18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy SPEAKER (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers. age and invalid pensions. petition.
Mr. HUGHES presented a petition from certain members of the Dee Why and North Sydney branches of the Original Old Agc and Invalid Pensioners’ Association of Australia, praying the Parliament to set up a competent tribunal to determine a pension rate, to be adjusted -quarterly -in accordance with the cost of living, and to discontinue the operation of the “means test”. :” Petition received’ and read. hour OF meeting:
Motion (by Mr… Chifley) agreed to-1
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to lo-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
– In view of the uncertainty in Australian business and financial. circles about whether Australia will follow the action of the New Zealand
Government, in appreciating its pound to parity with sterling, is the Treasurer in a position to make a statement to the House on the attitude of the Australian Government to this vital question 1 ‘
– A question of this character was addressed to me during the last parliamentary session. I said then that the Australian Government had no intention of appreciating the Australian pound’ to parity with sterling while sterling maintained the. position it then held in relation to other currencies, and thai an indication had already been given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Great Britain that the British Government had no intention of depreciating its currency.
Communist Activities - Passports
– On his recent visit to Great Britain the Prime Minister stated that Australia stood behind .Great Britain in Berlin. Will the right honorable gentleman say whether that statement referred Only to a regional pact in that area ? . If it referred to Australia’s attitude to’ Great Britain throughout the world, will the right honorable gentleman agree to’ the despatch of the Australian cruisers. H.M.A.S. . Shropshire, and H.M.A.S. Canberra to Singapore to support H.M.S: London and augment Empire naval strength in that area, thus demonstrating that Australia is prepared to ‘support Great Britain, not only with words but, also with actions, in its deadly fight against the Communist assassins in Malaya?
– I presume the honorable member is referring to the statement that I made to representatives pf the press in Berlin regarding the position in that city; I think that I expressed a personal view that the attitude being- adopted by the Western Allies, in Berlin was one that was fully supported by Australia.”
– Was . it ‘ not also .» governmental view?
– It can be. taken as a governmental view too, because the Australian Government since then has, at the request of the British Government, arranged for air crews to proceed to Germany to assist in the air lift to Berlin.
With regard to the other matter mentioned by the honorable member, it has been made clear on a number of occasions that the Australian Government is always prepared to give assistance to the British Government in such ways as it may deem to be best. Certain requests have been made by the British Government for assistance in preserving law and order in Malaya. Those requests have been complied with as far as the availability of supplies made it possible to do so. Any other problems that may arise in that urea will be the subject of discussion with the British Government, and any request that that Government makes to the Australian Government will, of course, receive the most sympathetic consideration.
– I ask the Prime Minister the following questions: - 1. Have any representations been received from the British Government regarding the activities of L. L. Sharkey, secretary of r,he Communist party, in inciting civil war in Malaya resulting in the murder of British and Australian subjects? 2. Is it still the policy of the Government to issue passports to members of the Australian Communist party to proceed ro Malaya and Indonesia? 3. Have reports been received from Malaya regarding the activities of C. H. Campbell, a member of the Communist party and managing director of Asia Airlines Proprietary Limited? If so, will the contents of such reports be disclosed to the House? 4. Are the passports issued to Sharkey and Campbell still operative?
– The Minister for Immigration will answer the honorable gentleman’s questions.
– No representations have been received by the Australian Government from the British Government on any of the matters referred to by the honorable member. If he places his long- questions on the notice-paper, I shall try to supply him with a detailed reply to each of them.
AUSTRALIANS IN JAPAN- -MILITIA FORCES:
– During my recent visit to Japan as a member of the Australian parliamentary delegation I had the opportunity of witnessing the changing of the guard of Australian troops at the Japanese Emperor’s palace. I am sure that all other members of the delegation were proud, as I was, to observe the men’s fine bearing. Will the Minister for the Army have a ‘coloured sound film made of these troops while they are performing the ceremony, and have it screened in all Australian theatres, thus demonstrating widely the men’s fine bearing, and have the film preserved as an historical record?
– Many film shots have been taken of various events in which the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan has participated. Such films are brought to Australia for processing, and selected portions of them are distributed to newsreel companies for screening in theatres throughout Australia. The films are then placed in the custody of the Australian War Museum. I do not know whether any films showing the changing of the guard have been screened in Australia or in any other part of the world. I agree that the changing of the guard is a very fine spectacle. I shall do my best to have a colour film of it taken by the British Commonwealth Occupation Force Public Relations Officer and processed in Australia. Film companies will then be invited to screen the picture throughout the world.
– I ask the Minister for the Army what sums the Government has expended on the considerable amount of advertising that has been done in connexion with recruitment for the Citizen Military Forces? I also ask the Minister whether, if the Government is sincere in its recruiting campaign, the Prime Minister himself will make a statement on the defence requirements of Australia setting out the objects of the present scheme, and also calling on the young men of Australia for co-operation. This would be preferable to wasting public money on advertising? Further, as the militia scheme calls for considerable sacrifice on the part of those who enlist, will the Government set an example by directing the Public Service authorities to assist in the scheme by excusing public servants from duty so that they may attend military camps?
– If the honorable member himself would do something to encourage enlistments in Australia rather than-
– I do so.
– I repeat that if the honorable member would do something to encourage enlistments rather than attack the scheme-
– I am in the Militia, and during recess gave up two nights a week to attend drill.
– There are many in the Militia who are doing very little to encourage the scheme. The questions asked affect not only my own department, but also the departments of several other Ministers and also the Public Service. The Government has made quite a large contribution to the encouragement of enlistment in the Citizen Military Forces. It has, in particular, directed that leave on full pay shall be given to Commonwealth employees to go into camp for fourteen to sixteen days. That is a very fine contribution. I also point out that despite the honorable member’s attempts to write down the Government’s defence policy, those responsible for enlistments and for the establishment of the various units are more than pleased with the enlistments that have already taken place throughout Australia. Enlistments in the Australian Regular Army are at the 12,000 mark at the present time. Recruitment for the Citizen Military Forces commenced on the 1st July last and enlistments are now in the vicinity of 10,000.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister, relating to a serious charge which was made against the Government in a document headed “ Things I Hear “ dated the 9th August, 1948. This document stated that the Labour party had introduced secret payments to union stand-over men on a scale not dreamt of by its predecessor. It alleged that selected officials of the Waterside Workers Federation had received, among other sums, £2,000 cash “on the knocker “ from the Government of Australia. It also stated that Communist leaders of the Seamen’s Union and top officials of the miners’ federation had received folding money from the Government. As this document has a public circulation, -will the Prime Minister say what truth, if any, there is in the very serious allegations which it makes about the use of public moneys? If the right honorable gentleman is unaware of the facts at the moment, will he inquire as to the truth or otherwise of the allegations, and inform the House of the result?
– Any statements of the character mentioned are an absolute lie. During the period of almost seven years . that I have been Commonwealth Treasurer, no payments have been made to any body for any such services. The Government has, however, had occasion to make payments to officials of the miners’ federation for services which they have rendered.
– There is no “ slush “ fund.
– In view of many requests by representatives of organized women workers in industry for a basic or foundation wage for adult female workers, and of the uncertainty that exists as to the meaning of the recent decision of the full bench of the Arbitration Court in the matter, can the Minister for Labour and National Service state exactly what is the present position with regard to a minimum wage for females?
– During most of this year there has been some uncertainty as to whether, from the standpoint of the Arbitration Court, there was or was not a basic wage for females. Several trade union organizations and one or more conciliation commissioners, as well as some employers’ representatives, asked the full bench of the Arbitration Court to define the position. Early in June last the court met and discussed the problem, and on the 29 th July, in a majority decision, it stated that there was no female basic or minimum wage in existence and that the court had no power to make one, although it could alter such a wage after it had been established. The court made it clear, however, that conciliation commissioners could, if they deemed it to be wise to do so, establish a female basic wage, under the power conferred on him by the recently amended arbitration act. When the decision waa given by a majority of two judges to one, His Honour, Mr. Justice Foster, suggested that the commissioners should confer with a view to working out a formula for a uniform female basic wage. He made it clear that the court had no authority to order them to do so, but I hope that the commissioners will follow his advice.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that the export season for lamb and mutton in the southern States has either commenced, or is just about to commence, and that meat intended for export is bought at auction? As it is known that the Australian Government is negotiating with the Government of the United Kingdom for a new meat agreement, it must be obvious that, if a higher purchase price is agreed to, exporters buying now on the basis of existing prices will make n profit on their purchases at the expense of the producers. Therefore, I ask the Minister whether he will give an undertaking that there will be no further delay in concluding the new purchase agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom, and in publishing it in order to protect the producers?
– I am aware that the meat export season is fast approaching. T am also aware that the longer the period which elapses before the conclusion of a price agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Australian Government, the greater will be the uncertainty of exporters and producers regarding the market. I assure the honorable member, however, that there will be no repetition of the situation which occurred during the regime of a previous government, when members of the Australian Meat Board representing proprietary interests were in possession of information about the new prices for some weeks before the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture published the terms of the agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom. Negotiations between the Australian Government and the Government of the United Kingdom are proceeding. The Australian Government has urged the Government of the United Kingdom to signify, as soon as possible, its assent to our request regarding prices. An announcement will be made to the producers and to the public at the earliest possible moment.
– I realize that a similar question to the one I am about to ask has already been asked to-day, but my question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is prompted by a telegram that I have just received. I am seeking further information, because I did not gain much from the Minister’s earlier answer. The telegram is from Donald in the Wimmera district and reads as follows: -
Solicit your help having export price spring lambs announced immediately. Consider withholding price so long real racket.
Will the Minister say whether he knows when the export price of spring lambs will be announced?
– I can only say that the gentleman who despatched that telegram must have been affected by the spring feeling, or by something worse. I have said repeatedly that as soon as negotiations are completed with the United Kingdom Government an announcement will be made. ~So government and no Minister can read the mind of the United Kingdom Government or know whether it will be a week or six days or 24 hours or any other exact period of time before the matter will be determined. In reply to the honorable member for Indi, I stated that as soon as negotiations were concluded an announcement would be made. I cannot do more than that. I cannot make an announcement of particulars which have not yet been decided.
– Having regard to the fact that the Commonwealth is relinquishing control of the distribution of tractors, what does the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture suggest that farmers, who are in urgent need of tractors, should do in order to obtain their requirements? What supplies of tractors are likely to be available during the present year?
– The Commonwealth has relinquished control of the distribution of tractors within Australia, and the responsibility for continuing control may be taken over by the State governments if they wish to assume it. In some States, farmers who experience difficulty in obtaining tractors must apply to their State authority, in most instances through the Department of Agriculture, [n other States the control formerly exercised on behalf of the Commonwealth lias been abandoned. Farmers in those States will have to make their representations to the various tractor agencies and importing interests. The supply of tractors for 1948-49 is estimated to reach a record level. We believe that approximately 11,000 tractors will be made available in that year, of which 5,000 will come from the United States of America, 2,000 from local production, and 4,000 from the United Kingdom.
– Of what horse-power will they be?
– Order !
– We anticipate that 0,500 of them will be of a maximum of 25 horse-power at the drawbar. They are the tractors most suitable for Australian requirements.
– Order ! The Minister should confine his reply to the question asked by the honorable member for Hume.
– I cannot help the rude intrusion of the honorable member for New England. I think that the answer I have given satisfactorily explains the position.
Air. WHITE. - During the last session of the Parliament the Minister for External Territories introduced the Papua and New Guinea.Bill which was designed to amalgamate Australia’s sovereign territory of Papua with the adjoining trustee and formerly mandated territory of New Guinea. I assume that that bill will be re-introduced during the present session. During the parliamentary recess the Secretary of the Department of External Territories attended a meeting of the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations at which among other things this proposed amalgamation was discussed. Before the bill is debated will the Minister lay on the table a full report of that discussion and any criticism of the proposal ?
– I am not sure whether the honorable member desires me to table a verbatim report of the discussion at the Trusteeship Council. Such a report is at present under examination by the Government and, as soon as possible, a statement will be made to the House setting out what transpired at the Trusteeship Council and the attitude adopted by the Australian delegate at the meeting.
– During a discussion of freight and transport charges at the recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held at Canberra, the Prime Minister is reported by the press to have said -
I could tell you some interesting stories of State charges for carrying military equipment during the war. In some cases it was just a racket.
Will the right honorable gentleman indicate what States were responsible for such a racket ? Will he give to the House some information concerning the racket operated by some States during the war period in respect of freight charges imposed on the Commonwealth?
– When the subject of freight rates during the war was under discussion at the recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, 1 indicated that some peculiar stories had been told regarding the classification of freights for the assessment of freight charges. It is true that in some instances freight was classified under wrong headings. I do not accuse any employee of dishonesty in the matter because the revenues from freight collections were paid not to any individuals but to the State Governments. As honorable members know, different rates are imposed for the carriage of different classes of freight. I shall rake over the dead ashes of the past and ascertain whether I can furnish the honorable member with additional information on the subject.
Mr. CHIFLEY (Macquarie- Prime
Minister and Treasurer). - As most honorable members are no doubt aware, my colleagues the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator Armstrong) are absent abroad on official missions. For the information of honorable members who may not be awareof the arrangements made, Senator McKenna is Acting Attorney-General and I am acting as Minister for External Affairs until our colleagues return to Australia. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) is acting as Minister for Supply and Development during the absence abroad of Senator Armstrong. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) is representing the Acting Attorney-General in this chamber.
– Has the Minister for Repatriation seen the statement in a recent issue of Smith’s Weekly that there are ex-servicemen in six asylums in Victoria, including the Kew asylum, which the Victorian Minister for Health, Sir Albert Dunstan, has described as a disgrace to the State ?Will the Minister inform the House what measures, if any, have been taken to remove war neurosis cases from this undesirable atmosphere in Victoria and other States?
– I have not seen the statement in Smith’s. Weekly. In any event, I treat with a good deal of reserve statements published in that journal, because they are almost invariably untrue.
– Does the Minister say that they are untrue? ‘
– They are almost invariably untrue. I will inquire whether there is any truth in the allegations, but, on the information he has supplied me with, I very much doubt whether there is.
Sea Rescue Organization
– I remind the Minister for Air of the tragic loss of lives in Moreton Bay as the result of a dinghy capsize a few days ago. Four young people were lost in the tragedy. In view of the vital necessity for immediate rescue work in such cases, will the Minister give serious consideration to the establishment of a sea rescue organization under the control of the Royal Australian Air Force, such flight or flights to work in close collaboration with water police and other surface rescue organizations along the coast? I appreciate the work done by the air force in this connexion, but there is always delay because it lacks the authority to act.
– Like other honorable members, I read of the unfortunate accident in Moreton Bay with deep regret, but I remind the honorable member for Moreton that the granting of his request, would necessitate our having air crews on duty for 24 hours a day and for seven days a week. Usually, accidents occur on holidays or during weekends when most members of the Royal Australian Air Force, like the majority of other people, are “standing down”. Whenever a request has been made for assistance, it has been granted. I remind the honorable members also of the recent finding of a lost launch in the Darwin area after an extensive search. I shall have the honorable member’s request examined, but I fear that it would be quite out of the question to provide a service for 24 hours a day and for seven days a week at all Australian ports for the purpose of rendering assistance in cases of accident. Whilst I realize that air crews, in supplying the service, would gain valuable experience, the expense entailed would be very great indeed. The honorable member’s proposal requires serious consideration before a decision can be made.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the House of the position regarding tne marketing of oats during the forthcoming season? Will he state whether this subject was discussed at the recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, and at the recent meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council?
– The marketing of oats in the future has been discussed at two meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council, but the State Ministers for Agriculture could not reach unanimity regarding a plan, or give an undertaking that their respective governments would be prepared to refer the necessary authority to the Commonwealth to handle satisfactorily the marketing of oats. This would be necessary as our war-time powers have practically disappeared. At the recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in Canberra, the representative of New South Wales indicated his anxiety about oat marketing for the forthcoming season. No other Premier or representative of a State made any reference to the matter. In reply to the representative of New South Wales, I indicated, through the Prime Minister, that the Australian Government would be prepared to consider any plan for the marketing of oats which the States, in concert and complete unanimity, were prepared to submit to it.
– Would the Minister require the imposition of an export tax on oats?
– That would depend on the circumstances. I inform the honorable member for Barker-
– Order! The Minister is replying to a question asked by the honorable member for the Riverina, and should not be interrupted.
– To date, the States have not unanimously indicated to the Australian Government that they are prepared, as a body, to prescribe conditions which would enable the Australian Government even to consider continuing an oat marketing plan for the forthcoming season. Should the States reach agreement among themselves and submit their proposition to the Australian Government and myself, it will receive our wholehearted sympathy.
– As the International Wheat Agreement will not be implemented this year, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the House whether the contracts which Australia has entered into with the United Kingdom and India for the sale of wheat at 17s. and 18s. 6d. a bushel respectively will remain in force? Will he also state whether any discussions on these contracts have taken place that will effect the ultimate realization to the growers? If so, what attitude has the Australian Government adopted in those discussions ?
– The contracts which the Australian Government has entered into with the United Kingdom Government and the Government of India for the sale of wheat stand good.
– Does the agreement for the sale of wheat to New Zealand stand good ?
– I shall deal with the honorable member for Wakefield later when we are considering meat contracts.
– If the Government’s wheat stabilization plan is aproved by the wheat-growers, can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me what will be the position of farmers who go out of the industry for a legitimate reason such as death or the sale of their property? What will be their position in regard to the 2s. a bushel which I understand the Government proposes to retain from the amounts received for sales of wheat overseas for the prupose of financing the plan?
– That proposal was a feature of a plan which was supposed to operate from about a year ago. Sir.ce that time the Australian Government has announced that it will refund the tax paid in respect of the 1945-46 .and 1946-47 crops. That will mean that there will be no contributions remaining in the existing stabilization scheme at all, and that the only money that will be in the fund at the beginning of any new scheme will be the tax collected in respect to the crop at present being marketed, but there will not actually be any credit in the fund until about January next year. That means that with the commencement of the new plan only the wheat-grower who harvested a. crop in the 1947-48 season will have made any contribution whatsoever to the new plan. If the States consent to the wheat stabilization scheme, and the plan operates, the Australian Government will endeavour, in the legislation which it will bring: down, to make some provision for hardship cases of the type mentioned by the honorable member.
– Some time ago, the Townsville Regional Electricity Board purchased property from the Department of the Interior for the conduct of its business. Although the valuation which tha department placed on the property was far in excess of the assessment of a local valuer, the department has charged the board rent amounting to £300 for the period during which the negotiations were taking place. As it is an accepted principle that rent is not charged for periods of occupancy during negotiations for purchase, will the Minister for the Interior again review this transaction, and arrange for the refund of £300?
– The details which the honorable member for Herbert has given to the House, are not in accordance with the facts. I have already had representations from him in regard to this transaction, and I have carefully checked the reports. In these negotiations, the department has been a little more lenient to the Townsville Regional Electricity Board than to some similar undertakings. If the honorable member desires to examine the file on this subject, I shall make it available to him in my office, and he may extract information relating to the negotiations from the commencement of the proceedings.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to make a statement on the prices to be paid to growers under the terms of this year’s apple and pear acquisition scheme? Can he also make a statement on the continuance of the scheme for the 194S-49 season? Will a detailed balance-sheet be made available covering the actions of the Australian Apple and Pear Marketing Board, as the details at present available are very meagre ?
– The Australian Government, in accordance with the undertaking which I gave to Huon fruitgrowers some time ago, has been able to announce that an interim dividend of ls. a bushel is payable, and, in addition, there is a prospect of another 5d. a bushel being available when the season’s operations are concluded. In reference to the future marketings of Tasmanian apples and pears, the Premier of Tasmania recently asked the Australian Government whether it would be prepared to continue acquisition, and guarantee the State Government against any losses it might incur throught entering into an undertaking with the growers. In reply the Australian Government indicated that provided the Tasmanian Government passed the necessary legislation to empower the Australian Apple and Pear Marketing Board to conduct the business, and provided the State Government entered into a contract with at least 80 per cent, of the total number of growers and paid an advance not exceeding the existing one, the Australian Government would be prepared to reimburse the State for any losses incurred and, in addition, would pay to the growers under a similar plan to that which operated under acquisition for this year, any profits which might be derived from the years’ operations. The honorable member is probably aware that the books, accounts and balancesheets of the Australian Apple and Pear Marketing Board are subject to the scrutiny of the Auditor-General. At the appropriate time, when all the accounts are complete, that officer reports on the activities of the board. There is available to the public of Australia, therefore, a means of exercising a complete and effective scrutiny of the financial operations of that authority. It is quite obvious that detailed balance-sheets could not possibly be made available to growers or to anybody else at the conclusion of the season’s marketing.
– I have received many complaints both by letter and word of mouth concerning the entry into Australia of non-British migrants.
The statements made to me have not, in general, coincided with my own view of what is occurring. I therefore ask the Minister for Immigration whether he can say what is the proportion of British to non-British migrants (a) already in Australia and (6) expected to arrive. Can he say, further, what are the differences in guarantees and conditions of entry between these two classes of migrants?
– The proportion of British to non-British migrants who arrived in Australia during 1947 was approximately two and a half to one. The total number of people admitted into Australia last year was approximately 32,000. Of that number 23,000 were British and 9,000 were non-British. The number of persons that entered Australia in the first six months of this year was approximately 27,000. Of that number, 18,000 were British and 9,000 were foreigners. Of the 9,000 foreign-born persons, approximately 3,017 were displaced persons, 882 were Americans, 369 were Dutch and the remainder were of other nationalities. The proportion of British to non-British migrants during that period was two to one. It is expected that that ratio will be maintained for the remainder of this year, and that next year it will be altered greatly in favour of British migrants. Mr. Noel Baker, the British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, told the Australian Prime Minister that’ the total number of British migrants likely to arrive in Australia during this year is approximately 38.000. Next year the figure will be 70,000, because the British Government will then be able to provide shipping space for that number. If shipping could be provided this year for 70,000 British people, or even move, we should accept them. In 1950 the number of British arrivals will be approximately 80,000, and in 1951 it will be 87,000. With regard to the second part of the honorable member’s question concerning the guarantees that have to be given by persons who nominate their friends and relatives to come to Australia, the position is that, in respect of British migrants, the State governments determine the orders of priority. The first two priorities in the categories agreed upon by Commonwealth and State Ministers cover people who are, first, essential workers and, secondly, persons engaged in important work. Persons in both those categories must have guarantees of accommodation from their nominators in Australia. The third priority is given to children. British people who come here by paying their own fares and taking their chance do not need any guarantees. The people in the categories to which I have just referred are admitted under thefree and assisted passages scheme that we have negotiated with the British Government. Persons who come here from abroad on landing permits, that is. foreigners, must have guarantees of accommodation from their Australian nominators. Persons brought out under the displaced persons scheme have accommodation provided for them in camps in Australia for approximately the first month. They are then sent to work for Commonwealth and State governmental authorities or private industries at places where accommodation is available for them. In the case of the 900 Bait? who went to Queensland as sugar-cane cutters, accommodation was available for them on the farms. If they had not occupied it, it would either have been occupied by Australians or left unoccupied.
Mi-. HUTCHINSON. - Can the Prime Minister say whether it is a fact that a Commonwealth Minister of the Crown was a member of the Australian-Russian Society, now officially declared by the New South Wales Executive of the Australian Labour party to be a subversive organization ? Is it a fact that this Minister was a vice-president of that society? Was the Prime Minister aware that the society was sponsored by the Communist party, and did he wilfully allow one of his Cabinet Ministers to accept a high position in it and at the same time remain a member of the Cabinet? If he was not aware of that, how does he reconcile the situation with the fact that the Commonwealth Investigation Service of the Attorney-General’s Department, reported to the Government that the society was a subversive organization? Having regard to the action of the New South Wales Executive of the Australian Labour party, does the Prime Minister intend to take action to ensure that vital defence secrets are not made available to any person, whether or not he be a Cabinet Minister, who has been a member of a subversive organization? Further, is it a fact that Mr. “ Jock “ Garden was also a member of this society?
– I have read in the press a report that the New South Wales Executive of the Australian Labour party has declared certain organizations to be associated with Soviet organizations and has said that members of those organizations are not eligible to be members of the Australian Labour party. There is nothing new about that. It has been a rule of the Labour party since its inception, and, indeed, it is part of its platform, that no members of the party can also be members of other political organizations. Therefore, if at any time a determination is .made by the Labour movement that any organization, no matter of what kind, is of a political character, members of the Labour party cannot belong to that organization. The honorable member has asked a great number of questions. If he puts them on the notice-paper I shall give a detailed reDly to each of them.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether it is correct that Dr. Hewlitt Johnson, who is otherwise known as the “ Red “ Dean of Canterbury, may visit Australia? Is it a fact that he has received a very pressing invitation to come here ? If so, who issued it ? In view of the refusal of the Government of the United States of America to admit this cleric into America, will the right honorable gentleman say what action his Government, proposes to take in the matter?
– I am not aware of any invitation having been extended to the Dean of Canterbury to visit Australia. I am surprised that the honorable member should have spoken so disrespectfully of one who holds such a high ecclesiastical position, and I can only assume that his morale must have deteriorated while he was in Japan. I have no knowledge of any intended visit to Australia by Dr. Hewlitt J Johnson. I imagine that if a gentleman of such high ecclesiastical standing wanted to come to Australia he would be given the right of entry as a British subject.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Postmaster-General’s Department - Thirtyseventh report, for year 1946-47.
I hope that honorable members opposite will study it before the Estimates are discussed later in the session.
Marshall Aid Purchases
– Can the Treasurer inform me whether the Government has approached the Government of the United States with a view to ascertaining whether countries participating in Marshall aid are permitted to use any portion of that aid for purchases of Australian primary products? Will the Treasurer make an early statement to the House on the general prospect1 in regard to the Australian dollar position?
– No approach has been made by the Australian Government, to the United States Government in regard to purchases, which are purchases off-shore made outside the United States and paid . for with dollars received under the Marshall aidplan. Such purchases would require the approval of the administrator of the plan and, in general, approval is not given unless the goods required cannot be supplied by the United States or from any other dollar source. As to making a statement to the House, I might say that a number of discussions are going on between the recipients of Marshall aid - the United Kingdom and other western European countries - and the administrator of the Marshall aid plan, Mr. Hoffman, and I think it would be unwise at this stage to make any comments, which might be based only on assumption, as to the final results of these talks. The answer to the first question is “ No “. No representations, have been made to the Government of the United States regarding the participation by Australia in off-shore purchases. Later, it might be possible for me to make a general statement regarding the economic position, but I prefer now to wait until the present discussions have concluded.
– In view of the present grave dollar shortage, and of the repeated statements of the Prime Minister regarding the need to conserve dollars, can the Minister for Air say whether it is intended to use concrete instead of bitumen in the construction of new runways at Kingsford-Smith aerodrome ?
– It is intended to lay down concrete runways at the KingsfordSmith aerodrome if it is possible to get cement. At the Essendon aerodrome, it was impossible to make the runways entirely of concrete because of the shortage of cement. Therefore, one was laid down in bitumen and the other in concrete.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 25, I lay on the table my warrant, nominating Mr. Abbott, Mr. Bowden, Mr. Gullett, Mr. Hadley, Mr. Hutchinson, Mr. Lazzarini, Mr. Mulcahy, Mr. Rankin, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Sheehan, Mr. Sheehy, and Mr. Watkins to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Deputy Chairman of Committees.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) - by leave - agreed to -
That, during the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker be authorized to call upon any of the Temporary Chairmen of Committees to relieve him temporarily in the Chair.
Mr. Thompson, for the committee appointed to prepare an AddressinReply to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s Speech (vide page 5), presented the proposed Address, which was read by the Clerk.
– I move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral be agreed to:-
May it please YOUR Excellency -
We the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
It gives me great pleasure to move that the House agree to the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General on this, the first occasion that he has been able to open a. session of the Parliament. We were all gratified that our Australianborn Governor-General opened the Parliament in such a statesmanlike manner. We owe him our grateful appreciation for the way in which he has performed his duties as Governor-General, and for the courtesy which he has shown to the Parliament as such, and to members individually.
– What is this, a mutual admiration society?
– I have no wish to be one of a mutual admiration society, but, seeing that some members of the Opposition have been so ready in the past to vent their displeasure at the appointment of an Australianto the position of Governor-General, it is a pleasure to me to be able to express my admiration of such a fine Australian as is our Governor-General. I am sure that the announcement of His Excellency regarding the impending visit to Australia of Their Majesties the King and Queen and the Princess Margaret gave great pleasure to members of all parties, and to the public generally. We look forward with pleasure to the visit, because it will “ boost “ Australia, and will serve to bring into close touch with the people of Australia our reigning Sovereign, his Consort and one of his children.
His Excellency’s Speech contained another announcement which has given great pleasure to the people of Australia, and to me personally. I refer to the statement that the Government proposes to introduce legislation authorizing the making of a gift of £10,000,000 to the Government of the United Kingdom.
Wu are all pleased that the Government proposes to render this measure of assistance to the people of Great Britain. I agree with the Governor-General and with the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) that we owe it to Great Britain to assist that country during the series of economic crises through which it is passing. The people of Australia will, I am sure, wholeheartedly approve the proposal.
The economic difficulties which beset the world to-day are foremost in the minds of all thinking members of the community. We realize that only by solving these economic problems can we ensure the continued prosperity of Australia, and bring about conditions in which lasting peace is possible. Therefore, we heard with pleasure the announcement that the Australian Government has conferred with the Government qf the United Kingdom and with other world . governments in an endeavour to find a solution of the world’s economic problems. Such action effectively refutes the allegation of members of the Opposition that the Government is not concerned with the_ welfare of the people of Great Britain or with the future of the Empire. The Prime Minister is to be commended for the close study he has made of the economic situation, and for his endeavours to promote effective cooperation with the Government of the United Kingdom. The paramount thought in the minds of most people in Australia is that the future of this country lies in the expansion of its industrial production. Those of us who have studied the history of the United States of America are well aware of the great part played by the industries of that country in’ bringing it to the forefront among the nations of the world. His Excellency referred to the drastic measures taken by the Government to restrict dollar expenditure. These measures necessarily have had an adverse effect upon our industrial expansion. I represent an electorate in which is situated the great bulk of the secondary industries of South Australia. In my electorate, within the Adelaide metropolitan area at Port Adelaide, are established 70 per cent, of the big industries of South Australia, including many new industries which are located in factories formerly used for the production of war materials. Huge factory buildings in the Finsbury area, which were formerly utilized for the production of shell cases and other implements of war are now largely used by industries established in the post-war period for the manufacture of goods of a type not formerly made in Australia. In order to enable those industries to expand and operate successfully machinery must be obtained from overseas and patterns of goods formerly imported must be brought here. The executives of the companies operating these new industries have asked me on many occasions to use my efforts with the responsible authorities at Canberra to enable them to obtain a greater allocation of dollars to finance imports of machinery from the United States of America. I should like these industries to progress and become great economic assets to this country; but, like other thinking people, I realize that the effects of the dollar shortage must be faced. I appreciate the difficulty that confronts the Government in having to impose restrictions of this kind. Some people seem to imagine that we could overcome the problem of our dwindling supply of dollars by sending more of our goods to countries in the dollar area. They ask, “ Why not sell more of our products in the dollar area and thus earn the dollars needed for the importation of our vital requirements?” As His Excellency has said, the restriction of dollar expenditure is necessary in order that we may give greater asistance to the people of Great Britain. No matter how much we may desire our industries to expand, our obligation to Great Britain is of paramount importance. Irrespective of how wealthy we may become, the debt which we owe to the people of Great Britain may not be repaid for many generations. Although our people may chafe under the restrictions that prevent them from buying an American motor car just when they want it, although the farmer may feel keenly his inability to purchase all the American tractors he may need, and although the purchasing public are prevented from buying all the American goods they would like, all of us must appreciate the need to cut our suit according to our cloth. If our dollar resources are limited, then, to that degree, we must prune our dollar purchases. Taking into consideration the dire needs of Great Britain, I am afraid that, metaphorically speaking, many of us may in the future have to wear a two-piece suit instead of the three-piece suit to which we have been accustomed. Indeed, we may yet have to continue wearing the old suits that we have worn for years. The needs of the British people must come first, not only because of our ties of blood with them, but also because the welfare of our primary industries depends so much upon them. Those who have read the history of this country know very well that, but for the purchase by Great Britain of so much of our primary products in the past, our producers would not be in the fortunate position they are in to-day. I feel a little sore sometimes when I hear people complaining because we are selling 07: wheat to Great Britain at 17s. or IS3. a bushel when we could obtain 30s. a bushel for it from foreign countries. Let those people remember that if our primary products had not been absorbed by Great Britain on many occasions in the past, they would never have left our shores and our primary producers would have been forced off their holdings. It behoves us to remember at all times that Australia has reached its present status among the nations of the world only through the assistance afforded to it by Great Britain and that we owe a duty and an allegiance to our kinsfolk overseas.
In his Speech His Excellency referred also to the subject of defence.
– A very brief reference.
– Throughout the years there have been differing schools of thought as to the best means of tackling the difficult problem of the defence of this country. There are those who believe in peace at any price, and there are others who believe that if we destroy all our armaments we shall have done something that will bring about peace in the world. Unfortunately, the temper of many other countries is such that the destruction of armaments would be sheer folly. So it has been necessary for the Government to provide as adequately as it can for the defence of the country. At question time the Minister for the Army (Mr.
Chambers) told an honorable member what the Government had done to enable public servants to train for the defence of Australia. The Governor-General’s Speech also referred to co-operation between Great Britain and Australia and to the sending to England of naval officers and ratings to bring to Australia its first aircraft carrier, H.M.A.S. Sydney. “We can regard the acquisition of the aircraft carrier as an important step in bringing our defence preparations up to date. While we do not like war, we appreciate what the Government is doing to provide for our defence should the need arise. When the aircraft carrier arrives, we shall feel happier.
His Excellency also stated that the Government considered it necessary in the national interests to continue the operation of certain regulations made under the National Security Act, although that act was originally passed as a war measure to ensure the security of Australia. He a.130 referred to the transfer of the control of prices and rents and land values to the States. The newspapers have been remarkably quiet on that matter recently. A few ‘months ago they were claiming that the people were tired of and wanted to get rid of federal control of prices. At the referendum, the Australian Government was routed in its endeavour to continue the Commonwealth -administration of the control of prices and rents. Foi that defeat honorable members opposite must accept a great responsibility. Before the referendum they claimed that the defeat of the Cain Labour Government in Victoria showed how unpopular the Australian Labour Government- wa3, and that it. too. would go to the wall at the next general election. They have been very quiet in the last couple of weeks, though, for reasons that I am about to state. There is nothing like success to encourage emulation. It was the vested interests in the Victorian Legislative Council that forced the popularly elected Labour Government to resign and conduct a general election, which was fought on what was purely a federal issue, namely, the nationalization of banking, with the result that the Government was defeated. Emulating the aristocratic
Legislative Council of Victoria, the Legislative Council of Tasmania said to the people’s House, “ Unless you dissolve Parliament and go to the country we won’t give you any money to carry on”.
– In what paragraph of the Governor-General’s Speech is that referred to?
– It is wrapped up in the transfer of control of prices and rents to the States. I am glad to say that Tasmania proved more democratic than Victoria did in that it returned the Cosgrove Labour Government to office. This Parliament is democratically elected. The Cosgrove Government was democratically elected by the majority of votes of the Tasmanian electors for Labour nominees at the previous general election. When the dissolution of the lower house of the Tasmanian Parliament was forced upon the Premier, the people of Tasmania wisely said, “ We do not believe in this sort of behaviour by the upper house and we will retain in power the people whom we democratically elected to power on the last occasion “.
– They have a slippery hold.
– That is so. I think the people of Tasmania realized, too, that, after the 20th September next, the control of prices in that State will be in the hands of the State Government. They were unwilling, in respect of prices, to be at the mercy of the very people who had advised them to take from the Australian Government the power to control prices.
When I mentioned earlier that the Governor-General had made a reference to defence in his Speech, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) interjected, “A very brief reference”. Another brief reference is that made in the Speech to the big matter of banking. The reference is to tire fact that although the Australian Parliament passed legislation for the control of banking, the High Court of Australia declared certain sections invalid and that the Government intends to appeal to the Privy Council. J. remember vividly that the newspapers heralded the High Court’s judgments with big headlines to the effect that the High Court had destroyed the banking legislation. After they had had time to delve into and realize the implications of the judgments delivered by the various justices, the newspapers adopted a quieter tone. They crowed about a wonderful victory at the outset, but suddenly lost their voices. Had the Government not decided to appeal to the Privy Council, I should have been most disappointed. A decision from the Privy Council will be binding on both the Government and the Parliament.
I direct particular attention to the following paragraph in His Excellency’s Speech : -
It has been my Government’s desire to give stability to primary industries and my advisers have had earnest discussions with the States. My advisers trust that the governments of the States will not delay unduly in providing statutory safeguards for the wheat industry.
Members of the Australian Parliament, and of the parliaments of the States hold the future of the wheat-growing industry in their hands. The Premiers of the States will seek the farmers’ approval of proposals for the stabilization of the industry, and I am confident that they will realize the importance of choosing wisely. This afternoon, honorable members opposite urged the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) to make an early announcement in relation to the price of lambs for the forthcoming season. I remind them that, before many weeks pass, wheat harvesting will begin. It behoves all members of this Parliament, who have the interests of the wheat-growing industry at heart to ensure that members of the State parliaments accept their share of the responsibility for stabilizing the industry.
I warmly commend the Government on its endeavours to increase the sale of our goods abroad. We must expand the volume of our exports, especially to the dollar area. Earlier, I expressed the view that much of our produce must be sent to Great Britain, but I recognize that we produce other goods which we can profitably sell in the dollar area.
– What goods has the honorable member in mind?
– If the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) will examine the list of goods which Australia exports, he will be surprised at the variety of products that we can sell in the dollar area. “When I visited a factory in South Australia recently, I noticed that the management indicated on a map, with flags, the various countries in which it sold its goods. They included Southern Europe and the islands to the north of Australia. The goods were being distributed extensively.
– What goods can we sell in the dollar area?
– There ‘ are “ fishy “ lines, such as tinned lobsters and oysters, and chip potatoes. The returns from these sales may not be large, but every little helps. Efforts have also been made to reduce the tariff on Australian wool entering the United States of America, and I am hopeful of increased sales of that commodity.
– Australia has sold less wool to the United States of America since those negotiations began.
– I am speaking of the efforts to improve the position, and I commend the Government for its activity in that respect.
Unfortunately, in the limited time at my disposal, I am not able to discuss all the subjects contained in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, but before I resume my seat, I must refer briefly to the assistance which the Government grants to patients in hospitals. This year, the payment of 6s. a day for each occupied bed in the wards of public hospitals will be increased to 8s. a day, and, provided the States co-operate, the Government will make a contribution towards the cost of maintaining patients in mental hospitals. A determined effort will also be made to combat tuberculosis, which, honorable members will agree, has been the greatest scourge that we have known in Australia. In nearly every street of every town throughout the Commonwealth there are people who are suffering from this dread disease. The Government has now decided, in conjunction with the States, to launch a vigorous campaign against tuberculosis, and I am most gratified with that decision. When visiting South Australia recently, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) indicated that the Commonwealth would grant financial assistance towards the erection of an excellent hospital to accommodate persons suffering from tuberculosis. A scheme will also be inaugurated whereby these unfortunate people will be taught a trade, or to do light work. This will cause them to feel that they are not abandoned, and that the future still holds something for them. The Government also intends to make available to the States substantial sums of money for the erection of suitable hospitals.
No doubt, other honorable members will deal with various matters contained in His Excellency’s Speech to which I have not the time to refer, and I shall content myself with saying that I am most gratified with the Government’s proposals to increase social services benefits. I am proud to be a member of the Australian Labour party, and I know that the people of Australia, when they calmly consider the record of the Government, will agree that its administration has been wise and beneficial to the country.
– I desire to express my appreciation of the privilege that has been afforded me of seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, which has been so ably moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson). His Excellency, early in his speech yesterday, referred to the Government’s policy in international affairs. His words recalled to my mind the advise that we should count our blessings, and I proceeded to compare the conditions of some democratic countries in Europe with those of Australia. We in this country are placed in the happy position or retaining certain fundamental principles which make life worth living. I refer to freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of association. The fact that we still enjoy those three freedoms should be sufficient, in itself, to make us count our blessings.
In international affairs, the Government has directed its efforts to attempts to bring about a just and lasting peace through allegiance to the United Nations. As I considered the conditions now existing in Australia, I allowed my mind to think of the plight of countries that were our allies in “World War II. Today, France is bordering on a state of collapse. If those Australians who attempt to discount the necessity for maintaining economic stability cast their eyes on the position of France to-day, they should begin to appreciate exactly what political stability, to say nothing of economic stability, means to a nation. J thought, too, of the Dutch, who arc making vigorous attempts to rebuild their home-country in accordance with democratic principles, whilst realizing at the same time, that, in order to exist, they must retain and develop their colonial possessions. My mind also dwelt on what had happened in Belgium, where a democratic government has replaced the monarchy. Other countries, which were our allies in World War II., are to-day suffering fi. fate which could not have been worse if they are fought against us. The Spectre of communism is threatening Europe. Millions of people are dominated by authoritarian regimes, not because they desire to be under the Communist yoke but because they have been forced to submit to it. I have no desire to develop that particular theme at this juncture, but I do submit to the House that the fact that freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of association are still alive in Australia to-day, when they are being withheld from people in so many other Countries, should cause us to count our blessings. In the absence of those three freedoms, it is idle to talk of the progress of democracy. True progress and liberty can flourish in society only where those three principles operate, as they do in Australia to-day.
The Governor-General referred in his Speech, to the necessity for increasing production. In this connexion, I desire to pay a tribute to the work of the Joint Coal Board, and acknowledge the part that the coal miners have played in increasing production. Notwithstanding the inspired campaign that has been directed against the miners by people who consider that it is good politics for them to do so, an examination of production figures will cause us to realize that the miners have more than played their part. The community has many things fo answer for in its approach to the miners. After all, miners have an arduous job. They work very hard, and face risks that the ordinary citizen is not called upon to face in the pursuit of his livelihood. The development of our industrial potential, of necessity, makes increasing demand’s upon the output of coal, and, in my opinion, the miners are doing a job that should earn for them the commendation of all sane and reasonable people in the community. The miners are greatly maligned, and the responsibility for the fact that they have taken their stand, rests in a number of other quarters. For years, the miners have had to struggle hard, and the industry, as such, has not been developed as it should have been. Responsibility for that cannot be laid at the door of the men. It must rest with those people who did nothing but take the profits out of the industry. The lack of amenities in the mining industry, is a shocking condemnation of those who were responsible for its management through the years. During a long period they did nothing whatever to ease the miner’s conditions, and> because they did not, these people who took everything out of the industry and put nothing back into it are responsible for the class hatred and strife that still persists in it. They have a lot to answer for.- What can be said of those who were in control of the mining industry can be said with equal force of those who were, until recently, responsible for the Australian shipping industry. It was only after World War II. began that amenities in some shape or form began to make their appearance on the Australian waterfront. The people to whom I have referred have controlled the coal-mining and shipping industries almost since federation. The present lack of amenities in the mining industry, and on the waterfront until 1938-39, is amazing and incredible. The present condition of those two vital industries is due in large measure to the failure of those who were in control of them to take any action to ameliorate the conditions of the people who were compelled to work in them. One of the most scathing indictments that can be made against the industrialists and vested interests of Australia is the appalling lack of amenities that prevailed until recently in both the coal-mining and shipping industries.
His Excellency made reference to the Government’s intention to set up a permanent authority to manage vessels owned by the Commonwealth. The Government is to be commended for that. Honorable members will recall that at the end of World War I. the Australian shipbuilding industry was allowed to run to seed. Notwithstanding that during that war a nucleus of artisans and professional personnel was established the Bruce-Page Government, instead of keeping those men at work in our shipyards, place an order early in the 1920’s for a cruiser with an overseas shipyard. As a consequence of the policy that was pursued by that Government, the good work that was done during the years of World War I. was nullified. That contributed in no small measure to the disadvantageous position in which we found ourselves at the outbreak of the second World War. when we bad to start again and reassemble the highly skilled and efficient personnel responsible for ship-building in Australia. It is a matter for congratulation that the Government does not propose to repeat the mistakes that were made after the first World War but intends to take over the management of Commonwealth-owned ships and to pursue a ship-building programme designed to keep seven ship-building yards in operation in Australia for the building of 32,000 tons of shipping a year.
In conclusion, I again express my appreciation of the honour of being called upon to second the Address-in-Reply, which was so ably moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson), and I now formally do so.
– On behalf of the Opposition, may I, at the outset of my remarks, endorse the statement of the Governor-General that the members of the Royal Family will receive ,a most cordial and affectionate welcome by all Australians when they visit this country.
Tt is customary to congratulate the mover and seconder of the AddressinReply, because they are usually new members of the House. On this occasion, however, I propose to depart from that practice and to commiserate with the honorable members upon whom those duties have devolved upon the tough assignment that was given to them. 1 was rather surprised when I heard, at the end of the last session,’ that the Parliament was to be prorogued, because I realized that it would need to be prorogued again early in the New Year in order to give His Majesty the opportunity to open it. I thought at that time, “ This is just a trial gallop. It is just a pipe opener ‘ to see whether everything will work smoothly on the occasion of the Royal visit “. I was not mistaken. The Governor-General’s Speech placed it beyond any doubt whatever. In common with other honorable members, I listened attentively in another place to what wa? said by His Excellency, and since then 1 have earnestly perused the printed speech. I have come to the conclusion that, as a developmental prospectus for Australia, it is completely barren. It is as devoid of characteristics as are the sandy wastes of the desert. Almost the whole of the seven closely printed pages i.= nauseating in its fulsome eulogies of Ministers, government departments and government achievements. Merely four lines are devoted to the result of the referendum on rents and prices and another four to the decision of the High Court on the Banking Act. Those were two decisions that rocked Australia. They were of the utmost political importance to the Australian people, but they are airily disposed of in eight lines of a speech covering seven closely printed pages. The paragraph dealing with the Government’s intentions relative to the High Court’s decision on the Banking Act is tantamount to saying to the people, “ We have committed you to a huge expenditure in an endeavour to socialize this country against your will. We are not prepared to accept the decision of the High Court. Our coffers are overflowing with the proceeds of taxes in which we have mulcted you, and we propose to use your money in order to attempt to force upon you those things that you detest and are not prepared to accept”. Possibly the Government used only four . lines to convey that information in the hope that it would escape notice in the midst of the fulsome eulogies that are contained in the other paragraphs. It is true that eight pieces of legislation are forecast in this Speech, but what are they ? Is there anything of great moment contained in the forecast with regard to those eight pieces of legislation? I ask honorable members to consider that aspect, and if that is to be the policy of the Government during this session of the Parliament, then I shudder to think what is going to happen to the people of Australia who are expecting a developmental policy. On the other hand we look in vain for some forecast of the Government’s policy on foreign affairs, which is of vital importance to Australia to-day. Some reference has. been made to external affairs, but the Speech is silent about our attitude in Malaya and the problem that is confronting the Government in the north of Australia generally. In March last the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) said, “The international situation can only be described as a drift towards war “. In July of this year the British Foreign Minister, M>. Ernest Bevin, told the House of Commons that the situation which had arisen in Berlin had compelled Britain to re-examine the whole position. It is obvious that Russia is using every device, short of actual war, to spread its influence and its occupation, not only throughout Europe, but also in Burma, the Netherlands East Indies, and Malaya. There is no doubt whatever that Russia’s aim is to spread its doctrine throughout the world by revolution, using aimed force where necessary. The creation of chaos within a country is the first requisite for any nation marked our for Soviet attention.
In the Governor-General’s Speech attention is drawn to the close cooperation between Australia and the United States of America. In the face of the grave international position that faces the democratic countries of the world to-day where is the evidence of such close co-operation? We find that the United States of America, which is the home of the secret atomic weapon, refuses to pass on to Australia atomic information or top defence secrets, for fear that this information will leak out to Russia, through Australian Communists. The Speech is silent with regard to communism and what the Government proposes to do to combat it. These matters are disturbing enough to warrant a complete stocktaking of the position in Australia to-day. Surely it is essential that the Government should place its own house in order, as America is doing.
I come now to defence, which is of paramount importance and is closely allied to other matters I have been speaking of, yet it is disposed of in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech by a few brief words. It is true that it was said that a joint war production stait” is to be established - another joint board of some description or another! - and a staff production committee. But where is the Army? That is what the people of Aus.tralia want to know. It is true that the post-war army target is approximately J 9,000 nien, and that it will consist of an emergency field force of less than 5,000 men. Even this tiny force is not yet in train. In both instances, there is what is tantamount to criminal lethargy on the part of the Government, first for its failure to take effective action against the Communists to ensure that they cannot get into positions where they have access to security information and secondly, for its failure to prepare the nation’s defence in the disturbed years that have followed the cessation of hostilities.
Some emphasis was placed on the World Charter when it was mentioned in (lie Governor-General’s Speech, but the existence of the World Charter of the United Nations does not relieve the Government of its obligation respecting defence preparedness.
I can find no trace in the Speech of any attempt to outline a developmental scheme for primary industries, except a vague suggestion that various State governments will not delay unduly in providing statutory safeguards for the wheat industry. The Prime Minister, in a broadcast made while he was in England, said to the British people, “ I say I believe that much can be done in Australia to expand the production of beef, dairy products and wheat “. That is something that has been said by the Opposition ever since the country has been faced with this problem, but our views were, in the main, rejected by the Government. The Prime Minister, in rendering a lip service to the people who are suffering by the failure to expand those primary industries, was forced to say something, but what has he done? That is the supreme test. Action is necessary to expand our beef, wheat, and dairying industries. I shall quote figures, because if expansion is the policy of the Government it should be reflected in the production of those commodities. Beef and veal production is 3.2 per cent, lower to-day than it was in 1938-39. Butter is 18.5 per cent, lower than it was in 1938-39. Although wheat production is up approximately 46.9 per cent., part of that crop is lying at the sidings, at the mercy of rats, mice, and weevils, because of insufficient coal being available to enable its removal to the seaboard.
Stability cannot be achieved in primary industries by pious hopes alone. The Government’s recent attempt to effect stabilization in the wheat industry was completely ineffective, and the establishment of the trust fund is not a satisfactory solution. Wheat-growers cannot be satisfied with a fund that requires contributions from them when they are not in production, and denies them a return of their contributions if they cease to produce. Likewise, the International Wheat Agreement is not the answer. Sufficient has already been said to give point to that. At this very moment the International Wheat Agreement is completely inoperative, and, indeed, there are very strong suspicions that the United States of America will not ratify it. If the Prime Minister wants to make his words effective - and I believe when he spoke to the starving people of England he was declaring the Government’s policy - he should see that there is a developmental prospectus issued for primary industries, and apply himself to its implementation. There is no mention made in the Governor-General’s Speech of the need for making life more attractive in rural .areas, for the conservation of water, for the establishment of hydro-electric power, for improved transport in country centres, or for education, health and cultural amenities in those centres. If the Prime Minister wishes to make his words effective let him take a page out of the Opposition party’s policy in regard to the establishment of a rural industry stabilization committee, which would be similar to the committees operating for secondary industries to-day and to the Tariff Board. Committees should be set up to determine costs and fix prices. Let the Prime Minister do something of a concrete nature in this regard. The Opposition will hand him that plank of its policy because some such move is required to give stability to primary industry.
I shall now turn to this classic from the Governor-General’s Speech -
My Government has always been desirous of securing .increased production in Australia and further steps are now being taken towards achieving this end. My Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour, the Honorable E. J. Holloway, are actively engaged in this matter.
What has been the result of the Government’s production drive? Let the Prime Minister look at the position that obtains in regard to secondary industry. The Commonwealth Statistician’s figures for May and July of this year show, it is true, that there has been an increase of approximately 51. per cent, in factory employment compared with 1938-39. That is> all to the good, but surely we might expect, along with this increase in factory employment, .a considerable increase in general production. The greatest problem that can confront any government is the problem of housing the people. How has the 51 per cent, increase in the number of factory workers affected the production of building material ? Coal is the very lifestream of production, and I was interested to hear the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. O’Connor) say that, the miners had contributed to the building up of production. He stated (hat if one looked at production figures one would realize that the miners had played their part. Let honorable members look at production figures and they will see that the miners certainly have played their part in production. Take the position in regard to three essentials in home building, bricks, terracotta tiles and gas stoves. Production of bricks has decreased by 19 per cent, throughout Australia. That is one result of the huge production drive in which the miners have played their part! Production of terra-cotta tiles has increased by 3.4 per cent. I again draw the attention of honorable members to the fact that factory employment generally has increased by 51 per cent. Production of gas stoves increased by .01 per cent. Honorable members can see the result of this monster production drive and of the increase in factory employment. I chose these examples because the need for housing the nation goes side by side with the need for increased production and is the primary responsibility of the Government. Possession of a home is one of the greatest contributing factors to individual’ contentment, making for a more honest effort and a greater incentive to produce. The deficiency of homes is probably the greatest world-wide human-interest problem to-day but I have looked in vain in the Governor-General’s Speech for one line on this pressing problem. Although Australia has a ministry for Works and Housing the problem of housing was not considered of sufficient importance to merit even one line .in the Speech, which is a compilation of about seven pages. It is now abundantly clear that the Government has entirely failed to play its part in housing the nation by means of the instrumentalities it. set up to do so, but it has also failed to provide for the training of skilled labour for the building of homes.
The June, 1947, census revealed the following picture of over-crowding in Australia: 116,828 family groups were sharing houses; in 271 instances five or more families were sharing a single home ; four families were living in each of 818 homes ; three families were living in each of 4,446 homes; and two families were living in each of 25,002 homes. That is a serious indictment. In 194.4 a fact-finding Commonwealth Housing Commission assessed the Australian housing shortage at 300,000 homes and specified 50,000 dwellings as the necessary objective in the first postwar year and 80,000 in the third postwar year, the rate to be maintained at that level until the shortage was overcome. But to-day,’ in the third postwar year there is no sign that even the target of 50,000 homes set for the first post-war year will be reached, let alone the 80,000 target set for the third post-war year. This Government has never been home-building con:scious. Honorable members will recall how the Minister for Post-war Be-r construction (Mr. Dedman) declared in 1945 that the Government was not con;cerned in making workers into little capitalists by allowing them to own their homes. The Government now seeks to camouflage its inability to make an impact on the housing shortage by setting targets for commencement of homebuilding instead of completion. The Government considers that figures for the completion of home-building would be too revealing and so it sets down a figure for those commenced, but in fact the shortage of materials makes it impossible for the Government to give effect to a comprehensive building construction programme. It is a matter of grave concern that from 1945-46 to the September quarter of 1947, the latest date for which figures in respect of government buildings are available, a total of 29,076 houses, or approximately one-third of all houses commenced, were uncompleted. The Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) said in November, 1947, that since the housing scheme began, until the end of September, 1947, the States had completed 10,400 of the 19,000 houses started. An examination of the position reveals that whilst in that period 19,000 homes had been commenced by government authorities, private enterprise had commenced the construction of 68,661 homes, but whilst the government authorities completed 10,400 homes, private builders completed 48,185 homes in that period. Thus, private builders completed 70 per cent, of the homes commenced by them compared with 55 per cent, of homes completed by government authorities; and this was in spite of the fact that the latter authorities enjoyed priorities of materials. These figures indicate that the housing shortage would be overcome much more quickly if more freedom and scope were given to private builders. The first requisite to overcome the housing shortage is to build up a huge labour force and to give to an expert an open charter- to produce materials in sufficient quantities to enable builders to carry on their operations. Such an expert should be given a free hand. That policy “was adopted during the recent war, when a man of outstanding calibre wa3 made responsible for the production of munitions. He was not subjected to the red tape usually associated with government departments. That action was taken during the recent war, when the production of munitions was of the first importance. Surely, in peace-time, houses are of the first importance. In July, 1939, a total of 150,900 persons was engaged in the building industry, and by 1948 that number had increased to 168,0.00, a gain of only 11 per cent.; yet in 1943 the Cabinet adopted an interim report which estimated that from 35,000 to 45,000 more men would be required in the building industry in the first post-war years than before the war, and that special steps would be required to train them. The Deputy Director of Housing, Mr. L. P. D. O’Connor, in a report released in 1947 by the Minister for Work* and Housing, revealed that one of the factors contributing to inflated building costs was reduced productivity of labour. If that is true - and I believe that it is - the present labour force, allowing for an increase of 11 per cent, since 1939. is only equivalent to that available in that year; and I believe that even that estimate is an over-statement.
The training of ex-servicemen under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme offered a splendid, field for bringing the labour force up to the dimensions required by the building industry. Under that scheme it was proposed to train 32,850 ex-servicemen for the building industry in the period of two years from May, 1946. How that plan has fared is illustrated by the fact that in New South Wales alone, whilst 13,850 ex-servicemen were to be trained for the building trade, only 7,000 had been trained as at. August, 1948. At the end of May last, according to figures compiled by the Commonwealth Employment Service, there were unfilled requisitions by employers for labour for 1,446 men in the city area of New South Wales and 540 in the country. At the same time. 4.000 ex-servicemen are awaiting train- ing, but only sixteen are to be trained in a new class for plumbers, whilst no new classes for bricklayers or carpenters have been started since January. The reason for this lag in the training of exservicemen, is that, the Government has accepted the unions’ decision to close their rank.against new members. The unions say to the Government, in effect, “We do not care what you want in the way of new nien to take up the lag in building; we say we will not allow them in our industry”; and the Government is powerless to take action against the unions. In July last, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), who is in charge of the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme, said that it- had been necessary to reduce considerably the intake of ex-service building trainees because of “ insufficient progress in the pro- d action of materials”. Yet in the same month the building employers’ representative for New South Wales on the regional committee of the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme, Mr. S. J. Kennedy, said that builders could find jobs for at least 3,000 ex-service trainees in the next eighteen months and that private builders in the metropolitan area had applied to the Commonwealth Employment Service for 1,439 builders to the 30th May last, but had not been able to get a single man. Official statistics prepared in August, 194S, reveal that the deficiency in men required for the building industry in New South Wales alone for the year 194S-49 is estimated to be 3,680. This is the picture and the Government should look squarely at it. These are problems which affect the lives of the people, making for either a contented, or a discontented, community. Surely, these matters are worth consideration by the Government, but it has taken no action in the matter and the public, as usual, are the victims of its weak-kneed manner of coping with vital national problems.
Considering the increase of 51 per cent, of factory employment, the increase of production is, to say the least, very disappointing .and reflects the Government’s’ ineptitude a;nd incapacity to deal effectively with the present industrial position. These figures reflect lost opportunities duo to strikes, the shortage of coal. lower output per man-hour, and the lack of incentive to produce, particularly having regard to present excessive rates of taxation. The first requirement is the restoration of incentive to produce. Production will rise as the taxation burden decreases. The Opposition has stressed this point until to-day even the Prime Minister is beginning to take notice of it, because he has forecast some reduction of the income tax burden. But side by side with the Government’s drive for increased production, the creation of an incentive to produce will yield better results than just mere words from the Prime Minister even though the right honorable gentleman may be sincere in his appeal for greater production. That production has decreased in some spheres is realized by the Prime Minister, because recently when he was iri England he stated in a broadcast -
The key to the situation lies in production, unci I say to every Australian that hurd work is not only a national duty but a stern responsibility if we arc all to survive.
The right honorable gentleman .has repeated that statement since his return to Australia. Those are brave words which we endeavoured to entice him to utter tunny months ago. However, he has now proclaimed them, and having placed his hand to the plough I trust that he will go :> head and plough a straight furrow. However, from the Governor-General’s Speech we see how he proposes to achieve greater production. (Extension of time granted.] FT is Excellency stated - lt is the intention of my Prime Minister and the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, Senator the Hon. W. P. Ashley, to meet as many >>f the workers engaged in the coal industry i* possible. My Government has continually -i stressed the importance of coal production to tin: plans for Australia’s expansion and development, and to the maintenance of all citizens in gainful employment. My advisers
Iki vi- worked closely with the Government of the State of New South Wales in the operat inn nf the Coal Industry Act. That statement would be humorous if rho situation were not so tragic. I suggest that the word “Communist” be substituted for the word “Government”. The relevant part of the passage would then read -
My advisers have worked closely with the Communists of the State of New South Wales in the operation of the Coal Industry Act.
That would be much nearer to the truth, because it certainly represents what the Government has done. Let us see what the Government means by working closely with the Government of New South Wales. One could quote examples ad nauseum. Since the beginning of the year, the miners federation has adopted, as a means of restricting output, a policy of stop-work meetings and strikes; so much so, that 1,126,749 tons of coal were lost up to the 6th August last. The City of Sydney was subjected to the most harassing conditions during the winter. The people were forced to submit to what were almost barbaric conditions because of the failure of the Government to get coal. That is an illuminating example of how the Government has worked in close co-operation, not with the Government of New South Wales, but with the Communist-controlled miners federation. In February, the Joint Coal Board expressed concern to the miners about the reduction of output. In April, it threatened to tighten holiday pay provisions in order to prevent petty strikes. The .miners countered with a strike threat. The board shelved proceedings to enable the miners to implement the 1.945 code of self-discipline, but the stoppages continued. In June, the miners demanded increased rates for shooting and filling mechanically cut coal. Weekly losses through strikes amounted to 37,000 tons, or nearly as much as was saved by rationing. The miners threatened to strike unless the increases were granted, and, subsequently, some increases were given. The miners had another victory, but the stoppages went on. In July, when the Joint Coal Board - which is an instrumentality of this Government - approached the Coal Industry Tribunal - which is another instrumentality of the Government - with a request that it tighten up holiday pay provisions, the miners countered with a threat of a general one-day stoppage as a protest. This time, both the board and the tribunal stood firm. One would have expected that the Government, having created these instrumentalities, and having charged them with the task of getting coal, would have stood behind them in their contest with the Communistcontrolled miners federation, but that did not happen. When the board and the tribunal decided to stand firm, the Australian Government, and the Government of New South Wales, in a shameful exhibition of by-passing arbitration, intervened, and forced an agreement under which the proposed penalties were waived. Once again the miners promised continuity of production. Now, they are bargaining long-service leave against “ back-Saturday “ production - at double time. And so things will go on as long as the Government refuses to support the instrumentalities which it has itself created, and retreats before the onslaught of the Communist-controlled miners federation, offering appeasement, instead of insisting upon the observance of the law.
This is the criticism which I direct against the nauseating mess of words which constitute the Governor-General’s Speech. As a rehearsal for those who will take part in the pageantry associated with the Royal visit the Speech is, in part, successful. As a declaration of constructive policy, it is a dismal failure, and only serves to emphasize the incapacity of the Government to conduct the affairs of the country.
.- I move-
That the following words be added to the Address: - “ and to inform Your Excellency that, because the Communist party, as an agency of a foreign power, admits it owes no allegiance to the Commonwealth of Australia, and because its avowed objective is the overthrow of constitutional government in Australia, with force if necessary, this House is of the opinion that your advisers should be asked to take the following action to deal with the grave emergency rapidly developing within the nation to threaten its security: - (a) The Communist party and its auxiliaries should bc declared illegal organizations and necessary legislation should be submitted to this Parliament to deal with them as treasonable agencies; (b) No Communist should be employed by the Commonwealth in any position involving the security of this country;
The appointments of all Communists on government boards and agencies should be terminated immediately;
All newspaper and newsprint licences of the Communist party and its auxiliaries should bo withdrawn, and the despatch of its publications through the Post Office should be prohibited;
All premises occupied by Communist organizations (including Marx House, Sydney) should be declared illegal premises, and all telephone facilities should be withdrawn by the Postmaster -General ;
Legislation based on theNew South Wales Consorting Act should be introduced, making it illegal for members of the Communist party to consort together;
That the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act should be amended to make it an offence for any registered trade union to pay any of its funds into any Communist party organization “.
This Government must face squarely the issue of communism in Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has sidestepped it. He says that no one will tell him what to do. So he proposes to do nothing. That makes the Government an accessory to everything that the Communists might do against the security of the country.
This is not a political issue; it is a grave national emergency. Look at the recent record. The Australian Communist party inspired and assisted the Indonesian Communists in their revolt against the Dutch. The Communist party, in defiance of this Government, imposed a ban on Dutch shipping as a direct form of sanctions. It directly involved the Government of Australia in a serious threat to its relations with a friendly nation. The Government did nothing about it.
The Australian Communist party inspired and assisted the revolt of the Malayan Communist party against the constitutional government of Malaya. The Australian Government gave Sharkey his passport to go to Malaya. Its attention has been drawn to his provocative incitement of those engaged in civil war in Malaya. That war is a Communist war against the white population of Malaya, as well as against those Malays who are prepared to resist Communists. But the Government has failed to take any action against these traitors. It knows that the Australian Communists aided and abetted the Malayan Communists. It knows that Australians, including people earning their living on rubber plantations, have been murdered in cold blood in Malaya. It also knows that the real purpose of the
Communist party is to establish Communist power in South-East Asia. This Government must realize that a Communist bloc there, supported by Communist traitors in Australia, would threaten the security of this country. But the Government merely talks about communism as a philosophy and does nothing. It has remained passive while Communists have attacked the White Australia policy. The Communist plan is to fan hatred in Asia against Australia. The aim of the Communists is’ to make this country of ours an outpost of Soviet power in the Pacific. This Government blinds itself to everything that the Communists do. It has pampered the Communist party. First it raised the ban on Communists. Then it gave Communist leaders in the trade union movement power and key positions in control of vital industries. It broke the newsprint regulations to give the Communist party newsprint licences. It has sent Communist representatives to international gatherings, where they have been .able to confer with fellow Communist leaders. It has provided building permits for lavish offices and a luxury night club for a Communistcontrolled organization. The Marx House deal went through in record time. Telephones were installed, building materials made available, and silent telephone numbers provided. Was all this by accident or design? Was there a secret pact with the Communist party ? This Government knows that every Australian Communist is pledged to become a traitor to this country in the event of war. The Government admits the danger, but refuses to do anything. My amendment takes up the Prime Minister’s challenge. It outlines a specific plan to cope with the situation. Communism must be exterminated if democracy is to be saved in Australia. If the Government refuses to let this amendment go to a vote, it will either be because it is afraid of the issue, or because it is in sympathy with the Communist party. If the Government gags the debate, it will be because it is anxious to prevent an exposure of its own weakness and duplicity. A division list would show which members stand for and which stand against communism in Australia. What is the alternative to drastic action? The
Government’s attitude is that the Communist party should be left alone. That means an open franchise to plot against the security of Australia. It means the contin.ufi.tion of privileges for Communist leaders. It means more Communists in key positions, and more nominations for Communists as representatives of this Government abroad.
This is not an academic question of suppressing minority opinion. It is a concrete proposal to smash an attempt to undermine and destroy the constitutional government of this Commonwealth. The Communist does not accept the machinery of democratic government. Therefore, that machinery cannot be extended to the Communist party, and that party can have no place in the Australian way of life for it is anti-Australian.
The amendment proposes that the Communist party should forthwith be declared an illegal organization. That must be the starting point of all effective action against communism. There have been too many alibis from the Government. We have heard too many members of the Government give lip service to opposition to communism, then immediately defend the Communist party against any interference. Such a government is either a government of weaklings or a government of dupes. A government’s first duty is to uphold the law. Does the Government suggest that, because the law prescribes a penalty for murder, the law drives murder underground? If that reasoning is to be accepted on the Communist issue, there can be no system of law in this country and we can have no penalties for theft, for rape, or for arson. There is an end to all law. The doctrine of communism is not a legal objective within the laws of this country. It has a criminal purpose. It is founded on violence and loyalty to a foreign power. It defies the law. Any organization that advocates such a doctrine must be illegal, because it does not conform to the law of this country. If the Government refuses to take any action, it will condone the activities of the organization. It will condone contempt for the law and the Constitution.
Once the Communist party has been declared an illegal organization, every Communist in this country will know exactly where he stands. He will know the penalties. He will have every chance of abandoning his illegal allegiance; but until that declaration is made, there is no way that the members of the organization can be brought within the jurisdiction of the law. The Government has all the evidence it needs in its files and dossiers. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) himself made that admission when introducing his rocket-range protection measure. Now, while there is still time, the Government must be called upon to face the issue. If it refuses, then it places itself, without equivocation, on the same side of the fence as the Communists. The Government has been trying to walk on egg shells on this Communist issue for too long. The ‘people of Australia are becoming restless. They are demanding that the Government shall declare itself. They are tired of hypocrisy. If the Government refuses to take this action, what, then, does it propose to do? The onus is clearly on the Government. If it still proposes to do nothing, then it must say so. The people will then know exactly where the Government stands. No individual member can. evade his personal responsibility to declare himself. This is the issue that will determine the fate of this Government and the fate of individual members. If they are too cowardly to face the issue, then the people will dra w their own conclusions.
In case there is still any doubt as to the objectives of the Communist party in Australia, let us examine its recent history and its avowed objectives. The record of the Communist party during the last war speaks for itself. While Russia was the ally of Nazi Germany, the Communists tried to sabotage this country’s war effort. When Hitler attacked Russia, they yelled for the opening of a second front in Europe, and wanted to conscript Australia. They were interested only in saving Stalin from his former allies in Berlin. Inside Australia, the Communist party maintains a permanent general staff. Many of its members were trained in the MarxistLenin Institute in Moscow. They were trained in the methods not only of class war but also of military war. They were trained in sabotage and in espionage. This country saw to what extreme lengths they would go while the Soviet Union was adopting only a passive role in the European war. How much more dangerous they would become if the Soviet Union became embroiled in a war with the Western democracies 1 The general staff -of the Communist party consists of paid mercenaries. The funds raised locally were not sufficient to maintain the expensive establishments, the publications ;iiic! the permanent staff on the Communist pay-roll. The’ job of this Government should have been to trace the source of other funds that were provided for the purpose. There should be a complete disclosure of how the Communist party was able to pay £25,000 for a newspaper plant in Sydney ; how it was able to buy and remodel its head-quarters in George-street; how it was able to maintain shops in so many centres; and how it was able to produce so many publications, regardless of the cost. The Communist party has planted its traitors in many key government departments. Its officials are even admitted into the confidence of the Government on vital transport and fuel problems of organization and administration. They are on key government boards. No Communist can be loyal to Australia, and to Stalin, at the same time. With him there is no choice. He owes his loyalty solely to Stalin. Even learned scientists in Britain and Canada were found to be prepared to betray vital defence secrets to Russian agents. What happened there is undoubtedly happening here. That, then, should be the first, approach to the problem. If we are to defend this country, we must deal with the Communist party. To be prepared means to have that party under complete control. What would happen to a proBritish, a pro-American, or a proAustralian political party in Russia to-day? Could any one reasonably expect Stalin to tolerate it? How would a. party fare that was advocating the overthrow of the Communist Government, and the establishment of a democratic regime? What would happen to a Russian found conspiring against Stalin with the emissaries of another country ?
The second reason why the Communist party should be extinguished is that it is committed to the overthrow of constitutional government in Australia. It is subject to a rigid international discipline. The Sixth Congress of the Communist International adopted the official programme of the party that still remains as the objective of the organization. It calls for mass action against the democratic State, in the following words : -
This mass action includes strikes, a combination of strikes, and armed demonstrations, and finally the general strike conjointly with armed action against the State bourgeoisie. The latter form of struggle, which is the supreme form,” must be conducted according to the rules of war; it presupposes a plan of campaign, offensive fighting, and undoubted devotion and heroism on the part of the proletariat.
The Communist party itself believed that, in Queensland, it was embarking on one of the final stages leading to the decisive crisis. That is why Communist leaders from all over Australia were sent to the seat of the struggle. Brisbane was being used as a testing ground for the Communist party’s organizational work. The Communist believes that. his ends can bp achieved only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. That is why the Communist party does not want to improve industrial conditions. Yet, what is the attitude of this Government? We have had the spectacle of one Minister describing the Communist party as Christ-like in its objectives! Another Minister says that any one who opposes the Communist party is suffering from a phobia i The Prime Minister says that he is not interested in discussing political philosophies. Yet we have heard the same Ministers denouncing Chamberlain. They talked about “guilty men “. Who are the guilty men in Australia to-day? Are they not the members of this Government who refuse to tackle the problem of the Communist party? They are undoubtedly the “ gu ilty men “. While they are appeasing the Communist party, that organization is working day and night against this country and its social system.
The amendment proposes to deal with the Communist party in a realistic manner. In time of war, it is an axiom that the enemy should be denied his lines of communication, and his supplies, as quickly as possible. The Communist party should be tackled in the same manner. Some Ministers glibly excuse their inaction by saying that it is better to have the Communist party in the open than underground. That is utter rubbish ! “ Get your enemy on the run, and keep him running’”, has always been good policy. The job of this Government is to keep the Communists on the run.
The first step should be a ban on the Communist party as an illegal organization. Its record makes such action imperative. Then the next step is to systematically strip it of all physical resources and means of operation. If it has bank funds, they should be seized. Its subsidies should be impounded, and any bank handling such transfers should be indicted. When the Government lifted the ban on the Communist party, on the understanding that it would prevent strikes and help the production drive, it also provided special newsprint licences to enable the resumption of printing of Communist propaganda and newspapers. The Communist party in that respect received preferential treatment. How the Communist party repudiated its side of the bargain is now history. But the newsprint licences were maintained. Those licences should be withdrawn immediately. All paper supplies should go back to the pool. On the grounds that Communist literature is seditious literature, it should not be handled by the Post Office.
By introducing the equivalent of the New South Wales Vagrancy Amendment Act 1929 against the Communist party the police would be armed with all necessary authority to deal with the organization. Even hardened criminals learned to fear that act. It cleaned up vice and crime in Sydney quicker than any known police weapon. It could be used in the 3ame way against the Communists. Premises frequented by known Communists could be declared under such legislation, and then the trouble ahead of the Communists would be the difficulty of finding some place to go underground ! Instead of talking about the Communist menace, let the Government get to work and do a thorough job. It will probably injure many of its friends in the process, but the Communist issue has become a crucial test of good faith. It cannot he balked any longer.
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
.- The Speech by the Governor-General presents to members of this House an opportunity to examine certain main lines of policy on which ‘the Government has utterly failed to discharge its duty to the people of this country. It is significant, as the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) pointed out, that the Speech is important, not because of what it contains, but because of what it omits. As I listened in the Senate to His Excellency read the Speech, obviously prepared by his Ministers so as to reflect the greatest credit in a public document upon Ministers, I waited and expected that at some time something would be said about what this Government proposes to do in respect of three matters, all of which are allied. The first is international affairs, the second is the defence of Australia, and the third is the subjectmatter upon which the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) has just spoken. Yet, upon these three vital matters not one word worth anything was said by His Excellency in. the Speech prepared for him by his Ministers. On international affairs, this is what was said -
My Government has maintained its interest in international affairs with sustained adherence to the United Nations and its related organizations. My Minister for External Affairs, the Bight Honorable Dr. H. V. Evatt, is at present abroad-
In my opinion, he could be better engaged in this country! Beyond that, and the statement that the Government has viewed with dismay and misgiving the unfortunate divisions of opinion in Europe, the Speech offered no guidance whatever to the public of Australia.
I should have thought that, with the shadows of war lengthening on the horizon and with the people who love peace watching with troubled eyes the mounting fires of hostility throughout the world, it would have been incumbent upon this Government to give some lead to the people as to what might be expected, not only in relation to the rest of the world, but also in relation to them. But no lead was forthcoming. On the subject of defence, we heard a tedious repetition of words that have been used on more than one occasion. Speaking about the organization of the post-war defence forces, His Excellency said -
My Government has developed this programme having regard to the most effective manner of self-defence; to co-operation in Empire and regional defence; and to the fulfilment of obligations under the Charter of the United Nations.
Words, words, and nothing but words!
Now I come to the subject of communism. Not a word was said about that, for reasons which are becoming more and more obvious to members of this House. The truth is that the Labour party is quite unprepared to grapple with the monster that is seeking to destroy it. So, no lead has been given to the people by this Government on three matters vitally affecting the welfare of this nation.
I propose to deal in detail with these three matters. First, as to international affairs, I charge the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) with a complete lack of reality in his conduct of the affairs of Australia in this field. I also charge him with complete dereliction of duty as AttorneyGeneral in failing to deal with the subversive activities of Communists in Australia. On both these issues, no matter what propaganda to the contrary may be advanced, I say that he has failed in his duty to grapple realistically with them. It is not difficult to understand why there has been a lack of reality on international affairs. On real issues which present themselves in the world to-day, the Minister has always revealed a singular lack of reality. It is not so long since he made it quite clear that, in his opinion, Russia’s actions could all be interpreted in the light of its self-defence.- It is well that the people of Australia, who have been led to believe that the Minister alone in this House, and, indeed, in this country, knows anything about foreign affairs, should understand that he acted at all times, until only recent days, upon the hypothesis that Russia was a peaceful nation, merely concerned with its own defence when, indeed, any man who had his feet upon the ground of reality must have known that the reverse was the truth. The Minister’s declarations should not be forgotten. He stated in a debate on international affairs in this House in
March, 1946, that he acted upon that hypothesis. On that occasion, he said -
It is important to note that some of those who, between 1933 and 1939, first endured, then pitied, and, finally, embraced Hitler and most of his works, are now to be found amongst those who are prepared to join forces at once against the Soviet Union without any important investigation as to whether its expansionist policy is aggressive or defensive in intent.
He went on to give his views as to what the conclusions would be and then said - and I want this to be borne in mind, because through these words will be revealed the failure of his foreign policy in matters that directly effect Australia -
Having no clear evidence to the contrary and having during the last four years come to know some of Russia’s greatest statesmen-
They spoke to him nicely, I suppose, and he assumed that they were nice people -
I take the view that the Soviet Union’s policy is directed towards self-protection and security against future attack.
Attack from, where? Here is a responsible Minister, who occupies the position of Deputy Prime Minister in this country, speaking what every honorable member in his right senses must acknowledge as utter nonsense. He went on -
In my opinion, its desire is to develop its own economy and to improve the welfare of its peoples. That is my view; perhaps it is wrong.
Perhaps ! Why, no one could doubt that it was wrong. He continued -
One must arrive at some conclusion in these matters or it is impossible to move ahead with any policy. That is the opinion upon which I act.
That was in March, 1946. So it is obvious that before and since then his policy has been based on the hypothesis that the Soviet Union is purely peaceful. He has alienated in some respects sympathy from the United States. I say that deliberately. At times, when he could have given support to Great Britain on issues confronting the United Nations, he did not do so. We can understand why because we now have the key to his conduct. He even wanted to hand over atomic bomb secrets to Russia. This is the man in whose hands almost completely the destiny of this country is vested as far as foreign affairs are concerned. Here is what he said on the 26th March, 1946, a few days after he made the statement to which. I have just made reference -
I believe that the use of atomic energy has been one of the main causes of suspicion between Russia and the other United Nations. In the middle of the war atomic weapons were developed and arrangements were made for the use of atomic power, as we know, without making any of our discoveries known to our ally, Russia, which was engaged against the common enemy. That undoubtedly created distrust and suspicion, and I hope that the establishment of the Atomic Energy Commission by the United Nations, of which Australia is a member, will lead to greater trust between Russia and the United Nations in the future. I ask for no special treatment for the Soviet Union, but I urge that it be accorded the same treatment as is accorded to its war-time partners.
What utter folly it would have been had those in control, Great Britain and the United States of America, followed the advice of the Minister on that vital matter. Yet he is the man whose whole policy, until only recent date, has been applied exclusively, or almost exclusively, along the lines of the United Nations, which, I have said more than once, has objectives and principles that every one of us should support, but which every one with knowledge of the world knew could never survive unless the three major nations were able to agree. It is history which we do not want to go over, but which gives a denial at every stage in the last three years to what the Minister for External Affairs in his appreciation of Russia’s intentions indicated was his policy. We know to-day that Russia will not compromise with the Western Powers. We know that in Berlin to-day we have already lost the fight. We know that, despite the fact that we were to stand fast, we are following, step by step, exactly the same course as we followed with Hitler, the course of appeasement. It is true that we have spoken more strongly, but we are doing exactly the same things. It would have been wiser if, during the years just past, we had spent more of our energy in building up the strength and power of the British Commonwealth and our own defences. My view, which I do not express for the first time in this House, because I expressed it in September last year, is that we are travelling along the road of appeasement. Unless we realize that we are continuing along that road, and unless we realize that the language of force is the only thing that Russia understands, ultimately, we may he projected into a conflict from which we may never escape and which may bring down all that western civilization has built up over the centuries. I do not think any man with a knowledge of world events can fail to be seized with dismay and despair at what has taken place.
That leads me to the proposition that the Government should realize that it owes an obligation to the people to keep them informed about these matters and should not leave them to get their information solely from the press and the radio. There should be some authoritative statements, not a catalogue of past events but an appreciation of the present situation and an evaluation of future events. Australia is becoming more and more isolated from the world. We are a handful of white people in a coloured sea, and all the nations of the East - Burma, Malaya, Indonesia, Indo-China - are coming more and more under the domination of the Communist ideology. Does any one in his senses think the events in those countries spring simply from some local national movement? We know very well that in every one of those countries the movement to destroy the constituted authority is .activated or aided from one place, namely, Moscow. We know also that a part of our foreign policy has an internal reflection, which is the Communist party of this country. We know, too, that Europe is in a perilous position. France, without whose aid and strength there ultimately cannot be a rehabilitated Europe, is greatly weakened by communism. Governments in France go down one after another with disturbing speed. France has no stability and, indeed, if war unfortunately did take place one is forced to the conclusion that France could on present indications only be an uncertain support and might indeed be an aid to the Russian ideology because of its very weakness. Yet it is on western Europe that the future of Great Britain depends, and without western Europe Great Britain must go down, as ultimately we must go down. Of those matters little has been said, either in the statement at present under discussion, or in others which have been issued in the past. On no occasion have I heard from any member of the Government a proper appraisal of Russia’s intentions to dominate theworld if it can. As I said before, the conduct of foreign affairs has its internal, as well as its external, features. Its internal features happen to be primarily in the hands of. the same Minister who conducts our external’ relationships. For a long time past honorable members on this side of the House have fought communism. I am equally aware that there are many earnest men in the Labour movement who have also fought communism ; but the fact remains that the Australian Labour party, although it has more than once pronounced against communism, has failed ro do anything in. regard to it. Every honorable member must know that communism is the enemy of democracy, and’ that the Communists in this country are but the agents of a foreign power. Do we imagine that the Communist movement in Australia is performing any different function from that which it was performing in Canada, when its under-cover activities were revealed ? Do we imagine that the Communists in Australia are people of different types from those who were recently found to be engaging in espionage in other parts of the world, and in respect of whose fi divides action has been taken in Canada, in the United States of America and in Great Britain to ensure that they and their fellow travellers are removed from the public services and the armed forces? I remember only too well that immediately prior to the last two general elections resolutions condemning communism were passed by the Australian Labour party. So familiar were their terms that one could draw up such resolutions for members of that party before they do so themselves. Those resolutions indicated that the Australian Labour party was opposed 1.0 communism ; and yet we have witnessed, year after year, the growing strength of communism, until to-day men can engage in subversive activities quite openly, and can do so under the protection of a. democratic society. lt is quite obvious that Sharkey’s visit to Malaya had a great deal to do with what has since taken place in that country, and I charge the Government with unnecessarily delaying the provision of aid for Malaya. If we had any real, concept of our responsibilities in that area we should realize that if war occurred to-morrow either Great Britain would have to give away that area or Australia would have to take it over as a prime responsibility. Yet we have done nothing except to send to Malaya a few miserable rifles and sten guns, which ‘belonged to Great Britain. I should have thought that instead of waiting to be asked to help we would have volunteered to do so, thereby making it quite clear that we understood what was taking place in Malaya, and that we realized that what wag happening there was not only a direct threat to our own country, but was also a threat to British interests throughout the world. But what has the Government done to combat the Communist menace? Year after year it continues to sit back and do nothing about it. Time after time the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has spoken of communism in terms of being a political ideology only, whilst the Minister for Labour and National Service Mr. Holloway) - whom we now know as the “ Christian Communist “, because some time ago he stated that communism was founded on Christianity - gives further support to those who go around trying to drag in well-meaning ministers of religion-
– The honorable member will never be a “ Christian Communist
– No. I shall never be a Communist, Christian or otherwise.
– The honorable member will never even be a. Christian !
– When the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) makes such statements he reveals that his real sympathies are with the Communists, although he has not the courage to say so.
– The honorable member’s statement, like his action in appointing himself a lieutenant-colonel, shows that he is only a mouth-fighter.
– Time and time again some members of the Government speak in this House of the dangers of communism ; yet they never do anything, although every one knows that there are fellow travellers of communism in the Australian Labour party to-day. The time has come when the people will demand that the present Government take action against communism; and I say to members of the Government, that if they do not take action against communism they themselves will ultimately be destroyed by it. Honorable members on this side of the House have said over and over again that communism should be banned. We have also said that no man who belongs to a Communist society or to any other society which is engaged in subversive activities, should be entitled to hold any position in the Public Service of this country. In my opinion - and I express my own view on this aspect of the matter - no Communist should be entitled to hold any position in a trade union in this country. If a man were, in fact, proved to be a traitor I cannot imagine that he could contend that he still had a right, as a. citizen, to hold a position in a trade union in this country. If he belonged to a subversive organization as is the Communist party in this country, [ cannot understand why he should be permitted to exercise the tremendous influence which trade union leaders do exercise upon the economy of this country. A? the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has said, there is in Canberra at this moment, partaking of the hospitality of this Parliament, Mr. Thornton, who is one of the leading Communists in Australia - a man who owns no allegiance whatever to this country or to its democratic institutions, but is solely concerned with destroying them in the interests of a foreign power. We frequently see such men sitting cheek by jowl with Ministers of the Commonwealth. It may be that, because they are trade union leaders, members of the Government are compelled to permit that. All I say to members of the Government is that they could soon remove the influence of such men by insisting that Communists and those belonging to similar associations shall not occupy any official position in the trade union movement of this country. We have only to read the newspapers to realize that they are becoming more and more insolent and more and more confident. They have control of important sections of the trade union movement of this country, and they, rather than the Government, are directing the economy of this country. So I support the remarks made by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). Those remarks are not new. Similar statements have been made by honorable members on this side of the House for some time past. Until such time as the Government directs its attention to the destruction of communism in this country not only will it fail to maintain the democratic traditions which it is expected to maintain, but also it will continue to be incapable of carrying out any effective foreign policy.
I propose now to direct my remarks to the defence of this country. I ask that the sitting be now suspended.
Government Members. - Continue until six o’clock.
– Very well. Because [ am on this side of the chamber-
– The practice is to suspend the sitting at 6 p.m. It is seven minutes short of the hour.
– It is common knowledge that if a ministerial supporter asked for leave to continue his remarks in such circumstances, his request would he granted.
– Order ! The sitting will be suspended at 6 o’clock.
– Then I shall continue until that hour. In connexion with defence, the Government is revealing a complete inability to understand the events which are taking place throughout the world. This House has approved a five-year defence plan, and the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) has said that that plan will be reviewed from time to time so as to make it equal to the stress of any emergency. Although the Minister for External Affairs has said that the world appears to be drifting into war, I have not seen any indication whatsoever that the Government is revising its defence plans. Let ns examine our defence forces. I suppose that, apart from a brigade group in Japan, approximately twelve mixed air squadrons and a few under-manned warships, we have no defence forces whatsoever.
– What preparations did the honorable member make when he was Minister for Defence?
– Never mind what I did when I was Minister for Defence. The important consideration is what the Government is doing now. It is characteristic of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) to think in terms of the past. He does not realize that the Government has tremendous defence problems on its hands to-day. I do not propose to hark back to the period when I was Minister for Defence. If I were to do so, I should annihilate the honorable member. I need only recall that, in outlook, he was a pacifist in 1939.
To-day, we see signs that the world is in danger of drifting into war. What preparation is the Government making? What is the nature of the defence policy of this country? When we examine the monetary allocations, it is quite obvious that a compromise has been reached,, because there is almost an equal handout to the three services. I am one who believes that we shall not get very far unless there is one Minister, instead of four Ministers, as at present, to> give direction to our defence policy. For the Royal Australian Navy, the estimated expenditure for a five-year period is £75,000,000 ; for the Army, the estimate is £62,500,000 ; and for the Royal. Australian Air Force, a similar amount will be provided. By a strange coincidence, the Army and the Royal Australian Air Force have received exactly the sameallocation. Obviously, the Government’s defence policy is one of compromise. The Government has not sought to determinethe most effective manner in which it can use the limited resources at its command. Obviously, too, a dispute has arisen between the three services, which have been competing for -support.
I shall now examine the forces that the Government proposes to establish’ during the five-year period, and measure them against present-day events and; dangers. The Army is to have a planned peace-time strength of 19,000. The organization is to consist of a regular field force, comprised of an independent brigade of 4,470, all ranks, and fixed establishments consisting of headquarters, fixed defences, training establishments and base and administrative units. The post-war strength of this organization is 13,380, which includes 3,000 civilians. That is to be our Army. Of course, there is to be the Citizen Military Forces, the objective for. which is 50,000 men of all ranks. Every one knows that we have not any real citizen force that is worth anything at all, and, on present indications, there is not likely to be one. The ultimate strength of the Royal Australian Air Force, the Government hopes, will be 13,000, giving a strength designed to man all units for a planned permanent air force of sixteen squadrons.
I shall now read to the House the views of men who are competent to express an opinion on the Government’s proposal. First, I shall give the views of Sir Thomas Blarney. In war-time the Government placed all its reliance upon him. It relied completely on his advice, but when he ventures to criticize its post-war defence plan, it gives him the “ brush off “, and claims that he is disgruntled. However, Sir Thomas Blarney is the general upon whom we relied during the war, and who carried this country to victory. He has stated -
Australia will soon find she has a contemptuous military force which will be unable to put one division of thoroughly trained men into the field in an emergency. Australia’s so-called defence plan is as truly a defence plan as the story that there is a man in the moon.
On another occasion, Sir Thomas Blarney stated -
Whilst the American and British peoples are awake to the fact that war is a national responsibility, Australia hides its head under its wing, and puts forward a hopelessly inadequate scheme upon which moneys spent will be largely wasted. No system of military defence can be considered adequate under modern conditions which does not lay the foundations for the preparation not only of the armed forces lint of the whole nation. Unless this conception is accepted and applied, the money expended will be largely wasted, and the nation will be no more prepared to meet the position tliti.il it was in 1039.
That is the judgment of a man who knows the facts. Before I leave that aspect, I recall that when a number of generals were to go before the Minister for the Army for the purpose of presenting their views to him upon how the defence of this country should be maintained, he did not even see them. He merely said that the Government had made up its mind as to the kind of a defence scheme that it would have. All the remarks that I have made to date provide sufficient condemnation of the defence plan and justify my demanding that the Government resign from office.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I charged the Government with culpability in respect of Australia’s foreign policy and its attitude towards communism. In part, I had dealt with the proposed defence programme which, I contend, is a hopeless one to meet possible contingencies. I had shown that the five-year plan in respect of the Army means that at the end of five years, to use the words of General Blarney, “ We would be unable to put one division of thoroughly trained men in the field in an emergency “. I pass now to the five-year plan in respect of the Air Force. At the end of five years under the proposed scheme, the total number of our aircraft would be 144, comprising 54 for home defence, with a total of 1,182 personnel, and a task force of 90 aircraft, with 2,061 personnel. Out of a total of 144 aircraft, there would be only S6 combat aircraft. That number could be increased to 111 if air service rescue squadrons and reconnaissance squadrons, which are included in the figures given, were taken into account, but, using the usual 75 per cent, serviceability rate, our maximum possible front-line strength would be S6 aircraft.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Harrison) put -
That the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mk. Deputy Speaker - Mk. J. J. CLARK:
Question so resolved in the negative.
– One of the most amusing things about the honorable member for “Warringah (Mr. Spender) is his conceit. He only comes to this House intermittently, and then proceeds to give the Government a lecture on bow the affairs of this country should be conducted. I endeavour at all times to be tolerant, realizing that other honorable members may not always hold views similar to my own, but one gains the impression when the honorable member for Warringah is speaking in this House that he poses as a world authority on international affairs, and economic affairs generally; in fact that he has « solution for every problem in the world !
– The right honorable gentleman would not hear him out!
– The honorable member received as much consideration as any other honorable member would have received in similar circumstances. He talked about appeasement, suggesting that this Government and the Australian Labour party are appeasers. I suggest that if the honorable member for Warringah reflects on the unfortunate history of the relationships between Russia and the western allies - including ourselves as joint partner with the United Kingdom - he will realize that whatever defects exist at the present time, appeasement has not been brought about by Labour governments. I merely cite the facts; it is for the public to judge.
– What is the right honorable gentleman’s authority ?
– At secret conferences held during the war, the greatest concessions ever made to Russia were given by Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt, and they were made without the knowledge of any parliament. Apparently, in the eyes of the honorable member for Warringah, that would be a crime if it were done by any government, or the leader of a government other than that whose political policy he supported. Let us consider what happened in the Pacific as the result of the secret agreements made at Yalta and other places. I have mentioned this matter before, but in view of what has been said it is only proper that honorable members should know what, was done at Yalta. A secret agreement was made there by Mr. Churchill, Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Stalin, which gave to the Russian people concessions in the Pacific formerly undreamed of, and with which I know that the honorable member for Warringah himself would not agree. The Russians were given Sakhalin, the Manchurian railway, the Kuriles, Dairen and Port Arthur.
– All of which they formerly owned.
– Is that a reason why they should be appeased by having those territories passed back to them?
Honorable members interjecting, Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER. - Honorable members have been urged to maintain silence during this discussion, and I shall insist upon the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) being hoard without interruption. I shall deal with any honorable member infringing Standing Orders.
– .1 shall go further than I have done so far, and say that the present spheres of Russian influence in Europe, including central Europe, were given to them by governments of the same political hue as is the party to which the honorable member foi1 Warringah belongs. 1 also say that the zones of Communist influence in Berlin itself were not the result of any appeasement by any Labour party. They were not given by the people whom the honorable member for Warringah now charges as being associated with the Labour party. I am aware that the honorable member for Warringah professes to know everything about world iff airs and to have a solution for every difficulty, but I hope that I have enough modesty left to realize that I cannot propound a solution to all the problems, economic and otherwise, that confront tho world to-day. There exists in Europe to-day, and particularly in Germany, a very difficult position which is not new because it has existed since the war ended. The Russians were fearful of the potential strength of Germany; they feared that Germany would grow strong again as a military power. The French, with bitter memories of 1S70, 1914-18, and 1940-41, also feared a strong Germany. Consequently, Great Britain and America were faced with the problem that two of their war-time allies were violently opposed to a strong Germany. Any one who has studied the problem of Europe, to even a small degree, knows that one cannot have prosperity in Europe without a prosperous Germany. That is the dilemma which faces any one who tries to solve the problems of Europe to-day. The great transport systems of Germany, its coal-mines, steel works and chemical works give fi great measure of economic strength to many countries in Europe. The victorious nations have had to battle with that problem all the time. I know the deep feelings of revenge and of sorrow that come to all of those who lost sons and husbands in the fight to quell the Nazis. It is therefore very difficult to advocate - although I have always advocated it myself - that the victorious notions should immediately commence the tusk of building up the economic strength of Germany so that it can make its due contribution to the economic strength of the other nations of Europe. The honorable member for Warringah talks as> if this problem could be solved h> force. I ask honorable members, and the people of Australia, to ponder the results of a third world war. I have no illusions about the position in Europe generally and certainly none about the economic position there. All the countries of Europe are faced with a very difficult economic task in bringing their people back to a. reasonable standard of living. The United Kingdom faces a very long task, and no one can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The use of force means war, and 1 presume the honorable member for Warringah suggests, that when the Russians in Berlin were not prepared to compromise, the proper thing to do was to engage in an immediate display of force.
– That is not what 1 said.
– The honorable member ought ‘ to know what he is talking about when he does talk.
– The right honorable gentleman ought to know what he is listening to.
– I do not propose to engage in any ranting discussion. I desire merely to place the whole facts before honorable members. The countries of Continental Europe could not stand any more world wars, nor could the United Kingdom, however resolute and self-sacrificing the people of that country might be. The prospect of another war is something which ought to appal every human being. I do not believe that Russia wants war, but I do believe that to gain an advantage, either territorial or economic, or to gain an extension of the Communist ideology, Russia is prepared to push its policy as far as it possibly can without producing war.
– That is what Hitler did.
– I am aware of that, and I know that a great number of people who shout loudly as the honorable member for Warringah does, were great admirers of Hitler. The honorable member for Warringah at least has the courage to make his statements publicly and therefore in a manner which leaves them open to reply, but that is not characteristic of some of his followers. It is not characteristic of the paid stooges who with pen and tongue and radio voice are prepared to sell the cause of truth and their own souls at a lesser price than that for which Judas sold his Master - that is, when one takes into consideration the increased cost of living since Biblical times.
– Who are these people?
– They are some of the people whom the honorable member’s party pay to go on the radio and others whom vested interests finance through the press and otherwise. Some of them are the whisperers with no respect for truth, whom honorable members opposite are prepared to send abroad. Reverting to the great problem of Europe and world affairs, I say that there is no easy road to a solution. The honorable member for Warringah has made an attack upon a very distinguished member of the Government, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), a man who in the councils of the world, I believe, occupies a very high place. I am inclined to think that there might be a good deal of jealousy associated with these attacks upon him. What is the complaint against the attitude adopted by the Minister for External Affairs? Like so many other people, he believes that the prospects of a third world war are so appalling that every possible effort should be made by any one who has any regard for civilization and the human race to prevent that possibility. Is that a detestable characteristic in any individual? Having regard for the knowledge of those who know more about the scientific developments which might occur in a future war and the appalling prospects of destruction of human life and property as the result of new forms of warfare, any one with any conception of those possibilities would be lacking in Christian spirit, or humane feelings, if he did not earnestly desire that every step be taken by the nations of the world to avoid another catastrophe which, compared with the last war, would be 50 or 100 times as great. The charge made is that the Minister for External Affairs and the Government have fought in the councils of the world to bring the nations together to try to encourage some feelings, not for the politicians who merely make speeches, but for the boys who have to go out and die for their country. I believe that there is too much talk by people who themselves are not likely to be killed which encourages warfare and killing. The Minister for External Affairs could very well earn the cheers of the honorable member for Warringah by shouting out as the honorable member has done; but is it a bad characteristic that, despite the criticism heaped upon him the Minister in his humane outlook for the human race has striven on behalf of the Government, and with the Government’s complete concurrence, to bring the nations together with some prospect of preserving the peace that is so desirable ? I shall not attempt for one moment to defend the attitude of the Russian Government with regard to either Berlin or the things which have happened at a great number of conferences where, so far as I can see, that Government has shown a complete reluctance to agree to anything at all that was likely to lessen its own importance in world affairs or was in any way likely to impede its own progress and the extension of its ideology or economic strength. A prominent figure in previous conservative governmentsin the United Kingdom who is a great thinker told me when I was in the United States of America that he believed it was necessary that every human being who had any love of the human race should try to achieve unity and understanding among the nations of the world.
The economic position of some of the countries of western Europe is appalling. They have to be bolstered up by Marshall aid, and some of them have to be assisted by the United Kingdom, which, itself, has a great economic burden to bear. In their struggle for economic independence, and an opportunity to maintain themselves, there is naturally, on the part of those nations - and this would he true of France and Great Britain - a desire to use every means in their power to avoid any physical conflict in Europe. Let us be realistic about this problem. When the honorable member for Warringah talks about force he cannot mean anything other than war. What is the position of the Allies in Europe to-day? Does he suggest that western European countries could offer any defence to a Russian invasion of Europe ? I do not think that any one pretends they could. If the position were pushed to the point of war, what forces have the Allies in Europe to-day that would enable them to prevent 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 Russians from flooding Europe? I say with due consideration, that if Russia merely desires to conquer Europe by military force, I have no doubt that Russia could achieve that objective within a reasonable time. I admit that such action would be only the beginning of a war, because the Russians would eventually have to contend with the enormous resources, man-power and industrial potential of the United States of America. What a prospect for the world - to have communism and Russian armies flooding Europe; what great preparations and re-organization would be necessary to enable the United States of America to launch another “D-Day” in Europe, and the long and bitter struggle anything of that kind would presage! Surely, persons with any understanding of these problems, particularly we who stand on the perimeter, should be realistic about what we tell other people they ought to do and what arrangements they should make - where they should show the clenched fist and where they should show a spirit of compromise! Time will not permit me to cover events leading up to the Berlin crisis, or the rights and wrongs associated with the Berlin position; but it is true that it was not a Labour government in either Australia or Great Britain which gave Russia the zones of influence it occupies to-day. That was an understood thing before the Attlee Government came into office in England.
I do not propose to detain the House unnecessarily. The honorable member for Warringah talked about the position in Malaya. He suggested that we should rush arms to Malaya, and another honorable member - perhaps it was the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) - suggested that we should rush warships there. What is “the position in Malaya? It is a very difficult problem which, ultimately, might prove to be insoluble. I shall give my reasons for saying that. Although I do not profess to be so fully informed as the honorable member for Warringah about so many aspects of world affairs, and do not talk quite so much as the honorable member does it is perfectly true that representatives of various governments give me their impressions by letter, or otherwise, of all events happening in the world to-day, whether they be associated with either international politics or economic affairs. Although I may not have the ability to make correct judgments of these matters, at least I can claim to be very fully informed regarding them.
Let us look at the position in Malaya. In the Malayan Union, including Singapore, there is a population of nearly 6,000,000 people. One of the popular cries iii the Union is “ Malaya for the Malays “, yet in the peninsula and in Singapore there are more Chinese than Malays. In addition, there are about 600,000 Indians, besides a. good many members of other races. Among that entire population of 6,000,000 coloured persons, if I may so describe them without any desire to be disrespectful or to arouse racial feelings, there are only 17,000 Europeans. Moreover, it is a. fact that a great many of those 17,000 Europeans went to Malaya, not for love of the country, but for what profit they could make from it.
– That is an extraordinary statement for the Prime Minister to make, knowing that it will be published. It will be misinterpreted wherever it is read or heard.
– I do not care where the statement is published. There is one important thing which makes life worth living for any man with a national spirit, and that is love of his country. There are in Malaya many Europeans who are earnestly striving for the betterment of the people of Malaya, but it is a fact-
– Who founded the City of Singapore ?
– I do not know what the honorable member is mumbling about, but I am citing statistics regarding the population of the Malayan Union. Not long ago, there was a great fuss in this House because the Government had deported certain Malays to Malaya. When I was in Singapore, I learned that the immigration of Chinese and Indians into Malaya had been prohibited by the government seven or eight months ago. Thus, while a great fuss was being made here about the enforcement of immigration restrictions as applied to Malays, the Government of Malaya was enforcing similar restrictions against other races. I do not criticize that government for what it did; there was good reason for it. As I have pointed out, there is in Malaya a native Malayan population, a large migrant population, including nearly 700,000 Indians, and a total of 17,000 Europeans, a considerable proportion of whom are in the country for, let me say, business reasons.
A story is told of Mr. Stalin that, when he was asked what he thought of a certain brilliant man, he replied that he found the man very pleasant, except that he always wanted to. talk about communism, which was a very boring subject. The disturbances which are taking place in the world to-day go a good deal deeper than just the issue of communism. Surely it is not suggested that the extraordinary electoral change that occurred recently in South Africa was the result of communism. Surely it is not suggested that what has happened in India and Pakistan and Kashmir is the result of communism. It is not suggested, I assume, that the terrorist gangs in Palestine, and the war between the Arabs and the Jews, derive from communism. Tt is quite true that wherever there is a fire the Communists put on their uniforms and go to the fire to pour oil on a blaze that is already burning. I have no illusions about that, but the great upsurge of nationalism that is occurring now throughout the East has roots that go deeper than communism. This upsurge may not have any clear objectives. It is a rebellion, sometimes an economic rebellion, against conditions under which the people have been living. Let us consider the position in Europe. Could communism flourish there, if the people were contented, and well fed, and enjoying decent living conditions? Given those conditions, communism could not have found a footing anywhere in Europe. Let us consider the situation in Italy, which is a great Catholic country. No church has put up a greater fight against the inroads of communism than has the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, in the great Catholic country of Italy, communism has grown and grown, not because the country is Catholic, but because economic conditions there provide a fertile bed in which communism can take foot and flourish. Those who have studied the position in Italy to-day know that unless the problem of the landless farmer and the unemployed can be solved the recent triumph of the antiCommunist forces at the polls will prove to be a pyrrhic victory. Even if this problem could be solved by land reforms and social adjustments, there would still be in Italy millions of surplus people. Similar situations have existed in Poland and in France in days gone by. I cannot help thinking that in Europe for hundreds of years past the seeds have been sown of which to-day we are reaping the harvest, namely, the growth of communism or rebellion of some kind against what we may call, for want of a better phrase, the established order of things. To hear the honorable member for Warringah speaking, one would imagine that wonderful things were being done in Britain to deal with these problems. In the Catholic country of Italy, many Communists are members of Parliament. In France, Holland and Norway, Communists have been elected to the legislatures. There are some in the British Parliament, though fewer than in the other countries I have mentioned. In Australia, there is none in the National Parliament.
– But they are in the trade unions.
– The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) repeats his cry that certain trade unions are dominated by Communists. Whatever may be said in favour of banning communism we must, if we are realistic, recognize that such action would be no more than a gesture - that it would be futile as a means of dealing with the problem. It might seem an important gesture to people who shout against the Communists, but it would really mean nothing, ls it suggested that the banning of communism in Italy or France or Holland or Norway, or any other European country, would make the slightest difference so far as the problem of communism in Europe is concerned? Certain measures have been taken in the United Kingdom against Communists for security reasons, measures with which we agree, but the fact remains that the leader of the British miners, Mr. Horner, is the outstanding Communist in England. No one has attempted to remove him from the secretaryship of the Miners Union because in a free, democratic vote he was elected to his position by an overwhelming majority. If what the honorable member has said is true, and a great majority of the British miners are doing a splendid job, then a great majority of British miners are “ fellow travellers “, because they have voted for a Communist secretary of their vnion. The whole thing is completely absurd. The trouble that confronts the western allies in Europe to-day is due partly to the failure of France to agree to the re-organization of Germany. France’s attitude, of course, is dictated by fear of a repetition of past aggression by Germany. Then we come to the position in this country. Does any sane person really believe that the mere gesture of banning the Communist party would change the mental outlook of Communist or Communist sympathizers? One thing that has always puzzled me - and it is something to which everybody should give some thought - is that not only workers but also a great number of intellectuals seem to have a sneaking regard for communism. After all, communism as we see it in Russia is only another version of Nazi-ism or any other brand of Fascism. It is no more than that. Essentially it is a dictatorship in which the people have no rights, and no voice in the appointment of their leaders. Why is it, then, that throughout the world we have the extraordinary phenomena of intellectual people, including Germans, Italians and others who have had recent disastrous experiences of various “ isms “, supporting the Communist ideology ?
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired. ‘
– I am prepared to move that the right honorable gentleman be given an extension of time.
– No. I do not ask for an extension.
– I call the honorable member for Balaclava.
– I rise to a question of procedure. Ever since there has been a third party in this chamber, it has been the custom to accord the third call in a debate to a member of that party. I rose, as Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party, to take the third call on this occasion. I acquainted you, personally, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I intended to do so, and I ask you now to follow the practice that has been observed by all Speakers of the House of Representatives.
– No member of the Australian Country party has sought the call since this debate commenced. I have noted members who have risen to speak and my list does not include any member of the Australian Country party. Both the honorable member for Flinders and the honorable member for Balaclava, to whom I have now given the call, have had their names noted before those of other honorable members.
.- I regret if my receiving the call now means that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) will be unable to speak in this debate. It was quite immaterial to me whether he or I spoke. However, I feel rather privileged to have the opportunity to follow the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). I hope that everybody listening heard his apologia for communism in Australia. It is pitiful indeed that the Prime Minister of a great dominion should occupy -the -time of the National Parliament in that way. Take, for example, what the right honorable gentleman said about Malava-one of our close neighbours-where British lives are being blotted out by assassins. Because the honor-able member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) suggested that Australia should have volunteered aid, he was attacked continually by the Prime Minister. Both the honorable member for Warringah, and the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), pointed out that the Communists in this country had special privileges. The honorable member for Reid instanced the issuing of newsprint licences to Communist journals. I have before me a copy of the Labour News, which contains a cartoon showing the British Foreign Minister, Mr. Bevin, and a British planter trampling on the bodies of Malayan trade unionists. There is a heading “ Troops and Police mobilized to crush Malayan Unions The Prime Minister, consciously or unconsciously, is supporting that type of infamous propaganda. This newspaper condones the murder of British subjects. What a contemptible attitude the Prime Minister exhibits towards the Empire when he says that in Malaya there are 6,000,000 people, but only 17,000 British people! Some of them, he said, are there for business reasons. The right honorable gentleman realizes surely that. Singapore was founded by an Englishman who had the spirit of adventure, and that British enterprise has made that city the great commercial centre it is to-day. Is the Prime Minister not proud of his stock that it should be so? Are the British people who live in Malaya to-day not entitled to the protection of the nearest British dominion? I remind the Prime Minister that not more than 200,000 British people lived in India at any one time during the 300 years of British sovereignty, yet that great country of 350,000,000 people was governed wisely. It may have been taken by arms originally, but compare the orderly British government of India with the anarchy prevailing to-day. There is war in Kashmir, near war in Hyderabad, whilst millions of refugees are fleeing from one part of the country to another. Because of the British genius for government there was order in India for many years; yet the Prime Minister of this country tells us that Australia is not helping Malaya because there are only 17,000 British people in that country. I remind him that the British citizens murdered in the repent disturbances include Australians, some of them ex-servicemen of World W ar II. What help has Australia given? About as much as we have given to the Dutch, our nearest white neighbours, in the Netherlands East Indies. We have sent 100 Sten guns, the property of the British Government, but only at the request of the British Government. Why not say boldly that we shall co-operate to the utmost of our ability? Recently I asked upon notice, whether the Government or the Commonwealth Disposals Commission had sold military rifles. 1 was informed that about 40,000 rifles had been sold in Australia. I was not informed to whom those rifles had been sold except that small quantities had been sold to gunsmiths and rifle clubs.
The Prime Minister said that for hundreds of years the seeds of rebellion had been sown in Europe and that there had been economic rebellion in Europeancountries. Why does not he get his history straight ? Does he not know that Rousseau and Marx were evil men who set menagainst men and urged civil war? Marx was an atheistic, frustrated, bitter man who believed in the abolition of capitalism and private enterprise. Hesaid that, the capitalist system would founder of its own accord, but, in any case, those engaged in private enterprise should be liquidated. Then he advanced the spurious economic theory of surplus value. He argued that only a man’s actual labour had any worth and that management and administration counted for nothing. He was disproved in his own lifetime, but his apostle, Lenin, absorbed his doctrines and had the opportunity to put them into practice. No event in world history has created more bloodshed and misery than the Russian experiment in communism. Lenin relented before he died, but the more cruel and less brilliant Stalin, who has taken his place, has carried on the purge and slaughter. The Prime Minister has probably never bothered to read the confession’s of prominent Russians, such as those of Kravchenko, the Russian engineer, who in Ms book I Chose Freedom has drawn attention to the fact that Russia to-day holds many millions of its own people in slavery in addition to more than a million German soldiers. These unfortunate slaves are. being treated like cattle and the death roll among them is appalling. This is happening in a country the leaders and protagonists of which speak so much of equality. Communism to-day is merely a materialistic system of conquest and Russia is using its materialist ideology for world conquest. The Communist agents of Soviet Russia are busy in our midst. Surely the Prime Minister must have learned that the men who are behind our industrial troubles are not actuated by economic interest and that they are all prosperous as is their friend and champion, the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). The revolutionaries of Russia were not working men; they were professional revolutionaries. Togliatti, the Communist who caused so much trouble in Italy, was a traitor to his own country. Thorez. the man who caused so much difficulty in France, was another Moscow-trained traitor. We have Moscow-trained traitors in Australia. Indeed, one of them was present in this House to-day. ‘ All of these men are the subjects and willing tools of a foreign power. Woolly-minded people who absorb the Communist ideology - many of them honestly believe it to lead the way to a better world - do not realize that until a few years ago communism and socialism were synonymous terms. Those who adopt the socialist role are treading the same path as the Communists. Australian industry is being sabotaged by these evil men. It is said that the Prime Minister, who holds in his hands the destinies of this nation, does not appreciate the danger of this hideous evil in our midst. Without being in any way harsh with these people, the right honorable gentleman could establish a royal commission to ascertain who are the instigators of the industrial trouble which is so threatening Australia’s future, and to find out what Sharkey, Thornton, Miles and other prominent Communists are up to. If the right honorable gentleman refuses to appoint such a royal commission we can only suspect that the Government is privy to their activities, that the members of the Government are either “ fellow travellers “ or semi-Communists, or that they are afraid of these people who have already gained so much strength. We have witnessed the collaboration between the Australian and Indonesian Communists, and how our gallant allies, the Dutch, have been insulted as the result of it. The Dutch people cannot understand why Australia should have acted against them. It is possible that Australian Communists are assisting in the assassinations and the troubles that are taking place in Malaya to-day. I have said something in regard to the activities of the Communists in defence of my friend the honorable member for Warringah who fairly criticized the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) for assiduously chasing an international idea never realizing that there is greater good in the Empire to which we belong.
The subject of this debate is the Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General, on the occasion of the opening of the second session of this Parliament. As we all know, the Speech was prepared for His Excellency by his advisers and, therefore, it is not disrespectful to say that it was a complete disappointment to most people, not only for what it contained but also for its notable omissions. Very little was said by His Excellency about Australia’s defence policy, about which we are so gravely concerned. The tributes paid by the Governor-General to various Ministers and their departments could not have read better had they been written by the Ministers themselves. I seriously suspect that they were so written. Referring to the facilities provided by the Postmaster-General’s Department, His Excellency said that the Post Office serves every household in the Commonwealth, whether they be in cities, townships or in outback areas. Is not that the purpose for which the department was established? Indeed, the same remarks may be true of the income tax collector, who caters for everybody in the community. This is the sort of familiar drivel we hear on programmes of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, eulogizing the Postmaster-General for proposing to expend millions of pounds on the extension of postal and telegraphic services during the next five years and indicating that those not now provided with a telephone service will soon obtain it. After listening to the Governor-General’s Speech those who have waited in vain for telephones for so many years might well get in touch with the Postmaster-General again in the hope that at last they will be successful. Not one word was uttered about the large slice of the profits of the Postmaster-General’s Department being handed over to subsidize a non-paying government airline. Not a word was said about the £325,000 which is to be paid to the Trans-Australia Airlines this year. Some reference was made in His Excellency’s Speech to the proposal to make a gift of £A.10,000,000 to the Government of the United Kingdom. Whilst we appreciate that proposal as a gesture of friendship and goodwill, it might be . helpful to remember that we owe a debt to Great Britain amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds. In these circumstances the public pronouncement of the proposal to make such a gift to the British people may be likened to the action of a man who owes another £100 and inserts an advertisement in the press intimating that he will make his creditor a present of £10. Had the Government intimated that it intended to buy foodstuffs, particularly unrationed goods, to the value of £50,000,000 or £100,000,000, and export them rapidly to Great Britain, what a more worthwhile and magnificent gesture that would have been. Last year, and the previous year, I asked whether the Prime Minister would consider making a present of foodstuffs to the British people, but despite my appeals not one ounce of food was given to them, notwithstanding the fact that food was sent to the Ear East on a “ Dr. Evatt Goodwill Mission “ and to Palestine and that food sent to Unrra found its way to Russian satellite countries. That statement may sound amazing, but it is true. Last year the Australian Government made a gift of £25,000,000 to Great Britain, and it proposes to make a further gift of £10,000,000 this year. These are but money gifts and book entries which will not fill empty English stomachs. When the Treasurer brings down his budget let the right honorable gentleman increase the value of the proposed gift to £50,000,000 and include in it a large quantity of foodstuffs urgently needed by the British people.
His Excellency also paid tribute to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman), who is about to sign an international trade agreement. Any honorable member who has studied the history of the trade negotiations at Havana knows only too well that by this international trade agreement the Minister proposes to abandon the tried and trusted Empire preferential tariff system which has operated for so many years. This abandonment of a system which has proved so beneficial in the past may well smash the Empire into economic fragments. It is possible that the United States of America will not operate the agreement, but it is certain that if the agreement comes into operation it can bring depression and isolation again to this country. To those members of the Labour party who, in the past, have been ardent advocates of protection, to the extent of being virtual prohibitionists, I. say that all ideas of protecting Australian industries are being thrown overboard as the result of multilateral trade treaties and agreements of this kind. They will realize before very long that at these conferences the Minister has agreed to decisions, that will wreck our fiscal policy.
Reference was also made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to an appeal to the Privy Council against the judgment of the High Court on the banking legislation. After all the expense entailed by the submission of the case to the High Court, is more of the taxpayers’ money to be wasted by an appeal to the Privy Council? The people clearly indicated their views of the nationalization policy of the Government at the Victorian elections. The Government did not dare to put the proposal to the people by way of referendum, because it knew what the result would be. Yet we are to be mulcted in additional expense by an appeal to the Privy Council. The Governor-General also announced some reductions of taxes. Direct or indirect taxation which, before the war, amounted to £1 3 a head has now risen to £50 a head. Before the war income tax yielded £41,000,000 annually.
Last year it yielded £207,000,000. Sales tax alone increased from £9,000,000 to £36,000,000. All taxation increased nearly five-fold. Is it any wonder, therefore, that working men are dissatisfied with their wages? It is not the nominal value of the pay envelope but what it will buy that matters. The Government’s punitive taxation has sent prices soaring to dizzy heights and only now is it promising reductions which could have been made years ago. I know that taxation is necessary for the services of government and to finance social services, but this Government has indulged in wild socialistic extravagance with the taxpayers’ money. The living costs of the people have been raised in many ways merely in pursuit of the political ideologies of Ministers who want to socialize everything.
Those most heavily punished by taxation are those on fixed incomes, people who cannot strike to get an increase or call in a “ commo “ to declare the job “ black “. They are the retired business nien, persons in receipt of superannuation, and particularly war pensioners, war widows, and rehabilitation trainees. Every member of this House has received letters from the federal president of the returned servicemen’s league on the subject of war pensions. One paragraph of a letter which I have received from him is of particular significance. Lt states -
The general public will be astounded to learn that a comparison of increases in war pensions with the basic wage shows that whereas in the last 25 years the basic wage has increased by 40 ,per cent, the pension rate for war disabled ex-servicemen has only increased by 19 per cent. For over twenty years up to 1943 no increase was made in the pension rate, whilst the basic wage has increased by over 20 per cent., but the war pension has remained stationary.
All ex-servicemen’s organizations are united on this issue. The Government has said that there is to be some improvement of pensions, but let us hope-
– The honorable member and his colleagues were not united during that period up to 1943-
– I cannot hear the muttering Minister. He is only there to move the “ gag “. He never does anything useful. Men who are totally disabled as the result of war service cannot work even at part-time occupations in order to augment their pensions. The Government should think of their sufferings. I do not want to harp on this subject, because the justice of the case must be obvious, and I am sure that, in their hearts, all honorable members feel that the best should be done for these people. At the least, the pensions should be a measure of our gratitude to these men for their sacrifices. .That applies, also, to war widows who ask that they should be paid at least the basic wage. And so they should. Why should these women, whose men were killed in the service of their country, be relegated to a slum category”, as their president described their situation, while the wives of men who would not, or could not, serve enjoy the company of their husbands, who are in good jobs and often live in affluence? The claims of these women should be considered, not evaded as the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) has evaded them.
Our reconstruction trainees are men who have returned from war service and are now seeking higher education in technical schools and universities. They know that they can turn to unskilled work and earn good wages because there are plenty of jobs in industry, but they want to equip themselves well for the future. Last week a deputation representative of reconstruction trainees attending both technical schools and universities waited on me. I wish all honorable members could have been there. Honorable members should know that these men, if they are single, receive £3 10s. a week plus 5s. a week travelling allowance. They are all in their twenties and have already completed one, two or three years of their training courses. Honorable members may have read in the press also that 2,359 such men have already abandoned their training for reasons other than failure to pass examinations or tests. University examination results have shown that these trainees, in the aggregate, are doing better than other young students. Yet many of them have been forced to discontinue training because they cannot manage to survive on £3 10s. plus 5s. a week. Who could live on that amount? Could any honorable member do so and continue full-time studies at a university or technical school ? Yet the Government contemplates granting these trainees a meagre increase of 5s. a week. Last year two reconstruction trainees set out on foot from Melbourne to visit Canberra as part of a large deputation that came here. We on this side of the House knew about their case, and sympathized with them, but we let them make their representations to the Government without our help out of deference to their wishes. I do not know what the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) said to them, but they were led to believe that something would be done to ease their situation. A year has passed since then, but no relief has been given and hundreds of them have had to fade out of the reconstruction training scheme. Apart from the human aspect of this matter, what an economic loss it is that men should be forced to abandon courses after two or three years of training and undertake unskilled work.
Ministers should look carefully into all these matters. Unfortunately, their minds are too full of grandiose schemes for such things as new shipping lines which, no doubt, will run the same unfortunate course as our new airline. Another Government dream is the free medicine scheme, which will not be free but which will be financed by means of ever-increasing taxation. It will merely serve to exalt some persons in this Parliament who might never be heard of otherwise. They forget that we are British people and do not stand for being pushed around. We want civic liberty. We do not want to be ham-strung by controls and the fiats of men like those who now occupy the Treasury bench. The Prime Minister showed to-night that he has such a myopic outlook that he circulates only amongst the unions, the Communists and a few other bits and pieces and has no conception or appreciation of the fundamental rights of citizens with British traditions such as we have inherited. He is also the Treasurer, the tax gatherer. He talks in terms of millions. Let him think seriously about the plight of people I have mentioned, when he is juggling with his figures before presenting the budget next week. Let him ensure that our disabled exservicemen, particularly the older ones who are living under great difficulties indeed shall get a little more comfort. Let him help the war widows and not listen to the static-minded Minister for Repatriation, whose own department has reported adversely on him in the entitlement tribunal No. 1 report. Let him declare that such citizens shall have just compensation - not pensions but compensation for their sacrifices. This idea of paying a pittance, a mere dole, to exservice pensioners should be dropped. Let him think also of the young exservice men and women in our universities and technical colleges who are trying to plan a brighter future for themselves and not allow them to be driven into unskilled employment by poverty, leaving only some of the wealthy to benefit, as will happen if no relief is given, because only those trainees whose parents can afford to give them financial help will be able to continue with their training. Without any party political feeling but as one Australian speaking to another Australian, I earnestly appeal to the Prime Minister to consider the plight of these citizens and make adequate adjustments.
.- I am impressed by paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 of the Speech delivered by the GovernorGeneral. They refer to the defence of this country, and passing’ reference to that matter has been made by several honorable members who have preceded me in this debate. One honorable member made some complaint to the effect that our defence forces were being planned on a very meagre basis, whilst another honorable member made a derogatory comment that we simply could not do anything about the defence forces, and that, in any event, the Government was incapable of taking effective action. That comment affords me an opportunity, while discussing the Speech of the Governor-General, to ask supporters of the Government, members of the Opposition, and the people of Australia generally, what we are doing for those who are in our fighting service to-day, and to what degree our attitude toward them is encouraging recruiting in the new navy, army and air force. When I speak of those in our armed forces to-day I refer principally, of course, to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, the major component of which consists of Australian servicemen. Following my recent visit to Japan I believe that I should report to this House that the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, and particularly the Australian portion of it, is burning with indignation at what it considers to be a complete let-down by the people of Australia. I am speaking of the reports which appeared in the press concerning the Australian members of that force during the past twelve months, stories of immorality, black marketing and general neglect. From LieutenantGeneral Robertson, the CommanderinChief, down through British Commonwealth Occupation Force personnel, they complained to me that Australia had let them down; and that is a complaint which must cause us anxiety, because at the present time the Australian component of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force is the only composite fighting force which we possess. I am not disparaging other units and military organizations in Australia, but I repeat that the Australian component of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force is the only effective fighting force which we- possess. Instead of being proud of it we appear to have maligned it. It appears to me that we have not done justice to our servicemen in Japan. I was greatly surprised that the Australian troops in Japan had allowed the reports published in certain newspapers in this country to “ get under their skin “. The men are certainly writhing under them. I feel that I would be less than an Australian if I did not record that fact in this House and ask that by further inquiry or otherwise, we make proper amends.
The whole sorry story of the shameful publicity is well known to all honorable members, but it appears that we have not made sufficient reparation to the men concerned nor have we corrected the consequences of the reports which were published. In saying that, I am aware that the Government has called for reports on certain aspects of the recent newspaper campaign, but the fact remains that the aftermath of the whole campaign has left our men with a feeling of bitterness and hostility. The honorable member for
Grey (Mr. Russell), who was my colleague and companion on our recent visit to Japan, has reported to the Government, and informed the press, of the Statement made to him by several Australian sergeants in Japan. They complained that as the result of the vicious reports which appeared in the Australian press, which were, in the main, unsubstantiated, twenty affiancements of Australian servicemen were terminated by air mail in one week. The tenor of the letters received by the unfortunate soldiers from their sweethearts in Australia was that because of the increasing adverse publicity concerning the members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, the girls did not want anything further to do with them. I think that we have reached the stage where we must ceaselibelling the fighting men of our country,, and the time has come - and I emphasize this, not only to members of the Opposition, but also to members on this side of the House - when we should cease to belittle our own troops in the eyes of the world or permit them to be libelled by any outside body.
Because I am myself a journalist - indeed, that is the only job I ever had prior to entering the Parliament - I feel most keenly the injustice and the iniquity of the recent press campaign which libelled our servicemen abroad. ‘” When I have occasion to take the members of my own profession to task I do it, not with any sense of glee, but with a very real feeling of sorrow. However, the facts must be faced, and I shall face them. Unfortunately, there grew up during, and even prior to, the recent war, a certain rabid style of reporting, of which many honorable members may have read in the “ slick “ American magazines. Formerly, that type of journalism was unknown in Australia. To-day it is not only prevalent amongst reporters, but it also occurs amongst editors - not that I have any particular reason to make charges against editors as a whole, because there are in their ranks, as in any other profession, men who are adorning their profession; others have sneaked in the back way. I certainly do not wish to be unfair to the decent, talented members of that profession. However, the fact remains that there has been a perceptible and dangerous slackening of the ethical principle which should inspire journalists, particularly in matters of high policy.
Let us consider for a moment the sorry circumstances which preceded the recent disgraceful press campaign. A story was reiterated by word of mouth which emanated from some disgruntled visitor who was sent back from Japan. The truth is that the individual concerned was thrown out of a Young Women’s Christian Association dance hall for insulting a Miss Turner, who is a patriotic Australian girl. She told me the story with great reluctance when I was in Japan. When the soldiers threw him out into the cold, hard world, after his insulting behaviour, this man said to them, “I will fix you up when we get back to Australia - I have friends in the press who will see me through “. When he returned to Australia he hawked his rotten, miserable story around the newspaper offices of Sydney. The big metropolitan newspapers refused to have anything to do with it, because they feared the consequences of breaking the law of libel, and he went on hawking it until he found a little journal, the publishers of which did not understand the seriousness of the step which they were about to take. That journal, I regret to say, is the organ of the Legion of ex-Servicemen, of which I am a member. As soon as that little journal had published this unsubstantiated story, the rest of the press, including the large metropolitan papers, with circulations of hundreds of thousands, took it up. Of course, it was just what they wanted. It was a good story, and it did not matter who would.be hurt by its publication. It had everything they wanted : it had “ human interest “ ; it had “ snap “, and it was “ sensational “ ! That it buried the British Occupation wealth Occupation Force in the depths of calumny did not seem to matter at all. We all know the consequences of its publication. . It did irreparable harm to the men who are holding the fort for us in Japan, and I want to emphasize that a similar thing could happen again because there are some members of the press who have no ethical standards whatever and no patriotism.
Let us think for a moment of some of the pressmen who go to Japan. There are two or three Australian pressmen who are renegades to their country. They are paid on a linage basis, and the only news they can sell to the metropolitan press of Australia is a sensational story. So, when the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) arrived in Japan and an irresponsible rumour circulated to the effect that he had become involved in a dispute with an Australian diplomat, they promptly seized on the story. When the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) went to Japan and kept a press conference waiting - what a pity! - an embellished story was promptly cabled to Australia. A story, vicious in itself and derogatory of that Minister, found a corner in the press, although important speeches inside and outside the Parliament, and important happenings elsewhere, could not find a place. We are so anxious to damage our prestige abroad that no matter what has to be put aside a place must be found for the vicious story. To complete my categorical criticism of this side of Australian journalism I need mention only one further instance. To the serious detriment of the morale of the Australian troops in Japan, a story was published concerning the commander-in-chief of the force, Lieutenant-General Robertson. The genera] was alleged to have decided not to hold a parade in Japan on Anzac Day. In fact, he was going to ban the parade! And General MacArthur was also going to ban it! Of course, the whole story was a concoction of lies and rubbish, because such a step was never contemplated. However, the obvious falsehood of the report which emanated from Tokyo did not prevent our Australian newspapers from publishing it. They found room for it in the little corner which never appears to be reserved for a retraction or an apology for a libel. The fact is that an Anzac Day parade was held on the square in front of the Imperial Palace, where the guard is mounted every day, and where the Australian troops proved to the Americans, to the 9,000 visitors who have already flocked to Japan, and to the whole world that Australian troops are not only the best fighting soldiers, but also the best garrison troops. The honorable member for Grey has asked : “ Can a film be made of the Australian troops on duty in Japan ? “ I support his suggestion, and consider that it should be put into practice in order to let the Australian people see the .way our men mount guard, carry out their regular soldiering duties and conduct themselves in Japan. Apparently, it does not count for anything to some people that our troops are sweating it out in a climate which is intolerably hot and humid for three months in the year, and equally harsh in the winter. Many of them do not see any big cities for months on end, and isolated as they are, deprived of the usual social contacts, the inevitable consequence is that despite the magnificent hostels and rest hotels provided, they are sometimes lonely and homesick. I cannot understand why these men should be a target for some peripatetic journalist who wants to make news “ of them and earn an extra “ bob “. I say that such conduct on the part of journalists is utterly wrong. If we want to regain the goodwill of our troops in Japan we must “ knock “ those “ knockers “ outside Australia, and we must make reparation to the troops remaining there.
The matter of the incidence of venereal disease which was publicized in big headlines, has been placed in an entirely wrong perspective. In my opinion, the panel of clergymen who went to Japan and subsequently made a report to the Minister, did a good job. I say that Mr. Stanley, who asked the doctors what they thought, did not do such a good job, and I consider that his report was sloppy and indefinite. In fact, I think that we made a mistake is sending him at all. However, we will not do it again. The incidence of venereal disease ia not so remarkable when we remember the facts. The troops are in a foreign country, deprived of social contacts with their own people, and separated from the company of women, and whilst I do not intend to go into any further explanation of the matter at present, I should think that every honorable member understands the inference which is to be drawn from those facts. I think that there was a savage battery of the press turned upon the unfortunate members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. In saying that I ask honorable members to bear in mind the facts. Are we children? Are we completely without understanding of these facts, and are we going to take a ghoulish view in condemning the morals of our troops or are we a nation of pious hypocrites ?
I visited as many installations in Japan as I could in the time. On some occasions, we had 120 appointments or assignments in one week. I had many conversations with Australian troops. One young sergeant from my own electorate said to me, “I was due to go home when these stories broke over our defenceless heads. So I tore off my shoulder straps and colours which indicated that I was. a member of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, because I thought that Australia had turned us down “. I ask honorable members not to think that that statement is an exaggeration. I should not care for it to be thought that I was exaggerating this position in the slightest degree, because I have been deeply moved by the plight of our fellow Australians in Japan, who feel that they have been savagely maligned and that there is no one to speak in their defence. Some of the wives of members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, left at home in Australia, have suffered nervous breakdowns as the result of worrying about these reports.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), who is the editor of the Century, published a slogan, “ Bring our members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force home”. The honorable member has been the champion among writers of slogans. He is always going to fight some one, and, in this instance, his method of doing so is to urge that our boys be brought home from Japan. That is nonsense. I say, as an individual, and not as a member of the Parliamentary Labour party, because our policies may be different, that .the component forces in Japan should remain in that country for many years. The peace treaty, when signed, should provide for a long occupation of Japan by allied forces, and I hope that our forces, because of their honorable career, fine military instincts and prowess as soldiers, will remain there. That is my own opinion. We all realize what a cruel injustice has been done to Australian members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, and we should tell the people of Australia, and our boys in Japan, that we do not believe all the maligning things which have been said about them. After all, these men are only young. Many of them are between 19 and 20 years of age, and it is stupid and ignoble to hold them up to the execration of their own country. It means that we are showing ourselves up to the world as people who libel our own nation and everything we <do. The truth is that we have a little <core of “knockers” who would like to destroy the morale of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force and every other prideful thing that belongs to Australia.
I now desire to explain the ridiculous land insane report about the delegation’s Visit to the Emperor of Japan. This is another instance of where the press has completely clouded the picture, and done things which are beyond mere distortion. Before the ship upon which the delegation was travelling arrived in Japan, I, as leader, was not given any indication of what my itinerary would be, but some man in Japan - an Australian at that - in order to find favour with the press, gave the information to two men in Japan - sabre-tooth tigers - who are only too eager to get a “ couple of bob out” of the press, regardless of what happens to the prestige of a few visiting members of Parliament, a few thousand soldiers, or a few Ministers of the Crown. Before I had seen the itinerary, or knew what it contained, stories appeared in the Australian press that we were to see the Emperor, and everybody apparently was shocked to the core. Perhaps I should explain that the assignment in the itinerary emanated from SOAP, and, whether f was right or wrong, I, as a member of this House, did not propose to have my itinerary planned for me by any pressman. I called members of the delegation together, and discussed the matter with them. If they take part in this debate, I have no doubt that they will substantiate my statements. I said that we would carry on with the programme, because Japan now has a constitution, and an attempt is being made to democratize that country. Indeed, the Americans are making a valiant and noble attempt to enable Japan to return to the comity of peaceful nations.” Earlier this evening, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said, in effect, “ If you want to restore Europe, you must restore Germany”. If the Americans cease to pour 1,000,000 dollars a day into Japan, that country will nearly perish, and will certainly require assistance from, the United Nations.
– Japan might even turn to communism.
– I do not think that Japan, at the moment, has a strong inclination towards communism. As I stated, the Americans are doing valiant work. I am not afraid to admit my admiration of the American plan for Japan. I shall not deal with that aspect in detail now, but at an appropriate time in a debate on international affairs, I shall make further reference to it. At present, I shall concentrate on the circumstances surrounding the delegation’s visit to the Emperor. The Japanese constitution as planned by the conquering allies is one of the finest in the world - on paper. It provides that there shall be no armed forces; that Japan shall not make war; that no ships exceeding 6,000 tons shall be constructed ; that no heavy industries shall be created as a war potential; and that the Supreme Court may be impeached by the Parliament. I am sure that all honorable members will be most interested in that provision. However, that last remark is only by way of an aside. Members of the Supreme Court may be retired after ten years’ office. Under the constitution, the upper and lower houses are elected by the people on full adult franchise and into those two chambers of the legislature the upsurge of democracy has swept many Japanese, including 38 women, who were unable to secure election under the old system. There is strength and honest planning in that there is hope for the future.
Related to this question of the constitution of Japan is the position of the Emperor. He is a limited monarch within the set-up. This situation was determined not by General MacArthur, but by the Far Eastern Commission. Indeed, the directive came from the Allied Chiefs of Staff. No matter what people say, the fact remains that the future destiny of the Emperor has been arranged by the Allies. They placed him there to watch him. I feel convinced that the Japanese still respect him - a recent Gallup poll showed this. So on all counts he is a very significant unit in the constitution the Allies gave to Japan.
– ‘So the honorable member “ kowtowed “ to the Emperor ?
– The Emperor remains and belongs, as it were, to the constitution, and since members of the delegation were sincerely and honestly trying to find out the background on behalf of our own country, we considered that we should see him. Let. me explain it this way. I had no desire to see the Emperor except that it would be ridiculous if a visitor to Sydney did not see Taronga Park, or a visitor to New York did not go. to. the Bronx. That was my feeling about the matter, and I make no apologies for it. The Emperor has the power of affirmation. He may sign documents, but he cannot reject them. The position is interesting and important. The MacArthur organization and the military government in Japan placed at our disposal teachers, reviewers and “briefers””, as they were called, in unlimited numbers - 20 or 30’ at a time - to supply us with information, and to enable ‘us to study the summations of General MacArthur and the recommendations of the Far Eastern Commission. Should we have walked out at that stage because some footling newspaper said that we were going to shake the Emperor’s hand? We had to take into account more important considerations.
A few moments ago, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) interjected to the effect that we had made obeisance to the Emperor. That is not a sensible remark and does his own party an injustice. One of the members of the delegation was the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), who was formerly a colonel in the British Army, and holds the decorations of C.M.G. and D.S.O. Is it not an insult to him to imply that he was guilty of traitorous conduct?- The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson), who was also a member of the delegation, fought the Japanese at Scarlet Beach and won; the Q.B.E. Is it suggested that his action in taking the Emperor’s hand was anything but a formality? A third member df the delegation, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis)., was a captain in the Australian Imperial Force in World War I. As an Australian, I resent this criticism. To those few servicemen who were impelled to write to me about this matter, I say that, although I respect their opinions, I consider that they were based on false premises.’ Charles VII. of France, who signed the document authorizing the burning of Joan of Arc, concluded the act by saying^ “ I am convinced that all human decisions’ are made on insufficient evidence’ “. I submit that this decision of the’ press was made on insufficient evidence’. Those are1 the statements which I desired to make on the Japanese episode in’ general, ‘ and-‘ on the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in particular: I shall not hesitate to return to those subjects again and again. Damage has’ Been done tq’ our men in J apan. I made a certain promise to them, and I am proud to be discharging it; I bring it neither to” one side nor to the other, and I am not gaining cheap glory ; I do it from a sense of duty that something should be done. If we want to build a force for peace and fo* protection, then let us remember that we are a grown up nation. We are only 7,000,000 people compared with 1,000,000,000 in countries to the north, and we must not make ourselves look ridiculous. We have to put people in their place, whether they be newspapermen, politicians or any one else, and we have to see to it that the better class Australian will have a say in the future, because, undoubtedly, Australia is destined to fulfil a very important firmsti on in the world.
Undoubtedly the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), who spoke earlier in the day, takes & most extraordinary view of foreign affairs! When he rises to his feet honorable members can almost hear the sabres rattling and the cannons roaring, and the whole place is in a turmoil ; then he asks, “ What is the Government going to do about defence ? “ My reply is that after two years of war the honorable member for Warringah, who was then the Minister for the Army, had to admit that if one brigade of enemy troops had landed on the east coast of Australia they could have taken the whole country.
– That is not true.
– The honorable gentleman can refute anything afterwards.
– The question has been answered in this House before. I think the Prime Minister adopted a philosophical and chiding tone, in replying to the honorable member - the tone used when putting a recalcitrant child right; it was very effective. The honorable member for Warringah has an inane jealousy concerning the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). When the Minister is away the honorable member thinks that he should he here, and vice versa. I hope the learned doctor will not try to please him, because if he should happen to return to this House unexpectedly, he would be bound to find the honorable member having his usual weekday off.
When we discuss national and international affairs, let us not be childish. The right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) unrolled before us the picture of Germany and Asia - struggling humanity trying to avoid the insanity of war. The Minister for External Affairs is away from his desk at present, and rightly so, because Australia must be represented at important international gatherings I hope that the Minister for External Affairs will ultimately become leader of the United Nations Assembly, a position to which he is rightly entitled in recognition of the vast amount of work he has done in the international sphere since the San Francisco conference.
To my mind one of the most amusing things about this debate is that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) who spoke just now should have made a speech similar to those that he has from time to time made from various parts of the House, always with the same gestures. r.Tis theme is the “commo”; he always includes a reference to the disastrous days when he was Minister for Trade and Customs, and rounds off with an attack on the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard). It gets a little boring. 1 notice that he is leaving the seat of Balaclava; he is leaving the Crimea, both intellectually and physically, and going into Egypt; he is going to be the member for Gordon, where the ranks stood fast. I hope he will go from strength to strength, until he reaches the twentieth century and understands what our problems really are!
.- I am grateful to have secured the call and to be allowed to speak on behalf of the Australian Country party in this debate. 1 ruse earlier but did not receive the call.
– The honorable member is not entitled to reflect on the Chair.
– I rose earlier and seconded an amendment and asked for leave to speak later. That leave was granted, but when I sought to exercise my right I was told that I had not risen before.
– What the honorable gentleman stated is completely correct, but when he rose he did not catch Mr. Deputy Speaker’s eye. However, if the honorable member insists on reflecting on the Chair, he will be asked to resume his seat.
– I shall not pursue the matter further at this stage.
– Order I
– -Following the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is a difficult task. I have never attempted in this Parliament to follow a more rambling speech, and one more difficult to reply to, and I do not intend to attempt f:o reply to it. The honorable member for Parkes has made attacks on his fellow working journalists, who no doubt will make their own stand in due course. However, I draw attention to one statement of real significance. The honorable member eulogized the new constitution of Japan and said that it contained a provision to be admired because it enabled the Supreme Court to be impeached by the Parliament. My note reads, “ There is. a provision which enables the highest court of the land to be impeached by politicians “.
– Hear, hear!
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture makes it clear that he agrees with this principle, as also do the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) and Mr. Speaker, each of whom has made speeches inside and outside this Parliament attacking our own High Court and showing that they wish to reduce it to the status of a creature of the party in power. They regret greatly that, possessing a majority in this Parliament, it is not within their power, due to the safeguard of our Constitution, to twist our highest court into a puppet of politicians. I want it to he understood that we on this side do not stand for that, we do not admire that provision in the Japanese constitution.
– The Americans put that provision in.
– The honorable member for Parkes admires it, and, by inference, would like to put it into our Constitution. I pass on, having drawn attention to it, and we will have nothing of it. In our opinion the judiciary plays its part, along with the executive and the legislature in this country, and should not be twisted into a puppet of the legislature of this country. I hoped that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), having gone to Japan and examined the state of affairs in that country, would make some reference to that highest issue of policy which the right (honorable the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has constantly propounded, and upon which we do not hear so much said nowadays. I refer to his advocacy for an early peace settlement with Japan. .
– What did General Blarney say?
– The honorable gentleman went abroad to perform a function for this Parliament, and surely we might expect him to voice an opinion on a matter of the highest policy. Is the honorable member for Parkes in disagreement with the Minister for External Affairs that Japan should be granted an immediate peace settlement and to that extent gain some independent sovereignty and the opportunity to play the former allies off against one another? That is what came out of advocacy of an early peace settlement with Italy.
– How many bales of wool went to Japan this year? I bet the Japanese used some of the honorable member’s wool this year.
– lt is possible that the Japanese used some of my wool this year, but they could have done so only by the consent and with the connivance of the Australian Government, of which the honorable member is a Minister.
– I did not hear any protest about the sale of wool to Japan.
– The Minister has an absolute authority in connexion with exports. If he thinks that the Japanese should not have Australian wool, he should stand up and say so, and exercise the authority which he possesses, and which he has had no hesitation in exercising in regard to many other matters.
– I was awaiting a protest from the honorable member about the sale of wool to Japan.
– The House is debating the Address-in-Reply. Honorable members have heard a number of addresses made by His Majesty’s representative in this place at the opening of a Parliament or of a session and in my experience it has been the invariable custom for the government of the day to put into the mouth of His Majesty’s representative the story of what the Government intends to do. Honorable members listened to the Governor-General’s Speech yesterday, and I say without the slightest hesitation that 80 per cent, of that Speech was propaganda. It was the story of what the Government has done and not what it intends to do. The printed copy contains, on page after page, what no Governor-General’s Speech has ever contained before, eulogy of Minister after Minister referred to by name. It was an instance of the Prime Minister employing the Governor-General to read, as he is obliged to read, an eulogy of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), of the Minister for External Affairs, of the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), and of Minister after Minister. That has never been done before and it is not a very creditable thing. Let honorable members not think that the members of the Opposition do not see through the tricks of members on the Government side of the House. There is before the House now an amendment which I seconded and which was moved by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) . It is an amendment which, whatever one’s view may be-
– Lang is greater than Lenin.
– The honorable member for Hume” was a follower of Mr. Lang until he thought he could do better by deserting him.
– There are too many interjections, and the honorable member for Indi is not helping by inviting them.
– The honorable member for Reid has not any copyright in his opposition to communism and honorable members cannot deny that communism is a matter of extreme importance. Two great governments, those of the United States and of Canada, have exposed a conspiracy by the Communists to endeavour to discover defence secrets and place them in the possession of a foreign military power. Surely no honorable member could say that the Communists of Australia are of a different breed from those of Canada and America. J. should have thought that this was a matter which would warrant a reply by the Prime Minister, who took the opportunity, as was his right, to follow the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) in speaking. But what did the Prime Minister do? He said something about the honorable member for Warringah being a conceited man. I paid close attention to what the Prime Minister said and that remark was his total reference to a very important speech made by the honorable member for Warringah. All honorable members have done their share of public speaking and know something of the tricks of public speakers. To-night they have witnessed an exhibition of superb showmanship by the Prime Minister, who escaped any reference to the issue of communism by concentrating his attack upon the honorable member for Warringah and pretending that that honorable member had made a speech advocating war. Perusal of the Prime Minister’s speech would show that his words can mean nothing else than that he was describing the speech- of the honorable member for Warringah as a speech calculated to bring about a further terrible war. The Prime Minister then turned on the “ sob stuff “ and talked about suffering humanity and, I ‘repeat, with the superb gift of political showmanship which he possesses, made a speech accusing an honorable member of the Opposition of saying something which that honorable member did not say. By that means, the Prime Minister thinks he can escape replying to the charges of the honorable member for -Reid regarding the Government’s obvious responsibility for dealing with communism in Australia. He cannot escape so easily, because the issue is too important for honorable members to allow him to escape. I do not know whether the Prime Minister’s speech should be described as an apology for communism, and I am not describing it as such, but I do say that he said very little against communism. What he did say in effect was, “ We know there are Communists, and what can you do about it ? How can you change people’s thoughts by banning an organization?”. True, how can you? Why does he not say how can one prevent people from thieving by passing laws to make thieving an offence. Parliaments pass such laws which proclaim to the whole world that thieving is an offence against society. The Australian Country party has advocated for years that the Government should brand communism for what it is. Even if we cannot completely suppress it, we should at least brand it for what it is - a traitorous, subversive organization, working to bring about the destruction of this country and all we stand for and fought for. Why cannot the Government put the brand on the Communist party? It will not do so. One does not have to search very far to understand why. I am not here to say that I think that the Prime Minister is sympathetic with the Communists because he does not declare them black, “or illegal. I do not say that ; but I am not so sure about some honorable members who sit behind the right honorable gentleman. I note that one of his Ministers, and a Minister of the Labour Government of New South Wales, has had to be removed from an organization which his own party has declared to be subversive to its ideals.
– Who was that?
– It was the brother of the Australian Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) ; but one is not responsible for his brother’s conduct. However, we know that Mr. Olive Evatt is a Minister of the Labour Government of New South Wales, and that with him the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) was removed a few days ago from office in a body which the Australian Labour party had declared subversive of its aspirations. There is plenty of evidence to show, not only that the Communist party is a menace to this country, but also that it has its tentacles wrapped round the Australian Labour party. As I have said before, the Australian Labour party is headed for its downfall if honorable memberg opposite do not root the Communists out of it. Tho trade unions which exercise so powerful an influence upon members of the Labour party that they compel them to take a certain line of action or to resist a certain line of action, are Communist controlled. I refer to the iron workers, the waterside workers, the seamen, the coal-miners, building trades employees and clerks unions. Honorable members opposite know the unions to which I refer. They form an important part of the body corporate of the Labour party and honorable members opposite are terrified by them. That is the truth. Honorable members opposite are afraid of communism, because Communists are in control of a very substantial portion of the trade unions of this country. Honorable members opposite are afraid to do anything about communism. The Government applies regulations prescribing that members of the Public Service shall not enjoy certain benefits, certain rates of payments or even allowances for meals, unless they belong to an appropriate organization. There is an appropriate organization for the explicit and exclusive purpose of safeguarding the industrial rights of all public servants, namely, the Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
However, I was informed in an official reply to an inquiry I made from one Minister - I forget offhand who the Minister was, but the reply is recorded in Hansard - that in the Department of External Affairs, the department which above all others should be free of any semblance of suspicion, a number of officers have chosen to entitle themselves to those privileges through membership, not of the Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association, but of the Federated Clerks Union, which, we know, is a Communist-controlled body. A couple of weeks ago, a number of clerks in Melbourne were denied the democratic right to use even one room in the vast Trades Hall building in that city. That was because of the power exercised by Communists in the Melbourne Trades Hall. That is the kind of organization which quite a percentage of members of the staff of the Department of External Affairs” chose to join. Why have they chosen to join a Communist trade union instead of the Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association? I cannot give the answer, but I can imagine it. Honorable members opposite and any sane, sensible and normal person can imagine what the answer is. Those officers have chosen to join the Federated Clerks Union because their sympathies lie with the Communists. The Communist party is a menace to this country. It is the prime responsibility of every member of the Parliament above all other questions of domestic policy to devote himself to the survival of this country. There is only one threat to-day to the survival of Australia. We know that. I do not speak of the remote future. I am not sufficiently prescient to look into the distant future; but we can look into the immediate future. Every honorable member knows that a few months ago he was snatching his daily paper to see if war had been precipitated in Berlin. War, with whom? - With Russia, with the Communist countries, with the country which has its fifth column not only in this country, but also in the highest ranks of our Public Service. Yet the Prime Minister says, “ What can you do about it ? “ I say that there is a lot that the Government can do about it; but surely the first and most elementary thing to do about it. is to brand the Communist party for what it is - a subversive party - and declare it to be illegal. That is the policy of the Australian Country party. I shall not traverse the whole gamut of incidents which have revealed to us the treacherous and deadly influence of the Communist party in this country. I refer to the testing range for guided missiles. So far as I understand, and I do not pretend to know much about the project-
– Well, why talk about it?
– Because it is my responsibility to try to know as much as I can about a project which affects the defence of my own country ; and no words of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) will prevent me from doing so. But that project, I understand, is designed to conduct experiments with missiles which may be a prime factor in a future war and, perhaps, more importantly, to conduct experiments in counter operations against such missiles. Honorable members opposite know that on that project are employed members of trade unions which are completely dominated by the Communist party. Indeed, when the Government recently offered to take a group of union officials to the range, it had to say that it could not trust half of the persons who were nominated by certain unions. Why? Because it did not like the look of their eyes? No; because it believed that they were engaged in activities against the interests of Australia.
– Did not the Government do the right thing in that matter ?
– Yes; but did it do sufficient? The Government says that members of those unions can work on that project, but if Mr. Thornton, or any other Communist, wants to go there, it will not provide air transport for him to do so. The Government is begging the question by saying that it
V>as discharged its obligation by merely refusing to provide transport for half a dozen saboteurs to the scene o’f experiments which are vital to the defence of the Empire as a whole. We know what has happened on the waterfront. We know of the trouble with the Indonesians. We have seen published in the press reports from Malaya that Mr. Sharkey, a prominent Australian Communist - 1 think he is the secretary of the Australian Communist party-
– Yes, he is.
– It has been published in Malaya that Mr. Sharkey incited the Communists- of Malaya to revolt; that he berated the Communists there because they did not revolt quickly enough and violently enough.
– But who believes newspaper reports?
– I do not propose to be drawn away by observations of that kind. If the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction will rise in his place and deny that Mr. Sharkey is a Communist, or that the Government gave him a passport to go to Malaya - if the Minister is prepared to say that the Government investigated the matter, and knows that Mr. Sharkey did not indulge in the activities of which he is accused, then we shall take some notice of him. It would be a simple matter for the Minister to do that. This issue having been raised in the Parliament subsequent to the publication of newspaper reports, if the Minister cannot say that his security officers have investigated the report that Mr. Sharkey contributed to provoking the revolt in Malaya, but remains silent, we shall draw our own conclusion. I shall conclude either that he is not game to investigate for fear of what the investigation would reveal, or that an investigation has been made, and the Government is not game to act because of the power of the Communists within the trade union movement itself. It is not to be imagined that the activities of the Communists are confined to Canada. What Mr. Sharkey is accused of having done in Malaya is on all fours with what Communists have been proved to have done in Canada. In the United Kingdom and in Australia, the industrial Labour movement is an integral part of the political Labour movement, and the Communists, if not in control, are so powerful within the unions that neither in the United Kingdom nor in Australia does the Labour Government dare to act against the Communist party. In the United Kingdom however, the Government has dared, on security grounds, to cull over those employed in government departments, and has published the fact that it has discovered occupying most important offices persons whose loyalty could not be trusted because of their Communist affiliation, and those persons have been rooted out of the service. Of these matters I have no doubt this Government has knowledge, apart from what is to be read in the newspapers. In all probability, it has received official communications informing it what the United Kingdom Government has done, and why. If this Australian Labour Government refuses to act in the matter of communism in Australia, it will be recreant to its duty, and may not be trusted.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Williams) adjourned.
The following paperswere pre sented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Defence purposes- Brighton, South Australia.
Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Mascot, New South Wales.
Postal purposes -
Glen Osmond, South Australia.
Palm Beach, New South Wales.
National Debt Sinking Fund Act - National Debt Commission - Twenty-fifth Annual Report, for year 1 947-48.
House adjourned at 10.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 September 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19480902_reps_18_198/>.