18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from the 7th April (vide page 643), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That in the opinion of this House -
Communist activities in Australia are subversive. (vide page 601 ) .
– During the course of the debate yesterday a great deal of extraneous argument was adduced, and because of that I propose to read again the terms of the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), which are as follows : -
That in the opinion of this House -
Communist activities in Australia are subversive.
Communists in Australia have fomented widespread stoppages of employment, sought toweakenthe authority of the industrial law, and inflicted misery and loss upon thousands of citizens.
There is good reasonto believe that Australian Communists act in the interests of a foreign power.
Recent events in Europe have proved that Communist minorities in countries outside the Soviet Unionare organized so as to overthrow by force majority rule in those conntries.
The Government has failed to take any adequate steps to attack Communist activities in Australia or to prevent the employment of Communists by the Commonwealth.
And that, by reason of the above, the Government deserves the censure of this House.
In hisadmirable speech the right honorable gentleman demonstrated unanswerably the truth of the assertions contained in paragraphs a, b, c and d of his motion, and by way of calling witnesseshe cited members of the Australian Labour party and in particular the leaders of thatparty. He referred to definite statements made by the AttorneyGeneral (Dr.Evatt),by Mr. Junor, by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) outside of this House, and by the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Hanlon, during the strong stand which he took against Communists in Queensland. The Government, in reply, contends that the Oppositionhas no constructive suggestions to offer. To dispose of that contention, I put forward three specific con structive suggestions. The first is that a compulsory secret ballot should be taken; the second is that a royal commission be appointed to function in concert with the security officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Service and other organizations of that type, and the third is that a ban be imposed on the Communist party in order to prevent disruptive action.
I propose to deal now with the first suggestion I have put forward, namely, the taking of compulsory secret ballots, because I believe that the Communist party fears the enactment of such a provision more than anything else. At the outset I propose to say a few words with regard to the- compulsory aspect of my proposal. I do not think that that proposal can be considered to be an undemocratic one, because the introduction of compulsion is designed only to protect the interests of trade unionists themselves and to ensure that they do express their opinions, which, obviously, they have not done in the past. The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) said in his speech last night that the remedy lay in the handsof the trade unionists themselves. That istrue to a great extent, but it is equally true to say that the Government must give the unionists a lead and some definite help in that regard. The present Government of New Zealand, which is, as honorable members know, a Labour administration, thought fit to introduce legislation providing for a secret ballot of members of a trade union to be conducted before strike action was taken. That bill was passed by both Houses of the New Zealand Parliament in November of last year.
The Communists have undoubtedly seized some power in this country. One of their earlier actions was to reduce the quorum at general meetings of certain trade unions. In one case, thequorumwas reduced from fifteen to ten, with the result that that union with, a membership of 25,000 could, in effect, be controlled by ten members voting at a general meeting. In the ‘past the vote for the election of officers of a. trade union has often been taken by a show of hands, and, as’ a result, men have been treated as “ scabs “ and thrown out of employment because they dared to vote against the Communist candidates. If secret ballots were COIn.pulsory in Australia, that would be prevented.
It cannot be denied that the Communist party has had definite successes in this country, because at the present time it leads certain trade unions and controls others. Names of leading Communists that immediately come to one’s mind are Miles, Healy, “Wright, Brown and Thornton. Certain of these men are not only members of the Communist party but also members of its executive. One notable trade union which is not subject to Communist control is the Australian Workers Union, which is a shining example to the trade unionists of this country and is deserving of the congratulations of honorable members of this House. It has taken a firm stand against the Communists and in consequence is a strong and well-conducted organization. The average Australian trade unionist is n decent man who does not wish to be controlled by Communists or to see communism flourishing in this country. Communist influence is also less evident in Tasmania than in any other State.
The Minister for Information said that the growth of Communist influence in certain trade unions was due to the apathy of the unionists, who preferred to attend race meetings rather than union meetings. To some degree, I agree with that statement. But if the Government would take a constructive step and provide the machinery for a complete check of all unionists recorded that would not happen.
As an ex-serviceman, I wish also to put forward the attitude of the exserviceman. There can be no question but that the industrial unrest which has been fomented in this country has been delaying the rehabilitation of exservicemen, and that has been one of the means of inflating the value of their war gratuity and deferred pay. The Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has adopted a very definite attitude. It proposes to ban Communists from that organization. The Legion of Ex-servicemen has a ban already in force. The fundamental reason why ex-servicemen’s organizations have taken this stand is their fear of future conflict. The ex-servicemen, more than other members of the community, fear another conflict. Having just gone through a war they know how terrible it is. I believe that the leaders of the ex-servicemen’s organizations appreciate very fully that communism, both internationally and internally, is promoting conflict. Ex-servicemen have fought in two wars within our memory, and they are now fighting against the threat of further conflict. For that reason there is no question in my mind but that the average ex-serviceman is strongly opposed to communism.
In Europe at the present time there exists all the elements of another conflict. If the influence of Russia is studied by reference to a map it will be seen that, to say the least, the position is alarming. Roumania, Poland, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and the majority of the Balkan countries, have been brought under Soviet influence. In very recent times we have had the spectacle of the murder of Petkov by Dimitrov. Of a much more serious nature, I believe, for the safety of peace in this world, has been the tragedy of Czechoslovakia and the suicide of Jan Masaryk. Most thinking people are inclined to doubt that Masaryk committed suicide of his own volition. It is interesting that in Czechoslovakia one of the first actions of Gottwald when he assumed control was to pack the High Court. He dismissed certain non-co-operative members and replaced them by members sympathetic to Soviet doctrines. That is obviously one of the great factors militating against any sort of reasonable democracy there as we understand it. The significant thing, without question, at the present time is that the same old technique is becoming only too evident again. It is the same pattern as we had in. 1938 and 1939. But; more importantly, the actions of the Soviet Republics at present are more far-reaching than were those of Germany before the recent war, and therefore I consider there is a greater danger to world peace. Government members, and notably some Ministers, have said there can be no war within ten years.We all hope this is so.
– Why ten years? Why not 10,000 years?
– There exists in the world to-day a situation whereby war could come at any time. Although nobody wants to see war occur, a fact that we have to face up to most certainly, however, is the extent of Russian influence at present and it is very alarming. Soviet actions in the past, and their apparent future intentions, are such as to arouse our anxiety. Questions many people are asking to-day are: Who will be next in Europe? Will it be Greece, Turkey, Italy, Norway, or Finland?
In this country, there have been two recent notable examples of Communist activity. One was in Victoria, where a redoubtable blow was struck by Mr. Hollway, the Premier of that State, against such activity. For that, he undoubtedly earned the admiration of the average Australian. The other example occurred in Queensland, where Mr. Hanlon, a Labour Premier, earned the respect of most Australians for the very strong stand which he took against the Communists, a stand upon which I have no hesitation in congratulating him. The Prime Minister, and other members of the Government, implied that there were no Communist cells of a dangerous kind in the Public Service; yet, to give only one example, there is at Garden Island an undoubted Communist cell, the members of which even publish their own newspaper, known as the Corvette. The Prime Minister said that the strength of the Communist party in Australia had declined. Whether that is true or not, there is no doubt in my mind that the influence and activity of the Communists have not declined. On the 6th November last, a very interesting statement was made ‘by Mr. Kennelly, then a Minister in the Victorian Government.
Remarks which he made at Toronto were reported in the press as follows: -
The Australian Labour party was the “ mouthpiece of the unions - nothing more and nothing less. What the unions want, we, as a political party - as far as is practical-do. Our whole aim is to give those who produce a fair share of what they produce “.
I have named the leaders of some of the unions, and their affiliations, and the conclusion to be drawn should be obvious. The Prime Minister, in his usual style, declared, “Well, of course, what has happened overseas can’t happen here. How often have we heard that statement from the leaders of other countries, particularly in the years 1938 and 1939? At that time, the leaders of the small European countries turned a blind eye to what was going on, and paid very dearly for their blindness. There is no doubt that certain things are happening in Australia. The royal commission which inquired into the activities of Communists in Canada made it clear what was happening in that country, and as a result of investigations in South Africa, it is now clear that similar activities are taking place there. Whatever may be said about the ban imposed upon Communists in the public service in England, at least something is being clone. The speech of the Prime Minister was as negative as is his attitude towards the Communist party. One of the surprising features of the speech was what I may call hisUncleTom’scabin attitude whenhe said that there were in this country reactionary persons who were slave-drivers, who were, in effect, using whips upon the workers. It was not a very inspiring statement to make. Indeed, the Prime Minister impresses me as a person who would get comfort out of a tombstone. One thing which militates against good debate in this House is the tendency to delve into history. Too often we are told about what happened in 1850 or 1900, when what we are really concerned with is what is happening now. The Prime Minister said that nothing was actually done by parties on this side of the House to control Communist activity. As a matter of fact, a ban was imposed upon the Communist party in 1940 by a government representing parties on this side of the House, and that ban was lifted by the present Attorney-General. I quote the following newspaper report of a statement made at the time by the Attorney-General : - “ The Government has lifted the general prohibition imposed in June, 1940, on the Communist party and its press”. Thus Dr. Evatt on December 18th, 1942, and he went on to say that he had been moved by “satisfactory undertakings, entered into by certain individuals representing themselves and the Communist party “, which bound all concerned, among other things, to do their utmost to promote harmony in industry, to minimize absenteeism, stoppages, strikes or other holdups.
But what has been the record of the Communist party from that time onwards? All of us know that absenteeism and strikes have increased. Many people, like myself, have had first-hand experience of that fact. On our return from England to this country I and my colleagues, when we got off our ship, were told that Ave could not get our heavy baggage because the waterside workers had gone on strike ; and it was six weeks before we eventually got our baggage.
The Prime Minister also said that the only way to defeat communism was to bc democratic. That, of course, in a sense is true ; but if that is to be the only measure to be adopted, let us turn to the illustration recently afforded by events in Czechoslovakia to see whether they indicate that we shall arrive at a real solution of this problem by relying solely upon democracy to counter communism. The greatest argument advanced against the banning of the Communist party has been that such action would drive the Communists underground. Even if the Communists did take new names, our security officers would still know who and what such people are. Not so long ago when I asked the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) a question about a visit that was being made overseas by the Australian Reconstruction Brigade, as it was called, he replied that he could not take action on that matter. However, it was well known that that visit was a tour conducted by young Communists; and (hey were given a’ free hand to go ahead with their plans.
The Minister for Information in his speech yesterday said that there was an unbridgable gulf between the Labour party and the Communist party. Well, I suggest that there is at least a subterranean passage between them. The Minister also said that the way to destroy communism was by promoting social services. This Government often boasts about its social service programme. If its! boast is justified, and if the Minister’s argument is sound, why are the activities of Communists increasing in this country while social services are increasing? To my mind the most remarkable statement made in this debate was that made by the Minister for Information when he said, “ What happens in Europe does not concern us here “. I have never heard a more parochial statement. In fact, it was a stupid statement, because anybody who adopts a realist attitude knows that, what happened in Europe in 1938-39 mattered very greatly, indeed, to people living in this country; and it goes without saying that what is happening in Europe at present matters to Australians in many ways, in trade and possible conflict, and in many other ways. What happens in Europe, of course, does matter to us in Australia. The fact that we are an island in the Pacific does not mean that we can shut our eyes and take no notice of what is going on in the rest of the world. The Minister for Information also said that the banning of Communists would mean, a return to barbarism. I ask him whether barbarism is not now the accompaniment of the activities of Communists. The Minister also said that social inequalities are disappearing. That is quite true in this country; but it is not true in Russia where, to-day, there exists a comfortable elite whilst the rest of the people are forced down to the lowest possible level. Another noteworthy aspect of the speeches of honorable members opposite yesterday, particularly those of the Prime Minister (Mr. -Chifley) and the Minister for Information was their attitude towards the aim of the Communist party to promote class warfare. It is deplorable that such speeches should be made in this House. There is overwhelming evidence to show clearly and conclusively that this censure motion is fully justified. The professed and public aim of the Communists is to destroy our democracy which has been so hardly won and so jealously guarded over the years, and therefore, the Government must take positive measures to combat their activities.
– It is the responsibility of all honorable members to declare where they stand in relation to the motion now before us. I unhesitatingly say that I aline myself with the Government and the Australian Labour party in their attitude towards communism.
Mr. White interjecting,
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) is continually interjecting.
– I have not spoken yet.
– Order! The Chair will, no longer tolerate this attitude on the part of members of the Opposition who were completely silent while the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) was speaking. I shall name the next interjector.
– The barrenness of the motion before the House is an indication of the splendid work performed by the Government during the last five or six years. During the sittings of the Parliament before Easter important tariff schedules were before us for consideration, but it was remarkable that honorable members opposite should have used their time not to debate the tariff items or the Government’s tariff policy, but to launch an attack on the Government because of its alleged sympathy with the Communists. During the last’ two weeks I read a great deal in the press as to what the Opposition would say and do about the Government’s association with the Communist party. I had thought that an attack would be launched upon the Government with the force of atomic energy, but the motion now before us has turned out to be a complete “ dud “. The reason is not hard to find. The Government has done such a good job and its legislation has been so satisfactory that the Opposition has had to resort to subterfuge in its attempt to bring the Government into disrepute. I do not think that it will succeed. Previous speakers have pointed out that in Australia’s most desperate hour the security of this country was entrusted to a Labour government. The parties now in Opposition occupied the Treasury bench when war was declared in 1939.. Our defence preparations were inadequate and so great became the threat to our security that the then Government was forced by a vote of this House to relinquish office.
– Forced by two Judas Iscariots
– The people of this country were not all Judas Iscariots
– Order ! The honorable member for the Northern Territory heard my warning. I should not like to have him removed from the chamber.
– I am pleased that the honorable member made that interjection. He said that the previous Government had been removed from office by the votes of two Judas Iscariots But at the 1943- elections, when the threat to our shores was greatest, the people of this country showed that they were not Judas Iscariots. They voted for a Labour government. What has the Opposition to say about the Judas Iscariots of 1943 and’ 1946 ? The honorable member for the Northern Territory has cast a reflection upon the electors of Australia who had a perfect right bo decide in whose hands the safety of this country could best be assured. They declared for the Labour party. To-day, the Opposition parties, because they are at a loss to find any other reason for attacking this Government, have resorted to the old bogy of communism. The citizens of Australia were so satisfied with Labour’s war-time administration that they have continued to support Labour in the post-war period by an overwhelming majority. They will not feel complimented to be called Judas Iscariots by members of the Opposition merely because they have exercised the democratic right of electing a. government.
I dissociate myself from the Communist party. This Government and the Australian Labour party dissociate themselves from the Communist party. The Communists know that they could gain control of this country only W defeating the Labour party and securing the election of the parties now supporting this motion. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) asked why, if social services were so good in this country, the Communist party remained so active. Social services in this country are good. No one will deny that this Government has done a magnificent job for the people of Australia.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Of course you do not like that. You would like to believe-
– Order ! I ask the Minister to address the Chair and not members of the Opposition.
– Had the Government not provided unemployment and hospital benefits, and increased child endowment and age and invalid pensions, the Opposition could have attacked it on its legislative record, but that record is so good that it is forced to adopt a subterfuge in an attempt to discredit us in the eyes of the electors. Those tactics have succeeded before and the Opposition hopes that they will succeed again. But it is not only the Opposition that wants to bring about . the defeat of the Government; that desire is shared by the Communist party, which knows that the social services established by the Government are greatly appreciated by the people. The Communists know that if Labour is defeated at the next general elections and the Opposition parties again come into power social services will be slashed, unemployment insurance will go and the age and invalid pensions will be cut. There will be another depression with hundreds of thousands of Australians walking the streets looking for work.
– We have seen that before. Thousands starved in a land of plenty. In the depression we were not lacking food and clothing. Indeed, there was ample for everybody. The trouble was that people did not have the money to buy food and clothing. Commodities were wilfully destroyed because people could not buy them. That is the state of affairs that the Communists hope for again in the belief that it will attract to their ranks thousands of people who, satisfied with their lot, are now staunch adherents of the Labour party and loathethe very thought of communism. I did. not say that war would not occur again for ten years. That was said by a greaterauthority than I am, namely FieldMarshal Lord Montgomery. But, on. my own authority, I say that with the advent of another depression similar to the last we shall have communism in Australia. That is what I want the people of Australia torealize. The activities of the Communists are directed at the defeat of the Australian Labour Government in the hope that the chaos that would follow theaccession to power of honorable gentlemen opposite would result in peopleclambering over each other to join them. How the opposition parties can attempt to aline the Labour party with the Communist party is beyond me. At the last two general elections, few Opposition: members had Communists as opponents,, but when I cast my eye around the Government side of the chamber, I see many who were opposed by Communists. I could name them one after the other.
– Why does the honorable gentleman not do so?
– At each of thetwo general elections at which I was a candidate for this Parliament I was opposed by a Communist. My colleague, the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy) was opposed by a Communist candidate.
– And so was the honorable member for Hume.
– Yes. Most honorable members on this side of the House had Communist opposition. It is safe tosay that 75 per cent, of the Labour party’s candidates are opposed by Communist candidates at elections. Oan honorable members opposite say tho same thing ?
– They cannot. I challenge them to produce evidence that 75 per cent, of their candidates are opposed by Communists. They have the “.Corns” on their side. The “Corns” oppose us continually. Why do they not oppose honorable members opposite? The facts I have stated are sufficient to prove that the Communists are not on. the side of the Labour party. They are fighting us and they are with the Opposition parties.
I put another proposition to the House. Where do we find the Communist party enthroned in the capital cities of Australia? Listen to what I have to say and do not interrupt, because this is worth thinking about. Do we find the Communists enthroned in the trades halls of Australia’s capital cities? No. Where do we find them in Sydney? We find them in a big building in George-street. That building was owned by one of the greatest tories in Australia, one of those whom honorable members opposite represent in this House. If the Opposition and its supporters were sincere in their desire to ban the Communists, why did they sell the four-story Green Coupon building in George-street to the party? Why also did they sell to it another building at North Shore near the Harbour Bridge? Those buildings were not sold to the Communist party by members of the Australian Labour party.
Mr. Gullett interjecting ,
– The honorable member says that they were. He would not know. The buildings were sold to the Communist party by men who support the Liberal party. In South Australia, the State where I live, the Communist party’s offices are to be found in a building owned by the family of a member of the Legislative Council who is opposed to the Labour party. There is no sincerity-
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! I shall not warn the honorable member for Henty and others again. It is distinctly unfair to listen in silence to speeches from one side of the House but not to speeches from the other side of the House.
– But the Minister addresses us.
– Order ! If the honorable member interjects again I shall name him.
– The “Corns” in Australia are housed not by members of the Australian .Labour party, but by men wHo support the Opposition parties. The
Communists have no accommodation, in any trades hall. They cannot get offices in those buildings.
– They are all in with the capitalists.
– That is so. If honorable members opposite sincerely wanted to ban the Communist party, they could say to the Communists, “ We will not sell you any property or rent any offices to you “’. If they did so they would see how long it would take to get rid of the “ Corns “.
The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) contended that compulsory voting in trade unions would be one way of ousting the Communists from control of such organizations. I shall be quite frank. I favour compulsory voting for the election of executive officers in the trade union movement of Australia. However, that is not the responsibility of this Government. If the industrialists want compulsory voting, they can have it. They can decide the matter for themselves. The honorable member also said that the Australian Legion of Ex-service Men and Women had decided not to admit Communists to membership of their league^ or party as it might be called. Neither will the Australian Labour party do so. It made that .decision long ago. Long before the ex-servicemen’s organizations acted the Australian Labour party refused to accept Communists as members.
I do not consider that it is necessary for me to offer any further evidence in support of my attitude. I have proved conclusively that the Australian Labour party has no association with the Communist party, and the evidence which I have adduced will be accepted by every sensible Australian. The Leader of the Opposition submitted this motion in the hope that he would be able to hoodwink the people of Australia into believing that they stand in dire peril from the Communist party, and, in fear, would vote against the Labour Government at the next election. The truth is that the Communists batten on the Labour party, and do everything in their power to defeat it. They hope that with the rejection of the Labour Government, a Liberal-Australian Country party Coalition Administration will be in office for approximately a year, and that an artificial economic and financial depression will be created so that hundreds of thousands of Australians will be unemployed, as they were in the early 1930’s. At that stage the Communists hope that so many Australians will be disgusted with other political parties that they will become supporters of the Communist party. That is the objective of the propaganda of the Communists, and I warn the Australian people against it.
– The Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers), who worked himself into a frenzy in defending the Communists against an attack by members of the Opposition, has, as usual, rendered them a valuable service while pretending to assail them. His speech strongly defended the Government’s policy of “do nothing”. The Minister for the Army, I remind the House, is responsible for the defence of Australia in the event of war, and our only potential enemy is Soviet Russia. Several statements which the Minister made call for comment. He said that the Communists attack the Australian Labour party. He endeavoured to prove that the Labour party does not secure any support from them. I hold in my hand a book entitled Communists in Congress. It is the report of the speeches of members of the Australian Communist party in congress, in August, 1945. I read an extract from the speech by Mr. R. Dixon, one of the leading Communists in Australia -
At the last elections in 1943, we set out to ensure the election of a Labour government with a clear majority.
Does that square with the Minister’s statement that the Labour party does not derive any support from the Communist party? Mr. Dixon also stated -
Naturally our second preferences will go to Labour candidates.
Yet, the honorable gentleman, who owes his office as Minister for the Army virtually to the general support of Communists for the Government in many electorates, denies that the Labour party has their assistance. The disciple, Peter, also denied his Master. The evidence which I have adduced effectively answers the claim that the Labour party is not affiliated with or does not receive support from the Communists.
The Minister for the Army raised another important point which every thinking Australian should carefully consider. He remarked that the Communists are purchasing large buildings in our principal cities, and that property valued at tens of thousands of pounds is being sold to them by the capitalists. But the point which he missed and which will occur to thinking Australians is, where do the Communists obtain the necessary money? The Communist party, whose members, according to the reports of security officers, number less than 20,000r most of whom have the backsides out of their pants, is able to purchase property to the value of tens of thousands of pounds. The Communist party has acquired buildings in George-street, Sydney, broadcasting stations and newspapers. That is something which neither party on this side of the House can afford to do, and something which is beyond the financial resources of even the Australian Labour party itself. Where does the money come from? Who provides the funds to enable it to buy properties? Is the money coming from members of the Communist party in Australia; if not, from whence does it come ? That is the question which members of the Opposition are continually asking of the Government, and because we know the answer we know that the Communist party in Australia is a subversive organization which is acting as the treacherous agent of a foreign power, which is also a potential enemy. It is not necessary for any one to mention the country to which I refer, because all the world knows that it is Soviet Russia. When members of the Communist party act in Bulgaria, in India, or in Brazil, their acts are exactly similar; they say the same things in the same familiar circumstances, and obviously their propaganda emanates from a central source. For that reason members of the Opposition say unhesitatingly that the Australian Communist party is a subversive organization, whose aims are an ti- Australian, and whose principal object is to undermine every fundamental principle and liberty which we enjoy. We say that the time has come to take decisive action; we must take action or succumb, just as other countries have succumbed. In the present hour of crisis the Government which is in control of the affairs of the nation is led by two right honorable gentlemen who are so committed, because of their previous history and actions, that they cannot take any effective action. I refer to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), and I propose to explain roy reference to them. Had it not been for the speech delivered by the Prime Minister yesterday I should not have mentioned this matter, because I have no desire to rake up the past or to canvass the industrial happenings of 30 years ago. However, the Prime Minister chose to throw his record into the ring. He said, in effect, “ I am more or less actuated by my experiences in 1917. I have been elevated to the position of Prime Minister of this country from that of a humble engine driver because of the victimization which I suffered as the result of a strike in 1917”. The Prime Minister has, therefore, invited us to examine the history of the strike of 1917 and his Own part in it. When we examine his record the reason why the Prime Minister is unable to take any effective action at this juncture becomes crystal clear. It also explains why he was unable to take any action to assist Mr. Hanlon in Queensland, or to assist the Premier of Victoria in the industrial disturbance which recently occurred in that State. His record is so vulnerable that he would have been charged with hypocrisy by the Communists if he had taken any action to assist either the Premier of Victoria or the Premier of Queensland.
Let us recall for a moment the circumstances surrounding the 1917 strike. I have consulted a number of documents in order to verify my statements. I have referred to the historical works of Jose, Scott and C. E. W. Bean, The History of the Labour Movement, written by Dr. Evatt, the present Attorney-General, and a number of other documents. As we all know, World War I. commenced in 1914 and reached its peak of intensity in 1916 and 1917; the darkest days of the war were in 1917. In August of that year the battle of the Menin Road was fought, and no doubt many Australians remember the memorial at Menin Gate, which was. erected on the road along which thousands’ of them passed. On the battlefields in that area thousands of Australians lost their lives. In August, 1917, when the’ critical struggle for possession of the Menin Road began the Independent Workers of the World and other extremist organizations in New South Wales precipitated a general strike in that State. The disturbance commenced with a strike by railway and tramway employees, allegedly because of the introduction by the Railway Commissioners of New South Wales of the Taylor card system, the purpose of which was to ascertain the cost of’ production of work carried out in railway and tramway workshops. The employees objected to the introduction of the card system, claiming that it was an attempt to “ speed up “ their operations. The Government of New South Wales and the Railway Commissioners of that time appealed to the employees to give the system a trial for three months. I again remind’ the House of the critical situation confronting the Allies in France at that time. The response of the unions concerned in the railway and tramway dispute to the appeal of the Government was to issue an ultimatum to the Railway Commissioners demanding the withdrawal of the card system, failing which, a strike would be proclaimed. The Fuller Government stood firm, just as the Hanlon Governm’en t stood’ firm recently in Queensland, and insisted on the card system being given a trial for three months, provision being made that the system was to be reviewed: at the .expiration of that period. The unions concerned then proclaimed a strike. Within a few weeks the railway and tramways systems were dislocated. About 53. per cent, of railway and tramway employees struck, and the remainder, including salaried officers and others, stood to their posts. The State Government called for volunteers to maintain the transport system, and the wharf labourers and coal miners then went on strike, as they did in similar circumstances in Queensland a few weeks ago. In response to the Government’s call for volunteers, farmers came down to Sydney, and other citizens in various parts of the State rallied to the support of the constituted authority. The New South Wales
Government encamped 6,000 men at the Sydney Showground and at Taronga Park, and requisitioned all transport lorries, which it manned with volunteers. It was a time of war and the New South “Wales Government promised those who remained loyal to the constituted authority and assisted it at that critical juncture, that it would guarantee them continuity of employment when the strike ended. That is the “ victimization “ to which the Prime Minister complains he was subjected. He went out on strike and stayed out on strike. Along with thousands of other railway employees he was given the opportunity of carrying out his duty by the then Premier of New South “Wales. [ stress the parallel between the circumstances existing at the time Sir George Fuller made his aPpeal to railway men and those which obtained recently when the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Hanlon, appealed to the railway men of that State. This is what Sir George
Fuller said in 1917-
There is in this State a limited number of men who, for the time being, are in control of unions and who have lost all sense of patriotism and responsibility, and who are deliberately contributing to the success of our enemies.
The Prime Minister was in the other camp at that time. Sir George Fuller went on to say -
The time has come for the people of this State to take a stand against them.
That is what Mr. Hanlon said a few weeks ago.
There is yet time to avoid a bitter struggle. The door is still open for the reinstatement of sensible men.
The Prime Minister said he was victimized because he did not accept that offer.
This door will be closed to many if they persist in their present attitude.
Sir George Fuller called for volunteers when the railway engines were, in many instances, left by their drivers standing on the main railway lines and when the transport services of New South “Wales, that were required to carry food from the country districts for shipment to England and to our own troops overseas, were at a standstill. The patriotic people in the State came forward in their thousands, and eventually the strike was broken, with the support of the general public, as it was broken recently in Queensland.
That was the strike in which the Prime Minister was involved, and that was when the bitterness entered his soul. In 1917, he had to return to his engine and suffer the penalties of having been engaged in an illegal strike. Is it not clear why the right honorable gentleman takes no action when a strike occurs in any industry, and particularly in the transport industry? It is not because he is spineless, as many people allege, but because he is secretly in sympathy with those who are breaking the law by engaging in the strike. The right honorable gentleman revealed his attitude yesterday afternoon, when he said his mind went back to what he had suffered as a result of the 1917 strike. That is the reason for the introduction of the bank nationalization and other legislation. Honorable members opposite may laugh, but I asert that in framing many of his policies, the Prime Minster is actuated by a desire to “ get even “ with the forces that dealt with him 30 years ago. That was made clear by his own statement.
The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) is also involved. In 1924, the right honorable gentleman wrote a book on the 1917 strike. He has written many book? since then and each of them has been quoted at some time in order to discomfit him. In 1924, when he wrote in defence of the 1917 strike, the AttorneyGeneral was a rising young barrister, looking for selection as a Labour candidate. He thought that was a good way in which to achieve his objective.
The country is being disrupted by strikes and industrial disorders of all kinds. Most of them are not directed against capitalists, as the Prime Minister seemed to allege, but against Labour governments. The strike in Queensland was directed, not against oppressive capitalists, but against the Labour Administration that had been in power there for 30 out of 33 years. At a time when firmness is needed in Canberra, there are two men at the helm. One is the Prime Minister, an ex-striker and a victimized man, as he says himself, and the other is the Attorney-General, who wrote a book in support of those who let the country down in 1917. I say “let the country down “ because 1917 was a most dangerous period of the war; it was a time when the Germans were in the ascendant, and when every man was needed.
The Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral ask honorable members on this side: “What positive steps would you take if you were in office? You are not making any suggestions. You have not even said that you will ban the Communist party if you come into office “. We should declare them an illegal organization, as we did in 1940. The policy of both the Australian Country party and the Liberal party, as proclaimed throughout the land, is to take the fight into the Communist camp instead of allowing them to take it, not into our camp, but into the home of every housewife in the country.
Much has been said in . praise of the attitude recently adopted by Mr. Hanlon, and I give him credit for the fact that he defended the arbitration system by telling the men that if they returned to work their cases would be considered by the Arbitration Court and that no wage increase would be granted in any other manner. Mr. Hanlon went further and secured the enactment of an anti-picketing law designed to enable those who were willing to work to do so. I was in Brisbane when that legislation was enforced by the police. The Communists, who were trying to prevent employees of the Shell Company of Australia Limited from resuming and were prevented by the police from so doing, fled in disorder, crying: “Is this a free country”? They did that when they were trying to prevent free men from following their chosen occupations. Much credit is due to Mr. Hanlon, but the example was set by the Premier of Victoria and the Leader of the LiberalCountry party Government of that State. Early this year there was a similar strike in Victoria, and within a few days of its outbreak the Premier called an emergency meeting of the Victorian Parliament. As a result, the Essential Services Act, 1948, was passed, andI propose to read a. portion of it as a suggestion to the Government regarding the handling of industrial disorders. Section 10 reads -
If a strike or similar interruption occurs in any essential service, unless at a secret ballot held by the Chief Electoral Officer before the strike or interruption commences and in accordance with the regulations under this section a majority of persons entitled to vote is declared to have voted in favour of such strike or interruption, every person who and the trustees of any trade union which or any officer of which instigates or takes part in such a strike or interruption shall be liable -
in the case of an officer or the trustees of a trade union to a penalty of not more than one thousand pounds;
in the case of any other person to a penalty ofnot more than fifty pounds.
That is not oppressive action against trade unionists The act provides that if, following a secret ballot, strike action is decided upon by a majority of the members of a trade union, such a strike shall he recognized by the government. Honorable members on this side of the House, most of whom have risen to their present positions in life by the hard route, do not believe the trade unionists or anybody else should be dealt with oppressively. In common with many other honorable members on this side I have worked with my hands for a long time in this country. It is probably correct to say that 98 per cent. of the citizens of Australia have at some time or other, been in the category ofworkers.
As the Government asks for suggestions, I draw attention to what happened in Victoria recently. Within three days a strike which threatened to disrupt industry was over and the men were back at work. The Communist leaders of the wharf labourers and the seamen had declared that they would tie up every ship and all industry in the State; yet within three days the strike had collapsed. Does the Government need anything further than the knowledge that when Premier Hanlon stood firm in Queensland, he won? Obviously, the only thing to do is for a government to stand firm, and show that the elected representatives of the people intend to rule. That is the answer to the Government’s request for suggestions. But it is something which the present Government will never do. Instead, various Ministers rise to defend the Communists. Of course, no Minister has done that directly. First, he disavows the Communists and says that their influence in the country has been exaggerated, i suggest that the shortage of houses and materials and the hold-up of the export of goods for Great Britain are not negligible matters which can be regarded as the work of a very insignificant minority in this country. The Attorney-General says that the authorities have records of all the Communists in Australia. “Within twenty-four hours,” he says, “we could round up every Communist in this country “. But it took the authorities in Queensland a fortnight to get hold of Rowe, and then not until he surrendered himself. The statement that the police of this country could round up every Communist in twentyfour hours is too ridiculous for words. The Attorney-General is also the Minister for External Affairs. Let us see what the Communists have done to our international trade. They have taken the foreign policy of Australia out of the hands of the Government. That was shown in connexion with our relations with the Netherlands. They tied up every Dutch ship with which we could have obtained oil from the East Indies. That policy was in force, not for a day, or a week, or a month, but has operated ever since the end of the war. For over two years a Dutch ship has not sailed from Australia to the Netherlands. The right honorable gentleman disavowed the Communists at first, but at Lake Success and at various United Nations conferences his vote has been east against the Dutch. He has voted for the Communists, and his reward is the support of the Communists in his elect-orate. I shall have more to say ob this subject during the debate on international affairs. I have the right honorable gentleman’s record and particulars of every vote that he has cast. In the main, every vote that he registered at Lake Success was for Soviet Russia and the Communist policy. Let us examine his record in respect of the Netherlands. First, he said that the Communist party had no right to ban the Dutch ships, but when it was a question of recognizing the Indonesian Republic and deciding between Soekarno, Sjahrir, and other collaborators with the Japanese during the war and our gallant Dutch allies, who lost many men and ships in the de. fence of Australia, and of the allied cause, he cast his vote for Soekarno and Sjahrir. In spite of that he has told this House that he is against communism in Australia. He is against nothing, unless he thinks it will imperil his party. That its policy is largely dictated by the support it gets from the Communists will be shown at the forthcoming referendum. In the 1943 referendum we had Chandler, Jeffreys and Wright, three of the leading Communists of Australia, in joint control, with the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General, of the campaign for a “ Yes “ vote. In the forthcoming referendum every Communist in the country will be out on the platform urging a “ Yes “ vote so that all power shall ultimately be centralized in Canberra. The Communists virtually have control of the Parliament now, despite all denials.
As Sir George Fuller said in 1917, thilawabiding people of this country should accept the challenge and meet the Communists on their own ground.
– This debate has clearly demonstrated that the Communists are assisted in their attempt to secure power by the application of methods of oppression against them, and that they are best f ought in tha open with the weapons of social democracy. In the past, that view has been stated by the best minds on the Opposition side of the House, and it is, I am sure, still their opinion. I believe that the motion now before the House proceeds, not from any genuine belief on the part of Opposition members that the banning of the Communist party would weaken or destroy it, but from a desire to destroy the Labour party. It is true that both Opposition parties have now joined hands in a move to secure the banning of the- Communist party, and it is also true that the Communists themselves, by their unscrupulous and unprincipled tactics, have made sure that this campaign will find a ready response, even within the Labour movement itself, and that, therefore, it may be used as a weapon for the destruction of the Labour party and for the restoration of the financial control of the Commonwealth to private profit-making hands. Should that move succeed the result would be the creation of those conditions of depression and despair in which the Communist method can succeed and allow Communists to rise to power in this country. One thing is certain; that with the destruction of the Australian Labour party and of the programme of social reform and progress for which stands., the greatest bulwark against communism in this country would be destroyed. The leaders of the Communist party themselves ar,e well aware of that. They know that ultimately, it is only by weakening and destroying the Labour party that they can ever have a chance of gaining power in this country. The Labour party in Australia stands for the freedom of political association. On the other hand, the Opposition parties, by joining in the movement for the suppression of political opposition, have robbed themselves of the right to go before the Australian people as the upholders of the principles of democracy. The banning and suppressing of political opponents is contrary to every democratic conception of the Australian people. To declare a political party unlawful is a course of action opposed to all our political practices. Is it not just those very things - the banning of rival parties, the liquidating of political opponents, the suppression of opinion and the regimenting of the public to shout the right slogans- -which we are condemning to-day in Czechoslovakia, and in so many other Communist-dominated countries? For example, should the Liberal party be suppressed and banned in Australia because it is alleged that it is financed by American and other foreign business interests operating in Australia ?
But,, -of course, it is argued that the Communist party is not a political party in the true, sense; that it is, instead, the agency of a foreign government, and that its members are committed to weaken Australia in order to strengthen Russia. That being so, what advantage would be gained by banning it as a political party ? By prohibiting the use of the name “ Communist “, and by formally disbanding its membership, could we be satisfied that we had removed the’ menace? Alf we should have done would be to destroy the visible and outward evidence of that menace. AH the members of the organization would still remain, still be at liberty, and still be free to pursue those treasonable courses with which they are charged. It would be impossible, by the mere act of prohibiting the use of the name “ Communist “, or by suppressing the Communist party as a political organization, to prevent the members of that party from continuing their activities. But what such action could and would do is to drive communism underground, to invest it with the false glamour of a resistance movement, to make martyrs of the Communists, and to attach to them and their doings the mystery and excitement of a secret society, which is the breath of life to many young people. If a government went that far, it would have to go farther. The next step would be the establishment in Australia of concentration camps into which people denounced at midnight by their neighbours could be placed on suspicion of being Communists or Communist sympathizers, or of being opposed to the present state of society. “We could very soon have a horrible witch-hunt in Australia, and with the adoption of such methods there would be a complete end to democracy.
Since we believe in the rule of law, 1 maintain that the way to deal with those who are alleged to be engaged in subversive activity is to charge them with an offence against the law, to produce the evidence against them, and to have them dealt with in open court by a judge and jury, irrespective of what political label is attached to them. History affords no example of a live political movement having been killed, or even seriously hampered, by persecution. On the con.trary, all the evidence– and most recently the evidence of the resistance movements in Hitler Europe - suggests that persecution closes the ranks of the persecuted,’ and calls forth new reserves of energy and fanaticism. It is true that the banning of the Communist party would impede its activities in various ways, but it is extremely unlikely that such’ a ban would succeed in its object of destroying, or even effectively weakening, the present influence of communism in this country.
But even granted, for the sake of argument, that a ban would have the desired effect, how could it be justified? The advocates of the ban take their stand on two points : They say, first, that the Communists are potential traitors because of their leaning towards, or loyalty to, the Soviet Union. They further say that the political philosophy of communism is totalitarian; that its members cannot claim political freedom in this country because they themselves are out to destroy that political freedom. There is evidence to support both those charges, and they constitute very powerful arguments, but if the Communists are traitors because they favour Soviet Russia in the present world struggle, are the Liberals traitors because they favour the United States of America in the struggle between th>.j United States of America and Soviet Russia? It is argued that the Communists, by their behaviour in 1940, showed that their loyalty could not be trusted in time, of war, but even this is hardly conclusive. Imagine the impossible - that a Communist-dominated government comes to power in Australia by peaceful, democratic methods, and joins the Soviet side in a world war. Would not Liberals consider it their moral duty to sabotage the war effort of such a government, to do their utmost to destroy the duly constituted government of the country? The first argument, in fact, rests upon the second. Its force is self-evident only on the assumption that communism must be fought by all available means, if necessary, by war. That is the position in which those who favour a ban on the Communists have placed themselves.
The second argument goes to the very root of the problem of democracy. Can an undemocratic movement claim the protection of democratic principles ? It has been argued by many acute observers that the Weimar Republic died because it interpreted it9 democratic principles too literally. The argument is that it dug its own grave by extending the privileges nf n liberal democracy to the Nazi movemont which was quite incapable . of accepting those principles or abiding by them. That argument may be valid. However, against it must be placed the fact which I suggest we cannot shirk, hut to which all democratic advocates of the ban on communism appear to be strangely blind, that that is itself a denial of the basic tenents of liberal democracy to which we at present adhere. Liberal democracy with its principles of political toleration of minority opinion, freedom of speech and freedom to engage in all peaceful forms of political activity, rests upon the fundamental assumption of the rationality, or, better still, the commonsense of the ordinary man. It rests on the assumption that in the clash of political movements and conflicting views the truth will ultimately prevail, that in a free society a majority of the people will not be persuaded into worshipping false gods. Much has happened in the world in recent times to shake our faith in that philosophy; but if that philosophy is to be abandoned, if we -are willing to put that concept away from us, let us abandon it openly rather than beat the retreat hypocritically mumbling pious phrases from the catechism of nine- teenth century liberalism.
The test of liberal principles is to be found not in being tolerant towards minorities whom we judge to be harmless, but in being tolerant, and having the courage of our tolerance, towards our political opponents who are inconvenient, or in our opinion politically outrageous. There is bitter irony in the fact that the advocates of the suppression of the Communist party are proposing to do exactly what the Communists themselves have always said they will do when they assume power in either this or any other country. How little some of the advocates of the ban care for democracy was neatly illustrated the other day when- one of our great dailies found nothing incongruous in demanding on page 2 the suppression of communism, but on page 3 under the heading “ Gag on Free Thought; Soviet Move “ praised the United Nations conference for rejecting a Soviet proposal to deny freedom of expression to “ all those advocating facist propaganda and aggression “. Can it be right to grant freedom of speech to fascists but wrong to allow it to Communists?
What, then, can be done to counter the influence of communism in this country if we reject the method of suppression and the method of the ban? I suggest that the answer can be found by examining the reasons for Communist successes in recent years in various countries. One reason, probably, on the whole quite a minor one, has been the Communists’ use of chicanery; and the answer here is surely simple. Whilst suppression would be a surrender of democratic principles, there is nothing undemocratic in strengthening the institutional framework of democracy, the rules of the game of political behaviour. The methods adopted by the British Government in 1937 in dealing with the Fascist movement provide an example of what can be done in this respect. The Fascists in Great Britain continued to enjoy the normal privileges of democratic political action, but techniques, such as political uniforms and other techniques of that kind were prohibited. On similar grounds there might be a case for the application of the secret strike ballot in this country. But a far greater reason for the spread of the Communist influence has been that the Communists have been able to persuade so many people in the, countries in which they have come into power that social reforms and economic progress can never be achieved by democratic methods in the face of powerful opposition by vested class interests. Here, the answer to the Communists is to prove them to the people to be wrong in that respect. It may not be possible to convince dogmatic Communists that what is achieved peacefully and by parliamentary methods may be worthwhile, but it should, unquestionably, be possible to convince the masses of the people of Australia that the Australian Labour party means business in its advance towards true social democracy. With the people of Australia so persuaded there would be no possibility whatever of any totalitarian movement, from either the right or the left, gaining any support in this country.
Finally, and perhaps most important of nil, the Communists have been able to obtain an influence quite out of proportion to their numbers by the selfsacrificing devotion of their members to the cause, and by the fanatical energy of each individual who is admitted to the ranks of their party. A democracy. of disciplined fanatics would be a contradiction in terms, but a democracy which, neglects the political education of its citizens and which is unable to arouse at least a substantial minority to keen participation in its political life cannot expect to withstand an aggressive and unscrupulous minority. Here, also, the remedy is obvious; and it is one for each of us in this country to apply for himself.
Should this move for a ban on the Communist party succeed to-day, there is nothing more certain, than that tomorrow the Australian Country partywould move to place a ban upon the Australian Labour party. Which member of the Australian Country party opposite will deny that? The Australian Country party, itself, has made repeated charges, and has told the Australian people that the Australian Labour party is riddled with communism, that the Labour party is in bondage to Commuists, takes orders from Communists and is a mere tool of the Communist party. That being so, that being the charge made by the Australian Country party, what answer has any member of that party in this chamber to the statement that if it to-day succeeded in having a ban placed upon the Communist party it would next move for a ban on the Australian Labour party? Either the Australian Country party is false to its own beliefs, or does not believe the charges it makes; or, indeed, it is prepared to proceed to ban not only the Communist party, but also the Australian Labour party, which it claims is riddled and controlled by Communists. Where is the Country party’s answer to that charge ?
I do not suggest that it would end there. Once these gentlemen, with their complete distrust of democratic methods and their lust to shoot down and silence their opponents, had their way, the day would come - probably in the first, or second, year of office of the AbbottAnthony government of national unity in this country, and long after the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) had been liquidated for having, perhaps, expressed some doubts about the course of action it was pursuing - when even the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) would be arrested and led off to a concentration camp for having expressed doubts about the wisdom ofa decreeforbidding the children of the workers the right to learn to read.That would be a logical development of the ideas expressed in this House by the honorable member for New England and the honorable member for Richmond.
.- We have just listened to a fantastic story from the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr.Fraser). He directed his remarks against the Australian Country party, whose members, I have mo doubt, will answer him effectively. I have not previously heard such fantastic nonsense. Itakeitthatthehonorable member was speaking for the Government. Of course, wecanonly surmise that he was, because hehas a habit of expressing one view in this House and the opposite view in. press interviews. He is an apologist for theCommunist party. We waited in vain to hear Kim utter one word of strong condemnation of the Communists. He analysed theCommunist policy and told us all about theCommunists ; but he did not give the slightest indication of what action he, or the Government, proposed totake in order to deal with the menace of communism. World War II., which theGovernment has repeatedly claimed to have won - in passing we should perhaps mention that our ex-servicemen also played their part - was fought to preserve our democratic way pf life. This way of life suited us and was ofour own choosing. That is why we fought to retain it.. The men and women who fought for Australia had no desire to have a foreign wayof life imposed upon them. The majority of our ex-service men and women sincerely hoped that on their return from the war they would live in a better world. I only have to cast back my mind to my own very limited war experiences to recall that we had plenty of time to discuss these things. We did so, I am afraid, rather idealistically, and perhaps with too much hope and optimism. I have no doubt that in prison camps, too, there was the same feeling among our men that if they got back to Australia they would ensure that our democratic institutions would be preserved. The young men who returned fromthe war were all imbued with the same strongbeliefinourfuture. They wereconvinced that steps would be taken to ensure that never again would the world witness a repetition of the events which took place in the years proceeding 1939, when democratic and peace- loving nations wereso weak as to be unable to withstand the forces of fascism and nazi-ism. The Government has not the excuse that it isblind to the real facts because many of its members and supporters have vigorously denounced communism. At the last EasteT conference of the Australian Labour party held in Melbourne, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), no doubt speaking for his Government, comparing the present wave of communism in Europe with the wave of nazi-ism andfascism which followed World War I.,said that he was very alarmed by it. According to the Labour organ, the Standard, the right honorable gentleman said that communism was sweeping through Europe to-dayas fascism and nazi-ism had swept through it. Well may he have done so because the Government is aware ; that the technique followed in European countries was almost identical in reach case and that the same technique of disruption and infiltration is being practised in this country with the same objective. I ask honorable members to visualize what is happening behind the iron curtain in countries which are in darkness. We are vitally concerned with what is happening and what has happened in Europe. No longer oan we think of Australia as merely an isolated island. We must profit by the dreadful lessons we have learned.
It has been stated in the press that the Government had declared that no Communists of any significance are employed in the Commonwealth public service. This ostrich-like attitude is not justified because responsible men have told the true story. Concern at the activities o,f the Communists was manifest at the Easter conference of the Australian Labour party. The Prime Minister spoke about the “ wave of communism in Europe “, and at the same conference Mr. Ward, of the Postal Workers Union, is reported by the Standard to have said -
He wanted to tell the Postmaster-General that there was a Communist cell within his department.
Mr. Ward is also reported to have said -
In the event of war Senator Cameron might find some of his communications not too good.
That ambiguous phrase “not too good” may be interpreted as meaning that a plan for the complete destruction of all communications has been drawn up by the Communists in the event of a war against Russia. Communists in key positions in the Postmaster-General’s Department will put the plan into effect. If Communists are employed in one government department we are entitled to assume that they are employed in all others. In a report presented to the Government the security officers are stated to have claimed that they could round up all dangerous Communists in Australia within 24 hours. Yet, it took the police nearly a week to find one miserable Communist, Mr. Rowe, who had defied the court. In a press interview reported in the Sunday Telegraph of the 28th March last, Mr. R. Dixon, secretary of the Communist party said -
I do not think the police have the slightest chance of catching up with Mr. Rowe. The Communist party is in complete agreement with the action Mr. Rowe has taken. He is doing a job for his union and for the men who are out ‘on strike. Mr. Rowe will show up in due course, when the Disputes Committee considers that his appearance will strengthen the position. In the meantime, he will continue to exercise his influence on the direction of the Queensland strike.
There is a flat statement by the Communist party which says, “ Go and get your man if you can. We shall look after him and he will carry on as before.” Mr. S. Moran, a prominent Communist, speaking in the Sydney Domain on the 2Sth March last, is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald to have said -
I would be ashamed of the Communist party if it could not hide one man from the .police. Some of these police could not trace an elephant in the snow even if he wore gum boots. To-day they are the hunters; to-morrow it will be our turn.
The contempt of the Communists for the police and for our democratic institutions is well known. The security officers have reported that the Communists are not dangerous because their numbers are insignificant. This view is apparently held by the Government, which ignores the fact that the Communist party has never been numerically strong in any country.
Even in their beloved homeland, Russia, the Communists represent only from 7,000,000 to 9,000,000, of a total population of hundreds of millions. The Communists depend not on the strength of their numbers, but on organization.
A great deal has been said about the banning of the Communist party. It has been suggested that if the ban were imposed it might drive the Communists underground. It has also been said that one ‘ cannot suppress a political party because, when suppressed, minority parties tend to grow stronger rather than weaker. The policy of the Liberal party is clear and definite on this issue. The Liberal party stands four-square with the Australian Country party in a strong determination to ban the Communist party. The Communists have no difficulty in obtaining telephone installations, notwithstanding the shortage of telephone equipment, or liberal rations of petrol. Telephones are very scarce and, like most other honorable members, I could bring to the notice of the Postmaster-General a long list of deserving applicants who, so far, have not been able to have these instruments installed. I speak particularly of country areas where a telephone is not a luxury but a necessity. Petrol, too, is a necessity in the outback districts. It is strange indeed that telephones should be made available so readily to the Communist party whilst deserving Australians are unable to obtain them.
What is the Government doing? It will not ban the Communist party because it claims that communism is a political philosophy. But it has been shown clearly by the admissions of the Communists themselves that communism is something more than a political philosophy. There may be some philosophy about it, but there is a lot more besides. The Communists are a gang of potential murderers not only of political institutions, but also of individuals. The Government is aware of this menace but it remains inactive. It is aware also that public opinion strongly favours action against the Communist party. A recent Gallup poll - they are claimed to be accurate to within per cent.- has shown very clearly that there is a strong demand in the community for some definite action against the Communists.
The Government should assist the people of this country in every possible way. It claims to represent the people and it should carry out their wishes. It should also help the trade union movement to rid its ranks of Communists.Whatever our beliefs may be, and however loath we may be to ban an organization in this country, the time has come when the Communist party has forfeited its right to complete freedom of action, and must be banned. We must cheek the constant stream of clever, pernicious, and hypocritical propaganda which is poisoning the minds not only of adults hut also of the youth of this country. The objectives of the Communist party are not humanitarian. Its members make a clever appeal to the people by proclaiming their intention to carry out slum clearance work and so on. They say that they are for the people. But we know that to be pure “ eyewash “ used to cover their sinister objective of world domination.
. It is not sufficiently recognized that the Labour party is a parliamentary party. Our parliamentary system of course works by majority rule and that is why the Labour Government is in possession of the treasury bench to-day. Being a parliamentary party, the Labour party too is governed by a majority. Within the Parliament, questions are determined by a count of heads, the “ ayes “ passing to the right of the Chair, and the “ noes “ to the left. That is how democracy works. That is the only way it can work. Minorities too are represented in the Parliament, and their voices are heard, but they are unable to achieve very much because of their lack of numbers. Minorities are entitled to recognition. Sometimes they are regarded as cranks, but very often these so-called cranks represent very enlightened opinions. Minorities must be represented because they are minorities and because eventually they may win their way into favour and prevail. Democracy is the way of working by a count of heads. Communism is against arbitration. I take it that that will not be denied. The Labour party favours arbitration. I favour arbitration. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) went to the country on the issue of arbitration and had an overwhelming victory in favour of arbitration. His only embarrassment was the numbers he had supporting him. Labour has spoken in favour of arbitration with a definite voice. There was another occasion in federal politics when there was a move in favour of arbitration. The federal body of the Australian Labour party, which makes our policy, has declared for arbitration and against commumsm. The State executive of the Labour party in Victoria, at all events, has declared against communism. The Labour party has declared itself in favour of arbitration and against communism in no uncertain terms, but I do not think that the Liberal party has made any such declaration. But we have not yet done enough; Labour must take stronger steps to combat more against communism because of the relationship between it and the Communist party. The Communist party, being a party of idealists, naturally links itself more with the Labour party than with any other party although the Labour party has nothing to do with them.
– The honorable member describes the Communists as idealists, whereas they are criminal conspirators.
– I say that they are a party of idealists. We will call them idealists though it is doubtful. The Labour party must declare itself against infiltration of industrial trade unions by Communists. The membership of the Australian Council of Trade Unions includes Communists. We must declare ourselves against the admission of Communists to positions of authority in trade unions. We must continue to show our uncompromising opposition to communism as we have already shown it by the very definite policy of our party. This opposition must be expressed very clearly and with great deliberation. I have acknowledged my opposition to the Communists in a previous speech and I would repeat it now to the Communist party. It is definite and, I think, overwhelming. However, we must do even more against communism. For the reasons which I have stated, I am not in sympathy with the motion before the House. The Liberal party has not done nearly so much as the Labour party has done to fight communism. Nevertheless, I consider that the Labour party must go further than it has already gone. lt must act firmly and without compromise. The Labour party has pronounced its antagonism to communism. In spite of this, I consider that we must go to even greater lengths in order to contest the infiltration of trade unions by the Communists. Our course must be clear and inflexible. We must make no compromise.
Sitting suspended from12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– From time to time, one hears uttered in this chamber many idiotic statements which are an insult to the intelligence of listeners, and, in that category, I class some of the remarks which the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Fraser) made this morning regarding the Australian Country party. After a singularly unimpressive attempt to excuse the Government’s lack of action in its dealings with the Communists and a further attempt to explain just what should be done but what has not been done, he endeavoured to offset his unimpressive speech : by making a fantastic attack upon the Australian Country party. I would not have paid much attention to his remarks had it not been for the fact that the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) stated that the statements of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro would no doubt be answered by members of the Australian Country party. In brief reply, I believe that the suggestion thatthe Australian Country party, when itassumes office, will set out to ban the Labour party and then proceed to liquidate - to use the honorable member’s own word - its present leaders and endeavour to establish some form of dictatorship, is an insult not only to the members who are participating in this important debate, but also to the intelligence of the electors who may be listening to it. With those comments, I leave the matter.
The actions which the government should take to deal with the menace of communism have been referred to from time to time by way of questions and by other methods in this House. So far, the burden of the reply of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to the requests which have been made to him for action has been that the Communists are members of a political party, and as such have the same right of freedom of speech and expression as members of any other political party. Yesterday, in reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), he qualified that view slightly with the proviso that the actions of the Communists must not be subversive, seditious or likely to hamper the freedom of expression and thought of the majority of the people. The right honorable gentleman likened the Communist party to other political parties in Australia, which enjoy freedom of speech, and he said that this right should be extended to the Communist party. In passing, I must say that I am becoming a little chary of accepting this principle of freedom of speech as expressed by honorable gentlemen opposite. I am wondering whether freedom of speech, which, it is stated, is extended to all political parties, will be extended to this debate, or whether some members of the Opposition who desire to speak on this important matter will, in the next couple of hours, be deprived of the right of freedom of speech.
The statement that the Communist party may be likened to other political parties in Australia is either a piece of specious reasoning designed to provide an excuse for the present attitude of the Government towards it, or it arises from an utter incapacity to assess the real aims, objectives and methods of the Communist party. There are a number of political parties in Australia, and they have divergent aims. As a member of the Australian Country party, I could not for one moment concede that the methods being adopted by the Labour party for the reconstruction of Australia have any great prospects of success. We differ radically on many subjects, but, in fairness, I should say I believe that political parties in Australia have at least one thing in common, namely, a desire for the advancement and development of this country. We differ in our views as to how this should bo carried out, but I concede that fundamental common ground to the political parties. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister contended yesterday that members of the Australian Labour party had just as great a love of country as have members of the Opposition. I do not wish for a moment to deny that. But does it not become evident that the contention that political parties should be actuated by a love of country immediately cuts from under the feet of the Prime Minister his argument in support of his attitude towards communism? It rips his argument to pieces, because it is obvious that the Communist party differs from all other political parties in Australia, in that it is not actuated by any desire to advance Australia or by any love of this country. It is an international party, and it embraces a foreign ideology which no political party in Australia could tolerate for one moment. Therefore, it is not possible to justify the present attitude of the Government by saying that the Communists constitute a political party like the Liberal party, the Australian Labour party and the Australian Country party, and, therefore, is entitled to the same right of expression as they enjoy. As is evident from an examination of the histories of other countries which have suffered under Communist domination, their aims and methods are such that they cannot he granted rights similar to those enjoyed by other political parties which are stirred by a genuine desire to do well for their country. When Communists are granted similar rights, they promptly proceed to take advantage of them for the furtherance of their own foul doctrine. Their policy, in short, is aimed at destruction and disruption. Therefore, they are. completely outside the pale of other political parties.
No better evidence of the danger of allowing to these people a similar freedom of action to that which is granted to other organizations in the country could be had than the recent strike in Queensland. At the commencement of the dispute, the issues were relatively simple and quite readily determinable by arbitration. Certain railway employees in the Ipswich workshops had applied for an increase of marginal rates. . This dispute occurred at a time when a much bigger issue was at stake in Queensland, namely, the right of the State to legislate for its own develop ment, free from outside influences, either political or industrial. Just prior to this strike, the Government of Queensland had decided to develop the considerable coal resources of the central portion of the State. In its negotiations with various companies for that purpose, the Government had decided - quite rightly in my opinion - that the development of those resources should take place free from the control which large industrialists in other States were exercising over the production of coal in the southern parts of Australia. It is also worthy of mention that it was assumed that the development of these coal resources would take place under a trade union which is famous for the fact that it is not dominated by Communist influences. I refer to the Australian Workers Union. That was the position. The Communists immediately recognized this intention as a direct threat to the stranglehold which they had succeeded in imposing oh the industrial life of Australia through their control of the main sources of coal, particularly in ‘New South Wales. Their policy for a number of years had been to prevent the development of coal deposits anywhere in Australia. By a series of strikes in the New South Wales coal mines they restricted to a minimum the production of coal, so that at any time the conduct of a particular industry could be paralysed effectively by preventing the supply of sufficient coal. In effect, the Communists could seize any industry by the throat at any time they chose. The Queensland Government proposed to develop alternative coal resources, which could supply all the industries of Australia;, and that represented a serious threat to the industrial stranglehold which the Communists ‘ had secured. They decided, therefore, that the power responsible for that challenge, namely, the Queensland Government, had to be smashed, otherwise they would lose the advantage gained by years of propaganda and subversive action. That is the real truth behind the Queensland strike. It was not a matter of whether or not a few workers in the Ipswich railway workshops should receive a few shillings more by way of marginal allowance. That was simply the peg on which the Communists hung their propaganda. Immediately the dispute occurred Queensland was flooded with Communists from the south. Those agitators came to Queensland quite openly, in pursuance of the rights conferred upon them by the Australian Government, and they stated quite brazenly that they were there to take control of the industrial dispute with the avowed object of smashing the Queensland Government. Statements of that kind were made quite openly by Mr. Rowe and others who came to Queensland. Consider for a moment the actual conduct of the strike. Meetings of workers which were called for the purpose of determining the conduct of the strike and the course of the negotiations were packed by Communist supporters. Decisions taken at those meetings were arrived at on a show of hands, and even the decisions arrived at by such a method would not bear scrutiny. Unionists who desired to express opinions contrary to those of the Communists were deprived of the opportunity to do so, and in this connexion I invite attention to the qualification which the Prime Minister made to his speech yesterday, when he said that he would not tolerate any kind of subversive or seditious action or any action intended to deprive others of their political rights. The action of the Communists does deprive others of their right of free expression, as was obvious time and again during the Queensland dispute. At many union meetings motions which were submitted from the members, and which were intended to conclude the strike, were ruled out of order and no discussion was permitted on them. However, the Storemen and Packers Union finally rebelled, with the result that something in the nature of a secret ballot was taken, and the members of that union decided that they would not strike. That indicates the difficulties which confront decent workers in trying to express their opinions. After the ballot was taken at the meeting of the Storemen and Packers Union those who had voted against the strike had to run the gauntlet of two rows of hostile unionists of Communist sympathies, who called them “ scabs “ and threatened them with physical violence when they left the meeting. The whole procedure was termed a secret ballot, and a vote taken under conditions of that kind is the only kind of “ secret ballot “ which the Communists are ever likely to accept. Finally, when things became desperate for the strikers and their Communist leaders, clashes were organized with the police. Those incidents were staged quite deliberately with the obvious intention of misleading the people. I invite honorable members to consider the actions of a Communist barrister, who was knocked on the head in the course of the demonstration which took place on St. Patrick’s Day. Immediately he was taken to hospital he asked to be attended by a doctor named Julius, whose brother played a prominent part in the strike. The casualty ward in the Brisbane General Hospital where this incident took place is a fairly busy one, and it is unusual for doctors to leave other cases in order to treat a patient who has just been admitted. Nevertheless, in this case Dr. J Julius immediately walked down to attend the injured barrister. The doctor stated that the patient was suffering from severe brain injuries, although within an hour the patient gave a long statement to press reporters and two or three days afterwards he was discharged from hospital. Whether the’ statement of the doctor must be accepted as a grave reflection on the brain capacity of the barrister concerned or whether his statement was a deliberate lie I leave to people to decide for themselves.
I have briefly recounted the history of the Queensland strike in order to show that under Communist direction everything possible was done to plunge the State of Queensland into poverty and want, and it must be admitted that considerable success attended the efforts of the Communists. As the result of the recent serious industrial disturbance that State is suffering considerably, and the unfortunate unionists who were involved in the strike, and their wives and families, are suffering even more acutely. Unionists have come to me frequently in Rockhampton in the last few weeks saying, “We are. absolutely broke and we have wives and children to support”. They say to me, “ When are you going to tip the Communists into the river ? “. I usually reply, “When are you going to ? “. That is the state of affairs which has been brought about by the Communists in Queensland. However, in spite of the efforts of the Communists the Queensland Government and people refused to be bluffed by the tactics adopted by the Communists, who then decided that they had to extend the strike, with the result that the waterfront became involved. The paralysis of shipping in Queensland ports resulted in the loss of considerable sums to Queensland producers and exporters. Produce to the value of £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 was left lying on the wharfs rotting, and this produce included food for Britain. Tens of thousands of tons of material destined for Queensland for home building and the rehabilitation of the State had to be diverted to southern ports. “We have been waiting for those materials for many months. Even in normal times Queensland does not obtain its proper quota of certain materials from the southern States, so that the position brought about by the waterfront tie-up made conditions even more desperate. In addition, Queensland has had to face the loss of many thousands of tons of imports without which the State cannot function efficiently. Those are some of the results achieved by the Communist agitators. But for the second time in the last few months the Communists met a power which was not prepared to bow to them as the Australian Government does. The previous occasion to which I refer was the stand taken by the Government of Victoria in connexion with the major industrial dispute which occurred in that State a few months ago. That Government told the Communist leaders- plainly “ where they got off “ and what would happen if they persisted in their tactics to disrupt industry in Victoria. It is a well-known fact that the Communist party can be defeated by the adoption of bold methods. Once their members have their bluff called they crawfish, and for a second time in recent months they crayfished in Queensland. What did the Communists do immediately it was made clear to them that the Government and people of Queensland did not intend to bow to their demands ? The “ Commos “ ran, just as they have always run. Only a few weeks ago the Leader of the
Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) declared that if the Communists were properly tackled there would not be enough hollow logs in Australia to contain them. Immediately the going became hard we saw the “ Commos “ running out. What happened when one of them who was flushed with his success in the south became too bold and was brought to book ? Rowe, the rat, ran to his hole, as a rat always will do if tackled properly. The strike has ended by the strikers accepting the terms that were offered to them before it began. The union has gained nothing. There has been a loss of many hundreds of thousands of pounds in wages and many families have gone short of food, whilst the country has lost thousands of tons of material. If any advantage has been derived from this strike, it is that a second resounding defeat has been administered to the Communist party.
What did the national Government of Australia do to assist the Queensland Government and people to wage their fight on behalf of the whole of the Australian workers and employers ? It did absolutely nothing, as I well know, because I played some part in trying to obtain, assistance. It is particularly to be regretted that no assistance was rendered because the occasion of the strike provided a wonderful opportunity for the Australian Government to show, once and for all, its true colours. At the beginning of the dispute, when it was still a State matter, there was a splendid opportunity for the Prime Minister, acting as the leader of the nation, to state in this House, as he was asked to do many times, unequivocally that he was behind the Government and people of Queensland in their fight against the Communist menace, and that every possible assistance would be given to them. The only reply that I can remember the right honorable gentleman giving to questions about what he was prepared to do was to state that the Government had been asked to supply aircraft to carry food and that the request had been acceded to. He did not say to the nation that the Australian Government supported the Queensland Government.
I asked several questions in this chamber concerning a shin loaded with some 2,000 tons of much-needed foodstuffs for central Quensland and requested that action be taken to have that food delivered. The Prime Minister promised that the matter would be investigated. That promise was made before Easter, when I first asked the question, and when I asked again, towards the end of the strike, an investigation was again promised. Recently, a telegram was sent to the right honorable gentleman from Queensland members of the Australian Country party on behalf of chambers of commerce and other organizations concerned with overseas shipments which were being off-loaded in Sydney. After the serious position was explained, the Prime Minister was asked what definite action he was prepared to take urgently to relieve the position. The telegram went on to specify for his information the bases on which it was considered he could act. The first was under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which empowers a conciliation commissioner to inquire into a dispute; the second was under the Stevedoring Industry Act, where power is given to suspend waterside workers; the third was under the relevant federal awards affecting waterside workers; and the fourth was under the Commonwealth law relating to crimes whereby, under section 30k, a person who obstructs the transport of goods among the States is guilty of a Commonwealth offence. The telegram stated that the Prime Minister’s urgent advice was awaited by all Queenslanders. All Queenslanders are still awaiting the right honorable gentleman’s advice, but no reply has been received. It is clear, therefore, that no action was taken by the Australian Government to deal with the menace which threatened Queensland and Australia.
During the last two or three weeks a significant question has been asked throughout Queensland. It is, “ Where do Chifley and Evatt stand? Are they Commos ‘ ? “ There is justification for that question. Yesterday the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) protested against a similar remark made in this debate. However, the fact remains that the question is being asked, and the reason why it is being asked is the inaction of this Government. People judge by deeds and not by words. The old saying, “ By their deeds ye shall know them “, is just as true to-day as it ever was. The people, seeing the utter inaction of the Government, are asking where it stands, and in the absence of any reply from the Government they are forming their own opinions.
The motion expresses the lack of confidence of this House in the Government, but to be comprehensive, it should go on to express the lack of confidence in it of the country as a, whole. Nowhere is that lack of confidence more evident than in the ranks of the ex-servicemen. These men fought for the freedom of Australia and for their own individual liberty, but now they find there is in existence an insidious enemy that is preventing the country’s rehabilitation. As the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) pointed out this morning, the rehabilitation of the. ex-servicemen is being seriously hampered. Many thousands of them cannot get decent houses due to shortages of materials largely brought about by strikes fomented by Communists. Although they find thisinsidious enemy operating, they see that the Australian Government is not makinga real attempt to curb its activities. They find that this enemy is pursuing a policy which must lead to the tearing down of” all they fought for. These men havebecome accustomed to face up to and deal with plain facts plainly. They are npt. interested in “ hot air “ and excuses they are not interested in hearing honorable members opposite, when challenged on this matter, go back to previous years and refer to what somebody else did or did riot do. They are interested in what is being done, but there are no deeds from which they can judge what the Government means to do, and they, more than anybody else, have learned to rate deeds far more highly than words. They interpret the complete and utter lack of any action by the Government as indicative of the fact that, when faced with a choice between dealing with the Communists and letting them continue to act as they are at present, it is prepared to sell them out, to render abortive all the sacrifices they have made and probably to face them in the near future with the necessity again of enduring the horrors from which they have just emerged.
.- The motion of censure of the Government, moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) received only very moderate support and enthusiasm from his own supporters, and the main barrage has been directed at the Government by the members of the so-called Australian Country party. The peculiar thing about the Australian Country party is that most of its members in this Parliament have no more connexion with the country than the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) have with communism, which is none at all. Further”more, if the position is summed up it will be found that there are more dude ranches “ belonging to the Australian Country party than there are in “New Mexico. These men would have us believe that they have all the solutions of the problem of communism. They want communism to be banned and stamped out. But history shows that their forebears were responsible, to some extent, for the rise of the Communist party by the suppression of the industrial and political activities of the people, so they must take a big share of the blame for the rise of communism in this country.
The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson) dealt with the Queensland strike, which, as every one in this country is aware, was caused by Communist agitators, and officials with scant respect for common decencies and the carrying on of the business of the State. This House can take no pride in the fact that many people were inconvenienced greatly, and that damage was done through that strike. It must be apparent to the working people of this country who are dependent upon our big industries for their welfare that they must take a practical interest in their union activities to prevent strikes of this kind. It is not correct to say that this Government failed to give any assistance whatever to the Premier of Queensland when he requested it. Any assistance asked for by the State Premier was readily given by this Government, and it is quite incorrect and false to say that there was no co-opera tion between this Government and the
Queensland Government in the trial of strength which took place in Queensland. Many of the sentiments expressed in the motion of the Leader of the Opposition on the activities of the Communist party and the methods adopted to achieve its objectives are sound, and in accordance with the views of the community. I have no sympathy whatever with the Communist party. The Australian workers gain nothing by sponsoring the activities of that party, which the Prime Minister so clearly enunciated. I reiterate that there has been no affiliation and no connexion whatever between any member of the Communist party and any member of the Australian Labour party or this Government. Irrespective of what honorable members opposite might say, it is interesting to know that some industrial organizations are to-day expelling Communists. The members of that party have always been beyond the pale of the Australian Labour party, and it is quite unfair to endeavour to link this party with the Communist party, whose sole desire is to wreck this Government and the Labour movement. I make it clear that I have no sympathy with the Communist party and am totally antagonistic to its objectives. I reiterate that there i3 no affiliation between this party and the Communist party and there never has been any such affiliation. In fact, it is only a short time since the following statement appeared in a leading article in the Sydney Daily Mirror : -
Despite the extreme verbosity of his reply, Mr. T. Malcolm Ritchie, a former president of the Liberal party, does not answer the Daily Mirror’s assertion that the Communist party, together with the Liberal and Country parties, is working for the defeat of the Labour Government in the forthcoming elections.
Later the article stated -
The Opposition parties in the Parliament were working with the Communist party in an endeavour to defeat the Government and the Labour movement and all it stands for.
Right through the article the assertion is made that the Opposition parties in this Parliament have been associated with the Communist party in an endeavour to defeat this Government and the Labour movement and its ideals. It is well for us to remember these facts when accusations are made that this party is tied up with Communists. It is significant that in electioncampaigns the Communist party does not; nominate candidates to fightthetrue-blue Liberal and Country party candidates, but it always endeavours to defeat Labour candidates. It would be very interesting to know also where the Communist party obtains its funds. Unless the party obtained some assistance from wealthy interests in this country, I do not see how itcould possibly conductitselection campaigns from time totime.Iwouldliketoknow,also,which bank thecommunistpartytradeswith, andwhereitobtains the money for its publicity and propaganda.
Mr.Gullett. -Would the honorable gentleman favour a public inquiry into that matter ?
– I would like an investigation into the source of the funds of the Liberalparty of this country.
It is said that the Government is tied up with the Communist party, and we have all heard in the last few days of the tremendous dangers which would have to be faced if the Communists rose to power in this country.Iassure the House that I will work to the utmost of my capacity to ensure that these dangers will never arise. These dangers did hot seem to bear heavily on the Opposition parties when political expediency hadto be served. In the last few days suggestions have been made of exchange of preferences between our candidates and Communists and of co-operation in the electorates, and the dire results that will come about should communism become any stronger in this country, but it is interesting to note that on occasions the Opposition parties have advised their supporters togive their preferences to Communist party candidates rather than to official Labour candidates, or to others whobelievein democratic government in this country. In the Sydney Morning Heraldof the 10th May,1935,the Friday immediately prior , to a general election, an advertisement inserted by the United Australia party, which was one of the earlier names of the Liberal party, wad asfollows: - “ How to Vote “ - Recommendations of the UnitedAustraliaparty(Metropolitan Area) and United Country party . . .
There was apparently some measure of co-operationinthosedays.The recommendations referred to the exchange of preferences. The advertisement proceeded -
Paddington Electorate - (1) Gowland, (2) Kirkwood and (3)O’Sullivan.
Mr. Hamilton Knight and Mr. O’Sullivan are among the most respected members of the New South Wales Parliament. The UnitedAustralia party on that occasion advisedelectorstogive their first preference vote in Paddington to Gowland,andinHartleytoCram. Bothofthose individuals were Communist party candidates,but they were preferred to responsible members of the Labour party. Now it is stated that the Labourparty is affiliated with the Communistpartybecause the Communists supportedtheLabourpartyincertainof its referendum proposals.
-Iattendedsomeofthe joint meetings and I thought it was a Liberal partyrally.ThatLiberalstalwart, Sir Frank Clarke, was a supporter of the proposals. We also had the support ofthe honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) andtheright honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), yet the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has said that we are Communists because some Communists supported us at that time. I do not know who caused the most damage at that time, the Liberals or the members of the Communist party. Let it be said that it is enough for us to run our own organization. If other people try to climb on to the band wagon, they can be shaken off, but the shaking off is made more difficult by the support which they receive from some interested parties.
It is interestingto study the background of the right honorable member for North Sydney. He, of course, has an intimate knowledgeofthe workings of the industrial movement. In days gone by, when it was unpopular to be a member of the Labour party, or of anypolitical movement which supported Labour principles, the right honorable member travelled throughout New South Wales organizing the .Labour party. He also has a sound knowledge of the Communist party. I have no doubt that those who were opposed to him in those days called him a Communist, or whatever the fashionable name of abuse wa3 at that time. When he was organizing the pastoral workers, the farmers and graziers called’ him an agitator. Although the right honorable member for North Sydney, and other members of the Opposition, now support this motion of censure, it is evident that they did not always feel the same way. I quote the following from the Daily Telegraph of the 23rd June, 1941:-‘
Why, Ernie Thornton could not have said that with greater enthusiasm than did the right honorable member for North Sydney. Well, this man now supports the motion of. censure against the Government. The Labour Government, in the short time it has been in office, has done more to check the activities of the Communist party than the Opposition parties did in all the years they were in office. The Communist party in Australia has been in existence since 1920, but the only time the anti-Labour parties took any interest in it was just before an election, and then they raised the Communist bogy, in the hope of gaining some political advantage over Labour. When the election was over, they promptly forgot all about the matter. I have here an extract from a Labour newspaper published in Queensland, in September, 1945. It is as follows: -
The Menzies-Fadden Governments countenanced the printing and distribution of Communist pamphlets bearing faked and phony imprints vilifying Labour men and trade union officials who refused to subscribe to their fifth columnist propaganda.
A Communist publication depicted the late John Curtin in the same category as Judas, Quisling and Laval.
That kind of propaganda was sponsored by the Opposition parties,- and the encouragement thus given to the Communist party led indirectly .to the kind of strike which took place in Queensland recently.
There seems to be a difference of opinion as to how the Communists ought to be dealt with. More experienced members of the Labour party than I am have said that they realize the danger which the Communist party represents, and have declared that the Labour party will not allow Communists to affiliate with it. They have said that they will fight the Communists inside the Labour organizations. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson) said that, at a union meeting, it was only necessary for the Communists to put up their hands in order to win. If that be so, what is wrong with the other unionists? The trouble is that too many people sit quietly at home, letting others do the job for them. Then, when things go wrong, they say, “ What is the Government doing about it?”. It would be a good thing if young Liberals and young Labour supporters took- a keener interest in affairs, and were on the spot to vote the right way in order to preserve Australia’s best interests in the industrial field.
We should pay a tribute to those who have given a lead within Labour organizations in the fight against Communist domination. They have waged a magnificent fight in the often hostile surroundings which have been described by members of the Opposition in order to ensure that Australians of the proper type are elected to executive positions in the unions. Such men in New South Wales and in Victoria are giving a lead, not only to those in the industrial movement, but also to the members of the community, and are showing what ought to be done if we are to preserve the industrial benefits which have been won by Labour. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and they have the support of this Government.
The question, then, is how to heal the disease of communism. I agree that if it is proved that Communists are acting in a treasonable way, if they constitute a danger to the wellbeing and security of the people in time of peace or of war, if they attempt to overthrow the machinery of industrial arbitration, then almost any method is justified in order to ensure that they shall have no place in the community ; but I cannot see that the mere banning of the Communist party will help towards this end. My opinion is that Communists should be fought and outorganized and beaten ito the industrial field. The banning of communism has been condemned by many persons who have no connexion with the Labour movement. Even among members of the Opposition there is grave difference of opinion as to the best ‘way in which to deal with the Communists. For instance, the Liberal party, on the 19th June, 1946, defeated a motion that the Communist party should be declared illegal. Mr. Cassidy, K.C., who was a member of the executive of the Liberal party in New South Wales, said that communism would not be defeated if the movement were sent underground. I have here a copy of a journal called A Free People, the official organ of the People’s Union, which is described as non-party. That, of course, automatically makes it a Liberal organization. The journal is published by Mr. A. G. Hebblewhite. It is stated in this publication that the banning of communism would be of doubtful value. The Premier of Queensland, Mr. Hanlon, for whom we have the greatest respect, in the course of an interview with the representative of that “ rag “, the Daily Telegraph, is reported as follows : -
The Queensland Labour party believes that in a democracy there should he freedom of political expression, and that the workers can deal most effectively with communism by tackling it within the union movement - the only place where it has any power.
The Melbourne Age, of Wednesday, the 7th April, published the following comment : -
There is no evidence that the British Parliament regards the menace in such a light as to >‘in the Communist party. The Government is very properly taking steps to purge important services of known and suspected Communists.
It is clear, therefore, that many people, and some important organs of opinion, are not in agreement with the newly announced policy of the Liberal party for the banning of communism. That, there is no enthusiasm for the proposition put forward by the Leader of the Opposition may be judged from the fact that, in submitting his motion, the right honorable gentleman offered not one solution of the problem which he propounded. He did not comment on the banning of the Communist party, nor did he give enthusiastic support to that proposition which he now states became the policy of his party a few days ago. A check-up of the policy speeches of Liberal party leaders does not reveal unanimity on this, subject. It is obvious that the parliamentary Liberal party has one policy and that the executive of the Liberal party in New South Wales has another. As the Prime Minister has said, if a political party is banned its members are driven underground. The Communist move following the imposition of a ban would be the firing squad, the baton and the internment camp, and all that goes with a Fascist society. Such a policy would be dangerous in this country, where so much is said about the loss of liberty. On the other side of the picture, I am concerned about the extreme right, those in the community who more or less openly support fascism. Some years ago they established the organization known as the New Guard and, as the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) mentioned last night, fascist organizations equally as dangerous as the Communist party are growing up throughout New South Wales.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– I have received -letters from people stating that that is so. With other citizens in the community, I believe that the danger from the extreme right is just as great as from the extreme left. It is wrong to place responsibility for strikes on one section, of the community, no matter how soundly we may condemn it. Investigations show that the wealthy sections of the community and those opposed to Labour have done as much to sponsor strikes as have the extreme Leftists. I do not condone strikes. I believe that with a government as good as the present Government there shouldbe no need for them. By reason of the legislation passed by this Government and the Labour governments of the States, Australia is enjoying a measure of security which should reduce industrial stoppages to a minimum. It is idle to say that the banning of the Communist party would prevent strikes and unrest. If there be discontent in the community it will be manifested in one way or another. History has shown that if a political party be banned its members will find other avenues for the expression of their views, and other channels for achieving the results they desire. What should be done to circumscribe the activities of Communists is a problem which equally concerns every section of the community.No alternative to the steps takenby this Government to control them has been suggested by the Leader of the Opposition or by Opposition members. The genesis of the unrest that exists to-day is to be found in the conditions that existed between 1930 and 1939,which were undoubtedly responsible for the riseof the Communist party in Australia. My experience in European countries was that communism finds its greatest number of recruits among those whose living conditions are of a low order. I say emphatically that I give no support to the Communist party or its ideals. I go f arther and say that there is no future for the workers of Australia if they sponsor the political propositions put forward by communism or any other “ ism “. In common with all other members of the Australian Labour party, I am firmly pledged to ensure that the Communists do, not overthrow the democratic institutions of this country which have been established over the years, and that they do not destroy our wages and living conditions and the social services of which we are so proud. I see no purpose behind themotion suhmitted by the Leader of the Opposition. The Government retains the confidence of the people of Australia. It has done notable work in rebutting the efforts of Communists to break downour democratic institutions. By reason of the legislation sponsored by the Government, and the loyal cooperation of the great body of Australian workers, who, in their unions, are ousting
Communists from their midst,the Communist party will eventually be forced into the background.
.- The debate on thiscensuremotion reveals an extraordinary state of affairs. For the first time to my knowledge in this Parliament honorable members on both sides of the House are in agreement as to the menace of communism. I have heard no member of the Australian Labour party deny the four premises which were put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) as the basis for his motion of censure. Those premises are, first, that Communist activities in Australia are subversive ; secondly, that Communists in Australia are responsible for widespread stoppages, and have sought to weakenthe authority of the law; thirdly, that there is good reason to believe that Australian Communists act in the interests of a foreign power; and, fourthly, that recent events in Europe had proved that Communist minorities outside the Soviet Union are organized so as to overthrow by forcemajoity rule in those countries. Every one of those four premises has been conceded by spokesmen for the Labour party in this debate. That is a change of front, because never before, as far asI have heard, has that been conceded. It had to be conceded, however, because chapter and verse was given for each one of these propositions. The witnesses were called, as the Leader of theOpposition said, from the ranks of the Labour party itself, both inside and outside the Parliament. We are not, therefore, debating whetheror not theCommunistsconstitute amenace in this country, but what should be done with them.We are debating whetheror not the Government has taken and is prepared to take adequate steps to protect the country againstdisruption, ruin and ultimate tyranny.
– What does the honorable member suggest should be done?
– If the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) will be patient for a moment I shall submit specific suggestions as to what I believe should be done. The Prime Minister complained that the Opposition has nothing to suggest. I propose to answer that complaint to the satisfaction, I hope, of at least some honorable members opposite. The Prime Minister made what I can only describe as a maudlin and confused defence of his Government against the attack launched by the Leader of the Opposition. His speech was highly emotional. It was, in my view, the worst speech I have ever heard from him in this House. The right honorable gentleman was obviously uncomfortable because he could present no real argument to support his defence.What he said, in effect, was that, with one qualification, we can do nothing about the Communists. The only thing wecan do about them, he said, is to increase social services. No honorable member on this side of the House desires to see the weak among the community deprived of the shelter or the consideration which governments can give to them. We know that the unemployed, the old, the sick and others suffering from disabilities of various kinds must be cared for. But when it is suggested that the only cure f or economic and industrial diseases, particularly the disease of communism, is more and more social services, I repudiate that entirely. That policy will have only one end. We shall become more and more a nation of loafers, with every one leaning on the State, claiming, as a matter of right, some extra dole or pension from the so-called benevolent Government, and less and less shall we have initiative, with men prepared to work hard to produce and create wealth. The proposition that the only way to combat communism is by providing more and more social services is a despairing confession of failure by the Prime Minister.
On the theory, that the best form of defence is attack, the Prime Minister said, in effect, “ Well, back in 1925, therewere Communist troubles, but the Bruce-Page Government did not do anything about them “. The right honorable gentleman spent considerable time in giving us a survey of what the Bruce-Page Government did not do from 1925 onwards.
-The Minister for Information cries, “Hear, hear!” in his well-known accents, but, if the Prime Minister, the King’s first Minister in Australia, is trying to convince the people that the Bruce-Page Government did not do anything to combat communism, he is well astray from the facts, because the records contradict him. Honorable members ought to remember that in 1925 we had the Walsh-Johnson troubles-
Mr.Calwell. - And lost!
– The Bruce-Page Government lost because it did not have a strong enough law on the statute-book to enforce the course of action it had set out on against Walsh, Johnson and others. As the result, in 1926, the Crimes Act was amended by the insertion of the wellknown provisions contained in Part 2a. I propose to refer to that part in more detail later, because it contains within its confines a whole code of sections under which this Government could act if it only had the courage to do so. The point I am making now is that in 1926 the Bruce-Page Government brought Part 2a of the Crimes Act into being.
– What did it do under it?
-The immediate effect of the passage of that part into law was that Walsh and Johnson became respectable. If the part had been in force at the time of the prosecutions, the Government would have been successful. A most remarkable diminution of Communist and subversive activities was noticeable after the part was brought into force. In 1932, Part 2a was supplemented by further amendments in order to make the law still stronger. And, from that time, too, there was an immediate recession of Communist and subversive activity in Australia, just as there was a remarkable recessionof Communist and subversive activity when the Premier ofVictoria, Mr. Hollway, brought down and passed through the State Parliament recently certain legislation, and said to the Communist- led strikers, “The new law is now on the statute-book, and if youdo not behave yourselves we shall immediately enforce it”. So, too, stern measures were taken by the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Hanlon, to bring to an end theCommunist-led Queensland railway strike. The Communist hero, Rowe, faced with proceedings in the SupremeCourt of Queensland for contempt of court, ran like a rabbit. He would not become the martyr that the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General would have us believe that Communists are willing to become in their cause. Of course he did not. He crawled and grovelled on the floor of the court-room and said how sorry he was. He and his like are the Communist heroes ! Heroes, my foot ! If the Government has the guts to stand up and say, “ The law must be obeyed “, the Communists will be the first to give in. Does any one imagine that “Ernie” Thornton, that well-fed and well-covered comfortable-living man, wants to go to gaol for subversive activities? No! If the Government had the courage to pass the necessary legislation and enforce it, he would be the first to become respectable. Enforce the law, and you will have the same recession of Communist subversiveness as we had in 1925 and .1932. The Communist leaders do not want to be martyrs. They are too comfortable and are doing too well by battening on the workers for that. Once we put them on the spot and tell them where they stand, that will be the end of it. In 1940, after the outbreak of war. there was a rise of Communist activity in Australia, because the Communists were the fifth column. “ This is an imperialistic war “, they said, and they did everything within their power to destroy our war effort. The Menzies Government promulgated the National Security (Subversive Associations) Regulations and when Ratliff and Thomas and a few more Communists were put where they could do no more harm, we had an immediate fading away of the fellow travellers, the theoretical Communists, who do not want to go to gaol. As for the declarations by the Prime Minister and his supporters that to place restraint on the activities of the Communists would be to drive them underground, I say that any Minister with intelligence charged with the administration of that restraint would soon stop, them from going underground and would smoke out any that did so and get rid of of them early. But they do not go underground. They run like rabbits. “When the Menzies Government, in the interests of the war effort, brought down its regulations, a few Communists went to gaol and the rest scurried off. In 1942, the Curtin Government, having been given some worthless undertakings by Ratliff and Thomas, let them out and we once more had a recrudesence of communism. We have a law to deal with Communists, but the Chifley Government will not enforce it and that is why we have communism in Australia to the extent to which it exists.
I digress to refer to what the Prime Minister said about the 1917 strike. His references to it were made for the purpose of showing that bitterness is created by repressive action and he stated that because of that he became Prime Minister. I know something about that strike. My country at that time was at war and in desperate danger. We were on the edge of defeat and hundreds of thousands of allied soldiers were dying on the fields of Flanders. A strike occurred in the railways in New South Wales. It was not a strike against anything tyrannous. It was not a strike against an industrial injustice. It was a strike against the introduction of what was known as the Taylor system. The railway men did not want it. So they struck, not against a private capitalist octopus, but against a governmental instrumentality. They struck work in the middle of a war and, in my view, treasonably. 1 was young at the time, but I thought then, as I think now, that that strike was a treacherous blow against the Government of the day. In the New South Wales Ministry there were men like Holman and Beeby, with good Labour sentiments, who said that the railwaymen must suffer for having gone on strike in time of war. Yet, 30 years later, the Prime Minister hugs to his bosom a sense of grievance and hate. It was because of that, he said, that he had become Prime Minister. If the 1917 strike enabled him to become Prime Minister it was not worth it. He should hang his head in shame.
– The honorable member will never be Prime Minister of Australia.
– I imagine that the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) will not be Prime Minister, either.
– [ am a better bet than the honorable member is.
– The loquacious Minister for Information informed us that thoughts cannot be suppressed. Who said that they could be suppressed? No one suggested that the imposition of a ban on the Communist party means the repression of thoughts. That has nothing to do with the matter. When members of the Opposition contend that the Government should ban the Communist party, they mean that a physical organization of persons should be declared illegal. The people themselves may think what they like. We do not suggest that thoughts can be banned, but we propose that the Communist party, as a physical organization, should be banned, because the actions of the Communists are treasonable to this country. The same loquacious Minister said that if the Communists are banned, approximately 16,000 persons would have to he placed in concentration camps. Thai, is another example of his propaganda and advocacy. It is rubbish. I contend that the Government should declare the Communist party an illegal organization and prevent it from carrying on as an organization. If, as individuals, Communists commit subversive acts, they should be dealt with as individuals.
The Attorney-General (.Dr. Evatt) declared that the Government can deal with the Communists only as individuals and not as organizations. What is his reason for holding that view? In the past they have been dealt with as organizations and it can be done again. First, there is the law, if only the Government is “ game “ to enforce it. The Attorney-General, as a prominent lawyer, knows that there are always difficulties in dealing with groups of people under the ordinary common law relating to conspiracy. To establish proof of conspiratorial acts is one of the most difficult tasks that any prosecution can undertake. For that reason, we contend that groups of people who fall within a certain description and category, or go under a certain name and commit certain activities should be declared illegal organizations. Some honorable members opposite claim .that the Government cannot ban an organization in peace time. I assert that this is not a time of peace. This is a time of war. Australia is facing just as great a crisis now as it did in 1941-42. Let us be blunt about this matter. A great tyranny in Europe has already gobbled up 180,000,000 people and a number of ancient liberal States, the latest of which was the famous republic of Czechoslovakia. Now, this tyranny is stretching out its tentacles across the world, and the shadow can bo seen in Australia. This is plain war. The- Americans describe it as a “ cold war “. That does not matter ; it is still war, and we should endeavour to defend ourselves. It is they or ‘ we, and all patriotic citizens should make sure that it will not be Australia.
The Prime Minister said that members of the Opposition, and particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) had advanced no constructive proposals as to how the Government should deal with the Communists. That is a naive method of defence by attack. As we are the Opposition, it is not our function to suggest methods. We are criticizing the Government because it has not taken any action to deal with the Communist menace, although legislation now on the statute-book confers upon it ample power to do so. But lest it be claimed that in some way the Opposition has an obligation to advance constructive proposals, 1 shall give to the House my own views on the matter. The first method is the most obvious. The government of the day should enforce the existing law. There is nothing strange about that proposal, except to a Labour government when it is dealing with its friends, because Labour governments during the last few years notoriously have not liked enforcing the law against their own friends. I hope that at least some honorable members opposite, do not regard the Communists as their friends, and to those honorable gentlemen, I point out that there is a code of legislation which has been on the statute-book for a long time. The Government could invoke that measure for the purpose of solving the problem of the Communists. Sub-section 1 of section 30a of the Crimes Act, to which I have already referred, reads -
The following are hereby declared to be unlawful associations, namely: -
I shall not weary the House with all the details, but this section includes -
If honorable members will examine the definition of” seditious intention” they will find that it applies to theCommunist party. It refers, inter alia, to” exciting His Majesty’s subjects to attempt to procure the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any matter in the Commonwealth established by law of theCommonwealth”, and to the”promotionof feelings of ill will and hostility between different classes of His Majesty’s subjects so as to endanger the peace, order or good government of the Commonwealth”. Does not that fit the Communist party to a’’ T”? Under that authority, the Government does not need to impose a ban on the Communist party because, ipso facto, it is an illegal organization. Already the Government possesses the requisite power to enable it to take action.
Subsequent sections of this part of the Crimes Act describe a whole code of procedure. Furthermore, if theGovernment does npt desire to act under these powers, it may approach the High Court of Australia or the Supreme Court pf a State for a declaration that a certain group or organization is an illegal body. Under section 30aa, the Attorney-General may apply to the High Court or to the Supreme Court of a State for an order calling upon any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, to show cause why it should notbe declared an unlawful association. Then follow a series ofdefinitions and descriptions from which the Communist partyof Australia, could not escape, no matter how it wriggled. Therefore, whether by treating the Communist Party ipso facto as an illegal body under the Copies Act,or, if the Government lacks the courage to do so, by approaching the High Court of Australiaor the SupremeCourt of a
State to declare the Communist party an illegal association, theGovernment has the means fordealing with these people. Other sectionsoftheCrimes Act provide thatthe Attorney-General may require information from anunlawful association, and provisionis made for the imposition of penaltieson officers of illegal organizations continuing to function. Any person who advocates the overthrowof the Constitution by revolution or sabotage, or donates or solicits contributions for unlawful associations shall be guiltyof an offence. A prohibition may be imposed upon the saleof books issued by an unlawful association, and the broadcasting ofmatter issued by unlawful associations or by persons for seditious purposes is expressly forbidden. The honorablemember for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson) mentioned industrial disputes and lockouts. Section30J of the Crimes Act provides that if, in the opinion of the Governor-General, there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance, he may take certain action. Icould go on and refer to the deportation of persons who aremembersof unlawful associations andof other offenders.
There is available in the Crimes Act a code that would enable this Government, if it so desired, to deal with the Communists. If, however, the Government considers that that act is not sufficient and that its provisions are a little outmoded because the Communists have developed since then in numbers, cleverness and organization, why should it not adopt the procedure oulined in the National Security (Subversive Associations) Regulations, whereby, in 1940, the Government of the day declared specific organizations to be illegal? Those regulations closely followed the sectipns of the Crimes Act to which I have referred and provided an additional procedure. The Communist party, the Eureka Youth League and a number of other named organizations were declared to be illegal organizations, and procedure was prescribed whereby they should be wound up, their funds seized and held in trust, and their activities discontinued. What is wrong with doing that? We know that the Communist party organization is subversive and that it intends to wreck Australia if it gets a chance to do so. In thosecircumstances, why should it not be labelled an illegal organization ? If it is said that the Communist party is like the chameleon and will change its colours, another provision can be re-enacted, whereby the GovernorGeneral, which means the Governmentof the day, can continue to declare illegal any organization which, upon inquiry, is, in the opinion of the Government, aCommunist organization although it is operating in another form and under another name. Those are the thingsthatcouldbe done. When we are asked what proposals we make, I say we should enforce the law in existence at present and, if necessary, re-enact the law that was in force untilit was repealed by the Curtin Government in1942.
The essence of this matter is not to deal with individuals suchas Rowe, Brown orThornton, but withnumbers of people grouped together for illegal purposes. If that is done, nearly all the “fellowtravellers” except the fanatics and the enthusiasts will disappear. There maybe some individuals who are a little more robust and tough than the rest and who are prepared to carry on individually, but if they become subversive in their individual capacities, there are many sections ofthe criminal code underwhich they can be dealt with. They canbe prosecuted and put into gaol, and if one or two of them are gaoled, the rest will soon become respectable. Thelegislation exists, and to the extent to which it maybe deficient it couldbe amended in accordance with other similar legislation elsewhere. All that is neededis courage on thepart of theGovernment. Mr. Hollway in Victoria and Mr. Hanlon in Queensland passed legislation that stopped the activities of the Communists. Mr. Fraser in New Zealand said plainly what he thinks about the matter. Most oftheState Governments of Australia, excluding the incredible McGirr Government in New South Wales, are prepared to act and some have done so, with surprisingly successful results, but the Chifley Government will not do anything at all.
One other thing is necessary. Concurrently with legislation of this sort, provi sion should be made to enable the membersof trade unions freely to conduct the affairs of their organizations. Prior to 1931,theCommonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act contained sections providing for compulsory secret ballots, but they were repealed by the Scullin Government. Similar sections are still contained in the New South Wales code, but the McGirr Government is frightened to invoke them against its Communist friends. I have here a telegram containing a quotation from a statementmade by Mr. Fraser, the Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand. Mr, Fraser said -
Theonly way to ascertain the opinionof the worker is by secret ballot, notby calling a stopwork meeting. New Zealand is not going togive way to theCommunists and their fellow travellers, who havealtogether a different outlook on life from us.
I repeat that in addition to the legisla tion to which I have referred, it isnecessary to provide for the conduct ofsecret ballots; otherwise trade unionists will notobtain full controlof their unions. I predict thatif all those things are done the Communist menace in Australia will vanish like the mists in the morning sun.
I have neverbefore intervened at any length in a debate on communism in this H ouse. Membersof the Liberal party do not like to ban anything beeause webelieve in the traditional freedom of the individual to think and do what he likes. We do not like war either,but sometimes it is necessary to fight wars. If Australia is threatened by some enemy, either external, as in the case of a war, or internal,as in the case of communism, it isentitled to defend itself and to take such action as willdestroy its mortal enemy. That is whathas happened in Australia, and that is why some time ago the Liberal party declared unanimously that the time has come when this menace must be stopped and when democracy in Australia must defend itself. Nobody suggests that it is pleasant to pass legislation affecting other citizens, but if those other citizens - who are, in this instance, not really citizens but elements completely foreign and alien to the country - propose to destroy our traditional way of life and to deprive us of the libertieswe have enjoyed and which we thought we were going to enjoy for the indefinite future, surely the community is entitled to say, “You shall not do this”, in the same way as it says to the murderer or the burglar, “ These things are anathema to our way of life and if you do them you will pay the penalty ! “ Democracy is entitled to defend itself, and if the only effective way of doing so is to proscribe the activities of those who are threatening it and seeking to destroy it, then there must be that proscription. If that is done, it should be done wisely and temperately. It should not be done vindictively but with the purpose of saving the State and protecting freedom. If we do that, we shall be safe. Then, for God’s sake, let us do it.
.- The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has a capacity for astonishing honorable members on this side of the House and for astonishing me most of all. We saw him a few moments ago clutching to his bosom documents that he alleged contained a copy of the Crimes Act. That is one document that members of the Liberal party should not bring into this House, because it has been shown to be ineffective as a means of banning communism. The honorable member for Parramatta said something about sending people to’ gaol in order to make them respectable, which makes me reluctantly mention a reference made to him by a very high dignitary. It was this -
His name was necessity because he knew no law.
The honorable member made many references to letters of the alphabet in referring to sections of the Crimes Act, and those references were quite ineffective; but even more ineffective has been that portentous piece of legislation itself which was introduced for the purpose of killing communism for all time. That attempt was one of the most tragic experiments of the Opposition when it was in power, and its record has been mostly ineffective.
I am in accord with any resolution, an-i with any sensible democratic action, that can be taken to control subversive elements, but I shall not be a party to whipped-up campaigns supported by photo-static copies of previous debates, for that is what we have had from the
Leader of the Opposition and his supporters. They have made an ineffectiveattempt to follow the orders of the newspapers that a campaign should be pursued against the Communists. It haseven been admitted in the newspapersnow that the campaign is likely to fail,, so that there is no doubt that the campaign must have been initiated. If the people of Australia really believe that: it is necessary to prosecute a campaign against the Communists, And to take drastic action to deal with them., then a very serious state of affairs has been, reached; but if all this talk to which we have been listening is only so much political propaganda honorable memberson this side are entitled to treat it with: suspicion.
This motion was introduced with much grandeur of language, and in the highest form possible, as a motion of censureagainst the Government, so that I believed that something big was tohappen. The Leader of the Opposition,, who is no mean debater, did make something of the case, but it seems to me - and I speak with a due appreciation of his merits - that there is a point beneath which his liberalism does not go, and that is the banning of communism. He has gone on record very often on that subject. Behind the whole of his speech there was a dramatic demand for the ultimate in action, but the demand was not expressed in words. Is the Opposition sincerely seeking action from the Government, which is the only agency that can take effective action? The conclusion I reached was that this was something of a sham-fight and that the heart of the Leader of the Opposition was not wholly in it. I have no doubt of his abhorrence of communism, but I question whether he is happy about the weapon which has been placed in his hands or with the method suggested to deal with the matter. When the Opposition assails the Government on an issue of paramount importance, one expects that it will at least bring its biggest guns into action, but although the “ five-nines “ and the 72 millimetre, and other heavy artillery have been smoking and growling on the back benches, it appears that they are not to be fired off. Instead, the Opposition has used its latest recruits. The young soldiers have been brought in. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. “Gullett) made a very strong attack, unfortunately couched in language with a fascist flavour. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) and the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) were also thrown into the fight. However, we have been used to seeing the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) sizzling on his cushion awaiting the moment to attack, but he has been silent. We are also used to hearing from the ‘honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), who has been howling in the newspapers for action and still more action, but now in the House is the very embodiment of inaction. Why? If it is part of the campaign, then it would appear that this campaign is, like other Liberal campaigns, a damp squib. If the Government wanted some instruction or was seeking advice, it has not been forthcoming from the Opposition, which will have to explain just why such a weak attempt has been made at a motion of censure.
This is an all-Australian problem. We admit the menace of communism, and we say that we are doing the best thing to fight communism, by attacking it in the unions, the only place in which it can be effectively attacked. If the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) were to attend every tea party in his electorate - and I believe that his attendance record is pretty good: - it would not matter at all so far as the fight against communism is concerned. It is in the unions that the disciplining of the Communists will eventually take place, and it is to us, the Labour party, that Australia must look to apply this discipline.
My quarrel with the argument of the Opposition is that in order to maintain adequate control over the Communists, and to keep them within reasonable bounds, we are to lose democracy in the process. The honorable member ‘ for Herbert (M. Edmonds), who was an Australian Workers Union organizer, has told the unionists that, after the banning of the Communists, there will come the machine guns and the concentration camps. Certainly, the law as embodied in the Crimes Act has proved ineffective.
– Mr. Rowe did not think so.
– The Rowes by any other name would smell the same, and I have no doubt that there are as many Communists in the electorate of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) as elsewhere. If we resort to banning, it must lead to the overthrow of democracy. The honorable member for Henty, who is the greatest young reactionary ever to enter this Parliament, talks in the language of the fascists. The Opposition is always crying out about the danger of the extreme left, but it has” never bothered about: the danger of the extreme right. The Labour party, however, is struggling to rid itself of Communist influence, as is proved by evidence which, although considered biased by the Opposition, is nevertheless reliable. Members of the Opposition are prepared to draw the fascists to their breasts, provided they are fashionable and mix in the right circles, and if they can talk on the right topics, particularly on the servicemen. Some of them have lived for so long in a vacuum that the only things that blow to us across the space are a few outworn cliches. I should like to know why, this debate having been initiated, the Opposition has capitulated so easily.
It is necessary that we should analyse the causes of communism. There is general agreement that something should be done to control it. and that some form of democratic control should be imposed, stopping short of the destruction of the principles in which we believe. Although this campaign has been bolstered up by the press, and many honest people swept into a current of angry thought, the Communists are not any more dangerous than they were ten weeks ago. The fact that a strike has recently occurred, and that the Communists were associated with it, does not introduce any new factor. Actually, people who should be in active co-operation in this matter, are found to be- at variance, and a section of the press is at last returning to sanity, and is giving the problem very grave consideration. It is being realized that the banning of an organization does more harm to democracy than is done to the organization that may be suppressed. I am not one of those who believe that every organization or movement that is. suppressed will live and blossom again after its period of martyrdom is over. Lots of movements have been killed that deserved to be killed, but in this instance, in order to act against the Communists, we may, as the Prime Minister has said so well- -=he says so many things well-be killing liberty itself. The first newspaper to take fright is the Melbourne *Herald. After having been moat vociferous in the campaign against the Communists, it has now begun to wonder whether it would be a good thing to ban the organization. In an editorial published in the issue of the 6th April, it says -
The Communist organization was illegal for one period in Australia. There is no evidence that its influence ‘was then greatly reduced. On the other hand, when communism was in the open during the recent industrial crisis in Queensland,, i:t was defeated by a determined State. Government backed by. resolute public opinion. It was discredited with a completeness which would not have been possible had it been driven underground..
Members of the Opposition are. persistently niggling against what they describe as the bureaucracy, but if by some mischance the Opposition parties were returned to power, they would have to depend upon the same Public Service. Discussing the position of the Public Service in regard to this, problem:,, the Melbourne Herald, in. the same editorial* says-
Administrative officials often incline to recommend bans and new restrictions as. a- short cut. through difficulties.” Security officers who hold this, view may favour a ban on Communists. But the duty of a Government is to keep principles in sight.
It is to the eternal credit of the Prime Minister and the Government, that despite unpopularity even among their supporters, for not going out and bashing the Communists, as we are sometimes urged to do, they have kept principles in sight. We believe that we have the key to the solution of this problem. There are other ways of dealing with the Communists besides bashing them. As a friend ‘of mine once said to me, “ There is no good, Les, in making martyrs out of mugs “. If. Australia has not enough appeal for them to induce them to respect its institutions, oppressive legislation, and burying them 6 feet under ground, will not mean a thing.
Let me read some extracts to show what is happening overseas. Should not the British Government feel more threatened by a force from the east sweeping over Europe? Should not the United States of America, with the destiny of the world1 in its hands, have more cause to beworried than we have? Should not Canada have more reason for feeling that oppressive measures were justified than has any one in Australia? In those other countries, however,, men are thinking of another formula,, by which -they hope to remove the evil by probing for its roots.. I have here an exclusive message to. theArgus from W. R. Shirir, who was a wai” correspondent in the west Pacific, and has lately been investigating matters overseas for the United Nations, and which appeared in a recent issue of theArgus,. Mr. Shirir, referring- to the report of the International Committee for the Study of European- Questions,, said -
The report - in Eather pleasant contrast toso many emanating from the American, side, oftha Atlantic - it not- hysterical. Its compilershave a sense of history.
This, was no ordinary run. of the mill,, a mere talky-talky show, but, an organization, established to find formulas for the cure of the- evils and troubles, of the world. In stating how best Communistand subversive elements, may be. dealt with the report says -
Two totalitarian- forces threaten the. existenceof democracy. Ona of them,, fascism,, which the last war did not destroy, is already beingreorganized, underground.
That is what would happen if the Communist party were banned here. Reorganization would take place underground. The report continues -
The other, Communism, is trying to gala ascendency over the world. What is the weakness of the democracies; in this; situation anc* what can- they do about it? If- democracy- is to survive, the committee argues,, a. third force- - ‘”’ an International of Democracy “ - must be set up- to oppose the Third International of Communism. Furthermore, the committee calls for immediate steps, towards a European federation and a drastic, reform of democratic institutions. As to general social conditions, it holds that if there is not already evolution, towards higher living standards in the democracies there will be- a revolution. In conclusion, the committee believes that both the threat of the Soviet and of war can be averted if thedemocracies have enough sense to join together and if they become progressive instead of preserving the status quo. But they will not succeed if they merely stand still and talk.
That is one constructive thought from Europe itself made by the contributing countries to a committee established for the purpose of promoting international understanding and it gives us a pointer as to how we should do these things. I am reminded that the Prime Minister referred to the fact that there is a reason for communism. There is a reason. Even the salt shaker does not fall from the kitchen dresser without some reason. The Prime Minister said - and his statement was snapped up by the Opposition - that communism grew out of the misery and frustration of people who were not able to see how they and their families could continue to exist in a crushed and overcrowded world. That is the situation in which communism grew. Do honorable members opposite think that the Czarist Government of Russia was so beneficial to the Russian people that hundreds of thousands of people were misguided when they rose and threw it out because of the (misuse of its despotic powers? I was amazed and distressed to find that the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) went to great pains to prove something against the Prime Minister which cannot be proved. He told us that he has been reading a lot lately. That is to be encouraged. T daresay that the only person who would object to any one reading a book is the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), and we know what happened to him. The honorable member for Reid had a notable colleague in that respect with whom history has dealt very effectively. The honorable member for Richmond said that he had read Jose’s history and discovered that there was a strike in 1917. I know that the honorable member has a comprehensive library ; I know that he is ;an extensive reader; and I thought perhaps he might have got down to an understanding of what he was reading when he referred to the fact that the Prime Minister of this country had said that the reason he was Prime Minister was because of the bitterness engendered in his heart during the 1917 strike. If honorable members opposite cannot understand the :simple, concise language of the Prime
Minister, they are more hopeless than 1 thought. The Prime Minister made a moving statement. If ever a moving statement was made, it was that statement by the leader of this country.
Mr. Gullett interjecting,
– I would not expect anything from the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett).
– And the honorable member would get nothing.
– The honorable member is a gullet which cannot swallow. Let me return to the honorable member for Richmond. He made a comment on the Prime Minister’s statement which of course was quite apart from the truth. I thought the Prime Minister’s words stated a truth with simple dignity. The honorable member for Henty has no conception of simple truth or dignity. The Prime Minister said that because in this fair country of ours he had been denied justice he had resolved to do, what- hu could to cure it. It was for that reason that he entered politics and became Prime Minister. The honorable member for Richmond would have us believe that he was the only soldier who has bared his breast to the enemy and stormed the barricades, the only ohe among us who was at Menin Gate. “We have to record that there were some notable absentees from the action at Menin Gate. The Leader of the Opposition was not there, nor was the Leader of the Australian Country party. Recalling those who were missing from Menin Gate the honorable member for Richmond said that as he passed through Menin Gate, the man who was to become our Prime Minister was on strike in Australia. The honorable member missed the whole implication of Menin Gate, which was a battle for liberty. Sir Philip Sassoon wrote this about it -
Who will remember, passing through the Gate, the unheroic dead who fed the guns? Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate, those doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones?
The Prime Minister was merely telling us in simple words that he had been fighting for the “doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones “. Is that a thing to arouse the amusement of honorable members opposite? That point should have been cleared up even though it creates some diversion from the arguments which I am now advancing. There has been a great to-do about a little act that was to take place in relation to the banning of the Communist party.
We heard with a fanfare of trumpets what the great Labour Premier of Queensland had done and that he was all for the banning of the Communist party. The Melbourne Herald having put on record that this was not a good thing, the Daily Telegraph published this morning a report of a statement made by Mr. Hanlon on his arrival in Sydney. The statement reads -
His Government would not ban the Com.munist party. He believed it would be stupid for any State to take action on its own. “ It is a matter for the Federal Government to satisfy itself whether it is better to deal with communism in the open or force it to go underground “, he said, “ The Queensland Labour party believes that in a democracy there should he freedom of political expression, and that the workers can deal most effectively with communism by tackling it within the union movement - the only place where it has any power “.
That comes back to the same thing again. When the Victorian Liberal Government discussed a draft bill designed to ban the Communist party, the Premier, Mr. Hollway, was absent. The Melbourne Herald in its issue of the 7th April, said -
The bill will be a “ rod in pickle “.
How can we drive people underground with a rod in pickle? The article continued1 -
The State bill to deal with subversive activities would not be introduced unless Communists disrupted essential services, the Premier (Mr. Hollway) said in Perth to-day.
Therefore, one by one, the former advocates of banning are dropping off. Mr. Hollway has said that the oan would be inexpedient. Mr. Hanlon says, “ Fight the Communists in the unions “. The Melbourne Herald considers that such a measure would constitute oppressive legislation. The Melbourne Argus says, “Let us have a plan “. That is what Henry Wallace meant when he said, “Let us make democracy work “. The Melbourne Age, in a leading article under the heading “ Dealing with Communists “, stated -
There is no evidence that the British Parliament regards the menace in such a light as to ban the Communist party. The Government is very properly taking steps to purge important”, services of known and suspected Communists; industries whose work would have a vital! bearing on defence are expected to do the same. But in other spheres of employment Communists were unaffected, and the party has not been banned. In Canada, after much discussion, reluctance to abandon a basic principleof democratic association and freedom of speech has stayed the Government’s hands. A .prodigious “ witch-hunt “ for Communistshas been going on in the United States, but apart from keeping them out of official positions where they might have access to secrets- - as in the United Kingdom - no responsiblemove has been made to ban the party.
There is a very significant conclusion tothis rather long editorial, which is a sanepiece of democratic writing and reminds me of the days of the Eureka Stockadewhen liberty was threatened by assaults on the freedom of the individual. Theeditorial concludes as follows: -
In recent times Communists have suffered’ severe reverses, but victims of their tactics - and who are not? - would not want to softenthe blows, or make the going any easier for Communists. Their path should undoubtedly bc made harder, but the best way of doing it isin the hands, of rank and file unionists.
There we have the conservative A<ge,. the Argus, the Melbourne Herald, theDaily Telegraph and the MelbourneHerald unanimously saying that what theOpposition has suggested we should do is wrong. Honorable members oppositehave asked us to do something which they themselves were unable to do when they were in office. This is a tragic place in which to talk because one’s voice reechoes many moons afterwards. I well recall that the words of the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) have very frequently been quoted against him, very desirably and delectably in my view. I propose to quote the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) against himself. In the comfort of his own party room, not with the Whips behind him, the right honorable gentleman gave an interview to that well known and brilliant journalist, Clive Turnbull. Reporting the interview, Mr. Turnbull said -
I went to one of these conferences to see what happened. Mr. Menzies arrived amiably and a little late from a post-dinner conversation on cricket and took his seat under a large photograph of the late Mr. Andy Fisher.
All very fine and homely !’ The- Leader of the Opposition was asked a series of questions. The report of the interview reads -
Questioner. - I notice that some of your colleagues in New South Wales want to put members of the Communist party, in certain circumstances, on trial for high treason.
-i thought they had decided that that should not be done.
Questioner. - I understand that the spirit of William Charles Wentworth-
Not to be confused with his descendant - came to the rescue and that they propose to put them up before a sort of Star Chamber for treason.
– 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 time of war a ban was placed on the Communist party on the grounds of national security. In time of peace it is a very, very serious step to prohibit the association of people for 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.
Honorable members will notice that the Leader of the Opposition was comfortable, that he was relaxed and that he was himself when he said that and was quite different from the Leader of the Opposition who fumbled with his speech in this House and said nothing concerning the ban. I hold no brief for the Communists. I have the distinction of being an Australian and a member of the Australian Labour party. These two interests fill my life. I owe no other allegiance. If, however, a person appears to have progressive thoughts, he is called a “ fellow traveller “ ; if he appears to take a particular interest in the study of political affairs he is dubbed a “ commo “. This is one matter upon which a man should know exactly where he stands. We are facing a problem that is age-old. It concerns us as it concerns the Liberals, the conservative people of this country. As labourites, we are a leftist party and proud of it, and anything that can be done within the democratic ambit of legislative activity will be done by us. There is no need in this country and century for an organization that preaches uprising and the overthrow of constitutional government; for we have not imported the miseries and hatreds of Europe to that degree. Nevertheless, there are conditions that persist in Australia that must be fought and conquered, or communism will in crease. Communism had a great fillip during the war because of the efforts of the Russians to defend their own country and because Australian Communist agitators cashed in on their gallantry. In my view, most Liberal party organizers and most secretaries of trade unions are efficient men. We, too, have efficient men. It has been said ad nauseum that we have done nothing.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- A few weeks ago a very enthusiastic and, I should say, very young and immature journalist wrote a panegyric on the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and had it published in the Melbourne Argus. He said, in effect, that when the honorable member rose in this House to speak a sort of electrical atmosphere sizzled through the House. It affected honorable members and the galleries alike, and the journalist said, “ Rightly, because, by comparison, other members of the House are like dross to virgin gold “.
– A good journalist!
– I am wondering whether, having listened to the honorable member’s effort to-day, the journalist would not re-write his article. I think I should be much more generous to the honorable member than his journalistic friend would be in that event, becauseI cannot find great fault with his contribution. One fault I did find in the honorable member’s speech, however, was his propensity for characterizing other speakers, who did not happen to agree with him, as fascists. The other fault I found in his speech was his reference to Menin Gate and his attempt to excuse, I would not say to condone though, the strike of 1917.
– I did condone it.I think it was a fine thing.
– I am loath to talk of armies, wars and battles, and never do, but I remind the honorable member that at Menin Gate hell was let loose on earth and the Australian soldier was suffering as probably he had never suffered before, and his sufferings were not lightened by a shortage of supplies and men. The men at Menin Gate were praying in their hearts that their mates back in Australia would not let them down, yet in the middle of the battle a strike occurred in Australia in 1917, with the strikers refusing to load essential supplies and sabotaging efforts to organize reinforcements for the soldiers in the field. That is the story told this afternoon by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). Strangely, that strike is condoned by an ex-soldier who knew the conditions of those days’.
– He has fled.
– I am sorry he has, but that is the only reference that I wish to snake to bis speech. What happened in Australia in 1917, in view of what we were up against, is an everlasting disgrace to this country and to those who were responsible for it, and I do not care who they are, ex-Prime Minister or present Prime Minister,, their association with it and their letting down of their fellow citizens who were fighting the battle of their lives will never be condoned by public opinion, even if it is condoned by the honorable member for Parkes;
I enter ti lis debate because I want to leave a few impressions and to correct some propagandist ideas, expressed in the speeches of some honorable members, on the Government side of the House. If there was ever any doubt of the wisdom of initiating this debate ifr has now been dispelled’,, for it has revealed to the people of Australia the attitude of the Ministry and. honorable members who sit behind the Government It is. unquestionable that many Government, supporters loathe the very name <c communism “, but they are to be forced, into the position of voting in support of it. Speeches were made ostensibly in defence of the Government, which is the right thing and is what’ we- expect ; but the’ attempts $o defend the Government resolved1 themselves into a defence of communism. I propose to refer to certain speeches, particularly Chose: of the. Minister for- the. Army (Mr. Chambers), the honorable’ member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and! the honorable member for Eden-Monaro- (Mr. Fraser). I intend to make a brief passing1 reference’ to- certain statements they made which were not actually relevant to the debate. The Minister for Information told us that communism is merely the product of capitalism or other insidious “ isms “ that may exist in the body politic in Australia. He said, “Eliminate capitalism and you eliminate communism, for it automatically dies “ ; but he refrained from referring to Russia. Russia eliminated capitalism about 30 years ago, but communism is more virile there to-day than it has ever been. The honorable gentleman should have carried his analogy a little farther. He tried to pretend to the people of Australia that by the simple process of eliminating capitalism amd by Insistence on law and order, though not by the use of guns, as- they were used in the Russian revolution, communism would automatically disappear. Then why has it not disappeared in Russia? Wily is Communist Russia trying to spread the germ of communism throughout Europe? The honorable member for Fremantle last night gave us a? long dissertation on eastern European politics, whichwas utterly irrelevant. He went as farback as the- Weimar Republic in Germany and the Colonel Beck administration in Poland and showed how intolerance and the suppression of communism were the undoing of those nations. What he said was utterly ridiculous. What the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) i meant, when he said’ that tolerance of Communists had led to the undoing, of nations waa that, although tha Communists, could not win an. election in Czecholovakia the Government of Czechoslovakia was. tolerant of. them, wi th the result that to-day ita members are in hiding or on the, run, and communism is, in control of. the. country.. It suited the honorable member, in trying to defend tha Government, to draw red herrings across the trail. He. tried to distract the listening, and reading public by lead- ing: them, up the lane, as the saying goes-. He also paid a remark-able tribute to theAustralian:. Country party. Tha honor able member for Eden-Monaro did likewise. Both, of those1 honorable gentlemen) characterized! members’ of the; Australian Country party as; a menace. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro said that the duty of making this attack had fallen on the Australian Country party. Yet members of the Liberal party have taken call for call with us. The honorable member also said that we are a greater potential menace than ever the Communists were, that we are more tyrannical and that the next thing we should want would be a ban on the Labour party. He did not add that if the Communists obtained control of affairs they would not bother about banning the Labour party but would walk over it. The same thing would happen to us and to the Liberal party. In his defence of Communists,the honorable member described us as blackmailers because the price of our supportof theOpposition is that it shall join us inupholding law andorder and in ridding the community of elements that would destroy democracy. That is the first time I have heard the term “ blackmail “ applied to a cardinal political virtue.
I touch again on what was said by the Minister for the Army to show how false is the presentation by honorable members opposite of their defence of the Government. The Minister tried to tell a story about a clarion call to the Labour party to take power and win the war. An honorable member interjected, “ Forced by two Judas Iscariots ! “ The Minister became frenzied and deliberately misrepresented the interjection by saying the Australian electors had been called Judas Iscariots. He harped on that to impress those who may have been listening, but he knows as well as I do that the advent of the Labour Government was the result of the greatest act of treachery ever perpetrated in the Australian Parliament. It was due to the defection of one man, whom the Labour party would describe as a political rat, if he had been in that party and had done to it as he did to the Fadden Ministry. Like every individual that person has weaknesses. His weaknesses were played upon by unrestrained and continued lobbying and high pressure from the Labour party to get him to sacrifice the friends who stuck to him, who paid his way in and trusted him while he was here. So Labour won. To such a victory it is welcome. But
I want the public to know that “ J udas Iscariot “ applies notas the Minister for the Army would have them think it applies, but to the treacherous defection of one man from the parties then in power.
– We won elections in 1943 and 1945.
-I admit that Labour won in 1943 and 1945. I am here to correct errors, not to confirm the truth. I am dealing not with that, but with the way in which Labour first got its majority.
I cannot imagine anything more depressing to the listening public than the Prime Minister’s quotation of what another Prime Minister said in 1925 in order to excuse his own Government’s inaction in 1948. He might have added that as the result of the statement of the Prime Minister in 1925 the subversive elements that were latent in the political body sawthat the timewas inopportune to try their strength; but this Government stall refuses to take a stand. That is, of course, the difference between the Prime Minister of 1925 and the Prime Minister of 1948. As the result of his inaction we hada sorry spectacle in the recent industrial trouble in Brisbane. In these remarks I am confining myself to Australia and not wandering all over Europe . Because the railwaymen in Queensland had challenged their constitutedGovernment, Communists in Sydney decided that no ships should sail with provisions to Queensland as long as the strike continued. The railwaymen, who were under Communistcontrol, decided also that no trains would carry goods for Queensland beyond a certain point. Therefore, we had a complete boycott of nearly 1,000,000 innocent people, who suffered conditions of semistarvation in northern Queensland because of theCommunists who, honorable members opposite say, do not incur the displeasure ofthe Government because they said that no ships shall sail. Whose prerogative is it to say whether ships shall or shall not sail? Is it the prerogative of the Communist-controlled unions or of the Government? If a person desires to operate a ship, he must obtain a permit from this Government; but a Communist does not need to come to this Government for a permit in order to stop a ship.
The vehement defence of Communists by some honorable members opposite in an attempt to lead people to believe that there is no Communist threat in Australia will be most discouraging to the people of Queensland. They will immediately understand that during the last two months they have been suffering from a delusion. The conditions of semistarvation which, we were told, existed in northern Queensland and were suffered by the residents of that part of the Commonwealth are apparently to be regarded as only a Saturday night’s dream, and not something that actually happened. They have been told that the Communists have not done anything to merit the displeasure of this Government, which is here not to govern or enforce the law, but to sit still, waiting to see how far the Communists will go before they have had enough. To hide behind the plea that the banning of any political philosophy is undemocratic is merely to evade the issue, because no honorable member on this side of the House has demanded the banning of any political philosophy as such. What the people of Australia are demanding, and what they. will ultimately get, is the banning of organized sabotage in this country. They will demand, and they will get, a government which will take action against the organizers of this sabotage who are people whose main desire appears to be to destroy rather than -create, who will not work, and who believe that the sole purpose of their existence on earth is to prevent other people from working. The banning of a philosophy is not sought. As many honorable members opposite have said during this debate, the censure motion does not mention the imposition of a ban upon the Communist party. We want action similar to that taken by the Government of -Queensland. The Australian Government has had ample opportunity to act. Three years ago, the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber urged the Government to accept the same challenge as the Premier of Queensland and the Premier of Victoria have accepted recently. But the “ little men “ in the “show “ immediately took up the cry, “ Menzies wants to cause a general strike throughout Australia “. That was the kind of propaganda which was disseminated. All that the Leader, of the Opposition said was, “ If the Government accepts the challenge now, it will win. Even a stoppage for two or three months is preferable to intermittent stoppages in the future “. The truth of that statement has been proved by the resolute action taken by the composite Government in Victoria and the Labour Government in Queensland.
T support the censure motion because it can no longer be doubted that responsible government in Australia is seriously challenged by an unelected coterie of irresponsibles. Because of Government inaction, these subversive elements have become so arrogant that we have witnessed in the last couple of months a major battle between the forces of law and order and the forces of organized destruction. Because there was no weakening on the part of the leaders at the helm in Victoria and Queensland, the forces of law and order won. As the result of that victory, we see a silver lining. The workers have at last awakened to the threat and realized how supine they have been in the past. Union after union has passed resolutions hostile to communism, and commending the Hanlon Government. Unionists have actually howled down and counted out their Communist leaders. Hitherto, that was an unheard of occurrence, but it has happened on the coal fields. Mr. Williams, the president of the miners’ federation, whom we know in Victoria, experienced it. This change of front is the result of a resolute stand by a government. Cannot honorable members opposite learn any lesson from that? The Australian Labour Government would have been rid of its troubles years ago if it had taken similar action.
The Communists work to a plan. They use military terminology to describe their activities. They speak of strategies, camouflages and planned campaigns. How do we know that the Queensland campaign was not merely a trial for the purpose of testing our weaknesses? I recall the commencement of the strike of tramway employees in Melbourne several months ago. On that occasion, the State
Government acted too promptly for tlie Communists, and the strike fizzled out. When the stoppage occurred, the Premier summoned an emergency meeting of Cabinet, which decided to submit to the State Parliament, special legislation dealing with the situation. While the parliament was discussing the bill, the Communistcontrolled Seamen’s Union and Waterside Workers’ Federation, issued a threat to the Hollway-McDonald Government that if it persisted with its legislation, the organizations would immediately go on strike. But the Government of Victoria was not easily intimidated. Tt ignored the threat, the Parliament passed the bill, and the tramway employees returned to work. The Communists were defeated.
Then they shifted to Queensland. The strike of railway employees in Queensland occurred in exactly the same way as the strike of tramway employees in Melbourne. Employees in the railway workshops went on strike, and immediately’ other unionists struck in sympathy. They had no grievances, hut they were spurred to action when they saw the threat to their supremacy from the Hanlon Labour Government. Mr. Hanlon, to his credit, showed no weakness, and his reward is there for all to see.’ He won. The strikers returned to work, and expressed disgust at the treatment which they had received from their leaders. Is not that an example to the Australian Government to end the ban which the waterside workers have imposed on Dutch and other ships, and to restore continuity of production in the coal-mining and steel industries? If this Government had taken resolute action long ago, it would have won, and Australia to-day would not be in such an unhappy position regarding shortages as it is in at present. Honest workers would have been able to pursue their trades, as they desire to do, and produce the goods. The Prime Minister has appealed to industry for greater production of goods which can be sold in the dollar area. If the right honorable gentleman had taken resolute action against the Communists years ago, Australian factories would have produced those good9, and the dollar shortage would not now be so acute. That is sound commonsense. However, the Government preferred to sit down, and see what would happen. Apparently, the Government believes that the Communists should be permitted to take the law into their own hands, ruin industries and defeat Australia’s efforts to establish markets overseas. What does the Government care so long as it remains in office in Canberra ! The Government is afraid to act, because some people would not like, it Comrade Rowe showed the calibre of his leadership as soon as he recognized that the strikers were returning to work in Queensland. He ran. That is what we can expect any of these Communists to do when they are challenged. They will run, because they will not stand up to resolute government action.
Every reasonable person in Australia will agree that trade unionism is a necessary institution in order to protect workers in industry. Again, every reasonable person in this country will agree that the great majority of trade unions are still, in the main, performing the function for which they were created. In what I am about to say, I do not desire to be misunderstood. I shall be very deliberate about it, and am prepared to support my view. Militant trade unionism, as it exists in Communist-controlled key unions, is to-day the greatest internal menace that has even confronted this country. Communist-controlled unions use the workers as an instrument to blackmail and intimate governments. As the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) knows, they have the power to paralyse industry throughout Australia. I realize that a government would feel reluctant to take certain action in the face of this threat. That, is why the Australian Labour Government in war-time did not act. It feared that the production of urgently required supplies for the war effort would be held up at a vital time. Now, in peace-time, the Government will not act because the Communists blackmail and intimidate it. Their threat is, “ Unless the Government is prepared to make a deal, we shall’ paralyse industry throughout Australia “. That is where militant trade unionism is getting Australia, and this is the greatest internal menace that Australia has ever had to face. The purpose of the Communists is to intimidate the Government into a policy of inaction. Their object is to usher in their “ red dawn and implement their policy of hellish repression at the instigation of a foreign power or in conformity with the dictates of some foreign ideology. That fact stands out. Even the children in the street know all about it.
We hoped that this Government would accept the censure motion in a more realistic manner, not necessarily as a challenge to itself, as the Government, but as a challenge to its attitude towards communism. We hoped that the Prime Minister would give to the people of Australia some encouragement to believe that in the near future, the Government would realize its responsibility.
– And do what?
– Take action to make the Communists obey the laws of the country. That is all we ask. If the Communists refuse to obey the law, the Government should ban them. First and foremost, the Communists should be treated as lawbreakers, seditionists and traitors. Proceedings should be instituted against the Communists under the Crimes Act. If that were done, I venture to say that the Government would need to proceed against only one or two persons. Comrade Rowe, when arrested, said, “ This is the beginning of the biggest thing which ever happened in Australia “. There was an opportunity for the Government spokesman to say, “If Comrade Rowe begins anything which is inimical to the interests of this country, it will certainly be the biggest thing that ever happened to him “. But nothing was said. The Communists were allowed carteblanc, and must have hugged themselves with delight yesterday when they heard their actions defended in this House against the reasoned and restrained attacks of members of the Opposition. Honorable members on this side of the. House are putting forward one aspect of public opinion but honorable members opposite are putting forward none, because nearly all public opinion, including that of the trade unionists, is with us on this matter. The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) was not too well received at the Labour party’s Easter conference in Melbourne. That conference howled at the Government to ban or restrict in some way the activities of the Communists. The trade unions can make a great effort to combat communism within their own ranks but they require some encouragement from the Government and an assurance that any action they take will be supported by it. I think I have debunked a little of the propaganda that has been indulged in.
The Government desires to increase production so that more food may be exported to Britain, but it is allowing the people whom it describes as the enemies of the Labour party to frustrate its efforts, and do so unchallenged. The Government’s attitude is that Britain and Australia can starve, but the Communists must not be interrupted.
The speech of the Prime Minister yesterday was hailed in some quarters as a second Gettysburg speech, and in the press it was described as an “ emotional defence “. I have heard many speeches, but I say deliberately that I have not yet heard a. Prime Minister make such a weak defence of a criticism of his administration. The right honorable gentleman indulged in “ sob-stuff “, and he is very appealing when he is weeping with sympathy for somebody, but as an effective contribution to a debate on a subject that is exercising the mind of every right thinking person in Australia it would have been better left unsaid. It was a poor thing, although it was his own. The Government is inviting the people themselves to take the action that it refuses to take. It is to be hoped that that will not happen, but if the people are left with no other alternative, they will not be content to allow their efforts to be sabotaged forever. If the Government to whom they look for protection refuses to protect them, then that Government will have to bear the blame for anything that happens as a result of its deliberate policy of inaction.
– I call the honorable member for Wilmot.
– I rise to order. I am concerned at the number of times the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) has risen in his place without being called. I therefore move -
That the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) be now heard.
– The Chair has the prerogative in this matter. The honorable member for Reid will receive next call on the government side.
– Mr. Speaker, in case you were not in the Chair on some occasions during the course of this debate, I point out that to my knowledge the honorable member for Wilmot has not risen before. He may have risen once, but the honorable member for Reid has risen on every occasion on which a speaker on this side of the House has resumed his seat. I think he is entitled to some priority now.
– The obligation on the Chair is to call the honorable member it sees first. It is quite immaterial to me who speaks. I have a list of the names of honorable members in the order in which they have offered themselves. The first occasion on which I saw the honorable member for Reid rise was this morning, and his name was immediately placed on the list.
– For my own guidance, Mr. Speaker, I ask whether it is a rule of this House or an understanding that honorable members get the call not in the order in which they rise in this chamber but in the order in which they go to the Speaker or Chairman of Committees and submit their names ? If that is so, I do not know of it. From the beginning of this debateI have risen at the conclusion of every speech made by an honorable member opposite, but I have not received the call.
– I say quite definitely that the honorable member has not risen on every such occasion. I have no interest in whether or not the honorable member speaks. At question time particularly he is treated as fairly as any other honorable member. I do not know what the intention of the Government is-
– To apply the “ gag “.
– There is a very effective way of “ gagging “ honorable members who interrupt when the Chair is addressing honorable members. One of the cardinal rules of this House is that honorable members must remain silent at such times. The honorable member for Wilmot will make his speech without further interruption.
.- Having listened to the speeches of every honorable member who has spoken in. this debate, I feel that we differ on one point only, although it is an important one. We are all agreed about the menace of the Communist party in this country and overseas, but we differ upon the methods to be used to combat it. Because the banning of the party is not, in my opinion, the appropriate way with which to deal with this problem, I do not support this motion.
I deprecate the dangerous and loose talk that is being indulged in by the Opposition on public platforms and which is being given publicity in the press by professional pressmen. I believe that the death-knell of reason and commonsense is being hastened in this country by war hysteria and irrational and hysterical talk by honorable members opposite and their cohorts in many mushroom organizations. This wild talk is having the effect that any man who gets up to-day in this country, even in a pulpit, and endeavours to interpret the mind of Christ as he sees it is likely to be termed a Communist. I have been termed a Communist for interpreting in a pulpit the mind of Christ as I visualize it. The day is coming when no man will be prepared to speak the truth because if he does he will be classed as a Communist, with a sinister implication. I do not know how a Christian, particularly if he be a Roman Catholic, can be a Communist, but the hysteria of members of the Opposition is leading them to attach to honorable members on this side of the House the connotation “ Communist “.
In my opinion, this motion is being supported by the Opposition as an act of political expediency in order to capture the votes of certain churchmen in Australia who profess to a strong opposition to communism. Communism is the political antithesis of all I believe in. It is, in its materialistic conception of life and its denial of God, the enemy of Christianity. It advocates violence and revolution to achieve its economic aims, thus showing its complete ignorance of the outlook of the Australian people. The banning of the party will neither weaken nor destroy the activities of the Communists. This talk of banning and repression reveals an utter misunderstanding by the Opposition of human psychology, and of the psychology of persecution. To ban your enemy’s organization in peace-time merely because of dislike for his ideals is, in most cases, merely to show your own weakness and the impotency of your own ideals as compared with his. It is to admit that you cannot stand on your own feet and that you must use force and repression to silence his advocacy of a way of life that you do not like, but which, by your actions, you show to be stronger than your own. It is a surrender of truth and reason to force, repression, irrationalism and hysteria.
I wish to refer briefly to the battle of ideas that is going on in the world to-day, not only in the trade unions, in the press and various organizations throughout the Commonwealth, and other countries, but also in this Parliament. The physical war, the clash of arms, ended on the 15 th August, 1945. but another international war, more subtle but just as menacing even though it is less spectacular, goes on every hour of every day of every year. It is the war of ideas. Never before in history has this struggle assumed the significance it has assumed to-day. This ideological war and battle of ideas cuts across physical barriers, and even across the alinement of the nations engaged in World War II. Nations that were allies in the armed conflict can be on opposite sides in the battle of ideas. This is not a war on a battlefield but in the mind. It is a life and death conflict between different ways of life, involving political, economic, social and religious beliefs. Let us not. underrate the power of an idea believed in with deep sincerity and conviction. An idea or a belief is spiritual dynamite. Through the inspiration of ideas in the minds of men, men have split the atom; explored the ocean depths, conquered disease, built cities, established a world-wide agriculture and achieved miracles of transportation and industrialization. Through ideas the characters of men and women have been destroyed or rebuilt. One great dynamic explosive idea born in one man’s mind may set up a chain of mental reactions far-reaching enough to alter for good or evil the lives of millions of people. In support of this contention, I refer to Christ, Plato, Milton, Napoleon, Bismark. Hitler, Mussolini and Lenin. If we take that group alone we see what one idea born in a man’s mind can mean to the world in suffering and death, or in goodness.
We must not delude ourselves on this point. The physical might of fascism and nazi-ism has been broken, but not the power of their ideologies. The mental and spiritual war is still to be won. The battle ground is not a physical one, but it is the minds of millions of people in every part of the world who still believe in those ideologies. We shall never win this war of ideas with physical weapons. The Roman empire pitted its material strength against the early Christian in an attempt to eradicate the new religion. The only casualties were thousands of Christians, but their ideals survived. Before that, the Jews put Christ on the Cross in order to destroy all that He stood for and to rid the world of a revolutionary, as ‘they called Him, who was too dangerous and who incited the people. The only casualty was a physical Christ; his tremendous ideas survived with Christ spiritually. Fascism’s leaders are dead but their ideas survive as poison in the world’s blood-stream. It is impossible to change a nation without changing its beliefs and ideologies. The forces of goodness, truth and decency must attack the corruption in men’s minds, bad ideas must be destroyed by better ideas and evil systems or beliefs must be supplanted by the moral force and example of a better way of life. That is a slow process, but it is the only really effective one to defeat this menace of which we are speaking. A democratic way of life that is weak and insincerely believed in is no match for a full-blooded and passionately believed in fascism or materialist communism. We must realize before it is too late that a democracy without a soul, without spiritual faith, and without moral awareness cannot stand against an autocracy of any brand. Such moral rot in democracy would bring tragic defeat in the war of destinyshaping ideologies which is going on in the world to-day. Where aspects of communistic, capitalistic, individualistic or monopolistic ideologies threaten freedom, there is only one way to combat the menace. We must out-think, out-vote, out-general and out-live them. Physical conflict would only perpetuate these things. As Mr. Henry Wallace said in Britain recently -
Fighting communism will only make communism stronger. We have something better than communism if we are willing to put as much sincerity into our beliefs as the Communists do.
Oar faith in our ideals, our enthusiasm for our way of life and our convictions must be stronger and deeper than those of our rivals if we are to beat them; and beat them in the open we can, if we only rise to the occasion, and refuse to admit our weakness by attempting to use force to drive them underground. Banning communism will not defeat it, or even weaken it. When the Menzies Government banned communism the leaders were not imprisoned, and the membership of the organization increased. This proves, as has been demonstrated previously in history, that suppressive legislation makes martyrs, strengthens the moral and spiritual fibre of the members of suppressed organizations, binds them closer together, increases bitterness and the spirit of revenge and, as a rule, increases the membership of organizations. We have heard the saying -
The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.
We may well apply that to communism. We should ask ourselves whether Satan can cast out Satan? Can tyranny and imprisonment destroy tyranny? Can repression and concentration camps crush evil? Can we destroy communism by using the methods of communism in a democratic country which believes in freedom ? TheRev. Gordon Arthur, speaking at a Rotary luncheon in Hobart in March, said -
We can never destroy communism by banning the party: The onlyreal method is by a better wny of life.
I quote thefollowing from the leading article in to-day’s issue of the, Melbourne Sun, entitled “ How to Deal with the Reds “ : -
Many, who, like the Sun, hold in equal detestation the Communist creed and the methods by which Communists seek to attain their ends will nevertheless question the desirability of the Victorian Government proceeding with legislation to ban the Communist party. Suppressive measures directed against a minority must always be looked at askance in a democracy. Taboos and prohibitions which in war-time are reluctantly accepted in the interests of national security are difficult to reconcile with fundamental democratic principles in times of peace.
To me, that is a fitting answer to the Opposition, an answer supplied by a newspaper which supports the Opposition 99 times out of 100. On this occasion, however, it does not.
Finally, I should like to say how I think communism should be dealt with. We are agreed on this matter on the Government side of the House, and honorable members opposite probably agree with us, also, but they want to go farther. The provision of economic security is one method of keeping communism in check. Communism has grown during periods of depression and economic insecurity. Wherever such conditions have been present communism has increased, but its strength has diminished when economic security has been achieved. Who will deny that modern communism grew in political significance as the result of economic chaos and insecurity? This was the case during 1893-94, and again between 1917 and 1921, when it produced the Soviet system in Russia, and Communist cells in central Europe, which have expanded so much since then. Between the years 1930 and 1934 communism received a tremendous impetus throughout the world. It increased greatly in Australia during the four or five years of the depression.
– It did not compare then with the strength it has now.
– The membership of the Communist party was greater then than it is now. Totalitarianism thrives on hunger, and the philosophy of Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini made its first powerful appeal to the empty stomachs of the people of countries where those leaders rose to power. This cannot be denied. There were 6,000,000 unemployed persons in Germany when Hitler was stumping the country preaching the doctrine of nazi-ism . If ever Australia deteriorates to that stage, a Hitler or Mussolini or
Lenin will arise here, but not from the ranks of theLabour party. Extremism always grows in times of economic depression, but since the Labour Government has been in power in Australia, and has battled successfully against poverty, insecurity and economic chaos, the Communist party has decreased in numbers by many thousands, and its leaders are struggling for publicity by all sorts of means. To-day, where hunger exists communism is growing. The Marshall plan wall be a mighty factor in checking communism in western Europe. Let me quote the following statement of a man who has recently returned from Europe, Mr.Hayden McCallum, travelling secretary of the Australian Student Christian Movement, which he made when addressing the Launceston 50,000 League in March: -
Because of their hunger and bewilderment, the German people were turning to communism, which they felt was their only alternative. Germans believed that democracy was a failure because under Hitler they had clothing and food, but under democracy they had less.
We might call it “ dollarocracy “ at the moment in Germany. Secondly, we can combat communism if unionists will take a. greater interest in the election of office bearers, because it is in this field that communism has exercised most influence. The lethargy of unionists has made it possible for Communists to gain power in many union elections. I quote the following from a letter written to the Melbourne Herald and signed “ Demos “ : -
The enthusiastic few Reds pay their union dues of time and vote their comrades to the shop committees. They then put their prefabricated motions to semi-mass meetings. The moderate unionist is dumb in more ways than one. He cannot speak up. He won’t pay his union dues unless chased for them, and he won’t attend mass meetings to support any opposition to the Red proposals. On how many clays on which “ mass meetings “ have been held at Newport workshops has there been a crowd of “ moderate unionists “ playing cricket around the corner? At a mass meeting at Newport on the futile one-hour’s stopwork recently, a few bravemen got up and opposed the motion. These included a little old Welshman, who deserved a medal as big as a smoke-box door for his efforts. The answer to the Red menace is not in smashing up Communist meetings or “earbashing” Red speakers. It is in all moderate unionists attending all their union meetings and backing by a silent vote the few moderates who were gifted with oratory.
The third methodby which we might combat communism is to increase the strength of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, and I understand thatthat isnowbeingtaken in hand by the Attorney-General’s Department. A fourthmethod - and Isay this with all sincerity - is the development of a greater belief in Christian principles, together with a strengthening of the moral and spiritual fibres of the nation. If Communists attended their meetings no better than Christians attend theirs there would be no Communist party today. Communists are a challenge to every democrat. Our weakness of faith, of ideals and of will is the Communists’ strength. Their fanatical enthusiasm for their ideals, however warped, is the real danger with which we have to contend, but we are impotent, apart from drastic fascist-like or Communist-like legislation, unless we recover our faith in our ideals, unless we out-general, outmanoeuvre and out-vote the Communists at every point, and unless we build an economic order so secure, so strong and so prosperous that the seedbed of communism is destroyed.
The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) said that the Labour party was noted for having installed telephones in Marx House. I have in my hand a copy of Hansard in which the information appears that the Opposition parties, while in power, agreed to the installation of no fewer than eight telephones in Marx House.
– Out of 28.
– No; only twelve have been installed in Marx House since this Government has been in office. These figures completely dispose of the arguments of the honorable member for Calare.
I put these views forward in the belief that the banning of communism will not destroy it. We must tackle the problem in the right way. We must show the Communists that we have greater enthusiasm, greater sincerity for our ideals and greater love of our country than they are ever likely to have.
– I call the Vice- P resident of the Executive Council–
– “ Scalper “ Scully !
– Order ! Honorable members are well aware that when a Minister rises he is entitled to the call.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
Majority . . 11
(Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) put -
That in the opinion of this House . . . (vide page 601).
The House divided.
Majority . . . . 13
(Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from the 11th March, (vide page 558), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the following paper be printed: -
International Affairs - Statement prepared by the Minister for External Affairs, 11th March, 1948.
.- We have before us a statement prepared by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) which was presented to the House before the Easter recess. This is surely the most unsatisfying statement on international affairs that has ever been presented to any parliament in this country. It is a voluminous piece of work containing no less than 213 pages. It can perhaps best be described as a child’s guide to knowledge, for it contains almost nothing but excerpts from statements published in the press during the last six months or so. Most of us here are not children. We have at least some knowledge of world-wide relations. In this statement there appears not one single word to indicate the Government’s policy on international affairs. From time to time we read statements of what the Minister for External Affairs has said at a committee meeting at Washington or elsewhere at which these matters are dealt with, but they convey to us no indication of the Government’s views regarding what is happening in the world. Let us, for instance, consider the subject of Palestine. Here we have a statement on what took place at meetings of the Security Council and in the General Assembly, but we have been given no idea of the reasons that impelled the Government to act in certain ways with which I propose to deal later. We are left completely in the dark as to what the Government really thinks about that important matter. The document gives a lot of historical data, which we already know, about the Falkland Islands, but it makes no reference to what the Government thinks about this important matter. Consider also a number of other important matters affecting the British Empire and, in particular, Great Britain. There is the challenge in Guiana and British Honduras and there is the challenge from Gautemala in respect of which we are again left completely in the dark as to the Government’s real ideas and policy. This chamber and the country should know or have at least some idea of the Government’s views on those important subjects. I find it extremely difficult to criticize the Government’s policy, because it has no policy. It is, perhaps, asking a lot of the Government to tell us its ideas about anything important that takes place inside or outside Australia. It maintains a masterly silence, twiddling its thumbs. It gives the country no lead at all, partly, I think, because it. does not know what it ought to do and partly because, when it does know, it lacks the courage to give a lead. That is completely illustrated by its inaction on the question of Communists. Australia drifts along without any lead from the Government, although the Government should give a. lead to the country, especially in .time? like these.
We have just emerged from a war. The whole world knew, after 1930, that Germany was re-arming. The close coalition that existed among the Allies during World War I. no longer existed. The allied countries were beginning to more or less fall out. The world was tired of war. It had gone through the horrors of war and longed for peace. Everywhere, except in Germany, the world was pacifist. The time came when Germany began to re-arm. The other countries like Great Britain, France, the United States of America and Italy, when faced with that fact, said, “ Oh, well, things cannot again come to war “, and they continued to disarm and to become correspondingly weaker. So when the critical time came in 1936, when Germany re-entered the Rhineland and took possession of the Rhine provinces, war could have been prevented merely by sending troops, even less than a division, into the Rhineland to turn the Germans out, but no country was strong enough or willing enough for that, and Germany was allowed to carry on. The world to-day faces a situation very like that which it faced from 1936 to 1939. A few weeks ago, the American Secretary of State, General Marshall, described the situation as “ very, very serious “ and declared that we were in the midst of a great crisis. In Britain, Mr. Morrison said that he regarded the threat to civilization to-day as comparable to that of 1938. There is an obvious resemblance between the present situation and the situation in 1938. Now, as then, a great European country is strongly armed and organized for war and has great ideas of expansion. Germany achieved expansion with complete disregard of the rights or desires of the nations it occupied. So with Russia. Now, as then, we see a nation refusing to co-operate with the other great nations. There are also obvious differences, which I think the House should appreciate. After World War I., the democratic world believed that war was a terrible but not significant interruption of -the ordinary course of civilized life, that it was rather like a tidal wave or a railway smash, and that when the mess had been cleaned up and the dead buried, there would be a return to normality and that people would once more live the uninterrupted life that had always been taken for granted. But I think every one realizes that the end of World War II. was not the end of the story and that we must face great problems. Addressing my remarks particularly to the Minister for External Affairs, I say that what is wanted in the world is not words but action, but the verbosity of our delegates in the councils of the world and the inaction of the Government at home are conspicuous.
The second difference between the situation now and the situation after World War I. is that the country that corresponds to Germany is Russia, and to-day Russia has fifth columnists throughout practically every country, not excepting Australia. In France, to some degree, in Austria and, certainly, in Italy and Greece there are strong forces of Communists organized, and in some cases armed and under instruction from Moscow, ready and eager to take over control. We have seen what has happened in other European countries. That story has been fully told in another debate to-day and I do not need to repeat it. We all know the dangers in Europe, but Europe is not the only place where Russia has a fifth column. Throughout North Africa, Communists agents are at work. They are very active in Egypt. They are at work in Algeria and Morocco and are becoming a force- farther East in Persia, India, Burma and Indonesia, almost at our doorstep. What is true of Asia and North Africa i= also true of South America. Russian fifth columnists are hard at work in Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Brazil. At the behest of their master, they serve in China and Japan. Before Germany went to war again, it had fifth columnists all over the world.. The fifth column was known as the Bund. It consisted of small local bodies the members of which were occupied with their national interests, but did not interfere to any degree with life and politics in the countries they lived in. The difference to-day is obvious. The fifth columnists that the Russians have at work in different countries are in those countries for the purpose of weakening them and of serving as advance guards of the Russian armies when they arrive, whereas the Nazi fifth columnists were designed only to commit sabotage. The difference is significant. The third point of difference between the present situation and that which existed before World War II. is of concern to ourselves. It is the position of .Russia to-day with regard to the rest of the world with which it is at loggerheads. That position is not so strong as was Germany’s in 1939. Then Germany was fully equipped. It had an incomparable army equipped with the latest weapons. It was strong on land, sea and in the air. Compared with the rest of the world it occupied a position of overwhelming preponderance. Russia is in an entirely different position. It has, it is true, an extremely large and well-equipped army still on a war footing. Estimates of the number of troops that Russia has mobilized vary, but all authorities estimate it at more than one hundred divisions, in addition to which it can call on many more divisions from the population of its satellites. But there is another side of the picture. Russia suffered enormously during the war. The whole of western Russia was devastated and was swept by the Germans almost as clean as the floor of this chamber. In the Ukraine, for instance, hundreds of thousands of men and women are living in holes in the ground, lacking the wherewithal to rebuild their homes. Russia is short of capital and consumer goods and in that respect is in a needy position. So we are confronted with an extraordinary paradox. On the one hand Russia is expanding in various directions and, on the other hand, internally, Russia’s sinews of war are comparatively weak. The reason why the Soviet Union adopts its present attitude is not difficult to discover. Weak as they are, the Russians firmly believe that other countries with which they have to deal are even weaker. Russian policy to-day is based upon a complete belief in an immediate or near collapse of the capitalist powers. With the Russians, that is an article of . creed, and nothing can knock it out of their heads. That creed is supported every day by reports from Russian agents abroad, who know the nature of the information which their chiefs like to receive, and compose their reports accordingly. Therefore, the position is that Russia, which is the one menace to the peace of the world at the present time, has strong ideas and powerful armies, but is comparatively weak internally.
As to the Soviet Government itself, Stalin, as the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is probably aware, has been a sick man for a considerable period, and spends most of his time in the Crimea. Power has passed from his hands into those of his advisers, who are extremists in Russian politics. The three principals are Zhdanof, Marshal Beria, and Andreyev Andrelyvich. To a large degree, they control Russian policy. They believe that piecemeal aggression will pay, and that that is the best policy that the Soviet Union can adopt to-day. In their opinion the international situation is such that the results of piecemeal progress are more important to-day than before the outbreak of World War IT. In addition, they believe that war is psychologically impossible at present. They assume that Russia can get away with anything that it does. At no point in Russian policy is there the slightest sign of conciliation, and, all the while, Russia consolidates its gains behind the “ iron curtain “.
As briefly as possible, I shall trace Soviet policy since 19’39. Frequently, I have heard some honorable members opposite declare that no socialist government is an aggressive government. Although that view is widely held not only in Australia but also in other countries, I have never agreed with it. Since 1917, the Soviet Government, which has been socialist or communist - the words to me are almost synonymous - has consistently pursued an expansionist policy. Its programme is the same as that which was followed by the Czarist regime for centuries. No change has occurred in the general pattern of Russian foreign policy. I shall not refer to Russian policy during the last few months, but shall show how that policy has followed on quite consistently and, I suppose, naturally, from the policy pursued since Russia began to find its feet towards the end of the 1920’s.
In 1939 Russia entered into a treaty of non-aggression with Nazi Germany.
Seventeen days after the signing of the treaty, Soviet Russia suddenly declared war on Poland. That country had already been defeated by the Germans, and Russia proceeded to over-run a large part of its territory. Then followed treaties of mutual assistance with Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The signing of those treaties meant that, within a short period, those States were occupied by Soviet troops. Soviet Russia then proposed a similar treaty with Finland. The Finns would not “ play ball “, and refused to enter into a treaty. Thereupon Russia declared war on Finland and after various ups and downs the Soviet obtained what it had demanded. In 194.0 Russia stepped in and occupied Bessarabia and Bukovina. The Russians had no right, rhyme or reason for doing so, but occupied those States simply because they wanted to do so.
In 1940, Turkey entered into an alliance with Great Britain and France. We thought in those days that Soviet, Russia would welcome this alliance as a means of protecting its back door against Germany. Not a bit of it! The treaty of non-aggression between Russia and Turkey was allowed to lapse, and Russia immediately became a covert, enemy of the Turks. Any approaches which the Turks made to Russia in those days were summarily rejected. Russia went further than that. In 1945, the Soviet proposed to Turkey that conjointly they should control the Dardenelles, and invited the Turks to enter into a formal agreement for this purpose. This proposal was made when the United Nations was being established. Russia made strong endeavours to secure with Turkey joint control of the Dardenelles, and thus get its foot on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. What is the inference that we must draw? At present, the whole of the democratic world is being challenged by the Communist Soviet Union. This challenge must not only be faced but also met by firm resistance - not aggressive resistance, but resistance in a form which shows that we say to Russia “ Tims far and no farther “. The United States of America, obviously in agreement with Great Britain, has taken that step and we ourselves must make up our minds where we stand in relation to it.
I turn now to a rather wider proposition. Although it may be controversial in this chamber, I personally believe in it, and thinkl that the House should consider it. Undoubtedly the day of the small nations has passed. No longer can small nations achieve effective results by banding together in a defensive union against the threat of a major power. World War II. demonstrated that. Any person who studies international developments with a clear eye must know that victory goes to the strong. Some honorable members opposite might not follow me when I say that I believe that the question now before the world, speaking in the widest possible terms, is not whether the world is to be completely unified in future, but in which of two alternative ways it will be unified. The first alternative is the old and unpleasant way whereby, after a round of wars, there is one surviving major power which has defeated its last competitor and imposed peace on the rest of the world. That occurred in the third century, B.C., when the Romans, having knocked out their last surviving competitor, the Greeks, assumed complete control of the then-known civilized world. In the third century, B.C., the Chinese achieved a similar result in eastern Asia. That is one method by which a sort of unification of the world may be achieved. The second possible process of unification is by the co-operative government of the world through the United Nations. As honorable members will agree, that is a most difficult pioneering enterprise. It has been tried in the past. It is not by any means a new experiment. The supreme example, before the establishment of the United Nations, was the League of Nations, and we all are aware of its fate. The United Nations is certainly my hope, and the hope of every Australian citizen, for preserving world peace.
– It is a vain hope.
– It is the only hope which really touches our policy and our hearts. What chance have we of seeing the fulfilment of this hope? For two years, we have witnessed the deliberate sabotaging of the machinery of the United Nations by Soviet Russia. On the majority of occasions when action was necessary, no action was possible because Russia had exercised the veto. How can any one have real faith in an international organization when one of the principal members has a policy and ideals which are absolutely alien to those of the other members? In the Security Council Russia is in a position to dominate the partnership through the use of the veto. In the circumstances, how is it possible for us to have any faith - even a qualified faith - in the efficiency of this organization?
I digress for a few moments to put to the House the possibility of a United Nations without Russia as a member. In my opinion, such a proposition would be almost hopeless. The League of Nations failed largely because the United States of America, which was then the greatest power in the world, as it is to-day, was not a member. What would the United. Nations mean without Russia? A large portion of the strength, and, above all, the military strength, of the world would be outside the United Nations. Therefore, how could the United Nations meet commitments arising from any action by Russia? I refer the Minister for External Affairs to events in Palestine. The United Nations reached a decision, and I shall not discuss its merits, to partition Palestine. Every man, woman and child with any knowledge of this subject realized that partition could not be effected without forces; yet the United Nations, with Australia subscribing to the decision, showed a complete lack of a sense of responsibility in this matter. We, who knew or should have known the dangers and difficulties involved in this partition, gaily agreed to the decision without any idea of how the commitments, which the partition would definitely involve, were to be met.
– It is clear that the honorable member has not read the decision.
– I have.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I had explained my view that to-day the world could work towards unification in either one of two ways. The first was by a knock-out blow delivered by one of the two great powers in the world to-day, and the second was by a confederation of nations within the framework of the United Nations. I had pointed out some of the difficulties inherent in the latter alternative. There are other difficulties which I did not mention then and to which I shall refer now. There are only two great powers in the world to-day, Russia and the United States of America, with the possibility of a third one, the British Empire. If another war occurs it is clear that when it has ended there will be only one great power left. If there is a confederation of nations containing only two important and strong nations, the others being small and unimportant, that confederation will depend for its efficiency upon the attitude of one of the great powers to the other. In any ease, the constitution of the United Nations organization is that of a very loose confederation that can only hold together in the face of a common danger. If the confederation is to survive after the common danger has passed, it can do so only if there is a great- deal of homogeneity amongst its members. That is the state in which we find ourselves to-day in this society of nations. [Extension of time granted.]
The basis of the policy of the Soviet Union to-day is that of power politics. That means the balance of power and a return to the principle of the Concert of Europe. It does not mean a complete return to the past, because conditions today are vastly different from those in Europe and in the world generally 25 years ago. In those days the small nations counted for something in world politics. They could exercise influence by throwing their weight in with that of the larger nations and thus help to maintain the balance of power. To-day no small nation can remain absolutely isolated from the decisive currents of international affairs ; they must sooner or later, in peace as well as in war, be drawn into the orbit of one of the two, or perhaps three, great powers. The prospects to-day are that the world will form itself into two or three constellations of great powers - Soviet Russia,- the United States and the British Empire, with what other units each can gather round it. The alternatives facing Britain to-day are either itself to form the nucleus of a constellation of powers embracing the Dominions and the states of Western Europe - and it is quite clear from recent developments that that is the direction in which Great Britain is moving - or, if it does not desire to adopt that course, to join one of the two other great constellations.
In ordinary life the saying that two is company and three is none is a good one, but in international affairs the contrary is true. The question to-day is whether it is possible to have three constellations of power. How far can the British Empire go towards forming that third constellation? Considering the Empire alone, there are certain aspects to be taken into account. The first is the statistical one. Adding up the vast resources of the Empire in raw materials and manpower, and looking at the matter from that point of view, the answer is that it can be done and that we can form a strong international unit. Looking at the matter from the geographical and political point of view. T should say only that perhaps it can be done. I am not convinced that it is possible, but I think it may be possible if we set about it in the right way. What is required is to weld the units of this constellation into a massive military unit such as Russia or America is to-day. That means entirely reversing the direction in which the British Empire has been moving since 1783, when the American colonies were lost. Since that date, the units of the Empire have been tending towards self-government. To-day every part of the British Empire, with the exception of the colonies, which are still under the control of the Home Government, has either achieved self-government or is moving towards it. The important point so far as we are concerned is that it i9 not possible for an association of nations such as ours to combine selfgovernment with massive military strength. Massive military strength means a concentration in the centre and a big accumulation of all available forces, potential and actual, inside that nation. That means unitary power. That is the problem facing us to-day.
The vital question for us is what role Australia can play in the present world situation. We are a small nation, and all small nations to-day are neither more nor less than pawns in the policy of the big nations. I am certain that as time goes on, power and strength will reside more and more in the big nations and less and less in the small nations as far as the direction of world policy is concerned. My conviction is that our hopes for world peace and the freedom and prosperity of the small nations depends upon the success or failure of the United Nations. It is only in a strong: democratic assembly such as that that the small nations can raise their voices and exert some influence upon the framing of world policy. I have tried to show that the difficulties facing the United Nations are very great - so great that at times one is apt to despair of complete or even partial success. This hope, if ever it is realized, will certainly not be realized this year, next year, or even ten years bence, as I see the situation.
Meanwhile, we are living in a world of reality - a world in which power politics is the order of the day and is likely to remain so for some considerable time. We have, therefore, to adjust our policy accordingly. We are a British people, and I hold that our destinies lie with the British Commonwealth of Nations. That means that fruitful and close co-operation within the Empire must be the first plank in our policy.
I have spoken of the difficulties of a situation in which two great powers face each, other either within or outside the United Nations organization. I have tried to show that the existence in the world to-day of a third great power is essential not only to the balance of power within the world, but to the fruitful working of the United Nations organization itself. I believe that the countries of the Empire can form this third great power, strengthened and supported by Western European Union. We shall certainly be called upon to undertake a big share of the defence of this association of the British Empire and a Western European Union. We shall no doubt be called upon to make many sacrifices in regard to trade and commerce and perhaps even in regard to migration. We should not hesitate to make them.
I conclude by saying that I believe, as I think every honorable member believes, that, of all things in the world, security is the most precious, whether for individuals or nations. Peace for us means security for us. Let us not be afraid to pay the price for it.
– I agree so much with the remarks made by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) since the resumption of the sitting, that I do not think it necessary to refer in any detail to some of his more pessimistic earlier observations. I do not criticize even the note of warning he struck regarding one or two matters. He pins his faith, as he now declares, for the future wellbeing of the world - not the future of the governments of the world, but the future of the peoples of the world - on the United Nations. In my opinion, the honorable members is substantially correct. The United Nations organization is blamed to-day by those who know very little of its structure, and who tend to think that because there is such an organization as the United Nations, for every dispute between the powers. It is almost taken for granted by many people that can be attributed in some way or other to the mistakes of that organization. There could not be a greater error than that. At San Francisco, less than three years ago, the organization was created. It was created by the initiative of the three great powers which were responsible for victory, the British Commonwealth, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. However, at the conference, it was clearly understood that the actual negotiation of the peace settlements and treaties with the defeated countries would not be the work of the United Nations, but of those who had been responsible for winning the war. It was understood - and there are provisions in the agreement which state it - that the peace would be maintained by the United Nations, but it had first of all to bemade by the powers which obtained victory over our enemies. But for certain reasons, some of which, I shall have to go into, we find to-day that incident after incident, dispute after dispute, and situation after situation, comes before the
United Nations, although they could and should have been settled by the great powers had they made the peace as quickly as was contemplated at the San Francisco conference. I agree with the honorable member for Flinders that a great burden has been placed on the United Nations although that body is not yet three years old. The defeatists, pessimists, and even the optimists do not seem to know the facts, and regard the United Nations as being responsible for the present situation.
It would be foolish to underestimate the seriousness of the situation as it exists to-day. One looks back to the years of the war. The honorable member for Flinders looked back to the years before the war. He tried to make a comparison between the position of Germany after it§ rearmament programme was practically complete a few years after Hitler came into power in 1933 and the position of the Soviet Union to-day. The comparison is not original, and it is not true. Germany was overwhelmingly defeated in the first world war. Hitler came into power with the avowed intention of redressing the balance of power in Europe, and of doing it by force if necessary. The present position, with all its difficulties, is not like the position which obtained at the time. Less than three years ago, the three great allies were fighting together. I read only yesterday telegrams, recently published, which passed between Mr. Churchill and M. Stalin dealing with the situation in January, 1945, when fighting in the west was, according to Mr. Churchill’s message, very heavy. Great difficulties had arisen in the Ardennes sector where Hitler’s troops had broken through and placed the forces of Great Britain, of the United States of America and of France in a serious position. It was plain then that the Russian defensive would be delayed, and Mr. Churchill sent this message to M. Stalin -
I shall be grateful if you can tell me whether we can count on a major Russian offensive on the Vistula front, or elsewhere, during January, with any other points you may care to mention. I shall not pass this most secret information to any one except Field Marshal Brooke and General Eisenhower, and only under conditions of the utmost secrecy. I regard the matter as urgent.
It is very important to make use of o,ur superiority over the Germans in artillery and air force. For this we need clear weather for the :air force and an absence of low mists, which prevent the artillery from conducting aimed fire. We are preparing an .offensive, but at present the weather does not favour our offensive. However, in view of the position of our allies on the Western Front, Headquarters ,of the .Supreme Command has decided to complete the preparations at a forced pace, and, disregarding the weather, to launch wide-scale offensive operations against the .Germans all along the central front not later than the second half of January. You need not doubt that we shall do everything that can possibly be done to render help to the glorious troops of our allies.
In- his reply to this message, Mr. Churchill said, on the 9th January -
I am most grateful to you for your thrilling message. I have sent it to General Eisenhower . for his eye only. May all good fortune rest upon your noble venture.
Some time later Mr. Churchill sent the following message -
I am most grateful to you for your message and am extremely glad that Air Marshal Tedder made so favorable an impression upon you. On behalf of His Majesty’s Government and from the bottom of my heart, I offer you our thanks and congratulations on the immense assault you have launched upon the Eastern Front.
That was the spirit of comradeship which prevailed during the war, and the spirit in which the Charter of San Francisco was framed less than three years ago: yet people ave comparing the situation to-day with the situation, which existed in Europe in 1937 and 1938. In my opinion, it would be a disgrace to all concerned in the leadership of the nations which were allies in war if something could not be done to recapture the spirit which prevailed three years ago, and to complete the peace settlement, so that the peoples of the world - not the governments or parliaments of the world - could have security and freedom from fear of war.
Let us consider the situation which existed in 1940. Then, the British Commonwealth, to which the honorable member for Flinders quite properly referred as one of the three members of the great alliance, which later came into existence, was fighting the forces of Hitler practically without support from any other nation. There was support in the
Mediterranean from Greece, but Hitler’s forceshad gone right across the continent of Europe, and in that year everything depended upon whether Britain could resist the armed might of the enemy. At the side of Britain stood the nations of the British Commonwealth, and no other nations. The situation looked desperate because, at that time, there was a nonaggression pact between Russia and Germany, and there was all that manoevouring which went on while that pact was in force. The situation wasnot cleared up until 1941. In June of that year, Hitler commenced his attack on the Soviet Union. The attack was not a sudden one. Documents published recently by the State Department of the United States of America show that when Molotov went to Berlin at the end of 1940, and began to talk generalities with the German leaders about the division of the world there was an acute difference of opinion between the Russian point of view on the one hand, and that of Hitler and Ribbentrop on the other. A day or two after Molotov returned to Moscow, Hitler signed the order called “ Operation Barbarosso “, and in June, 1941, the attack against Russia was launched. In December of the same year, Japan attacked Great Britain and alsothe United States of America, thereby going further than had been agreed upon with Matsuoko at Berlin, when he was advised that Japan should concentrate upon Singapore. Instead, the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbour, and so brought the United States of America into the war. The earlier differences between the Western Powers and the Soviet Union, including differences of ideologies, were forgotten, and there developed this extraordinary alliance and comradeship, between the leaders of Great Britain, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. What seemed to be impossible in 1940 and 1941 cameto be true in 1944 and 1945, the period when there took place the exchange of telegrams which I have quoted. This was followed by complete military success in the same year against Germany and Japan.
As I have said, it was understood quite clearly at San Francisco that the negotiation of the peace settle ments was to take place outside the United Nations; and. that the new organization, should not be authorized under its charter to frame peace treaties. Procedures which were later followed in relation to treaty making, through lack of reference to the smaller and middle powers which had contributed their share to victory, were responsible for some of the difficulties which have since arisen. Always remembering that in 1940 the British Commonwealth stood alone against the enemy, the fact nevertheless remains that the three great powers contributed to victory. The war could not have been won at the time it was won but for the resistance of the forces of the Soviet Union. General Marshall has said that the SovietUnion lost 7,000,000 killed during the war, apart from the millions whowere wounded. Then the great might of the United States of America was applied on all fronts. Not one of the three great powers could have won the war at the time it was won without the assistance of the other two.
After the signing of the armistice with Japan in August, 1945, there was established at Potsdam the Council of Foreign Ministers which, it was intended, should prepare the peace settlements. I believe that a great blunder was madethen in not bringing into the consultations, at an early stage, countries such as members of the BritishCommonwealth, which had borne so much of the heat and burden of the war, especially in the earlier part of it. As the honorable member for Flinders pointed out, the United Nations organization consists of 57 countries, and in the assembly they have equal voices, a majority of two-thirds being required to reach a decision. I have been associated with the organization from the beginning, and time and time again I have seen the arguments put forward by the smaller nations succeed because the meetings are public, and no country whatever its forn of government can be indifferent to world opinion, or to be opinion of its own people. Therefore, it has frequently happened that decisions have been reached unanimously, because of the weight of argument put before the assembly by the middle and small nations.
We see this falling outbetween the powers, especially between the Soviet
Union and the United States of America-, as a tragedy. We have a situation to-day in which there is not peace, but only pretended peace. Peace with Germany has not been made, nor has peace with Japan been made. In a few minutes I shall refer to this separately because of its supreme importance to Australia. There is a drift towards war. Considerations of power politics are dominating the just settlement of many problems. I shall give some examples. The honorable member for Flinders referred to Palestine and made a criticism of the decision of the United Nations Assembly in regard to Palestine which, in my opinion, was completely unjustified.
How was the matter placed before the United Nations? The United Nations did not take it up on its own initiative. The British Government had made up its mind to withdraw its troops from Palestine. It tried to secure agreement between the Arabs and the Jews, but it failed to do so. It said to the United Nations : “ Under your charter offer a recommendation as to the solution of this problem “. Twelve months ago it brought the matter to the United Nations which could have said: “We wash our hands of this “, but instead it appointed a committee of inquiry which went to Palestine to investigate all the facts of the situation. The committee reported to the United Nations Assembly which met towards the end of last year. A majority of the committee recommended the political partition of Palestine, part going to the Jewish State in which the Jews numbered some 700,000 or 800,000 - and part going to the Arob State with a population numbering 1,300,000. There was to be an economic union of the whole of Palestine with the United Nations having a major voice in the union and with special provision for a trusteeship of the Holy City, under a system which protected the rights not merely of the Jews and Arabs, but also of the Christian churches to which Palestine means so much. The representatives of Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia met at Lake Success and asked the representatives of the British Government whether they favoured one solution or the other, but throughout, the British Government was completely neutral in the matter. It wanted a recommendation from the United Nations and took no part in the decision except to indicate the difficulties which would, have to be considered, and in relation to which, it made suggestions. In the decision of the Assembly it was recommended that the United Nations permit military forces to be established by the two states, the Jews and the Arabs, and that if any nation committed or threatened a breach of the peace the Security Council should consider the matter. I am speaking of the stage reached when the United Kingdom Government could not secure agreement between the Arabs and the Jews. It was prepared to do no more than it had already done, and it had done a great deal during the twenty years in which it had been in control of Palestine. Not only did it spend large sums of money in developing the country, but it also did everything possible to bring about a settlement of the differences between the Arabs and the Jews. Almost in desperation it brought the matter to the United Nations. How can these matters be settled? There are only two ways, one according to the principles of justice and the other according to the principles of power. There is no compromise between the two methods. Differences of this kind can be resolved only by a body which has no feeling in favour either of one side or the other, and accordingly the matter was referred to the United Nations. . This is the very basis of the charter of the United Nations.
– In order to clarify my mind, at the time the Minister for External Affairs is referring to the British Government had announced that it did not propose to continue to control Palestine ?
– That is so. Tt announced that its troops were leaving Palestine in any event. The time for the termination of the mandate was _ altered and fixed in May, and the new regime was to come into existence in August after the completion of the withdrawal of British troops. That was the proposition adopted in. the world forum of the Assembly. I know a great deal about the work that was done in an attempt to bring about agreement and to reach adjustment between those concerned. The problem could be approached in that way or we could have said “We shall not look at this. Palestine occupies an important strategic position”. If one viewed the problem solely from the point of view of strategic importance all one’s difficulties would be resolved. One would not have to worry about justice or peace or whether the peoples concerned were living under a just or unjust order. One would simply act according to the geographical situation of the country concerned and take good care to ensure that control of that country was in the hands of the appropriate group. If that principle were applied to international affairs it would inevitably lead to war. The only things that stand against it are a sense of justice on the part of individual nations and the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Consider the problem of atomic energy. I do not criticize one group or another in this regard. I merely wish to describe the situation that exists because I appreciate the spirit in which the honorable member for Flinders has approached this problem. It is clear now from diaries and books which have been published that at a certain stage in the war the Germans nearly discovered the method by which atomic energy could be directed for the purposes of war and the atomic bomb could be used. That was a matter of desperate anxiety to Great Britain and to the United States of America, as I know from my wartime missions to both countries. In the end, thanks to Providence, and to the genius of scientists, principally in the United States of America but also in the British Commonwealth, particularly in Canada, the discovery was perfected and the technique was developed in the United States of America, which was on our side in the struggle. It was decided that the atomic bomb should be used, and it was used against Japan. No disclosure of that discovery was made to the Soviet Union. The wisdom of the decision is not a matter for criticism in the circumstances. The discovery was brought immediately to the attention of the United Nations by Great Britain, the United States of America and Canada, in order to ascertain if it were not possible to ensure that atomic energy should be used exclusively for industrial purposes for the benefit of all mankind and should ‘ not be used for the purposes of war. For that purpose the Atomic Energy Commission was established. Australia was represented on that body and for a time I served as a member of it. I have dealt with this fully on other occasions, and 1 do not propose to go into the history of it again. The Russian view was that if the Americans were serious in their desire to restrict the use of atomic energy to industrial purposes they should destroy all atomic bombs at once. The Americans said with great force that that could only be done under a system which would prevent any country from manufacturing atomicbombs. Thus the contest began, and it has continued. It is not to be .-supposed that no progress has been made towards a solution of that problem. The Russians first resisted any suggestion that there should be a system of inspection. Finally they agreed to a system of inspection but insisted that it should be at regular and agreed times. I do not say that by way of criticism.; 1 am merely stating the facts. It was proposed by the United States of America that when agreement had been reached the monopoly of atomic energy for all purposes should be concentrated in one inter nation si authority. The Russians would not agree to that. In their view, as I have said, a pre-condition of any agreement should be the destruction of all existing bombs. Though no positive result has been reached, that does not mean that all the work done has been wasted. I believe that the efforts to find a solution of the problem should be persisted with. The United Nations Assembly has not authorized the-complete abandonment of the inquiry. Why has it been impossible to achieve agreement? Obviously because of fear and suspicion on both sides. The fears of the Russians are understandable. Just imagine how much a country which lost in men and women killed in the war a population equal to that of Australia must fear atomic warfare. That fear is natural, and one has only to exercise a little imagination to ascertain whether or not those fears are justified. The fears of the people of the United States are equally understand able; but they are prepared as a gesture towards world peace to agree to the control of atomic energy in such a way as to ensure that it will be of benefit to the world. No agreement has, however, yet been reached.
I have dealt with Palestine and atomic energy as examples of the exercise of power in international relations. Greece is another example. Greece was a part of Europe which was included in an area to be occupied by the United Kingdom forces. The other countries to which the Leader of the Opposition referred yesterday, Bulgaria, Roumania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and portions of Austria and Germany, were, by agreement between the Allies, occupied by the Russian Army. From correspondence which passed between the Russians and the Germans in 1939 and 1940 which has since been published, it is quite clear that in desperate fear of the Germans the Russians regarded those areas as belonging to what they called the security zone, fearing that from those areas attacks would be made on their country by the governments of those countries which had been, in the main, dictatorships favorable to Hitler and were clearly allied with every1 phase of Hitler’s ambitions in Europe. When the war came to its end in 1945 an agreement was made under which the Russian armies were to go into the Countries 1 have mentioned, and Russian troops quickly liberated Czechoslovakia. It is of no use to go back to the controversies of 193S at Munich. Only recently Dr. Benes published a book in which he said that Czechoslovakia was betrayed in 1938. We know the other side of the story as told by those who justify the Munich agreement. The Munich agreement was a settlement which was reached not within the framework of the League of Nations but according to power politics. It may be said to have been wise or unwise, but no one can say that it was just. The struggle to-day is analagous. Can you get these disputes into the United Nations? Can you get a settlement that is just thereby, or must you depend simply on power? If you do depend on power, there is no road but the road that will lead again to the fatal result of war at a time when millions of nien and women have died and countless millions have suffered in the common cause of victory. In the same way, I referto the Council of Foreign Ministers. I have referred the House to it before. The Council of Foreign Ministers certainly did negotiate a settlement in relation to Italy and also to Bulgaria. Hungary, Roumania and Finland, the satellites of Germany. That conference took place at Paris. The view of Australia, like that of other British Commonwealth countries that were not parties to the preparation of the document, was that the new democratic Italy should be given a reasonable chance of success, that the regime of Mussolini and its terrors should be remembered a.nd that the people of Italy should be given a chance, and we strongly opposed some of the arrangements that were made, one of which was in relation to the free city of Trieste. We thought that was unjust, but the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union agreed upon it. So it was ordained, and the free city of Trieste was set up. It was to be under the protection of the Security Council, and the Governor was to be elected by the Security Council. The Australian delegates pointed out that that would hot be very successful, because in the Security Council the right of veto reposes in each permanent member of the council, and we pointed out that a governor might never be appointed, because the Soviet Union, the United States of America and the three other countries that are permanent members have the veto. For twelve months the Security Council has been trying to elect a governor. I tell the House deliberately that, although persons of splendid qualifications have been put forward, there is no intention on the part of either the Soviet Union or the United States and the United Kingdom to agree upon a governor. Therefore, the administration of the free city of Trieste could not be commenced. This Parliament approved the treaty and 21 nations signed it. Yet, the other day, three countries, the United ‘States of America, the United Kingdom and France, suggested that the whole arrangement about
Trieste should be altered very much, in the way that we proposed; but that was done without reference to the 21 nations that signed the treaty, which is not a satisfactory way of dealing with the matter. No one could justify it. It may be the right solution, but that is not the way to reach it. Similarly with the Italian colonies,no country did more to destroy the Italian armies in North Africa than did the British forces, comprising troops from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Italian armies were rolled up by those troops. We know the details. When it came to the treaty, the fate of the’ Italian colonies was to be determined not by the 21 nations themselves, but which hardly fought against Italy, because its effort was concentrated against four nations only, the Soviet Union, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France. The original idea was that the wishes of the inhabitants of those colonies should be consulted in accordance with the general priciples of the charter, but that proposal was varied from time to time in the last two years, and to-day the matter is still unsettled. I am taking these eases not to do more than show that international distputes cannot be settled except according to one standard, the standard of justice. If power and might are to be the assessing factors, we shall never, or only by chance, get a just solution. The cases of Greece and Korea are similar. One can find illustrations tending in either direction. With regard to the Council of Foreign Ministers, no settlement at all has been made with Germany.
-Order! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders he suspended as would prevent the Minister for External Affairs from concluding his speech without interruption.
– I am indebted to the House. I should like to elaborate the point made by the honorable member for Flinders in regard to the British Commonwealth. My view is that if one speaks of “ powers “, the British Commonwealth can be the third group of powers. Its contribution to victory was of the same order as that of the Soviet Union and the United States of America. When I speak of agreements and pacts, I always exclude the relationship between Australia and Great Britain. One Of the greatest tragedies of the postwar period is the position of Great Britain after its war effort. It is almost incredible to think that a country that did so much for so many nations should be in the desperate economic situation evidenced by the budget of which we read to-day. The people of this country and the Government of this country, with the approval of the Parliament, are doing everything possible to assist Great Britain. I remind the House of the £25,000,000 gift which waa passed unanimously by the Australian Parliament, of our undertaking to live within our sterling income, and our rationing of meat and butter in Australia so that the people of Great Britain shall be supplied with those commodities. Food rationing has practically disappeared from every country, except a few countries in the British Commonwealth. I remind the. House of the sale of our entire gold output to Great Britain to help ease its dollar situation. Into the dollar pool of the Empire, which is administered by the United Kingdom, approximately 400,000,000 dollars was paid by Australia during the war. So, when I speak of groups and relationships between countries, I make it clear that our relationship to Great Britain and the British people does not depend upon pacts and agreements. Mr. Mackenzie King, of Canada, Mr. Fraser, of New Zealand, and Field-Marshal Smuts, of South Africa, have repeatedly pointed out that our relationship is based upon kinship, and, in the circumstances, knowing that the relationship is of that character, I say that it is not to be taken as a special pact. Unfortunately other nations do not understand that.
– Why, then, did the Government need the Anzac pact with New Zealand?
– The honorable member for Barker asks why we have a special agreement with New Zealand. New Zealand is also a member of the British Commonwealth, but there are special interests in the Pacific which Australia and New Zealand must protect not only on their own behalf, but also on behalf- of the British Commonwealth. The only criticism of the agreement, which really means co-operation between the two great democracies of the south, has come from a few people like the honorable member. There was no criticism of it by Great Britain. It was welcomed by Great Britain as a positive contribution to the future of the Pacific. If the honorable member thinks something needs to be explained about it, I do not explain it more than to say that it is justified. I submit that it is a contribution not only to the security and welfare of the Pacific peoples, including native peoples, but also to the British Commonwealth.
I now refer to the position in relation to Japan.
– Could the Minister say something about the western union?
– I will not overlook that, but I wish now to deal with the Japanese position, not merely because it is a Pacific problem, but also because it is a by-product of the world problem, as I shall demonstrate. With regard to the Japanese position, the greatest contribution to victory in the Pacific was made, of course, by the United States of America. Its leadership was decisive. But Australia played an important part in the victory, and General MacArthur, Admiral King, and the President of the United States have paid tributes to it. So we have always claimed rightly that we are entitled to a substantial share in the making of the peace with Japan. Attempts to reach a settlement with Japan have been made but at present those attempts are held up. I can tell the House in a few words the reasons for that. Last year the United States suggested that a conference should be held. At about the same time, a conference was held in Australia of the nations of. the British Commonwealth interested in the Pacific settlement, including such countries as India and Pakistan as well as the United Kingdom and other members of the British Commonwealth. It looked then extremely probable that a conference would be held in the near future. I need not refer, I think, in detail to the recommendations of the conference of the British Commonwealth countries, but I remind the House on what basis the Japanese peace settlement had to be made, according to the Potsdam Declaration, of the 26th July, 1945, as embodied in the Japanese armistice terms. I shall read the following few clauses from it: -
There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.
Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan’s war-making power is destroyed points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied.
Then the territorial provisions are set out as follows : -
Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from the control of, raw materials shall bo permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.
After the Armistice, the Far Eastern Commission was set up in Washington. Eleven nations that contributed to victory over the Japanese took part in it and they adopted a basis for the occupation policy which has been carried out by General MacArthur. Up to the present the work done by the occupation forces under his leadership, the United States forces and the British Commonwealth Forces, including the Australian Forces, who now comprise the great majority of the British Commonwealth Forces, has eliminated the actual military installations from one end of Japan to the other. Of course, Japan cannot be converted into a democratic nation in a short period ; so there is still a great deal to be done in that connexion. The territorial provisions being practically covered by the Potsdam “Declaration, there would be far less difficulty in arranging a peace in relation to Japan than to Germany, where other complications enter the question.
– What steps were taken r.o get the conference assembled ?
– - I am going to describe the steps. We organized a conference of the British Commonwealth. We have been in continuous touch with the Government of the United States. I saw the United States Secretary of State, General Marshall, at the United Nations recently. It is clear that the United States thinks it would be useless at present to continue with the plan for the holding of a peace conference in relation to Japan. What is the reason? First of all, it is quite correct that the Soviet Union would claim, in connexion with such a peace settlement, the same veto as was exercised in relation to the treaty with Italy and which is exercisable in relation to the treaty with Germany. At the same time, my own feeling is that even the existence of such a veto need not necessarily preclude the reaching of a satisfactory arrangement in relation to Japan. But, of course, there have been changes, too, in the attitude towards the Soviet Union in the last few months. There have been in Japan visitors like Mr. Kennan. There is what is called the Strike Report and the Draper Report, and a great deal of newspaper discussion with regard to Japan, to the effect that it would not be wise to pursue the policy laid down in. the Potsdam declaration in regard to the industrial capacity of Japan and that it would be wise to review it. Some of the columnists and writers in the United States of America say quite openly - and this is a matter of the deepest significance to every Australian family - that it would be wise for Japan’s industrial strength to be restored. That may mean, and may in some cases be intended to mean, the restoration of industries which might enable Japan to re-arm for war.
Why is this proposition put forward? The explanation is that some writers consider that such a situation would enable Japan, by being given the capacity to re-arm, to be used as an instrument in a future struggle between the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Such a situation arose in relation to the re-arming of Germany after World War I. People thought that the re-armament of Germany was justified. T say that it will be an evil day for Australia if Japan is given capacity to re-arm. Whatever promises Japan may give’ or may be thought to be ready to give, the safety of Australia cannot be secured against a repetition of what took place in 1942 unless the broad principles of the Potsdam declaration are carried out, and Japan’s capacity to wage war is not restored. This does not mean that the Japanese people are to be enslaved, and not given a reasonable standard of living. The very opposite should be the concern of those who look at the human beings that constitute this important nation. It is right that Japan should be a workshop, and that the Japanese people should have their industries. But it would be completely wrong if Japan were able to be reconverted into an arsenal which might possibly be used in one direction, but which might ultimately be used according to the wishes of the Japanese leaders, and turned in the direction of the South Pacific to the detriment of this country Japan itself is an illustration of the general world situation.
What is the reason for this opposition to proceeding with the peace treaty? Delays are occurring, although all members of the British Commonwealth of Nations have indicated their readiness to proceed with the formulation of the peace based on the Potsdam declaration. The situation is due to fears and suspicions between two great powers, and which may be turned to the great disadvantage of Australia unless we watch the position carefully. The Australian people will never agree to the re-building of Japan to a stage where it might be a threat to our security.
– Why has no report been obtained from the Australian Advisory Committee on the Japanese Peace Settlement? Reports have been made by similar committees in other countries.
– This committee met only a few days ago, and I .believe that this very matter of the industrial revival of Japan is engaging its. attention. This in an advisory committee, and I shall ensure that any report which it makes is submitted to the House. The chairman of . the committee:,.. is Sir Frederic Eggleston.
– In one report, a similar committee in another country recommended that Japanese migrants he admitted to New Guinea.
– I am making a point of principle, which, I submit, is that if power politics, fears and suspicions govern the situation, there will hot be any peace in Japan until those fears and suspicions have been completely removed. Therefore, I say that the Japanese situation is a by-product of the general international situation. It can be settled. Given such a general settlement, I think that it would not takemore than a few days to make the Japanese settlement, for nearly every clause is contained in the Potsdam declaration or in the Far Eastern Commission’s advices. In itself there is no reason why the Japanese peace settlement should not be hastened. With the background of the European situation, however, there are difficulties and fears, and the danger of the same principle of power politics coming into what should be essentially a matter of working out the agreements already made.
– Why aretheJapanese warcrimes trials taking so long ?
– The trials have lasted a considerable time. I am not criticizing the judges of thetribunal. The matter has been difficult. The court has considered, not only the crimes committed by the Japaneseduring the war which commenced with Pearl Harbour, but also the whole question of Japanese conduct during the war against China, which began some years earlier. If the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) will study the documents relating to the trials of Japanese war criminals, he will see that the attitude of some of those atthe trials is one which should cause considerableconcernto those interested in the future security ofthe Pacific. The trials themselves illustrate the extent to which we should guard against any policies involving trust of the Japanese, or their resurgence as a power able to wage aggressive war. The situation is an extraordinary one. The Japanese conducted peace negotiations with the United States of America at a time when their fleet was within two days’ steamof Pearl Harbour. That is evidence of the lengths to which a country can go in pommitting aggression. I contend that it is a matter not only of justice, but also of absolute necessity that we should do everything in relation to Japan to prevent a recurrence of aggression without haying any desire to degrade the standards of living of those people. We must, however, insist that those standards should not be necessarily higher than thosp of other nations which Japan devastated, robbed and despoiled during the war.
The South East Asian area is one of extreme importance. I was glad when I was asked a question about Australia’s arrangement with New Zealand and I am gratified that the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, referred to this region as one in which there should be greater co-operation between the countries concerned in economic matters. Australia’s initiative led to the establishment of the South Pacific Commission, which will takemeasures to improve the welfare of all the native peoples in this area. To this commission, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, New Zealand, France, Holland and Australia have subscribed. The first meeting of the commission will he held in the near future.
I now turn back to the statements which have been made to this House from time to time regarding Australia’s attitude towards the conduct of international affairs from the outset, and I shall read some of them. Shortly expressed, they indicate the principles upon which, alone, countries can secure justice and ensurethe success of the United Nations. The first point of Australian policy is -
To support at all times, and faithfully, the principles expressed in the United Nations Charter.
Thesecond is -
In international disputes, to insist on independent investigation of all the facts with a view to a settlement based upon right and justice, and not upon mere expediency or mere strategical preparation for another war.
Strategical preparation for another war isa simple principle. The peoples of theworld will be thrown into the cauldron of another war if that is regarded as the solution of international disputes. The third principle is -
To give every possible assistance to the peoples of the world by way of relief and rehabilitation required because of World War II.
One of the steps which in my opinion has proved to be wrong was the liquidation of Unrra. To that organization, Australia was the fourth largest contributor in the world, and relief and rehabilitation under that authority was terminated when the organization was wound up. However, otherrelief has been given in accordance with similar nondiscriminatory principles by Australia as recommended by the Assembly of the United Nations. Such relief known as “ Post Unrra Relief “ is givenby means of direct negotiation between the donor
And the recipient, in accordance with the advice as to needsof technical committees of the United Na tions. Our recent gift of woolvalued at £1,000,000 to eastern European countries and oursupport for the international children’s emergency fund are examples. To the latter, Australia ranks as the world’s third largest contributor.
The fourth principle is -
To maintain and strengthen our ties of kinship with Britain and the Dominions through co-operation in defence and welfare matters.
At the proper time the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) will no doubt dealwith thesesubjects. In connexion with welfare matters,there is the closest co-operationbetween members of the BritishCommonwealth of Nations.
The fifth principle is -
To strengthen Pacific security by appropriate regional arrangements in co-operation with the United Statesof America and other Pacific nations.
The sixth principle is -
To support democratic principles both in the United Nations and (particularly, in the making of peace settlements.
As honorable members know, Australia has practically led the fight in the Security Council against undemocratic principles. At San Francisco, we fought against the absolute veto. That meant that any oneoffive nations in a group of eleven could hold up a decision on any matter before the Security Council, unless it was purely a matter of procedure. Over and over again, the exercise of the veto has been the bugbear of the Security Council. At San Francisco, Australia and other members of the British Commonwealthof Nations, and some smaller foreign countries were warned: “ You must have the charter with the absolute veto, or there will be no charter at all “. We had to yield.All the warnings which were given then have since proved to be true. No representatives were firmer in insisting upon the absolute veto than the then representatives of the United States of America. They said that the Senate would not adopt the charter without the veto.
The honorable member for Flinders pointed out that the machinery of the United Nations is sabotaged by the use of the veto. Thefact is that the United Nations machinery is characterized, and abused, if the honorable member likes, by the frequent exercise of the veto by the Soviet Union. Sometimes, Russia exercises theveto foolishly and, one would think,capriciously. At all stages we have fought for democratic principles. Regardingthe peace settlements, it is not just to have the veto, and it is not justthat the settlements should beconfined to the great powersto the exclusion of nations like Australia,Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. We areentitled to a voice in the peace making. In my opinion, had the peace treatiesthat have been made orare now underdiscussion, been arranged on a broaderbasis, there would be more agreement than is possible when only a few representativesof a few great powers meetaround the table. Such a meeting represents almost the very coronation of power politics,because, if they do not agree, no one can persuade any one of them to agree. In a larger conference ofnations, which are interested mainly in obtaining a just settlement, influence can be brought to bear upon the delegates at the table.
The seventh principle of Australian policy is : -
Toemphasizetheduty of contributing towards preventing war,by actively supporting all welfare organizations such as United Nations organizations and agencies, including the Trusteeship Council, the Economic and Social Council, the International Labour Office and all important international bodies concerned with the welfare of peoples, especially those in the Pacific and South-East Asia legion, such as the South Pacific Commission.
No one has taken a more prominent part in supporting these organizations than have the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations like. Australia and New Zealand. The Trusteeship Council is working well. Much of the work of the Economic and Social Council has been held up by the political stalemate in Europe. Australia has recently been elected to the Economic and Social Council, which is an important body.
These principles are not new. The representatives of Australia, worked upon this basis before and after the San Francisco Conference. We fought for those principles, and Australia’s advocacy of them has been recognised repeatedly. Indeed, other countries have accorded it greater recognition than it has received in Australia. International affairs are not given here the attention that they deserve, possibly because of our distance from the centres of events. Australia was elected to the Security Council and Economic and Social Council. Australia has never been the satellite of any country. Every person who has attended these great international conferences realizes the truth of that’ statement. Reference has been made to security. How can security or freedom from Avar be secured in a world in which millions of people are struggling against want ? How can peace be assured if we are to prepare for another war? To do so will dry up the pool that should be available for the restoration of economic stability.
– Is the Government not going to have a defence programme ?
– Of course it is. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) should be the last person to ask that. The defence of Australia has been in the hands of the present Government since 1941, and, as the honorable member knows, it has been handled well. The Government has formulated a defence programme involving an expendi ture of £250,000,000 in a period of five years. That is a magnificient contribution, but that does not suffice. Whilst want is stalking the earth, it is the duty of every nation that can help to alleviate it to do so. and thus remove not merely war but the causes of war. That has always been the policy of this. Government.
I was disappointed, when listening tothe beginning of the speech of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan),, at what I thought then was his defeatist attitude. In many countries the inevitability of war is almost proclaimed. In this chamber attacks are made upon theSoviet Union in ways frequently irrelevant to the issue before the House. No country has any claim to immunity from criticism and attack, but I do not think that freedom to criticize should be allowed to degenerate into Avar propaganda. The people of this country want to be protected by their leaders from any drift towards war. If war breaks out, then a situation arises in which everybody must band together for the defence of their country, but it is the duty of statesmen to prevent the tragedy of a third world Avar before the peace settlements of the second world Avar have been negotiated. Everything that tends to lead towar must be resisted.
One of the worst features of the present time is the Avar propaganda that is being indulged in by so many newspapers throughout the world. In some countries it is only necessary, if the
Soviet Union agrees to three out of four propositions at Lake Success, buy a newspaper to find screaming headlines, “ Reds obstinate on such-and-such “, and then comes a reference to the fourth issue. Nothing is’ said about the three issues upon which agreement A’as reached. In that way the drift towards war is accelerated. That was one of the reasons why 57 nations at Lake Success agreed unanimously to . resolution condemning war propaganda and inviting the press of the world not to publish propaganda calculated to ha vo the effect, intentionally or not, of causing a breach of peace. In other words, the resolutions Imposed upon people an ordinary duty to do the right thing.
– Did the representative of the Soviet Union participate in that decision ?
– Certainly he did, and so did the representatives of the United States of America and other powers. As a matter of fact, the Russian representative initiated the resolution in a form that was not acceptable and which France, Canada and Australia, acting together, amended to the form contained in these documents and which won unanimous acceptance from the whole of the 57 nations. To-day at Geneva an international conference on information is making recommendations concerning the best method of ensuring that such propaganda is stopped. With modern systems of communication, nothing is easier than to accelerate the drift towards war. It is our task to see if we can arrive at just peace settlements and free the peoples of the world from the terrible fear that besets them.
The honorable member for Flinders referred erred to the European situation. Dominating everything is the Marshall Plan. That seems to us to be a magnificent contribution to the economic recovery of Europe. By the standards of other countries, the figure involved is almost astronomical. It is a contribution which should greatly assist the rehabilitation of Europe. At the same time, it has, by its very magnitude, created a fear in Eastern Europe that the nations that will benefit by it are to form a military bloc against them. That was never intended. The Western Union, to which the honorable member for Flinders also referred, is a regional arrangement between Great Britain, France and the Benelux group of countries, that is, Belgium., Holland and Luxemburg. It is a scheme for mutual welfare and should in itself make a contribution to the stability and economic welfare of Europe.
While these arrangements are being made, contact at the highest level between the great nations is diminishing. The old meetings such as those between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin are no longer taking place, and in my opinion meetings between the leaders of the great powers should continue. The only definite means of contact to-day is through the United Nations
Organization, where the representatives of the nations can still meet together. Some people think that the United Nations organization has not a great record of success. Its early years have been completely overshadowed by the failure of the great powers to make peace, but much it has done will be of permanent value to the world. During its existence there has been no great conflict. The fighting in Indonesia has ceased and a final settlement there is being negotiated. I claim that the saving of many lives in Indonesia was due to the initiative taken in the Security Council by Australia which led to the final settlement after fighting had commenced.
– Will the right honorable gentleman tell us when the slaughter of Jews and Arabs in Palestine is going to cease? What is the United Nations doing in that connexion?
– The honorable member asks when the Arabs and Jews will cease the present senseless slaughter, as they must eventually, because they live in the same area and are economically dependent upon each other. It is impossible to answer that question, and 1 shall not attempt to do so. All I say about it is that the decision of the United Nations Assembly was a just and impartial one. miL question of its alteration now can be dealt with by the special Assembly. This problem is not easy of solution. It could not be settled with out the aid of the United Nations and it was because of its difficulty that the United Kingdom referred it to the General Assembly.
In an address given in Sydney recently, a very great person, Miss Helen Keller, made an appeal for peace. No one has a greater right to make such an appeal. She said -
Peace is the concern of every man and woman on the earth as it never was in history. War and peace are not the affairs of governments any more, hut are the affairs of the people. Now is the time for America, Australia and all the other nations who desire quiet days for their children’s children to develop a friendship and education that will outwit national greed and all clannishness. Not until we set ourselves this task can we- justify the death of millions who perished that a life of liberty and decency might survive. I believe that we have it in our power to make the world safe from war before it is too late.
I share that belief. The Australian Government is doing, and will continue to do, its utmost to see that that belief is converted to actuality. It is not a new policy ; it is the policy for which we have fought in the United Nations and other international conferences. The people of this country are tired of the war propaganda with which they are confronted each day. They want something to be done to prevent war. They want to see attempts made to reach peace settlements, and if those attempts fail they desire further efforts to be made, and, if necessary, still further efforts. We have got to persevere until success is achieved. The great figures of history are on our side. We think of our leadership in war-time by the late Mr. Curtin and we think of the war-time comradeship of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. It would be disgraceful if the leaders of countries that were allies during the war did not try again to reach a settlement, even though the present outlook is far from promising. Those who gain by the present uncertainty are chiefly the people who were our enemies during the war, and there are millions of them in the world to-day. We must not think that because Hitler is dead his spirit is dead, too. We must not assume that because fascism has been crushed militarily it has not still to be crushed finally.
Every attempt must be made to see that the principles underlying the formation of the United Nations organizations are carried into effect. I propose to read to the House the preamble to the charter of that body. It is as follows : -
We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights . . . and to establish conditions under which justice . . . can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom . . to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours
It is not a bad idea to be tolerant even of the nations which we hate and detest - to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security-
It says to unite our strength and not to dissipate it - to ensure . . . that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples.
The League of Nations had the same objectives. The league failed not because its objectives were not good but because the governments of the countries of the world failed it by making agreements outside the League such as the Munich Agreement. We have to follow the principles of the United Nations, to support its machinery whenever possible, to assist it in the carrying out of its noble objectives and to see, so far as we can, that we are worthy of those who gave us victory and made peace possible. We can and must arrest this drift to war in the interests of the peoples of the world generally and, in particular, in the interests of the people of this country and of the whole Pacific region.
.- The whole House must have listened with amazement to the story of the United Nations which was told to us to-night by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). Listening to him, it was hard to decide whether, in his opinion, the blame for its failure was to be accounted for by the fact that it has a written charter, because he compared the United Nations with the British Commonwealth, for which there is no charter at all; or whether its failure was to be attributed to the fact that the machinery created by the United Nations was what we, who oan remember the cartoons of the first world war, would say was of the Heath Robinson kind; that is, something held together with bits of string and wire. We listened to-night to the story of the progressive failure of the United Nations. Previously, we had been told that the United Nations was really the League of Nations “with teeth in it”. All I can say, after listening for two hours to the Minister for External Affairs, is that if the United Nations has any teeth at all they must be made of putty, because they never seem to be able to grip or hold anything. An interesting illustration of this is whatis happening in Palestine to-day. Every one knows that the only way in which the United Nations can be given teeth i3 to create an international military force or, as it is sometimes called, an international police force. It is now three years since the United Nations organization was established, but what has been done to give it teeth to enable it to enforce any decisions it may take? Is there any chance that an international police force will be created when there exists between the various nations such fear and suspicion as that described to-night by the Minister for External Affairs? We know that during the war the military forces from Australia, from Canada and from South Africa were always commanded by their own generals. The government of each of the Dominions jealously guarded its right to control every single soldier it sent on service. If that was so with a political unit such as. the British Empire, which has lasted so long and has fought so many wars, what are the prospects of establishing and maintaining an effective international police force under the control of the United Nations? Despite the fact that the Minister had to tell us this terrible tale of woe about the failure of the United Nations, he then went on to describe hopefully the objectives of that organization. Of course, everybody approves its objectives. However, we cannot forget that it is now nearly three years since Germany surrendered, and yet there is no peace treaty with that country. Neither is there a peace treaty with Japan, although, after the first world war, a peace treaty had been concluded within seven months of the signing of the armistice, and the League of Nations had been created. A democratic government had been established in Germany bv the Germans themselves, which set about dealing with the country’s . problems. Only in that way can the present problems of Germany and Japan be dealt with. Although three years have passed since the fighting ceased in Europe, the Minister can give us no hope that a peace treaty will be speedily signed with Germany or with Japan. Thank God, there is a peace treaty with Italy, at any rate. Should we not ask ourselves whether the structure of the United
Nations, which has been built from the top down, ought not to be replaced by one built from the bottom up, with foundations capable of carrying a permanent edifice supported by a full understanding between the people of the various nations, and especially among those who advise the governments of the various countries? After three years of sending men on missions about the globe at great expense, of attending conferences and meetings and of passing pious resolutions, -nothing has been achieved. I give the Minister for External Affairs full marks for his earnestness. Of that, there can be no doubt. Nevertheless, he comes back to us with an empty basket, and we ask whether it is not possible to do something that will afford better results/
It was because of the apparent impossibility of obtaining results through the United Nations that I myself, about four months ago, went to South Africa in order to see whether it was possible to bring closer together the dominions of South Africa and Australia, with which I include New Zealand, because I have always regarded Australia and New Zealand as constituting the one dominion. I believe that we can bring closer together- these three southern dominions which are at present the most undeveloped of all the self-governing parts of the Empire. If we can get them to agree upon a common policy we might discover a basis upon which we can build an integrated Empire policy. Our foreign policy should be directed, first of all, towards the creation of the strongest possible British Empire. Such an Empire would not threaten aggression against the United States of America or Russia, but it would continue to perform the function which the British Empire has performed during the last 200 years. In the past our Empire has been a great influence for peace, for lifting the living conditions of the people of other nations, for the abolition of slavery, for clearing the seas of pirates, and for ensuring that the people of every country in the world have their individuality respected. Recently. I_ picked up a book by an American writer, Negley Patson, called Behind God’s Bud-. Although in that book he says much that is unfriendly to Great Britain, he concludes by saying that the British, in his opinion, are easily the most enlightened people when it comes to dealing with native races and that they respect the individuality of such people, and give them a fair deal. When we set about the building of a temple of peace, one of the pillars must be a strong, integrated British Empire. Only thus can we be sure that the edifice will stand.
I can think of no better way to set about improving the position of people throughout the world generally than by promoting the rapid recovery of Great Britain, because this would have an immediate effect upon other countries, those in the southern hemisphere as wei as those in Europe. It should be our purpose to achieve close association, first between the countries of the Empire, then with the United States of America, and, finally, with the great free nations of western Europe, Belgium, France. Portugal and Holland, which have possessions in Africa. Those countries are close to Great Britain, and if they could be bound to Britain in an active alliance, and at the same time arrange for the full development of the territories they control, not only would it make available resources which could be used to end aggression, but it would also increase the total world production of goods, including food, and that is the best way, I believe, in which to promote real peace in the world.
The Minister for External Affairs told us a long story of the activities of the United Nations, but is it not a fact that that organization has become, more or less, a sideshow in relation to the course of international events? All the big moves are made outside the United Nations. The Minister said that the peace treaties were to be framed outside the organization. We know that the Marshall plan did not proceed from the United Nations, but directly from the United States of America. As a matter of fact, what is regarded as the crowning achievement of the United Nations, the partition of Palestine, is not to be implemented by that organization. The United States of America ha9 taken over the trusteeship in order to try to bring peace to that troubled land’.
Therefore, we must face reality, and! make the Empire strong enough to enforce its foreign- policy. If we do that,, we shall no longer have to endure beingkicked around. This great Empire,, which controls more land than any othernation in the world, will no longer bekicked around by Gautemela, Chile, Argentina, and by other countries of South America, nearly every one of which cameinto existence with British help, and has remained in existence because the Monroedoctrine, throughout the whole of thenineteenth century, was maintained by the strength of the British Navy. Those South American nations owe their very existence to the British Empire ; yet now,, when they think the Empire is down and’ out - Professor Laski said that Great Britain was now only a thirdratepower - they turn against the Empire. It is not true that the Empire is down and out. The Empire possesses the men and resources which can place it in such a position as to restore its prestige in the eyes of the world. We must developan Empire policy that will ensure that the best use is made of our resources in the shortest time. This policy must include provision to tide the Empire over the next two years, which will be critical years for Great Britain. The people of Britain must be fed, and the staleness arising from a poor diet must be counteracted. In these two years the British people must be given some incentive to work again, in order to enable them to buy the things they need so greatly. For the next two years the policy should be so designed as to ensure that household goods, in short supply all over the world, will be available to them, so that people may be reasonably happy and contented again. During these years we shall not be able to do much in the way of capital expansion; but for the following five years we should be able to commence large undertakings which will hasten development. Undoubtedly it will take four or five years to acquire the necessary generating machinery to stimulate industrial development. During the interval we must work in accordance with a concerted plan. How can we achieve this industrial expansion? It seems to me that one of the first things necessary is to hold an Empire conference of representatives of not only the dominions but also the colonies and the protectorates. To such a conference there should be invited not only the political heads of the various countries but also the practical administrators and business men. The conference should be somewhat similar to the Ottawa conference, at which there were present not only Ministers and Government officials but also practical men from primary and secondary industries. The British budget just announced by Sir Stafford Cripps makes Empire cooperation more imperative than ever in order to enable the people of Great Britain to derive real benefits from the reductions in taxes. Otherwise the vicious circle of shortages, rising prices and black markets will be tightened, restrictions will continue to be imposed upon imports and exports and fewer goods will be available for the British people to buy. At the outset we should ascertain what can be done by each of the Empire countries. . Everyone who gives thought to this matter agrees that the salvation of the world depends upon an expansion of production and an increase of international trade. Only by those means can the people of the world be better fed and their standards of living lifted. In theory the Governments of Great Britain, the United States of America and Australia subscribe to that view. All of them sent their representatives to the conferences of the International Trade Organization which have been responsible for the drafting of a charter in which all kinds of reductions’ of duties are proposed ; but in practice expansion is prevented by import quotas, by licences and all sorts of currency and trade restrictions,, of which the following reported instruction f issued in the last few months by the Colonial Office to the East African colonies is typical: -
The Colonial Office has issued instructions to the East African Colonies regarding trade preferences, which, in effect, give priority to commodities from the United Kingdom ; then follows “ the war devastated countries of Europe” which term includes such countries as Prance, Belgium, Holland, Italy, and Germany. Thus ex-enemy countries have trade preferences over South Africa and Australia. The products of the Dominions can only be imported under licence when evidence is produced that the commodities concerned cannot be obtained from the European countries.
Surely such an instruction must nullify all attempts to improve trading conditions in the world. The policies of both Australia and Great Britain are, unfortunately, turned in the reverse direction. Since the war we have had almost three years in which to sum up the good or evil results of our external affairs policy. The Minister for External Affairs takes credit for haying pursued in many ways an attitude independent of the rest of the Empire; but in the next breath the right honorable gentleman complains that Australia has no voice in the councils of the four big nations. The proper place for Australia to express its views is in the councils of the Empire. If Australia’s voice is not heard in the councils of the four big nations, it is because there is a lack of proper communication of Australia’s views to the British Government. What we lack is a strong Empire voice. There has been no coherent, continuous Empire policy, especially in regard to Egypt, Palestine and Burma. We all are aware that the various Empire countries expressed differing views with regard to the AngloEgyptian treaty. By the grace of God. the Egyptians refused to take what was offered to them, and consequently that difficulty has been avoided for the time being. Recently, Empire countries have advocated the withdrawal of ; British troops from Palestine. Had it not been for the declarations made in America two years ago regarding the Jews, the Palestine problem would have been settled long ago. Surely we should ;have been consulted as to whether or not we stood four square behind the decision of .the British Government in relation to Palestine. No common policy has been adopted by Empire countries. In 1946, for example, the Australian representative resisted an attempt on the part of the South African Government to incorporate South-west^ Africa in the Union of, South Africa. I am glad to observe. tin the statement tabled on behalf of the Minister for External Affairs that he has now, changed his views on this matter. When I. was in
Africa, I found that for every person who was aware of this change of front on the part of the right honorable gentleman in 1947 there were 1,000 who remembered what he had said in 1946. The same remarks apply to our representations in respect of South Africa’s treatment of the Indians in Natal. Australia’s action which in both cases was independent of the rest of the Empire lost us the goodwill of the Africans generally. Surely these are matters in respect of which we should have said, “ These are internal matters which should not be referred to the United Nations “. Because of the variance of opinion among the Empire countries in regard to them, British prestige throughout the world has deteriorated. I am glad that in Mr. Ernest Bevin we have a strong foreign secretary who will fight for the restoration of our standing in the eyes of the world. The only realistic approach to this subject is to develop an integrated, coherent and continuous Empire policy that becomes traditional. Only by that means can we prevent our disintegration. Russia is trying to disintegrate us by Communistic infiltration. Communists are seeking to paralyse our progress by industrial holdups. When I arrived in Australia a fortnight ago I was amazed to find published in the press the following statement attributed to the foreign correspondent of the New York Times, which, as far as I am aware, has not since been refuted : -
Britain may be forced by pressure from her Western European neighbours and the United States of America to abandon efforts to maintain her position as banker for the British Commonwealth and other sterling-area countries.
This opinion is held by many of the bestinformed experts who have been attending the second Paris Conference on the European Recovery Programme.
Among the steps the British may be urged, and eventually forced, to take, are the definite blocking of existing sterling balances to reduce the ability of India, Egypt and other nonEuropean countries to buy British goods that might otherwise go to Europe; the cessation of conversion of sterling into dollars for sterling area countries; and the extension of sterling loans to France and possibly other Continental countries.
In effect, Britain would be required to declare herself bankrupt and to start over again with a drastic shift in the orientation of her economy and financial system away from the Commonwealth and toward Europe.
After contending that there is a basic inconsistency between Britain’s participation in the European recovery programme and Britain’s position as banker for the sterling area, the correspondent continued -
Aibolishing the sterling area in its present form will not alter the underlying problems of the sterling-area countries.
Instead of furnishing dollars by way of Britain, the United States of America may have to take over the direct responsibilities that Britain, as centre of the sterling area, has formerly shouldered for countries like India, Egypt, Australia and New Zealand.
A growing body of opinion in the State Department and in the Continental governments sees the British struggle to defend sterling as the greatest menace outside communism itself to the success of European Recovery Programme.
Those words were writtenof a country which for a whole year fought the barbarians in Europe and elsewhere without assistance. We are told that unless Great Britain severs its relations with the Dominions and the other parts of the Empire, and with the people closely allied with it in trade, it will be made bankrupt.
I now direct attention to the statement by the President of the American Tariff Association, Mr. H. Wickliffe Rose, which reads as follows: -
Take for example the controversial subject of Empire preference, which means nothing more than that areas of the Empire can trade among themselves without paying as high rates of duty as areas outside the Empire. Note the paradox in our foreign policy. Great Britain has been a strong ally in the war, and we consider it important to help her to recover since the war. Consequently we loan three and three-quarter billion dollars to strengthen her with one hand, while with the other we demand that she give up Empire preference as a term of the loan.
What is empire but a system of mutually profitable trade, and what holds it together but the preference given that trade? The trade preceded the government which now regulates it. Preference might be compared to a string which holds together the beads of a necklace. Pull out the string and the beads are free to roll in every direction.
The question which we must decide as a matter of foreign policy is, which is more important to the United States, to have a strong, vital British Empire, or to have free access to those markets and thereby weaken the Empire itself? The American Tariff League does not presume to indicate the choice. It only points out that we cannot have both, and that until a choice is made we will only cause confusion and delay by trying to accomplish both. Meanwhile the United States is compromising its position of world leadership in international affairs.
During this year of active negotiation for reduction of tariffs, all these other methods of bargaining are being tried and, at the same time, import quotas, restrictions, - licences and, in fact, all the devices that can cramp trade are being adopted. Even the International “Wheat Agreement, which may stabilize the wheat industry, limits total production.
The American Tariff League points out -
Customs unions, bilateral reciprocal trade agreements, and barter are by no means only historical and dead issues. They are very vital methods being used currently to get trade started again since the war. The important thing is to get production started in all countries, and where international trade is necessary to that end, barter and bilateral trade agreements should be used where natural and practical. All this year, while through the Geneva Conference multi-lateral worldwide trade agreements have been under discussion, the trend has been towards the use nf those expedients in order to get going. The fact that they are contrary bo the idealistic plan incorporated in the Trade Agreements Act has kept us out of step with other nations.
The time has come to examine what is being done by Britain and ourselves, and to ask: Are all the hardships necessary, or are we just needlessly putting ourselves on the rack? Are not the policies of the present governments prolonging the agonies of the war because too many things are being attempted at once? Would it not be better to finish fewer essential jobs than to leave all unfinished? Are these unnecessary hardships only tolerated because we acquired the habit during the war? Has not our patient endurance which might have been a virtue in wartime, become a vice in peace-time? Is Britain’s recovery being retarded by being based too narrowly on its own manpower and resources? Would not the recovery of Britain he accelerated if its effort were based on an integrated Empire effort, especially one that led to balanced Empire trade as a whole ? [Extension of time granted.]
Our problem in the Empire is a shortage of man-power and goods. Shortages make prices high because demand exceeds supply. The cure is to give incentives to work harder and for full time and to make a complete change in the deployment of our resources of manpower and materials by releasing manpower through reducing or postponing certain capital public expenditures. In order to get the best use of the resources of man-power and materials we must study what it is essential should be done immediately, and to concentrate our men and materials on those things. Matters not so urgent can wait. Let us work out, both in respect of Australia and the Empire as a whole, but especially in respect of Britain, what we can do for the next two years as things are, and then set to work to provide the essentials such as food, raw materials and electric generating capacity which saves labour and cheapens costs. In Australia our production should be concentrated mostly on food, raw materials, consumer goods and building and household materials. If we do not provide our full quota of food and raw materials, Britain must buy outside the Empire at much higher prices and our shortages interfere with British recovery. I instance Danish butter, for which Britain pays more than £300 sterling a ton, whereas it pays only just over £200 for our butter. If we could send more butter to Britain its difficulties would be correspondingly eased.
Britain has suffered most heavily in every respect during the war. An integrated Empire programme of recovery must therefore provide dominion assistance during the next two most critical years to enable the British people to recover from their many years of underfeeding and staleness, and to produce enough goods in the British shops to give a real incentive to work. To prevent this assistance from being wasted, Britain must postpone expenditures in certain fixed capital assets that can be deferred which divert man-power and materials from producing goods for the household and for export. Britain must fund on long terms her past indebtedness for war expenditures so that the convertibility of sterling for all current transactions may be permitted as soon as possible. Their internal financial systems should enable the Dominions to carry their producers of food and raw materials for this short period. Thus, the value of the sales of these to Britain, and a part of their sales to hard currency countries, could be at Britain’s disposal. The three items - gold, wool and wheat-produced in Africa, Australia and New Zealand last year were worth about £500,000,000, not to speak of other large items which should provide some hard currency.
Let us now look at Britain’s position and see how an integrated policy can assist a general solution. Real advantage can only be obtained from the budget reductions in the lower groups of taxation if more goods are available in shops to be bought with the extra money in the housewife’s hands. If there are no more household goods available, the reduction of sales tax will be absorbed by higher prices owing to increased demand. Rationing or price controls will only increase the demand on goods not controlled, and the blackmarketing of those controlled. The real cure for high prices is more goods available for purchase in shops. There will be more goods to buy if the Government decreases its use of men and materials. Public expenditure by increasing shortages of goods does as much as anything to lift prices generally. A reduction of the number of controls would release for essential work a great number of persons administering them. It would also release an equivalent number of persons in industry who are now employed in replying to correspondence and lodging the various returns required by the controllers. This, combined with tax relief, would stimulate production and increase the output per man-hour as well as the number of hours worked. In turn, this would ensure the reappearance of goods, especially household goods, and have many beneficial effects. It would especially relieve the women of hardships and of standing in queues; and it would lessen their absenteeism if they are working in industry. It would also stimulate the production of the bread-winner. To-day, most men are satisfied to get just enough to buy the small amount of goods available. They would be pressed harder if their wives were clamouring to buy goods they saw and desired. In talks with Englishmen recently I found that one of the main difficulties in developing the morale of the British people is the absence of goods for them to buy with the money they have left after they have paid their income tax. How would that affect the adverse balance of trade and British price levels which determine the competitive capacity of British exports? The adverse balance of foreign payments must necessarily be identical with the excess of current domestic outlay over current domestic savings. Inflationary pressure comes from the excess of purchasing power over the goods available. This pressure is increased by the export drive and import cuts. Both diminish the flow of goods to the home market. Neither diminishes the purchasing power coming forward to buy goods in the home market. Rationing and other forms of control will intensify the pressure in the free part of the market. That position can be avoided by reducing capital programmes to what can be covered by the savings of the people. Its effect is to make more goods for the home market and more for export. Imports can be increased and consumer and household goods replaced in shops. These capital programmes need only to be postponed in part or in whole until foreign trade is balanced and our supplies of raw materials are thereby secured. A condition of assistance by the Dominions must be segregation and blocking of all outstanding sterling claims before the convertibility of sterling for current use is allowed to take place. If foreign trade is out of balance it is a fallacy to cut imports and to think all will be well. If a nation is living beyond its means, any cut has the same effect as an import cut, and to the extent that imported goods are more needed than those of any other kind, any cut is better than an import cut. The inevitable result of such a programme will be increased reciprocal trade between the Dominions. In Africa, I found a great desire for this. During these two critical years theprogramme for the subsequent five years of Empire development can be prepared.
By this time money should become available for fresh capital development. Work on this will provide employment in all parts of the Empire. To give one instance, new electrical development, such as the harnessing of the Clarence,Snowy, Zambezi and the Nile rivers, or the establishment of new fuel power stations and the extension of reticulation will give employment in Britain for the manufacture of the heavy generators and transmission gear and, in the respective dominions, for the other components of the installations. The consequent orderly progress in the provision of essential needs and amenities will restore morale to the people ; the development will bring strength to the Empire; and the production will restore its solvency. The prestige of the Empire will be raised and its influence for peace and neighbourliness in the councils of the world will be secured. Members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the peoples of countries which are close to us in Africa and Europe, must be prepared to co-operate. Obviously, we can secure the active cooperation of the United States of America. This assurance has been given by the president of the American Tariff Association, and practical proof of it is afforded by the generosity of the United States of America in helping the United Kingdom with a substantial loan. We shall be able to see a continual improvement of the position of the British Empire, and that will tend to relieve existing world tension.
Mr.BEAZLEY (Fremantle) [10.17]. - Notwithstanding the interesting speech on trade employment and agricultural policy which we have just heard, the subject now under discussion is international affairs. Opening this debate for the Opposition, the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) made certain points which are standard points for members of the Opposition to make in every debate on international affairs. The first is to accuse the Government on the ground that the degree of its co-operation with other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations is inadequate. The honorable member for Flinders stated that Australian cooperation with Great Britain was shown to be inadequate in the specific instance of the recent crisis over the Falkland Islands. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), interjecting when the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) was speaking on the projected Japanese peace settlement, made a similar statement, to the effect that Australia had not taken any steps to coordinate its foreign policy in this matter with that of Great Britain.
The second accusation which is invariably made, is that the small powers now have no voice at international conferences, and that the Minister for External Affairs, in trying to make any contribution to international affairs, is engaging in a futile activity because the small powers have to follow the great powers. I question whether those principles have been rationally considered by members of the Opposition, or whether they should be regarded as mere fetishes. The criticism voiced by the honorable member for Flinders regarding the Falkland Islands and the failure of Australia to take any steps to assist Great Britain in that matter is not accepted by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee. In a statement made in the House of Commons, which was reported in the Australian press at the time and which was also recorded in Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, Mr. Attlee referred in most appreciative terms to Australia’s offer of assistance. I quote from Contemporary Archives an extract which it published referring to a debate in the House of Commons on the 18th February last as follows : -
Referring to an offer by Mr. Chifley, the Australian Premier, of February 18th, to send an Australian cruiser to the Falkland Islands to reinforce Great Britain, he expressed appreciation of the Australian offer but stated that His Majesty’s Government did not consider such action necessary.
So the statement of the honorable member for Flinders concerning the Falkland Islands was completely untrue. As the honorable member is one of those members of the Opposition who endeavours to keep his speeches in accordance with facts, I assume that this must have been an oversight on his part.
However, no such oversight could possibly explain the interjection by the honorable member for Moreton, when he made the absurd statement that no effort had been made to co-ordinate British Empire policy regarding Japan. The occupation force in Japan is a British Commonwealth Occupation Force. In Canberra, a conference was held of all the member States of the British Commonwealth of Nations to discuss the forthcoming Japanese peace settlement. If that was not a fair indication of interimperial co-operation with regard to the Japanese peace settlement, I am afraid that the honorable member for Moreton does not know what co-operation is. Members of the Opposition reveal a consistent attitude of mind in declaring that Australia has no right to any policy of its own, but should tune into and follow invariably the policy of Great Britain. This view is not shared by the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Mackenzie King, who described it as the “ crown colony mind “, and I believe that the crown colony mentality is a prominent feature of the thinking of members of the Opposition to-day.
I turn to the other contention that the smaller powers had no say in international affairs, and that Australia should not attempt consistently to make its voice heard. The right, honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) twisted that view into an assertion that the Minister for External Affairs was resentful because he had not been accepted as a member of the Big Four. Throughout the whole of his speech, the Minister expressed the view that better agreement would be obtained in the settlement of international disputes and the problems of the peace conference if there were a general assembly of all nations which had fought together in the war, instead of a method which has produced many failures in an attempt to confine the discussion of the difficult problems of the European peace settlement to the representatives of the Big Four.
Before this falsification of the position of small powers proceeds any farther, we should ask ourselves whether the great powers are uninfluenced by opinions abroad. Obviously, Great Britain is influenced by opinion in the Dominions. I shall not elaborate that point because elaboration is not required. It is difficult to find any great power which is more amenable to outside opinion in the conduct of its foreign policy than is the United States of America. In the past, the foreign policy of the United States of America has veered one way and then the other because of the opinions of national minorities within its borders. During World War II., Poland used the Polish minority in the United States of America to make its voice sympathetically heard. T need not emphasize how many times Ireland has done that in the past. The United States of America has a foreign policy very susceptible to the pressure of public opinion. That is one of the reasons why its foreign policy is so inconsistent. The State Department has repeatedly laid down a policy, only to have the Senate repudiate it in response to movements of American public opinion, many of which are the result of appeals from abroad. It was Irish policy which helped to defeat the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles by the United States of America, although the American State Department had advanced that as a policy.
The people of the United States of America are susceptible to appeals from abroad on the ground of principle. When the Minister for External Affairs has taken a clear stand on matters such as European reparations, the use of the veto, the rights of self-determination of peoples, the press of the United States of America and many sections of public opinion have responded. Members of the Opposition state consistently that the Australian Government should not put forward a policy, but should wait for the great powers to advance one. If the great power which they have in mind is the United States of America, and Australia were to follow consistently the policy of that country instead of having one of its own, we should expect many somersaults on policy. I do not know of any power in the post-war period which has changed its foreign policy as consistently as has the United States of America. It is now apparently in the process of changing its foreign policy on the Spanish issue-. If the pressure of certain members of Congress on the Secretary of State, Mr. Marshall, is successful a change will be made in
American foreign policy towards Spain. There is apparently a change of American foreign policy in regard to Japan. Of’ course, there has been a change of American foreign policy in regard to Trieste, and in regard to Palestine. If the view propounded by members of the Opposition that the small powers are wasting their time in putting forward independent policies, and should conform to those of the great powers, were entertained, we should find that Australia, with other small countries, would be placed in many absurd positions. I invite honorable members to consider the magnitude of the changes of American foreign policy which we have witnessed during the post-war period. On the 14th December, 1946, France indicated to the world its objection to the present Spanish regime, called for a three-power conference, asked for the severance of diplomatic relations with Spain, and began to treat very sympathetically prominent Spanish republicans who sought asylum within its borders. En response to France’s declaration of policy the United States Department of State agreed to make a three-power agreement, and simultaneously publicized certain diplomatic documents which had fallen into its hands during the war. Those documents established the close collaboration which existed between the Franco Government and the Axis powers. Indeed, the United States of America Government went so far as to join with Great Britain and France in issuing a. statement of policy in regard to Spain. After stating thatit was desirable that the present Franco regime should be ended, it went on to state that it was prepared to recognize an interim government which would dedicate itself to certain ends. The joint statement reads -
An interim government which wouldbe, and would remain, dedicated to these ends should receive the recognition and support of all freedom-loving peoples. Such recognition would include full diplomatic relations and the taking of such practical measures to assist in the solution of Spain’s economic problems as may be practicable in the circumstances prevailing. Such measures are not now possible.
That statement meant that while the existing Government of Spain continued no economic assistance could be afforded to thatcountry. However, the amend ments now proposed by certain members of the United States Congress urge that economic assistance should be given to Spain. I do not wish to labour the point, but I emphasize that it supports the contention advanced by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) this evening. He maintained that there were no moral problems in the world once a start was made in preparing for war, It did not matter what the history or the ideology of a country was once it was regarded as a potential ally. All one had to do was to obtain its goodwill by every possible means in order to secure its assistance in time of war. His contention is amply borne out by a comparison of the present attitude with recent history. We are urged to forget the close collaboration which existed between Spain and Germany during the war; to forget the German espionage system which operated from Spain; and to forget the signals sent from Spain in regard to. the movement of British shipping along the European coast. Seemingly, we must also forget the conference of Senor Suner with members of the German Government during the war. The reason why we are urged to forget all these things is that some people apparently believe that Franco is a bulwark against communism. One has only to examine this proposal in order to discover its weakness. Apparently its advocates regard the Marshall aid plan not as an effort towards European reconstruction but as a means to defeat communism. The newspaper editors and the members of Parliament throughout the English-speaking countries who have declared that there is no problem in Europe except the defeat of communism, have their counterparts in the United States congressmen who are attempting to, amend the Marshall aid plan in respect of Spain by asking their government to assist Spain. If thedefeat of communism were the only matter to be considered, then the problem would not be difficult to solve, because Franco was one of the first to make a stand against communism. If it does not matter how the stand against communism is made, then he should be subsidized. But these clever opportunistic policies invariably defeat themselves.If the Marshall aid plan, which is simply intended to defeat the Communists, is amended along the lines suggested by certain American congressmen, there is no doubt that there would be a complete alienation of goodwill towards the English-speaking countries France is one of the crucial powers balanced on the razor’s edge, it is said. There is no doubt that the adoption’ of this latest proposal would weaken any effort of the United States of America to counter a Communist victory at the Italian elections. The frittering away of Italian lives on battlefields such as Guadalajara during the Spanish Civil War is still held against Mussolini by Italians, and certainly against the present Spanish Fascist regime. So that a “ realistic “ policy very often defeats itself. To dismiss in an airy manner the value of ideals in international affairs as a cement between countries which are trying to pursue a constructive policy, as has been done by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) in the course of this debate, is wrong. Even the expediency of such a policy has its clearest refutation in the dilemma which arose in American foreign policy immediately certain senators and representatives attempted to amend the Marshall aid plan in the direction which the power politicians term a “ realistic “ one.
The contradictions of American foreign policy in regard to Spain are matched only by the apparent contradictions of that policy in regard to Japan, which is something which concerns us very directly. If we cast our minds back to the recommendation made to the other great powers by the. United States of America shortly after the collapse of Japan, we find some illumination. On the 21st June, 1946, the Government of the United States of America issued the text of a proposed draft treaty between the United States of America, Great Britain, Russia and China, which envisaged the establishment of a four-power allied control of Japan for 25 years after the signing of the Japanese Peace Treaty. The proposals were similar to. those made in regard to Germany. The United States of America suggested, first, that all Japanese armed forces by land, sea and air, as well as Imperial General Head- quarters, and the Army and Navy staffs, should be totally disbanded and demilitarized. Secondly, it proposed that no arms or weapons of any description, except small arms for use by the Japanese police in maintaining order, or any aircraft, naval vessels or fissionable materials, should be allowed. Thirdly, it proposed that no installations, fortifications, bases, depots, &c, should be permitted. Finally, it proposed that a quadripartite commission, representing Great Britain, Russia, China and the United States of America, should be empowered to conduct investigations in Japan ‘for 25 years after the signing of the Japanese Treaty, in order to ensure the total disarmament and demilitarization of that country. This body was to report to the Allied powers and to the Security Council. That was a clear statement, based on ideals and on an analysis of the consistent dominance exercised in Japan by an aggressive class which pursued an aggressive policy. The “ power “ politicians have since got to work on that proposal, and now we are getting what is called a “ realistic “ policy. The new “ realists “ tell us that Japan must be armed, that the “new” trouble is emerging from Soviet Russia, and that Japan must be armed as a bulwark against Russia. They go further and urge that Japan should not be left defenceless in the face of possible Russian aggression. There appears to be a calm assumption that if Japan is reorganized and permitted to resume its place as a great power in the world it will be a very convenient instrument to employ in opposition to Russian policy. I think that that was far too naive an estimation of Japanese foreign policy to be entertained seriously. During the war, Japan would at no time attack Russia, notwithstanding the importunities of her German ally. Japan has no immediate gain to obtain from Russia that compares with the attractiveness that an attack upon a weak and divided China must have for those who dream of the re-establishment of the Japanese Empire. If. that policy were pursued - and there, are some signs that American foreign policy is changing - we should resist it, regardless of whether it is proposed by a great power. If, in resisting it, we stated clearly why we were doing so and explained our suspicions concerning a renewal of Japanese imperialism we should not find that we were helpless in front of a great power like the United States of America. We should find, as we find to-day. a vast section of American public opinion making itself felt and preventing, or at least going a long way towards preventing, such a policy from being pursued.
The American Constitution with respect to foreign affairs was based on suspicion. The fathers of the American Constitution had some experience of European despots who made war at will, who entered into secret treaties behind the backs of their people and who pursued aims that had nothing in common with the interests of the ordinary people of their countries. Therefore they wrote into their Constitution provisions to ensure that, more than in any other country in the world, their foreign policy should come under the searchlight of the closest scrutiny by the Senate and its committees. It is an entirely unrealistic analysis of international affairs to say, as honorable members opposite say, that it is futile for Australia to pursue a foreign policy independent of a great power like the United States of America. Such a statement presumes that the United States of America is a military entity like the German General Staff, not subject to the pressure of public opinion, not amenable to any moral appeal and not capable of appreciating a stand on principle. Although that passes in the Australian press as a realistic statement, it is as far from realism as it is possible to imagine any statement on international affairs to be.
Turning to other aspects of the Government’s foreign policy that have ‘been criticized, we find that on the Palestine issue the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is accused of unwarranted interference, as though he had somehow infringed on British policy. The facts are that when Britain -made it clear that it wanted to leave, it asked the United Nations organization to take over. Australia, being a- -member State of that organization and accepting the responsibilities of membership, had to take potentially the responsibility that was - being handed over. That was not per sonal interference by the Minister for External Affairs, but an action in conformity with Australia’s duties as. a member of the United Nations.
Since we must not, according to honorable members opposite, deviate from an American foreign policy, let us take an American analysis of American foreign policy on the subject of Palestine. I quote the foll owing passage from the American journal Time of the 5th April of this year : -
The United States of America muddle over Palestine became more muddled last week. Not even Harry Truman himself knew where he stood. Out of Washington trickled the inside story of how the muddle got that way. Harry Truman had agreed to the policy switch from partition to trusteeship apparently without realizing what the switch meant. An anguished Clark Clifford had pointed out to him that it was political suicide. But by that time the deed was done.
Harry Truman might well have let it go at that. The idea was getting around that he had patriotically braved political extinction in order to carry out a policy designed to bolster the military position of the United States of America. But Harry Truman did not want to be extinguished. He appealed to George Marshall and the State Department to help him out. He wanted another statement.
He called a White House meeting, summoning Secretary Marshall ; Loy Henderson, the State Department’s Middle East expert; and David K. Niles, the President’s special adviser on Palestine. But the meeting exploded into violent argument. Niles is pro-partition. ‘Henderson is anti-partition. Mr. Truman broke it up by walking out, bitterly declaiming: “This gets us nowhere. All I want is a statement I can read to-morrow at my press conference “. So that night until 3 a.m. State Department officials sweated out a statement for him.
Seven and a half hours later, bright as a dollar, Harry Truman faced his press conference. On his desk were some typed pages which he picked up, saying briskly that he had a short statement to make. “The United States,” he read, “has proposed a temporary United Nations trusteeship for Palestine. .. . . Trusteeship is not proposed as a substitute for the partition plan but as an effort to fill the vacuum soon to be created, by the termination of the (British) mandate on May 15. . . If we are to avert tragedy in Palestine, an immediate truce must be reached between the Arabs and Jews. . . . With such a truce and such a trusteeship a peaceful settlement is yet possible.”
Then the questioning began. Would the United States of America send troops to Palestine? Not necessarily, said the President. Who would be the trustee? The United Nations, he said. Did the President still favour . immigration into Palestine? His positionhadnotchanged (he isfor immigration). Washe stillin favour of partition? That, exclaimed Harry Truman happily, was just whathe was trying to say.
Press Aide Charlie Ross watched with his sadhound-dog expression, Clark Clifford, preoccupied, scratched his chin. The conference ended.
Nowno one in the world could be expected to know where the United States of America stoodon Palestine. Harry Truman’s comicopera performancehad done little credit to the greatest power in the world.
Allowing for the journalese in Chat statement, we can see some inconsistency in American foreign policy. It has been suggested that the Minister for Extenal Affairs, who was a member of the committee that recommended partition, was somehow wrong inadopting a policy different fromthat of the United States of America. The United States of America both favours and opposes partition. Members of theOpposition should, therefore, find out where the United States of America stands before they decidethat the Minister, who has taken up a definite position on the matter, is pursuing a policy that is consistent or inconsistent with United States policy.
– That is not the criticism. The criticism is, having agreed upon partition, how is it to be enforced?
– That might be the criticism of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) but he has not spoken yet.
– I shall speak.
– I cannot be expected to anticipate the honorable gentleman’s criticisms. Such a power of prescience is possessed only by the honorable member and the Deity. I cannot deal with criticisms yet to be made, but only with those that have been made, and that is one.
Members of the Opposition seem to bemost happy when they are dealing with Eastern Europe. As this debate proceeded, it seemed as though, after the coup of M. Gottwald in Czechoslovakia, the Russian power in Eastern Europe extended enormously and very suddenly. There has been a tendency On the part of honorable members opposite to speak as though on that definite date a policy of aggression was unfolded. They do not nientioh that during the war the annexa tion ofLithuania, Latvia and Estonia by the Soviet Union was recognized and even welcomed by the Western powers. That vast extension of Russian power took place during the war. Just after the defeat of Germany,at the Potsdam Conference, it was agreed to extend the frontiers of Russia into Eastern Prussia, as far asKonigsburg-an enormous expansion of territory. Without consulting Poland, the great powers took the whole of Eastern Poland up to as far as what used to be called theCurzon Line in some places, and beyond it in other places, adding that territory to Russian territory. Poland was compensated with a large part of Prussia and
Saxony, taking its western frontiers as far as the Oder-NeisseLine; and adopting what anybody with any sense must regard as theutterly evil policy of expelling the German populations from those areas intothe rump ofGermany that was left. If anything is to be a cause of future trouble in Europe it will be the expulsion of German populations. About 10,000,000 are to be expelled from Poland and 2,000,000 from Czechoslovakia to the rump of Germany. Without doubt, the compression of a larger German population into a smaller area will at some future date causemore of their people to accept the doctrine of living spaces - “Lebensraum” -which caused so much trouble in the past. All the happenings which have greatly added to Soviet power in Europe occurred during the war so that if there is to be any condemnation it must fall on Mr. Winston Churchill and President Truman who were parties to the Potsdam Agreement. President Roosevelt was a party to earlier agreements. It may have been a case of “ Needs must when the Devil drives “. In fact it was. But judging by the speeches we have heard one would imagine that there has been a recent expansion of Russian influence from the coup d’etat which took place in Prague in March.
If the expansion of Soviet power is to be taken as a sign that war is approach ing, it would be advisable to find out how much of this expansion of Soviet power has been agreed to by the Governments of Great Britain and the United States of America. If those governments agreed to this expansion they at least are not entitled to take that into consideration as an earnest of future Russian aggression.
There is criticism that the policy that is being implemented in Eastern Europe resembles that of Nazi Germany. I do not defend the policy of Russia in Eastern Europe. I believe that many of the things which are happening are utterly inhuman. The great powers, in the name of realism have ignored the principle of self-determination and have sown the seeds of future wars. One thing that is quite certain is that Germany and Poland have a first-class basis for dispute between them for the next 50 years over former German territories which have been added to Poland. In that quarrel, in which we are partners, only Russia can be the gainer. The great powers must be adjudged the architects in that matter. If we analyse the position honestly, we must admit that a lot of the mischief -making that is taking place in Eastern Europe is due to this example of so-called realism in politics. We must also admit that we can find little room for condemnation of Russia without similar condemnation falling on ourselves. It is said that some diplomatic action should be taken over Czechoslovakia, and that question is before the United Nations at present, but to draw an analogy between that case and Munich in 1938 without pointing out the differences would be completely dishonest. I am not making an apology for Russia. I have no defence to make of Russian foreign policy, but I consider that this National Parliament owes it to the people of Australia to discuss the facts fully and not in the propagandist manner. Munich was occasioned by German troops occupying Czechoslovakia, but no Russian troops are occupying Czechoslovakia to-day.
At the time of the Munich incidents there were no Germans other than the Sudeten Germans inside Czechoslovakia, and they were incapable of forming a Government. But a free election has been held in Czechoslovakia, and Great Britain and the United States of America have never disputed its freedom. In that election the Communists obtained 3,000,000 out of the 7,000,000 votes cast. That was due to the prestige of Russia, which had freed Czechoslovakia. To say that there was such a sudden change of outlook on the very date that Mr. Gottwald eliminated certain members of the Cabinet is quite untrue.
The actual accretion of power heobtained has not significantly altered foreign policy in Europe at all, because Czechoslovakia was already a member of the Russian blocand was completely attached to the Soviet economic policy by a system of rigid trade agreements which appear to me to favour Russia very greatly. I am not saying there is no difference at all, but I am asserting that the difference is not that Czechoslovakia was not within the Russian orbit of influence and that it suddenly came within that influence. That state of affairs existed previously to a considerable degree and those who say that there has been some sudden passage of powerare not analysing the facts correctly. [Extension of time granted.]
The position in Europe deserves analysis first of all on the objective facts, before one attempts to indulge in propaganda in relation to them, but throughout this debate, so far, Opposition members have first of all made a propaganda statement and then have distorted the facts to fit their statement. I shall mention certain instances of that kind of procedure during the debate. My first instance is the statement by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) that Australia had not co-operated with Britain on the question of the Falkland Islands-. I ask honorable members to compare his statement with the statement of Mr. Attlee in relation to the despatching of a cruiser to the islands. My next instance is the statement, by interjection, of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) that there had been no co-ordination of our policy with that of Great Britain on the Japanese peace settlement. In refutation of that interjection, I call attention to the conference on the subject that was held in Canberra. I refer now to the statement by members of the Opposition that we could have no foreign policy by which we could influence the Great Powers, and their reference to the uselessness of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr.
Evatt) attempting to make a policy which would be at variance with the United States of America. In refutation of that statement, it is not very difficult to show how frequently the United States of America is at variance with itself on major issues of international affairs. If we could have a discussion on the objective facts without introducing propagandist issues it would be beneficial, for it would make our isolationist people a little more aware than they are of the significance of international affairs.
Debate (on motion by Mr. White). adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act Repeal Bill 1948 .
Without requests -
Customs Tariff Bill 1948.
Customs Tariff (Southern Rhodesian Preference) Bill 1948.
Excise Tariff Bill 1948.
Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1948.
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1948.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill 1948.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Bill 1948.
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1948.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Bill (No. 3) 1948.
Excise Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1948.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Report on inquiry into the allegations made by the honorable member for Lang as to the wrongful use by the honorable member for the Northern Territory, whilst a prisoner of war in the hands of the Japanese, of his Parliamentary Privileges, together with Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee, and Appendices.
The report was unanimously agreed to be the committee.
Pollutionof Sydney Harbour by Naval Vessels.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to bring to the notice of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) a matter which is causing some concern to residents in my electorate. Correspondence has passed between the Minister and myself on behalf of residents of Vaucluse, regarding the mooring of the reserve fleet at Watson’s Bay, and particularly regarding the pollution by sewage of the harbour in the vicinity of what may be called one of the best residential areas of Sydney, and the aquatic playground of the residents of the eastern suburbs. This complaint dates back to 1947, when I arranged for the Minister to see the Mayor and Town Clerk of Vaucluse. No action was taken after the interview, and I again got in touch with the Minister in November of 1947. In December, the Minister wrote to me concerning the representations which had been made to him by the Mayor and Town Clerk, and his letter contained the following passage : -
As a result of his investigatons, the Senior Officer Reserve Fleet reported that it appeared the complaints had been somewhat exaggerated, and, whilst the disadvantages, which inevitably arise through shipping anchored near beaches, arc well known, the position has not materially deteriorated due to the presence of the Reserve Fleet. The Town Clerk agreed with this view.
The continued pollution of the harbour caused a further series of representations to be made by the council. On the 17th February of this year - a little over twelve months after the original inquiries were made - the Minister wrote the following letter, through me, to the council : -
It is pointed out also, the pollution of the foreshores in this area has taken place over a period of years prior to the war, and normally could be attributed to discharge of refuse by vessels anchored on the bank, or in areas adjacent to Watson’s Bay, and there is no reason to suppose that this source of pollution has been eliminated.
On the 11th March last, the Minister again wrote to me a letter in which reference was made to a. conference of a number of senior, officers and public men, which considered the matter of pollution, and mention was also made of the fact that the naval authorities desired their lease of the wharfs at Watson’s Bay to be extended for a further ten years. The letter contained this paragraph : -
Regarding the complaints concerning pollution of baths and beaches, which are considered somewhat exaggerated, the Department of Works has been asked to investigate the practicability of installing a septic tank at the seaward end of Watson’s Bay Jetty. Such an installation should go a long way towards overcoming the objection concerning sewage.
My reason for reading those extracts is to show how the opinion of the Minister has changed. At first, he denied that there was any pollution. Later, he said that any pollution which might have occurred was caused by vessels anchored near the shore. Later, when it was definitely established that pollution was occurring, he said that it was proposed to install a septic tank. The chairman of the committee was Rear- Admiral Moore, and his deputy superintendent, Captain Morris, R.A.N., was also present. Capain Morris said that the position could be summarized as follows: -
The sewage - that is where the council has a definite argument - he said he knew from personal experience there was sewage at Watson’s Bay - he recommended that they investigate the fitting of a septic tank.
I maintain that the Municipality of Vaucluse has a record second to none so far as its war effort is concernrd.concerned. Its record for Air Raids Precautions activity and for enlistment shows that its residents may be classed as among the most loyal in Australia. They complain that the ships of the Navy are spreading all over the harbour, and they object to those vessels invading the precincts of what is possibly the best residential area in Sydney, where they are moored against the shore, causing pollution of the water where children bathe. In time of war, people are prepared to accept such inconveniences, but the Maritime Services .Board, which should know the harbour, has said that the ships ought to be moved to Garden
Island, or further to the eastward. Already, the Navy has mooring points in other parts of the harbour. There are naval barracks at Chowder Bay, and there are naval depots there also. The Navy should be given a part of the harbour for its own use, and there is no more suitable part than that in the vicinity of the docks and Garden Island. The only possible objection to the proposal for the removal of the reserve fleet from Watson’s Bay is the cost of providing new wharfs, and of pulling down the wharfs now in use. The residents of Vaucluse do not press for the pulling down of the present wharfs. They are prepared to allow them to stay, but they claim that some consideration should be paid to them. The people who live in the vicinity of Nielson Park are objecting to entering the water because it is polluted with oil, and they object to the danger of contracting skin diseases because of the polution of water by sewage. They consider that they are entitled to some consideration and that the Navy should at least. take care to see that pollution is not allowed to extend to such a degree as to cause inconvenience to residents in that area, which, as I have said, is used as a playground for the people. It is high time that the Minister gave some consideration to the representations made on their behalf. He should consider the fact that the Maritime Services Board, which certainly knows more than the Naval authorities about Sydney Harbour and its mooring facilities from the point of view of general efficiency, has said that arrangements should be made to moor the vessels in a commercial rather than a residential area. I again ask the Minister to see whether something cannot be done to rectify the complaints made by residents of Vaucluse.
.- The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has said that I had changed my opinion with respect to this matter. I emphasize that I have not changed my opinion in any way whatever. The honorable member referred to certain letters which passed between him and me ; and, as I th ought that he might raise this matter in the House, I kept a precis of the correspondence. He said that in January of last year a deputation representing the Vaucluse Council waited upon me in respect of this matter. That is true. He also said that I took no further action until he wrote to me on the 21st November. He then went on to say that the Senior Officer Commanding the Reserve Fleet had had discussions on the subject with the Vaucluse Council. That is also true. That officer was in Sydney in July, 1947, when he made a complete investigation and discussed the matter with the Vaucluse Council. The honorable member in his letter to me, dated the 21st November, complained of the nuisance caused by pollution and emphasised the objections raised by residents in the area to the retention of the Reserve Fleet at that spot. On the 12th December last I wrote to the honorable member informing him of the visit made by the Senior Officer Commanding the Reserve Fleet in Sydney as the result of which he reported that the complaints appeared to be exaggerated and that the position had not materially deteriorated due to the presence of the Reserve Fleet. The officer also reported that the Town Clerk of Vaucluse had agreed with that view. On the 14th January the latter wrote to the honorable member for Wentworth stating that despite the report made by the Senior Officer Commanding the Reserve Fleet, the Vaucluse Council considered the vessels to be a nuisance and to be the cause of pollution of the beaches at certain times. The Council asked the honorable member to take the matter up with me. On the 17th February, in response to further representations by the honorable member, I wrote to him informing him that particular attention had been paid by the Senior Officer Commanding the Reserve Ships in Sydney to the disposal of refuse about which he has complained so much, and that the Navy Department was satisfied that the measures taken and the constant supervision exercised had prevented any pollution from this source. I also pointed out in that letter that the pollution of the foreshores had occurred for some years before the war. That opinion was confirmed at the conference which took place with representatives of the Maritime Services Board, where it was pointed out that normally this was attributable to the discharge of refuse by vessels anchored on the beaches in the area adjacent to Watson’s Bay, and that there was no reason to suppose that this source of pollution had been eliminated. I also informed the honorable member that the area was eminently suitable for the purpose for which it was being used by the Naval authorities, and that it would be extremely difficult and most expensive to remove the vessels to any other area in the harbour.
The honorable member for Wentworth, like other honorable members opposite, constantly complains about the present high taxation and urges that taxes should be substantially reduced. Replying to my letter of the 17th February, the honorable member failed to refer to the fact that in my letter I stated that the Watson’s Bay area was suitable for the purpose and that it would be extremely difficult and most expensive to move the vessels to any other area. I emphasised also that as the original cost of the Reserve Fleet units at the three jetties was £378,000, it would be appreciated that the maintenance of the fleet was a matter of great importance. In tho circumstances, I regretted that other suitable areas were not available. The honorable member said that there was overcentralisation on the part of the Naval authorities. The Reserve Fleet is centralized in Sydney and Fremantle. The Sydney section of the fleet has been moored in the Watson’s Bay area, because, as I have stated, it is the most suitable site available. These vessels are most valuable vessels. The honorable member urged that they should be transferred to Chowder Bay, but he fails to realise that Chowder Bay is not suitable for this purpose because it is subject to sand and it is affected by swells from the ocean, whereas the waters of Watson’s Bay are comparatively calm.
With respect to the vexed subject of pollution, I repeat, as I pointed out in my letter to the honorable member, that there had been pollution in Sydney Harbour long before the war. The conference to which the honorable member referred was attended by Captain Whitton, who is Vice-President of the Maritime Services Board. At the conference to which I have referred he called attention to thefact that pollution of the harbour waters was a punishable offence, and he said that the Board would prosecute even the naval authorities if evidence of offences were made available to it. He made the. position clear. He stated that he himself was a resident of Vaucluse. He said he had visited from 30 to 40 ports in his official capacity prior to the 10th February last, the date on which this conference was held, and that, so far as he knew, pollution did not occur in Sydney Harbour. The Board, on rare occasions, had complained about oil fuel waste from naval vessels in Woolloomooloo, but did not consider that to be a real problem. He said that there were other reasons why the wharves should be shifted, but he could not support the ground advanced by the Mayor of Vaucluse with respect to pollution, because pollution was as bad ten years ago, when much wood and coke was present in the water during periods of westerly weather. When the conference discussed the proposal to shift the vessels, Captain Whitton asked whether there were suitable sites up the harbour, and Captain Murchison informed the conference that there were no other suitable sites available to accommodate ships of the type concerned.
With respect to the pollution of the harbour by oil fuel, Rear-Admiral Moore, who presided at the conference, said that he thought it was most unlikely that the oil came from naval ships. LieutenantCommander Wight, a member of the staff of the Senior Officer Commanding the Reserve Fleet, said that no oilwas being used by the vessels in that area because they were in reserve. He explained that on one occasion he went into the matter with the Town Clerk of Vaucluse, and it was then established definitely that the oil had not come from naval ships, but probably from numerous vessels which were anchored on the beaches.
I come now to the vexed question of sewage. In an endeavour to overcome the complaints of the Council, the Navy Department decided to install a septic tank at the, seaward end of the Watson’s Bay jetty. The honorable member complained that sewage was being swept into the baths and that it had caused skin disease and other sickness to bathers. I point out that there are only twenty naval personnel in that area. I do not know a great deal about Sydney Harbour, but I do know that the Domain baths are situated close to Woolloomooloo where thousands of men are employed on numerous ships loading and discharging cargoes every day. I understand that the water in the Domain baths is tested periodically to ensure freedom from pollution. Is it seriously suggested that twenty men at Watson’s Bay could pollute the whole of the waterfront? Refuse bins which are cleared six days a week are in use for food scraps and garbageat, Watson’s Bay and for garbage only at the other two jetties. I refer the honorable gentleman to a letter which I wrote to him on the 11th March, wherein I informed him that only one case was known in which pollution had been caused by oil. In that case pollution had occurred as the result of an accident when a submarine was fuelling. Directions have been issued that in future no fuelling at Watson’s Bay jetty will be permitted except in an emergency. I am surprised that at a time when there is a clamour for the reduction of taxes, and when the international situation is causing concern to us all, the honorable member should demand the expenditure of a large sum of money in order to provide alternative accommodation for the ships of the reserve fleet berthed in the VaucluseWatson’s Bay area. I agree that the outward appearance of the vessels is unsightly, but that cannot be avoided. The cost of removing them from their present berths and erecting new berths would be prohibitive. The feelings of the Vaucluse Council are appreciated, but I regret that there is no alternative to the maintenance of the reserve ships at their present berths.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1948 -
No. 13 - Repatriation Department Medical Officers’ Association.
No. 14 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia.
No. 15 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 16 - Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen.
No. 17 - Amalgamated Engineering Union.
No. 18 - Hospital Employees’ Federation of Australasia.
No. 19 - Federated Ironworkers’ Association of Australia.
Nos. 20 and 21 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department -
Civil Aviation - A. H. Cobby.
Health- D. W. Davies.
Interior - F. J. Anable, W. Beveridge, J. E. Campbell, J. G. Griffiths, E. C. Knight, F. P. Noonan, H. J. Sharpe.
Labour and National Service - K. Eisner, R. J. Thomson, E. White.
Parliamentary Library - E. Bishop, J. B. S. Jackson, J. M. Trevaskis, J. Watson.
Postmaster-General - M. W. Farmer.
Post-war Reconstruction - J. G. H. Hoeben.
Transport - T. G. Paterson.
Works and Housing - G. W. Barrett,
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act -
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (33).
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -
Defence purposes -
Bankstown, New South Wales.
Broome, Western Australia.
Learmonth, Western Australia.
Perth, Western Australia.
Wamberal, New South Wales.
Woolloomooloo, New South Wales.
Department of Civil Aviation purposes-
Postal purposes -
Bermagui South, New South Wales.
Bordertown, South Australia.
Double Bay, New South Wales.
Gladstone, South Australia.
Gunnedah, New South Wales.
Lidcombe, New South Wales.
Lithgow, New South Wales.
Rozelle, New South Wales.
Strathalbyn, South Australia.
Tailem Bend, South Australia.
West Melbourne, Victoria.
Railway purposes - Hawker, South Australia.
Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administration Act - Ordinance - 1948 - No. 3 - Port Moresby Water Supply (Temporary Provisions) .
House adjourned at 11.21 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
t asked the Minister for Immigration upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
With reference to question No. 3 on noticepaper No. 109, asked by the honorable member for Richmond, in reply to which the
Attorney-General in a written answer on the 18th February advised that “the information is being obtained and I hope to be able to reply more fully to the honorable member in a few days’ time “, when can such answer be expected, and what is the reason for the delay?
– The information asked for by the honorable member is as follows : -
Austin, L. F. - Age 47; formerly president, New South Wales branch, Australian Railways Union; assigned to industries covering engine drivers and firemen, dockyard employees.
Blackburn, Brigadier A. S., V.C. - Age 54; awarded Victoria Cross in 1916; re-enlisted in Australian Imperial Force in 1940; served in Middle East and as G.O.C., Australian Imperial Force, Java; prisoner of war from 1942 to end of war; barrister and solicitor; assigned to industries covering road transport workers (including mobile cranes), glass workers, gas employees, tramways.
Blakeley, Honorable A. - Age 61; former Federal Minister; arbitration inspector since 1935; conciliation commissioner since 1941; assigned to industries covering theatrical employees, musicians, actors, hospital employees, broadcasting technicians, radio telegraphists (other than marine).
Buckland, G. H. - Age 58; formerly industrial officer for the Australian Workers Union for a period of fifteen years; assigned to industries covering rubber workers, glue and gelatine workers, artificial fertilizers, saddlery and leather goods, rope and cordage, boot trades.
Donovan, J. R. - Age 45; permanent officer of the Commonwealth Public Service; formerly Officer-in-Charge, Commonwealth Employment. Office, Sydney, also executive officer to Commonwealth Transport Advisory Council;: assigned to industries covering Australian’ Workers Union (pastoral, hops, construction mining, fruit-growing, rice, flax, dairying, harvesting), wool classing, municipal employees.
Dwyer, J. V. - Age 56; formerly general secretary, Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia for fifteen years; assigned to industries covering timber, furniture trade, shipwrights, ship carpenters, coopers, paper manufacture.
Findlay, G. A. - Age 37; has been chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Industrial Board and a conciliation commissioner since 1944; assigned to industries covering clothing trades, textile (including knitting section), felt hatting. Mr. Findlay also retains his appointment as chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Industrial Board.
Galvin, J. M. - Age 51; formerly general secretary of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen; assigned to industries covering building, carpenters and joiners, builders’ labourers, plumbers, painters and decorators, stonemasons, ship painters and dockers.
Hewitt, J. M. - Age 36; permanent officer of the Commonwealth Public Service ; formerly Legal Officer, Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s Office; assigned to stevedoring industry.
Kelly, F. D. - Age 54; returned soldier from First World War; formerly organizer of the Federated Storemen and Packers Union and member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales; assigned to industries covering tanners, wool and basil workers (fellmongery ), meat industry, shop assistants.
Knight, H. - Age 59; formerly M.L.A. for twenty years and Minister for Labour and Industry and Social Welfare, New South Wales, since 1941 ; assigned to industries covering merchant service guild, marine engineers, marine stewards, marine cooks, seamen, marine radio employees.
Mooney, G. A. - Age 63: conciliation Commissioner since 1st January, 1941 ; assigned to industries covering metal trades (including agricultural implement, oven and stove), anotor body and coach building, aircraft.
Morrison, D. V. - Age 50; returned soldier from First World War; awarded Air Force Cross ; permanent officer of the Commonwealth Public Service; formerly Deputy Industrial “Registrar, Commonwealth Court “of Conciliation and Arbitration, Sydney, since 1938 ; appointed a conciliation convmissioner in 1940, and chairman, Stevedoring Industry Commissionin1944; assigned to industries covering liquor trades, brewery employees, food preserving, manufacturing grocers, confectioners, flour millers, tobacco.
Portus, J. H. - Age 34; service with Royal Australian Air Force during recent war; awarded Distinguished Flying Cross ; admitted as barrister and solicitor prior to enlistment; appointed a conciliation commissioner in 1944; assigned to industries covering printing industry (including newspapers), Northern Territory, storemen and packers.
Stewart, M. M. - Age 59; permanent officer of the Commonwealth Public Service; Industrial Registrar, Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration since 1929; conciliation commissioner since July, 1940; assigned to railway employees.
Wallis, A. R. - Age 59; formerly secretary, Victorian Clothing Trades Union for twenty years and member of the Women’s Employment Board; assigned to industries covering banks, insurance officers, trustee officers, municipal officers, health inspectors, clerks, journalists, snipping clerks, architects and draughtsmen.
In accordance with section eleven of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the Chief Judge assigned to the Conciliation Commissioners the particular industries to be dealt with by them.
t asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Wool: Trade with Japan.
t asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Mr.Archiecameron asked . the . Minister forCommerce and Agriculture,upon notice - 1.Will die -aseovta-in rirom the State . governmiuutsior byiany-othertmeans convenient.to him, in -suspect of the . -supplies of -.No. -8, . No. 10, and No. 12½gauge wire, barbed wire, wire netting, iroii(d’roppei:s:and iron ipos.ts, ‘(a) what quantitieswere on hand in , the stores of traders in each Sttfte on : the 23th February, 194’8, (b) what orders ‘for -each- of these -materials ‘had been approved by the competent lauthority, and (c,) latest date , to . wthieh ap,pro.ved orders in respect of each immaterial , had been -supplied in f ul’l ?
d. -The (answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
r asked the Minister . representing the Minister -for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and ‘Customs has supplied the following inf ormation : -
The amount of revenue which the Government is prepared to forgo is necessarily limited by such commitments. In the elimination or reduction of revenue measures, consideration must he given to the relative importance of each and the modifications which it is possible to make from time to time are such as the Government considers best in the interests of the national economy as a whole.
Having regard to this fact a number of revenue imposts, such as primage duty on capital equipment and the special war duty, has been eliminated or reduced since the cessation of hostilities.
n asked the Minister representmg the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
During and immediately after the war period all importations of crawler tractors were reserved for essential purposes other than agriculture. Importations of crawler tractors for agricultural use commenced in the year 1940-47 when the total number imported was 419. 2 and 3. The details of all allocations of tractors imported between the respective States, classified on the basis of 20 h.p. and under and 21 h.p. and over are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
Will he supply figures for the years 1939. 1940. 1940 and 1947, showing, (a) production.
– The following details of (a) production, (b) consumption in
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 April 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19480408_reps_18_196/>.