18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. j. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Nationalization : Petitions ; Political CRISIS in Victoria
Petitions in relation to banking in Australia were presented as follows: -
By Mr. HARRISON, from certain electors of the division of Wentworth..
By Mr. HAMILTON, from certain electors of Western Australia.
By Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON, from certain electors of South Australia. By Mr. ANTHONY; from certain electors of the division of Richmond.
Petitions received’ and read.
– The Prime Minister has no doubt noted that an ele’ction is to be held in Victoria on the issue of tha nationalization of banking.. In view of the importance of this issue to the people; of Australia and the fact that the Australian Government is involved, will the Prime Minister adjourn this Parliament for a period of a. week or more prior to the election in order to enable Ministers and members of this House to engage in the campaign?
– I have some knowledge of constitutional difficulties that have arisen ‘ between the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council in Victoria as the result of the Legislative Council’s decision to refuse supply to the State Government. I understand that in only one or two State Parliaments could any body of such a character refuse supply to a government selected by all the electors. It could not happen in this Parliament, for instance. As fax as I know, nationalization of hanking has nothing at all to do with any State parliament. I think I made quite clear to the House recently that legislation passed by any State parliament is not the concern of this Parliament and that legislation passed by this Parliament should not be the concern of any State parliament.
– Why, then, did the Victorian Government interfere?
– I have no official information about the matter. Naturally the Victorian Government has not consulted me. The matter involved is not one about which it would consult me or this Government, since the issue has nothing to do with .this Parliament. The fact that the Legislative
Council in Victoria refuses to grant supply to the Government of that State to enable it to meet its commitments, including the salaries of its public servants, has nothing to do with this Parliament. The answer to the latter portion of the honorable member’s question is “No”.
SECURITY Bisks - Vacancies.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to an announcement in this -morning’s press that the State Department of. the United States of America will dismiss instantly any officer or employee deemed to be a security risk? In the category of those regarded as not being a good security risk a re “ those in habitual or close association with known agents of foreign governments “. In view of the close association of not only members of the Parliament but also members of the Public Service with known Communist organizations, will the Prime Minister indicate to the House whether he proposes to take similar action in Australia?
– I have not seen the press report to which the honorable member refers and should like to have more information regarding the intentions’ of the Government of the United States of America. The latter part of the honorable member’s question requires some consideration. I assume that if the secretary of a trade union organisation, who was reputed to be a Communist desired to attend a deputation to a Minister, the honorable gentleman would re,gard that as association with Communists.
– It would be close association with members of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, which is Communist controlled.
– I propose to see representatives of the Australian Council of Trades Unions this afternoon. I regard it as my duty to see them as they represent a great trade union organization. However, I will have a look at the matter which the honorable member has mentioned, and see whether there is anything in it.
– I desire to address to the Prime Minister a question which relates to the publication of advertise ments calling for applications for appointment to the Public Service. These advertisements customarily announce the rate of salary for the position advertised; but state that the rate applies only to applicants who are former members of the services or members of a recognized- union. I ask the Prime Minister to inform me whether it is the deliberate intention of the Government not to publish the rate of salary which would be applicable to the increasing number of young men who are eligible for appoint- ment to .the Public Service but who were not old enough to be members of the forces, or who just do not choose to be members of a union ? Is it the intention of the Government not to inform them’ of the rates of salary to which they would be entitled if their applications were successful? In addition, does the Prime Minister know that in advertisements inviting applications for the position- of Second Secretary at the Australian Mission nt Tokyo the rate of salary stated applies only to members of the forces and to members of an organization within the meaning of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act? As applicants are required to possess a degree in arts, economics, commerce, or law, have a knowledge of . the Japanese language and experience in Japan, will the Prime Minister inform the House to what union such persons should belong?
– All Prime Ministers have left to the Public Service Board the drafting of advertisements for staff required for the Public Service. The board occupies a special position in the administrative life of this country. I do not necessarily examine every advertisement for staff. The important point which the honorable member raised was that the advertisements do not contain the rate of salary to be paid. Is that correct?-
– The advertisements only state the salary to be paid to former members of the forces or members of an. organization within the- meaning of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– I have no particular knowledge of this matter. I thought that there might have been some difficulty about publishing rates of pay, because in some instances adjustments of salary are being made by the Public Service Arbitrator and in consent awards approved by that authority. Eather than give information which might not be absolutely accurate, I shall ascertain from the Chairman of the Public Service Board the exact position and inform the honor-, able member. The honorable gentleman asked to what union certain persons possessing the qualifications which he described should belong. I remind him that there are organizations which have adopted more aristocratic names than “ union “, such as “ association “ and “ institute and I shall ascertain what is the appropriate organization for these people to join.
Construction of Destroyers
– According to a press report, the Minister for the Navy stated last week that, at the conclusion of the present ship-building programme for the Navy, it was intended to construct four destroyers of the Daring class. Can the Minister for the Navy say when the present naval ship-building programme will be completed? How long will the new programme take to complete, and what arrangements have been made for spreading the work throughout Australia.
– It is true that I made a statement in Sydney last week about the construction of four destroyers of the Daring class. This undertaking is in conformity with the naval plans drawn up some time ago. The ships will be built during the next five years at Cockatoo Island dockyard and at Williamstown, in Victoria, because those are the ship-yards which normally do naval work. The Government has also prepared a plan for the construction of merchant ships, but I do not know where they are to be built. Officers of the Department of the Navy are at present overseas gathering information from the British Admiralty regarding the construction of the new destroyers.
– Can the Treasurer say whether taxation deductions are allowed to sons and daughters who contribute toward an invalid mother or father who receives an invalid pension? If not, can the Treasurer say whether there is any section of the Income Tax Assessment Act under which relief may be obtained in cases of special hardship? Many such cases have come to my notice.
– There is a provision in the act to cover the case of parents who are wholly maintained by sons or daughters. I will obtain details of the provision, and let the honorable member have a reply in writing.
Departures - American ex-Servicemen.
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen the report published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph this morning stating that the Commonwealth Statistician, Dr. Roland “Wilson, had released figures showing that last year departures from Australia exceeded arrivals by 2,384? Does this reflect the result of the Minister’s efforts to attract migrants to this country?
– As I am still only half way through my voluminous mail I have not had time to read the- morning newspapers.
– All protests on banking ?
– I take no notice of such protests. I shall have a look at the statement alleged to have been issued by the Commonwealth Statistician. I have no doubt that if the figures were supplied by him they are correct; and I have not the slightest doubt that the position can be satisfactorily explained to intelligent people. No doubt, the honorable member intended to be courteous, but his question is open to the construction that it was inspired by some mean intent to suggest that my trip overseas was worthless, or of little value to this country.
– These are last year’s figures.
– I heard the honorable member refer to my trip overseas and the result of my efforts.
– Yes, the Minister’s efforts in respect of ‘ migration.
– I propose to make a statement later in which I shall canvass the whole question of migration to Australia since I have been Minister, and I shall outline the whole position in respect of both last year and this year. The truth of the matter, basically, is that we could not get more people last year because we could not get sufficient ships ; and we are confronted with the same difficulty this year.
– But more people were able to leave Australia than came here.
– That is true, because many people left these shores lastyear because they were unable to leave Australia during the war. Thousands of evacuees were returned to their home countries, many to Great Britain and some thousands to Hong Kong, 3,000 Indonesians were returned to Indonesia, 2,000 to China and Singapore and 600 to Portuguese Timor. At the same time, 10,000 Australian brides went to the United States of America and several thousands to Great Britain. Against that, of course, a number of British brides of Australian servicemen came to Australia. However, when the position is balanced up even the most captious critic will be satisfied that the Government has done a good job in the matter of immigration.
– In the London Daily Mirror of the 15th August last appears a report of an interview given by the Minister for Immigration upon his arrival in New York during the course of his world tour. Among other things the report states -
Mr. Arthur Calwell, Australia’s Minister for Immigration, said in New York yesterday that Australia wants 1,000,000 immigrants from the United States, and he would offer £40 each to American ex-servicemen who would go there.
Is that statement correct ? If it is, where does the honorable gentleman propose to obtain dollars to finance this expenditure, which would represent approximately £40,000,000 ? If he proposes to pay £40 a head for American migrants, how much does he propose to pay for migrants from the United Kingdom ?
– The honorable member has correctly quoted a statement made by me when I arrived in New York on Queen Elizabeth on the 14th August last. I was asked a question about our scheme to subsidize the fares of returned American G.I.’s and their American or Australian brides, and the subsidy scheme if they were unmarried. Cabinet decided in May last that we should subsidize the fares of Americans who desired to come to this country. We offered them no better subsidy than we offered British people. British ex-servicemen travel to Australia under the free passage scheme.
– What does that cost?
– Whatever the cost may be, it is borne by the British Government. There is no cost to the migrants. As to assisted passages, the Australian Government pays one-half, and the British Government one-half, of the difference between the fare and the £10 which the migrant is required to pay. We are anxious that as many as possible of the 10,000 Australian brides in the United States of America should return to this country with their American G.I. husbands. We are also anxious that as many good people as possible provided they are in sound health, among the allied powers should come to this country. That is government policy, and it has been carried out in its entirety, and, may I add, very successfully. The figure of 1,000,000 referred to in the newspaper article was, as it were, plucked out of the air. A pressman asked me, “ How many G.I.’s would you like to see go to Australia ? “ I replied, “ We could do with 1,000,000 of them “.
– Why stop at that?
– It is better to have 1,000,000 more, than 1,000,000 fewer, as the honorable member will appreciate. What the honorable member for Flinders does not yet perceive is that any subsidy paid to American immigrants will be more than recouped by the amount of capital that these people will bring into this country. If we could get 1,000,000 Americans here at a cost of £40,000,000 to this country, they would bring to Australia something like $200,000,000 and that would be a very decided advantage at this moment.
– I have received the following telegram from Mr. Tait on behalf of merchants in Mackay : -
Almost three months since Mackay had vessel from Sydney appreciate your interest view allocation vessel earliest possible date.
Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping do all in his power to arrange for a vessel from the southern States to call at Mackay in the near future?
– I shall take up the matter with the Minister for Supply and Shipping., who I am sure will do all he can to arrange for a vessel to call at Mackay in the near future.
– I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether, in order to permit of the immediate electric reticulation of many heavy food producing country areas in New South Wales, he will expedite the supply of 25 tons of round mild steel to manufacturers of insulator pins through the Secondary Industries Division of his department, to whom application was made some weeks ago? Rural electrification has been seriously retarded in the war year, and particularly since the war ended. Nineteen country electricity authorities have combined for the purpose of importing insulators from New Zealand. However, these insulators cannot be used, without three-quarter inch round steel pins. Twenty-five tons of round mild steel would enable sufficient pins to be supplied to fulfil orders from these electricity authorities whose areas cover the greater part of New South Wales. These insulators are most important for servicing new homes as well as for assisting production, and their provision would confer benefits greatly in excess of the cost involved.
– There is a very grave shortage of round mild steel. This product is used for a wide variety of purposes, and it is not easy to make available to industry the full’ supplies required for any particular purpose. However, I shall have the matter examined and ascertain whether anything can be done to meet the right honorable gentleman’s request.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping disclose the cement supply position? Is it a fact that cement is being used for much unnecessary and luxury work, and that the larger building firms are receiving supplies whilst small builders are unable to obtain their requirements? Would it be possible to reserve the use of cement for home building exclusively until the housing need is satisfied ?
– The responsibility of the Australian Government in relation to cement is limited to the allocation of available supplies between the different States. What use is made of such supplies as they receive is entirely a matter for the State governments. It is not possible for me to allocate cement to individual industries, whether home building or any other industry. I should . say, however, that in my opinion, considering the many claims made upon them, the States are doing their utmost to allocate available supplies in the best interests of the people generally.
– I ask the Prime Minister what is the total amount of compensation paid by the Government to Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, under the Motor Vehicles Manufacture Legislation Repeal Act of 1945 ? Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House what proportion of this amount represents money actually spent by Australian Consolidated Industries Limited on the project ?
– As the result of the repeal of certain legislation, claims were made by Australian Consolidated Industries Limited against the Government and the matter was finally referred to Mr. Justice Roper of the New South Wales Supreme Court as arbitrator. It is some time since I have examined the matter, but my recollection is that the compensation fixed by Mr. Justice Roper was approximately £55,000. However, I shall have inquiries made and inform the honorable member of the precise figure.
– How much did the organization actually spend . on the project ?
– I shall- ascertain that figure also for the honorable member. I have not read the transcript of the proceedings before Mr. Justice Roper, but I assume that any expenditure actually incurred by the company would have been taken into consideration in assessing compensation.
– As it is impossible to obtain any information from the Budget Papers’, the Estimates, or any other source in rega.rd to the manner in which the Australian Government, as a member of the International Bank, intends to finance its obligations under the Bretton Woods Agreement, I ask the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement disclosing the extent of the Government’s liability and the manner in which it proposes to provide the necessary funds, even if the intention is to draw upon resources of the Commonwealth Bank.
– I shall have a short statement prepared for the right honorable gentleman containing the information, that he seeks. The honorable member for Barker raised this matter when the relevant legislation was before the House, and I intimated to him that the authority sought was for the borrowing of funds for this purpose.
– It has been brought to’ my notice in the last week that it is almost impossible for mothers in South Australia to obtain socks’ suitable for school children. Can the Minister .representing the Minister for Supply ;and Shipping say what is the cause of the shortage and whether any action is being taken to improve the position in South Australia?
– I was not aware of a shortage of youth’s socks anywhere in Australia. I am not at all certain that the Australian Government can do very much about it. All regulations covering the control of men’s and women’s attire have been rescinded. However, I am. sure that the Minister for Supply and Shipping will do anything he possibly can in the matter. I believe that all he can do is to ask the various manufacturers whether they are distributing their pro duction appropriately between the different States. I will ask my colleague to do that.
– During the visit to Australia of Lord Addison, the then Minister for Commonwealth Relations, 1 understand that discussions took place between him and the Prime Minister, or a Cabinet subcommittee, about the dollar crisis, and food exports to Great Britain. Will the Prime Minister inform the House what arrangement, if any, was made about increasing the export of food to Great Britain? Will he make an early statement on the subject, or issue a White Paper?
– I did have discussions in a normal way with Lord Addison about food, but the detailed discussions were between him and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. There was some discussion with Lord Addison about the dollar position, but that has been dealt with in another sphere. The discussions have not yet been concluded. I hoped to be able to give the Leader of the Opposition some more precise information about the dollar position, but I am afraid I- shall not be able to do so because details are not. available. As I said, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture discussed the matter of food with Lord Addison. Discussions have also been taking place recently in London between officials of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture a-nd officials and representatives of the Government of the United Kingdom. I understand that no detailed results of these discussions are yet available. There was a suggestion that Mr. Strachey and some high British officials were coming to Australia, but I understand that there is no truth in that. I will ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether a .more detailed statement can be provided.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether ex-servicemen employed in the Public Service, who are required to attend the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, for periodica] outpatient treatment have the time deducted from. their annual sick leave? If that is so, will the Minister confer with the Public Service Board with a view to adopting an arrangement that will not interfere with their annual sick leave?
– This is the first I have heard of any deduction being made from sick leave of ex-servicemen employed in thePublic Service who have to attend the Prince of Wales Hospital, Rand wick out-patients’ department, but I will ascertain the exact position and let the honorable member know the result.
Imports from Japan and India.
Mr.MULCAHY. - I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is a fact that the cotton yarn recently purchased in Japan and India has been distributed amongst big retail and wholesale houses in Sydney. I also want to know why returned soldiers who handled cotton yarn before enlisting during the war have been refused supplies. Further, I want to know why Mr. P. C. Stokes, of Holdenstreet, Lakemba, an ex-soldier who was engaged in the soft goods trade prior to enlisting, was refused a quota recently by the Division of Import Procurement. Will the Minister make inquiries into these matters?
– I shall be glad to refer the question to the Minister for Trade and Customs and ask that an appropriate answer be supplied.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the fact that there has been a reshuffle of portfoliosin the Attlee Government in Great Britain? Headings in to-day’s newspapers state, “Attlee drops older men - ‘ New Blood ‘ policy in Ministry shuffle - Twelve Ministers sacked “. Is there any likelihood of the Prime Minister following that excellent example in Australia?
– I have some knowledge of the fact that there has been some re-arrangement of portfolios in the British Ministry, but I am also aware that that is entirely within the province of the Prime Minister of Great Britain. To the last part of the honorable member’s question, the answer is “ No “.
Rolling Mill Equipment
– I understand that rolling mill equipment from a factory constructed by the Commonwealth at Wangaratta, Victoria, is being offered for sale. This equipment was never used, and the factory has now been taken over by Bruck Mills Textiles, a Canadian firm. Can the Prime Minister inform me whether the equipment is considered obsolete? If not, could it not have been taken into use for the manufacture of aluminium goods in this country in order to assist in meeting the widespread demand for such good’s?
– This matter was carefully considered by the Secondary Industries Division, and it was decided that existing plant in this country was sufficient to meetrequirements of aluminium rolled sheet for some years to come. By the time the industry required additional plant it is believed that the equipment at Wangaratta will have become obsolete because of improvements of the technique of rolling. For that reason it was decided to sell the plant.
– Yesterday the
Prime Minister furnished a list of visits abroad by Ministers and members of Parliament since October, 1941. Can the Prime Minister supply me with a further list showing the actual expenditure of each Minister or member of the Parliament?
– I believe that the preparation of such details would present considerable difficulty.
– It has been done before.
– It has been done before, but when individuals go abroad as members of official delegations it is often difficult to apportion the delegation’s costs to individual members. However. Idesire to afford the honorable member any information that is available, and although I do not think it is possible to comply with his requestI shall give the matter further attention.
Amenities foe and Re-organization of Industry.
– A recent press report stated -
Mr. James, who. is liaison officer between the Federal Government and the Joint CoalBoard, stated that the Board planned to spend £20,000,000 on amenities, in mining districts, presumably for coal miners. He went on to say that he strongly advocated the nationalization of mines, and said if each State would agree to that scheme legislation would be brought forward by the Federal Government with the object of taking over the coalmining industry.
I ask the Prime Minister : First, has the Commonwealth coal liaison officer notified the Prime Minister and the Government of the decision of the Joint Coal Board? Secondly, is £20,000,000 to be provided by the Government, and will the provision of that sum involve an increase of taxes for the taxpayers of Australia? Thirdly, was the Commonwealth coal liaison officer expressing government policy when he stated that the Government proposed to nationalize the industry ? If he was, will the Prime Minister say whether it is the intention of the Government to proceed with the nationalization of coal mines after the banks have been nationalized, or are the insurance companies then to be nationalized ?
– This is the first time that I have heard £20,000,000 mentioned in this connexion. It is a fact that the Joint Coal Boardhas prepared a plan for implementation over a period of years which is to be submitted to me as Treasurer and, if necessary, to the Cabinet. That report will deal with the provision of amenities and other expenditure involved in the re-organization of the industry. It does not follow, of course, that some of the money proposed to be expended will notbe recoverable. The plan covers the entire coal industry in New South Wales.
– And will cost the taxpayers £20,000,000 !
– No. I have not previously seen that sum mentioned. It has been indicated previously that the Government has no constitutional power to nationalize mining. A joint arrangement has been made between the Com monwealth and New South Wales for the purpose of. re-organizing and rehabilitating the coal industry in that State.
– Does that mean the nationalization of coal-mining in New South Wales?
– No; the agreement does not make any mention of nationalization. The New South Wales legislation gives quite constitutionally to the Joint Coal Board certain power in relation to the acquisition of mines. That power is not derived from either Commonwealth legislation or Commonwealth constitutional power. The Premiers of other States have requested that a body of a similar type shall be set up in their States. The Premier of Western Australia discussed with me some time ago the Collie pits in that State. There has also been some discussion with the Victorian authorities in regard to Wonthaggi, and with the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Hanlon, in regard to the development of the Queensland coal deposits. There has not yet been a final decision in regard to setting up in other . States authorities similar to that which is operating in New South Wales. It has been made clear on a number of occasions that the Commonwealth has no constitutional power to effect nationalization.
– Is an attempt being made to circumvent the Constitution?
– Order ! The honorable gentleman may not proceed to a cross-examination of the Prime Minister.
– I would not dream of attempting anything of the sort. The honorable member knows that I have very great respect for the Constitution, and for the justices who interpret the laws of the Commonwealth. Apparently, that respect is not shared by some honorable members of the Opposition who have described judgments of those justices as “ drivel “. The Government has no desire to evade the Constitution. There will always be differences of opinion as to the interpretation of it. In this instance, the sole desire is to rehabilitate the coal industry, particularly in New South Wales, under agreements with the State
Governments, and by means of such power as may be derived from the joint legislation of both Parliaments.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s Message) :
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the States Grants (Tax Reimbursement) Act 1946.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Chifley and Mr. Dedman do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and read a first time.
Mr. CHIFLEY (Macquarie - Prime
Minister and Treasurer) [11.36]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of this bill is to provide for the payment of an additional tax reimbursement grant to the States under the uniform tax plan. For this purpose, the bill provides for the insertion of an additional section in the States Grants (Tax Reimbursement) Act 1946.
Under the 1946 act, a revised basis of tax reimbursement grants came into operation as from the 1st July, 1946. The main provisions of that act were -
Aggregate grant in 1946-47 and 1947-48 to be £40,000,000, distributed among the States in accordance with the first schedule to the act.
In 1948-49 and subsequent years, the aggregate grant to be increased in accordance with the formula, which takes account of the variations in the States’ populations, and one half of the percentage increase, if any, in the level of average wages per person employed, over the level in 1946-47.
In 1948-49 and subsequent years, the distribution of the aggregate grant among the States to be varied to an increasing degree in accordance with the adjusted populations of the States.
The grant to each State in any year to be not less than that received in 1946-47.
At the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers which was held last August, the Premiers maintained that the aggregate grant of £40,00,000 would be insufficient to enable them to balance their budgets in this financial year. In support of this contention, they indicated that, whilst on the one hand their revenues were relatively inelastic, their expenditures were rising sharply, principally because of factors outside their control, such as increases of costs and prices.
It is clear that there has been a deterioration of State finances. Mainly because of the success of the Commonwealth Government’s low interest rate policy, State debt charges - which constitute a major item of State expenditures - have in the aggregate not increased over the 1938-39 level. In the field of administration and social services, however, State expenditures are showing an unusually rapid increase, partly because of the impact of rising costs and prices. Furthermore, the formula in the States Grants (Tax Reimbursement) Act providing for the aggregate grant of £40,000,000 to be increasedin relation to variations in the States’ populations and one-half of the percentage increase in average wages, does not come into operation until the financial year 1948-49. Accordingly, although the aggregate grant was increased by nearly £6,000,000 as recently as last year, the Australian Government considers that a further increase should be made in the current financial year in order to assist the States to meet the impact of rising costs and prices. After careful consideration of all the circumstances, the Government considers that an additional grant of £5,000,000 would be justified, and should be made.
The Government does not desire to upset the basis of reimbursement provided for in the 1946 act, which, in the absence of a major change in the relations between the Commonwealth and any State or States having an effect on the finances of that State or States, was to operate for at least seven years. On this basis, the State governments are, in effect, guaranteed the reimbursement provided for in the act, irrespective of fluctuations in the financial position of the Commonwealth. Accordingly, the Government proposes that the States Grants (Tax Reimbursement) Act 1946 shall continue in operation, with the addition of a section to provide for -
The payment of an additional grant of £5,000,000 to the States in 1947-48.
The payment of an additional grant in subsequent years to cover any deficiency that may occur between the aggregate grant as determined under the present provisions of the act and the sum of £45,000,000.
It is also proposed that in each instance the additional grant is to be distributed among the States in the same proportions as the aggregate grant of £40,000,000 is distributed at present, that is, in the proportions set out in the first schedule to the 1946 act.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the8th October (vide page 552.)
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote) £3,445,500.
.- I wish to refer to the Bureau of Census and Statistics which renders a real service to the community in that it publishes from time to time information which is of value to not only members of the Parliament but also the public of Australia. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) complimented the Government on its success in keeping down costs. No one desires to take from the Government any credit for its achievements in that field, but had the honorable member examined closely the statistics issued by the Bureau of Census and Statistics he would not havemade such statements. During the war–
– - Division No. 41 covers salaries and general expenses of the Bureau of Census and Statistics. The honorable member’s remarks cannot be made at this stage.
– At what stage can I discuss the matters to which I wish to refer ?
– The honorable member should know that he can raise these matters only when the departments which deal with them are under consideration.
– In deference to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, I shall reserve my remarks till a later stage.
– Last night when references were made to the Mortgage Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank it was pointed out that the legislation passed in 1945 gave to the Treasurer direct control of the administration of the Commonwealth Bank through the medium of various executive officers. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) reminded the committee that the Mortgage Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank was created in 1943, mainly to assist agriculturists and rural land-holders by financing their undertakings, thereby enabling them to become more effective producers of primary products. He desired to know how closely the Commonwealth Treasury was associated with the restrictive policy of the Commonwealth Bank in relation to loans to applicants for financial assistance through its Mortgage Bank Department. I should like to know the reasons for the refusal by the Commonwealth Bank to grant loans to primary producers especially as it is claimed by the Government and its supporters that the trading banks do not fufil the requirements of the community by making such advances. In particular. I should like to know why the loans advanced by the Mortgage Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank since it was established in 1943 amount to so paltry a sum. Replying to the honorable member for Indi, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) said that the reason why large amounts had not been advanced to primary producers by way of mortgage assistance was their unparalleled prosperity. It, therefore, seems desirable to cite the figures supplied by the Statistician in order to ascertain what foundation there is for the Minister’s statement. I remind the committee that prosperity in an agricultural district cannot always be measured in terms of money. The prosperity of primary producers can be gauged better by a consideration of the output from the farms of pigs, cream, sheep, cattle, and so on.
– The honorable member is not discussing the item ‘before the Chair.
– I am referring to statements made by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture last night.
– The Minister made only . passing reference to certain matters, and the honorable member, in replying to him, may not do more than that.
– May I not quote figures to show that the Minister’s passing references were false? If I am to refute his statements, I must give figures in support of mv contention.
– The matter which the honorable member desires to discuss was debated when the first item in the Estimates was under consideration. It cannot be debated now.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but I wish the committee to know that the Minister’s statement was completely false, and could be refuted by quoting figures which I had hoped to present to the committee, and which I shall bring before honorable members at a later stage. In 1946, I submitted to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) a series of questions designed to elicit information as to the assistance given by the Mortgage Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank to farmers and other primary producers. I asked when the Mortgage Bank Department was inaugurated, and was informed that the date was the 27 th September, 1943. Thus, the department has been in existence for four years. I asked how many applications for loans had been made, how many had. been granted and how many rejected. I was informed that during the period of three years up to the time I asked the questions 2,500 applications for loans had been made, of which number 936 had been declined. It is evident’, therefore, that there is no free access by people in difficult financial circumstances to the vast resources of the Commonwealth Bank, as had been claimed by Government supporters. I further asked how [ many persons had been granted loans, and the total amount of the loans so granted. I was informed that the number of persons to whom loans had been granted was only 1,39S, while the total amount of loans granted was £2,924,000. I then asked how many mortgages had been taken over from private banks, how much was new business, aud how much money had been lent to pa.y off existing mortgages. From the answers supplied, I learned that mortgages to the value of £520,000 had been taken over from private banks, while new business represented £1,493,000. Thus, during the three years’ life of the Mortgage Bank Department, the inauguration of which was hailed by Government supporters as representing the salvation of financially’ distressed farmers, a paltry £520,000 worth of mortgages had been taken over from the trading banks, and only £1,493,000 worth of new business had been done, although the commitments of farmers throughout the Commonwealth run into hundreds of millions of pounds. Of course, it is inconceivable that during a period of three years any foreclosures would have taken place, and I did not ask for information on that point. However, the only other government bank in New South Wales has a long, list of foreclosures, as is shown in the Australian Insurance a,nd Banking Record. Thus, the borrower is not protected because he deals with a government department. He will be foreclosed just as quickly and finally as was the company at Port Kembla, to which reference was made to-day.
– The honorable member is saying, in effect, that government banks are soundly controlled.
– I am saying that, they are conducted by officials who have very limited authority. Estimable as they may be, they are bound by Public Service regulations - in other words, by red tape. The managers of branches of government banks have not the same discretionary authority as is vested in the managers of branches of private banks. The proof of that statement is to be found in the figures supplied to me by the Treasurer, and recorded in Hansard. I refute with all the vigour at my command the statements made last night by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
I propose to refer once more to Land. Sales Control, what it means to the community, and the inconvenience and loss which it occasions. Any person who applies for permission to sell property, whether a farm or a home or a city building, must obtain the consent of the delegate of the Treasurer, who is required to have the property valued by a person accredited by the Land Sales Office. This valuator must give a certificate that, in his opinion, the price at which it is proposed to sell the property does not exceed the current value as on the 10th February, 1942. “Well, this is October, 1947. I maintain that property values are largely a matter of individual opinion. One person might think that a horse, or a cow, or a dress or any other piece of property is worth so much money, while another person might believe it to be worth more or less. The opinion of one valuator as to the current price of a property on the 10th February, 1942, might be altogether different from the opinion of another valuator. The only real test of value is the current market price. The Treasurer, of course, is concerned to prevent inflationary trends, but I believe the time has arrived to lift all land sales control because it is impossible to administer the law. The regulations are being circumvented in all kinds of ways. It often happens that the buyer and seller sign a contract of sale at a price approved by the Treasury, and then agree among themselves that an additional amount of money is to be handed over without any contract at all, this additional amount representing the difference between the approved price and the market price. Evidence is accumulating that this is becoming a common practice, and the responsibility rests upon the Government for trying to enforce regulations which cannot, in fact, be enforced. The real value of a property is what it will fetch on the market. Both buyers and sellers recognize this, and resort to various devices to circumvent the regulations. When this is not done, a sale does not take place because the seller is not prepared to part with his property for less than the market value, while the Treasurer insists upon the application of the old formula based on the value of property as on the 10th February, 1942. In view of the relaxation of controls in Canada, in Great Britain, in South Africa and New Zealand, I believe that the time has arrived when the Government should revise its policy. It is no more possible for us to enforce an artificial set of conditions which the community is not prepared to recognize than it was possible for the Government of the United States of America to enforce prohibition. Eventually, that law had to be repealed because it was honoured more in the breach than in the observance. Therefore, it is time that the Government submitted land sales control to a close review. We have already had a scandal in the Land Sales Control Office in Sydney. Months before the royal commission which inquired into that administration was appointed, I raised the subject in Parliament; and I then stated that once the lid was lifted there would be an aroma that would overwhelm everybody. That has been proved to be the case, although only a fraction of the transactions handled by that administration was investigated. I have not evidence of the kind which a royal commission would require; but if a royal commission were appointed to investigate the whole of the ramifications of land sales control throughout Australia, and persons, such as presidents of real estate institutes, auctioneers, agents and solicitors who are handling these transactions every day, were enabled to come forward under protection to give evidence as to what is going on in the community, I venture to say that the Government would not be able to sustain its present attitude that it can peg values of land and property to-day at the levels ruling as at the 10th February, 1942. It is no more possible to maintain those values to-day, five years later, than it is to peg wages, or the prices of commodities, at the 1942 levels. The Prices Commissioner makes admissions every day that he must concede increases of prices of this, that and the other commodity, because existing conditions have made it impossible to peg prices at their previous levels. The same observation applies to land values. Therefore, I urge the Government to give consideration to the protests which are mounting throughout the community against these iniquitous regulations which are achieving no good purpose but are doing an inconceivable amount of harm. It is about time that the Treasurer ceased to be influenced by the placid air of Canberra. His administration would ‘be very much benefited if he went farther afield than Bathurst and Canberra. He should travel throughout the country districts, and visit the cities of the Commonweatlh. He should get away from the Trades Hall, and mix with the people throughout the country in order to find out things for himself. To-day, he lives in the isolated and rarified atmosphere of Canberra; and it is impossible for him to understand existing conditions while he keeps aloof from the everyday life of the people. I have never known of another Prime Minister who isolated himself to the same degree. He practically lives in two small’ centres of the Commonwealth, and, consequently, is out of touch with what is happening throughout the continent. Even President Truman of the United States of America keeps personally in touch with the people in all parts of that country. Australia and the Treasurer himself would benefit if he departed a little from his present practice of isolating himself in Canberra. He is not aware of the many abuses which now exist under his administration, because he has not familiarized himself with the life of the people of this country. 1 hope that before the next budget is introduced he will do something practical in recognition of what is happening in this respect in the community.
– -Yesterday, we listened to a speech by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) with regard to the dollar exchange position and the action of the Govern ment in restricting imports from the United States of America. I have always disagreed entirely with the politics of the honorable member. I believe that he did a great disservice to New South Wales when he was Premier of that State; and I do not think that he has done any service to the community. However, he has never deserted his Labour principles, and, to-day, as he sits cheek by jowl with his old friends in this chamber, he is regarded as the Gladstone of the Labour movement, the Grand Old Man of the Labour party. Yesterday, he pointed out how desperate is Great Britain’s position, and. dealing with the balance of payments between that country and the United States of America, he said that there waa no adverse payment’ so far as Australia is concerned. I do not propose to argue that proposition. I direct attention to the desperate position in which Great Britain now finds itself and to its efforts in cutting imports from dollar countries. Only through assistance from the dominions in the form of additional imports from the dominions, and by increasing its own exports can Great Britain be enabled to overcome its dollar problem. Despite all the assurances of the Government, we in Australia are not pulling our weight in that respect. Neither are we obtaining imports from the United States of America which aire vital to the welfare of this country.
Last year I addressed’ a series of questions to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) with respect to our gold reserves. On the basis of Australian production, imports from the Mandated Territories and Fiji and our exports of gold, I calculated the quantum of gold held by the Commonwealth within Australia, and I asked him what was .the correct figure in that respect. For a long time he refused to say what the total amount of gold held in Australia was. Eventually, about May of last year, he said that the amount of gold held by the Commonwealth Bank on behalf of the Government amounted to £17,000,000 sterling. We must now take into calculation production of gold and imports of gold from the Mandated Territories and Fiji during the intervening period. According to a report published! this morning in the
Sydney Morning Herald a spokesman for the Government has stated that in order to help the United Kingdom, South Africa lias, decided to remit to Great Britain a large proportion of its substantial gold reserves for the purpose of buying dollars. “We have not done anything in that direction. We are sitting on our golden egg refusing to use our gold for the purchase of dollars, or for the purpose of buying from Great Britain the goods we need. Only by that means can we hope to develop our exports. At the same time we would thus help Great Britain in its dollar problem, and also assist the British people to obtain vital consumer goods which they cannot obtain from any other country. Not only should we send our new gold production to Great Britain but we should also be prepared to emulate South Africa and throw in a considerable portion of our gold reserves to the dollar pool. Why does not this Government hand over its gold reserves to help the British Government? I suggest the reason is that, being a socialist government it has a thorough appreciation of the incompetent manner in which socialist governments are conducting their affairs throughout the world to-day, and it is fearful to make the whole of its reserves available to the British Government lest they go down the sink should the British Government not be able to right its own affairs. Australia is able to produce the cheapest coal in the world notwithstanding that the people engaged in the coal-mining industry are paid the highest wages in the world. We should develop our coal resources and export coal from Australia into the dollar areas, thus increasing the dollar pool.
– Order ! The honorable member is getting a long way from the Estimates before the committee.
– I was about to suggest that those responsible for the development of the Blair Athol coal deposits in Queensland should export to dollar areas 1,000,000 tons of coal per annum in order to build up the dollar pool. I submit, Mr. Chairman, that the question of the development of an export market for Australian coal in dollar areas is a matter vitally connected with the estimates of the Department of the Treasury.
– Order ! The honorable member is stretching his argument a little too far.
– I point out that, within the last month, the Imperial Government-
– Do not argue with the Chair.
– I ask the Minister not to interject.
– I am a very orderly man and I do not like being barked at by Scotch terriers. Within the last month the British Government has paid £5 12s. a ton to the United States of America for coal delivered to Swansea and northern British ports. The cost of that coal had to be met from the dollar reserves of the Empire in which we are vitally concerned. If our coal markets had been expanded as the result of the development of open cut mining, particularly the Blair Athol field, we should, have saved the British Government the precious dollars expended on coal imported into Great Britain from America and, in addition, we could have established dollar reserves in Chile, Argentina and other countries within the dollar area. I therefore submit, with great respect, that the development of export markets for’ Australian coal is vitally connected with the Estimates now under consideration. I do not propose to elaborate my remarks, however, because you, Mr. Chairman, will probably rule me out of order. However, in your quiet moments, sir, I assume you will be only too pleased to read what authoritative writers have to say on this subject. On all sides in this country there is a feeling of frustration, because, as the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) put it - and his views are as* totally abhorrent to me as is the honorable gentleman himself - this Government has muddled its own affairs whilst it has been busily engaged in meddling with the affairs of other peoples. Curiously enough this is the sole occasion on which I find myself in agreement with the honorable member. Whereas in 1943 there were 4,998,000 dairy cattle in Australia, the number has now diminished to 4,592,000, and there has been a consequent reduction of the production of vital exportable fats. The
London Economist states that Great Britain is buying the greater portion of its requirements of fats from the United States of America and is expending on their purchase its hard-earned dollars and the dwindling reserves of the loan which it obtained from the United States of America last year.
– For what purpose did the honorable member sell his dairy herd ?
– I sold it to provide meat for the people of Great Britain. In 1946, imports into Great Britain from the United States of America were valued at £226,900,000.
– Ord er ! The honorable member is apparently endeavouring to make a second-reading speech on this matter.
– Not at all; I am merely giving–
– Order! I do not wish to keep interrupting the honorable member’s speech by calling him to order. It is’ obvious, however, that he is endeavouring to make a second-reading speech, which he knows he is not entitled to do. I ask him again to confine his remarks to matters connected with the estimates of the Department of the Treasury; otherwise I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.
– Of the total imports into the United Kingdom from the United States of America in 1946, foodstuffs and tobacco, which could have been supplied by Empire countries, accounted for £168,100,000.
– The honorable member is not in order in pursuing that matter.
– Are not my remarks related to the dollar pool?
– They do not come within the scope of the Estimates now under consideration.
– The Treasurer and his officers have made statements which have been published in to-day’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald, indicating that the dollar crisis may last for three years. I am attempting to show the Government how it could play its part in an attempt to prevent the dollar crisis lasting for more than a couple of years.
– Order !
– In its issue of the 31st May last, the London Economist,, a journal renowned throughout the world for its accuracy and the excellent material it publishes, pointed out that Australia supplied no part of the requirements of Great Britain of wheaten flour during 1946. As to meat, and we hear a good deal in this chamber about our meat exports to Great Britain–
– Order ! The honorable member is endeavouring to evade the ruling of the Chair. If he persists, I shall direct him to resume his seat. He may refer to meat exports during the consideration of the estimates of the appropriate department.
– With regard to imports into Great Britain and our failure to supply what is required–
– Order ! If the honorable member continues to evade the ruling of the Chair I shall direct him to resume his seat immediately.
– I have no desire to evade your ruling, Mr. Chairman; that is the last thing I would wish to do.
Much has been said in this chamber about Land Sales Control and the royal commission which inquired into certain real estate transactions in New South Wales. Of all the members who criticized Land Sales Control in this Parliament, I was the only one who gave evidence before the royal commission. In his report, the Royal Commissioner said -
I feel it appropriate to observe–
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in referring to the royal commission.
– I am referring to Land Sales Control.
– The royal commission may be discussed under another item of the Estimates.
– We have heard much in this debate about the pegging of land values at the 1942 levels. The position is that although wages, and the prices of most commodities, have risen considerably since that date, the price of land has remained fixed. One of the worst features of Land Sales Control, particularly in the Sydney office, has been the lack of flexibility. This applies particularly to (the “ little “ man, and by the “ little “ man I mean the individual who has not much money. He has had no relief at all. I have had brought to my notice the case of an ex-serviceman at Armidale who wished to buy a house. The difference between the figure at which the vendor was prepared to sell and that at which the Treasury would grant approval was £12; yet the transaction was held up. The returned soldier was paying approximately £3 3s. a week for a flat in Armidale, and had used up what little capital he had accumulated. Eventually the matter was ironed out, but this case revealed a rigidity which should not have been present. I was not one of those lucky people for whom the green light or any other coloured light was flashed on in the Land Sales Control Office in Sydney. There was no pilot to guide me into the inner sanctum. I never received any assistance until quite recently when I was forced to bring the matters in which I was concerned to Canberra, where I found that the control was exercised in a much better manner.
– We were all in the same boat.
– I hope I shall never be seen in a boat with the honorable member. Continuance of the pegging of rural land values is having a disastrous effect upon stock prices throughout the country. Anybody who is associated with primary production knows that pastoral land is valued according to its carrying capacity. If the price of land is pegged, the result must be the forcing up of stock values above economic levels. This is a dangerous trend, and I believe that the sooner this control is removed the better it will be for the people of this country, and for the people of other countries who are depending upon the foodstuffs that- we produce. In the United States of America, where most war-time controls have been removed, the production of steel has reached 62,000,000 tons a year, and the output of coal is 700,000,000 tons a year out of a total world production of 1,500,000,000 tons. The United States of America, of course, does not believe in socialistic enterprise; but on its door steps the socialistic countries are slobbering and pleading for American private enterprise to save them from ruin.
– Some time ago, I addressed a question to the Prime Minister (Mr.
Chifley) in his capacity as Treasurer on a matter of considerable importance to the leather industry. Subsequently, I was interviewed by officers of the Treasury, who were investigating my complaint that a surcharge of 20 per cent, was being levied by the manufacturers of leather. The Treasurer’s reply to my question was that this surcharge was permitted to leather merchants, and, I assume, tanners, on all hides purchased for saddlery or any other purpose. Nobody seemed to know just how this tax had come to be retained, although it was made clear that the Treasury had permitted it in the early part of the war. This is another instance of increased prices that have been permitted to large manufacturing concerns, including manufacturers of agricultural implements who have been allowed to increase their prices by 20 per cent. This has placed a heavy imposition on purchasers of agricultural machinery. I ask that the surcharge on leather be investigated. It represents a further profit to the manufacturers of leather without conferring any benefit upon primary producers who produce the hides. It is an unjust and unfair imposition upon those who use or buy leather goods.
– I wish to refer briefly to the Land Sales Control, particularly in relation to a case that has been brought to my notice by a constituent of mine who lives in a prominent town in the Wimmera electorate. This man is in business, and his premises are situated in the main commercial section of the town. He has been paying rent for the premises for 30 years. One of his sons was killed in New Guinea, and another has come back to this country after a lengthy war service. This man hopes to set his son up in the business, but if the premises are not retained in the main business part of the town, and have to be moved to a back street, the undertaking will be quite unsuitable for the rehabilitation of an ex,serviceman
The delegate of the Treasurer has valued the property at £930. A very efficient local valuer has set the figure at £1,030. It is part of a deceased person’s estate, and the figure fixed by the vendor is £1,000. Should there not be some give and take in the Treasury’s valuation in an important transaction like that. It is probably the only opportunity that this man will have to buy the property, because it is well known that throughout Australia land and property are being sold on the black market. He will have nothing to do with the black market. This is the only opportunity he has of buying the premises of a business established by his father, and handing it over, as a going concern, to his ex-serviceman son. I hope that something will be done to meet cases like this.
– I agree entirely with the sentiments forcibly expressed by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) and other honorable members about the control of land sales. If it is the policy of the Government to continue this dangerous method of control it should at least ensure that it shall not be badly administered. I have brought to the notice of the Government many instances of sales having fallen through because the delegate of the Treasurer would not permit the sale to be effected. I know of one property in respect of which the vendor and the prospective purchaser agreed upon the price of £8,500, but the delegate of the Treasurer would agree to only £6,000. The deal was not completed, hut, in due course, a sale was allegedly made at the price stipulated by the delegate of the Treasurer. 1 know of more than one such instance. I suggest that an option should be given to the person who desired to purchase the property in the first instance, if a sale is subsequently completed, at the price agreed to by the delegate of the Treasurer. One does not have to be clairvoyant to know what happens when the vendor and -the original prospective purchaser are not allowed to complete a deal because of the difference between the price agreed upon by them and the price fixed by the dele gate of the Treasurer. If the sale is subsequently completed with another purchaser, a good deal of the money paid is not disclosed in the documents. It is paid “under the table”. Circumstances should not exist to enable that sort of thing to be done to the detriment of honest people who desire to comply with the law.
I direct the attention of the Government and the committee to the matter of trust funds. The ‘ country is entitled to a full explanation of what, on the face of it, is an unsatisfactory state of affairs in the Government’s financial administration. Trust funds are created under the Audit Act and may be expended only for the purpose for which they are created. The balance of general trust funds carried forward on the 1st July, 1947, amounted to £171,134,501. Last financial year, an additional £25,000,000 worth of internal treasury-bills, carrying interest of 1 per cent., was issued and substituted by the Government for money balances in trust funds ; I do not suggest that they have been used illegally. I find that about £70,000,000 has been taken out of trust funds and that I O U’s in the form of treasury-bills have been substituted. I demand a full explanation of the reasons for their existence. There is a credit balance of £1,102,470 in the Allied “Works Plant - Material Trust Fund. Was that built nip by appropriations during the war? Does it represent an unexpended appropriation? In the Coal Storage and Handling Trust Fund there is a credit balance of £174,956. In the Defence Clothing Material Trust Fund there is a credit balance of £2,573,633. That, from the meagre information available to me, constitutes an unexpended appropriation. Then we come to the following funds and their respective credit balances in round figures : -
I understand that a levy of 2d. per ton is being paid on coal to-day as a contribution to the Marine War Risks Insurance
Fund, in spite of the fact that it contains the enormous unexpended amount stated. The list continues -
Then, of course, there is the National Welfare Fund, which is distinct from the other items mentioned. It has an alleged credit balance of £49,994,000. In fact, that amount has been taken out of the fund for the purposes of the Government and has been replaced by I O TPs in the form of treasury-bills. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction unwittingly expressed almost the same views on this matter as I did in my original complaint, when I pointed out that the Treasurer’s conduct in withdrawing the whole of the £49,994,000 from the fund and spending it, having replaced it by paper I O U’s, was wrong in principle. Those I O U’s will have to be redeemed eventually from taxation or loan receipts or by means of some inflationary process. The fund is mis-named. It is a camouflaged fund. Money has been expended from it each year in greater sums than the amounts paid into it. An amount of £58,000,000 was appropriated to the fund when it was created. To-day, the total has been reduced to £49,000,000. Expenditure from the fund last year totalled £62,021,000, and the amount transferred to it from revenue was £65,000. The . Treasurer has said that, during the current year, he will have to provide, distinct from the direct social services contributions of the people, a sum of £8,000,000, which can be drawn only from this accumulated fund. However, there is no cash in the fund. Its credit balance is represented merely by [ O U’s. The fund should have been kept intact. It is strange that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) said, by interjection during a recent speech by the Minister for Post war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), that to use the whole of the current fund would be contrary to the provisions of the National Welfare Fund Act. Of course that is so! The honorable gentleman and I are in agreement on that point, and the Minister has unwittingly expressed agreement with us. He has admitted that the cash balance of the fund is nonexistent and that, even if- it were existent, it would not be sufficiently substantial to meet its current liabilities. The Treasurer himself has stated that he must draw £8,000,000 from that fund during the current year in order to bridge the gap between revenue and expenditure, and that practically the whole accumulated amount of £49,994,000 in the fund is represented by treasurybill. I shall state what I think would have been the- proper way to handle the fund when I conclude my statement on trust funds generally. It should have been treated as the War Damage Fund was treated. Instead of liquidating the credit balance and replacing it with treasury-bills, the Government should have maintained its value by using Commonwealth bonds. The treasury-bills have to be renewed each year,’ and money must be raised against them in order to meet the expenses of the fund. The Treasurer has demonstrated beyond dispute that this is necessary by stating that £S,000,000 will have to be withdrawn from the fund during the current year.
I refer now to the items under the heading “ Other Trust Moneys “. They include the following in round figures: -
Other funds listed are as follows: -
I suppose that the last-mentioned- item is a true current trust fund. Two more items on the list are -
The country is entitled to a full explanation from the Government of the reason for the maintenance of those amounts as trust funds.
– Are they really there ?
– They are to a degree represented by treasury-bills which have been taken . out against them. In fact, the money >has been used by the Government for its own purposes. There is no quibble about the way in which the funds have been used, but there is a quibble as to their existence in terms of cash. I contend that the funds should be cleaned up and that the proper position with regard to the treasury-bill liability in respect of them should be finalized. If these trust funds are not in current use, and are not likely to be drawn upon to the amounts of their credit balances, they should be wound up and the treasury-bills which represent them should be automatically cancelled as a consequence. The National Welfare Fund should be an absolute trust fund. It was collected as such, the people contributed to it as such, and therefore it should be maintained in the interests of the contributors, who may well be beneficiaries from it in the future. It is foreign to the nature of a properly equipped trust fund to maintain it in such a way that it is not available for the use for which it is intended. I contrast the National Welfare Fund with the War Damage Fund, which has a total of £11,158,000 to its credit; We all know that compensation for war damage was provided by means of an insurance scheme. Let us compare the way in which the Government has treated that insurance fund with the way in which it has treated the National Welf are Fund, which should have been maintained as a trust. The credit balance of the War Damage Fund does not consist of substituted treasury-bills - I 0 U’s which must be renewed from year to year. The National Welfare Fund should be made up of the most reliable securities available to the Government. War damage insurance collections amounting to £11,158,000 have been invested in Australian consolidated stock and Commonwealth government stock at the rate of 2£ per cent, per annum. The first instalment, £3,658,000, will mature on the 11 th November next. I ask : What will be done with this money after the date of (maturity 1 Will it be used to meet war damage claims? Of course it will not, because all the money will not be required for that purpose. The war damage risk is finished. Is the money to be used for the general purposes of government? Does it constitute another nest-egg or reserve which will be added to the - amount which I have already disclosed to honorable members? The country is entitled to know the answer.
– All war damage claims have not yet been met.
– The Treasurer should inform the country that all war damage claims have not yet been met, and should state what will become of the balance in the fund when all of them have been settled. However, the point which I emphasize is that while the War Damage Fund of £11,158,000 is held intact in a trust and the money is invested in Australian consolidated stock, the National Welfare Fund, which was established to meet future liabilities to present-day contributors, is represented in the worst possible form of investment, namely, treasurybills at 1 per cent, renewable each year. For the reasons which I have enunciated, I contend that the position of these trusts requires a thorough overhaul, and the facts should be disclosed to the Parliament and the people. Most important of all, we should be told what will become of the £11,158,000 which belongs to the War Damage Fund and which has been invested in government securities. We should also be told what will become of the other trust funds which I have mentioned.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to S p.m.
.- I have never been able to discover the exact purpose of the attack of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) on the Government’s policy in regard to trust funds and the investment of balances held in various funds. However, before referring to that matter in detail, I propose to deal with Land Sales Control, a subject which was discussed at some length in the course of the debate on the estimates for the Treasury. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) suggested that the complete abolition of land sales control would result- in the immediate settlement on the land of exservicemen and others, hut, in my opinion, the immediate removal of those controls would certainly not have the effect desired. I think that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) supplied the answer to the honorable member’s contention when he said that land agents and valuers in “Western Australia had asked for a gradual relaxation of the controls. That suggestion is infinitely preferable to the one made by the honorable member for Swan, because there is no doubt of what will happen if controls are removed completely and immediately. Because of the current prices of wheat, wool and other primary products, the capital value of holdings must rise immediately. Intending settlers would have to “ buy in “ at high prices, and as prices for primary products receded they would lose much of their equity.
In Western Australia a bill was introduced in the Parliament by a Labour Government which empowered the Government to acquire property for the settlement of ex-servicemen, but technical amendments were made to it by the Legislative Council, the effect of which was to make it more difficult for the Government to acquire property for settlement by the people I have mentioned.
– The Western Australia Legislative Council amended the Labour Government’s bill.
– That is true. The original measure introduced by the Labour Government conferred sufficient power on the Government to acquire land on satisfactory terms, but that intention was almost defeated by the action of the Legislative Council, and the present Government is handicapped by the restrictions imposed by the amended act. Presumably the same difficulty exists in regard to land settlement schemes generally throughout Australia.
The Leader of the Australian Country party has attacked the Government’s policy with regard to the investment of trust funds, and although I think his attack is without foundation and should be ignored, the fact remains that the press has given considerable prominence to his utterances. Glaring headlines in the press have suggested that he charged the Government with pursuing an unwise financial policy, or that some measure of dishonesty is involved in the Government’s financial practice.
– I have never suggested that.
– I appreciate that the right honorable gentleman did not make that suggestion, but that is the interpretation given to his remarks by a section of the press. The simple fact is that the investment of funds is governed by a general principle that funds must be invested so as to secure, on the one hand, a regular return of interest which can be utilized, or, on the other hand, in some form in which they can be liquidated at any time. Governments have to meet distant liabilities, and against those liabilities it is quite proper for them to invest funds in long-term securities bearing a comparatively high rate of interest. On the other hand, moneys in the National Welfare Fund and other funds, which have to be drawn upon from day to day, require to be invested in a more liquid type of security such as treasurybills. Treasury-bills bear a lower rate of interest, but the funds are available at call.
– But the National Welfare Fund does not have to meet large commitments from day to day; only £8,000,000 have been drawn from the fund since it came into existence. The funds from which money is required to be drawn from day to day are the income tax and social service contribution funds, which are entirely different.
– Payments into the fund are made from day to day from social service contributions and those moneys are required from time to time to meet social service payments. If the interest from funds invested is sufficient to meet those payments the funds can be invested in long-term securities. Securities yielding a higher return are always at a premium. The _ simple reason is that the higher interest yield makes the security more valuable than, say, an ordinary investment at par in a loan raised currently by the Government at a lower rate of interest. If the reverse position existed and interest rates were rising, investments in current loans would lose some of their capital value, or, in other words, those securities would he selling at a discount.
– Why are the funds of the War Damage Insurance Fund so invested ?
– The money was invested some years ago and will not mature for some time yet. At the time that investment was made there did not seem to be any likelihood of interest rates moving upward before the investment matured.
Generally speaking, moneys received by way of trust funds have to be invested. Those moneys can either be placed in a bank to the credit of a particular account, in which case a simple entry is made in a ledger or some other book kept by the bank, instead of the I 0 U of which the right honorable gentleman is constantly speaking-
– That is not correct, and the honorable member knows it !
– Money can be placed in a bank and that bank usually invests it in treasury-bills, or, if it is a trading bank, it may purchsae commercial papers. The alternative form of investment is the purchase of treasury-bills, which mature every three months, if not renewed, and the return of which is comparable to that payable on other types of security where money is surrendered for a longer period of time. It is well that inquiry should be made into the investment of trust funds. It is wise also to know, and for that reason the right honorable gentleman has asked, whether other funds are to be held indefinitely or are to be wound up upon the completion of certain events or periods of time. It is not correct to suggest that there is anything wrong, from the standpoint of either security or yield, with the return from certain investments in short-term liquid securities. If it be suggested that such investments are unsound, then the private banks throughout the world have followed an unsound practice, because their most favoured form of investment of short-term or liquid funds has been treasury-bills, or short-term commercial paper for the financing of commercial transactions.
– I am glad that the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) has been inclined to agree with the remarks that I made earlier in regard to control of land sales. I recall to the minds of honorable members those famous words of Chief Justice Sir Samuel Griffith -
The value of land is more or less indicated in this way, that when two persons meet, and one is not anxious to sell and the other is not anxious to buy, we get a fair valuation.
I do not believe that any one can agree that such a condition exists at the present time. But by adopting the method which I have suggested, it would be brought about within two or three years.
I have risen because I have been intrigued by the remarks of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). In the masterly style which he invariably displays in dealing with finance, he drew attention to the trust fund in respect of war damage. I was under the impression that the amount standing to the credit of that trust fund was £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 and was amazed when, upon a check-up, I found that the right honorable gentleman was quite correct, as he always is when dealing with financial matters. The budget papers presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) show, at page 100, in connexion with the War Damage Fund, that an amount of £13,091,667 was brought forward from the 30th June, 1946; that the expenditure to the end of June, 1947, had been £2,730,014 ; and that the balancecarried forward to the 1st July, 1947,. was £11,158,389. There has been a lot of argument as to what should be donewith this fund. During the war, the only portion of Australia that was “ blooded “,. apart from a small area in the northwest of Western Australia, was the town of Darwin. This fund has been deliberately used by the Government to> buy out the people of Darwin, and shift them from the old town to the new town, at prices of which it ought to be ashamed. It has deliberately uprooted the town and shifted it to a new location, and now has the audacity to ask those people to rebuild their houses, recompensing them out of the War Damage Fund not at presentday costs, but at the values that ruled in 1942 ! I have been fighting for the last two and a half years in this Parliament to convince the Government that out of a sense of decency and in the name of equity it should recompense those people according to replacement value, so that their homes could be rebuilt in the new area at present day prices. The people of Darwin are in an amazing state. They are unable to rebuild because prices are so high. The works and housing planners tip there do not seem to be able to assist them in any way. They must house themselves in some way, and they are doing so by the purchase of Sidney Williams huts and old shacks. The town is taking the form of, not one that has been planned on modern lines but ‘ a shanty town. The planners and architects advising the Government have become well known as “ crystal gazers “. They have been allowed to run riot, and have violated all, town planning principles. In order to illustrate how the money could have been wisely spent, I shall quote from some notes which I made last year from an article by that outstanding American, David E. Lilienthal, chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority. This is what he said -
The test of democratic planning is whether the people will light for it - not simply whether they will accept it, or approve it, or join in it - but whether they will fight for it.
He went on to say -
When I say the people are aroused and “ in here fighting “ I mean just this :
– Order! The honorable member is straying too far from the Estimates that are before the committee.
– I am trying to show to this honorable chamber how the people of Darwin have had their homes filched from them by undemocratic planning, whereby all the rules of correct planning were violated. This trust fund has been used to recompense them at a peppercorn value. I feel that, upon reflection, you will allow me to show how the money has been wasted, and how it could be used judiciously in future.
– The honorable member will have to make his statement on that matter very brief. He will not be entitled to elaborate on it.
– I continue the quotation -
People of every interest and group; chambers of commerce; labour unions, stores, civic organizations, &c.
When people feel that way about plans and planning, when they participate in the plans and join in carrying them out, when they are willing to spend their money and their time working and even fighting for them, planning then stands on solid rock.
This is the conclusion -
My personal preference is to use the word “planning” sparingly, for this reason: The term “ planning “ has come to be used in so many different senses that the . nomenclature has almost lost its usefulness; in fact, it has come to be a source of some confusion. For example, in post-war planning discussion, some people have pared the word down to mean ordinary foresight. Others have gone to the other extreme, and violently condemn planning because to them it means a complete reconstruction of our social system - comprehensive state socialism and the like. Some discerning industrialists urge widespread postwar “ planning “ as a way of assuring “ free enterprise “ or “ democratic capitalism “ - phrases that also have come, by loose handling, to be as foggy in their meaning as “planning “ itself. However, the label that is applied is not of particular importance - whether “ planning “ or “ resource development “ or any other name. What is of importance- and thi9 applies to Darwin - is the light that resource development throws on the modern tasks of making nature work for man, of changing man’s environment so that it will provide him with a better opportunity for individual development and spiritual strength.
– Order ! The honorable member is proceeding too far along those lines. I have been lenient with him, but he must now discuss the proposed vote before the Chair.
– I realize that it would be easier for you, Mr. Chairman, to cut and fit a suit of clothes for a blue crab or a lobster than to understand planning.
– I trust that you will pardon my levity, Mr. Chairman, and that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) and the Minister for Works and Housing. (Mr. Lemmon), who are in control of the expenditure of money in the Northern Territory, will realize that what has been done there has been unfair, and that the War Damage Insurance Fund should not have been used improperly. I hope that when the people of Darwin who were forced out of their homes are again able to build for themselves they will be treated ‘fairly, and given the replacement value of their former homes.
[3.22 J. - The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) is well off the beam. The expenditure of money for the purchase of properties in the Northern Territory does not come out of the War Damage Insurance Fund, but is authorized under the Darwin Lands Acquisition Act 1945. It appears under another item altogether in the Estimates. It is true that there is £11,000,000 in the War Damage Insurance Fund, but it is also true that no claims on the fund have been made by property owners in New Guinea.
– Have claims not been made?
– Some claims have been received but have not been dealt with. The majority of claims have not been made at all. Therefore, it would be improper for the Government to use the money in the trust fund for any other purpose until all claims which may properly be made on the fund have been received and dealt with. If, when that time arrives, there is a surplus in the fund, the Government will decide what shall be done with the balance.
.- One of the principal points made by the Opposition has been in connexion with the administration of Land Sales Control, and, therefore, I thought that when the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) rose to speak that criticism would have been answered. The Government is treating the Parliament with contempt in allowing so’ deep-seated and widespread criticism of a major matter of government policy and administration to pass without making any attempt whatsoever to answer it. The policy of the’ Government and its administration of affairs in the matter of lands sales control and prices control affect every stratum of society in Australia. A case has been made out by honorable members on this side of the chamber showing that there is grave reason to believe that the law in respect of the control qf land sales is being evaded on a large scale. Responsible members on this side have made allegations of corruption; they have said that numbers of people are engaged in land transactions of a nature which amount to an evasion of the law. Surely we have not reached the stage where the Government is so contemptuous of the Parliament that no Minister takes the trouble to rise to answer charges made in the Parliament. I have accused the Government of acting in defiance of a principle which it seeks to impose on the citizens of this country. I have cited instances of the Commonwealth Bank having bought land in a town, which I have named, at a price far above that which the Treasury was prepared to approve in respect of a private transaction. When a member of the Parliament says that he has information that such an important institution of the Government as the Commonwealth Bank is acting in defiance of the Government’s own policy, we have a right to expect an answer - a denial, or an explanation, or an assurance that an investigation of the charge will be made. . The committee is entitled to know whether one set of conditions shall apply to citizens, of this country who desire to deal in real estate, whilst governmental instrumentalities which also are engaged in similar transactions are not bound by similar conditions. The Commonwealth Bank, the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Department of Civil Aviation and other departments are continually engaged in land transactions throughout Australia. In addition, many other transfers of land take place when the Government arbitrarily exercises its power of compulsory acquisition. If instrumentalities of the Government are not to be subjected to the same conditions as private citizens who desire to buy and sell land, how can law and order be sustained in this country? Many speeches have been delivered by supporters of the Government in an attempt to impress on the Parliament and the people of this country the importance of checking inflationary tendencies. There have been references to the necessity for maintaining rationing, prices control, land sales control, and other restrictions, all of which are accepted substantially by the people, even if somewhat unwillingly. But they will not be accepted if the people realize that government departments act in complete contempt of the principles propounded by Ministers. When a debate of this nature occurs, and serious allegations are made by members of the Opposition, the only construction which can be placed on the silence of the Government is that it is utterly contemptuous of protests, and completely unconcerned about giving effect to the principles for which it declares it stands. The people of Australia are “ fed up “ with the conduct of autocrats who are part of a dictatorial administrative system. If respect for government is to be maintained - and I can think of no higher purpose of government than to maintain respect for the processes of government - Ministers dare not remain silent in the face of the charges which have been made by members of the Opposition. I hope that before this proposed vote is disposed of I may succeed in stinging some Minister to state where the Government stands in this matter. When I spoke on the subject last night, I expected that, after I had exposed what was brought to my notice as a very questionable land transaction in the town of Numurkah, an explanation would be forthcoming. However, we were merely treated to a tirade from the Minister of Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) of a kind to which we have become accustomed. I do not complain of that. I complain, not of what he said, but of what no Minister has yet said. I challenge the Government now to say whether the Commonwealth Bank is to proceed from town to town purchasing land at a price far in excess of what Land Sales Control will approve in the case of private transactions. Is the Government to participate in land deals of a kind which it continues to forbid in the case of private citizens under its attenuated wartime powers? That is a question which permits of a straightout answer, and the Parliament is entitled to receive one.
.- I desire to bring to the notice of the Government two anomalies in connexion with Land Sales Control of a kind which has prompted many honorable members to fight for the abolition of control. Probably, abolition would not be necessary if the Government were more amenable to reason. In the last Parliament, an attempt was made to induce the Government to agree to the setting up of an appeal authority which would be more readily accessible to aggrieved persons than are the present authorities. The proposal found much favour with government supporters. The honorable member who secured the adjournment of the debate on the proposal was in favour of it, but, like all motions that emanate from this side of the House, it was left on the notice-paper until the Parliament was prorogued, and nothing more was heard of it. However, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) undertook to investigate some of the more glaring cases which I had mentioned, and I am grateful to him that in some of the worst instances adjustments were made. Nevertheless, although he appeased me, and relieved the immediate necessities of the aggrieved persons, he left the principle unchanged. I know ‘ of several properties which are now out of production because Treasury officials will not agree to the valuation accepted by both buyers and sellers - who, after all, are the people who understand the business - and this at a time when national, and perhaps Empire, survival depends upon increased production. The owners are willing to sell, and the prospective buyers, who know their business, are willing to buy at an agreed price. Then the Treasury enters the field, and tells them, in effect, that they know nothing about their own .business, with the result that the land is lying idle, land which should be used at this time to stem the downward trend of production which has been noticeable over the last few. years.
I particularly stress the point that the Treasury, which interferes with deals of this kind, should at least pay for its own mistakes. I have in mind the case of a returned soldier who has been made the victim of a Treasury mistake. The delegate of the Treasurer agreed to a sale contract at a price £750 above his own valuation. The prospective purchaser paid a deposit of £750 which he was likely to lose if he failed to go on with the purchase, because we established the fact that he had no legal redress: I mention no names at this stage because the case is still being investigated nearly seven months after I first wrote to the department about it, and I do not wish to prejudice the matter. It could have been adjusted in a fortnight if the Treasury had been prepared to accept responsibility for its own mistake. It is not important whether the victim be a returned soldier or any other citizen. If a person has been victimized as a result of government policy, the Government should accept responsibility. The Government is able to provide millions of pounds in some cases, and thousands of pounds in others, for things which no one wants, so it should have no difficulty in providing the fewhundreds of pounds necessary to do justice in this case. It may be claimed that this is an isolated case, and so it is a fact which may be highly satisfactory to the majority,but poor consolation tothe few who are victims. I have received much correspondence about the case, including a letter from the Prime Minister himself, admitting that a mistake was made, and saying that he had advised the delegate of the Treasurer what price he should have agreed to. I am still hoping that, after seven months, the department may do something in the matter. I ask the Minister for Post-War Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), who is now at the table, to take note of the case, because the matter is not so far remote from his own department, and I trust that provision will be made to remove an injustice.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Attorney-General’s Department. Proposed vote, £528,000.
– I note that the estimated expenditure for the present financial year on the Commonwealth Investigation Service is £22,075 more than was expended in the previous year. I am wondering what plans ‘the Government has under consideration that would necessitate that increase of expenditure in respect of the Commonwealth Investigation Service. At this juncture it appears to me to be very important that the Government should take some definite line of actionwith respect to matters that have recently arisen as the result of the Soviet’s decision to revive the Comintern. That decision is of world-wide import. Almost every democratic country is now concerned about what might happen with the revival of the Comintern.’ It appears that every country, with the exception of Australia is so concerned, because almost daily we read reports in the press regarding action that other countries are taking to purge their administrations of this particular brand of saboteur. But in Australia we shrug our shoulders blissfully and say, “ What can we do about it ?” Early in this sessional period I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) what action the Government proposed to take to purge the Public Service of the Communist menace. The right honorable gentleman replied that such a purge might assume the form of a Gestapo. If the Public Service, and all bodies associated with the administration of government are not purged of those elements, there will be no doubt in the Communists’ mind as to the formation of a Gestapo when they assume control of government departments.This morning I drew attention to action contemplated in the United States of America. I referred to a cablegram published in the press stating that the American Department of State announced yesterday that it would dismiss instantly any officer, or employee, deemed to be a security risk. That report stated -
The State department announced yesterday that it would dismiss instantly any officer or employee deemed to be a “security risk”. The announcement said the State department was a “vital target” for persons engaged in espionage or subversion of the United States Government. It added that people in the following categories would not be regarded as good security risks.
The report then sets out four headings covering those who would not be considered to be good security risks -
Those who advocate treason or subversion, or are members of or affiliated with or in sympathetic association with the Communist, Nazi, or Fascist parties.
We can assume, indeed, it has been proved, that as all those parties uphold authoritarian ideologies, they come under the one heading. The only distinction between Fascists, Nazis and Communists *s a distinction of colour, because. we find that Red Fascism is in all other respects fascism of the kind which we hope has been destroyed in Germany and Italy. The other security risks are -
Those who engage in espionage, directly or indirectly, for a foreign government.
Those “who knowingly divulge secret information without authority and with the belief Unit it would be transmitted to a foreign government, or who are consistently irresponsible in handling such information.
Those in habitual or close association with known agents of foreign governments.
Persons coming under those four headings are covered by action contemplated by all the democratic countries designed to check this challenge by the Soviet in reviving the Comintern. I note that Switzerland also proposes to take certain action in this respect. It will be interesting to have a look at the position in Aus.tralia. A definite responsibility rests upon the Government in this matter through the Attorney-General’s Department which administers the Commonwealth Investigation Service. If that service carries out the duties that might be insisted upon by the Government, it would be easy for its officers to go through the records of public servants and those closely associated with the most secret administrative phases of government to ensure, at least, that there shall be no opportunity in those spheres for treason, sabotage, or treachery, which seems to bc the characteristic of this particular brand of f ascism. I recall that the Menzies Government, because of .the treasonable activities of the Communists in Australia, and their attempts to sabotage our war effort, declared the Communist party to be an illegal organization. That decision was of great public importance, because we believed that at that time there was an urgent need to line up those people who were endeavouring to sabotage our war effort, and to indulge in treasonable activity in this country. But what do we find to-day? No sooner was the Menzies Government succeeded by a Labour Government than the latter lifted that ban upon the Communist party. This Government brought the Communists back in the fold, and it might be interesting to know the reason for its decision. One need only review the leaders of many of our trade unions, and recall the pressure which Communist leaders in those unions have brought to bear upon the Government in the past, to realize that their strength and power were too great to be resisted by the Government: Indeed, during the war, the leaders of the Communist party were appointed by this Government to positions of trust in this country. The Government thus enhanced their reputation and built up their prestige in the trade unions, giving them a standing which they could not have acquired otherwise. All honorable members are -aware of those facts. In addition, the Government has given directions to branches of the Labour party to cleanse their organizations of communism. We hear very little about that to-day, because so many branches of the Labour party at present are dominated by Communists over whom neither the Government nor the Labour party can exercise control. I direct attention to the points which have been made by the American Department of State, because they arise from a series of actions which have been revealed by various governments. That department lists first as a security risk -
Those who advocate treason or subversion, or are members of or affiliated with or in sympathetic association with the Communist. Nazi, or Fascist parties.
Honorable members will recall the exposure of the activities of Communists in Canada. An inquiry by a royal commission in that country disclosed the most damning and dastardly attempt on the part of the Soviet to undermine the Canadian Secret Service, with a view to obtaining vital Canadian defence information. The Canadian Government did not pull its punches in that matter, but made it perfectly clear where it stood. Subsequently, it carried out a purge of its public service and took the necessary action to prevent a recurrence of such activities. But in Australia the Government shrugs its shoulders and says, “Why ban the Communists? Why take action against them ? We will only drive them underground, and if we do that they will be infinitely worse than they are to-day “. That talk may have been effective a little while ago, when it might have appeared that the Soviet was not intent on pursuing a policy of causing international turmoil; but, to-day, the Soviet ha.s declared it3 hand. It has hardened. It is again prepared to “ come at “ treason and treachery in countries at which it aims. Therefore, whatever policy the Government adopted in the past, it must now give serious consideration to changing that policy. I take heart from the answer given by the Prime Minister to the question which I asked this morning when he said that he would give consideration to my suggestion that the Government should carry out ‘a purge of public servants and members of the Parliament found to be closely associated with Communist organizations.
Only recently this Parliament passed legislation to protect approved defence projects from the activities of Communists who aim, not only to wreck our great democratic institutions, but also to obstruct our defence plans by conveying secret information relating to our defence projects to the Soviet Government. The. Government introduced that measure because it was aware of the need for taking some action to guard against espionage and sabotage in connexion with the guided weapons range project in Central Australia. It, therefore, must be alive to the threat of the Communists or such a measure would not have been introduced. But what in the name of all humanity is the use of introducing legislation of that kind into this Parliament when the whole of the Public Service is left open to infiltration by Communists? Honorable members opposite may say, “ There is no evidence to show that there are Communist cells within the Public Service “. During the war, when the Public .Service was increased by tens of thousands of new appointees, is it not possible that members of the Communist organization were placed in positions of importance and responsibility in the Public Service? Indeed, it is one of the first steps in the policy of the Communists to establish cells throughout the public service of any country which they hope to undermine. We cannot but assume that among the tens of thousands of persons appointed to the Public Service during and since the war, there must have been a percentage of Communists who now are well and truly bedded down in our public departments. If, as we have every reason to fear, the Public Service is more or less riddled with Communist cells, it is highly desirable that the committee should take advantage of the increase of the provision for the Commonwealth Investigation Service - and, indeed, if need be, increase it still further - to force the Government to institute an exhaustive inquiry with the object of purging the Public Service of all those who are in close association with communism in Australia. The time has never been more opportune for the instigation of such an inquiry. The challenge has been made by the Soviet that it will revitalize the Comintern Internationale, the objects of which are treachery, sabotage and treason within all countries in which it is established. I was interested to read in the press this morning an article by Dr. Lloyd Ross, Director of Public Relations in the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. Although Dr. Ross is a public servant, he contributes regularly to the press, whether under direction I do not know, but I do know in some instances he expresses what might well be considered to be government policy. Honorable members know this man’s record. They know- .
- Dr. Lloyd Ross is an employee of the Department of Postwar Reconstruction, and accordingly his activities may not be discussed during the consideration of the estimates qf the Attorney-General’s Department.
- Dr. Lloyd Ross has contributed an article relating to the Commonwealth Investigation Service from which I propose to quote. Discussing the revitalization of the Comintern, this gentleman, who formerly had leftist views and subsequently disavowed them to join the Public Service, had this to say-
The authoritarian nature of Communist organization extending from the smallest unit in a local party to a national authority was never more pronounced than when the Comintern gave instructions to local parties that they, were then to be free to think for themselves. But it was never intended (except within the narrow limits determined by Moscow) that thought and action should really be free.
Those are very telling words. He says, in effect - and who should know better than he - that notwithstanding what direction may be given, they were allowed only the freedom that Moscow itself determined. He continues -
The dissolution of the Comintern made no difference to Australian behaviour because the local Communists read the products of Moscow and followed the lines not by compulsion but by the’ much more horrifying remote-control on minds that were so anxious to obey that servility was the main test of loyalty.
Honorable members should heed that warning, because they know that a direction, given to those who, as Dr. Lloyd Ross says, would regard servility as the main test of loyalty, would be obeyed in the interests, not of the country of their birth, or of their adoption, but of Soviet Russia. Soviet Russia has thrown a challenge into the lap of the Government which the Government cannot ignore. Dr. Lloyd Ross continues -
It does not, therefore, follow that Communists in Australia will return to the militant industrial policy of a few months ago, but we can expect some rapid changes in local policy in response to the demands of the new Comintern as the relationship between America and Britain changes.
As honorable members are well aware of the first point made by Dr. Lloyd Ross, I do not propose to labour it; but I want to say something with regard to the suggested rapid changes in local policy, because I believe they will follow the lines of the original policy of the Comintern. As honorable members know, that policy is one of treason, treachery and sabotage in every country in which it operates. It is because of this great challenge to the democratic countries that I raise this matter. I believe that, notwithstanding the fact that the Government is supported by the trade unions, which are riddled with Communists, it should take action to guard against this menace. Only recently we had an example of Communist influence on the conference of the Australian Council of Trades Unions. At that- conference Mr. Thornton made it perfectly clear-
– Order ! The honorable member is straying wide of the Estimates now before the committee.
– Not at all.
– The Chair has. ruled otherwise.
– I want to show the need for a purge of Communists from positions of authority and for the Commonwealth Investigation Service to conduct an inquiry into the influence and activities of Communists in the Public Service, even if it means increasing the vote of the Commonwealth Investigation Service to do so. It is common knowledge that the whole of the trade union movement - which I consider to represent the greatest forward step that has ever been made by mankind: for the emancipation of the workers - our courts of justice, particularly the Arbitration Court, our ‘Public Service and our great industrial organizations are gravely in danger of being wrecked unless this Government is prepared to deal with the Communist menace. If it remains unchecked these rapid changes in local policy about which Dr. Lloyd Ross has written may not be confined to the continuation of militancy in industrial unions, but may be very much more serious than he envisages. The policy propounded by Communists is becoming part and parcel of the policy of this Government. Mr. Kennelly, M.L.C., of Victoria, stated in his address to the recent trade union conference at. Toronto that Parliament itself had to take directions from the trade unions, and, of course, the trade unions, according to Mr.’ Thornton, are completely under the control of the Communists. I shall give an illustration of the lines on which our Communist friends are thinking: It is a sorry state of affairs indeed when one finds a leader of the Communist organization in this country, who recently received an authoritative appointment from the Government, can make statements of this kind. In Melbourne, in 1946, following the Soviet Day procession that took place in that city, Mr. Thornton said -
We are celebrating the. Russian revolution, but in a couple of years time we might be celebrating Australia’s revolution.
Surely the Government cannot ignore such an utterance. In effect, Mr. Thornton issued a challenge to the Government by saying, “ We Communists in this country are building up our strength to bring about a bloody revolution “. Dr. Lloyd Ross has said that the Australian Communists take their directions from Moscow, and he is a mouth-piece of the Government at present. Mr. Thornton’s statement indicates clearly the danger of a violent upheaval in this country ; and how better could a revolution be inaugurated than by striking at that great administrative institution, the Public Service? As I have said, the Public Service is riddled with Communist cells, ready to assume control when the moment to strike arrives. When I was Postmaster-General it was common knowledge in .the departmentthat there existed in that organization Communist cells of great strength and influence. Acknowledged Communists had formed not merely single units, but multiple units. They openly discussed Communist policy, and claimed allegiance to the Communist party. Thus, in one of the most important sections of the Public Service - a section controlling the lines of communication of this country - Communists are well organized, and ready to act at a moment’s notice as they have done in other countries. Australia should do what the other democratic countries are doing, and thoroughly cleanse the Public Service of individuals who are associated with Communist organizations. Here is an example of the influence that the Communists are able to exert: Recently, twelve telephones and twenty extensions have been installed in Marx House, Sydney, although there are approximately 30,000 people in New South Wales alone waiting for telephones for the carrying out of ordinary business, much of it of an urgent nature. Apparently the influence of the Communist cells in the Postmaster-General’s Department has enabled the Communists of Marx House to obtain priority for the installation of telephones. It cannot be argued that the Communists are securing preference because they are performing a national service: there is no need for me to emphasize that they are rendering a great disservice to this nation. They, are saboteurs, they formulate treachery and they deal in treason; yet this Government allows them to proceed on their way despite the example that has been set by other democratic countries in which government administration has been purged of Communist influences. All we can get from the Prime Minister is a blithe glossing over of our warnings. Acknowledging that this menace exists in the community, the Government has introduced legislation to protect the proposed guided weapons range in Central Australia. But what do the Communists care about such a range when they are able to control the Public Service and the lines of communication in this country ? Protests against the appointment of certain individuals to important governmental and semi-governmental positions have been made in this chamber on several occasions. For instance, a defeated politician, and, of course, a Government supporter, was appointed to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. His brother is- a well-known Communist, and the views of this gentleman himself are open to suspicion. One naturally would like to know how far this policy is to be pursued. Has the Government any sense of responsibility to the people and to democratic ideals? Are honorable members opposite so devoid of understanding that while seeking to purge .their own trade unions of Communists, they believe themselves justified in refusing to extend the purge to that great administrative organization, the Public Service ? They say, in effect, “ We know of the Communist menace, and we aim to purge the trade unions of Communists “ ; but, at the same time, they smile and bow to Communists in the Public Service because their influence is so great that it dare not be resisted. In the interests of this country and of the democratic cause, there is a responsibility upon this Government to ensure that before the Communists are able to undermine the entire Public Service, action should be taken to check the records of all appointees, and to rid the organization of Communists already within its ranks.
.- Speaking on the estimates of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, and with particular reference to the Commonwealth Investigation Service, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has suggested that the Government should undertake at once a purge of the Public Service of the Commonwealth. Listening to thd honorable gentleman storming like a fuhrer on the eve of a war, one could have imagined that one was listening to Hitler. This prominent member of the New Guard talks more like Hitler every day. He made an astounding proposition that the Government should immediately direct the Commonwealth Investigation Service to pry into the private lives of public servants. The Government has been criticized for having increased the staff of the Commonwealth Investigation Service. It is unthinkable that a responsible body of intelligent men should be treated in such a way. , The honorable member used the word “ purge “ over and over again. He said he did so advisedly. We can only draw the inference that he wants the letters of public servants to be opened. He wants to subject public servants to the (methods of the Gestapo in Germany and the O.G.P.U. in Russia. The fine body of men in the Public Servive must not be harassed in that way.
– I rise to order. I direct your attention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to the fact that in my speech I requested the appointment of a committee of inquiry, but I did not say anything about prying into letters.
– There is no point of order.
– Every honorable member who heard, the honorable gentleman’s speech could draw only one inference when he used the word “purge” several times in relation to the Public Service.
– After a committee had conducted an inquiry, yes.
– The idea is that men should be questioned, that public servant’s letters should be opened and examined and that people should be spied on as in Germany. That is a state of affairs that I do not want in this country. We believe in the Four Freedoms, which include freedom of speech and freedom of political belief. If we were to adopt a policy of hounding down those whose political beliefs differ from ours, we should be looking for trouble. Recently in New South Wales, advertisements have been published in many newspapers proclaiming that we are a freedom-loving people. Yet the persons who have instigated those advertisements stand up in this chamber and ask us to adopt a system that would destroy the liberty of the people. He should be condemned for his speech. What would be the position in this country if we adopted a system of spying on the Public Service. We must rely on the law as it stands. To do as the honorable member suggests the powers of the Commonwealth Investigation Service would have to be enlarged. The honorable member said that the proposed vote for the Commonwealth Investigation Service was insufficient to meet the cost of an increased staff. I do not think that the Commonwealth Investigation Service could do anything more than submit a report if it knew or had reason to believe that an offence was being committed. The honorable member referred to the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act and its provisions to preserve the secrecy of experiments on the guided weapons testing range in Central Australia. I remind him that deadly weapons that might be used in another war will be tested on that range and that it is of the utmost importance to not only Australia, but the whole British Commonwealth, to preserve the strictest secrecy. To say that because .that legislation was - passed we should also purge the Public Service is too ridiculous for consideration. I hope we shall hear no more of the honorable member’s suggestion.
– How does the honorable member propose to combat communism in this country?
– The honorable member would combat it by arresting thousands of people. The way to prevent communism in this country is to raise the standard of living, and this Government is proceeding upon those lines. Communism will nourish in Australia only so long as people are in want and depressions occur. It is the policy of the Government to raise the standard of living. If that be done we shall have no need to worry about communism.
– I congratulate the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) on his intestinal fortitude in speaking straight from the shoulder against communism. If we are to judge the sentiments of the Government from the remarks of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams), we must conclude that the Government is lacking in intestinal fortitude. I am searching for a word.
-“ Guts ! “
– That is a very expressive word. It could not have come from the Labour side, for honorable members there do not know its meaning. I rose mainly to refer to the Legal Service Bureau. I congratulate the Government for having decided to vote additional money for that bureau. The proposed provision is £34,300. I assume that the. bureau will deal with problems of ex-servicemen, domestic or otherwise. En remote parts of Australia legal men are trying to give that service. I refer particularly to the representative of the bureau in Darwin. Although he and his superior officer asked me not to refer his troubles to head-quarters, I wrote to the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who unfortunately is away, asking him to ensure the provision of adequate transport for this official. A motor car is needed to enable him to do his work. A few months ago, when I was in the Northern Territory, I found that he had to “ hitch-hike “ from Darwin to Alice Springs along the bitumen road. He should have a serviceable motor car to enable him to cover the enormous area that he has to cover east and west of the bitumen road between Alice Springs and ‘ Darwin. At mining camps he met 250 exservicemen. He was able to handle 50 cases on the spot, but the remainder have to be referred to head-quarters. It is not fair that he should be asked’ to “ hitch-hike “, cadging lifts from truck drivers in the territory mentioned. He should be provided with a reliable car. There are mining camps in many outlying places which these officers have great difficulty in reaching because of the lack of ordinary transport facilities. They are providing an excellent service for ex-servicemen in the Northern Territory. Without any solicitation from me, one of them handled a case at Tennant Creek on behalf of two ex-soldiers whose mining claim had been jumped while they were at the war. These men found, when they returned to Tennant Creek, that their claim had been given to four army officers who had passed it off to some company promoters in Adelaide. A court of inquiry was held and recommended the payment of £600 compensation to the two men. However, the amount was not paid, and I am doubtful whether even their travelling expenses were refunded. In fact, this Government refused to pay these “ diggers “ the compensation to which they were entitled. The Legal Aid Officer wrote to me explaining the case, and I took it up with the appropriate authority. Strangely enough, the Government, has some shame and it took action to have the leases returned to the men. I stress the importance of the work that these officers, are doing and emphasize the difficulties which they must overcome in order to move about the Northern Territory. I trust that the letter which I have written to the Attorney-General will not be overlooked. The officers particularly asked me riot to raise this matter with the Minister because they feared that my intervention might influence him against them. I decided to explain the situation to the Minister and did so “ off my own bat “, but there has been no result so far.
The estimated expenditure for the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is £54,300. I understand that only yesterday the recently passed Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act embodying the machinery provisions was proclaimed, and I am hopeful that either to-day or to-morrow the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1947 will also be proclaimed so that a legislative council for the Northern Territory can be elected before the wet season breaks in the north of Australia. Time is pressing, because the wet season is due in November. I urge the Government to bring that act into force immediately so that citizens who are willing to serve on the Legislative Council and. aid the development of the Northern Territory, in return for a meagre expense allowance, will be able to get to work. If the proclamation of the act is delayed until December, candidates will not be able to tour the territory because of the extreme difficulty of travelling during the wet season in districts where there are no bitumen roads.
I refer now to the Commonwealth Investigation Service, which was discussed outspokenly by the honorable member for Wentworth. Apparently the Government is trying to laugh off the menace of communism, to which the honorable member directed attention. Surely Ministers are laughing with their tongues in their cheeks. They must know that almost every Commonwealth department is riddled with Communist cells, but it seems that they dare not do anything about it. I first heard about that filthy intrigue that went on during the war within the Australia First Movement when I returned from the war. Two Communists set out to do some dirty work in Western Australia, and, when they were apprehended, they “pooled” many good Australians, and the Government fell for the trick. It was the nastiest episode in the history of Australia. I have seen a copy of the Trotsky indictment in a parallel version, in Russian in the left-hand column and in English in the right-hand column. The translation has been made faithfully, word for word. I have read it. If Ministers want to consult it they can find it where I found it. I do not know whether the man who copied the indictment is still a Communist.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to relate his remarks to the proposed vote under consideration.
– I am talking about Division 50, the Commonwealth Investigation Service. The honorable member for Wentworth dealt very thoroughly with the service in general, but he could have said even more than he did without overstating the case, even though Ministers and their supporters tried to laugh off his assertions. The fact is that our security is at stake. Are we to believe that this Government, with its head in the sand like an ostrich, is not aware of the menace? Are we to believe that the Government of the United States of America, which came to our aid during the war, is composed of fools and that it is having a purge of its own departments in order to uncover Communists and other leftists for no reason at all? Does the Government think that the obnoxious ideology of communism is not spreading throughout the world, like an amorphous mass? Does it seriously expect us to accept its denial that there is a clash of ideologies? Of course there is a clash of ideologies, and I shall be greatly surprised if it does not end in a clash of arms. Why not face the facts realistically? Why not insist that the records of public servants, particularly in the Attorney-General’s Department and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, he submitted to a merciless scrutiny ? We might examine the records of officers in some departments through a telescope, so to speak, but the records of employees in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Attorney-General’s Department ought to be checked with a microscope.
What happened in regard to the testing range for guided weapons in Central Australia? Had not one of the Communist clowns been too hasty, we might have caught the Communists in the act of sabotaging the project. However,somebody let the cat out of the bag too soon and “ blew the gaff “. The Communists had intrigued to gain the support of religious organizations, particularly missions in South Australia. They used the cause of the black man - though they have no more genuine sympathy for the aborigine than they would have for a bandicoot - as a means of stirring up opinion among civilized sections of the community against the guided weapons range project. Communists are atheistic to the core, but they played on the feelings of religious people in order to further their nefarious ends. However, they were too hasty in carrying out their plans. Had this not been so, we could have caught these saboteurs red-handed. In spite of the obvious facts, the Government and its supporters try to laugh off our warnings, saying that we do not know the inside story. I am amazed when I hear them trying to convince the people of Australia, by means of the Hertzian waves by which our debates are broadcast, that the Communist menace does not exist. They are inveterate vote cadgers, and, perhaps, that explains their attitude. I am sure that they know, deep down in their hearts, that the menace is real, just as I know that it is. The guided weapons range must be jealously guarded. I shall not be satisfied unless a military guard is on duty there at all times. Above all, the secret archives -where the results of the tests will be listed must be preserved from the prying eyes of traitors and saboteurs. I warn honorable members opposite that the people of Australia know the truth about communism. They may try to fool themselves about this, but the people will show what they think in their own way at a later stage. As an example of Communist activity in Australia, I refer to events which took place at Brisbane last year. The then Deputy Premier of Queensland, Mr. Cooper, who is now Lieutenant-Governor of the State, visited a wharf at Brisbane and there heard a letter from the files of the Premier’s Department, which he had signed, being read to wharf labourers. The Communists held their big school at Brisbane last year. They gave up their Christmas holidays on the 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th of December for that purpose. ‘ Will not honorable members opposite who come from Queensland believe that statement? If they do not, let them check it. The Communists gloated over the fact that they had the Premier’s letter, which they read at their meeting, and which had been stolen from the Premier’s office. I could cite other examples, but I shall not give the details. The Commonwealth Investigation Service has its own methods, and thank goodness one of the officers in charge is Brigadier Galleghan, under whom I served in Malaya. Nothing passes him but lightning. The Common.wealth Investigation Service should be made stronger, so that a vigilant eye may be kept on these Communist “cells” in Commonwealth and State departments.
We are discussing the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department, which is responsible for the administration of justice in the Commonwealth. In a democracy it is essential that the public shall have a respect for our law courts, particularly the High Court of Australia. The Labour party desires to make the High Court the final court of appeal in this country. However, some members of the Labour party appear to set out deliberately to bring the High Court into contempt. In the Sydney Domain last Sunday afternoon, I heard a speaker express the following opinions with rancour :-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I remind the honorable member that the High Court is not included in the portion of the Estimates which the committee is now considering.
– I am referring to the Attorney-General’s Department, Division No. 46, “High Court”, for which the estimated expenditure on salaries and payments in the nature of salaries is £12,700. I congratulate the Government; on its decision to increase the salaries of those eminent gentlemen who are justices1 of the High Court. In passing, I often wonder why the senior judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory has not received an increase of salary. However, as that subject should be raised under another department, I shall not make a more extensive reference to it at this stage. The speaker in the Sydney Domain, to whom I referred earlier, said -
In defiance of the mandate of the people the trading banks had appealed to the High Court against the order to public bodies to bank with the Commonwealth Bank. . . . The Government and the people had been knocked back by seven incompetent septugenarians; also that the Government believed that the banks intended to attack every section of the 1045 hanking legislation, and the Ministry could not take the risk of going before that court again and had therefore decided to nationalize the banks.
– Who said that?
– I shall tell the honorable member in a few moments. Yesterday, in this chamber, I, as a representative of a democratic people, attempted to refer to this matter, but Mr. Speaker ruled that my remarks were out of order. These remarks, which were made in my hearing, with rancour and contempt, in the Sydney Domain on Sunday at 3.50 o’clock, were uttered by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) the Speaker of this chamber. I want to know what the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Attorney-General, Mr. Holloway, proposes to do about it.
– Order ! “What took place in. the Sydney Domain last Sunday afternoon has nothing to do “with the High Court or the Attorney-General’s Department.
– I rise to order. We are discussing the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, and one of the important elements in them is the cost of the judiciary of the High Court. The functioning of the judiciary of the High Court is under review. If an honorable member desires to bring to the notice of the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Attorney-General action on the part of another honorable member or a private citizen which would damage the efficient conduct of the High Court, he is entitled to raise the matter and have it discussed here.
– Provision for the judiciary of the High Court is made elsewhere in the Estimates.
– This provision is made under the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
– I rise to order. On page 30 of the Estimates is a summary for the Attorney-General’s Department. Under Division No. 46 appears the item “High Court, £22,200”. Now, there is no distinction as to whether it is one section of the High Court or another.’ It is the High Court, and the item means the High Court, and everything connected with it. This is the only occasion in the year when honorable members are entitled . to discuss the High Court as an institution of the Commonwealth under the Constitution. Normally, if any attempt is made to discuss the High Court or what takes place in it, Mr. Speaker or the Chairman of Committees immediately rules that the matter may not be discussed. So, this is the one occasion in the year when the judiciary, the functioning of the judiciary, and everything that it stands for is open to criticism and correct-ion by this chamber. I submit that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) is entirely within his rights in bringing to tie notice of this committee any action on the part of any person who, in this instance within the last few days, has spoken publicly in the most derogatory terms about the High Court of Australia.
– - Order ! The judiciary of the High Court is covered not under the proposed vote for the Attorney-General’s Department, but under a special appropriation.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) referred to Division No. 46- the High Court. At the foot of page 30 of the Estimates the following note appears : -
For statement showing actual cost of Attorney-General’s Department, see Budget Papers 1947-48.
I have in my hand a copy of the Budget Papers 1947-48, and on page 69 of this document the following .table’ appears under the heading “ Attorney-General’? Department “ : -
These references place this issue beyond all reasonable doubt. The. remarks of the honorable member for the Northern Territory are in order.
– Order ! The Chair has ruled that the remarks of the honorable member for Northern Territory were out of order.
– I have nothing more to say, except that I should like to know what the Attorney-General proposes to do about this matter. I contend that the honorable member for Dalley should come into the chamber and give an explanation of his conduct.
– I am glad that honorable members have received, in such a favorable manner, the estimates of the Attorney-General’s department. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), who began this discussion, pointed to the proposed increase of expenditure and proceeded to offer reasons why the expenditure of various branches of the department should be greater than in the past. He mentioned the purchase of scientific equipment for the Defence Department, the experiments which will be conducted at the testing range for guided weapons and the need for the appointment of additional officers to the Commonwealth Investigation Service. The adoption of those suggestions costs a considerable amount of money, and explains very largely this increase of the Department’s expenditure. The Commonwealth Investigation Service will require the provision of an additional £22,075. Fifty-two additional officers have been appointed to carry out investigational work under the direction of Colonel Lungfield Lloyd. The honorable member for “Wentworth also stressed the necessity for the appointment of a sufficient number of security officers, but I believe that the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) struck the right note when he pointed out that this is not a subject which can be discussed in a propagandist fashion. The investigational work df the Defence Department is not a subject for public speeches, and I do not imagine that any honorable member would ask me to tell him exactly where the security officers are located or what they are doing. The conduct of those investigations must he left to the experts who are engaged upon them. As I stated, an additional £22,075 will be expended on the provision of an adequate investigation service.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory said that he was perfectly happy with the work done by the Legal Service Bureau. This organization was established to assist ex-servicemen, and its operations have extended to a greater degree than was anticipated. The service provided by the bureau is greatly appreciated by ex-servicemen, who are availing themselves of its assistance in greater numbers. In the Northern Territory, some very useful assistance has been rendered to ex-servicemen. The cost of maintaining and extending the functions of the bureau has increased correspondingly. The honorable member alleged that two ex-servicemen have been badly treated, but I understand that the reports submitted, after an official inquiry had been held, disclosed that the men had no claim. In saying that, I speak from recollection only. I shall examine the matter in order to ascertain whether any- thing can be done to assist these two men, and I trust that it will be possible to do so.
I have visited the Tennant Creek, Katherine, and Darwin areas on foot and in a truck, and I realize the difficulties confronting ex-servicemen who desire advice and assistance from the Legal Service Bureau. Their isolation is the problem. I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Minister acting for the Attorney-General, and suggest that some means of transport should be provided.
Complaints, were made about the arrears of work of the Patents Office, and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) criticized the department when he spoke in the debate on amendments proposed to be made to the Patents Act. The explanation of the arrears of work is shortage of staff. Most of the work performed by its officers is of an expert nature and it requires two years to train officers for these duties. The percentage of enlistments in the department’s staff was particularly high, and it was quite impossible for the remainder to cope with the department’s work during the war. Since the war ended, many of the servicemen have returned to duty, but at least an additional 50 or 60 qualified men and women are required to overtake the accumulation of nearly two years’ arrears. It has always been most difficult for this department to secure the services of adequately qualified officers, and even before the war its work was probably twelve months in arrears. The appointment of additional staff explains the increase of the estimate for the Patents Office.
The implementation of the amendments to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act has necessitated the appointment of a number of additional people, including fifteen conciliation commissioners. That number was fixed on the advice of the judges of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
– Does the Government propose to send a conciliation commissioner to Darwin as a matter of urgency?
– Only yesterday, the honorable member asked how long it would be before the conciliation commissioners were appointed, and stated that he had read in the press a report that the act had been proclaimed the previous day. The Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration convened a conference of the conciliation commissioners this afternoon, and I understand that they have been sworn in and their duties allocated to them. One of the most able of those gentlemen, Mr. Wallwork, has been deputed to deal with industrial disputes occurring in the Northern Territory and in Western Australia.
– He is an able man!
- Mr. Wallwork is to begin his duties this month and intends to dispose of all the disputes in the Northern Territory. No complaints were made by honorable members of the administration of the Attorney-General’s Department, although suggestions were made that certain things should be done which are, in fact, already being done.
.- The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) makes any problem appear easy of solution, but the burden of the criticism of members of the Opposition is that the Government should do something positive towards suppressing communism. I know that’ amongst Government supporters there are many men who abhor communism and profoundly regret the inroads which Communists have made in the Australian Labour party. It is a matter of common knowledge that in New South Wales alone 22 unions are dominated by Communists. Those unions represent, in the aggregate, a very large number of men, and those men are subject to the vicious influence of their Communist leaders. The Communists, who . were born and live in this country and enjoy all the privileges of Australian citizenship, admit that they own allegiance to an alien power. For that reason I am pleased that there has been an increased amount provided in the estimates for the Commonwealth Investigation Service, which last year spent £60,100 and is estimated to spend £74,200 this year. I presume that the reason for that increase is the realization by the Government of the necessity for policing its activities on the testing range for guided weapons. Not only is our own security concerned in that project, but the security of other Empire nations, including Great Britain, is involved. It is obvious to any one that the world situation to-day is menacing, and it is ominously reminiscent of the state of affairs which confronted us ten years ago. When we read reports in the press of the tirades delivered by Vyshinsky we are struck with their similarity to the utterances of Hitler and Goebbels. When little nations like Poland, for whom the Allies fought in World War I., are submerged and exist only as Soviet puppets, the danger to world peace is as great as it was at the height of the German Empire’s power under Hitler. One knew the bounds of the German Empire, just as one knows the bounds of the British Empire; but one does not know the bounds of the Russian empire.. That empire is being extended in all directions, and the policy pursued by the Soviet to-day corresponds with that pursued by Peter the Great. We have only to consider the orders issued by the Russian authorities : the army must be prepared for war at all times-
– The honorable member is dealing with foreign affairs although we have disposed of the estimates for the Department of External Affairs and are now dealing with the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department.
– The honorable member will raise his voice in caucus to say, “ Let us do something about it “. He could ‘be more useful. It is not sufficient that members of the Opposition should merely rise and ask the Government to do something. Action can be taken by Government supporters who are prepared to raise their voices. We know the policy of the Communists, whether in Australia, in Europe, or elsewhere. It is to foment general strikes, sabotage and armed insurrection and, if war should break out, to turn it into civil war, as Tito did in Yugoslavia. We know that there are Moscow-trained Communists like Tito in Australia, who are ready to cause discord, and suffering and loss of life. When Mein Kampf was published, we laughed at the crazy person who had written it, but when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany some of us realized that there was danger. Even then there were those who laughed at the so-called war-mongers who saw the possibility of a world war. A person must be either blind or a Communist who is not prepared to admit the danger which exists to-day. Russia has revived the Comintern which it abolished during the war, when England saved the Russians from defeat. The abolition of the Comintern though was mere deception. It has now been revived, and the Communist-controlled countries have been united in a solid Hoc to oppose any schemes for the revival of Europe, such as the Marshall plan. Another function of the Comintern is to create discord between nations, as when the Communists succeeded in entangling us with the Dutch over Indonesia, and besmirching our good name. I urge the Government to spend wisely the money which is to be voted for the Commonwealth Investigation Service. It is not suggested that there should be anything in the nature of a heresy hunt. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams), who is a lawyer, made a drivelling speech when he said that it had been suggested by honorable members on this side of the House that there should be a purge, accompanied by the opening of private letters. Nothing could be further from the thoughts of honorable members on this side of the House. All that is needed is the appointment of a royal commission to conduct an inquiry, as was done in Canada. I quote the following reference to the report of that commission -
The Soviet Minister to Canada and other Soviet representatives were absent in Moscow when the trap was sprung. They obviously had had some warning of what was coming.
According to A.P.A. the organization discovered was on three levels ( 1 ) an inner circle of Russian , agents, taking orders direct from Moscow; (2) a middle circle of detached and paid professional spies - all, it is believed, Canadian citizens; (3) Communist civil servant red-ants or subjects of blackmail, who willingly or unwillingly made available go vernment secrets. The Canadian Communist party was “ deeply involved “, and one of its members had been arrested.
A member of the Canadian Parliament was tried and sent to gaol, and a prominent English scientist was also imprisoned. Canada is a British dominion, and what happened there is happening in Australia. It is not the declared Communist, the Thornton’s and the Sharkey’s, who talk of revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, but the undeclared Communists who are the real danger. Men such as Lenin himself, were out of Russia at the time of the revolution in 1917 - but returned to seize power from the Liberal government which had been set up. I urge the Government to appoint a royal commission, when it can choose whom it likes to sit on the commission. Many people will be- prepared to come forward and say then what they know, so that the Government will be able to “ ticket “ the persons who menace us, and if trouble should come, they can be marked as traitors and put aside where they cannot disturb our safety.
.- I agree with the Minister for Labour and Social Service (Mr. Holloway) that no one should expect the Government to give details of how the money is spent which is voted for the Commonwealth Investigation Service. We recognize that in work of that kind security must be a first consideration. Like the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) I rise to speak on this subject because of the increased influence and numbers of the Communist party in Australia. In view of this fact, no one can successfully maintain that the proposed vote for the Commonwealth Investigation Service is sufficient. I do not want to labour this subject of the danger of communism, but I remind the committee of what honorable members on this side of the chamber have said on this subject in the’ past. Members of the Opposition do not object to Communists because of their political beliefs. We oppose the Communist party because we say that while its members are citizens of this country, while they take advantage of everything which this country offers, they admit of no loyalty, but take their orders from the Kremlin, and set out to work against our interests and to destroy us. The danger of communism has increased since Russia announced its intention to revive the Communist international movement known as the Comintern. This declaration has been hailed by the United States of America and Great Britain as so important that it may well lead to the breakdown of the United Nations’. It means the end of all pretence that Soviet Russia intends to make a “ go “ of efforts to achieve peaceful relations with the- democratic countries. It also means that, through the Communist organization, there is let loose in the world, and in this country among others,’ a fifth column which will insinuate itself into all kinds of organizations for the purpose of bringing about our destruction. As a step towards fighting this menace we ask, not that a Gestapo should be set up, not that people should be sent to gaol, but merely that an investigation should be made into the activities of Communists. We ask that those in authority should know where they stand, and who are the enemies in our midst. We further say that there is no excuse for the Government continuing to employ Communists, who must be known as such to the Government, in important posts. It is, in particular, a disgrace that they should be employed in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and in certain munitions factories, and it is known to all honorable members that certain wellknown Communists are so employed. That is a terrible condition of affairs. In Australia some most important experiments in armaments are shortly to be carried out. For our own security, and that of the Empire, the Government should not permit people to hold important and confidential positions, if they have affiliations with organizations outside this country. We ask that the Government should take action to show that it regards members of the Communist party as a potential menace to the State, and to ensure that, in certain circumstances - -as, for instance, wai- - they shall be dealt with immediately What has the Government done in response to the insistent demands on honorable members on this side? It has not done anything. Instead, it has made use of the Communist party, and has given tacit consent to its growth. In the last, election campaign several government candidates ran comfortably in harness with Communist candidates1. In my own electorate, the Labour candidate was closely associated with the Communist party, which issued pamphlets defaming me. Too much tolerance is shown towards this organization.
Mr. Duthie interjecting,
– I understand that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) employs himself as a lay preacher from time to time. That is admirable, but 1. remind him that Communists are radically opposed to our freedom, religion and laws. Instead of defending them, the honorable member would do better if he would consult the opinions of the people he is supposed to represent and give evidence of the .convictions that he professes to hold.
– Who said that I was defending them?
– Every time that the Communists decide to publish a new magazine or newspaper, newsprint for the purpose is made available to them. I could name half a dozen publications which have been started by Communists during the last two years, and for which ample supplies of newsprint have been made available by the Government. By denying them these facilities the Government could prevent ‘their growth. I emphasize the .seriousness of the growth of Communist organizations’ in our midst ; in Victoria ‘alone the Communist party has 5,000 active members. When we remember the determination of these people and their highly organized activities that is a matter for concern.
Another organization which is working on the well-known theory of the Communists that if the youth of a country is captured, in good time the adult population is captured, is the Eureka Youth Movement. I have watched with growing alarm the increasing numbers of young people belonging to this organization. So great is this menace that yesterday the Governor of New South Wales saw fit to make strong references to it at a Scouts rally. Steps should be taken to investigate this movement, and where it is found to be working against the best interest of
Australia it should he suppressed. Nothing is more reprehensible than the poisoning of the minds of young people of any nation.
The Opposition does not ask for drastic steps to be taken, and it is ridiculous for the honorable member for Robertson to say that we want to establish a Gestapo and to put people in gaol. We ask for nothing of the kind; but we do ask that the Government should undertake a thorough investigation so that the people may know where danger lies.
Mr. BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) [5.4J. - I view with great concern the growth of communism and the privileged that are extended to such traitors in this country. I have no desire to score a political advantage, but I hope that the Government will take steps to protect Australia against the white-anting activities of the Communists. The experience of the war should be sufficient to convince the Government that the Opposition is always ready and willing to assist in the protection of Australia, and, therefore, it must be aware that it can rely on the support of every member of the Opposition in any action that it may take against the foe in our midst. Communism should be suppressed in the interests of the people of Australia, and we on this side are prepared to accept our share of the responsibility for any action that may be taken against those engaged in subversive activities. Other honorable members have urged that Communists should not be employed by bodies such as the Council for Scientific and- Industrial Research, which undertake scientific investigations on behalf of the Government. I go further, and say that no such person should be engaged in our telegraphic or telephonic services. There should be a general clean-up of government departments because, should the occasion arise, these enemies of Australia would not hesitate to destroy essential services in which they are employed. In other countries Communists have shown that they are engaged in open warfare against democracy and freedom and, therefore, I hope that the Government will take the Opposition into its confidence,, and ask it to accept a share of the responsibility associated with the suppression of those who would destroy all that we hold worth while in life. Every week in the Sydney Domain, and elsewhere, Communists openly defy our laws, and give clear demonstration of their determination to check the development of our primary and secondary industries. In our love of freedom we have allowed them too much licence. Recently, a prominent member of the Communist organization, Roache, travelled to Cairns, in north Queensland, to arrange an illegal stop-work meeting of waterside workers which is now in progress. His object was to organize a strike which would prevent the loading of barges with cargoes for Indonesian ports. They continually hold up transport in this country, and prevent the export of food which is so much needed overseas. When one industrial dispute has been settled, they engineer another. They are working day and night, causing trouble, in this and every other democratic country. To the detriment of the Mother Country, they are actively , engaged in Egypt, India, Irak, Iran and Greece. They describe their activities in support of the proposed bank seizure in these terms : “ We in our fight f or the seizing of the banks “.
– They have the Government under their control.
– Unfortunately, it appears to be so. If the Government would take the Opposition into its confidence, it would have no need to fear trouble from the Communists, because we who sit on this side of the chamber are prepared to take our full share of the responsibility for dealing with the problem. We do not want the support or advocacy of men who are traitors to our country. We want to suppress them, if possible. It has been said that we want to put them in gaol. Those who are upsetting our transport and our home light supply and interrupting production by continually instigating strikes for no reason, should be put in gaol, or be sent to a country which would not allow them to have the freedom that they have in Australia. Let Australia be freed of the menace which has it by the throat, which is crippling its industries, preventing its development, denying the requirements of primary producers and interfering with, individuals who have money to invest or have invested- it, as well a’s governments, in the conduct of their activities. We shall not pay for the war that we are supposed to have won if we permit the continuance of the interference that is being caused day and night by the Communists. It. is up to us to do something. I hope that the Government will accept my suggestion, which has the hall mark of sincerity, and that there will be a party truce on this matter, so that Australia may come out with a national policy against all who are traitors to our institutions and our governments.
.- Since I have been a member of this Parliament I have held the view that, though the members of the Opposition may be sincere in their attitude towards communism, they have done more to assist than to restrict that organization. All my adult life I have been engaged in countering the evil of communism, and I claim to have gained considerable knowledge as to what are and what are not sound methods. I have always believed, and nothing has happened to change my belief, that people of this character can best be dealt with by giving them as little publicity as possible. I am prepared to concede that honorable members opposite are quite sincere; yet, whenever they speak on this matter, they give to these people publicity to which they are not entitled. We could talk here until we were blue in the face about what governments should or should not do in regard to the Communist menace, and when we were finished we should find that we had done nothing towards the solution of the problem. Whatever the present Government cared to do would have no greater effect towards solving the problem than was effected by what the Menzies Government did in 1939 It must not be forgotten that that Government declared communism an illegal organization. My friend the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), and I, as high officials in the Australian Workers Union, did more to counter the Communist menace than was done by probably any member of the present Opposition who at that time supported the Government in office. When communism was declared an illegal organization, Communists did not go out on the soap boxes in that” guise, but adopted the guise of independent socialists, and called themselves by all sorts of other names. They were the same people ; and “ a rose by any other name would smell as sweet “. The declara-tion of illegality did not impede their activities one iota. Honorable members must know that what I am saying is true, and that they are only “kidding” to themselves when they claim to have done something towards solving the Communist problem when they declared communism illegal. If the problem is to be solved, the matter is not one principally for governments or oppositions. Until the workers of this country, the rank-and-file members of all the industrial organizations, so decide, the problem will not be solved. Until the workers attend their union meetings, and determine that they will have no more Communist domination, we shall continue to have communism. When the workers determine to have no more of it, and do not treat their union meetings with the present apathy; when they organize and vote against the appointment of Communists as officials in their organizations; then, and then only, will this menace be removed. The honorable member for Wentworth, in characteristic fashion, urged the Government to employ the Commonwealth Investigation Service in order to purge the Public Service of Communists.
– That is correct.
– Let us examine what that proposition really involves. First, it would be some one’s responsibility to decide who was a Communist. As the real Communist is so far underground, it is very difficult to know who are, or who are not, Communists apart from those who openly avow that they are Communists.
– Let us have a “ go “ at them first.
– The next step would be to find out what public servants are Communists. A serious difficulty would arise at that stage. In industry, many men. are militants; they are not Communists, but honorable members opposite immediately brand them as
Communists. Honorable members opposite nave a bad habit of doing that sort of thing. Consequently, were the Government to institute an inquiry along the lines suggested by the honorable member for “Wentworth, it would be quite likely that a man, because he was sufficiently militant to demand his rights, socially and industrially, would automatically be branded as a Communist; and, according to honorable members opposite, be should be thrown out of the Public, Service. But we must go further still. The honorable member spoke of a man who holds a high position in the Public Service and has a brother -who is a Communist. Under the honorable member’s suggestion, not only that Communist, but also his nonCommunist brother, would have to be dealt with, and be thrown out of the Public Service. Honorable members opposite should try to realize exactly where such a proposition begins and where it ends. However, let us assume that the Government is foolish enough to fall into the trap which the honorable member for Wentworth is attempting to lay for it, and arrange an inquiry of the kind he suggests. Could such an inquiry be confined only to Communists? There are traitors in the Public Service besides Communists. I refer to persons who are not Communists, but who give confidential information to honorable members opposite who do not hesitate to read in this chamber the information supplied to them by such persons. Such an inquiry would have to embrace traitors of that kind in the Public Service as well as Communists. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) and the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) declared that the Communists are daily growing in strength. In this respect honorable members opposite are making a mountain out of a mole hill. The Communist party, over a long period of years, has nominated candidates at both State and Federal elections. Incidentally, such candidates, almost without exception, have opposed Labour candidates. They have rarely opposed tory candidates. It is reasonable to assume that such candidates would be the pick of the membership of the Communist party. We know that unlimited supplies of money have been placed at the disposal of such candidates. Does any one suggest that those funds were supplied to the Communist candidates by the Liberal party? However, despite this alleged growth of strength of the Communists about which honorable members opposite talk so freely, only one candidate who has presented himself to the people as a Communist candidate has succeeded in being elected to any parliament in Australia. That fact alone shows that the claim made by honorable members opposite is unfounded.
I admit there are far too many Communists in control of industrial organizations, and I should very much like to see the’ day when they are rooted out of those positions.
– Why does not the Government do something about that?
– I have already explained what I believe to he the solution of the problem. Ever since I have been capable of thinking for myself I have always argued as a trades unionist that there is no need, or very little need, for direct action on the part of trades unionists in this country. There is no need for communism in this country, because our system of industrial conciliation and arbitration affords to the workers means of dealing with every industrial dispute that may arise, whether it be of major or minor proportions. When I was fifteen years’ of age I was appointed the union “ rep.” on my job, and from that time to this day I have always advocated conciliation and arbitration as the best and only means of solving industrial troubles. Nothing has occurred in the intervening years to cause me to alter that view. When honorable members opposite make roaring statements in the fashion of the honorable, member for Wentworth this afternoon, and the honorable member for Wide Bay, and talk wildly about how the Government is failing to do certain things, alleging that it is tied up with Communists and that Communists dominate the Government, they are simply talking rubbish. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) said that the Communists control the Labour party. I throw that lie back in his teeth. If honorable members opposite want the Communists to succeed, all they need to do is to continue making the wild and untrue statements about the Communist party and its association with the Australian Labour party that have marked their contributions to this debate.
.- L am impelled to make some observations on this subject-matter by the remarks which have fallen from the lips of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds). After listening to the honorable member, I concede that his concern about the ideology of the Communists is as deep as that of any honorable member on this side of the chamber. It seems to be necessary, therefore, to examine not his bona fides, not his opposition to the Communists, but his observations as to how they should be dealt with, and in particular as to the menace which they present. T confess that the honorable member has taken a completely defeatist attitude as to how we should deal with the Communist menace in this country. A vital distinction must be drawn between the man who holds extreme views, which, subject to the law of the land, he is entitled under our Constitution to express at all times, and the man who is a member of the Communist party. I have sought on previous occasions to keep that distinction clear. It is not to the point to talk about the extent of the failure of Communist candidates at. parliamentary elections. Any one who knows anything about the organization of the Communist party, as I am sure the honorable member for Herbert does, will be convinced of the soundness of the proposition that the Communist does not regard Parliament as anything but a front for his activities. He is not concerned about getting into Parliament. I know a little about this because I happened to be the responsible Minister who had to intern two Communists in 1941. At that time representatives of the Labour party took up the hue and cry to get them out, notwithstanding that the fact was known to at least one of the members of that party, who is now a senior Minister, that these men had been engaged in treasonable activities.
– The honorable member does not suggest that the Communists would like to get control of the Parliament?
– They are not concerned with the Parliament, but they are concerned with destroying the democratic instrument of government. The Communist knows very well that if he controls the key industries he controls the country. If the honorable member doubts that, let him ask the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who has given little enough attention to this subject at any time, but who’ knows the facts. Let him ask the right honorable gentleman to produce the file dealing with the internment of the two men to whom I have referred. He will find that it sets out in clear terms the philosophy of the Communist party, how it is to bring about an increase of its membership, how prospective members have to be “ vetted “, and how important it regards the recruitment of members from the heavy industries. In allotting awards the Communists gave four points ‘to a member who recruited a suitable candidate for membership from a key industry, but only one point to a man who secured a recruit from the clerks union or the white collar workers. Behind the facade of democracy the Communist works at all times to destroy democracy. In order to indicate the extent of the menace the Communists present, I do not believe I need to go beyond what the AttorneyGeneral himself has said upon the subject. Honorable members will recall that a resolution was passed by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party after it had heard the remarks of the Attorney-General on the need for the protection of approved defence projects from those who collect information for a foreign power. The resolution was printed on page 1 of a publication issued by the Attorney-General.
– “What is the date .of the publication ?
– It must have been issued subsequent to June, 1947, because the opening paragraph reads : -
In June, 1.947, the Chifley Government introduced, and the National Parliament passed, with only one dissentient, the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act.
The resolution, after congratulating the Government on the firm stand taken, added - lt is apparent that the propaganda recently issued by the Communist party in connexion with this undertaking is for the sole purpose of defeating the Australian defence policy in the interest of a. foreign power.
Thus, the federal executive of the Australian Labour party confessed that the Communist party is an agent of a foreign power, something which had been alleged for many months by honorable members from this side of the chamber, hut which was always laughed at as a political exaggeration. If further evidence of the truth of that statement is required, one has only r,o consider recent events overseas. It may therefore be conceded that in this country the Communist party is an agent of a foreign power, because, in the words of the resolution^
The propaganda recently issued by the Communist party … is for the sole purpose of defeating the Australian defence policy in the interest of a foreign power.
If words mean anything these words are clear beyond any doubt, though I do not know whether words in resolutions of the Australian Labour party necessarily mean anything.
– They are certainly true.
– If they mean anything they mean that the Communist party is engaged in treacherous conduct in this country. “What are we to do? Are we to lift up our hands and say, “ “We are helpless to deal with these matters; we are powerless to take steps to retard their activities”? I should like to make my position quite plain. I do not know what was said by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), nor am I a ware that he took the view sought to be attributed to him by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds). I am not concerned with dealing with somebody’s brother ; I aim’ not concerned with dealing with somebody’s family, but I am concerned with dealing with people who belong to this organization. To say that the Communist party must be permitted to exist because there are difficulties in the way of dealing with it is tantamount to confessing that if we know a. treacherous organization exists in this country there is little we can do about it if it operates inside the Labour movement. The kernel of this question is that it is because the Communist party supports the Labour party and infiltrates the trade unions that a difficulty is presented. But that is not a difficulty of government, it is a difficulty that faces the Australian Labour party itself. If the Communist party is a traitorous organization; if, in fact, as the Australian Labour party concedes, it is seeking to sprag the defences of this country in the interests of a foreign power, I say clearly that it must be outlawed.
I am told that if action be taken to outlaw their organization the Communists will be driven underground, as if they were not sufficiently underground already. Those of us who knew of their activities in 1941 knew, too, that they then worked underground. It is true that when we imposed our ban upon them we did not stop their activities, but we unquestionably minimized them. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I shall cite figures that can be checked from files in the possession of the Government: When the two men of whom I speak were interned, the membership of the Communist party with its immediate supporters was less than 20,000; to-day it exceeds 50,000. Communists are given the most complete freedom to engage in activities which are subversive to everything democratic. As one who, I hope, is not intolerant of other people’s opinions, but who is certainly most intolerant of those who seek to destroy this country, I say that it could be laid down by law that anybody who helonged to the Communist party belonged to an illegal organization. The Communists would be driven underground, it is true, but the efficacy of their organization would be reduced, and they would be prevented, from infecting the minds of the people of this country on behalf of a foreign power. To-day, one can pick up a copy of the Tribune, the official organ of the Communist party in Australia, as if it were a newspaper concerned solely with discussing democratic problems as they arise. This journal is pushed into people’s hands, and sometimes sent gratis through the post, as it has been to- me. Does the Government make any attempt to make it harder for these individuals to spill their poison throughout the community? It does not. On the contrary. it assists them by providing a quota of newsprint. That is something beyond my comprehension. The Government claims to be opposed to Communists, yet it gives them newsprint so that they may oppose Labour. What possible justification can there be for a continuance of SupplY of newsprint to an organization engaged in traitorous activities ?
It is incredible that a government which really believes that the Communists are engaged in such activitices can confess its complete defeatism by saying that nothing can be done about this menace except to persuade union members to attend their meetings and take charge of their organizations. That, too, is a confession that the matter is beyond the hands of the Government. I agree that it is vitally necessary that the trade unionists should, rid their ranks of Communists, and I do not dispute that if reputable trade unionists offered themselves for office, they would ultimately destroy the Communist influences which are so much in evidence in union affairs to-day; but that should not prevent the Government from acting, nor does it absolve the Government from the responsibility to act. Several arguments have been advanced against the outlawing of the Communists. It has even been said that to outlaw them would be a denial of democratic freedom of speech and freedom of association. An examination, however, shows how hopeless that proposition is, because whilst, speaking in terms political, under our Constitution and our form of democracy any citizen has the right to say or do anything that he likes, that right is always subject to the overriding law of the land, which provides that a citizen shall not engage in subversive activities against the country that gives him protection. Although it is argued that to deprive the Communists of their right to express their views would be undemocratic, a little clear thinking on that matter may be of some assistance. It is not open to any man to express his views in any way he thinks fit. That right, as I have said, is still subject to the law. To contend that an organization that clearly is seeking to destroy this country, and to serve the interest of a foreign power, should not be suppressed because such action would mean a denial of freedom of speech and freedom of association is so much fantastic nonsense. It is like inviting a robber into one’s home to destroy it. Therefore, I say that this organization, as an organization, should not be given any legal protection whatever. I am not stupid enough to imagine that by outlawing the Communists we shall automatically destroy the influence of communism in this country; but I do believe that by taking that action we shall be asserting the authority of Government, and consequently diminishing the power of the Communists for evil.
Since our hypothesis is that any one who belongs to the Communist party belongs to a treasonable organization, I should accompany such membership with this disqualification, which I cannot imagine could be said to be undemocratic. A member of the Communist party, being an illegal organization for the reasons that I have indicated, should have no right to hold a position in the Public Service or a trade union. An examination of that suggestion will show clearly that it is not undemocratic. I have said before in this chamber that a man who believes that communism is the best system of society under which to live has the right to express that view, just as any militant who holds an opinion as to the form of government that we should have has, speaking in terms of political ideology, the right to express that opinion ; and whilst I might disagree with his view, to the utmost of my capacity I should have no hesitation in upholding his right to express it. But that is entirely different to saying to a man, “ It is not because you hold a certain political view that you are disqualified from holding office; it is because you belong to a treasonable organization “. How can there be any argument about that? If, for example, it were established that there existed in this country, under some other name, a system of espionage, would it be undemocratic to say that any man who belonged to that organization, quite apart from any other punishment that might flow to him under the law, should not be permitted to enter the Public Service of this ‘ country ? Is there anything unreasonable or undemocratic about that? On the contrary, I should think it is the supreme right of any government to protect itself from internal destruction at the hands of those who are seeking to abolish the form of society under which we live.
The second argument sometimes advanced against the course I am advocating is that to ban the Communist party would be a waste of time because of its small importance ; but I remind honorable members opposite that the influence of an organization cannot be judged by the rough measuring-stick of success at elections.
– I did not say that.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance that he did not say it, and I am glad to hear his denial. But some people do say that. As I have said, it is no test at all. The real test is - and of this I know that the Government is fully informed - what influence is the Communist party bringing to bear on the community; and who is there amongst us to-day who can deny that the Communists are engaged in activities of most serious consequence to this country? It seems to me, therefore, that this is a problem upon which the Government must act. It can no longer evade its responsibility. I should be prepared to support the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into Communist activities. I know the argument against a royal commission into their activities is that Intelligence is watching them and that a royal commission may make the work of Intelligence more difficult. It is a question of balance of judgment.
– Does the honorable member think that the Communists would produce all their records or destroy them?
– When Intelligence gets to work it is not easy to destroy records. It is within my own knowledge that Intelligence in Australia is very efficient. If honorable members take the trouble to look up reports on the Communist party, they will realize the position. Anyone in the Government can acquire a great deal of information about the Communists’ activities.
– I am speaking of a royal commission as against Intelligence.
– -From information in possession of the Government the Communists’ activities could be revealed. I am not boasting when I say that if I were in another jurisdiction, I could ask some questions of well-known Communists - any competent counsel could - that they would have great difficulty in answering. The time has come when the people must have revealed to them what the Communists are up to. I said two or three years ago in a debate on international matters that Russia’s policy was to use the Communist party in every country as a fifth column. I said two or three years ago that chances of international collaboration were small because there was one nation that would not play. Little by little it has finally sunk home with those who denied it that it is true. It was a long time before the Labour party realized the truth. Labour members said that we had raised that matter to secure political advantage. They also said that our claims that the Comintern had not been disbanded and was carrying on its activities was designed to dupe the public. Yet it was established by the royal commission held in Canada that the Comintern’s activities were being carried on under another front. In this country, as honorable members opposite well know, Communists have entrenched themselves in the industrial unions. The Communist party is an organization that will destroy the Labour party as well as us if it is given the chance.
– Are the Communists banned in Canada?
– I believe I am correct in saying that they are. They are at least disqualified from the Public Service. The important thing ‘is that we must agree upon my initial proposition that the Communists are an organization serving the interests of another power. If that is disputed, what I have said cannot receive agreement on the Government side. But if it is admitted, as it must be, as the Australian Labour party’s resolution conceded, the only question is whether the Government is going to do anything, leave it to the trade unions to deal with them, or permit the traitorous organization to continue. I believe the Communist party should be declared illegal and that any man who belongs to the organization should be disqualified from the Public Service and from holding any office in trade unions. I am not punishing him - nor would I seek to punish any man merely because bis views are opposed to mine. That is not the point. His membership of the organization is the disqualifying element. E am glad to have had the opportunity of expressing my views. The Government must see that the Communists are a danger to this country and to the Labour party. Let us band together to get rid of this evil from our midst.
.- We have been given a dissertation on communism. One would imagine that there were Communists outside this chamber ready to blow us up. Side by side with his desire to ban the Communist party as an illegal organization, the honorable member, for Warringah (Mr. Spender) claims that he is a democrat. Well, he cannot have it both ways. He cannot stifle any political organization and at the same time claim to be a thorough democrat. The Communist party is not banned in other countries, not even in Great Britain, our Mother Country, from which we take a lot of guidance in parliamentary proced’ure and democracy. The British Government has never banned the Communist ‘party. During the war, there were members of the Communist party in the House of Commons. They are still there. But in this country not one Communist has ever been elected to the Commonwealth Parliament, and only one Communist has been elected to any State parliament. I do not know where the honorable member got his statistics from. He states that when the Menzies Government banned the Communist party as an illegal organization, the strength of the party was only 20,000. Now it is claimed thatthe Communists number 50,000. If the Communist party were banned as an illegal organization, its members would work underground. They definitely worked underground through what was known as the New South Wales State Labour party when they were banned by the Menzies Government. Some tabbed the State Labour party as “near Communists”. I labelled as a camouflaged Communist my opponent for the Hunter seat at the genera] elec- tions held during that period. Hethreatened to issue a writ against me if I repeated the statement. In fact, hemade overtures to have a writ issued. I daresay the greatest vote that has ever been recorded in favour of a Communist, at general elections in this country has been recorded in the electorate of Hunter. That vote never was greater than 5,000 right up to the banning of the Communist party by the Menzies Government. When it was banned, the vote for the New South Wales State Labour party candidate, the camouflaged Communist, jumpedfrom 5,000 to 12,000. A glance’ at the records in the library will establish the truth of that statement. The records speak for themselves. The Communists received an increased vote in the Hunter electorate because of the sympathy of some people for the party being banned. They claimed to be democrats, and voted’ for the camouflaged Communist.
– What did he call himself ?
– A State Labour candidate. He is now a zone commander of the Communist party. Yet, when I charged him with being a camouflaged’ Communist, he did as I have said. I pass that by to dwell on people who supported him. They included ministers of religion. They would not dare to speak from a Communist platform, but when this known and declared Communist appeared in the camouflage of a State Labour candidate, members of the Ministers’ fraternal at Cessnock, and other parts of my constituency, mounted the platform and spoke in support of his campaign, knowing in their heart of hearts that he was a Communist. They must have known it. My fears are not great, but 1 do fear that if the Communist party were banned another independent Labour organization would arise to embrace the Communists.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I challenge the statement by the honorable member for Warringah that membership of the Communist party has increased from 20,000 at the time when the party was declared an illegal organization by the Menzies Government to 50,000 to-day. The greatest number of supporters that the party ever boasted in New South Wales was 10,000, which was the vote recorded for
*he .Senate candidate Sharkey at one federal election. Admittedly, membership of the party under the guise of the “State Labour party in New South Wales Increased considerably. In this democratic country, no political party should be banned unless it engages in subversive activities or pursues tactics prejudicial in any way to the safety of Australia. Members of any party which engages in such activities, of course, should be interned immediately. I agree that anybody who seeks to undermine the welfare of this nation in the interests of any foreign country should be dealt with in that way. However, as a democrat, I cannot refuse to allow any person who keeps within the law of the country to aspire to political honours. No democratic government in .the world refuses freedom of political activity in that way. I remind honorable members that, throughout the war, there were Communist members of the House of Commons in Great Britain.
The honorable member for Warringah said that Communists insinuated themselves into key industrial organizations. I concede the truth of that statement. I also concede that Communists manoeuvre themselves into positions in local governing bodies. In fact, the Kearsley Shire Council in .the Hunter electorate is controlled by Communists. Why is that so? Why also do Communists secure key positions in industrial organizations? I know the answer to those questions, and I also have the remedy. We have been advocating the introduction of compulsory voting at municipal elections. If compulsory voting were enforced at such elections, we should find that the views of the people would be reflected in the results of the elections. That is what ha ppens- in Commonwealth and State parliamentary elections. Honorable members know that most Communist party candidates at federal elections lose .their deposits owing to lack of support from the electors and that there is only one Communist party member in any State parliament, namely, in the Queensland Parliament.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) is reported to have said’ that he would not be prepared to ban the Communist party now and would prefer instead to try to educate its members. However, there is mutiny amongst his supporters. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) has said, without equivocation, that he would declare the Communist party an illegal organization and ban it. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) and the honorable member f or Warringah are also after Communist scalps. Experience in Australia has proved that the banning of political organizations is wrong and unsatisfactory in its results. We have seen how Communists continue to work underground when their party is officially banned. I should rather meet a straight-out Communist than a camouflaged Communist any day. The man who works for the Communist party under another guise is much more dangerous than the avowed Communist. He is the sort of man of whom we must beware. We have been startled this week by the news that the Comintern has been revived. Nine nations have united to reestablish a Communist Information Bureau. It will be regrettable if these nations endeavour to undermine the United Nations. The Opposition in this Parliament is emphatic in its condemnation of communism, but I have known honorable members opposite to be loud in their defence of subversive organizations. I refer in particular to the Australia First Movement. Some honorable members opposite advocated the payment of compensation to members of this subversive organization who were interned during the war. The leader of the movement was Percy R. Stephensen, a Queensland Rhodes scholar, who studied’ at the University of Oxford. His activities are outlined in a’ report prepared by Mr. Justice Clyne, who inquired into the detention of members of the Australia First Movement during the war. Fifteen counsel appeared on behalf of the members of the movement, and Mr. Dovey, K.C.. and Mr. Shand, K.C., appeared on behalf of the Commissioner and the Commonwealth Security Service respectively. Mr. Justice Clyne accepted the statements of some of the persons who had been interned. On page 5 of his report, His Honour stated -
T have referred to the meetings of the socalled Yabba Club. In the discussions which took place at these meetings strong political views were expressed and, amongst others, Miles, Stephensen and Valentine Crowley took a prominent part and expressed views calculated to foster feelings of hostility to Britain, and to cause disaffection in Australia.
At a meeting in June, 1940, a member expressed the view that England was “ buggered “ and he added that he was only waiting for the rain of bombs to start and they would be forced into submission. Shortly afterwards this member expressed the view that the sooner Germany bombed England the better. This same member, at a meeting in January, 1941, said that wherever the British flag has flown, it has brought poverty, corrugated iron and dirt, and that Churchill was the greatest calamity that has ever fallen on Britain. It was also said at a meeting in February, 1941, that England would get the greatest hiding she has ever got.
– Is that the honorable member’s statement?
– These statements were made by the friends of members of the Opposition. They joined the Australia First Movement, which was linked with the New South Wales “New Guard”. For additional information on this subject, honorable members should consult the honorable member for Wentworth and certain others. The Commissioner stated -
In the course of their investigations, intelligence officers or their agents attended these meetings and made notes of some of the speeches delivered thereat. As with the notes of statements made at Yabba Club meetings, I can see no sufficient reason why the substance of the reports of these speeches made by the investigators should not be accepted. There is little doubt, in my opinion, that some of the speeches made at the public meetings were prejudicial to Australia’s war effort … I think I am justified in coming to the conclusion that despite the formal aims of the Movement, the activities of some of its members were likely to have caused a distrust of Australia on the part of her allies, and to have created such ill will and hostility in the community as would have impaired Australia’s war effort . . .
The Commissioner proceeded -
The substantial reason for the arrest of these persons-
He gives the names of these persons -
– What were their names ?
– I shall place them on record. Some of them- are to be found in the following paragraph of the report -
Prior to March, 1942, certain persons in Western Australia had become interested in the Publicist and also in the formation of the Australia First Movement. One of these per sons, Laurence Frederick Bullock, had had some correspondence with Miles and, though Stephensen denied any knowledge of it, a letter from Bullock to him was found amongst his papers. Bullock wanted to set up an agency for the Publicist in Western Australia and appeared to be anxious to form in that State a branch of the Movement established in Sydney, and another Western Australian, Edward Cunningham Quid:e, appeared desirous of obtaining information about the Movement. It was probably due to this correspondence that the Intelligence Section caused a man named Thomas to make investigations in Western Australia and the sequel to these investigations was. that Bullock and Quicke, and two other persons, Charles Leonard Albert Williams and Nancy Krakouer, were arrested on 9th March, 1942. These four persons were subsequently charged with conspiracy to assist .the Japanese.
The substantial reason for the arrest of these persons was that there were found in their possession some incriminating documents, showing an intention to make contact with, the Japanese army at the moment of invasion, plans for the sabotage of certain vulnerable points, a plan for the death of many important people including “ democratic politicians “ and the “ hierarchy of all denominations “, and including a proclamation with the heading “ Australia First Government “ prepared for an Australia-wide broadcast on the signing of an armistice with Japan and which contained a welcome to the Japanese military leaders and army, and an instruction to the A.M.F. to lay down arms on penalty of death. It is difficult to imagine what moved these puny conspirators to such ambitious and dangerous designs.
I might add that these conspirators were ultimately detained.
The Commissioner did find, in the course of’ his inquiry, that eight of the sixteen persons should not have been- interned, but he agreed that the others were properly detained.
– Would the honorable member inform me who prepared the indictment in the Attorney-General’s office ?
– It was not the honorable member for the Northern Territory, at any rate.
– The indictment was prepared by the Attorney-General’s secretary, copying Trotsky.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order ! If the honorable member for the Northern Territory does not cease interjecting, I shall name him.
– The report continues -
Percy Reginald Stephensen. - Percy Reginald Stephensen refused to appear before an Advisory Committee. His occupation he described as that of a man of letters. Stephensen was a Rhodes Scholar from Queensland and went to Oxford University in 1924 . . .
The same time as a former Commonwealth Treasurer, a tragic Treasurer, was also at Oxford - and perhaps the comment is justified that he has done little to realize the aspirations of Cecil Rhodes since leaving Oxford. After leaving Oxford, he became a book publisher.
– I rise to order. I should like you, Mr. Chairman, to inform me in what way the Australia First Movement is relevant to these Estimates, and, furthermore, if you rule that the honorable member for Hunter’s remarks are in order, will you state whether members of the Opposition will have a similar opportunity to reply to him?
– Order ! The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), who began this discussion on this matter, made the field fairly wide.
– On which matter?
– The AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
– But not on the matter which the honorable member for Hunter is discussing.
– The honorable member for Wentworth referred to the Commonwealth Investigation Service, pointing out that its activities should be extended. Other members are entitled to refer to other avenues in which they consider the activities of the Commonwealth Investigation Service should be extended.
– On a further point of order, I should like to be informed authoritatively that the Commonwealth Investigation Service was responsible for the detention of members of the Australia First Movement. Having taken an interest in this case, I have always understood that the Army was responsible for the detention of these persons, and that the Commonwealth Investigation Service had nothing to do with it.
– Order ! That matter is not the subject of discussion now.
– I desire to speak to the point of order. I should like you, Mr. Chairman, to inform me since when does a debate become relevant because a speaker widens the debate, irrespective of whether it is directed to any item in the Estimates. With the greatest respect to you, sir, it seems to me that the relevancy of any honorable member’s speech, once a point of order has been taken, must be determined by the Chair in relation to the Estimates and not by the remarks of any preceding speaker.
– Order ! The honorable member for Hunter’s speech is as relevant to the subject as was the speech of the honorable member for Wentworth or other members of the Opposition. If honorable members desire that the Chair shall place a stricter interpretation upon the relevancy of their remarks, I shall do so.
– May I continue my speech ?
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Hunter to connect his remarks with the Estimates under consideration.
– I am following the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), who spoke of this debate having been widened.
– Order! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the subject under discussion.
– So far as the charges made by the honorable member for Warringah are concerned, I emphasize the inconsistency of his attitude. In one breath he states that he believes in democracy, whilst in the next breath he says that he desires to ban an organization. I rest my case on the simple fact that there is no doubt that the organization’ with which he was connected has engaged in subversive activity, and is still doing so, because it is responsible for a large number of the letters which Government supporters are receiving in connexion with the Government’s proposals for the nationalization of banks. Some members of the Australia First Movement - and certainly the man Stephensen - aTe proved to have collaborated with the enemy, even while they were confined in internment camps. Stephensen and eight other internees were found to have done this by Mr. Justice Clyne, who carried out an investigation. 1 hold no brief whatever for the Communist party, and I wish to make that perfectly clear. No member of parliament has encountered more opposition from Communists than I have, but I am sufficiently democratic to prefer to shake hands with a “dinkum” Communist, rather than a member of the Australia First Movement or .the Jehovah’s Witnesses Sect. I detest the camouflaged Communist, for he is our greatest source of danger, as -we do not know which way he will jump next. I say that quite fearlessly. Mr. Williams, the president of the miners federation, is a Communist, and I say quite openly that he is doing a great job in the interests of the coal production of this country.
– Be careful: he. can put The honorable member out of his seat.
– I am not afraid of Williams, nor of any one else, including the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) - in fact, I would give the honorable gentleman 20,000 votes in an election and beat him by 25,000.
So far as subversive organizations are concerned, I wish to refer to another body which has been mentioned in judgments of the High Court, and that is the Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The members of that society did more damage to this country during the war than the Communist ‘party ever did, particularly when we recollect the desperate tactics to which they resorted. The Government found it necessary to cancel their wireless broadcasting licence, and members of .the organization indulged in acts of treachery on the waterfront itself. At Newcastle they made it a practice to farewell outgoing vessels, and in the guise of singing hymns, such as “ Sailing o’er the ocean waves “, they endeavoured to convey to the enemy submarines which were outside the port of Newcastle the sailing times of ships by stating the time at the station.
– I think that the debate on communism is germane to the discussion of the particular section of the Estimatesnow before us. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) raised thequestion of the usefulness- of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, and’ emphasized the necessity for members of that service to employ themselves on the important task of countering the nefarious activities of the treacherous organization, known as the “ Communist party “ which flourishes in this country. Later he was followed by the honorable member for Herbert. (Mr. Edmonds), who made a speech which might be described as resembling the explosion caused by thedetonation of a slow explosive like gunpowder on a redgum log. The honorable member put himself in the delicious position of saying that members on this side of the chamber were making amountain out of a Communist molehill. Then he went on to tell the committee that members of his union, and he himself in particular, had devoted a good part of their lives to combating the activities of the Communists. In other words, he was contending that members of the Australian Workers Union, whom he professes to represent, have devoted a large part of their time to countering the effects of communism. He associated the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) with his assertion because the Minister is a member of the Australian Workers Union. I point out to him however, that that union does not trespass very far into the capital cities of this country.
– The honorable member does not know of what he is talking.
– If the honorable gentleman likes to produce the union’s membership roll-
– Order ! The honorable member must connect his remarks with the matter before the Chair.
– The attitude adopted by the honorable member for Herbert and his colleagues seems to be that the Communist party is a dreadful show, a fearful thing, but something about which nothing can be done. If St. Patrick had adopted a similar view there would still be snakes in Ireland. Referring briefly to the history of communism in this country, I remember the occasion during the war when the Menzies Government took action to ban the Communist party by declaring it an illegal organization. It is an organization which is under allegiance to a foreign power and one which is doing work of such a treacherous nature that it ought to be banned by any government. However, members on the opposite side of the chamber seem to regard it as a sort of death adder which one ought to take to bed with him as a good companion on a winter night. Going back to the time when that organization was banned, it is true that the ban had the effect of -driving the movement underground ; but was the Communist party ever anything but an underground movement in any country? The small part of its ramifications which we are able to perceive is only part of the movement, just as the roots of a big tree are concealed under the ground. When the Menzies Government went out of office we know what happened. The Communist party was demanding peace with Mr. Adolf Hitler, before that gentleman decided to turn dog on Poland, just as the Communist party will turn dog on the Australian Labour party whenever it gets the opportunity.
– The Communists have never done anything but turn dog !
– When the Curtin Government came into office the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who apparently held unorthodox and “ leftish “ views, seemed to profess the attitude that the Communists were, after all, not bad fellows. The Menzies Government had placed two men named Ratliff and Thomas behind barbed wire, and one of the Attorney-General’s first act3 was to release them. Almost his next act was to declare the Communist party a legal organization. But before he did that he protected himself by going to the very people whom his own political party’s pamphlet described, according to the honorable member for Warringah, as a treacherous organization, and saying to them, in effect, “ We shall get on with the war according to your way of doing so “. The noble Attorney-General said: “ Thanks very much for your cooperation. Now, boys, you can go out and do whatever you like “. From that time on we saw a distinct uplifting of the Com munist party in Australia. We saw known Communists being put into all sorts of positions of trust. The Opposition has protested against that time after time. We had seen the public money of the taxpayers of this country, who had been bled for taxes as they had never been before in our history, used to send overseas time after time men of the type of Mr. Thornton, allegedly to represent. Australia in international affairs. A government put into office by a party which has declared that this is a traitorous organization has something to explain to the electorate and to the taxpayers when it uses the money of the taxpayers to send these alleged traitors overseas to represent it. We do not need any more than that. That is what the Australian Labour Government has to stand up to. It has to act,- as well as talk. I may say that, on this subject, its talk has not been overloud. It has to show by deeds, as well as by soft words, that it is prepared to deal with this nettle, this nefarious, traitorous organization in our midst, which, according to itself, is “ redanting “ the unions, which are the foundation on which the political structure of its party rests, or be condemned as a government which does not mean what it has said. Up to date, I have not been satisfied with the attitude which the Australian Labour Government has taken in this matter. I have seen too many instances, and so have other honorable members on this side of the chamber, of gentlemen who are known adherents of the Communist party, who are so close to it that it would be more honest if they got inside it, being placed in all sorts of positions of preferment. We have had debate after debate in regard to that sort, of thing. There is the Rudkin case, and the Mountjoy case. There is no need to go through the whole list. The record of the Government in this matter needs some explaining.
We must look closely at the character of the Communist party. Every man who has studied the subject knows that in any country in which the Communist party has a grip it has shown not the slightest concern for democratic institutions, unless it could use, for their undoing, those democratic institutions which permit it to exist. It has not shown the slightest concern for either the rights of man or the laws of God, in any country in which it has become established. There is no alternative but for this Australian Commonwealth to get rid of this growth, root, trunk and branch. I remember saying, when the Russians attacked Finland, something which some people might not like to be reminded of now, namely, that so far as our local Communists were concerned, if their hearts were in Moscow their hides ought to be- no closer home to Australia than in Vladivostock. That is still my view - that we cannot tolerate in our midst an organization, call it political if you like, which owes allegiance to some foreign power or authority. We see to-day in eastern Europe the set-up of the old Comintern in another form, the nine powers behind the so-called iron curtain. I have never had any doubt as to what would be the effect of the conquest of eastern Europe by those people. I said, long before the last war started, that the natural frontier between Europe and Asia was the Vistula River. But where is it to-day? It runs from the Adriatic, right through Berlin, on to the North Sea; and a good deal of what is really Europe is under a foreign, Communist, Asiatic domination. I remember that, at the signing of the peace pact between Russia and Japan, M. Stalin said to Matsuoka, the Japanese Ambassador, that it was a pact between fellow Asiatics. Their whole idea, everything that they stand for, are as foreign to the interests, the aims, the objectives and the life of our community, as one thing could be to another. There is only one thing for the Commonwealth Government to do, and that is to root this organization out quick and early. I tell the Labour party that the conflict ahead of it is not so much a conflict betwen it and the Opposition in this chamber, as a conflict between it and the death adder which it is tolerating inside its own show.
.- This debate has become regularized by reason of a speech of considerable virulence which was delivered by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison). It has become more regularized by reason of the fact that the Attorney-General’s Department is under discussion, and the honorable member for Wentworth has declared that the Commonwealth Investigation Service should be employed for the purpose of inquiring into the ramifications of Communists.
I heard the speech of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). Although I appreciated its temperate tone, I take leave to urge against it that the unions must do more in regard to the Communists. Unless the Labour party prevents the infiltration of the Communists into the unions to such an extent that they would become numerically so strong as to control unionists, it will be undone. I have expressed that view before, and I repeat it now. The Labour party must take steps to prevent Communist-controlled unions from acting inimically to the best interests of the party. There are many reasons why we should take a definite stand against the Communists. They are loyal only to a foreign power; they are anti-Christian in their outlook. The latter reason alone is sufficient for us to condemn them.
– Their funds are often supplemented by the Opposition.
– As to the point raised by the interjection, I can only say that a Communist stood against me at the last election.
– Communists stand only against Labour candidates.
– My opponent received a great deal of support from the Liberals. As I am convinced that Communists are anti-Christian in their outlook, and are opposed to the best interest of the Labour party and of the country, I believe that they should be condemned. For the reasons that I have given, the Labour party must take a definite stand against them. Something must be done about those unions which have a majority of Communists among their members.
– I have listened to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) on a number of occasions in this chamber, but never with more interest than to-night. When I first entered the Parliament his resonant voice filled the chamber and commanded the attention of honorable members of all parties. Although the years have taken some toll of him, I do not think that the honorable member has ever made a more effective speech than that to which we have just listened; its candour and honesty were a credit to him and a shame to the party to which he belongs. The honorable gentleman is the only member on the Government side of the chamber who has had the courage and honesty to stand in his place and say what he thinks of the Communists. He was emphatic in the view that’ the Labour party would have to take a firm stand against the Communists, or be undone. No truer words have ever been spoken in this chamber. I go further, and say that, the freedom-loving people of Australia must take a stand against the Communists, or be undone. “We are facing a crisis in the affairs of the nation and, indeed, of the world. Although the nations have only recently emerged from the most terrible war in history, an even more terrible experience is not a distant possibility, but a probability. The hope of mankind is that another conflict will be averted, but there is great fear that another war is not far distant. Should -war come, the power of the Soviet Union will be opposed to that of the United States of America and the other democratic nations. Any one who studies world affairs must realize that mankind to-day is beset by the fear of another war and, therefore, Australia must take a realistic view of world conditions and give careful thought to the security of the Commonwealth. Where does our security lie? Should war come, Australia cannot do other than take its part on the side of the United States of America, a nation which is making every effort to counteract Communist infiltration of its own administration. Last week the Secretary of State for the United States of America issued instructions that any person in the employ of the United States Government who had Communist connexions must vacate his position. That is an indication of how seriously the nation which would’ be our most powerful ally in the event of war regards the menace of communism. We can best judge our friends and our enemies from our experience of them. Now that the subject of Communist infiltration has been raised, I propose to refer to the past activities of Communists as a guide to what we may expect in the future. The war broke out on the 3rd September, 1939. On the 9th September, the Communist executive in Australia issued a manifesto in which the following passage occurred: -
We stand, for the full weight of Australian man-power and .resources, and for the. organization and training of forces to fight overseas.
Then, on the 3rd October, after Molotov and Ribbentrop made their pact for the partition of Poland, the Communists in Australia issued the following statement : -
The destruction of Hitlerism can be safely left to the people of Germany themselves. This would be greatly assisted by the restoration of peace.
Thus, the Communists first pledged themselves to the support of an all-out Australian war effort. Then, after the pact had been concluded between Russia and Germany, they said that the destruction of Hitlerism could properly be left to the German people themselves, and that the conclusion of peace was the first essential. On the 1st November, 1939, the general secretary of the Ironworkers Union, Mr. Thornton, published the following statement in the Ironworker : -
The Federal Management Committee of the Ironworkers declares the war should cease.
That was when Hitler was astride of Poland. He had blitzed his way to> Warsaw, and it appeared as if he had Europe at his feet. Mr. J. B. Miles, chairman of the Communist party in Australia, stated in the Communist Review for November, 1939 -
All must turn, and force their governmentsto turn, against the war.
It had by then, in the Communist view, become an imperialistic war. Statements of this kind did ‘not emanate only from Mr. Thornton and Mr. Miles. A certain very influential member of the Labour party in the House of Representatives was at the same time enunciating the same kind of sentiments. I’ quote from Hansard the following statement which he made on the 16th November, 1939, about the same time as Mr. Thornton and Mr. Miles were making ‘ their declarations : - ,
Instead of carrying on this stupid conflict,, an effort should be made at the earliest moment to summon a conference of the major powers for the purpose of ending it.
That statement was made during a debate on the war by the gentleman who is now Minister for- Transport in the Chifley Government, Mr. E. J. “Ward. I wish to point particularly to the connexion between the dates of the statements made by this Minister and by the Communist leaders, which show that, although Labour members deny all connexion with the Communists, we nevertheless find some of them in this Parliament following the line advocated by the Communists outside. In 1940, the Communists went very close to capturing the Labour- movement. En a vote taken on the 16th April, 1940, which was before Russia came into the war, a motion introduced by Mr. Thornton at the congress of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, was defeated by only 65 votes to 63. This motion urged the ending of the war and the conclusion of peace straightaway. It was in the form of an amendment to a motion which had been tabled by one of the more responsible delegates to the effect that the working class and the trade union movement should give their full weight to the prosecution of the war. On the 15th April next, the Communists started an anti-conscription drive, and held parades all over the country in opposition to conscription. That was before Russia came into the war. In April, 1940, the Menzies Government declared the Communist party an illegal organization. In June of the following year, Hitler invaded Russia, and, within a few weeks, the Communists, who had been opposing the war as an imperialist war began to clamour for a second front to help Russia, and to advocate conscription in Australia. There can be no doubt, as was pointed out by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), that the Communists- serve only one master. That master is a foreign power, and that foreign power is the most likely enemy that this country can have if there should be another war.
I propose to review the attitude of this Government to the menace of Communist infiltration, and I cite the case of a gentleman named Rudkin, who has been previously mentioned in the Parliament. Et illustrates how tenderly the Com- munists have been dealt with, particularly by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). It furnishes, indeed, an example of how not to deal with Communists. I quote the following from the newspaper West Australian of the 7th June, 1940: -
Acting under National Security Regulations, police yesterday made, three arrests in Perth.
The arrested men and the charges against them were as follows: -
Rudkin, Arthur William (31), journalist, charged that he, between 19th January and 2Sth May, in a manner likely to prejudice the efficient prosecution of the war, published information purporting to be information with respect to matters .which might be useful to the enemy.
The accused Rudkin was editor of the Workers’ Star, one of the nine Communist publications which recently came under the ban of the Federal Government. Rudkin is also a senior air raids precaution warden for the Victorian Park district. He was arrested by detectives McLennon and Richards.
I particularly emphasize the fact that. Rudkin was a senior air raids precaution warden-
– Who appointed him?
– I propose to show how he was appointed, and what are the methods and tactics of the Communist in getting members of the party appointed to key positions. I propose to show, also, how the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction connived at such action, and has since rewarded the Communists for their disloyalty to the country. ‘ This appeared in the West Australian on the 11th June, four days later -
Rudkin was charged under section 10 of the National Security Act, Regulation 17. Rudkin, in defence, said he wanted the A.R.P. Act improved so that it would give better protection A letter found in possession of a man named Dean, who also was sentenced to sis months’ gaol for offences under the National Security Regulation, stated-
This letter was initialled by Rudkin, who never contested its authenticity, and this is what he wrote to Dean -
I understand that with the exceptions of Comrade Zog and myself, the party membership in Western Australia ignored our circular advising that where possible they should become air wardens.
This question should be taken up again. Victoria Park-
Victoria Park was the area in which Rudkin was senior air raid warden -
. is the most advanced suburb in this work. Others are extremely short of wardens. In North Perth, for instance, there are only three wardens. Over 100 are required. Any party member becoming an air raid warden in a suburb where there is an extreme shortage would be sure of almost immediate promotion to the rank of senior warden (about twenty required in each ward).
Party members not known as such would have a fair chance -of promotion to a position to get more confidential information than I have any chance of getting.
The question of A.R.P. is sure to give rise to some considerable mass agitation in the event of gas being used in the present war, and . we will have a much better chance of leading this agitation if we have plenty of men on the inside of the organization.
The portion of the letter which I quote,’ strictly from the newspaper report, which was not read out in court, dealt, among other things, with gases which might be used in air raids, and the alleged possession by Great Britain of a special gas, and methods of gas protection. That portion of the letter was not read out in court, because at that time we were in the middle of the war and the magistrate forbade publication of it. That portion concluded with the following words : - [ suggest that the above information be passed on to Comrade J. B. M. before he leaves, as it would not be safe to send it through the mail- “ J. B. M. “, it was revealed, was Mr. T. B. Miles, the chairman of the Communist party in Australia, and the “ C.P.G.B. “ was later revealed to stand for the Communist party of Great Britain -
He should be asked to pass the information on to the C.P.G.B. if there is any means of sending them an uncensored communication. I have reason to believe that all letters going into Great Britain are subject to a strict censorship. Probably the C.P.G.B. knows of the above facts, but, if so, it is strange that they have not worked out a way of making use of them.
The Crown Prosecutor in the case, Mr. Lappin,.also quoted the following passage from the introductory part of the letter written by Rudkin : -
This information is not supposed to have been given to any Australian below the rank of Deputy Head Warden, but the anti-gas lecturer at Victoria Park passed it on to a group of wardens and senior wardens in great confidence.
I am simply stating the factual position in respect of this case. The magistrate, Mr. Wallwork, in. sentencing Rudkin to four months imprisonment said -
If this letter of the accused was quite an honest one, written with the object of getting more adequate air-raid protection, why should that information have to be communicated in a form that would escape censorship?
The last paragraph of the letter obviously deals with the white-anting of the A.R.P. organization by the introduction of Communist party members and the meaning of the concluding sentence, concerning the leading of a ‘mass agitation is quite clear. The magistrate sentenced Rudkin to imprisonment for four months. At the conclusion of the case, the prosecutor said that the question had been asked what the authorities would do after sentences in such cases had expired. I shall show what happened after the sentence imposed upon Rudkin expired. On the 16th April last, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) raised this matter, and asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, who is in control of the Council for .Scientific and Industrial Research, which is handling one of the most important phases of our defence, whether Rudkin was an officer in the employ of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and whether the Minister had in fact approved of his appointment. The honorable member went on to point out the history of this individual as I have related it, and the Minister, in his reply, said -
The appointment of any official to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is governed by the act, which provides that the Minister may approve recommendations by the executive. At the time I approved the recommendation for the appointment of Mr. Rudkin I was not aware of his alleged record. I do not believe that some of the statements which have been made concerning Mr. Rudkin are correct.
That was on the 16th April. I ask the Minister now if he has ascertained whether those statements are correct, and whether Rudkin is still employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. If he is, I want to know whether it is the reward of a traitor to be given confidential employment in one of the most vital departments of government in Australia. I point out also that the leopard has not changed his spots; because in October, 1946, this same Mr. Rudkin who was sentenced to imprisonment for four months for an attempt to betray Australia in 1940, wrote in a paper called The Focus the following article : -
Naturally, politicians as dumb as Truman and Bevin are dumb enough to try to use compulsion on scientists, and in an attempt to terrorize them, have imposed heavy gaol sentences on two leading physicists, Dr. Alan Nunn May and Dr. Charles Boyer, for carrying on the perfectly normal scientific activity of discussing their work with fellow-scientists of a nation to which Mr. Churchill, when Prime Minister, pledged all possible scientific and technical assistance . . .
That sympathetic reference to Dr. Alan Nunn May is a reference to a scientist who was sentenced to ten years penal servitude for attempting to betray the atom bomb secret. This is what. Mr. Rudkin wrote about Dr. Nunn May and his colleague -
Scientists, in short, are getting tired of churning out discoveries to be used by brass hats, crooked politicians, and mud-brained profiteers for their anti-social ends.
That was written by Mr. ‘Rudkin less than a year ago. He is the gentleman who was appointed to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. It is time that we took some kind of a stand on this issue. Many members of the Labour party profess hostility to communism. I do not doubt that in this respect their interests are identical with our own. On an issue such as this honorable members on both sides of the chamber should be able to combine in an attack upon a common enemy but, unfortunately, such. a combination has not been possible because, while honorable members opposite profess to condemn communism they apologize for Communists when any effort is made to deal with their activities. In concluding his speech, the honorable member for Hunter said, “ I hold no brief for the Communists “ ; but nobody, not even a King’s counsel, could have :put up a better defence for them than did the honorable member to-night.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the disorderly interjection by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), who, as Speaker of the House, should know better. A great deal was made by ‘the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) of the bill which he introduced a few months ago making it a penal offence for any person to interfere with an approved defence project, such as the guided weapons testing range, in Central Australia; but the damage which the Communists may do in preventing the execution of such a project is as nothing compared with the harm they might do by exercising the power they possess over the key unions of Australia. That danger was referred to in pointed terms by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) during this debate. To-day, the Communists, as the agents of a foreign power, hold Australia to ransom. Because of their control of key unions in this country at the behest of their masters they .can precipitate strikes in industries of all kinds, tie up transport, bring about stoppages on our railway systems and close down our munitions factories, and they will do it unless strong action is taken by the Government to put them in a place where they can no longer exercise their power. The honorable member for Batman says that something must be done to counter this menace, that : the Labour party itself must tackle the desperate problem -which faces the people to-day because of the activities of these agents of a foreign power. I propose to quote the opinions which were uttered by an English gentleman w.ho, before the outbreak of World WaT II., in 1939, was scorned as a warmonger. Dealing with the Communist menace, this gentleman said -
Communism is not only a creed. -It is a plan of campaign. A Communist is not only the holder of certain opinions; he is the pledged adept of a well-thought-out means of enforcing .them . . . The method of enforcement is as much a part of the Communist faith as the doctrine itself. At first the timehonoured principles Of liberalism and democracy are invoked to shelter the infant organism.
– I rise to order. I desire to know, Mr. Chairman, what all this has to do with the .proposed vote for the A*ttorney-:General’s ‘Department.
Tie CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).It has very flimsy a’ttachment to the vote for the Attorney-General’s Department. The scope of the debate on these Estimates has, however, been widened to include the whole of the ramifications of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, and a discussion of what activities should be engaged in by that organiza-tion. Many honorable members have, I am afraid, abused the privileges of debate during the discussion of these Estimates. I shall allow the honorable member to continue, but I ask him not to digress too widely from the Estimates before the committee.
– The gentleman whose words I have quoted is no less a person than Mr. Winston Churchill, who uttered those words in 1937, two years before the outbreak of World War II. Mr. Churchill was then scorned as an unrealist ; but had it not been for his clear vision of the dangers of Hitlerism and communism the world might have beon very different from what it is to-day. Mr. Churchill continued -
Free speech, the right of public meeting, every form of lawful political agitation and constitutional right are paraded and asserted.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The discussion of the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department has been cunningly used by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) as a vehicle for launching an attack upon the Labour party for its alleged attachment to the Communist party. No such attachment exists. The Communist party is equally the opponent of the Labour party as are the Opposition parties in this chamber. The Communist party has one objective only, namely, to bring about the destruction of the Labour movement and of Labour governments in the State and Commonwealth spheres. All the allegations that have been hurled against the Labour party to-night have been intended to demonstrate, not to this Parliament but to the people outside, that there is some connexion between the Com.munist party and the Labour movement;but the people will not be fooled in this way. T-hey know that the Labour party has put up a redoubtable fight against Communist elements both inside and outside of the trade union movement. How was the Communist party able to gain a footing in this country? In order to answer this question one must go back to the days when 800,000 men and women in this country were unemployed and on the point of starvation. Mass unemployment constituted a happy breeding ground for the spread of Communist propaganda. At every street corner the representatives of the Communist party pleaded with the people to contribute 6d. towards the party funds, promising to obtain better conditions for them. At that time- the governments in office in this country were those led by the parties now in opposition in this chamber. Honorable members opposite were themselves the creators of the conditions which brought about the spread of communism. Governments supported by them had been in office in the Commonwealth for 25 long years. As soon as the anti-Labour Government took office it hamstrung or repealed the wise legislation placed on the statutebook by the Fisher Labour Government. Yet honorable members opposite have the audacity to criticize the Labour movement and Labour governments. Where would this country have been to-day had not a Labour government come to the rescue of the people in 1940 ? Honorable members opposite may try to live down their past administrative misdeeds, but as long as I have breath left in my body they will not be permitted to do so. As a Western Australian, I am well aware of the vulnerability of Western Australia to attack at the time the Curtin Government answered the call of the people to put the defences of this country in order.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! Opposition members are endeavouring to interrupt the Minister’s speech. They were given an uninterrupted hearing, and I insist that the Minister also be heard in silence. If any honorable member again interjects, I shall deal with him.
– When I was a union secretary, the tactics of the Communists were to go into the shearing sheds and on to the mining fields and tell the men not to join their unions. In almost every instance, employers gave preference in employment to those Communists, whose main task was to spread that propaganda. I know this to be true because I had to fight the Communists on the mining fields. Supporters of the Opposition parties are the ones who have been responsible for the growth of communism.
The Australian “Workers Union has been mentioned in this debate, and my name has been coupled with that organization by certain speakers. I point out that when the Australian Workers’ Union had a rule that gave to its executive the power to reject a nomination for membership if it found that, the nominee was a member of the Communist party, a government formed by the parties now in Opposition compelled the union to amend that rule. I was one of those members of the Labour movement who originally opposed the lifting of the ban on the Communist party, but after I had heard certain arguments advanced, and in the light of my own experience when I, too, had to endure victimization, I changed my views. I recall the days when a man who had an Australian Workers Union membership ticket in his swag could not get a job in the shearing sheds. W e had to fight for our jobs from shed to shed. I support the view that little can be gained by oppression. I believe that the Communist party and any other organization that is opposed to the democratic principles according to which we are governed cannot live in the open in this country. We can disregard most of the talk that we hear from the Opposition benches about Communists. We can’ have little faith in the views of honorable members opposite on this subject, because at election times Labour candidates almost without exception are opposed by Communists. In almost every election that I have fought I have had a Communist candidate opposed to me. I have heard a Communist candidate read telegrams from members of the parties now in Opposition in this Parliament asking that the second preferences of Communist supporters be given to the Liberal party candidate, Mr. Lee.
Opposition members interjecting,
– A little bit of truth does not hurt at times. I do not speak often in this chamber, but I have had long experience and have fought many political battles. Opposition members have talked glibly in this debate about communism and the Government’s responsibility to suppress it; but I have not been misled. There is an election pending in Victoria, and, as I said in my opening remarks, this debate has been cleverly manoeuvred by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, purely for propaganda purposes. That is the only reason why I have risen to-night. I repeat that almost without exception, Labour candidates have been opposed by Communists at election times, but in only a few instances have Communists opposed Liberal or Australian Country party candidates because they all work hand in hand. Where the Communists obtain their finance I do not know, but they seem to have ample funds. A practice has grown up amongst opponents of Labour to condemn, as a Communist, any militant unionist who has the courage to stand up for the conditions to which he is entitled under his award, or for an improvement of his award. The Australian Workers Union, with 120,000 members, is the biggest union in Australia, but throughout the whole of the Commonwealth, not one official of that organization could be charged with being a Communist. Opposition members are endeavouring to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. Their aim is not the betterment of this country; they are doing exactly what the Communists want them to do, namely, contributing to the destruction of the Australian Labour movement; but they have a big job’ in front of them.
.- The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) has said truly that the Communist party is endeavouring to destroy the Labour movement. It is attempting to destroy all constitutional government in this country, and the Labour movement has formed part of that constitutional government. I believe that it is not without significance in this debate that Labour speakers have included two members of the legal profession who -probably can exercise some measure of independence, and two other members of the party who have been directly associated with the Australian “Workers Union - the one union in the Commonwealth, and a very powerful union, that has endeavoured to make a real fight against Communist infiltration into trade union affairs. I should like to hear from some other Government supporters, who so far have not had either the courage or the opportunity to speak so frankly. They know that a very real influence is still exercised and will continue to be exercised in Labour party affairs, particularly in preselection ballots, by unions which are acknowledged to be dominated by Communists. It is a pity that the Minister for the Interior did not attempt to discuss the really grave problem concerning this country at present - a problem that has been made graver by developments since this Parliament last discussed communism early this year. One important development has been the re-creation of the Comintern, a move that is accepted throughout the world as being of the utmost significance - the open resumption by the Communist party and by the Russian Government of international activity with a view to installing Communist inspired regimes throughout the world. That is brought vividly home to us in Australia by what has occurred in Canada and the United States of America in recent times. In Canada a royal commission discovered a sprawling Russian fifth column permeating, every stratum of Canadian life designed to seek information that would be useful in the event of another war -
According to the A.P.A. report the organization discovered was on three levels : ( 1 ) an inner circle of Russian agents, taking orders direct from Moscow; (2) a middle circle of detached and paid professional spies - all, it is believed, Canadian citizens: (3) Communist civil servant ‘red-ants or subjects of blackmail, who willingly or unwillingly made available government secrets. The Canadian Communist party was “deeply involved”, und one of its members had been arrested.
While inquiries were proceeding Moscow countered brazenly. Admitting that it had obtained information from certain Canadian citizens, it blustered that the information was valueless in view of the superior technical development of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Honorable members who have studied the report of the royal commission will recall that the witness Gouzenko claimed then what has been shown to be fact, that the Comintern had not been dissolved but was continuing and that Communist parties throughout the world were being made the tool of Soviet policy. We have to make up our minds whether this development is occurring in Australia. Not only has it been clearly shown to be occurring in Canada, but J. E. Hoover, the principal executive of the Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America, giving evidence recently before the House of Representatives Appropriation Committee, said -
Communists have penetrated every field of activity in the United. States of America, and over the last few years the penetration has been intensified. He was giving evidence on the Appropriation Bill as relating to the Department of Justice. He said that Communists had penetrated into radio, newspaper, motion picture and labour organizations spheres and for every one of the 74,000 memers of the Communist party there were ten other individuals ready to do the party’s work.
The Minister for the Interior and the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) claim that economic conditions created communism. I assure them that if they regard that as the explanation, they will err greatly in handling this problem. Communism has developed in countries with the highest standard of living as well as in countries with low standards of living. Nor is communism confined to people on depressed living standards. In the United States of America, Canada and this country you find Communists among some of the comfortably situated citizenry and the best educated and best placed people in the community. Do not bluff yourselves that communism is a purely economic problem. Its roots go much deeper than that. The Government could employ itself more usefully than by making such counter charges as the Minister for the Interior made in his utterances by asking itself whether, there is any evidence of a link between the Communist party of Australia and the government of Soviet Russia. It is beyond dispute that many of the leading figures in the Communist party of Australia have, at some time or other, received tutelage in the Russian Lenin-Marxist Institute. That is beyond argument. It is- well established. We have it on record in an official publication of the Communist party. I quote from the pamphlet No War on Soviet Russia, published by the Central Committee of the Communist party of Australia and written by Comrade R. Dixon, one of the best-known figures in the Communist movement in Australia.
– That is not his right name, either.
– The honorable member for Reid, who has made a close study of communism in Australia, says that that is not his right name. Undoubtedly we see only a small part of the total Communist activity in this country reflected in those who openly declare themselves to be Communists. We know that there are others working underneath who can carry on if those who -openly avow themselves as Communists are touched by the government of the day. Under the heading “ Communism is Foreign “, Comrade Dixon wrote -
Well ! Well ! Well !
Perhaps they would prefer that the Communist party be directed from Canberra. Or better still, from Downing-street.
Then with a sneering reference to the fact that my leader, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), declared war on the Communists in the name of the people of Australia, and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) wanted conscription in this country, he went on to say -
The Communist party in this country has grown out of the fertile soil of the class struggle in Australia and bases itself upon the best traditions of the working-class movement. True, we draw upon the experiences of the struggles of the working class for emancipation in other lands, for in every capitalist country the mission of the working class is to destroy capitalism and establish socialism. We have established connexions with workingclass parties in other countries, including Soviet Russia, in order to strengthen the bonds of working-class internationalism, to hasten the downfall of capitalism in all countries and, through socialism, to achieve the international brotherhood of man.
The clear admission he made as long ago as 1940 has at last penetrated official
Labour circles in this country, because we find that in the pamphlet published by the Attorney-General, Hands Off the Nation’s Defences - even that has a familiar beginning; we recall the “ Hands off Russia “ resolution carried by the trade union movement at an earlier stage in our history - he quotes approvingly the resolution of the federal executive of the Labour party. The resolution said this in relation to the guided weapons project in Central Australia and the attempt by the Communist party to prevent the project from being proceeded with -
It is apparent that the propaganda recently issued by the Communist party in connexion with this undertaking is for the sole purpose of defeating the Australian Defence Policy in the interests of a foreign power.
So the Labour party .was at last convinced. The Attorney-General himself has become convinced, because, commenting on the circumstances of the resolution, he says -
Although the attempt has temporarily fizzled out, it constituted a very ugly incident, and it has undoubtedly opened many eyes to the menace to the Australian defence interests involved in a facile acceptance of proposals put forward by members of the Communist party. For, although the Central Committee of that party late in the day openly dissociated the party from the boycott move, the evidence of its Communist origin is too strong to be put aside. … In other words, it was not a humanitarian object, but a political amd international objective which was being pursued.
I place these facts on record because honorable members and such members of the general public as may be listening to this debate may be able to determine for themselves whether it can really be alleged, as two honorable members opposite have tried to allege, that the Opposition is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Is it a molehill if the Federal Executive of the Labour party should couch a resolution in those terms? Is it a molehill if the Attorney-General finds it necessary ‘to comment in a special pamphlet? Is it a molehill when we know the action taken by the authorities in Canada, the United States of America and other English-speaking countries throughout the world? It is a hazardous and menacing thing that a government and its supporters, charged with the responsibility of Australian security, could even regard such a problem as lightly as many of this Government’s supporters apparently do. I say that more government supporters should have risen to-night as the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) did to condemn communism. The AttorneyGeneral himself claimed, when we were debating this matter earlier this year, that condemnation and criticism were the best weapons with which to fight communism. If that be so, honorable members opposite, instead of attacking us, should join with us in our attempts to open the eyes of the people to the danger that threatens them.
– Why do Opposition candidates give preference to Communists on their “how-to-vote” cards?
– I am interested to hear the honorable member’s interjection. The Leader of the Opposition, for one, must have recollections of- the way in which the Labour party instructed its supporters in the Kooyong electorate to give their second preference to his Communist party opponent. Other honorable members on this side of the chamber have similar recollections. I have had Communist opponents in my electorate, and they have always been placed at the bottom of my “ how-to-vote “ list.
Can it be claimed that the Opposition is making . a mountain out of a molehill when Comrade Thornton, one of the leading exponents of communism and one of the ablest trade union leaders in the country, is able to state that the Communist party almost completely dominates the trade union movement? T(he Minister for the Interior said a few minutes ago that members of the Labour party have been fighting communism all their lives. Other Ministers and supporters of the Government have made similar declarations. Nevertheless, a few weeks ago, Thornton was able to say that, but for a few “ twisters “, the Communist group would have completely dominated the trade union congress in Victoria. He claimed that the Communist policy prevailed on every issue of consequence at the congress and that the Communist forces were defeated only when a secret ballot was held. That indi cates the measure of success which hasattended the Labour party’s efforts to combat communism in Australia! The Communist-dominated union groups have assumed almost complete control of the trade union movement, which, in the words of Mr. Kennelly, a member of the Victorian Government, determines the policy that the Labour party” shall follow. Mr. Kennelly made that statement publicly at- a Trades Union Congress at Toronto. “We are there to do what the trade union movement tells us to do “, he said. What are the elements that comprise the trade union movement? But for a few votes, apparently, the movement would be controlled by the groups dominated by Mr. Thornton and his colleagues. We, on this side of the chamber, have no fight with the Government and its supporters on this issue if they are determined to fight communism with us. Let them come out in the open and aline themselves on our side. We believe that the most effective way to meet the Communist menace is, not to establish some elaborate gestapo organization or to employ repressive tactics, but to bring home clearly to the Australian people the real significance of the movement so that they will understand what its activities will lead to in this country. That is what the Government should be doing. We believe, as the Government claims to believe, that the overwhelming mass of Australians are loyal to the country and to its democratic institutions. However, because the Government is not prepared to come out in the open and fight, it is allowing the Communist influences which dominate the trade union movement to dominate, in turn, the political life of the country.
We press for a public inquiry into Communist activities in Australia. When we did so previously, the Attorney-General said that such an inquiry would perhaps disclose what the Government was doing and thus might embarrass it in the pursuit of its. own inquiries. That was not a satisf actory -reply to our demand. It is not sufficient for the Government merely to have a lot of information at its disposal. The best way to attack the Communist party would be to expose its objectives and methods and publish the names of its leading figures. The Communists should be made to declare what they are doing and where they secure the funds which enable them to maintain throughout the Commonwealth newspapers that no other political party could afford to maintain. They should be made to declare how they secure specially favorable treatment from the Government which enables them to obtain newsprint as they desire it, .and to have twelve telephones installed at Marx House in Sydney at a time when thousands of decent, patriotic citizens cannot secure telephones either for business or for private purposes. How do these people secure such favorable ‘treatment, and how is it that some of the leading Communists of Australia are able to go abroad under the auspices of this Government and have their expenses paid by the taxpayers? Is that the way to fight communism? Of course it is not! It is time that the Government realized what it should be doing to defeat communism.
I refer now to another matter which should not be allowed to pass without comment in this chamber and which should be cleared up promptly. Apparently the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) spoke in the Domain in Sydney during the week-end on the subject of the nationalization of banking and said some very disparaging things about the supreme judiciary in this country, namely, the High Court of Australia.
– I said nothing of the kind. I referred to the judges as septuagenarians, which they are.
– Order ! What the honorable member for Dalley said in the Domain on Sunday has nothing to do with the proposed vote which is now under discussion.
– What was said in the Domain on Sunday in relation to the High Court has a great deal to do with the proposed vote for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. The High Court is one of the prime responsibilities of the Attorney-General, and if there are people in high and responsible positions in Australia who seek to damage that institution by derogatory references to it, I want to know whether the AttorneyGeneral, or whoever speaks for him in this place during his absence abroad - the Prime Minister for preference - intends to make any pronouncement or take any action in relation .to those derogatory remarks. The honorable member for Dalley has stated, by interjection, that all he said on Sunday was that the High Court judges are septuagenarians. Presumably he made some other reference to them too. He would not just make a remark about septuagenarian judges. He must have said also that they had done something or had failed to do something. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain), who visited the Domain on Sunday, and who claims to have heard what was said, has made a statement which I propose to repeat. If the honorable member for Dalley ‘is misquoted in that statement he will have an opportunity to say so. The honorable member for the Northern Territory claims tha;t the honorable member for Dalley, referring to ‘the judgment of the High Court in the recent banking case, said that seven incompetent septuagenarians had defied the people of this country. I do not suppose .that the honorable member will deny having talked about seven septuagenarians, and presumably he spoke of them in an unflattering sense because of the action that they had taken in respect of the High Court judgment.
– They ought to be retired.
– Apparently the honorable member for Dalley has not gone quite so far as the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), who would do away with them altogether as a court of appeal in this country. The honorable member was a former associate of the Minister for Transport, and, no doubt, when the Minister recently referred to judges of the Arbitration Court being overfed and under-worked, there was a sympathetic response in his breast, because now he has attacked the competency and capability of the judges of the High Court. Let us assume that , all of them were in their seventies, as the honorable member for Dalley suggested. Even that does not excuse offensive references to the highest judiciary in this land, functioning under the Constitution of the Commonwealth. But, at least, if any one is to make offensive remarks of this kind, let those comments be accurate. On examining the details, because I took the trouble to do so when I heard the speech of the honorable member for the Northern Territory to-day, I find that four judges of the High Court have ages ranging from 55 to 61 years. That is not a very senior age for men who are expected to have had long experience in the legal and judicial life of this country.
– The honorable member for Dalley must be in that age group.
– Included in the remaining three justices of the High Court is the Chief Justice, Sir John Latham. If there is a more alert, intelligent mind either in this chamber or outside it, I should like to be told who it is. I do not believe that any one who has any knowledge of Sir John Latham and his ability would claim that the High Court is badly served by his presence on it. Nor are the remaining members by any means the least competent of those upon the Bench. The honorable member for Dalley cannot have forgotten so quickly that he was a member of a caucus which elected to ministerial office not very long ago a gentleman aged 77 years. So let him be accurate and fair. He knows that the Standing Orders of .this Parliament preclude honorable members from making offensive and derogatory references to the judiciary of this country, and when he goes outside the Parliament to make statements which are undoubtedly offensive and intended to weaken the confidence and faith of his listeners in the High Court, he should have some regard both to accuracy and to his responsibilities to the community. This is a well-known technique which is practised by those who desire to destroy democracy. The Communists have exploited it in relation to the Arbitration Court. They set out to sabotage that tribunal by discrediting it, and they have succeeded in doing so. The Government itself has now taken action to deprive the court of a large measure of its authority. What will be the results of that action only time will tell; but, at least, the Communists have succeeded in doing what they set out to do, namely, discredit the arbitration institution of this country.
Now they are seeking to discredit our other judicial tribunals, and this Parliament. He is a foolish man, regardless of where he sits in this chamber, who aids and abets the work that the Communists are trying to do by attempting in turn to discredit these democratic instrumentalities. I hope that we shall not hear any more of this talk from the honorable member for Dalley, the Minister for Transport, and others who, in the past, have been all too free with their attacks on and their criticisms of the highest tribunals in this land.
.- So as to forestall the usual drivel that we hear about my leaving the Chair in order to take part in a debate, I am now, in committee, exercising my right as ‘ the honorable member for Dalley to speak on this particular subject. The committee is considering the Estimates of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. By some mysterious means, we have been taken all over the world, and have examined every conceivable aspect of international politics.
– That is a reflection on the” Chair.
– It is not a reflection on the Chair. If anything, it is a reflection on the benevolence of the Chair in allowing the discussion to have such latitude.
– I rise to order. I submit that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has made a reflection on the judgment of the Chair. He implied that many of the remarks which have been made in this discussion were not relevant to the Estimates under consideration.
– That is not a reflection on the Chair. I was not the’ Temporary Chairman when the committee began to consider the Estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. The” discussion has become a little wide, but as some latitude has been allowed, I must continue to permit it.
– Much of the discussion has centred on the Commonwealth Investigation Service. During the consideration of the Estimates a good deal of criticism has been levelled at the Government on the ground of the increased numerical strength of the Public Service and the proposed expenditure of departments. Now, however, we are told that the Commonwealth Investigation Service is undermanned, and that the staff should be increased.
– Provided the Investigation Service will tackle this problem, but not otherwise.
– The whole of the discussion has been an attempt to f asten upon the Labour Government the responsibility for the existence of the Communist party. A definite effort has been made to show not only the Parliament, but also the general public, that the Labour party is under the domination of the Communist party. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) saw red when he spoke of the Communist party. He declared that he would root it out lock, stock and barrel.
– I did not use that expression.
– The honorable member for Barker said that he would root out the Communist party, root and branch. After all, we must be accurate.
– Well, root and branch. I accept the correction.
– On many occasions when the honorable member should have accepted corrections, he did not do so._
– On this auspicious occasion, I accept the correction, because, fundamentally, the two expressions have the same meaning. The honorable member for Barker would root out the Communists root and branch. He was followed by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), who would act in a similar manner. So also would the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). But I challenge members of the Liberal party to say that their Leader (Mr. Menzies) would do the same thing. The Leader of the Australian Country party wing of the Opposition has clearly stated in public that he would root out .the Communist party lock stock and barrel, and suppress its members.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), who is the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party, indicates his approval. But despite all the talk by members of the Liberal party about what they would do to the Communists, their own leader has said that he would not suppress the Communist party, because such an action would drive the Communists underground.
– We declared the Communist party an illegal organization.
– Where is this leaderless legion going? Members of the Liberal party have been lecturing the Labour party on what the Government should do to the Communist party.
– The honorable member for several years was a member of the Australian Labour party - NonCommunist.
– That was because there were Communists within the Labour party at that time, but later, they were completely eradicated. Let there be no mistake about that. What is more, I was prepared to risk my political existence in the fight to eradicate the Communists from the Labour party. I should like to know how many honorable members opposite would be prepared to take similar action. The Leader of the Australian Country party will not deny that he said he would suppress the Communist party.
– I repeat it.
– The honorable member for Indi has already endorsed that statement. I invite the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) to repeat what he said on a previous occasion, namely, that he would not suppress the Communist party because the suppression of its activities would drive its members underground. Despite the views expressed by honorable members opposite, I believe that the majority of Communists in Australia are not born Communists; they are Communists because of .the economic circumstances in which they live. Honorable members opposite, many of whom have had an opportunity of touring the world, should ask themselves where communism, is most deeply embedded. The answer is, in Russia, where people lived for centuries under the tyranny of the Czars and endured almost inconceivable poverty and privation. Russia was the breeding ground of communism, which has spread throughout Europe because of the sufferings of the European peoples. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to talk about feeding “ starving Europe “ ; the fact is that before the war millions of people in Europe were starving, and it was amongst those people that the doctrines of communism received such an impetus. In no country in the world to-day has communism a deeper root than in the countries where tyranny and oppression were most rampant. In Asia we find that China is riddled with communism, and we know that China in the past was notorious for the starvation and oppression endured by its people. Of the countries in which communism has taken root it is notable that its spread has been most prolific in those which experienced the greatest oppression by the reactionary forces which honorable members opposite seek to flatter to-day.
We have heard a great deal about the growth of communism in Australia, but what has been the result of the elections for Commonwealth and State parliaments in this country? In practically every case the Communist candidates have forfeited their electoral deposits, and the significant fact is that where elections have been contested by representatives of the Australian Labour party and the Communist party, the Liberal party and the Australian Country party have advised their supporters to give their No. 1 vote to the Communist representative. I notice ‘the honorable member for Barker shaking his head, but if he desires proof of my statement I can produce it. That proof is contained’ in “ how-to-vote “ notices inserted in the Sydney Morning Herald. Those notices bear the imprimatur of officials of the Liberal ‘party and the Australian Country^ party, so that they were not unauthorized.
– Tie honorable gentleman should produce his evidence.
– I produce the evidence of a statement made by Mr. Hamilton Knight, a member of the present Government of New South Wales.
– A Labour government! He is about ‘as reliable as the honorable member.
– He said-
I have been in the House for twenty years. Since 1930 I .have been opposed mostly by Communists, and they have been ably assisted by the United Australia party and the United Country party.
He went on .to say -
I have a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald dated 9th May, 1935. The election was held on the 11th May, and these are the official how-to-vote recommendations of the United Country party. The advertisement reads: “ The following is the revised list of howtovote recommendations of the United Country party. These have been accepted by the United’. Australia party, save in the case of Newcastle”. In my electorate there were, only two candidates, Mr. Cram, the Communist, and; myself. The official recommendation of both the United Country party and the United Australia party was to vote Cram No. 1 and Knight No. 2. I have made no statements that I cannot back up with proof.
I have given the date of the issue of the Sydney Morning Herald, which contains the advertisement which I have joist read, and honorable members can read it in the library. That report shows that in the contest between the Communist and Labour candidates the United Australia party and the United Country party advised voters to give the Communist candidate their No. 1 vote and the Australian Labour party candidate their No. 2 vote. When we consider things like that we wonder at the solicitude of honorable gentlemen opposite for the Australian Labour party and the alleged infiltration of Communists into that party.
The honorable member for Richmond quoted the information given to the House by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), which was a most unfortunate choice. Under the protection of the privilege of the Parliament the honorable member for New England traduced the names of at least 40 citizens of Katoomba, New South Wales, all of whom challenged him to say outside Parliament what he had said inside it. That honorable gentleman knew that there were no grounds for the charge that those self-respecting citizens were members of the Communist party, but he sheltered in the coward’s castle, in abuse of the privilege of parliamentary protection. Although he is aware of their challenge to him he continues to take refuge in the coward’s castle and to avail himself of the privilege of Parliament to repeat the charges which he made against those people. Had there been no contradiction of the statement of the honorable member for New England there might have been some excuse for the assertion which the honorable member for Richmond made to-night, but the honorable member for Richmond knew perfectly well that the citizens whom his colleague had maligned as “ Communist sympathizers “, and even as outright Communists, had challenged the honorable gentleman to repeat his charges outside Parliament. Yet notwithstanding that, he chose to repeat to-night the charges which neither he nor the honorable member for New England were - or are - game to repeat outside the precincts of the Parliament. The honorable gentlemen I have mentioned protest against attacks made in this Parliament on members of the judiciary and other prominent people in the community, yet they do not scruple to malign citizens under the shelter of parliamentary privilege.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) said that if government supporters were prepared to go out and fight the Communist party members of the Opposition parties would be with them. The point is that we do not want them to be with us; we can fight the Communists ourselves. And if honorable members examine the records of the men who control the governing bodies of the trade unions in this country, namely, the Australian Council of Trades Unions and the trades and labour councils in the various States, they will find that not one of them is controlled by members of the Communist party. It is true that there has been infiltration of Communists in those councils. No one denies that. But Opposition members ought to give to the Labour party the credit that in every State of the Commonwealth it has organized within the trade union movement to destroy whatever prestige or ground the Communist party has gained. Our position is not improved by the arguments of honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) to-night spoke the truth. There has been infiltration. But that has been arrested. All parties have undesirables, even the Australian Country party and the Liberal party, and they are difficult to drive out. The line has to be drawn somewhere. I often wonder how some persons become members. As I view the matter, the organized Labour movement has been able’ to hold the trade union fort, and to keep those forces in check. I know that certain organizations may be cited as having Communists as their leaders. Any organization has the right to choose its own leaders. Surely industrial organizations have not to bow the knee to honorable gentlemen opposite! There would not be a trade union if most of those honorable gentleman had their way. Industrial organizations can choose their leaders by the same democratic method as is adopted in connexion with the election of the members of this Parliament.
The honorable member for Fawkner has referred to some statement which I am alleged to have made in a speech on the banking issue. I do not deny that I described the High Court as “ a bunch of learned septuagenarians “. I have since discovered that the average age of the justices is 66 years. The age of the eldest is 84 years, that of the next 75 years, that of the third 70 years, and those of the three youngest 60 years, 57 years, and 54 years. I do not deny that I challenged their judgment. I have a perfect right, as a public man, to express my opinion of a judgment of the High Court, whatever the age of the justices might be. I have done more. I do not hold that they are on such a pedestal as to be beyond reproach. A gentleman whom I believe to be the Chief Justice or LieutenantGovernor of Victoria, certainly a distinguished judge, took it upon himself recently to . lecture the parliaments of Australia. If the judiciary has the right to lecture the parliaments of Australia, those parliaments have the right to lecture the judiciary. I have done what most honorable gentlemen opposite have not done, in that I have read the judgment of each of the justices on the banking case. I would not say that they are merely political judgments, but I would say that if the one justice did not write all of them, one journalist did. I share the view of the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), and always have, that no court in the land should be superior to the high court of the people, namely, the people’s Parliament. I do not walk away from that; it is my view.
– Does the Constitution mean nothing to the honorable gentleman?
– I would ask the people to alter the Constitution. The High Court is placed on a pedestal, and one is supposed not to criticize its members. No acrobat in a circus has thrown more somersaults than has the High Court in the judgments it has delivered over the last twenty years. How can any one talk about the High Court always being right? What about the James case, in which only one justice - the present Commonwealth Attorney-General - was right, and the rest of the justices were wrong? Since all of those justices were proved to be wrong in their interpretation of legislation that had been passed by this Parliament, and only one justice was proved to be ‘right-
– That was accidental.
– It might have been. The presence here of the honorable gentleman also is accidental.
– It has been accidental for twenty years.
– The Parliament cannot be blamed for that. What I am trying to emphasize is that if an honorable member, whether he be the Speaker of the House or only a private member, is to be precluded in a democratic country from challenging a decision of the High Court, from commenting on that decision, as well as upon the ages of the justices, questioning whether they should be permitted to remain on the bench until they retire voluntarily or die-
– -Commenting inaccurately.
– I was inaccurate by four years in stating the average age. If it be right to retire public servants at a certain age, why should it not be right to retire members of the judiciary?
– Would the honorable gentleman apply that to politicians?
– I should not mind doing so. Not very many of them are over 60 years of age. I offer no apology for what I said, even though I [ m,ay be said to have spoken at that meeting on banking legislation as the Speaker of the House, which I did not profess to do; I went there as the member for Dalley, in which capacity I am speaking now.
– The honorable gentleman is entitled to do that.
– I hold certain views on that judgment, and on the competency of men of the ages of the justices of the High Court to continue to pass judgment on highly important matters. I repeat them here, and offer no apology for them.
– The honorable gentleman may not criticize the judiciary in this Parliament.
– I am not criticizing it. The committee is considering the estimates of a department which pays the salaries of the justices of the High Court. If I hold the view that those justices ought to be retired at the same age as are public servants, I am entitled to say that we ought not to continue to pay their salaries after they have passed that age. I am not walking away from that.
– There is provision in the States.
Mi. ROSEVEAR. - I understand that there is a retiring age in the States. The position should not be different in the Commonwealth.
That is all that I have to say on that point. I emphasize that before Opposition members seek to lecture the Australian. Labour party on the infiltration of the Communist party, or ask us to root out the Communist party, lock, stock and barrel, and to suppress that organization, they ought at least to ensure that their own leaders are unanimous in the views that they hold in the matter. Honorable members opposite speak of the infiltration of Communists, but they will not do anything about it so long as the Leader of one Opposition party says, “I will suppress them”, whilst the other says, “ I will keep them alive “.
– In view of certain matters which have occurred during the debate, I think that I should express my own views on two of them, at any rate. The first of them is the second matter referred to by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), namely, the matter of the High Court. It is not a discussion in which I take part very willingly, because I think that it is a sound rule of the Parliament that the personal qualifications of judges should not be canvassed in this place. I refer to the matter only to draw attention to a vital distinction which the honorable member for Dalley has overlooked, but which Mr. Speaker, in other circumstances, would see like a flash. It is this : Nobody has ever pretended that a judgment given by a learned judge of the High Court cannot be discussed, provided that the person who discusses the judgment is competent to do so. All the legal journals are full of discussions of judgments that have been given. I myself have, on more than one occasion, contributed to legal journals articles examining some judgments of- the High Court, and offering criticism of them. It is quite right that at all times there should be critical and informed contributions in relation to professional matters. But when a man who knows nothing about it proceeds to offer a criticism of a judgment given on a legal problem, he undertakes a considerable task. Even then, he might be forgiven, because “ a cat may look at a king”; but it is an entirely different matter when he discusses the merits of a judgment - whether it is in accordance with the law, or expresses the true view of the Constitution, or where he turns to personal abuse’ of the judges who delivered the judgment. The honorable member for Dalley can hardly escape from the consequences of his own words in the Domain by professing that he did not say anything about incompetent septuagenarians, but that he merely referred to septuagenarians ; that, in other words, he merely said to a crowd of people, many of whom were willing to be hostile to the judiciary, that these were a lot of men too old to do their jobs. He meant that they were incompetent to do their job.
– He referred to learned septuagenarians. I heard him.
– I shall make my speech in my own way without much assistance from the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan), though I am bound to say .that he usually assists me.
– Does not the honorable gentleman think that Mr. Justice Rich is too old ?
– The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) was for one brief period of his life a practitioner of the law. As such, he must have become acquainted with the fact that by the decision of the people of Australia - the very same decision as that by which they wrote the banking power into the Constitution - they provided that justices of the High Court should be appointed for life. If the honorable member has the faintest recollection of the few fragments of law with which he became acquainted he will, or at least he should, remember, that some of the most distinguished lawyers who have sat on the Bench have been men of advanced years. Every time I hear people say, as the honorable member for Dalley has said to-night, that a judge ought to be treated as a civil servant and be retired at 65 years of age, I cannot help reminding myself that the law reports of my own State would not have been enriched as they have been were it not for judgments delivered by Sir Leo Cussen, who, in the full height of his power, was sitting on the Bench at 75 years of age delivering judgments which were masterpieces of learning. Some of the best men who have sat on the High Court and on the Privy Council-
– Including Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy?
– I gather from that interjection that the honorable member for Dalley desires to say something detrimental concerning the late Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy. The only effect of this exchange is to make it clear that the honorable member for Dalley intended to be personally abusive to the judges. That is all. I have very little difficulty in understanding that he must have had a most pleasant holiday in the Domain “ slang-wanging “ people associated with the High Court, and in having the supreme effrontery to criticize the form of expression and legal correctness of their judgments when he has not the first qualification to know whether their judgments were right or wrong. Here were men of great learning, men who have been highly trained, men of considerable experience, delivering judgments on a firstclass matter of law. The honorable member for Dalley reads their judgments, and says with all .the valor of ignorance, “I don’t agree with them “. Then, for better measure, he tells us in this place that, having read the judgments, he concludes that they were written, by the same journalist. What did that cheap and stupid remark mean? The fact that the honorable member’s speeches have to be concocted by a fifth-rate journalist should not dispose him to believe that justices of the High Court have their judgments written by journalists.
– My remarks brought the right honorable gentleman into the ring.
– I came into the ring very willingly. The honorable member is out of the ring. I am discussing a matter which the honorable member has not even begun to understand.
Honorable members interjecting,
– There are too many interjections.
– I shall now say a few words about the matter which I rose mainly to discuss, namely, communism and Communists. The only reference I desire to make here to what was said in the remarkable utterance of Mr. Speaker, in his capacity as the honorable member for Dalley, is this: He produced - I wondered whether any High Court judge would regard it as testimony - a statement alleged to- have been made by Mr. Hamilton Knight as some evidence that my party puts Communists on the “ how-to-vote “ card ahead of Labour men.
– I gave the date of the newspaper.
– The honorable member would have done better if he had produced the newspaper, but I noticed that he did not do so. I shall enlighten the committee by giving a genuine piece of first-hand evidence on this matter. To do so I do not need to go back to 1935, as I have only to go back to the elections of 1946. In Kooyong, the seat which I represent, there were three candidates. There were no complications, only three candidates. One was a Labour candidate, one was a Communist, and the other was myself. The Labour party, in its directions given through the press, and in “ how-to-vote “ cards, recommended that the voting should be Labour 1, Communist 2, Liberal 3.
– They had to draw the line somewhere.
– I have heard that one before. It is a very good way of laughing it off, but what I have said is still true. They did not even have the excuse that it was convenient to run up the card or down, because the candidates were Laurie, Communist; Menzies, Liberal; and Nicholls, Labour. Thus, a voter, in order to follow the directions of the Labour party, had to give his first preference to the man on the bottom of the card, and then go to the top of the card to give his second preference to the Communist.
– What are you growling about? You got in.
– I am not growling. On the contrary, I say that this contemptible action on the part of the Labour party undoubtedly increased my majority by 2,000 or 3,000. I have no doubt of it, because in every electorate there are some thousands of Labour supporters who will not tolerate being tied up in that fashion with the Communists. Yet the learned people, wise in politics, who directed the campaign on behalf of the Labour party, including the present Commonwealth Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), and Mr. P. J. Connelly, a prominent member of the State Labour party in Victoria, instructed their supporters to give their second preferences to the Communist candidate.
However, that is only in the nature of an aside, provoked by the fanciful statement of the honorable member for Dalley, and I now turn to the subject which has been much canvassed to-day, namely, the banning of the Communist party. It is true that I, not once, but repeatedly, on my own behalf, and on behalf of the party which I lead, have indicated that, in the circumstances then existing, we did not propose that the Communist party should be banned. In 1940, <we, in fact, banned the Communist party because, at that time, its members were engaged in treasonable operations in time of war. I have repeatedly stated that my own mind on this matter is that, in time of peace, all doubts ought to be resolved, as far as practicable, in favour of freedom of speech; and that, therefore, we ought to attack the Communists, insofar as we can, by general laws, and not by particular laws. Thus, if they become breakers of wise, general laws, they may be dealt with as lawbreakers. Otherwise, we should, as far as possible, fight them in the light. There is no novelty in that statement. I have said it in one form of words or another on many occasions, but I want to say this to the committee: It is not to be assumed that all policies of that kind are perpetual. Events move on. If a state of affairs arose in this country which satisfied me, for one, that the Communists were again engaged in treasonable activities, I should not hesitate to be a party to treating them as in time of war.
All these matters have to be judged on the facts. No policy in (relation to them can be static. Therefore. I want to elaborate a little further, ,?o as to say exactly how I apply that principle to this problem. The Communists were up to 1941 subversive agents in Australia. When some of them were interned, they were properly interned. When their party was banned, it was properly banned. Then Russia came into the war, and the Communists came on our side. They said, “ Good, we are now in favour of this war. It is no longer an imperialist war, and we are in favour of the war effort.” Then, as the war went on, and was within measurable distance of being won, the Communists, who bad gone quietly, once more became industrially aggressive. They became in 1944 and 1945 the aggressive militant element in the trade union movement. But they did not stop there. Having had some success in the industrial field, they then extended beyond industrial activities, so that their disputes were no longer of an industrial kind, but had merely political ends. In other words, Communist activity in the last two years in Australia has been directed to enforcing political policies, and not to enforcing industrial demands. We have seen instances of this in the waterfront dispute, and in the case of the guided weapons testing range, in which the Communists’ designs evoked from the Government at long last legislation to deal with the position. We have seen the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) conceding that Communist activity was no longer merely industrial, but was reaching out beyond that point in pursuit of political purposes. That is why, in a passage that has been quoted previously, the AttorneyGeneral referred to the resolution of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party, which stated -
It is apparent that the propaganda recently issued by the Communist party in connexion with this undertaking is for the sole purpose of defeating the Australian defence policy in the interest of a foreign power.
No words that have fallen from any honorable member on this side o’f the House could be stronger than these: “ To defeat defence projects in the interests of a foreign power “. That is the very definition of treason, and in such circumstances I want to make it very clear that I think the time is long overdue for a thoroughgoing, searching investigation of all that the Communists are doing, and the rendering of a report to the Australian people concerning the result.
We know that the Communists assumed various forms. We know that one does not need to look for the label “ Australian Communist party “ in order to come across some Communist organization in Australia. All sorts of Eureka leagues, youth leagues, and other mildsounding organizations form a part of the Communist scheme. It is a part of their cleverness that they introduce into their work people who would be horrified were they told that they were fellow travellers with a Communist. But the community ought to know what these people are doing. The people of Australia are entitled to know how the Communist party is related to bodies outside Australia. There are very many honorable members in this House - on both sides of the House - who believe that these people do have an association with elements in Russia, who believe that these people have sources of revenue which are not very obvious and not to be explained on normal grounds or by normal subscriptions. And the public are entitled to know. If an investigation shows that their operations are unrelated to anything outside, industrially, or in any other way, they are entitled .to have those facts made known .to the public; but if, on the other hand, these people are more and more engaging in subversive activity, more and more trying to undermine the security of this country, trying to defeat the public policies of this country in the interests of some other power - if those are the facts, then it is elementary that those facts are to be made known. From first to last, I have never understood why this Government, which has appointed a. few royal commissions on Appropriate occasions, has refused an investigation.
This matter was brought up here on one occasion some months back. At that time, I think that the AttorneyGeneral was present, and he said in the course of the debate that it would be very undesirable to hold an investigation, that the investigation people had tabs on the Communists, and knew what they were doing. The Government had all the information, but it would not do to publish it because that might reveal the sources of its information. On that occasion I occupied the time of the House by saying what I now repeat. Nobody wants the public to be told what the sources of information of an investigation branch are. That would defeat, to a considerable degree, the purpose of the investigation; but what is there to prevent an investigation being made by a competent authority and the result of that investigation being conveyed to the people of Australia? Why should not, the people of Australia know which are the bodies in Australia that are Communist controlled ; whether these people have any tie-up with interests outside Australia? It is not sufficient to point, as people used to do a little while ago, to the dissolution of the Comintern as making the consequential result, “ It is all right. The Communists are no longer engaged in international propaganda and no longer “have expansionist ideas”. I must say that I never did believe there was very much in the dissolution of the Comintern. But the Comintern has now been revived under another name. Nobody in this chamber can have the slightest dou’bt, if he looks at events during the last two years, that there is a vast expansionist movement promoted by the Soviet Union ; and none can have very much doubt that .in that expansion Communists all over the world regard themselves as the agents of Soviet expansion. If they do, they are in plain terms the fifth column in Australia, in the United States of America, and in whatever country it might be. We have only to look at some recent events to realize that there is far more than coincidence in the co-operation that exists between the Soviet Union and the Communists inside Australia. Take, for example, the Netherlands East Indies. What happened? The Communists in Australia have been exercising all the pressure in Australia by waterfront holdups, by direct threats to the Government in favour of the Indonesians who are in rebellion against the Dutch. While that has been going on in Australia, the Soviet Union at the Security Council has been directing precisely the same arguments and precisely the same propaganda at a world tribunal.
To all of what I have said about those matters there may be some answer. If there is, I am willing to hear it, but I am not willing to hear it from a partisan source; I want to hear it from a judicial source. I want to know - so do the people want to know - as the result of investigation just what these people are doing; and if we find that what they are doing is not merely legitimate political agitation, hut something which is aimed at the security of Australia, then we shall be in a position, all of us, to formulate policies in a democratic way for dealing with them. So, my position is this : I do not regard this matter as fixed, but fluid. My whole approach is what I stated in the first instance; but I want above all things that we should have in Australia, as there has been in other countries, a searching inquiry into what these people are doing and how they manifest themselves; and on the result of that inquiry the whole future policy of the party which I have the honour to lead will depend.
,- I wish to deal briefly with the Legal Add Bureau established by the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt). The bureau was set up in the interests of ex-service personnel of the last war and their dependants. As a member of the Parliament, I have on numerous occasions been asked to seek assistance from this bureau on behalf of widows and dependants of exservice personnel. I believe that if ever a worthwhile service was set up in this country it is this service. I compliment the Attorney-General upon the manner in which it is being operated in South Australia.
I am also pleased to know that the conciliation commissioners appointed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act were sworn in to-day, and that their duties in respect of various industries have been allotted to them. As I said when that measure was under consideration by the Parliament, I sincerely hope that both employers and employees will co-operate with the conciliation commissioners with a view to enabling the new scheme to function in the interests of all sections of the community.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), in the course of his remarks, referred to a gentleman whom he called “ Comrade “ Dixon who, I understand, is a Communist. During the regime of a United Australia Party Government in 1939 - to-day the members of 1,hal Government call themselves the Liberal party - the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who was then Attorney-General, made an offer to “ Comrade “ Dixon on the 3rd September of that year to broadcast over the national radio network of this country a talk dealing with the merits of the Communist party. Honorable mam. belia will recall very vividly what a wonderful opportunity was given to the members of the Communist party by the United Australia party in September, 1939. Lt is my firm belief that the Communist party is an auxiliary of the “Liberal party and of those associated with it. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) admitted quite frankly to-night that his party did not intend to ban the Communist party in Australia, but he qualified that statement by saying that such a ban would be imposed in .the event of an emergency. In making that qualification the right honorable gentleman was obviously looking for a way out of the resolution carried by his party. I have no brief for the Communist party. The workers can be emancipated only through the efforts of the Labour party.
– It is a very slow process.
– That interjection assists me very greatly. The Constitution provides for slow progress, and when the Australian Labour party endeavours to speed up progress ‘in any way it is consistently opposed by *he honorable member. Just prior to the resumption of these sittings of the Parliament I was invited to a dinner by a number of business men in Adelaide, at which, among other things, the activities’ of Communists were discussed. These men claimed that the Opposition parties and the press had been responsible for the build-up of the Communist party in Australia.
– Who were ‘these business men?
– I could name them. The honorable member may rest assured that never on any occasion have I endeavoured to mislead honorable members by inventing a fiction. I am well aware that it is the aim of the Communist party to secure control of our industrial organizations, and I agree with the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) that the best way to prevent them from doing so is for the members of -the organizations to attend their meetings in full strength. I belong to the second strongest industrial union in South Australia. In an endeavour to secure control of it the Communists have issued more literature and pamphlets than they would issue during a most hotly contested by-election in which a Communist candidate was opposed to a Labour candidate. The moderate men in the union, however, rallied the workers to fight against the infiltration of the Communists, and so great was the attendance at the annual meeting that ii was necessary to hire one of the biggest theatres in Adelaide to accommodate the meeting.
– To what union does the honorable member refer ?
– To the Vehicle Builders Union. Notwithstanding the fact that the Communists had hoped to gain appointment to the executive positions in that union, not one of them “ took a trick “.
– How many years ago did ‘that occur ?
– Just prior to the war.
– So long ago as that?
– Yes, but it is a significant fact that no Communist holds office in that union to-day. I can speak only about the organization to which I belong. Its experience bears out my contention that if members attend meetings of their organizations in force the Communists oan never gain control of them. Much has been said about the exchange of preferences between Communists and Labour candidates at Commonwealth and State elections. Prior to the 1946 elections a leading Communist in Adelaide expressed his regret that a Communist was not standing against me. I left him in no doubt as to my views on the matter. I told him that I should much prefer a straight-out contest with a member of one of the recognized Opposition parties than a three-cornered contest in which the Communist preferences would be distributed. At that election I trebled my previous majority. We neither desire nor do we accept Communist support.
I appeal to ‘the workers to do everything in their power to enable the new conciliation commissioners to carry out t,he ditties of their office effectively so that we may be able to secure that industrial peace which is so necessary to our progress. J appeal to them, too, to follow the example set by .the Vehicle Builders Union and to refuse steadfastly to allow the Communists to control their organizations.
The following papers were presented : -
Contract Immigrants Act - Returns for 1945 and 1946.
Immigration Act - Returns for 1945 and 1946.
House adjourned at 10.57 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What action has been or will be taken* to charge Dr. Lloyd Ross under the regulation 1
y. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as, follows : - 1. (a) £1,000 per annum. When absent from his head-quarters, Dr. Ross is paid the normal Public Service travelling allowance. (6) £100 per annum as a member of the Universities Commission. When absent from hia head-quarters on Universities Commission business £2 2s. per day is paid in substitution for the usual Public Service travelling allowance.
Real Estate Transactions: Cremorne Property.
y. - On the 26th September, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) addressed a question to me regarding the purchase of a house at Cremorne by Dr. Coombs. I have examined the papers in connexion with this transaction and find that the purchase price was supported by two independent private valuers and confirmed by qualified departmental valuers.
War Widows’ Pensions.
s. - On the 24th September, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) asked for advice as to the action taken on Army matters raised at a meeting of war widows in the Town Hall, Melbourne. I desire to advise the honorable member as follows : -
The majority of matters referred to at this meeting are understood to relate to pensions and other payments which are the concern of the Minister for Repatriation.
One of the matters referred to, however, related to payments to the next-of-kin of deceased members of the forces in lieu of recreation leave accrued at the date of death, on which a decision has been given by the Government on my recommendation to the following effect.
Payment in lieu of recreation leave to be assessed from 1st July, 1942, or from the date of enlistment, whichever was the later, up to the date of death, should be made to the estates of members of the military forces who died on service or whilst prisoner-of-war before 20th March, 1945. This payment has already been made in respect of estates of servicemen who had died on or after 20th March, 1945.
Payments under this authority will be made where legal entitlement is established to the deceased estate by persons of the following relationship: parent, step-parent, foster parent, wife or child, or where the claimant was actually dependent on the soldier at the time of his death.
In the case of those who died whilst prisonerofwar, leave will be assessed at the rate of two days per month, subject to a minimum of fourteen days and a maximum of CO days.
In cases of death other than whilst prisonerofwar, leave will be assessed in accordance with the following formula:
Service of less than one year - fourteen days.
Service of one year and less than eighteen months - 21 days.
Service of eighteen months and less than two years - 28 days.
Service of two years and less than 30 months - 35 days.
Service of 30 months and less than three years - 42 days.
In some instances the implementation of this formula may result in payment in lieu of leave although leave may actually have been taken, while in other instances it is possible that payment in lieu of leave may be less than the actual period of leave that may have been due. On an overall basis, however, it is considered that the method of effecting payment in lieu of leave is a fair way of adjusting the matter.
Armed Forces: Service Chevrons and Wound Stripes.
s. - On the 26th September, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) asked whether Army Routine Orders have been published banning the wearing of service chevrons and wound stripes. If so, what were the reasons for those orders. At the time, the honorable member was informed by me that the matter would be examined and a reply furnished. I am now in a position to state that the decision on this question was given as a result of a recommendation from the Defence Committee as affecting the Army, Navy and Air Forces. During the war, the wearing of service chevrons and wound stripes was authorized and was applicable throughout all sections of the fighting forces. Since that date, all personnel who are continuing to serve in the forces, or may serve in the forces in future, have had their eligibility for the award of campaign stars and medals determined, and serving members have been issued with the appropriate ribbons which they are required to wear with their service uniform.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 October 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19471009_reps_18_193/>.