they to be deported? Many foreign nationals become naturalized in this country, and the Acting Italian Consul in Townsville, when asked by me what was the position of an Italian who, after becoming naturalized in Australia, returned to Italy, said that he had to satisfy the Government for two years after his return before he could regain the rights of an Italian citizen. When men are deported from Australia, are they to wander on the high seas, calling at port after port, until they find a country which will admit them or which they can enter by stealth? Paul Freeman, who was deported during the war, was a better man than those who were responsible for sending him out of Australia. He was not allowed to land in other countries engaged in the war, and for twelve months was an outcast on the high seas, before finally he found an asylum in Russia, where he was killed in a railway accident. He was a naturalized Australian citizen, who was alleged to have committed a misdemeanour during the war. There is no justification for. this bill, and it will fail to achieve what itssupporters expect of it. Those honorable members who are opposing the bill are just as anxious as are others to rid this country of undesirables, but this bill will get us nowhere.
– The honorable member made a similar statement when discussing the enforcement legislation.
– How far has that legislation taken the Commonwealth Government? It has got us nowhere.
– It did its job.
– Its job was to put Lang out of office, but the Commonwealth Government is not rid of him yet. This bill will prove ineffective. Those who are responsible for its introduction, have enacted other legislation to empower them to deport men, but when deportation proceedings failed, and those men became the hirelings of the Nationalist party, they were regarded as good unionists, who should be allowed to remain in the country. It is presumption for honorable members to say that men may resign from an organization, and should take the consequences if they remain members of it. Is a man who disagrees with the actions of the executive of his organization to run away from it, and leave the executive in control of valuable assets? I am a member of the Australian Workers
Union, and because some members of the executive did wrong, would others who are responsible for the proper care of its assets be justified in retreating into a coward’s castle, leaving the organization in such a state that it could be dissolved, and its property distributed amongst the few undesirables who had caused the trouble? That could happen to the Australian Workers Union, which, under this bill, could be declared an unlawful association if the High Court thought fit.
– The Australian Workers Union does not act unlawfully.
– It sometimes acts unlawfully, according to those with whom the honorable member has now associated himself. In 1891, and again in1894, the executive of the Australian Workers Union defied the laws of this country.
– It never advocated communism.
– This bill does not refer only to communism; it deals also, with organizations of labour.
– The words “ organizations of labour “ are not mentioned.
– I have given close consideration to the bill, and cannot approve of it. It is not that I have any sympathy with wrong-doers, but I believe that they should be dealt with under the existing laws of the country. Immigrants who come to Australia, and become Australian citizens, should be subject to the same laws as native-born Australians. Under the law as it stands now, and especially as it will be amended by this bill, a man who happens to come from another country may, for quite an unimportant offence, be shipped overseas to God knows where. Of course, the Government does not wish to deport the real Communist agitators. It could have deported Jock Garden long ago under the provisions of the Crimes Act if it had wished to do so, but he is too useful to the party opposite. If Jock Garden and his friends were deported, there would be no Communist bogys to raise at election time. The majority of the members of trade unions are decent men, just as law-abiding as any honorable member opposite. Moreover, the majority of them are not led away by paid agitators to nearly the extent that some honorable members imagine. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) made some reference to a man named Chapman, and to his activities in the Australian Railways Union. This organization issues a publication called the Railroad; but who is it that keeps the paper going? It is not the railway men, but the advertisers who buy space in it, and they are the friends of honorable members opposite.
– Who keeps the Workers’ Weekly going?
– I do not know anything about it. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) spoke of Mr. George Rymer, who visited Russia to study the working of communism in that country. No obstacle was placed in the way of his going or returning. Before he was issued with a passport, his photograph was taken by the authorities. Mr. Rymer professed to be angry, because the photograph did not do him justice. The Government, of which the right honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) was leader, allowed him to return to Australia, and evidently thought that he was so little to be feared that they appointed him welfare officer on the ship coming out, and placed him in charge of boy immigrants who were coming to Australia. Yet all the time the Government knew that he had been to Russia, knew what he had gone there for, and knew that he was the man who fomented the railway strike in Queensland. Jock Garden, and others like him, would not bc able to do nearly so much mischief in this country if honorable members opposite would forget about them. Their prominence is due to the advertising which they receive from their alleged political enemies. I am sorry to say that some of the executive officers of the organization to which I belong help to boost them unduly also. I do not believe that this bill, if passed, will achieve the object the Government has in mind, and I oppose it because I believe the existing legislation can do all that is necessary.
.- This is a bill that can best be dealt with in committee. Speakers have roamed so wide of the mark that it is difficult really to understand from their remarks the real object or effect of this proposed legislation. When we are in committee, and are brought face to face with specific points, we shall be able to get down to real issues. I claim to be one of the best listeners in the House. I am present in the chamber most of the time, but 1 seek no credit for that, because^ if 1 enjoyed the same facility of movement as do my fellow-members, I should probably be not so assiduous in my attendance. I do claim, however, that I listen to the debates. I listen to every speech made, and try to understand the point of view of the speaker, and I confess that I am amazed at the speeches which have fallen from the lips of honorable members opposite during this debate-
– It is not the first time that the honorable member has been amazed.
– No, it is not. One would imagine, from listening to the speeches of honorable members opposite, that they were double-dyed conservatives ; that they were concerned above everything else with preserving such ancient privileges as freedom of speech, and the inviolability of personal liberty. They have even gone so far as to commiserate with law-breakers. This bil! is aimed at law-breakers, and no man will be amenable to its provisions unless he breaks the law. Honorable members will observe that the measure is aimed at unlawful associations and members of such associations.
– And not at organizations of labour.
– That is so. It would seem from the speeches of honorable members opposite that if the Attorney-General has a grudge against some particular organization, all that he will have to do will be to take out a summons against it, and ask the High Court to declare it an unlawful association, whereupon the High Court will immediately declare it to be unlawful.
– Who suggested that?
– That is the burden of every speech that has been delivered by Opposition members. They suggest that this bill is merely political propaganda, and that the object of the Government is to wipe out organization! of Labour which hold opinions with which it does not agree. I ask honorable members opposite to consider the term itself, “ unlawful association “. Before an association can be dealt with under this legislation, it must be declared to be unlawful; it must be guilty of a breach of some law. All that a High Court judge is asked to do, on summons by the Attorney-General, is to say that this particular body of persons, either incorporated or unincorporated, has been guilty of a breach of the law. Again, I say that the speeches of the Opposition would lead one to believe that all the Attorney-General has to do is to issue a summons calling upon the association to show cause why it should not be declared an unlawful association, and it is declared an unlawful association accordingly. Let u3 look a little more closely at the bill. Before the Attorney-General can hope to succeed in his object of having this body of persons declared an unlawful association, he must set out in the summons a series of averments - a series of statements on which he relies as the basis of his application. In section 30k of the principal act it is provided that’ these averments shall be prima facie evidence of the matters averred. Something specific is required before tho AttorneyGeneral can act. He must have before him some information, some knowledge of the doings of the body of persons whose actions are called in question. He then sets . them out ; and, if true, these statements show that the body of incorporated or unincorporated persons has been guilty of a breach of the law. That is specific.
It’ is also a matter of astonishment to me that honorable members opposite should make such a fuss about the onus of proof resting upon the defendant in this case. They say that that provision is a departure from a fundamental principle of British jurisprudence: that in a British community, before a man can he convicted, the person who makes a charge against him must accept the onus of proving his charge, and that the accused person may, if he so pleases, keep his mouth shut. They say that unless the prosecutor has in his possession facts, the proof of which will constitute proof of guilt of the crime with which the man is charged, the accused person can snap his fingers at the prosecutor.
That is acclaimed as a splendid principle of British justice - no matter how guilty a man may be, he must be regarded as innocent until his guilt has been proved. Honorable members go further, and say that if a reasonable doubt exists as to the man’s guilt he must be given the benefit of that doubt. As the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) suggested, I have had a good deal of experience in appearing for persons charged with every conceivable crime. I can assure the members of the Opposition that many a time I have been thankful - I speak as a representative of the accused - for that reasonable doubt, for it has got my clients out of many a tight corner.
– Does the honorable member suggest that that provision should not exist?
– No; I think that it is a wise provision. I propose to compare the case of an individual in a community who is charged with a crime of this kind with an association similarly charged; but before I do so, let me ask honorable members opposite whether they think they are consistent in holding so tenaciously to tradition. Because a thing has been done in the past, must it always be done in the future? Because it is, generally speaking, a good thing, are we slavishly to stick to it, and say that, in no circumstances, shall we allow the onus of proof to shift? I do not think that the Opposition, not even the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), would go to that length. There are certain cases in which, in the interests of the community, we must break away from tradition. I think that the Opposition will agree that the interests of the community should be the determining factor in deciding the procedure that should be followed. In the last resort, we are all aiming at the truth, in the interests of the community. We, on this side, say that certain associations of persons in our midst constitute a danger to the community by reason of their very existence. I do not think that any honorable member will deny that there is in this community an element of grave danger - whether it is home-grown or imported is, for the moment, beside the question - that threatens our very existence. That being so, our duty is, if possible, to destroy it. But this is where the Government and its supporters come to grips with our friends opposite. The burden of their speeches has been on these lines : - “ The reality of this so-called menace to the community is, after all, only a matter of opinion. Why should you desire to crush people who happen to hold economic, political or social views different from those held by yourselves ? “ But is that a fair statement of the position ? Is it fair to allege that the Government and its supporters are animated merely by a desire to crush those who, as the result of their intellectual environment or development, have reached conclusions with regard to social, economic, political or even religious matters with which we donot altogether agree. These certainly are not the grounds upon which we are supporting this bill. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat (Mr. Martens) reminded us that in other days men, who have since become famous, formulated ideas that were totally at variance with the conventional views of the day, and in these times we takeno account of them. There is no parallel between the instances cited by the honorable member and the conditions that confront us to-day.
There is no mention of communism as such in the bill, but we know it is convenient in this debate to discuss communism because undoubtedly the measure is aimed at the activities of Communists in Australia. Honorable members opposite have spoken in the mildest terms possible of these Communists; they have urged that we should allow them to give full play to their opinion, and, if necessary, meet argument with argument. If the community were to be regarded as a dialectical society, in which people interested in the science of dialectics could come together and argue for argument’s sake; if it were possible to discuss communism in some doctrinaire fashion, I should say, by all means let these Communists give full play to their activities, and let us meet argument with argument. But that certainly is not the position. There are in this country Communist emissaries with instructions from headquarters to do everything that is possible to bring about the destruction of the social, economic, political and religious system under which we are now living. Therefore it is not possible to discuss in an academic way communism and the works of its emissaries. We must deal with this godless, materialistic and revolutionary menace from a practical point of view. The Communists are to be found in every country. I admire them for their persistence and their earnestness. Would to God it were exhibited in a better cause ! Their mission in Australia is to instil the poison of communism in the minds of all with whom they may come in contact, and bring about the destruction of all those institutions which have served us so well. One of the means by which they seek to attain their objective is the capture of the trade union movement, by securing admission to the various organizations and ceaselessly working to win them over to the cause of communism. It is not Communists of the milk and water type that we have to fear so much. We have to concentrate upon the nuclei in the trade unions and do what is possible to get rid of them, because these are the men who are doing this dastardly work from day to day and from year to year.
In the light of all the evidence that is available, how is it possible for our trade union friends, to say that this bill is aimed at trade unionism as such? I believe that the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) hates with the greatest intensity this destructive doctrine of communism. Yet he is opposed to the bill and suggests that it is political propaganda on the part of the present Government ! Why cannot he give those in power the credit for honesty of purpose? Why cannot he and his Labour colleagues make common cause with the Government in purging the great trade union movement in this country of this element which, if not checked, will not only wreck trade unionism as such, but also the whole fabric of our social system !
Tuesday24, May 1932.
– I shall not go into details at the moment; but I believe that the bill can be improved incertain respects at the committee stage. There seems to me to be a contradiction in some of its provisions.
In one of the proposed new sub-sections the liability of members of associations declared to be unlawful is restricted to the committee and the executive, the rank and file of members being allowed to go free. If the High Court declares an association to be unlawful the members of the executive become liable to disfranchisement for seven years, but no penalty falls upon the ordinary members. Yet in proposed new sub-section 30l it is provided that when an association has been declared by the High Court to be an unlawful association, the AttorneyGeneral may on his own initiative, and without further ado, order the deportation of any person not horn in Australia, who happens to have been a member of the association at the time the application to the court was made. There seems to me “to be an inconsistency in these provisions. In any case, too much power would be placed in the hands of the Attorney-General if that proposition were agreed to. If honorable members of the official Opposition would view the matter calmly, and credit the members who sit on this side .of the chamber with a sincerity of purpose equal to their own they would join with us, and with the members of the Country party, in an endeavour to pass a law which would rid this country of these persons who are dangerous to the very existence of our State. I remind the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) that the group of which the honorable member for Hunter (‘Mr. James) is acting leader - though I understand that at present he is a leader without an army - regards the official Labour party as the betrayers of. Labour. The honorable gentlemen who are temporarily led by the honorable member for Hunter are the true representatives of the Communist element in our midst. They say that they have no time for the Scullin method, which is to bring in reforms by constitutional means, however slowly that might be. They intend to do their best to attain their ends at the earliest possible moment even though the whole edifice of our present system come tumbling about our ears.
I feel strongly that the element of lawlessness in Australia is a growing menace to our community, and with other honorable members I commend the Government for having introduced this bill, which I hope will have a speedy passage.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) takes a much too serious view of the revolutionaries in this country. I do not for a moment think that the dangers which he described so graphically this evening are imminent. A number of honorable members on hia own side of the chamber must also feel that he has taken too dolorous a view of the position. It has been suggested by the honorable member that the Communist element in our midst may put a dagger into the bowels of civilization at any moment.
– Oh, no.
– The honorable member made similar statements in 1925 when addressing a meeting of the National Womens Association. He endeavoured at that time to frighten the people by describing the perils of communism. He has kept on doing so with more or less persistence ever since, although lately his speeches of that nature have not been quite so frequent. If the dangers are as serious as the honorable member’s speech to-night would lead one to think they are, he has been guilty of a serious dereliction of duty in not persevering with hie warnings. Of course, we know that the Government which the honorable member is supporting is notorious for the introduction of repressive legislation. It is the lineal descendant of the Bruce-Page Government, which had an unenviable record in that respect. I fear that the new blood which has been infused into the party has made it more reactionary than ever. We had a dissertation this evening from a gentleman, who, though he spoke in cultured language, drew deductions from certain statements which caused me t” marvel. How an honorable member who enjoys almost an international reputation could be led so far from the path of sound judgment I cannot understand. I refer to the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Casey), who told us that the Communist party was growing rapidly in Australia, that Communists were in control of certain unions, and that communistic propaganda was a real danger to the youth of this country, who were avidly absorbing these insidious doctrines. If that be so, the marvel to me is that the membership of this revolutionary party is so small in this country at a time when we have 400,000 of our work people on the bread’ line. For the last year or two 400,000 men have been out of work in Australia. During that dark period there has not been a riot or any serious disturbance in this country, proving that our race possesses characteristics equally as stable as those in Great Britain. In these circumstances, any man who defames Australia by saying that it is riddled with communism and beset by dangers, is not a good Australian ; on the contrary, he is an anti-Australian. We are told that it is a dirty bird which fouls its own nest. That can be said of such persons.
Statements have been made in regard to the increase in the number of Communists in Australia. If there is a time when revolutionary ideas are likely to spread it is when distress stalks the land.
– How many Communists are there in Australia?
– That can be judged by the number of electors who vote for Communist candidates. There was one Communist candidate at the recent elections held in Victoria and he received only a few hundred votes, compared with the million or so that were cast for other candidates. It might even be said that many of those who voted for this candidate were not Communists, but merely advanced radicals.
Government members interjecting, ‘
– Honorable members opposite are being told some home truths, and find them disagreeable. If there is one of them who should be in entire agreement with what I am saying it is the honorable member for Bassi (Mr. Guy), who is now interjecting. I have a deep-rooted affection for that honorable member, and regret that he should have placed himself in his- present company. No man who has been a radical in the Labour movement, as have the honorable member for Bass, and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) could be happy in his present company.
– Then the honorable member is a pro-communist?
– No. I say that they do preach dangerous principles.
Government members interjecting,
– Speakers on our side do not get the deal that is given to those on the other side.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Darling to withdraw that remark.
– I am sorry that I was carried away by the display of honorable members opposite, which you, sir, made no attempt to prevent. Mr. SPEAKER.- I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark and to apologize.
– I withdraw and apologize.
– I remind those honorable members who are continuously interrupting the debate, that interjections are distinctly disorderly. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), I agree, is not entirely blameless ; he was responsible for a number of interjections earlier in the evening, and has made some very provocative remarks. The debate must be conducted in a dignified manner, but it cannot be if honorable members continuously interject. Every honorable member is entitled to be heard in silence.
– Surely an honorable member may speak as he wishes, whether he is provocative or not.
– Order !
– I differ from those who say that the Communist party is growing rapidly in Australia. As far back as when Sir George Reid was Prime Minister, the danger said to be threatening us was socialism. We hear nothing of that to-day. A great deal of this talk is purely political propaganda. It is argued that certain unions are being controlled by Communists. There may be in one or two unions men who hold communistic ideas. The leader of the Australian Railways Union may have advanced ideas in the direction of communism. I disagree with him entirely. A new society cannot be established with a wave of the hand. An enormous amount of time and care are needed to place any form of society on a stable basis. That has been the experience in Russia, where the attempt has been made to establish a system altogether different from the capitalistic system, which existed there until a few years ago. In any event the position in Australia does not warrant such a change. This Nationalist Government or United Australia party Government, or whatever it chooses to call itself -
– Order ! The honorable member is courting interruptions by such remarks.
– Is it not true?
– It is nothing compared with what the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) said about us.
– If the other side-
– If the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) persists in making interjections, despite my call for order, he can expect to be named.
– I protest, Mr. Speaker.
– Order ! If the honorable member is not careful he will protest once too often.
– I may do that.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw and apologize; otherwise I shall name him.
– I withdraw and apologize.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), I am sure, is quite capable of making an interesting speech without resorting to remarks such as he was making when I intervened.
– You have no right, Mr. Speaker, to say in what manner an honorable member shall make his speech.
– Order !
– No Speaker has ever previously done so.
– Order ! The honorable member for Darling makes it extremely difficult for the Chair to maintain order. I ask him for the last time to apologize to the Chair for continued interruption.
– I withdraw and apologize.
– I was pointing out that, from 1914 up to the present day, Nationalist governments have always brought forward industrial legislation of a repressive character. A Nationalist government was responsible for the introduction of the Immigration Act of 1935, which embodied the power to deport transport workers. Was not that provocative legislation? Was it successful? It was not. No repressive legislationis successful in a democratic country. The object of that act was to deport two then prominent industrialists named Tom Walsh and Jacob Johnson, but neither was deported. Walsh later joined the very party which brought forward the legislation to deal with him.He is at present allied to, and is helping the Nationalist party. At the time, big placards were displayed, showing Walsh, with the Russian red flag in his hand, jumping on the British flag, and saying “ To Hell with the Empire.” The wife of this gentleman, only a few months ago, was one of those who met and welcomed the Prime Minister when he visited Sydney.
Then there was the Transport Workers’ Act, which was aimed at men who all their lives had devoted themselves to building up industrial unions in this country, with a view to improving the conditions of the workers. It was made impossible for them to get a job. Because it suited the purpose of the Government of the day to raise a bogy for political reasons, they were not to be given the right to live. I make bold to say that if the people of Australia were not the sane type they are owing to the fact that they spring from a nordic race, there would long ago have been nothing short of rebellion in this country. The peace that exists is in spite of the Government, and not because of it. I come now to the attempt made in 1929 to smash arbitration. Honorable gentlemen opposite thought that they had a mandate to deal with arbitration, but what was the result? The good sense of the people of Australia sent them into political oblivion. It is said of Louis XIV., that he never learnt anything, and never forgot anything. It seems to be the same with honorable gentlemen opposite, notably the right honorable member for Flinders. Although repeated attempts to pass repressive legislation to deal with the workers have met will failure after failure, they blunder along in their old way. In 1929, the present Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) brought in a bill that was ultimately responsible for his defeat.
As for the bill now before us, if it should be passed, an attempt will be made to deal with the Australian Railways Union, a body with an estimated membership of over 20,000. Whatever may be the views of its secretary, the union itself is law-abiding, and in Victoria and New South Wales, its members have stuck to their work remarkably well. If they had communistic leanings, they would employ sabotage, and other such practices, but honorable members in their hearts know that no danger of that sort can come from that quarter. They know that they can, without fear, entrust their lives to the members of the railway union who drive the locomotives on our railways. Yet, because one member of the union happens to have advanced views, misguided as I believe them to be, as he is allowed to do under the law, the whole union is to be condemned. Australian railway men are as good a set of transport workers as exist in any part of the country, and they are just as level-headed as any body of legislators. At any rate, they have as much common sense as most legislators, and they are just as loyal to Australia. In those circumstances, this legislation cannot be successful, in its avowed purpose, nor will it wipe out communism. If anything is calculated to set up in the hearts of the workers the belief that there is a class struggle in progress, or that there is a section of people in this community set apart from the workers, it is legislation which preaches the existence of a class struggle; it is legislation which seeks to deprive the unions of conditions for which they have fought so many years, and struggled to maintain, each man paying out his shilling a week to keep his particular organization together. If honorable members set out iri hatred to fight the unions and smash them, they can only expect hatred in return. There are better ways of doing things than by fighting the industrial movement, even though it does vote Labour. Some honorable members may have it in their minds that by this legislation they are doing something which is likely to benefit Australia. If they cast their minds back to their past efforts to settle industrial unions, they will recall that every time a national government has been in power in Australia, it has set the industrial movement on its toes, and caused disunion and disruption.
Mr. A. Green.
The workers have not been dealt with as fellow Australians. How can honorable members preach peace and unity of purpose between employer and employee when they are seeking to destroy the organizations upon which the workers depend to improve their conditions in life? I ask honorable members sincerely, as one Australian to others, to set aside this camouflage and realize the result of past attempts to legislate on the lines now being followed. The passage of this bill will lead to strife. With its rejection there is a reasonable chance of happiness in this country.
.- I have listened to every speech delivered in this debate, but have heard nothing to justify the passage of this bill. I know of nothing in Australia’s circumstances to-day that makes it necessary. I agree with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), that if there were any danger of communism becoming the menace that some honorable members seem to think it is becoming in Australia, the present depression would be sufficient to reveal it. In 1925 and 1926, when similar legislation to this was put forward, we were told of the menace of communism. At that time we were on top of a wave of prosperity. Since then, unfortunately, we have got into the trough of depression, but, as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has said, there has so far been no riot in Australia worth mentioning. Australia’s circumstances are not such as to justify this repressive and coercive legislation. If the menace of communism is as great as we are led by some honorable members to believe it is, the passage of repressive legislation is not the best way to deal with it. History teaches us that movements subjected to repression and persecution have grown in proportion to that repression and persecution. That is true of all religious and political movements. I cannot support this bill, because it is repugnant to me that for a political offence - if I may call it such - it should be possible for Australian citizens to be disfranchised, and for others who may have come from overseas to be deported. I entered this Parliament, first of all, mainly because of the opposition I raised to the disfranchisement of Australian born for political reasons in the first conscription referendum, and I fought against internment without a trial of our own Australian citizens. In those circumstances, I cannot be induced to support this legislation now. I shall not deal with the motives that other honorable members have said may be behind the bill. I deal with it as it is submitted for my consideration. There is nothing in Australia’s circumstances, as I know them to-day, and there has been no argument advanced in this House, that would lead me to support this measure.
– I do not intend to delay the House very long in replying to the debate on the second reading. The discussion has covered a wide field and many of the arguments adduced have had no bearing on the bill. There are, however, one or two points with which I should like to deal, in order to show that this measure is not of the character that so many honorable members have suggested. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) and the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), in particular, emphasized the view that it is designed to deal with our political opponents, and has some political significance behind it. It has also been urged again and again that, in some way it constitutes an attack upon trade unionism. To both of these assertions I give an emphatic denial. The purpose of this bill is to add to the Crimes Act a provision whereby a justice of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State, can declare that certain organizations are unlawful associations. The addition is to be made to section 30a of the principal act, and an amendment which I have circulated makes it quite clear that the court, in determining whether or not an organization is an unlawful association, shall be guided by a provision already embodied in the principal act, setting out the types of organizations that are unlawful. I ask honorable members to consider what these types are and then to determine in what circumstances any legitimate trade union could conceivably be brought within the authority of this amending measure. The type oforganization that the court would have power, on an application by the Attorney-General, to declare an unlawful association under section 30a of the principal act, is -
Any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, which by its constitution or propaganda or otherwise advocates or encourages -
Does any one suggest that any legitimate trade union has any one of the three objectives I have mentioned ? The section continues - or which is, or purports to be affiliated with any organization which advocates or encourages any of the doctrines or practices specified in this paragraph. . . .
Does any one suggest that it is the function of a legitimate trades union organization to do any of these three things, or to be affiliated with an association which has for its aim any one of these obviously improper and illegal objects. That is all that this measure provides for. How then can honorable members opposite say that the measure is something so hideously improper that it is almost impossible to conceive of any government introducing it; that by so doing the Government is striking a blow at the trade union movement, and is actuated by political motives in taking this action? It seems to me to be incredible that any one should object to the purpose for which this bill has been brought down, or desire that members of organizations of this character should not be dealt with as drastically as it is possible to deal with them. And this is the bill upon which we have had such a lengthy debate!
It has also been said by honorable member’s opposite that this is one of a series of propaganda measures which have been brought down by Nationalist Governments, that the Bruce-Page Government first urged that communiom was a menace in 1925, and that inorder to be consistent it introduced a number of bills which these inconsistent gentlemen contend mean, and have meant, nothing at all. They declare in one breath that the Government responsible for the introduction of these bills never did anything under them, and never intended to put them into operation when they became law, and in the next that they are an outrage on the liberties of the people. Lurid pictures have been drawn of how we have attempted, by these means, to destroy our political enemies. That is the position which many honorable members have taken up. They cannot have it both ways.
I do not subscribe to the view that they have been useless measures. I would remind the honorable member for Darling, who said that nothing had ever happened under this class of legislation, of the first thing that occurred as a result of the passage of the act of 1926. A number of organizations with objectives such as those which I have mentioned were rapidly growing up in this country, and although governments generally are assumed to be inefficient, and to have no knowledge of what is going on in the outside world, the Government with which I was then associated had at’ least some slight knowledge of these activities. We passed this legislation, and the records show that, with its passing, men left these associations and made for cover with amazing rapidity. Have honorable members completely overlooked a Queensland case, which at the time caused considerable commotion ? I refer to the case iu which the Government prosecuted two men named Carrigan and Brown, both of whom were convicted. Have they overlooked the proceedings taken against Johannsen, which were also effective? I am surprised that they have overlooked the proceedings taken against Mr. Garden. Unhappily, our powers were not sufficiently wide, and Garden got out of our net. Action has been taken, and I think very effectively, under the act. I suggest that criticism might be offered with respect to some of the plaudits that the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) has indulged in with respect to himself and his Government. He said that during his term of office no difficulties arose in connexion with these people. I suggest that the very slackness that it exhibited was one of the causes of the introduction of this amending legislation.
– Can the right honorable gentleman tell us of any other country which has introduced legislation to deprive its people of freedom of speech ?
– The honorable gentleman is confusing things. There is no deprivation of the right of free speech in this bill. It deals with the power to take an association before the High Court and ask for a declaration that it is an unlawful association, because its objectives are those which I have read to the House. Were the honorable gentleman X° ask to be shown some country which has taken definite action against such persons as are referred to in this legislation, I should refer him to Canada, whose legislation is, if anything, more drastic than ours. I add that that legislation has been reasonably effective.
– The United States of America deported 245 persons in one shipload.
– We are not now dealing with deportations, but with legislation. But as the subject of deportation has been mentioned, I am reminded that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) said that we should follow the example of Britain, which takes no action against persons of this kind.
– Why not represent me correctly.
– One would imagine from the right honorable gentleman’s remarks that Britain was supine, and did nothing at all to undesirable persons.
– I did not say that ; why put up an “ Aunt Sally “ merely to knock it down?
– Britain has deported a considerable number of people who were regarded as a menace to the community generally and to the peace, order and good government of the country. The Leader of the Opposition said that one could wander into Hyde Park, London, and hear all sorts of doctrines preached - some wild, some stupid, others impossible. That is true. But are there not a great number of people in this country preaching the most amazing doctrines, without any notice being taken of them ? That we have freedom of speech in this country any one can satisfy himself by listening to speeches delivered weekly on the Yarra ‘Bank, Melbourne, or in the Domain, Sydney. As in Hyde Park, London, no one takes any notice of most of these speakers, for, generally, they are not worth worrying about. But we must have in reserve the power to deal with dangerous persons who constitute a menace to the country. That is all we have here.
The Opposition has revealed considerable inconsistency during this debate. It has said a good deal about the New Guard, the implication being that it is a most undesirable organization, composed of law-breakers. It claims to believe that this legislation is not aimed at that organization. This legislation is designed to cover all persons who act unlawfully, or are a menace to the country. In one breath the Opposition criticizes the Government for having gone too for, and attempted too much, and in the next breath it tells us that the New Guard will be completely immune from the operation of this legislation. I have nothing to say’ one way or the other regarding the New Guard ; but I am surprised at the Opposition advertising its belief that that body is composed of such law-abiding and respectable citizens that even these drastic laws of the Commonwealth will not touch it.
There is one point which, although really a matter for consideration in committee, I desire to refer to here. It has been suggested that under this legislation the Government is taking power to seize an individual and deport him, merely because it regards him as a member of an unlawful association; it is urged that there is no obligation on the Government to take him before a court and have proved the charge that, in fact, he is a member of an unlawful association. To that criticism, I would reply that the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth is a responsible person, who must be satisfied that the individual is a member of an unlawful association before he takes action against him. The Attorney-General will not act precipitately, first, as I have said, because he is a responsible person, and, secondly, because of the danger to himself should he act illegally. Should the AttorneyGeneral seize some person and de- port him merely because o»f a belief that that person is a member of an unlawful association, when, in fact, that is not the case, the person in question may take action against him for damages. In the second place, the individual concerned could issue a writ of habeas corpus, in which case neither the Attorney-General nor any- one else could deal with him, for the law of the land would protect him. It will be therefore, that the community is amply, protected, although, at first sight, there might appear to be a departure from the accepted principle underlying legal proceedings against individuals.
– Are not the two provisions inconsistent?
– The first provision takes away from certain officers of an association the right to vote in cases in which there has been a declaration by the court that the association to which they belong is an unlawful association; the other provision deals with the power of the (Attorney-General to deport an individual. The loss of the franchize applies only to the members of the executive or of the committee of the organization declared to be an unlawful association, whereas the power to deport applies to individual members of the association. There is a substantial difference between the two provisions. Under the one, as soon as an association is declared to be an unlawful one, ipso facto, the committee and the executive lose their right to vote. At the moment, I shall not deal with the provisions of section 41 of the Constitution. The disqualification acts automatically upon the court declaring the association to be an unlawful one.
– The liability for the unlawful nature of the association is on the committee and the executive; the members go free.
– Proposed new section 30fd, which deals with disqualification from voting, applies automatically to the members of the committee or executive of the association immediately it is declared to be an unlawful association. Clause 7 does not apply automatically. An association may be declared an unlawful one, yet under it nothing may - happen to any member of the committee or executive, or any individual belonging to the association. A further step must first be taken ; the Attorney-General must act. I submit that it isnecessary to vest in the Attorney-General the power conferred by clause 7. It may be that some person who is associated with the body that is declared to be an unlawful association, and is obviously an undesirable person, is not a member of the executive, although he might have been a member of it a little time previously.
– The same argument would apply to members under the other section.
– Apparently, the honorable member does not see the distinction I am drawing. In the one case, the act operates automatically; in the other a discretionary power is vested in the Attorney-General. It is for the House to decide whether or not that power should be vested in the Attorney-General. The power to deport is discretionary and, I suggest, should continue to be discretionary; but the power under section 30fd is automatic. It operates immediately an organization is declared to be an unlawful association by the High Court or a Supreme Court of a State. It is reasonable to limit it to the people primarily concerned, namely, the executive or committee of the organization concerned. Other points which have been raised, can, I think, be more suitably dealt with when the bill is in committee.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section thirty a of the principal act is amended by inserting at the end of sub-section (1.) the following paragraph: - “; (c) Any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, declared by the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State, in pursuance of the next succeeding section, to be an unlawful association.”
Section proposed to be amended - 30a. - (1.) The following are hereby declared to be unlawful associations, namely -
– Imove -
That the words “ at the end of sub-section (1.) the following paragraph: - ; (c) Any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, declared by the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State, in pursuance of the next succeeding section, to be an unlawful association’.’.”, be left out with a view to inserting in lieu thereof, the words - “after sub-section (1.) the following sub-section: - (1a.) Without limiting the effect of the provisions of the last preceding sub-section, any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, which is, in pursuance of the next succeeding section, declared by the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State to be an unlawful association shall be deemed to be an unlawful association for the purposes of this Act.’.”.
This amendment, and another that has been circulated, are necessary to make it absolutely clear that the court can only declare to be unlawful associations which come under the provisions of section 30a. To summarise, the object of the amendments is to provide that the High Court may declare an association unlawful only if it falls within the definition of unlawful association which appears in the principal act.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 -
After section thirty a of the principal act the following sections are inserted: - “30aa. - (1.) The Attorney-General may apply to the High Court or to the Supreme Court of a State for an order calling upon any body of persons, incorporated or un incorporated, to show cause why it should not be declared to be an unlawful association. “ (2.) An application under the last preceding sub-section shall be by summons which may contain averments setting out the facts relied upon in support of the application.”
– I move -
That the words “ shall be by summons which may contain averments setting out the facts relied upon in support of the application,” proposed new section 30aa, sub-section (2.), be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following: -
shall be made onthe ground that the body of persons to which it relates is one which is described in subsection (1.) of the last preceding section ; and
shall beby summons which may contain averments setting out the facts relied upon in support of the application.”.
The purpose of this amendment, taken in conjunction with that previously agreed to, is to ensure that an organization cited beforethe court may be declared unlawful only if its objectives are those included in section 30a of the principal act.
– The Labour party objects to both the clause and the amendment, because they provide machinery to do in an inequitable way, things which are fundamentally wrong. There is no justice whatever in these provisions; in fact, miscarriages of justice will be inevitable, and hardships will be imposed on innocent persons if ever they are put into operation. The Government has evidently determined to pursue the New South Wales branch of the Australian Railways Union relentlessly, until it is declared an unlawful association, and is thereby automatically deregistered and bereft of all power. A political vendetta is being waged against that organization. Honorable members opposite, who have suggested that if the rank and file of the organization are not satisfied with the manner in which its work is being done they should resign, have made it clear that they do not understand the psychology of the average trade unionist. A man joins a trade union because it seeks to give expression to certain principles, and to carry out a policy designed to promote the interests of the working class. In these circumstances a unionist will suffer a great deal before he will desert his organization. To impose unjust hardships upon such a man is entirely wrong. Perhaps the Government desires to punish the secretaryor two or three or more officers of this organization. But it must surely recognize that if the union is deregistered, as it will be automatically if it is declared an unlawful association, the railway workers not only of New South Wales, but of every part of the Commonwealth will be affected, for this is a federated body with ramifications in every State. There is no talk of insurrection in the branches of this union in other States than New South Wales. I believe that the talk of insurrection in New South Wales is due wholly to a pending election. My long experience of politics forces me to the belief that this bill has been introduced for political purposes.
– It was drafted before any one thought about the possibility of an early election in New South Wales.
– Many people expected an election in New South Wales immediately after the last federal election. Even if members in official positions in the Australian Railways Union are propagating revolutionary doctrines - which I do not believe - the Government would not he justified in smashing the organization. The Australian Railways Union may have affiliated with certain outside organizations, which are not favorably regarded in Australia; but that is not a sufficient reason for denying it the protection of our arbitration laws and the right of approach to the Arbitration Court. It may be said that the members of the executive, who were not favorable to that affiliation, could resign. It is quite true that they could do so. It is true also that any honorable member of this Parliament could resign if he disagreed with a particular action taken by Mr. Speaker or the Chairman of Committees. But it would be childish to do so. It would be equally childish for members of the executive committee of the Australian Railways Union to resign, because other members did certain thing6. Even if the Australian Railways Union has affiliated with the Red International, its affiliation, in my opinion, is innocuous. The Australian Railways Union does not advocate the views of the Red International. It is a law-abiding organization. The members of this union in the various States have a record of continuity of service, which is recognized throughout the Commonwealth.
– If the affiliation of the Australian Railways Union with the Red International is innocuous, is not the union likely to withdraw it, if such an affiliation is declared to be unlawful?
– I think so; but coercive measures of this kind are likely to provoke opposition. Does any honorable member of this committee, whether he has had a long or a short parliamentary experience, believe that the public servants of this country, who are in the employment of the railways are likely to advocate the overthrow of the Constitution by violence? The thing is ridiculous on the face of it. This clause provides that on the averment of the AttorneyGeneral an organization may be charged with a serious contravention of the Crimes Act? A Supreme Court judge or a High Court judge, as the case might be, would hear the application, and the defendants would have to prove their innocence to his satisfaction. Apparently, in this procedure there is to be no benefit of the doubt. That is a departure from the ordinary principles of jurisprudence. My friend, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), may be constrained to say that, after all, there is not much in the point that there is to be no benefit of the doubt. But it is quite likely that he will also admit his thankfulness for the existence of such a factor in many of the cases that he has fought.
– That is so; but these would be oases in which I was not at all satisfied as to the innocence of my client.
– We are not altogether satisfied of the guilt of those who are likely to be impugned under this legislation. We do not care for the procedure by which a decision is to be procured from a judge. We say that the AttorneyGeneral should make definite charges, and prove them. Surely there is nothing wrong with .that. If it be right, to adopt the principle in criminal cases, how can it be wrong to adopt it in these cases? Let us not overlook the fact that the penalties are by no means light. In certain cases the penalty is seven years’ disqualification from the privileges of citizenship, while in other cases it is deportation from Australia’s shores. Any law which discriminates between the punishment of A, B, C, and D, is unsound and inequitable. Such discrimination, to me, is abhorrent. That,. however, is what the bill does. As a member of the executive of the committee of management of an organization, I may find that the law cannot touch me. But my fellowexecutive officer may not be so fortunate.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
The amendments make very little difference to the bill, their only effect being to make the intention slightly more explicit. Apparently the criticism that has been levelled against the clause has not moved the Government in any particular; the fundamental objection remains. I have not heard any speaker in support of the bill attempt to justify legislation that carries with it severe penalties, and yet places on the defendants the onus of proving their innocence. That principle hae been departed from in a few instances, and I am not at all certain that such a departure has been justified. It is all very well to say that the reason in this case is the great difficulty of proving the charge. There is frequently great difficulty in proving criminal charges. In many cases it is so great that they go unproven, and guilty persons escape. Yet it is laid down as a principle that it is better that a guilty man should escape than that an innocent man should suffer. In this case, a definitely different principle is applied to organizations and associations. I again put the question, wha>t is there in this community that calls for this radical departure from these wellestablished principles? What danger has arisen? The people have been wonderfully patient under the conditions that have resulted from the depression. The right honorable the Assistant Treasurer said that slackness during the regime of my Government had made this legislation necessary. There was no slackness during my administration. The only incident that occurred was the holding up of the shipping of this country as the result of the action of one man. Had we acted provocatively at that time, trouble would have broken out right round the coastline of Australia. We handled the matter in the right way, with the result that it was the most quickly settled maritime trouble in the history of Australia. In three weeks it was settled in the proper way, by a judge of the Arbitration Court calling the men into conference. Many of the troubles that occurred during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government would have been settled in a few weeks had similar measures been adopted. But on one occasion, when there was trouble on the waterfront, summonses were served upon officials of the union on the very day that, as a result of their advocacy and appeal, the union had declared for a resumption of work. Provocative action of that sort must give rise to trouble in a community of spirited men, because it causes them to smart under a sense of injustice.
This clause declares that the AttorneyGeneral may apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for an order calling upon any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, to show cause why they should’ not be declared an unlawful association. Another paragraph says that, if cause to the contrary is not shown to the satisfaction of the court, an order may be made declaring the respondent body of persons an unlawful association. “The satisfaction of the court” means that there must not be any element of doubt. What have they to show? They have to show that they are not guilty of any of the things enumerated in the principal act. It is all very well for the right honorable the Assistant Treasurer to say “ All that we propose to do is to have declared unlawful associations, those that stand for the things that are enumerated,” such as the overthrow of the Constitution of the Commonwealth by revolution, sabotage and so on. We are not defending or attempting to defend any organization that does those things, nor do we wish to leave a loophole by which they may escape. But we do say that the onus of proving that any body of persons is guilty of those things lies upon the Crown, and that the persons charged should not have to prove their innocence. Because of this fundamental objection, we shall oppose the clause.
.The right honorable the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) has said that no attempt is being made under this bill to attack trade union organizations. That is perfectly true. But there are other measures with which this is interlocked. The Arbitration Bill, for example, provides that any organization which is affiliated with an international body that embraces communism is liable to be deregistered and to have its awards cancelled. There are 65 miners’ lodges in the organization that embraces the northern district. I believe that some of those lodges are affiliated with what is known as the Unemployed Workers ‘ Movement, which is said to be, and which I s-m inclined to think is, an auxiliary of the Communist organization. What position would be occupied by the Miners Federation under the amending arbitration measure? Would it be compelled to purge from it3 ranks any lodges that were affiliated with the Unemployed Workers Movement; and if it did not, would it be liable to deregistration?
– Nothing that is contained in any other measure has any effect upon this particular measure. There is ]10 interlocking of this bill with another one. The position will not be affected so far as a lodge or even the whole federation is concerned. The question would have to be determined according to the provisions of this act, without reference to those of any other. The question would be : Does the organization fall within the definition of an unlawful association as the law exists at the moment? If, in the opinion of the Attorney-General it does, then this amendment merely provides that the Attorney-General may take the matter to the court and obtain its decision. The objection raised by the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) is that, when such an application is made to the court, the Attorney-General merely places before it his .averments as to the facts from which could be determined whether the organization is an unlawful association, the obligation resting upon the body concerned to disprove those averments.
– As an Australian I can carry on my avocation and continue to enjoy the privileges of electoral enrolment although my offence may be as great as that of my colleagues from overseas who are subjected to the extreme penalty of being deported, or, if they are allowed to remain in Australia, of being denied the right to exercise the privilege of voting for seven years. A law which so discriminates between allegedly guilty persons must be wrongly based. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce), in reply to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), said that this bill did not interlock with any other which deals with the registration of trade unions. As a matter of fact, immediately an organization is declared to be an unlawful association, it disappears as an organization, and obviously cannot retain its privileges of registration under the Arbitration Court. Because ©f the action of several members of its executive committee, an organization of 80,000 men may be deprived of the advantages of arbitration awards. If it is the intention of the Government to pursue a course which many of us suspect it is about to pursue, surely there is some method of drafting a bill which will sheet home the individual responsibility and not penalize 20,000 men for an offence alleged to be committed by seven. If our assumption that the Australian Railways Union of New South Wales is to be made a political scapegoat is correct, the fact that there are certain loyalist organizations in that State opposed to the Australian Railways Union comes into the picture, and in another place provision may be included in a certain bill giving specific registration to those organizations. The bills do interlock, because action taken under one immediately reacts on the other. For that reason, I oppose this clause.
.The Government has evidently seen fit to take notice of arguments advanced from this side and has amended this clause, possibly doubting the constitutionality of its first proposal, or realizing that too wide a discretionary power was given to Justices of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State. But the proposed paragraph is more or less redundant. Already under section 30a., unlawful associations are automatically declared to be such by act of Parliament^ whereas under the clause, as proposed to be amended, the Court is to be asked to determine if organizations are, or are not, unlawful. Honorable members of the Opposition, however, are not particularly concerned whether the clause is redundant or otherwise; we are opposed to the bill in toto. It is very much more expensive to make an application to a Supreme Court or to the High Court than to a lower court. An organization may be declared guiltless but only at heavy cost to itself. In such cases, where the Attorney-General has made a mistake, I think the Government should be held responsible for the costs incurred by the organization against which proceedings are taken. Sub-section 4 of proposed new section 30aa provides -
Service of a summons under this section upon the body of persons specified in the summons may be effected by publication of the summons in the Gazette, and in a daily newspaper circulating in the city or town in which the head office in Australia of that body is stated in the summons to be situate, but the court may order such further or other service as it thinks fit.
If these organizations are as dangerous and as powerful as we are led to believe they are, it should be a very simple matter to find some person on whom a policeman could serve a summons. A casual advertisement in the Gazette, which is only read by a few interested people, and in a newspaper, no matter how insignificant its circulation may be, so long as it circulates daily in the city or town in which the head office of the organization, is located, is not satisfactory. I notice that the court is given power to order such further, or other service, as it thinks fit, but I think that it would be best to follow the usual method of serving asummons upon some responsible member of the organization.
. - The Assistant-Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) dealt with this clause in a very veiled kind of way, suggesting that there was no danger in it, that it meant nothing more than it appeared to mean, that an association could be declared unlawful, and that was the beginning and end of it. As a matter of fact, that particular step automatically deregisters the organization. If it should be the Australian Railways Union, it would rob 20,000 men of all the benefits of an Arbitration Court award, and, furthermore, deprive it of any revenue it might earn from its wireless station. The step proposed to be taken is drastic and undemocratic. In a large organization, there is bound to be a divergence of views. It is taken for granted, although I do not know it as a fact, that the Australian Railways Union is affiliated with the Red International. I have heard it stated that the reason for this affiliation is to exchange literature.
– Quite a good reason is it not?
– The Railways Institute has a splendid library of reference books. I have in my library the SovietY ear-Book and that of almost every other country. In fact no library is complete without these year-books. The Railways Institute also keeps text books of the universities. I am told that its reason for affiliating with the Third International was to exchange literature. I can see no other advantage in doing so. The resolution to affiliate may have been carried by a small minority of the members of the organization, yet this clause immediately robs all the members of the organization of the benefits to which I have already drawn attention, and also makes it impossible for them to get hack into the Arbitration Court again. The clause may be as innocent as the Assistant Treasurer claims it to be, hut the difficulty is that, in discussing it, other things must be taken into account. In reality, the Assistant-Treasurer appears with an olive branch in one hand and a shillelagh in the other, but the hand that holds the shillelagh is kept behind his back. If the clause were aimed at an association of Communists who everybody says exist in this country, to the detriment of the country, it could be discussed in quite a different way; but it is not so aimed. There is ample power under the principal act to enable the Government to do all that it requires. This measure is closely related to an amending arbitration bill, which is now before another place, and if this proposed new section is inserted the Australian Railways Union will automatically be deregistered.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the clause, as amended, be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . .2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 (Deregistration of newspapers).
.The principalact provides that any newspaper registered under the Post and Telegraph Act, prior to the commencement of the act, and which is issued by or on behalf or in the interest of any unlawful association, shall be removed from the register. It is now proposed to delete the words “ prior to the commencement of this act”. As no newspapers could be issued by unlawful associations, which will be deregistered after this measure is passed, there does not seem to be any need for the deletion of the words proposed.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
After suction30f of the principal net the following sections are inserted: - “ 30fa. - (1.) The imprint appearing upon any book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper shall, in any proceedings under this part, be prima facie evidence that the book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper was issued or published by or on behalf of, or in the interests of, the person or body of persons specified in the imprint. (2.) For the purposes of this section, “imprint “ means a statement of the name and address of the printer and of the publisher of the book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper with or without a description of theplace where it is printed. 30fb. - (1.) The Postmaster-General shall cancel any licence issued, under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905-1919 and the regulations thereunder, in respect of any broadcasting station which isused or operated by or on behalf of, or in the interests of, any unlawful association, and, where any licence so issued has expired, shall refuse to renew the licence. (2.) For the purpose of this section, broadcasting station ‘ means a station for the purpose of broadcasting messages by means of wireless telegraphy. “ 30fg. Any person who, being the owner, lessee, agent or superintendent of any building, room, premises or place, knowingly permits therein any meeting of an unlawful association or of any branch or committee thereof, shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: One hundred pounds or imprisonment for six months.”
– I move -
That the word “issued”, proposed new section30fa, sub-section 1, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ printed “.
The next sub-section refers to the printer and the publisher of the hook, periodical, poster or newspaper, and the law officers have pointed out that the language of the twosub-sections sliould be consistent.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the word “ and” second occurring, proposed new section 30fa, sub-section 2, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ or “.
The sub-section would then refer to a statement of the name and address of the printer or of the publisher. This legislation is governed largely by the laws of the States, and consequently it provides for the name and address of the printer and of the publisher being placed on publications. The law officers, however, consider that an alternative should be provided, and, consequently, it is proposed to substitute the word “ or “ for the word “ and “.
Amendment agreed to.
.Subsection 1 of proposed new section 80fb provides that the PostmasterGeneral shall cancel any licence issued in respect of any broadcasting station used or operated, by, oron behalf of,or in the interests of any unlawful association. It would bo impossible to prove that a station was used or operated by, or on behalf of, or in the interests of any unlawful association. I move -
That the word “ shall “, proposed new section30fb, sub-section 1, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ may “.
It appears only right that the PostmasterGeneral should have discretionary powers in this matter. I also propose to delete all the words after “ station “ with a view to inserting other words. The sub-section asI propose to amend it would thou read -
The Postmaster-General may cancel any licence issued under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905-19 and the regulations thereunder in respect of any broadcasting station from which is broadcast -
any propaganda or advocacy in favour of any’ of the objectives specified in paragraphs 1 to 3 of paragraph a of sub-section ( 1 ) of section 30a of this act; or
any seditious matter.
Seditious matter is defined in another part of the bill, and should be prohibited from being broadcast.
– Since the amendment in some respects expresses the intention of the Government more distinctly than does the clause in its original form, I accept it.
.The Minister said that the amendment carries out the intention of the Government. It is well, therefore, that we should understand that intention, as expressed in the bill. Proposed new section 30fb provides that -
The Postmaster-General shall cancel any licence issued … in respect of any broadcasting station which is used or operated by, or on behalf of, or in the interests of, any unlawful association . . .
In Melbourne there is a broadcasting station conducted by a company whose shareholders are mainly trade unions. Under this legislation, should a shareholding union be declared an unlawful association, that broadcasting station might be deemed to be used, or operated by, or on behalf of, or in the interests of, an unlawful association.
– My amendment strikes out those words.
– I am aware of that; but, as the Minister in charge of the bill said that the amendment expresses the intention of the Government, I am trying to see what that intention is, as expressed in the bill which he introduced. Should one of the unions associated with the broadcasting company be declared an unlawful association, the other unions might not be able to refund the capital it had invested in the company; and, consequently, the company would have its licence cancelled, for the proposed new section provides that the PostmasterGeneral shall cancel the licence in certain circumstances.
– A provision of this kind would act as a deterrent.
– The other unions would be penalized, although not guilty of any offence. Under the broadcasting legislation which was passed recently, the Postmaster-General, or the Broadcasting Commission, may refuse to allow any station to broadcast anything.
Mr.R. Green. - The right honorable gentleman knows that sometimes pressure is brought to bear by one union on another.
– I do not agree that that is so. The Minister has accepted the amendment ; but I see no reason for such a provision in this bill. I admit that the amendment makes the proposed new section a little more acceptable than it was originally; but, if we were to put into a crimes act all the things that may not be done by a broadcasting company, we should have to incorporate the whole measure dealing with broadcasting. We are asked to accept this amendment without having a clear print before us.
.I am opposed to the amendment, as I am to the proposed new section in its original form. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has said, one of the unions which are shareholders in a broadcasting company may be declared an unlawful association, in which case all the others would, under this legislation, be penalized. In the northern district of New South Wales there are numbers of miners’ lodges and other organizations and, should one of them come within the scope of this legislation, any broadcasting company which broadcast the views of that body, or in which it was in any way interested would be liable to have its licence cancelled. There can be little doubt that this legislation is directed against station 2KY, which is the only broadcasting station in New South Wales to disseminate the truth regarding workingclass organizations. Should that station send over the air any remarks which are regarded as being favorable to an organization which has been declared an unlawful association, the company controlling it would be deregistered. It is difficult enough for these broadcasting stations to pay their way now. If we are going to suppress them in this way, how will the people learn the truth regarding Labour organizations? The clause also proposes to deal with newspapers and periodicals. Should an association which has been declared to be an unlawful one advertise a meeting of its members, the newspaper containing that advertisement would come under the provisions of this legislation. During the last few days several honorable members opposite have described the Labor Daily as a scurrilous rag. It is clear that that newspaper is the quarry which the Government is after.
Apparently, the Government will go to any lengths to prevent the people from understanding the workers’ point of view. The Labor Daily is the only newspaper in Australia which presents the truth about trade unionism. I say, without fear of contradiction by any reasonable person, that the whole of the measure savours of class bias.
– The honorable member must deal with the clause.
– I contend that any criticism of the bill may be directed to any provision in it, and because of the class-bias nature of the clause, I intend to vote against it.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Nairn) agreed to -
That the words “ which is used or operated by or on behalf of, or in the interests of, any unlawful association “, proposed new section 30fb,sub-section (1.), be omitted with a view to insert inlieu thereof the following: - “ from which is broadcast -
any propaganda or advocacy in favour of any object specified in sub-paragraphs (i) to (iii) of paragraph (a.) of sub-section (1.) of section thirty a of this act; or
any seditious matter.”
.When the bill was introduced in another ‘ place, it provided for the disfranchisement for life of members of an organization declared to be an unlawful association; but, following amendments made there, the term was altered to disfranchisement for a period of seven years, and was made applicable only to members of the committee or the executive of an organization declared to be unlawful. It is grossly unfair to inflict this penalty upon all the members of an executive, because a minority might be totally opposed to the action which might result in the organization being declared unlawful. I submit, also, that this proposal will be found to be unconstitutional under section 31 of the Constitution as construed in conjunction with section 41. For this reason, the Government would do well to agree to its rejection, particularly in view of the fact that many Government supporters in another place regard the penalty as altogether too drastic.
. -I find it difficult to understand why the
Government allowed this very vicious provision to be inserted in the bill. Ah organization may be declared to be unlawful, and because some members of it may be unable to prove theirinnocence, they will all be penalized for a period of seven years. This, I suggest, is altogether too severe a penalty. In 1925 a certain person who was regarded as the leader of an agitation that was causing a great deal of strife on the waterfront, was arrested and would have been deported, but for a declaration by the High Court that the act, under which his deportation was order, was unconstitutional, that mas. to-day is not a member of the Labour party, let alone the Communist party. I do not know to what political party he belongs, but it has been stated that he is a member of the All for Australia party, and I believe he has visited the different States lecturing against communism. The point I wish to make is that, had this law been operating in 1926, he would have been disfranchised for a period of seven years without any opportunity to have the penalty reviewed. Do honorable members really mean that, if a member of an organization severs his connexion with it the day after it has been declared unlawful, he is to be disfranchised for seven years? If they do, then all I can say is that this is most vindictive and vicious legislation.
– If this drastic clause dealt specifically with the Communist movement, the position might not be quite so bad, but it aims at legitimate trade union organizations. To disfranchise for seven years every member of an organization declared to be unlawful, because of its affiliation with some other body to which abjection is taken, is absolutely unAustralian and undemocratic. Some years ago, a man who was expelled from the Victorian Parliament was, seven months later, elected to a vacancy for the Senate. Surely we have not returned to the dark ages ? Surely, it is not contemplated that if some important organization with 20,000 or 30,000 members affiliate with some other body, the whole of its members shall be disfranchised for seven years?
– I think there is some misapprehension as to what is embodied in this particular clause. It docs not provide for the disfranchisement of all the members of an organization declared to be unlawful. That penalty is restricted to the executive or the committee of such a body. It is necessary to include such a provision in the bill as a safeguard for the members of an organization, the committee or executive of which might enter into relationship with other bodies engaged in doing those things that are declared to he unlawful.
.Proposed new section 30fc provides that if the owner, lessee, agent or superintendent of any building knowingly permits the meeting of an unlawful association, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of £100 or imprisonment for six months.
Mr.R. Green. - I rise to a point of order. The committee has dealt with the proposed new section 30fc, and I contend that the honorable member for Hunter is out of order in directing attention to it.
– The whole of clause 6 is still under discussion, and the honorable member for Hunter is in order.
– The provision to which I have referred may be interpreted to mean that if the owner or lessee of a property permitted members of an unlawful association to meet in it, even for some other purpose than the business of the organization, proceedings may he taken against him and the onus would be on him to prove that the members of the organization concerned had met for some other purpose. Disfranchisement is a severe penalty to impose on a man.. When this bill was introduced into another place it provided that the disfranchisement should be for life; it is now provided that it shall be for seven years. But even persons sent to prison for capital or other offences have the franchise restored to them immediately after their term of imprisonment has expired. It is extraordinary, therefore, that for political offencesmen should he so severely punished. There is nothing of British justice or fair play in this provision.
– Why does not the honorable member pull the reds down?
– We have to fight them every step of our way. I have been brought before a court for fighting these people. Honorable members opposite talk about fighting the Communists and revolutionaries, but we have to fight not only those people, but also the Fascist New Guard which is protected by this Government. If these organizations are prevented from meeting publicly it is certain that they will meet secretly. It is far better that they should be permitted to preach their doctrines openly, so that they may be replied to, than that they should be compelled to resort to secret meeting places in order to carry on their propaganda. In open debate on a public platform arguments may be met and refuted effectively, but that is not so when the facilities for public debate are not available. I shall resist this clause because it is designed to smash trade unionism.
– I cannot follow the reasoning of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). We aretold often enough that the rank and file of trade unionists have complete control of their organizations. If this is so, and the rank and file do not desire to countenance seditious practices they can remove from office those who favour such a course. This would make it quite unnecessary for an organization to meet in secret. The trouble is that union bosses control the unions in these days. Our lax laws in regard to trade unionism need tightening up. I consider this to be a good clause because it will have a salutary effect upon those who follow illegal practices.
– Consequent upon the amendment made to the clauserelating to broadcasting, it is necessary to include in this clause under proposed new sub-section 2 of section 30fb a definition of “ seditious matter “. This would not be necessary if “ seditious matter “ were defined in the definition section of” the Crimes Act, but it is not so defined.. The definition appears in one of the substantive clauses 24a. It is, therefore, necessary to define “ seditious matter “ in this clause. With that object, I move the following amendment: -
That sub-section (2.), proposed new section 30fb, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following: - “ (2.) For the purposes of this section - broadcasting station ‘ means a station for the purpose of broadcasting messages by means of wireless telegraphy; seditious matter ‘ means any propaganda or matter disclosing a seditious intention as defined by section twentyfour a of this act.”.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause also verbally amended.
Question - That the clause, as amended, be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
That clauses 7 and 8 be taken together.
Clauses 1 (Deportation of members of unlawful associations and of offenders) and 8 (Arrest of persons ordered to be deported).
– No matter how objectionable an Attorney-General might be, no matter in what esteem he might be held by the party that elected him to that office, I strongly protest against his being given the power to order the deportation from Australia of a man who was not Australian born. Once an association had been declared unlawful the Attorney-General could begin to pick and choose from among its members. Apparently, it is to be completely within his discretion to say, “ I give an order under my hand that you are to be deported from these shores “.
– The honorable member took that action with respect to 500 persons during his occupancy of office.
– I took that action under the laws of this country, against persons who had been convicted of a criminal offence, or who had become a charge on the public purse. It is a totally different matter to selectone man out of a membership of 20,000 in an organization that has been declared unlawful, and to say that he must leave and never return to these shores. The Government should at least exhibit some semblance of fair play. The High Court or the Supreme Court will be concerned only with the guilt or otherwise of the organization, the corporate or incorporate body, and not with the individual. But with its declaration that an organization is unlawful, ipso facto every member of that organization is guilty; and the Attorney-General is to have the power to say which of the 20,000 or 50,000 members is to be deported. It is so ridiculous a piece of legislation that no government dare attempt to carry it out.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) a little while ago spoke about the purging of organizations and associations. It has been argued from time to time that in cases where an executive had done what was unlawful the members should resign, or that alternatively they should purge their organization of those who had committed the unlawful act. I thought that such a difficulty had been overcome by the amendment of the Arbitration Act which provided for the taking of secret ballots. The honorable member for Richmond made an impassioned and a vehement speech many years ago upon that matter. The passionate speeches that are being delivered in favour of this cranky legislation - or, if that be not parliamentary, this extraordinary legislation - and the enthusiasm with which it is hailed by the new members who sit opposite, would lead one to believe that they smell blood and are determined to have it. In their political innocence they believe that all that is proposed will be done.
– Political innocence is not a bad thing.
– When my honorable friend has been here for 10, 20 or 30 years, he will know that a large volume of legislation goes on the statute-book for political window-dressing, or allegedly to give effect to promises.- We have had several amendments of the law in relation to arbitration, immigration, and crimes, but notwithstanding the protestations of the Assistant Treasurer, practically nothing has been done under them. It may be that some attempt will be made under this legislation for spectacular purposes. I protest against giving to one man the right to deport a person who has not been tried or found guilty.
.In addition to the objection that I took at thesecond-reading stage of the bill - that the Attorney-General can place his hand upon any member of an organization that has been declared unlawful, even though such a declaration has been made in the absence of positive proof, and without a trial have him transported for life - there is the contradiction to which attention has been drawn by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) ; that is, that the disfranchisement of those who are connected with ‘an unlawful association is limited to the members of the committee, but deportation applies to any member of the organization. The justification offered by the Minister in charge of the bill was, that disfranchisement was automatic once a declaration was made, whereas deportation was within the discretion of the AttorneyGeneral. My reply to him is that the one is automatic, while the other is autocratic. There is a further difference. Disfranchisement takes place from the date of the declaration, but deportation applies if a person who was not born in Australia was a member of the organization at the date of the application tothe court. Such a person might leave an organization on the day after an application was made to the court, and yet be liable to deportation. That is carrying this kind of tyrannical legislation altogether too far.
.-I am opposed to these two clauses. In many organizations there are probably 20 per cent, or 40 per cent. of the memberswho disagree with the actions of the governing body, but are compelled to abide by the decision of the majority. Affiliation with an unlawful association may he effected in opposition to their wishes; yet., in the case of those who were not born in Australia, deportation could be ordered by the Attorney-General.
The right honorable the Assistant Treasurer has stated that he is not in favour of the curtailment of freedom of speech. Section 30c of the act, which is referred to in sub-section 2 of the proposed newsection 30l, relates particularly to this matter. It says that any one who advocates or encourages the overthrow of constitutional government by force, shall be guilty of an offence ; and under the subsection that I have mentioned, such a person may, by order of the AttorneyGeneral, be deported. I claim, therefore, that the act itself imposes a curtailment on freedom of speech, and that this merely tightens it up and gives to the AttorneyGeneral the power to enforce it. It deals further with any person convicted of an offence under section 30j, which covers another class of offence in respect of which no action was taken when the coalowners were guilty of a lockout. Clause 8 gives power to a constable without warant to enter and search any building, premises or place if he has reasonable ground to believe that a suspected person is in the building, premises or place. A member of a union individually opposed to the majority rule of the union may be suspected and liable to deportation, and the police may search for him and seize him without warrant, although he may not he the person required. There is no provision in the bill to indemnify any person for wrongful arrest. The whole- bill is a piece of tyranny, and is merely expressive of the prejudice of honorable members opposite against one section of the community, the workers.
.- This clause allows the Attorney-General to decide which members of an organization declared to be unlawful shall be deported. It departs from the principle of trial by jury. No matter how many thousands of members there may be in a union, the Attorney-General can choose as many or as few as he likes for deportation, irrespective of the part each may have played in the offence which has brought about the decision of the court. Any member of theunion, not born in Australia, who may have been opposed to every action taken by the organization, but has remained in it until the time of the applications of the court, may be deported without trial. Under the preceding clause, no person can be penalized unless he is a member of the association at the time of the declaration by the court. I see no reason why clause 7 should not be amended and brought into line with clause 6. The first intimation a member of a union may get that his organization is suspected of being unlawful is when an application is made to the court. He may resign immediately, but under this dragnet clause, he is still liable to deportation. In another place, this provision was amended by adding the words any person not born in Australia “. I think that it could very well be further amended by adding the words “ or naturalized in Australia “. Naturalized citizens are Australians and, as such, are entitled to be treated as such. Sub-section 2 of proposed new section 30l permits the Attorney-General to deport any person’ not born in Australia who is. convicted of any offence under section 30c, 30j or 30q. As the law stands at present, no person can he convicted of an offence under those sections unless he has first been tried by a jury, unless he elects to be dealt with summarily, but
Tinder the new section he may he deported and is not entitled to trial by jury.
– Section 30j deals with industrial disputes which cover lockouts and strikes. I should like to know if employers are liable to be deported?
Question - That, clauses 7 and 8 be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative
Clauses agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: - “ 1a. Section three of the principal act is amended by omitting from the definition of Commonwealth officer’ the words ‘or Military ‘ and inserting in their stead the words , Military or Air ‘.”
The definition of “ Commonwealth officer “ in the principal act makes no reference to members of the Air Force which was not in existence at the time the act was passed. My amendment is to remedy the omission.
.- I accept the amendment. When the original Defence Act was passed, we had only the military and naval forces. The defect to which the honorable member has drawn attention was, in a measure, provided for in the Air Force Act of 1928, which declared that the Air Force should be part of the Defence Force. Where, however, as in this case, the various arms of the Defence Force are enumerated, it is necessary to include the Air Force if the whole Defence Force is to be brought within the ambit of the provision.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments;report - by leave- adopted.
Bill - by leave- read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
Thatthe House at its rising adjourn until 1 1 a.m. this day.
House adjourned at3.17 a.m. (Tuesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 May 1932, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1932/19320523_reps_13_134/>.