18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Petitions in relation to banking in Australia were presented as follows: -
By Mr. McBRIDE, from certain electors of South Australia.
By Mr. HAMILTON”, from certain electors of Western Australia.
Petitions received and read.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) 1 10.34]. - I present a petition from about 100 electors who are residents of Port Noarlunga, in the subdivision of Morphett Vale, in my electorate, praying that no further steps shall be taken by the Government to nationalize the banking system in Australia until a referendum of the people has first been taken. In moving -
That the petition lie received may I say that, if any doubts are held in any quarter as to the qualifications of the High Court, which is the only barrier that stands ‘between the people and this proposed legislation at the present moment, it is all the more necessary that the people shall have the right to ‘pronounce judgment upon the proposal ; and that right can be exercised only if the referendum prayed for in this petition is granted by the Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Petition received and r&ad.
– I present a. petition from certain electors of Tabulam, Dunoon, Lismore, Glen Innes, Murwillumbah, Numulgi, and other centres in the electoral divisions of Richmond and New England, praying that no further steps be taken towards the nationalization of the banking system without first seeking the authority of the Australian people, and move -
That the petition be received.
The signatories to the petition state that at the last general elections no mention was made by the Government-
-Order ! The honorable member may not develop that argument. He may argue only along the lines mentioned in the petition.
– It is a good argument.
– Order !
– For the reasons stated in the petition the petitioners ask that a referendum of the people be held on the proposals of the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Petition received and read.
– I have received a letter, from the secretary of Kowree District Council of the Victorian Wool and Wheat-growers Association stating that a secret ballot of its members has been held regarding the Government’s intention to nationalize banking. The secretary sta.tes that 244 ballot-papers were sent to members, that 165 were returned and that only one member voted in favour of the proposal. In view of this strong opposition by primary producers will the Prime Minister further consider the desirability of abandoning the proposal?
– I replied’ to a question by the honorable member for Fawkner yesterday indicating clearly the Government’s intention with regard to the presentation of legislation to this House. Subject to printing difficulties being overcome, it is proposed to introduce the bill for the nationalization of banking nest Wednesday.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether the proposed banking: legislation was drafted by the Attorney-General prior to his departure for New York? Have any alterations been made since then, and, if so, h’as the Attorney-General been kept fully informed, and has he indicated ‘his approval of such alterations?
– As the honorable member is aware, the practice is for Cabinet and the party itself to decide the general principles of legislation to be presented to Parliament. The task of drafting legislation is undertaken by the Attorney-General who confers, of course, with, the Ministers whose departments are concerned. The drafting of the .banking legislation was undertaken originally by the Attorney-General, and has been continued by the Minister acting for the Attorney-General. I have no doubt that that Minister has kept in touch with the Minister whom he represents in regard to important phases of the legislation, although I do not suggest for a moment that there has been consultation on every detail. Whilst the draftsmen may have made some changes in verbiage, the general principles enunciated by the Government and approved by the party will be expressed in the bill.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture seen a report in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald that the coming wheat harvest, which is likely to be a record, is threatened by a shortage of cornsacks? If so, can he say whether it is correct or otherwise? I visited the offices of the Australian Wheat Board about a month ago and was assured that a sufficient supply of cornsacks for the forthcoming harvest would be available in conjnction with silo storage. If the newspaper report is incorrect, it would be misleading to farmers and the general public, and therefore I ask the Minister if he has any further information on the subject?
– From time to time questions have been asked in this House as to the adequacy or otherwise of cornsacks to handle the incoming crop, and the reply has been that the Australian Wheat Board, the Ju.te Controller and the Government had done all within their power to secure adequate supplies of cornsacks in sufficient time for the forthcoming wheat harvest. The board’s original estimate was that the yield this year would be 1SO,000,000 bushels of wheat, but the present indications’ are that that estimate will be exceeded. In this morning’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald appear certain statements attributed to Mr. Ian McDonald and Mr. Graham, Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales, expressing concern at the situation, and some criticism of the Wheat Board and, I take it, of myself also. There is some cause for concern, and that is a very good thing, because it indicates that a Divine Providence has been so good to Australia that we shall probably have an all-time record crop. The Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales is reported to have said that he could not see how the railways or the silos could cope with the delivery to the seaboard of a crop that exceeded 180,000,000 bushels. I agree that it would place a grave strain on silo accommodation in New ‘South Wales, and also upon the railways system, but to blame the Government of New South Wales, or the railway authorities or the silo authorities for that would be most unjust. Everybody knows that the critical situation in regard to the railways system in New South Wales, so far as its ability to handle the crop is concerned, is due to many factors including the deterioration of tracks and rolling stock which took place during the war. It would be also unjust to blame the Wheat Board or the Commonwealth Government because difficulty has been experienced in obtaining a large margin of bags over and above our estimated requirements. Honorable members are aware of the almost insuperable difficulty in the way of obtaining supplies from India, but I believe that the situation will be met. On the 15th September, the acting chairman of the Wheat Board said -
Sufficient cornsacks have been purchased to accommodate a large wheat and barley crop, and although shipments are at present running some weeks late, it is expected that sufficient sacks will be on hand to meet requirements. .
Bulkheads in Victoria are being prepared for wheat receivals, and action is proceeding, in co-operation with the Government Grain Elevators, to erect bulkheads, where necessary, at various stations in Kew South Wales.
Some responsibility rests upon the Government of New South Wales. I am not a Jeremiah; neither am I a Tarzan. I believe that the difficulty can be overcome by co-operation between the authorities in New South Wales and the Commonwealth Government.
– The latest authentic production figures disclose that coal losses this year at New South Wales colleries, aggravated by the recent deputies’ strike in the north, now total 1,471,586 tons - 395,143 tons more than the losses for the corresponding period of last year. Can the Prime Minister say whether it is a fact that since the “ back-Saturday “ work was agreed to by the miners last month in order to win more coal by Christmas, strikes have caused such a heavy loss that the Christmas target of 550,000 additional tons is impossible of achievement? If so, will he state whether it is intended to cancel the extra five days’ annual leave granted to the coal-miners on condition that they reach the Christmas target?
– In answer to a question asked by another honorable member, a reply is now being prepared setting out the production of coal since 1943. The rate of coal production has been affected by some unfortunate occurrences such as the dispute in respect of deputies and shot-firers which the honorable member has mentioned. That dispute, of course, was not a coal-miners’ dispute; but it held up production. Otherwise, production has been going along very satisfactorily. A considerable improvement has been effected, and I take this opportunity to pay tribute to officials of the miners federation who have used their personal endeavours as officials of the union to impose discipline within the federation itself.
– That has not been very effective.
– Glancing at the figures, I believe that production, apart from that unfortunate stoppage last week, which, I repeat, was due to action taken not by the coal-miners but by the deputies and shot-firers who become to some degree the aristocrats of the mining world, production has, generally speaking, been very good indeed. I shall supply the information sought by the honorable member.
– Will the coal-miners still be given five days’ additional annual leave at Christmas?
– That is a matter for the Joint Coal Board. It is not a matter for the Government at all.
Mr. S. M. FALSTEIN, M.P.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I refer to a report published in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald.
– Is leave granted?
– In view of the interjection by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) I again point out that I have ruled that whenever an honorable member, is attacked outside the House he has a right to make a personal explanation. That applies to honorable members of all parties.
– I refer to a report published in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald dealing with certain proceedings in the Court of Quarter Sessions Appeals yesterday in which I am an appellant in a traffic case. Under the heading, “Falstein, M.P. - Must attend Court “ appears this statement -
The Crown Prosecutor, Mr. M. C. Moore, said Falstein’s contribution to the solution of national affairs did not prevent him from attending certain events at Randwick on Wednesday.
Every honorable member knows that on Wednesday I was in Canberra and in this Parliament. Therefore, a statementof that character made by a person occupying the public position of Crown Prosecutor clearly demonstrates the personal animus and spleen which has been directed towards pillorying me.
– I thought this matter was sui judice.
-Order! The right honorable member is not entitled to interject at any time.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Watson is now making a statement about something said in court in the course of proceedings which, I gather, are not yet completed. In these circumstances, I invoke your ruling, Mr. Speaker, that the matter is sub judice.
– I view this matter very seriously. I have taken very strong action when some honorable members have referred incorrectly to the absence of another honorable member. The statement of the Crown Prosecutor that a participant in a case was at the Randwick races, when all -honorable -members know that he was present in this House doing his duty, approaches very close to >a breach, of privilege. I do not believe that I should prevent an honorable member from defending himself from such an uncouth charge in a court of law.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who is always so vocal on such matters-
– Order ! The honorable member must make his personal explanation.
– As everybody knows, and as you yourself, Mr. Speaker, have stated, the position is that I was in my place in this House on the day and at the time referred to, and unquestionably the statement of the Crown Prosecutor was made maliciously and foolishly. In the circumstances, nothing less than a public apology will meet the case. It is interesting to look at the background of the Crown Prosecutor,’ Mr. Malcolm Moore-
– Order ! His background has nothing to do with the matter.
– He was appointed by a Liberal Minister for Justice-
– Order ! The honorable member must not trespass my ruling. The background of the Crown Prosecutor to whom he has referred has nothing to do with the case, but his statement has everything to do with it.
Mr.- FALSTEIN. - I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker.
– In view of the latest reports of the economic crisis in Great Britain, will the Prime Minister make a full statement of the action proposed by his Government to ensure the maximum flow of goods between Australia and Great Britain? In particular will the right honorable gentleman say whether any negotiations are proceeding between this country and Great Britain with a view to removing the barriers against the exchange of goods, other than those imposed under the customs laws of the respective countries ?
– I am not sure what the honorable . member means by “ barriers “.
– Prohibitions on goods.
– Import licences arerequired in respect of very few British goods. I shall ascertain for the information of the honorable member exactly what these items are.
– There are a great many restrictions in the United Kingdom.
– I am sure that thehonorable member will find that although, numerous restrictions operated during the war, most of them have been abolished. In fact, many were lifted when the lateSenator Keane was Minister for Trade and Customs. Discussions have been proceeding between representatives of the Australian Government and the British. Government in regard to trade relations generally, Great Britain’s economic position, and dollar availability, but I regret that in view of the inconclusive stageof these negotiations, I am unable to make a statement to the House. The position is changing from day to day. Talks are also proceeding on matters arising from the International Conference on Trade and Employment at Geneva. The honorable member for Fawkner may rest assured that we are in the closest consultation with the British Board of Trade and with British Ministers.
– Is the Government prepared to make long-term credits available to Great Britain?
– That opens up another field of discussion including. currency and accumulated sterling balances, and I do not propose to go into that matter at this stage except to say that subject to the wishes of the British Government itself the encouragement of tra.de between Australia and Great Britain is being given every consideration.
– Can the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction furnish me with any informa.tion as to further progress in relation to the setting up of an industry in the power alcohol distillery at Wallaroo.
– The Wallaroo power alcohol plant is one of four such plants set up during .the war as an insurance against petrol supplies from overseas being entirely cut off. At the time it was realized that the Colonial .Sugar Refining Company Limited’ was the only organization in Australia with experience of that type of work. A contract was arranged with the company for the management of the four power alcohol plants. A condition of the contract, was that if twelve months after the war ended the Government decided that it no longer required the plants the company would have an option on the buildings and plant. The Government decided in February, 1947, that the plants were no longer required. Therefore the company bad an option for twelve months over the plant and equipment in those factories. The Government was anxious to ensure the utilization of the buildings and plant for expanding industry or the introduction of new industries, and for that reason it negotiated with the company in order to obtain from it a waiving of its option for that period of twelve months. The company, however, was very anxious to obtain certain plant and equipment. As the result of negotiations, we were able to get the company to agree to waive its option over two of the factories, namely, the one at Wallaroo, South Australia, in the electorate of the honorable member for Grey, and one at Collie, Western Australia, in the electorate of the Minister for Works and Housing. Those two factories we hope will be utilized for the expansion of local industries in those areas. I pay tribute to the work of the. honorable member for Grey in assisting me with the negotiations to expand local industries in the locality mentioned by him. I also pay tribute to the Minister for Works and Housing for the assistance he has rendered to me in the negotiations for the disposal of the factory at Collie. As a part of the price that the Commonwealth had to pay for the waiving of the company’s option, it was necessary to allow the company to obtain plant, and equipment from the other two factories, one in Warracknabeal, in the electorate of the honorable member for Wimmera, and the other at’ Cowra, in the electorate of the honorable member for Calare. Tie plant in the Cowra factory has been bought by ‘the Public Works Department of New South Wales and the factory is to be used as a centre for power production. The plant, other than the boilers, in the factory at Warracknabeal, has been sold to the Colonial Sugar Refining ‘ Company Limited, and the boilers have been sold to Nestle and Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company (Australasia) Limited, which has a factory at Warrnambool in the electorate of the honorable member for Wannon. The plant and factory at Warracknabeal are now to be disposed by the Disposals Commission in conjunction with the Secondary Industries Commission. I hope that the negotiations that are taking place with regard to the use of the factory at Wallaroo will have a satisfactory result, and that an existing local industry will be expanded to provide employment, for an increasing number of people in that locality.
Proposed Service to Newcastle - Western Airways
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation consequent upon his rejection, notified to me in a letter dated the 6th October, of an application for the introduction of an air line service to cater for the Hunter, Newcastle and New England electorates from the airport at Williamtown, which is situated adjacent to the borders of the three electorates. Such a service would provide for an area with a population of 2-50,000 people. I requested t&at the inter-departmental committee which investigates claims for the establishment of new air services should take evidence in support of the application, but the Minister refused the request. Does he consider that that district, which has a population larger than that . of some of the States, has been treated fairly and will he reconsider the matter?
– The interdepartmental committee has not taken evidence in any part of Australia. All applications made to the Department of Civil Aviation for the establishment of new air services or the development of existing services were given full consideration by the committee in the light of all circumstances, including requirements for air transport and the availability of airport facilities. The committee has made certain recommendations which the Australian Government has presented to the various State governments with a request for an expression of their views. The State governments have presented their views to this Government, and they are now the subject of discussion with the States. With respect to the provision of air services for cities which are as close to a main metropolitan centre as is Newcastle, it is very doubtful whether there would be any overall saving of time in flying a distance of approximately 100 miles. The time occupied in travelling from the city of departure to the airport and from the terminal airport to the city of destination must be taken into consideration. In the light of the present state of development of aircraft, it seems to me to be idle to .contemplate the establishment of air services to cover such relatively short distances. I see no reason for reconsidering this matter because I think that the Department of Civil Aviation has dealt with it justly, but, if f further application is made, I shall be glad to consider the honorable member’s representations.
Mi-. FALKINDER- Did the Minister for Civil Aviation cancel the Western Airways service between Melbourne and Warrnambool in Victoria because the State Government did not wish to have competition with its railways sendee? Are all intrastate air services to be subject to Commonwealth prohibition if the State concerned fears competition with its own transport services? Have the State governments any power to tax air services, and, if so, have any State governments intimated their intention of doing so?
– I shall be glad to consider each of the honorable member’s questions separately. Western Airways were not at any time given other than charter flights, and the organization made a number of them. When the establishment of permanent services, on the recommendation of the interdepartmental committee, was put ‘before the Government of Victoria, it submitted to us certain views for consideration. The charter flights which had been operating were reduced, but at present, I, sis Minister for Civil Aviation, am permitting the operation of a service on twodays a week. It is hoped that this may be increased to three days a week. I desire tomake it clear that Western Airways will, not necessarily be allowed to operate theservice if it is established on a permanent basis. I ask the honorable member to> put his other questions on the noticepaper, but I am able to state that it hasbeen intimated, though not to me and, so far as- I know, not to the Prime Minister, that some States intend to tax the respective air services wherever they are operating. I hold the opinion, without having any legal decision to support it, that the States are not entitled to tax inter-state services but it is possible that they will be able to tax intra-state services. At this juncture, I point out that when we have attempted to secure for the Commonwealth powers in relation to civil- aviation throughout- Australia we did not receive much support from the Opposition.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 9th October (vide page 629).
Proposed vote, £528,000.
.- The discussion which took place yesterday was concerned principally with the activities of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, or, rather, with the activities of that service so far as the control, or even the suppression, of the Communist party is concerned. Of the many issues which arise for debate in this chamber none can compare in importance with those which affect the survival of Australia as a nation, and it is because we on this side of the chamber know that the Communist party includes amongst its aims the destruction of Australia as a national entity that we urge the adoption of more vigorous methods of dealing with it. The objectives of the Communist party have been canvassed often enough, and indeed, they have been published, in part, by the party itself, from time to time. Occasionally members of that party choose to come out into the open to propagate their views, but more often they endeavour to achieve their ends surreptitiously, and because of the covert nature of their activities we can never be quite sure of their real policy. However, I have in my possession a pamphlet setting out the ostensible aims of the movement in Australia, and the order in which the party seeks to realize those aims. They are set out in this way -
The Communist programme for the seizure of power in Australia might be summarized in seven propositions -
The control of the great’ individual trade unions.
The use of the organization and propaganda of those unions to spread the doctrine of Communism.
The use of the coercive power of unionism to dictate the religious, social and political beliefs of members.
The seizure of control of the entire union movement by amalgamations, strike actions and similar methods.
Paralysis of the nation’s economy and of the normal machinery of government.
If that is a justifiable summary of the objectives of the Communist party in the direction of seizing power in Australia, as is indicated, then it certainly becomes one of the prime functions of government to concern itself with the activities of that party. Lest it be alleged that this is an exaggerated and irresponsible estimate of “the plans and intentions of the Communist party, I inform the committee that authorship of the pamphlet which I hold in my hand will dispose of the allegation immediately. > It is entitled Peace in Industry, and has been issued under the authority of the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Sydney, and of all the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia. That, of itself, is sufficient evidence, coming as it does from so important, so considered and so responsible a source. Although one does not need to rely on it alone, it certainly gives this Parliament cause to concern itself with the activities of communism in this country. We know that communism is not being practised only in Australia. As has been shown in the last few days, it has emerged in Europe by reason of the reconstitution of the Comintern, and is now openly planning to extend its tentacles to every country in the world. Communism, of course, is never content merely to exist in a country. It is not content until it controls the affairs of the country. .So it can be taken that we are confronted with a fight against an organization that is propounding an ideology which is the very antithesis of all that we stand for - the Christian religion and the democratic form of government. We have to fight those who are waging this war against our society. For many years, the Australian Country party has been in no two minds about the position. When its members formed a part of a government they lent the weight of their influence in the direction of banning the Communist party, because they believed that there should not be permitted to exist under the authority of the law any organization which had as its objective the overthrow of the government of the country. It is the official attitude of my party that, insofar as it may again be able to exercise its authority, it will for a second time ban communism in this country, for what it conceives to be the good and the safety of our native land.
How doles communism operate in this country? As we know, it operates not merely by pamphleteering and propaganda along general lines, but- also, in its most active form, in seeking to attain what has been set out as its first objective in the pamphlet that I have read, namely, the control of the great individual trade unions. This is a debate on an important issue. It has been alleged from this side of the chamber, either rightly or wrongly - I am convinced quite rightly - that communism has gained a stranglehold upon the Australian trade union movement, and that, through its strength in that movement, it is gaining control of the government of this country. If communism were merely a political doctrine, we could be content merely to have an opinion as to whether or not it should be permitted to gain control of the trade union movement, and I should not claim that the matter was of special concern to us. But with the trade union movement organized along lines that” are designed and intended - in fact, have been brought to fruition - to enable the trade union movement ‘to control the government of this country, then I contend that the control of that movement by a subversive agency is the concern not only of the official Opposition in this Parliament but also of every citizen in this country; and if we cannot prevent that from happening, at least we have the duty of tearing the screen aside and showing what is behind it.
This important debate has proceeded for a day and a night; yet, in a Cabinet of nineteen Ministers, all but five of whom sit in this chamber, only one Minister has risen in his place to deny the charges that have been made by the Opposition. He, significantly enough, has been closely associated with the Australian “Worker,1? Union.
– Two Ministers have already spoken.
– Who is. the other Minister ?
– The Minister for Labour and. National Service (Mr. Holloway), who is now sitting at the table.
– I stand corrected.
– That Minister spoke on another matter.
Mi-. McEWEN.- y As I had not been in the chamber all the’ time, I accepted the statement of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard). He having been corrected by my colleague, I repeat that the only Minister who has spoken on this issue of communism is the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), a former president of the Australian Workers Union, a union which, we all know, has, as the Minister himself claimed, fought communism tooth and nail, unremittingly and with great success. To that degree, I am glad to compliment the Minister, and to accept what he said last night insofar as he dealt with the fight which he and his union had waged against com.munism in this country. Bat I remind him, that there surely is some significance in the fact that a government which springs out of the trade union movement is able to .produce only one Minister to speak on this issue of communism, and he ‘ the one who, happily, is associated with the Australian Workers Union, a union- whose membership and activities are preponderantly in the rural areas of Australia. It is not a union which ispowerful in the vital life of this country. It is not to be regarded as one of the key unions of this country.
– It has a factory welfare branch.
– It may have a factory welfare branch. But I am sure that the honorable ‘ member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan), who is so well informed on sUch matters, will not deny that the membership of the Australian Workers Union is overwhelmingly and preponderantly outside the great cities of this country. What are the great unions of this country? The miners federation is one of them. Does any Minister who owes his membership of this Parliament to the backing of the coal-miners stand up in his place and attack communism? Does the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who owes his membership of this Parliament to the endorsement of those who are en. titled to vote in pre-selection ballots at recurring elections because they are members of the miners federation, ever attack communism in this Parliament? He does not. The failure of the Prime Minister and other Ministers and members of the Labour party to attack communism entitles us to draw the conclusion that the miners federation has for years been dominated by Communists-. That federation was for many years under the presidency of Mr. Wells, an openly avowed Communist.
– He has submitted an application for membership of the Australian Labour party.
– That is so. The interjection of the Minister for Repatria– tion assists my argument. Mr. Wells could not last five minutes in the miners federation once he wavered in his allegiance to communism. Indeed, noman who depends on the ‘union’s support can last five minutes if he expresses disapproval of communism. No one knows more than does the Prime Minister of this country that if he forfeits the confidence and support of the miners federation, which is dominated by Communists, and is now .presided over by another openly professed Communist, Mr. Williams, he will lose his seat in the
Parliament. Another union which is -dominated bv Communists is the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, to whose support many members of Parliament owe their pre-selection and their presence in this place. The same may be said of the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia. The Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) owes his entitlement to stand as an official Labour candidate largely to the support of that body.
– The members of the ironworkers federation are not entitled to vote at pre-selection ballots. The honorable member is off the track.
– I am not off the track. We know the strength of Communist influences in the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia, the Annis, Explosives and Munition Workers Federation of Australia as well as the Amalgamated Engineering Union. Those unions have produced men whose names have become better known in this country than the names of many Ministers. I need mention only Mr. Thornton, Mr. Flanagan, Mr. McPhillips and Mr. Rowe, all of whom are professed Communists. No Labour member who owes has official endorsement at an election to the support of these great unions stands up in the Parliament and attacks Communists. If he were to do so he would1 be “out”.
– The Communists attack Labour candidates. I have been opposed by a Communist candidate, which is more than the honorable memher for Indi can say.
– The Communists are strongly entrenched in many unions and their influence in this Parliament is considerable. The Victorian branch of the Austraiian Railways Union is Hinder the domination of Mr. J. J. Brown, an openly professed Communist. The significant thing is not that the Minister for the Interior has stood up in this chamber and made his position clear. Greater political significance attaches to the failure of many occupants of Labour benches to stand up and speak against communism because they have not been game to do so. Communist-controlled unions include the building trades federation, which is under the domination of Communists like Donald Thomson who acted in a subversive way to undermine
Australia’s war effort, and endeavoured to persuade workers in a vital war undertaking to cease work. He and others held up work at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, about the time of the evacuation ofDunkirk. These Communist-dominated unions are an integral part of the Labour movement. Do we find the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. O’Connor), a waterside electorate, speaking against Communists like Healy and Moran, when he knows how powerful is their influence in the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia ? Another prominent unionist who is a professed Communist is Mr. Elliott.
– Will the honorable member tell us about fascist influences in non-labour organizations ?
– The honorable member for West Sydney was opposed by a Communist.
– Communist influences are strong even in unions of whitecollar workers, such as the Federated Clerks Union of Australia, which is led by Mr. Hughes.
– How much does the honorable member pay for immunity from opposition by Communists ?
– That is a silly question. The Minister for Air ought to know better. He knows that I was opposed by a leading Communist in Victoria.
– Is that so?
– Did not the Minister know, or was it inconvenient for him to remember? I remind the Minister for Air that on that occasion the Labour party gave its preferences to the Communist candidate, who reciprocated.
– I don’t blame him, so far as the honorable member is concerned.
– We have had it “ straight from the horse’s mouth “. The Minister says that he does not blame those who exchanged preferences in that way. No doubt he prefers a Communist to me.
– The honorable member is expert in misrepresenting what others say.
– The honorable member for Indi is a fascist.
– It is clear that the Minister for Air prefers a Communist to me. I am unhurt by his preference, but it is well that we should know his attitude. I have in my hand the constitution and platform of the Australian Labour party, which makes it clear that entitlement to attendance at annual conferences of the party, which is the supreme authority of the Labour movement, is extended to affiliated unions. Most, if not all, of the unions which I have mention are affiliated with the Australian Labour party. That is true of the miners federation, the Building Trades Federation, the Australian Railways Union, the Waterside Workers Federation and the Federated Clerks Union, each of which is dominated by Communists - a state of affairs which is completely undeniable-
– It is not undeniable ; The Australian Railways Union is not affiliated with the Australian Labour party.
– The Australian Railways Union has been in and out of the Labour party like a rabbit popping in and out of a burrow. If it is not in now it might be in at any moment. It is clear that the Australian Labour party, by its own constitution, has created a state of affairs which enables the organization to be dominated by those unions which themselves have fallen under the domination of the Communist party. The answer to this charge should not be given by inter;jections; it should be given by members standing in their places and stating just what is their attitude towards communism. We do not want to hear from them some evasive speech. They should let the Parliament and the people know where they stand in regard to communism. However, if what I have said is not sufficient to show that the Labour party, out of which springs the present Government, can be controlled by Communists, let us approach the matter from another angle. Let us delve into some historic records. I remind honorable members, that during the blackest days of the war( two openly avowed Communists named Ratliff and Thomas engaged in subversive activity. They were prosecuted, found guilty and imprisoned. At the end of their term of imprisonment they were asked to give an assurance that they would not continuetheir subversive activities. They declined to give such an assurance, .and so they were interned for the safety of the country. That is a simple statement of fact. Does any one .think that they should not have been interned? The fact that they had been engaged in subversive activites was established by a court, and yet they were merely asked to give an assurance that they would refrain from si*ch activities in the future, but this they refused to do. What happened then? Representations were made by the most powerful and authoritative interests in the Labour movement that Ratliff and Thomas should be released. The leading advocate for their release was Dr. Evatt, the gentleman who to-day is in charge of the Commonwealth Security Service on which this country relies for the suppression and control of communism. I am glad to say that the Government of the day was not pursuaded by Dr. Evatt, but he was very pertinacious in his advocacy that these men should be released,
– Why shouldn’t they?
– The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) asks why they shouldn’t be released. I am glad that I have been able to drag him into the open. That is one of the purposes of this debate - to drag him into the open, and tear the mask from his face.
– I will come into the open now. I would sooner have a Communist than a Fascist like the honorable member.
– He should bemade to withdraw that statement.
– Nothing that the honorable member for Watson can say would make me bother to ask for a withdrawal.
– The honorable member should address the Chair, and not invite interjections.
– I take exception to the statement that I have invited interjections.
– The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has admitted that. his purpose is to throw out a bait.
– In order that there should be no doubt that justice had been done in interning Ratliff and Thomas the then Minister for the Army, the present honorable member’ for Warringah (Mr. Spender), asked a judge of the Supreme Court to conduct an inquiry into the matter, and to report whether it was justifiable in the interests of national security to keep Ratliff and Thomas interned!. That inquiry was conducted, and a j-udge of the Supreme Court-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Before I conclude, I will deal with some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Indi (Mir. McEwen), but first of all there are one or two other matters which I think should be brought to the notice of honorable members. In his speech last evening, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) castigated the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) for .making what he called uncomplimentary and unwarranted references to members of the High Court. I interjected at the time, and asked the Leader of the Opposition to say what had gone on when he was the Attorney-General in. the Victorian Government and Sir John Latham was Attorney-General in the Lyon’s Government, and they compelled the then Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Frank Gavan Duffy, to resign. Apparently, it is convenient for the Leader of the Opposition to forget what they did when they wanted to get rid of a man who was 84 years of age. The fact is that, in an endeavour to secure the promotion of the present Leader of the Opposition from State politics .to Federal politics, and from the position of a Minister in a State Government to that of leader of a party in the Australian Parliament - all of which was stage managed or, in .racing language, was a “.stew” - pressure was put on Sir Frank Gavan Duffy. As part of .the consideration to Sir G-avan Duffy the present Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament, who was then the Attorney-General in the Victorian Government, appointed the son of Sir Frank Gavan Duffy to the Supreme ‘Court ‘bench in Victoria.
– That is an outrageous lie !
– The rest of the consideration, was not forthcoming. Although he promised Sir Frank Gavan Duffy that he would receive the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, that order was not conferred
– That is a filthy .and untrue statement, and ought not to beallowed.
– The honorable member will not .be in order in entering upon a personal debate of that character. He must confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– I respect your ruling, Mr. Chairman. What I am saying now is in reply to a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition. last night when he was castigating the honorable member for Dalley for makingwhat he regarded as unwarranted remarks about the present High Court Bench. The whole link up was that it was convenient to-day-
– -The honorablemember must abandon that line of argument, or I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– It has been many years since the High Court has sat in States other than the eastern States. It has been many years since it sat in Western Australia.
– Has not the court just been over to Western Australia ?
– I am aware of that. Well, it was many years before the HighCourt went to Western Australia and th, reason was not because of lack of case? coming forward for its determination,, but because certain justices were unwilling, owing to physical disability, toundertake such a long journey. I believe that the time has come when a High Court bench should be sitting permanently in each State. If honorable members opposite realized the volume of work before the High ‘Court they would appreciate that it would not be asking too much of the Government to establish the High Court in its original jurisdiction in the various States, thus obviating the necessity for any justice to undertake any travelling. So far as the appellatejurisdiction of the High Court is concerned, that is another matter; because, perhaps, the volume of cases in that jurisdiction is not so large, and it would be important to have a full bench whereever possible. That would still necessitate some justices having to travel.
The only other matter with which I wish to deal concerns the statement made by the honorable member .for Indi when he said that he had drawn me and certain other honorable members on this1 side into the open so far as our stand -with respect to the Communists is concerned. I thought that [ made it quite clear quite recently where I stood regarding the Communists. I detest them. I say again that I detest not only Communists but also Fascists, but if I were obliged, unfortunately, to make a selection of the lesser of these two evils I should prefer a Communist to a Fascist.
.- The increase of the proposed vote in respect of the Commonwealth Investigation Service by £22,075 gave members of the Opposition cause to hope that the Government was going to become more active in investigating subversive activities in this country. We were pleased that an increased vote was being sought for that purpose. However, whatever hopes we had in that respect have been dashed by the attitude displayed by the Government and honorable members opposite on this very important subject which we have been discussing since yesterday. As the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) said, this subject is of primary importance, but although some very serious charges have been made concerning the .activities of Communists in this country, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) who represents the Minister acting for the Attorney-General has not risen in his place to indicate to the committee and the country what the Government intends to do about it. Indeed, in answer to an interjection, the Minister told the committee, that he did not propose to discuss this subject because of the adverse effect which anything be might say anight have upon Labour’s prospects at the impending Victorian elections. This subject is exercising the minds of honorable members on both sides of the chamber. I have no doubt at all that many honorable members opposite are as sorely agitated personally on this matter as are members of the Opposition parties. However, as the honorable member for Indi pointed out, they are in the unfortunate position of knowing that they rely for preselection upon members of representative unions who are dominated by Communists. Honorable members opposite know perfectly well that if they rose in their places in this chamber and truthfully expressed their views on this subject, they would be unlikely to receive the support of those unions for selection as candidates at the next general elections. It is strange that the two honorable members opposite who have expressed themselves very strongly on the subject are members of the Australian Workers Union. Over a long period of years I have had same association with members of that union, which has always been considered to be the most moderate and most able industrial organization in this country. I regret that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), speaking with great fervour and sincerity, should make statements in this chamber which to my own knowledge as the result of years of association with members of the Australian Workers Union are completely untrue. He said that employers had over the years encouraged and supported communistic activity in that union.
Ma-. Edmonds. - So they did in those days.
– I know from personal experience that that statement is completely untrue. I assure honorable members opposite that T, as an employer who has had considerable dealings with members of that union, have never in any way assisted communistic infiltration into that union. Honorable members opposite who have spoken, and some who have interjected, have endeavoured, to associate the Communists with the Opposition parties. They endeavour to do so because they are opposed at elections by Communist candidates. My answer to that is that the Communists have undoubtedly built up their organization on foundations laid by honorable members opposite. Fostering and sponsoring of class hatred is the stock in trade of many honorable members opposite. It is in these fields of class hatred that the Communists sow the seed and gather their harvest. Consequently, it is not surprising that Labour candidates are opposed by Communists both in the parliamentary sphere and in the industrial labour movement. Indeed, it is not too much to say that the socialists of to-day - and I believe all my friends opposite subscribe to the doctrine of socialism - are the Communists of tomorrow, and that . the work being done by the socialists to-day constitutes the foundation upon which .the structure of communism will be erected in this country in the future.
– The Labour party is the ‘bulwark against communism.
– -It is extraordinary that the policy of the socialists is curiously similar to that of the Communists. We need no better example of that than the proposal announced by the Prime Minister for the nationalization of private banking. Nationalization of banking is one of the main planks of the Communist party, and that policy, we are told, was supported in caucus by every honorable member opposite. Although I agree that many honorable members opposite are not in favour of communism or communist doctrines, in their folly they are supporting the very elements upon which the Communists will build in the future. I trust the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), who is responsible for the administration and control of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, will tell the people clearly what the Government proposes to do to eradicate the vicious cancer from the body politic. The people of Australia are no longer capable of being hoodwinked as to the weakness or unimportance of the Communist party. When the Comintern was disbanded, great joy was expressed by honorable members opposite, because they could then dissociate what was happening in this country with the Comintern or with Soviet Russia. Unwisely, even from the Communist viewpoint, hut very fortunately from our viewpoint, we have had a resurgence of this Communist organization, and the Communist element in Australia will be in close touch with and under its direct control. Honorable members opposite forget that the Communists never take control of any country in one fell swoop. Even in the great Communist country of Russia, the Communists did not take control immediately. Honorable members will recall that during the early stages of the Russian revolution the Mensheviks took control under Kerensky, who had no idea of putting into operation the policy of the Communists, but had great ideas as to how the country should be governed, but .for how long did they remain? In this country it suits the Communists for the time being to use the facade of socialism, as supported by the Labour party, but when the appropriate time arrives they will take over control. What does the Government propose to do to prevent them from doing so? I was a member of the Government which banned the Communist organization in Australia. When the ban was imposed we were subjected to the same criticism as is being levelled against us to-day. It is curious that the ban was removed by a Labour government. In season and out of season we are told that by ‘banning an organization such as the Communist party we shall drive it underground. Whether that be so or not, it cannot be denied that the banning of the Communist party curtailed its activities in this country for so long as the ban remained.
– It did nothing of the sort.
– The best proof of that is the evidence that since the han was removed Communist infLuence has increased very rapidly and the membership of the Communist party has expanded by leaps and bounds. I agree entirely with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies)-
– The honorable member always does so.
– I am always glad to do so.
– We are dubbed by honorable members opposite as “ stooges “ if we always agree with our leader.
– I have never known any honorable member opposite to disagree publicly with his leader.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to address the Chair.
– I agree that because of the re-establishment of the international Communist organization, and the increasing aggressiveness of Communists in this country, the time has arrived when something must be done to put these people in a place where they can do no. harm. But so far we have seen no evidence on the part of the Government to curtail their activities. On the contrary, they are given every facility to extend their activities, they seem to enjoy No. 1 priority in respect of the provision of many services in short supply, such as telephone services, and for the supply of newsprint, and all the things that enable them to disseminate their insidious doctrines throughout the length and breadth of the land. The people are entitled to a clear exposition of Government policy in relation to communism. Words. are cheap and easy to utter; let us have some practical action by the Government to back the opinions of these people which are voiced by Government supporters from time to time. Unless honorable members opposite are prepared to do that, it will not be long before they bring upon themselves the fury of the people of this country. I am under no illusion when I say that the citizens of Australia are mot even socialistic, far Jess communistic. Although they have been led up the garden path by the Labour party, particularly during the last seven years,, the time has arrived when they want a stand taken on these issues, and if this Government is not prepared to take a stand, I have no doubt at all as to the reaction of the people. The Prime Minister has refused point-blank to give the citizens of Australia an opportunity to express their views on banking, and I am very glad to learn that in at least one State of the Commonwealth they will have a chance in the very near future to show where they stand. I have no doubt whatever that they will indicate their attitude to the Labour party in no uncertain manner. A fearless announcement of the Government’s attitude towards the Communists, fair from being prejudicial to the Labour cause at this moment, is the- only hope that honorable members opposite have of convincing the people that Labour is not leading this country to destruction - to something approaching what has happened in- Russia, and something for which the people of this country have no liking.
– Yesterday, the proposed rate now under discussion by the committee was debated at length, and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) dealt exhaustively with the various phases of the proposed vote. He spoke of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, the Legal Service Bureau, and the new arbitration machinery, and he expressed appreciation of the fact that certain staffs had been increased. Apparently he was satified that an increase of the personnel of the Commonwealth Investigation Service by 51 or 52 members would enable the adequate implementation of legislation passed through this Parliament earlier this year to safeguard defence undertakings.
– The Minister could not possibly have gathered1 that from- my remarks.
– The honorable member admitted, and I was glad to hear him do so, that he was satisfied that the Government was doing something, on the right lines.
– But not enough.
– Other Opposition members followed their deputy leader, and by the time the suspension of the sitting for dinner had been reached I felt certain that the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department would be passed with nothing but appreciation of the Government’s work. Several Opposition speakers spoke in this vein. I agree with the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) that it is the duty of a Minister who is in charge of a department, permanently or temporarily, to answer any questions that aase put to him in relation to the estimates for that department. I did that yesterday,, and I am prepared to do it now. I think I cam say with confidence that there is no- feature of these
Estimates with which I am not sufficiently familiar to answer questions satisfactorily. Further, I am prepared to undertake to place any suggestions that have been made by honorable members opposite before the Minister acting for the Attorney-General.
The best tactics to adopt to -combat communism in this country are, I contend, a matter of individual judgment, and surely the best judges are those people who are in charge of this important and very often secret work of investigation. I do not know of any country that expects evildoers to come along to the authorities and declare themselves as such. The Attorney-General’s Department has obtained’ the best advice procurable on methods of detecting these individuals so that they may be made suffer the full penalties of the law; and it is taking that advice. It has obtained the services of the best men offering for this work. Advice has been obtained not only in this country but also from the intelligence authorities in Great Britain. I believed that all members were satisfied with the steps that are being taken to implement ;the legislation to which I have referred; but last night, someone in the Opposition ranks got the inspiration that the debate on the Estimates offered an excellent opportunity for a full-dress discussion on the activities of the Communists. That discussion, I submit, with all respect to the Chair, was not within the bounds of the Estimates. One deputy chairman apparently thought it fair to give certain liberty to one speaker and then, of course, the same liberty could not be denied to others. I have no o’bjection to this debate on communism taking place, and I hope that I shall not be accused of unfair Criticism, hut I cannot help thinking that it has been staged deliberately in the hope that it will have some effect upon the Victorian electors. I hope that this is not true, but certainly it is the impression that I have gained from the debate.
I have been challenged to say something about the Communist menace, but I have no intention of indulging in a fireside chat about various political philosophies. On a more suitable occasion I would most readily participate in such a discussion, and I believe that I could hold my own with anybody in this chamber; ‘but that is not my duty on this occasion. I have listened to Opposition speakers quoting slabs from the original Communist manifesto propounded 100 years ago by Marx and Engels - a document that has been chewed over and spat out by almost every student of politics during the last 80 or 90 years. There is hardly a university study circle that has not taken that manifesto as a text for argument. My reluctance to engage in this discussion does not arise from a lack of knowledge of political ideologies. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) endeavoured to associate the Labour party with the Communist party, and spoke of the philosophy of communism. He f ailed to distinguish between the methods adopted by the Communists in trying to reach an objective, and the objective itself. If I were to permit myself to be drawn into a philosophical discussion, I could show that every aim of the Communist movement throughout the world is based on the teachings of Christ; but one cannot provoke a debate on such an issue here.
– We expected some justification of the Communists, and now we are getting it.
– What does the honorable member for Batman think about that.
– People like the honorable member for Batman understand it because they are students.
– That is why the church has set its face against communism.
– The objective of the philosophy as understood by students is not what is objected to. The objection is to the methods adopted by members of the Communist party in trying, or pretending that they are trying, to achieve their goal. I say without fear of contradiction that tens of thousands of ministers of various religions would agree with hardly anything honorable members say, without examination.
– Yet Communists say that religion is the opiate of the people.
– Some do, but it is not necessarily a part of the Communist philosophy.
– Rationalists ako say it.
– Yes; they would say it too. The Communists’ methods are quite contrary to the beliefs of the Australian Labour party. The answer to the silly and wrong attempt to link the Australian Labour party with the Communist party is surely that both are political -parties registered, and accepted in this country. Both nominate candidates at elections. Communist candidates are accepted by the electoral officers as readily as are candidates nominated by the Labour party, the Liberal party and the Australian Country party’.
– And Communist candidates lose their deposits.
– They lose their deposits every time. How could two distinct political parties be associated or exchange members. Communists cannot possibly belong to the Labour party. The first principle is that a’ man may not belong to two political parties. Honorable members on both sides will agree that I ought to know something about the ramifications of the trade union movement. There are approximately 1,000,000 trade unionists, men, women and children, in Australia. I stake my reputation as an honest man, I hope, that not more than 15 per cent, of the total number of trade unionists have any mental affiliation with the Communist party, to say nothing of affiliation as enrolled members.
– How do children come into the matter ?
– There are many junior members of trade unions. They are not compelled to join but they do. Four or five trade unions have become dominated by Communists-
– Four or .five !
– I could debate this matter somewhere else. This is not the place. Not more than 15 per cent, of the approximately 1,000,000 -members of the trade union movement have any connexion whatever with communism.
– Almost without exception every major trade union is Communis t-ecn trol 1 ed .
– Nonsense !
– Every heavy industry is Communist-controlled.
– Order! The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) must cease interjecting.
– It is impossible to suggest that Communists are members of the political Labour party, which has 500,000 members. I leave the matter at that. It is not my duty to debate matters in order to please people. I probably have as much knowledge of communism as any one in this House. I have been invited to several Australian universities to take part in sociological discussions at annual meetings of the students’ associations, which are always based on the Marxist textbook. Fifty years ago I could have recited it word for word.
– Was it in 1921 when the Minister was a member of a certain committee?
– It was a long time before then. I will tell the honorable gentleman what happened on that committee when the banking legislation is being debated. Yesterday, honorable members said that they were satisfied with the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department, hut if they have any questions to ask, I will answer them and pass any suggestions that they may make on to the Minister acting for the Attorney-General. . But I will not be drawn into a long debate on whether Communists are good, bad or indifferent in order to help the Opposition parties’ campaign in the Victorian general elections.
– The debate in this chamber in the last two days has occurred because we regard the activities of the Communists in Australia as one of the most serious problems that could confront any government. Communism in Australia has been debated many times in this chamber, but few honorable members opposite have ever spoken on the subject, and rarely have we heard a word from responsible
Ministers. We have charged the Communist .party of Australia with being a part of the fifth column of another power. The work that members of the organization are doing in Australia is tantamount to espionage. To those charges there has been no reply, except from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), who represents the Minister acting for the Attorney-General. He did not want to be inveigled into the argument. I do not doubt that he did not. It is a difficult argument for him to indulge in. He talked about the tenets of Marxist teaching, but there is a big difference between communism as now practised and the teachings of Marx, although the fundamental theories of Marx have been carefully followed. It is a truism to state that communism,, as practised in Russia and as attempted to be foisted upon the rest of the world by Russia, is completely devoid of any Christian principle. That is why every Christian church in this country is alarmed at the spread of communism and the failure of the Australian Government to combat it. The Minister said that the methods of the Labour party and the Communist party differed, and claimed that he objected to the Communists’ methods, but, even though he objects to those methods, he and his colleagues have done nothing to combat them. On the contrary, every action of this Government has been in the direction of helping the Communist movement. Ratliff and Thomas were released from internment by a Labour Government and this government has allowed the Communist party to occupy huge buildings and given them telephones that cannot be obtained by deserving sections of the community. We have been told by no less a person than the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) that certain moves made in this country in respect of the Guided Weapons Testing Range were inspired by a foreign power. They were inspired by the Communists. The real reason why the Labour party cannot prevent the Communists from continuing their activities is that it needs their support. The Minister admitted that the Communists’ methods of achieving their goal were different from the Labour party’s, but the goal of the two parties is very similar.
Both are socialist movements. The Labour party stands, as does the Communist party, for the complete and utter socialization of everything in this land. That policy, of course, requires the subjugation of the individual to the State. Honorable members opposite may talk as much as they like about fascism and communism, but the fact remains that all the dictatorships which, with one exception, have crumbled into the dust in Europe had one common principle - that, in ail circumstances, the individual must be subordinate to the State. The Labour party is a socialist organization. It has been tied to a complete socialist policy since 1921. 1 shall be greatly surprised if any Government supporter should rise and tell me that the revolution of 1917 in Russia did not have a great deal to do with the formulation, four years later, of the Australian Labour party’s complete socialization policy. That revolution influenced industrial affairs in every part of the world. I repeat that the Labour party is a socialist organization which believes that every home, farm, factory and individual should be owned by or subjected to the will of the State. The Australian Government and the Cain Government in Victoria have committed themselves to the first big step in the direction of implementing their party’s socialist policy, namely, the nationalization of the banking system. Lenin first introduced that plan into the socialist programme. He pointed out the road that must be followed towards socialism. This Government has set foot on that road, and for that reason it must have the support of the Communists in Australia.
People who have delved into the recondite policies of the various political parties in Australia have proved that the only allies of the Labour party are the Communists. The Communists are pleased to see the Government following the path that leads to socialism. When the end of the road is reached, perhaps, the two parties may split over the methods of government that should be applied in a socialist State. The Communists will then seek to destroy the present Labour movement and bring their totalitarian ideals into reality, as they have done in
Russia. Is the Communist party purely and simply an Australian political party with an individual philosophy of its own, as responsible Labour party members have claimed, or is it a movement that is dominated and controlled by a foreign power ? The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has told us what the Minister for External Affairs said regarding attempted sabotage of the guided weapons project in Central Australia. The move to prevent the range from being completed and used was “ inspired by a foreign power “. Those are the words used by the Minister himself.
An extremely interesting commentary on the Communist party was published in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday in an article written by Dr. Lloyd Ross, who was appointed by this Government to a very high position in the Public Service and who exerts a great deal of influence behind the scenes in the councils of the Government. The article is headed : “A Labour Man’s View - How Communists Play Russia’s Game “. I shall read some excerpts from it, but I suggest to honorable members opposite that they read it in full and study it in detail. It states -
Communist parties have never been free to make their own decisions. . . . Local Communists went to Moscow and received direct instructions; Soviet visitors saw these instructions were carried out.
I am even led to believe that wherever Russian diplomats are sent, a close watch is placed upon them by agents of Russia’s secret police. The article 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.
The article concludes with the following paragraph -
Whatever may be the apparent support given by Communists to such issues as nationalization of banking-
– Order! The honorable member must not deal with banking.
– The word just happens to appear in this paragraph. That is all. It continues - or Labour’s social reforms, nothing can bridge the gap between a party which believes in democratic progress and one whose theory is still authoritarian. The Communist attitude to nationalization will change again as it has changed in the past, and the factor influencing this, as everything else, will be the foreign needs of Russia
Those statements by a senior public servant who is a supporter of this Government conform closely with the utterances of the Minister for External Affairs. Is the Labour party’s viewpoint identical with that expressed by Dr. Lloyd Ross and also by the Minister for External Affairs himself? Does the Labour party believe that the Communist organization in Australia is foreign-inspired? Has the Communist party been implanted in Australia for a particular purpose?
– The Commonwealth Security Service exists to deal with such problems.
– That is so. The Communist party in Australia has been actively associated with this Government’s foreign policy in relation to the Netherlands East Indies. Is that party working on lines that have been laid down by the Government of a foreign country ? If so, does this Government intend to tolerate this subversive organization, and, in fact, to assist it by providing it with buildings and with telephones at a time when thousands of ordinary business people have to do without telephones? That must be the test of the genuineness of the Government’s attitude on this matter. If the Government takes no action against the Communists, its neglect to do so will react against it. If the Communist organization exists in Australia for the purpose of carrying on nefarious work in the interests of a foreign power and is allowed to do so without hindrance, the only assumption open to us is that lie Government is leaving the Communists alone because they are helping it along the road to socialization.
The British Empire went to war in order to protect the rights of a small nation, namely, Poland. We little knew before we went to war that Russia had previously signed a pact with Germany for the partition of Poland. . The fact that such a secret treaty existed was made clear at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. We fought the war, and paid its price of devastation and loss of life, for the principles of freedom, but to-day we face a menace as dangerous as Hitler, perhaps even more so, which virtually dominates the whole of central Europe. This threat to the democracies has extended its influence eastward through the Balkan States and into the Balkan zone. The Comintern has been reformed for the dissemination of international propaganda, and a Moe of Communist powers has been created. There is only one reason for these moves. It is that Russia seeks to gain supremacy not only in Europe but also in other countries. Australia’s defences are not sound at present. The British Empire has been sadly knocked about by war. Now Moscow has made a definite challenge to the western democracies, including the United States of America. In Australia, we are permitting the existence of an organization which, in the opinion of Dr. Lloyd Eoss, takes its instructions from Moscow. My colleagues and I consider that the Government should define its attitude towards the Communist party. To date, Ministers have been silent. Perhaps the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) will supply this interesting information.
– If the honorable member will resume his seat, I shall satisfy his curiosity.
– I shall be glad if the honorable member will do so after I have concluded my remarks.
– Order .’ . I ask the honorable member for Deakin to address the Chair.
– I shall be glad if the honorable member for Dalley will explain, without equivocation, the policy of the Labour party towards the Communist party, and the intentions of the Government regarding that organization. I have no doubt that he will deal with the first matter and carefully ignore the second.
What is the position? The honorable member for Warringah suggested that Communist party should be outlawed. Other honorable members on this side of the chamber have urged the Government to make a thorough investigation of the affairs of this organization. I believe that the information which the Commonwealth Investigation Service has obtained and can obtain about the Communist party would make a remarkable document, which would alarm the Australian people. Such a publication might even disclose why the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) is able to echo, in this House, the voice of Russia on foreign affairs, with a clarity and decisiveness which would do justice to Molotov himself. It might disclose a number of extraordinary things, such as which public servants, particularly in the Council for Scientific and. Industrial Research, are members of the Communist party, what are the specious aims of this organization, and what instructions are being issued by Russia to members of the Communist party in Australia. However, I am resigned to the fact that the Government will not grant an inquiry, or outlaw the organization. The solution of the problem of how to deal with the Communist, like the solution of the problems of banking and socialism, rests with the electors. The people of Australia are only now awakening to the menace in their midst.
– Does the honorable member mean that the Government should ask the people, by way of a referendum, for an expression of their views regarding the Communist party?
– No ; I am referring to a general expression of opinion at a general election. Only now are they realizing the great power which this organization wields in Australia. They know that the control of the key unions is in the hands of Communists. What happened in Vic- toria last week? A known Communist leader waved his arms, and, for two hours, the suburban railway services’ of Melbourne ceased. The government of the day did nothing to prevent it. Who will deny that railway strikers in Victoria some months ago were rallied by the wellknown Communist, Mr. J. J. Brown, who exercised a strong influence on the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Cain? This Communist also made further threats against the long-suffering public of that State.
The Australian people are now emerging from their lethargy regarding this problem. They realize that the Government will not take action to suppress the Communists, because it needs their aid in its march towards socialism. The people should be given an opportunity to express their views upon the Government’s inaction. If they were, a change of government would result. Sitting suspended from 12Ji-5 to 2.15 p.m.
– I was saying that we cannot expect any action to be taken hy this Government against the Communists. This Government has emharked on a socialistic career, and therefore communism does not seem so repugnant to its members. In any case, the policies and objectives of the two parties are essentially the same, so that if any action is to be taken against the Communists it must be taken by the people themselves at the next elections. The new government, which will be formed from the parties on this side of the chamber, will then have to decide whether it should treat the Communist organization as a body having a right to free expression of opinion. although as Dr. Lloyd Ross points out, its mem’bers have always been under the control of Moscow and have never been free to make their own decisions. I believe, with Dr. Lloyd Ross, that the Communist party is a subversive organization, and I also agree with the remark made .by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), in discussion of the testing range for guided weapons, that the Communist party ha.s its roots in Moscow. Because that is so, it has obviously no right to attempt to influence the foreign policy of this country. From the very nature of its tenets, its members believe in the complete overthrow of the rights of the individual. Too many people in this country have regarded the present Government as being, more or less, a mild, liberal one, similar to the early Labour governments ; but one thing which the Government’s proposal for the nationalization of banks has forced upon the notice of the people is that its real objectives are socialistic ones. Once the majority of people appreciate that important fact their support of, or indifference to, the Government will undergo a complete volte-face. There is already a firm belief in all sections of the community that it is impossible to reconcile .socialism with democracy, and that we cannot borrow socialist doctrines and retain our fundamental democratic rights. In conclusion, I advise any supporters of the Government, who may be silly enough to believe that the adoption of “moderate’’ socialism will be of advantage to this country, to realize that they are acting as the mere tools of the Communists. If the socialist supporters of the Government are able to implement their desperate policy, we shall witness a repetition of the happenings associated with the rise and fall of the Kerensky Government in Russia, and the more ruthless Communists will overthrow members of the Australian Labour party just as they overthrew the Kerensky supporters.
.- I was delighted to observe that my speech last evening brought the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) to his feet very quickly. However, the speech which he made wa9, in my opinion, more offensive than informative. Yesterday, and again to-day, we have been regaled with a monotonous repetition of stories which attempt to link the Communist party with the Australian Labour party. Of course honorable members opposite disown any political motive in doing so, and assert that everything they say is intended to benefit the Australian La.bour party. They put me ‘in mind of the old adage, “ I fear the Greeks, even when bringing gifts “ ; and mem,bers on this side of the chamber are not disposed to accept gifts of that kind. We prefer to retaliate by emphasizing that the Communist party has always contested electoral seats against mem,bers of the Australian Labour party, and it is seldom that one witnesses a Communist contesting an election against a member of the parties to which honorable members opposite belong.
– We have all had Communist opponents ; I have had many, and so also has the Leader of the Opposition.
– The remarkable fact, as I pointed out last night, is that when the official list of “ how-to-vote “ recommendations was published in the press over the names of the organizers of the Australian Country party and the Liberal party, the electors of ‘the Bathurst subdivision were exhorted to give the Communist candidate their No. 1 vole and the Australian Labour party candidate their No. 2 vote, there being no other candidate.
Honorable members opposite have a great deal to say at all times of the association of Communists with the trade union movement, but it would be more enlightening if they were to tell us something about the well-known fascists who regularly associate with them. During the war, when this country and other allied countries were in most desperate straits, the real fifth-columnists were found, not in the ranks of the Communist party, and certainly not in those of the Australian Labour party, but in those of the anti-Labour parties. The individuals standing their trials to-day in various allied countries for fifth-column activity were all notorious anti-Labour politicians, or ‘associated with anti-Labour parties. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) said that he was under no illusions regarding the Communist party, but apparently he does suffer from quite a number of delusions. He alleged that members on this side of the chamber were afraid to deal with the Communist party because of the voting power which he said was exercised by Communistcontrolled unions in pre-selection ballots of the Australian Labour party. The plain fact is that neither the Communistcontrolled unions, nor any other kind of unions, have a vote in pre-selection ballots in New South Wales. The only union whose members are entitled to vote, by reason of membership of a trade union, is the Federated Enginedrivers and Firemen’s Association. They are allowed to record their vote at railway depots because the nature of their occupation prevents them, in most cases, from attending pre-selection meetings of the Australian Labour party. But even in the case of that union Communists are debarred from’ voting by post or otherwise. That at least is one delusion from which the honorable member is suffering.
The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) is perturbed at the number of telephone installations at Marx
House, the head-quarters of the Communist party. However, if he takes the trouble to refer to Hansard he will find that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked a question on this very matter recently, which elicited a reply from the appropriate Minister that the Communist party has received no more consideration from the postal authorities during the term of this Government than it did during the regime of previous governments’ supported by members of the Opposition. The honorable member for Moreton and the honorable member for Deakin were, in fact, inarticulate supporters of those governments. Telephone exchange facilities were installed in Marx House on the 7th November, 1939, the 16th January, 1940, and the 16th September, 1941. Three extension lines were installed on the 3rd October, 1939, and three more on the 23rd February, 1940. Those installations were all made during the term of office of the Menzies and Fadden Governments.
– The honorable member should tell us the number of installations made during the term of office of this and the preceding Labour Government.
– If the honorable member is really concerned with the detail of telephone installations at Marx House, he should look at the record of the administration of the Postmaster-General’s Department during the terms of office of the Governments which he supported. Marx House was acquired during the regime of the Menzies Government, and it was during that time that the original telephone installations were made.
During the course of this debate the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and the honorable members . for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), Richmond (Mr. Anthony), Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), Wakefield (Mr. McBride) and Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) left no doubt in the minds of any one that if they had their way they would suppress the Communist party. The honorable member for Deakin forecast early success for his party and its accession to the treasury bench, and said that when that occurred the new administration would suppress the Communist party. I again direct attention to the public statement by his leader that he was not prepared to suppress the Communist party.
– Quote what he said last night.
Mr.ROSEVEAR.- If the honorable gentleman will restrain his impatience, I shall do so.
– Do not misrepresent him.
Mr.ROSEVEAR.- I would not think of misrepresenting him. If I were as offensive personally as he was last night, he would have something to complain about. This is what the right honorable gentleman said, in an interview that was reported in the press on the 26th June, 1946-
The federal standing committee on policy of the Liberal party, had a full discussion on the matter in January, and our views were accepted by the Federal Council of the party. Our views were these : In times of war, a ban was placed on the Communist party, on the grounds of national security. In times of peace, it is” a very very serious step to prohibit the promulgation of any particular political views. Therefore, in time of peace, we do not propose to place a ban on the Communist party as such.
That declaration was made by the Leader of the Opposition a little over twelve months ago. His deputy has asked me to deal with what he said last night, and I propose to do so. All the other honorable members of both parties opposite whom I have mentioned have left no doubt in the mind of anybody that they are in favour of the immediate suppression of the Communist party. What does their leader say? He has qualifications. He does not say that he wants the Communist party to be suppressed.What he wants is “ a thoroughgoing investigation of the Communist party, and a report from a judicial source “. Apparently, he has not yet made up his mind as to where he stands; so, he wants a royal commissioner to make a thoroughgoing judicial inquiry to tell him what he ought to do about the Communist party. Yet members of his party in this chamber tell us that they would destroy the Communist party root and branch, without trial or investigation. That party has been the most faithful ally they have had in the politics of this country, from the standpoint of both disrupting industry when elections are impending and making stupid statements in an attempt to embarrass the Government; as well as, particularly, in the electorates when the elections are being held. So we have this queer combination on the Opposition side, the leader of one wing saying, and repeating last night, that he would suppress the Communist party, with his supporters echoing that sentiment, the members of the Liberal party being in the same boat, with the exception that if, by any stretch of the imagination, it could be conceived that they had become the government, they would have to override their leader, who, on this important issue upon which they have occupied the time of the committee for two days, would need to have a thoroughgoing investigation, as he described it, of the ramifications of the Communist party, and a judicial report, to help him to make up his mind.
Let me deal with another matter, with which I dealt last night, for which I was taken to task by the Leader of the Opposition. On this proposed vote, I am entitled to hold that action ought to be taken, either by this Government or by any other government with a sense of its responsibility to the people, with a view to fixing a retiring age for justices of the High Court, in view of the importance of that tribunal and its decisions. I hold the view that no man can retain the full capacity and competence that have to be exercised in such an important position, at the age which some of the justices of the High Court have reached. Last night, the Leader of the Opposition clearly misled the committee, when he said that the Constitution provides that the period of office of a High Court justice shall be for the term of his natural life. Section 72 of the Constitution makes this provision -
The justices of the High Court and the other courts created by the Parliament -
Shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral in Council;
Shall not be removed except by the Governor-General in Council on an address from both Houses of the Parliament in the same session, praying for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity :
The last word is important -
This section requires that every justice of the High Court, and other justices, whether called by that or any other name, of any court created by the Parliament shall, subject to the powers of removal contained in this section, be an appointment for life. iSo we see that the only interpretation *hat has ever been placed on that section of the Constitution, was placed on it by the High Court itself, when it determined that the period of appointment of its justices was the term of their natural life. I believe that there comes a time in the affairs of all men when they cannot be considered fully competent, when they suffer from some incapacity. One justice of the High Court has reached an age which exceeds 80 years, and the ages of two others exceed 70 years. The court cannot function, as was originally intended, in every State of the Commonwealth, because of the inability of certain justices to travel. If they are not fully competent, and have not the capacity to travel and do their job, they should not be retained in the job. It is notorious, and no barrister will deny, that on numerous occasions justices of the High Court have been asleep while evidence has been taken. Yet they give judgments, the effect of which is to deny the authority or the right of the Government of the Commonwealth to legislate along ‘ certain lines. That is what happened in the recent banking case. In my opinion, it is the duty of” a public man who believes that these justices should be retired at a fixed age, to say so. I believe that all the States have a fixed retiring age for the judiciary. I cite the scandalous case - I believe that I should so describe it - of ex- Justice Lukin.
There was a man who, having been retired by the State of Queensland on a full pension, secured a job in the federal jurisdiction; and, according to the interpretation of the Commonwealth Constitution which was given by the High Court justices, that man, having been appointed by the Commonwealth, could remain in that position for the rest of his life. He had a full pension from Queensland, and the full salary and pension rights of a justice of a Commonwealth court. He had the task of slaughtering the wages of the workers under the Premiers plan. I think that he did his job faithfully; in his dotage he altered the hours of timber workers, and thua initiated one of the most disastrous, strikes in the history of this country,
– Was not the honorable member associated with that strike?
– I was in it. This judge, who had been imported from Queensland after his retirement, and was in receipt of a pension from the State in addition to his salary as a judge of the Commonwealth, was, I believe, the only member of the Bench who refused to have his < emoluments reduced under the Premiers .plan. Evidently sauce for the goose was not sauce for the judicial gander. These things ought not to go on. The common sense of the Parliament ought to dictate that if a man has to retire from the Public Service - and all public servants, including those highly placed, have to do so at a certain age, notwithstanding that some of them perform duties which, although different from those performed by a judge of a court are equally important - there should be a statutory age limit for members of the judiciary also. The law which operates in respect of the retirement of public servants was enacted because it was thought by the Parliament that when a man reaches an age at which it is reasonable to expect that he will have lost some of his capacity to serve in his job, he should be retired on a superannuation pension. When a public servant reaches the prescribed retiring age, out he goes. But because we say the same thing of members of the High Court Bench, we are told by the Leader of the Opposition that the rights of the Parliament are being infringed and that a malicious attack is being made on the judiciary. He goes further, and says that only -persons like himself are competent to discuss such a matter. I was rather amused last night when the right honorable gentleman talked about the capacity of -myself and other members of the Parliament to read and discuss judgments of the High Court. I repeat now what I said then: I challenge any member of the committee to read the judgments of various judges and say that they are not almost word for word and argument for argument. Unless one can imagine five men with similar minds which would cause them to use almost exactly the same language, it would appear, as I said last night, that the judgments were written by the same competent journalist. I offer no apology for my criticism of the continued employment in the highest judicial positions in this country of men who have reached an age at which their capacity to do the job entrusted to them is likely to be impaired.
– Would the honorable member apply that rule to politicians also ?
– I should not mind doing that. The only qualification which I offer is that, whereas judges retire on a substantial pension, members of Parliament who have served for, perhaps, 30 or 40 years retire without any pension at all.
– Has not the honorable member something in view in that connexion ?
– I have, ‘ but the more I think of the honorable member the less do I think that he is worth it.
The Opposition has not established its case of associating the Communist party with the Labour party. Indeed, the debate has emphasized that this discussion has taken place solely for party political purposes. As to the High Court and my observations concerning it, both within the Parliament and outside, I repeat that I offer no apology. I believe that the Parliament has the power under the Constitution to retire judges. Possibly, that power could not be exercised by way of legislation, but the Parliament certainly ha.= the power, by means of an address from both Houses, to remove them from office. I believe that when judges have reached an age at which they are no longer capable of carrying out to the full the high responsibilities of their office - responsibilities so great that they can overrule a decision of the Parliament - they should be retired. It has been proved beyond doubt that, both physically and mentally, some judges have not the capacity to perform their duties satisfactorily, and, therefore, action ought to be- taken by this or a succeeding government to ensure that they shall be retired, and that younger and more competent men shall be put in their places.
.- I should be remiss in my duty if I did not say something in response to the remarks of the Speaker of the House when, speaking from the floor, he attacks members of the judiciary, and of the High Court in particular. Last night, the honorable member’s conduct in the Sydney Domain, where he criticized judges, was brought to notice. The previous political affiliations of members of the judiciary are not of much moment, .because only men of high standing are chosen, for such high office. In every instance, I believe, the judges have carried out their duties well, and have’ worthily upheld the best traditions of the judiciary. As the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) was speaking, I noted some of his remarks. He spoke of judges being asleep in court; he said that, “ in their dotage “ they did certain things; he frequently referred to their great age. The honorable member reminded me of a man in the dock who becomes abusive when sentenced by a judge or a magistrate. Reference was made to his part in the timber workers’ strike. It would appear that the honorable member has harboured resentment against a judge who unswervingly performed his duty in a time of emergency, and came to a certain decision. Years afterwards, the honorable member abuses the privilege given to members of Parliament by speaking in scathing terms of the judge who made that decision. Such action is despicable. The honorable member occupies an honoured place in this Parliament as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In that capacity he expects, and he receives, the respect that is due to his high office. He is sensitive to any criticism of himself, yet he takes advantage of the privilege afforded to him as a member of the Parliament by abusing the highest authority in the land - the court to which legislation passed by the Parliament can be referred for a decision as to its constitutionality. The honorable member made great play of the f act that some judges’ are over 70 years of age. I see at the table a Minister who is in that age group. Other men have held ministerial office when over 80 years of age, and in the several political parties in the Parliament there are men of advanced age. It is well to recall that, although William Pitt was Prime Minister of England at 24 years of age, Winston Churchill, at 69 years, was Prime Minister in the nation’s greatest crisis. A man’s capacity is decided, not by his age, but by what he is.
– I think that the honorable member will agree that judges should not be asleep on the Bench.
– I have seen honorable members asleep in this House, particularly when honorable members like the honorable member for Dalley have been speaking. Sleeping on the job is more common in the Parliament than in the courts. I see two honorable members asleep in the chamber now. To bring these Domain tactics into the Parliament, to ape the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), who for a number of years has availed himself of every opportunity to attack the judiciary, is not to the credit of the honorable member. One is always suspicious of a person who attacks a judge or a magistrate. Probably it is because the honorable member for Dalley is being challenged for some office in the Labour party that he follows the example of the Minister for Transport. The debate has taken this turn only because the honorable member for Dalley has given a lead in that direction.
Earlier in the debate the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) told the committee that communism was Christ-like ; that he had discovered that communism is based on the teachings of Christ. They are his words, as he wrote them at the time.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) was not of that opinion. I am glad that he alone, of members on the other side, had the courage of his convictions and said .that communism was un-Christian. Most people will agree with the honorable member for Batman. The Minister for Labour and National Service sought to pour oil on the troubled waters, and made the best of a bad case. He told us with great unction that he is the authority in this Parliament on industrial affairs. Why has he not in his long career in Parliament and outside of it denounced these wreckers in our midst? He comes from Victoria, and he knows that there is a sinister figure in that State who has been given too much notice. He would never be heard of only that he happens to be the secretary of an important trade union. I refer to Mr. J. J. Brown, of the Australian Railways Union. He, on his own ukase, said that the trains must stop, and for two hours in the middle of the day thousands of people were inconvenienced. The railwaymen struck, not against any capitalist who was grinding the faces of the poor, but against their own Labour Government. Did any Minister of this Government attack Mr. Brown? Mr. Don. Thompson, the secretary of the Building Workers Union, a man whose fare this Government paid to an international conference in Belgium recently, and who has recently returned, has called on the employees on a building job at a newspaper office in Melbourne to strike because there was published in that newspaper a leading article critical of what is going on in Victoria at the present time. These union leaders constitute the de facto government of Australia to-day, and it is the attitude of their representatives in this Parliament which permits Communists to thrive. Some one spoke of telephones, and of the special attention which the Communist party had received in this regard. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) ‘ asked how many telephones had been installed in Marx House, Sydney, what was .the date of their installation, and whether they included any silent numbers. He was informed, in reply, that twelve exchange lines had been installed, with 21 extensions. Nine of the twelve exchange lines had been installed during the war. There was one silent number, while two were reserved for outside calls only.
– On what dates were the telephones installed ?
– That information was also given. They were installed in the years 1940-41, 1941-42, 1942-43 and 1943-44. It is time this retreat from Moscow was stopped. The Minister for Labour and National Service tried to brush aside the charges against communism, and to tell us that Communists are harmless. He said that the Com.munist ideology was 100 years old. I say that communism, far from being Christian and Christ-like, evolved from the , cruel and vulgar mind of Earl Marx, a man who was without friends, and who made himself the enemy of society. Socialism is a weak imitation of the more violent policy of Marx. Socialism, communism, nazi-ism and fascism are all related. Until the Government declares that Communists shall not he allowed to plot for the destruction of democracy things will go from bad to worse. We know that socialism has never functioned successfully anywhere except by terrorism. It exists in Russia to-day in a slave state. Russia, the sponsor of communism, is dividing the world to-day into rival camps. Let us call the Communists by their proper name. Let us call them terrorists, because it is only under a terrorist system that a Communist government can exist.
– When we do that, what are we to do next?
– I am glad that the honorable member asked that question. The honorable member for Dalley said that the Opposition was advocating that the Communists should be obliterated. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) did not say that, but he said that if the position grew worse we should take immedia te steps to deal with it.
– He did not say that in his original statement.
– He said. it last night. The Minister for Labour and National Service said that we should do in Australia what is being done in other parts of the Empire. I agree with him. In Canada, a royal commission was appointed which unmasked the cryptoCommunists, one of whom was a member of the national parliament, who is now in gaol. It is not those Communists who have announced themselves, such as Miles, and Sharkey and Thornton, who are our greatest concern. There are others who do not go under the name of Communists, but who take their orders from Moscow. As a matter of fact, Moscow and Melbourne have come very close together in this regard. It has been argued that the Communists are only a small minority. Communists do not need a majority. They have never constituted a majority in any country in the world, but they have shown how a small, active, virulent minority can dominate a whole community, just as they are dominating trade unions in Australia to-day.
– That is what happens in the Liberal party.
– The Minister for Air and Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) is president of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen. He poses as a democrat, but has he ever raised his voice against Mr. Brown ? No, because Mr. Brown is his master.
– They are not even in the same union.
– The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) is president of the Hospital Employees Union. He was absent from his place in this House for a week fighting claims in the court on behalf of the members of his union, when he should have been here attending to his duties. As for the Minister for Air, one might as well invite the last surviving coachman of Cobb and Company to be head of the railways, as to place the president of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen in charge of civil aviation. Of course, the Minister for Air will soon be burning petrol on his way home in his 20-passenger Dakota aeroplane.
– I think the honorable member should return to the subject before the Chair.
– Yes, I agree. I maintain that a royal commission should be appointed to inquire into communism, so that Communists in Australia may be tagged. The Government naturally opposes the proposal, because it is allied with the Communists. .
– I should not participate in this debate but for the foolish statements made principally by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) and also by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr, White). The latter’s knowledge about trade union affairs is so mixed that he declared that Mr. Brown of the Australian Railways Union, whom he alleges I have never criticized, is my boss and has something to do with the union to which I belong and of which I am president. The union of which I am president is the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen. It has nothing to do with the Australian Railways Union. Its membership approaches nearer to 100 per cent, of “ the possible “ than that of any other industrial organization in Australia. It is a reputable body, whose members take their place in the community as responsible citizens. They have never been dominated by Communists. Allegations of the kind which I shall refute have been made by the two honorable members opposite who were - I do not think that they ever will be again - responsible Ministers of the Crown. They should know better, and should inform themselves of the facts. Right from the beginning of this debate, honorable members opposite have set out in an attempt to fasten the Communists upon the Labour party, whereas the Labour party is the only party in Australia which has definitely excluded Communists from membership. That was done under a resolution carried in 1926 which has since been re-affirmed. However, allegations of the kind we have heard in this debate are seized upon by honorable members opposite who should have a greater sense of responsibility merely in order to try to fasten the Communists upon the Labour party. Honorable members opposite have merely taken advantage of this debate to try to create the impression in the public mind that the Labour party stands behind the Com munists, and that the Communists dominate the policy of the Government.
Some of the statements made by the honorable member for Indi this morning were ridiculous, although not quite so ridiculous as those made by the honorable member for Balaclava, because the former has a little more knowledge than the latter of these matters. However, the honorable member for Indi named three unions which he claimed were dominated by the Communists. They were the Builders Labourers Union, the Ironworkers Federation and the Australian Railways Union. He claimed that those three unions dominated the Labour party in Victoria. The fact is that none of those unions is affiliated with the Labour party, and none of them has been affiliated with the Labour party for some considerable time. There is therefore no /justification for his statement that I owe my entitlement to represent Labour to the Ironworkers or any other union. I doubt whether honorable members opposite can produce any evidence to show that Communists are specifically excluded by definite resolution from membership of either the Liberal party or . the Australian Country party. I doubt whether either of the Opposition parties has ever definitely excluded the Communists from membership. That statement, which they cannot refute, brings honorable members opposite to voice like a pack of hounds. I say, frankly, that the honorable member for Indi knows the facts quite well. He is unscrupulous in the allegations he makes from time to time in this chamber. Invariably, he has the one objective, namely, to try to provoke interjections of which he can take advantage in order to strengthen a weak case. Nine out of every ten Communists who are nominated as candidates at general elections oppose the Labour party candidate. Communist candidates only very rarely, if at all, are nominated against those of the Liberal party or the Australian Country party. However, during the long period since Communists have stood for parliamentary election only one has succeeded in being elected to any parliament in this country.
The honorable member for Balaclava said that we make much of the fact that
Communists invariably lose their deposits, but, nevertheless, they influence the policy of the Labour party through a virile minority. If ever there was a party in Australia influenced by a virile minority it is the Liberal party, insofar as it is influenced by the big financial interests outside. There can be no question about that. Honorable members opposite take their orders from those financial interests. Members of the Labour party do not take any orders from any outside interests. The only policy we follow is that laid down by representatives of the Labour party who in conference are guided by the decisions of their respective branches of the party. Any individual, including the honorable member for Balaclava, as a private individual, could belong to the Labour party if he had no membership in any other political party. The honorable member could then treat us to the great enlightenment he sometimes offers in this chamber. I repeat that statements of the kind he has made have only one objective, and tl at is to try to create the impression in the minds of the people of Australia that the policy of the Labour party is based on communism, that we hold Communist doctrines and incorporate such doctrines in the legislation we enact as a Government. There is not a scintilla of truth in that allegation. I am proud to be a member of a trade union organization which has played a great part in the national life of Australia, and has showed a great sense of responsibility all through our difficult periods of industrial trouble. That organization has 12,500 members who are employed throughout the length and breadth of the country. They have shown great restraint at times when they could quite easily have tied up the transport of- Australia had they been so inclined. I am proud to be president of that organization. The charge made by honorable members opposite that we absent ourselves to attend to matters in the Arbitration Court during sittings of the Parliament is entirely untrue. I rose principally for the purpose of refuting the idle statements, indeed, the malicious statements, of honorable members opposite. They know such statements to be untrue, but they simply put them forward because they have an opportunity of being heard over the air. In case anybody may be led to believe those allegations, I, as a responsible trade union official, consider it my duty to refute them. I place on record the very definite resolution of the Labour party excluding Communists from membership. It is as follows : -
Notwithstanding anything contained in these rules, no member of the Communist party, or any other political party, or a member of an auxiliary of the Communist party or any other party, shall be a member of the Labour party.
That is clear and definite. Can honorable members opposite produce any rule of either the Liberal party or the Australian Country party of that kind? Statements of honorable members opposite are untrue. They have been made simply in an endeavour to mislead the public of Australia ; but I believe that the achievements of the Labour party in every field of endeavour since this Government has been in office will maintain the party in office in this Parliament and keep out honorable members opposite, because they stand for retrogression and wish to bring about conditions similar to those which our people experienced in the depression and in the immediate pre-war years. I sincerely hope that the Opposition parties will never again be given an opportunity to bring about such conditions in this country.
– It is rather significant that as this debate progresses Ministers and honorable members opposite are being stung into rising in their places to make some contribution to it. Their contributions are based upon excuses and apologies. They ‘’ protest too much, methinks “. Instead of joining in the attack against the Communists whom they state, are excluded from the Labour party, they protest against being called upon to rise to their feet to support that attack. The ministerial party consists of 43 members. Out of that number only eight have risen to speak in this debate; and of those eight, only three have denounced the Contmunist party, whilst the other five have sought to apologize for the Communists by introducing issues which have nothing at. nil to do with the main point of the debate. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) spoke twice in this debate. He is the Speaker of the House. Whenever the Government gets into a jamb we are always sure to find the honorable member coming down from his high position to fight the case for the Government, because honorable members opposite are not capable of carrying on that fight. What did the honorable member for Dalley say? In his second speech he said, in effect, “ I am pleased to think that I brought the Leader of the Opposition rushing into the House to answer me “. The honorable member takes great credit for having roused the Leader of the Opposition and having impelled him to come into the chamber. Every time the Government finds itself in a quandary the honorable member for Dalley rushes into the chamber to defend it. What did he do on this occasion? Did he add lustre to the debate or to his high position ? No ; he indulged in a bitter attack on the judiciary. That is Communist technique, which is aimed at destroying the institutions of democracy. Mr. Speaker, in his capacity as honorable member for Dalley, is encouraging, by his actions and words in this chamber, the Communist attacks upon the democratic institutions of this country. The example he sets is slavishly followed by honorable members opposite. Why should he degrade the high position he occupies by establish ing such an unworthy precedent and lowering the dignity of his office by indulging in bitter vituperations against the judiciary?
Let us deal with some of the arguments advanced by the honorable member. First, he sought to refute the allegations that the Communists- had been given priority in respect of telephone installations. I raised that matter myself in this chamber, drawing attention to the fact that because of the influence of the Communist cells within the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, preference had been given to Communist organizations over legitimate organizations and business firms in the installation of telephone - equipment. I mentioned that no less than twelve telephones and twenty extensions had been installed at the head-quarters of the Communist party in Sydney at a time when business men were crying out for telephone services. The honorable member for Dalley read what purported to be a list of telephone installations, but it related to the period when the Communist party was banned as an illegal organization by the Government of which I was a member. At that time the Communist party had no telephone connexions at all. Later, when the party was reinstated as a legal organization, it was rushed with telephone equipment, with building materials for the alteration of Marx House, with newsprint in excess of that granted to any other political body, so that it could quickly reestablish itself. Honorable members opposite then fawned upon the Communists, hut now they are not game to rise in their places to attack them, because they are afraid of repercussions upon their own organizations.
The next matter raised by the honorable member related to those who stood their trial during the war years for subversive activities. The honorable gentleman said that they belonged to antiLabour organizations - a most dastardly statement, because it contains the implication that these people, being anti-Labour, are of the same political complexion as the parties now in opposition in this chamber. The honorable member knows only too well that at that time fascist organizations of a totalitarian character had been established in both Germany and Japan. He knows, too, that communism is red fascism of a totalitarian cha.rac.ter. He is not game to link up the red fascists with the traitors who in this country sought to destroy our democratic institutions. Honorable members opposite may say, “ We do not want to be tied up with the Communists “. It is rather significant. :hat at every election the Labour party issues placards stating that it has no connexion with the firm next door, the Communist party. That may be true at election time, but the connexion is rapidly established on a business basis when elections are not looming. Let me make this association clear so that the people outside may be well aware of the tie-up between Labour and the Communists. My friend, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), carried a brief for the Communists in an indirect way when he said that the teachings of Karl Marx, upon which communism is based, were the teachings of Christ.
– I did not say that.
– I saw the honorable gentleman adjust the halo on his head when he made that statement. Let us see how f ar it fits in with his expressed views on communism. Page 39 of the official report of the All Australian Trades Union Congress, held in 1921, contains the following statement relative to the honorable gentleman : -
He said he felt the workers of Australia had at last adopted the slogan of Karl Marx, “ Workers of the world unite “, and at last one of the dreams of his life had been accomplished.
The Minister nods his head in the affirmative. Obviously he is still of that opinion. But although he still regards the utterances of Karl Marx as Christ-like, every Christian church in the world is opposed to communism because of its antiChristian teachings. Let us consider the views of another member of the Government. The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 6th November, 1 944, to have said -
Australia should begin to think along Soviet lines in post-war planning.
These are the views of responsible Ministers of the Crown. The statement I have just read was made by a Minister who, although he is in charge of the transport services of this country, did not regard them as sufficiently good enough to carry his luggage from Brisbane to Sydney on his return from his world tour, and put the country to .the expense of providing a motor ear to do so. At a trades’ union conference at Toronto, Mr. Kennelly, Victorian organizer of the Australian Labour party, and a Minister in the Victorian Labour Government, said -
The Labour party is there to do what the trades union movement tells it to do.
The All Australian Trades Union Congress adopted the principles and planks of the Communist party. At that congress, sitting cheek by jowl with the leaders of the Labour party, was the then general secretary of .the Communist party, Mr. Jock Garden. The representatives cf Labour and communism drafted the plans to which Ministers in this Parliament now subscribe. Let us go a step further to ascertain how these fascists are tied up with the Communists. The Australian Communist Training Manual, at pages 38 and 39, states -
These members enter Parliament-
That is, the Labour members - not that they may take the machine intotheir hands but that they may destroy it.
We have had an example of that in the Speaker of the House leaving the Chair to make bitter personal attacks upon individual members of the judiciary. That is in consonance with the Communist technique of destroying the faith of the people in their democratic institutions. The All Australian Trades Union Congress in 1921, which was presided over by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), and at which were present the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), Mr. Beasley, the High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom, and the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford), recommended the establishment of a supreme economic council of nationalized industries which was to take the place of Parliament itself. The Premiers of Victoria and Western Australia subscribed to the communistic plan that the parliaments of this country should be destroyed and replaced by a supreme economic council. Recently, the supreme economic council of the Waterside Workers Federation took Australia’s foreign policy out of the hands of this Government when it decided that Dutch ships bound for Indonesia should not be loaded. But owing to the supreme economic council, the Government has been powerless to regain control of our foreign policy. Let us see how that ties up with events in the totalitarian countries.
Here we find communism cum Labour espoused. Not-withstanding the red herrings that have been drawn across the trail by the honorable member for Dalley, records prove that Labour is pledged to bring the Communist plan into effect. Honorable members opposite are pledged by their platform to socialize the means of production, distribution and exchange, and, according to the plan agreed to in 1921 at the all-Australian Trades Union
Congress, they are pledged to destroy the democratic institutions of this country. In Mein Kampf Hitler said -
There we have communism interpreted by fascist lips. There we have from the mouth of Hitler himself, the same policy that was laid down by the Communist party cum Labour party in 1921. Yet the honorable member for Dalley, who is the Speaker of the House, has the temerity to say on the floor of this chamber that the enemies of democracy are in the anti-Labour parties. The enemies of democracy are in the totalitarian States, and honorable members opposite are rapidly assuming the guise of totalitarian leaders. They have embraced the whole of the Communist technique, and their aim is to introduce some form of totalitarian administration through the projected legislation for the nationalization of the trading banks. I draw the attention of honorable members to some of the conditions of membership of the Comintern with which, I have no doubt, honorable members opposite are fully acquainted.
– Never heard of it.
– I have no doubt that if the royal commission that we seek to inquire into Communist activities, particularly within the Public Service, were appointed, we should find some very interesting revelations concerning the conduct of certain honorable members opposite and Communist leaders. The third condition of membership of the Comintern provides that every “ member-party “ should - create illegal (in addition to the legal) organizations for subversive work:
We have heard no less a person than the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) quoting a resolution of the trade union congress declaring the Communists to be enemy agents. But words do not mean anything unless they lead to action. Honorable members opposite make no contribution to a solution of the communist problem merely by talking with their tongues in their cheeks. The time for action is long overdue. Condition number 8 of Comintern membership provides that every member shall - work for the liberation of all colonial peoples and for the independence of colonies belonging to their own countries.
We all know of the action taken by the Australian Communists, supported of course by Labour, with regard to the Indonesian colonies of the Dutch Republic. We, the people of Australia, represented by the Labour Government, aided and abetted Communists in the carrying out of one of the principles laid down by the conditions of Comintern membership. Condition number eleven states that every member should - carry on Parliamentary activity before revolution was attained in the respective countries, but the Communist members of Parliament to be completely subordinated to the Central Committee of the party.
There is an illustration of the aim of the Communists to destroy our democratic institutions. Labour is tied to that aim because in 1921 it agreed that a supreme economic council should be established to take the place of Parliament. At that time Mr. Wells said, holding a pencil in his fingers, “ If that can be achieved, then parliaments would not amount to this “. And where is Mr. Wells to-day? He is one of those whom the Labour party will shortly take to its bosom. The Labour party to-day is admitting its adherence to the 1921 Communist plan by failing to take action against the supreme economic council of the Waterside Workers Federation. The appointment of conciliation commissioners under this Government’s new arbitration legislation, all pledged to give effect to Labour’s policy, indicates that they may become the leaders of the supreme economic council, to the formation of which honorable members opposite, including the Minister for Labour and National Service are pledged. Is it any wonder that members of the Labour party “will not rise in this chamber to attack their Communist brethren? Is it any wonder that they urge the honorable member for Dalley who, as Speaker, has no place on the floor of this chamber, to enter the debate and carry the banner for them? If the Government is truly opposed to communism, its supporters should have no hesitation in attacking this menace in the Parliament. If they have not the honesty to do that, let them forever remain seated and in shame.
Motion (by Mr. Holloway) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.-I wish to raise a matter that concerns the whole Parliament, andwhich in no sense can be regarded as a party political question. There is in existence to-day an organization known as the Emergency International Food Control. This body apparently decides the destination of all foodstuffs sent from Australia. I understand that it has no statutory authority here or in Great Britain, and as we should like to see the people of Great Britain get the greatest possible share of the food that we export, I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to make a statement as early as possible about its activities. If necessary we should disassociate ourselves from.it.
SirEARLE PAGE (Cowper) [3.25].- In my electorate there is a big organization that handles the whole of the vegetable and fruit industries of northern New South Wales. The secretary has been trying for some time to obtain a telephone. He has received a letter from the district telephone officer saying that there is not much chance of his receiving one in the immediate future, although one is most important in the despatch of perishable products, without sponsorship from “ the Secondary Industries Commission, the Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction, or the Secondary Industries Division of the Department of Labour and Industry of New South Wales “. It seems an extraordinary anomaly that an application for a telephone from the secretary of an organization handling the people’s food should have to be sponsored by bodies associated with secondary industries. The letter states -
I). however, you can obtain a certification in support of your application from either one of the two departments referred to, a much higher priority will be allotted to the service and the prospects of early connexion will be much enhanced.
I hope the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) will place these facts before the Postmaster-General. I suggest that, instead of sponsorship being required from a body associated with secondary industries, it should be from the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, or the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales. I hope that this matter will be dealt with speedily.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Labour and National Service - C. H. Green.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 138.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (13).
National Security (Prices) Regulations -Orders- Nos. 3079, 3080, 3082-309).
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquiredfor Postal purposes - Wynyard, Tasmania.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 139.
Science and Industry Research Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 137.
House adjourned at 3.27 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Since 1st April, 1942, Mr. Kerr has been overseas on three occasions -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Attorney-General, upon notice -
When can the honorable member for Swan expect the information regarding the Commonwealth Investigation Branch which the Attorney-General promised live months ago? The previous question read as follows: -
With reference to the question to be asked in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, 7th May, viz. Mr. Hamilton to ask the Attorney-General -
Is there in existence an organization known as the Commonwealth Investigation Service?
If so, what are its functions?
What are (a) the names, (B) designations, and (c) salaries of officers attached to the service who receive a salary of £250 a year or more?
– It is regretted that a reply was not forwarded to the honorable member while the House was in recess. The Minister acting for the AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following information : - 1 and 2. The Commonwealth Investigation Service (formerly known as the Investigation Branch, Attorney-General’s Department) has been in existence for over 30 years. The Commonwealth Investigation Service makes inquiries in relation to offences against laws of the Commonwealth. In addition, the service conducts investigations for Commonwealth departments with the exception of the Customs Department (including the Prices Branch and the Rationing Branch of that department), the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Taxation Department. The service acts as a liaison with State government departments in investigations being conducted by the States on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. Included in the Commonwealth Investigation Service is the Security Organization.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
When may the honorable member for Swan expect a reply to the question regarding the transfer of Commonwealth departments from Melbourne .to Canberra which ho asked four mouths ago, to which the Prime Minister replied, on the 4th June, that the information would be furnished as soon as practicable and the Minister for the Interior replied more than two months ago that an answer was being obtained?
– The following questions were previously asked on .this matter by the honorable member: -
The answers to these questions are as follows : -
y. - The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), on the 15th and the 22nd May, respectively, each asked a questionregarding the establishment of the whaling industry in Australia. I ami now able to inform the honorable members as follows : -
On the 20th November, 104.5, Cabinet approved of proposals for Australian participation in whaling in the southern hemisphere. Since then an officer of the Fisheries Division of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture has attended an international whaling conference. Full consideration to the general prospects of the establishment of the industry in Australia has been given by an inter-departmental committee consisting of representatives of the Department of the Treasury, Commerce and Agriculture, Supply and Shipping, Post-war Reconstruction, Repatriation and Labour and National Service. This committee recommended to Cabinet that Australia’s initial entry into the industry should be through land stations based on the Western Australian and New South Wales coasts and that, when they are established and personnel trained, further consideration should be given to pelagic operations based on Hobart. This recommendation was made in the light of the following facts: (a) Advice has been received from Britain that the building of a factory ship could not be completed until 1950. (&) The proposal to secure a factory ship as part of Japanese reparations is being investigated by the Department of External Affairs but, even if approved, there will be delay in delivery. Cabinet has accepted the committee’s recommendation and has requested the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to investigate the possibility of the establishment of a shore factory - in the first instance at Albany, Western Australia. In compliance with this request, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is at present negotiating with a Norwegian whaling expert with a view to securing his services for training personnel and advising on the construction, management and operation of the proposed shore factory.
y. - In reply to a question addressed to me on the 30th September by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) concerning General Wedemeyer’s report to President Truman, I am now able to confirm that this report has not yet been made public. I understand, however, that General Wedemeyer, on leaving China on the 24th August, issued a statement indicating that he had had success in obtaining information from all classes, deploring the spirit of defeatism in government circles and the time spent in “ blaming outside influences or in seeking outside assistance “. He also called upon the Communists to show their patriotism by ceasing to use force in imposing their ideology, and upon the Government to remove “ incompetent and corrupt officials “. He also declared that “ to regain and maintain the confidence of the people the Chinese government will have to put into force immediately drastic and far-reaching political and economic reforms. Promises will no longer suffice “. If the honorable member desires, I shall arrange for the full text of the press statement made by General Wedemeyer to be made available for his perusal.
Banking: Cost of Commonwealth” Litigation.
y. - On the 26th September, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked the following question : -
What costs wore incurred by the Commonwealth in the High Court case over section 48 of the Banking Act 1945 on (a) its own account in (i) advice, retainers, etc., (ii) court, and (iii) other expenses; and (6) account ot the litigants whose costs wore paid by the Commonwealth on the order of the High Court.
The Minister acting for the AttorneyGeneral has now supplied the following information : - 1. (a) The following legal expenses (excluding intra-departmental expenditure) were incurred by the Commonwealth as defendant in Commonwealth ais Lord Mayor of Melbourne and others and Commonwealth ais Shire of Coreen: - (i) consultations, conferences and the like prior to the hearing. £735 17s., (ii) court fees, £7 7s. Cel., (iii) other expenses e.g. briefs and retainers. £918 18s. Cd.; totaI, £I,662 3s.; (6) No bill of costs has yet been received from the solicitors for the plaintiff.
Armed Forces: Rabaul Garrison.
s. - On the 1st October, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) asked the following question : -
During the last sessional period, I asked the Minister for the Army a question concerning the payment of certain allowances to members of the Rabaul Garrison. The Minister decided that certain of these allowances should be paid. It is understood that Permanent Military force members of the Heavy Artillery marie superannuation payments throughout their period of service, whereas other members of the Permanent Military Forces had their payments made by the Government. Further, the friendly society duos of servicemen were not collected except in respect of the Rabaul Garrison. Will the Minister undertake to investigate and rectify these injustices?
I have investigated this matter and desire to advise the honorable member as follows : -
The Commonwealth accepted liability for the payment of superannuation contributions in respect of all members of the Permanent Military Forces as from 26th June, 1943. However, in the case of Permanent Military Force members who transferred to the Australian Imperial Force prior to that date, the Commonwealth accepted liability for the payment of superannuation contributions as from the date of transfer. Following on the decision to ‘ grant Australian Imperial Force status to all members of the 1941-42 Rabaul Garrison, a retrospective adjustment is being made in the accounts of Permanent Military Force members concerned as from the date of transfer to the Australian Imperial Force, in order to bring them into line with other members of the Permanent Military Forces seconded or transferred to the Australian Imperial Force who served in other theatres of war. The question of a remission of friendly society dues is a matter for arrangement between the servicemen concerned and the relative friendly society.
n. - On the 2nd October, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked a question concerning the extension of the life of current petrol tickets. The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information: -
I have examined the suggestion that the life of current petrol ration tickets should be extended for a further period of two months to permit of motorists using those tickets to obtain petrol for Christmas travel. This proposal has been considered on several previous occasions when the petrol situation was not so critical as that which exists to-day. The Commonwealth Government at the request of the British Government recently accepted an obligation to keep its overall petrol consumption within a strictly limited quantity. This necessitates the Commonwealth maintaining a careful budgetary control over the petrol consumed from month to month and such control would be considerably weakened if coupons had a currency beyond the two months which at present obtains.- In all the present circumstances I regret that I am unable to agree to the proposal.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 October 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19471010_reps_18_193/>.