23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Prime Minister ask Victorian members of his party to present themselves in the King’s Hall after question time in order to meet an official delegation from the Metal Trades Federation of Australia? This federation represents 100,000 workers throughout this country and it is the desire of the delegation to meet Liberal Party members to discuss with them the Crimes Bill. Will the Prime Minister ask members of his party to extend this courtesy to these people in the interests of British justice? I can assure the Prime Minister that every respect will be extended to members meeting the delegation.
– J would have hoped that the assurance given at the end of the honorable member’s question was not needed. My friend from Gellibrand has a clear voice, my colleagues have heard his suggestion, and no doubt they will do what they choose to do about it.
– Has the Minister for Air any information about the proposed date of delivery to the Royal Australian Air Force of the Bloodhound missile? Can he say when a unit will be formed for the operation of this missile? fs it still intended that the unit, when formed, shall be established at Williamtown, New South Wales?
– It is expected that delivery of the Bloodhound equipment will begin early next year. There is a great deal of it and it will be delivered over a period. The first surface-to-air guided weapons unit of the Royal Australian Air Force will be called Number 30 Squadron after the famous Beaufighter squadron of World War II and will be formed in January of next year. It is still intended to establish the unit, in the first instance, at Williamtown, but the equipment will be movable and its ultimate destination has not been determined.
– By way of explanation of a question which 1 direct to the Treasurer, I should like to point out that for some years now the Supreme Courts in various States have been making very substantial awards to persons who have suffered permanent or total disability as a result of accidents on Australian roads. 1 understand that the awards are being made to provide security for those whose injuries prevent them from taking their place in industry. The capital is usually invested to return an income sufficient to meet living and medical expenses. I therefore ask the Treasurer whether he is adamant that the £150 allowable deduction for income tax purposes as medical expenses in cases in which the taxpayer is totally paralyzed and unable to cloth, bathe or feed himself or attend to his own toilet requirements is fair and reasonable, or whether he agrees that payment for nursing and upkeep of equipment needed to restore health should be allowed as a deduction for taxation purposes. Will the Treasurer, for the purpose of keeping such persons as 1 have mentioned from becoming a charge on the State, again examine my representations in the case of John Ramplin?
– Order! I think the honorable member is going too far. He should ask his question instead of continuing to give information.
– Will the Treasurer investigate the position in respect of persons who need constant nursing and who, if not given the benefit of an allowance for nursing costs, will ultimately become a charge on the Department of Social Services?
– In the course of a long political life I have found it dangerous to be adamant about anything. While cases such as those referred to by the honorable member invite our natural sympathies, the matter is one to be considered when preparing the Budget. I shall undertake to investigate what the honorable member has put to me, and I shall see that it is suitably considered at the appropriate time.
– T address a question to the Minister for Labour and National
Service. Is it true that dismissals on the coalfields in northern New South Wales have been caused by a falling off in orders for coal for export? Is it also true that coal exports could be increased considerably if costs of transporting and handling coal, particularly on the Newcastle waterfront, could be reduced? Will the Minister say whether any further steps can be taken to increase efficiency in the transport and handling of coal, so that more employment may be made available on the coalfields?
– I think it is true to say that the closing down of the mines involved was due to the building up of stocks of coal at the pit heads. As to the second part of the honorable member’s question, I believe it is also true to say that if freight and handling costs had been lower we could reasonably have expected increased overseas orders and overseas sales. I cannot say precisely whether the closing down was due to a falling off in orders. I can say, however, that we think we have magnificent opportunities to sell coal overseas, if the price is reasonable and competitive. If we can achieve reductions in waterfront and handling costs I am sure that overseas orders will increase considerably. As to the remainder of the question, I will have a look at the whole problem and advise the honorable member further.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that the disease hepatitis is now raging in the community, that it has spread throughout Australia and New Zealand, that it has reached epidemic proportions, that it is causing grave disquiet amongst health authorities, and that it has now become of national concern? In the last seven days have 100 cases of the disease been reported to the New South Wales Board of Health, in addition to the 70 cases which have already been admitted to the Prince Henry Hospital in my electorate of Kingsford-Smith?
– Order! The honorable member is giving information. He is entitled only to ask for information and to press for action. Above all, he should appreciate the desirability of brevity when asking questions.
– This is a matter of national concern, Mr. Speaker.
– Order! The honorable member may only seek information. He should not give it.
– Is it a fact that hepatitis is closely allied to typhoid fever, and that it is particularly virulent in unsewered areas? In view of the grave emergency, can the Minister say whether any research is being carried out at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories or at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, with a view to isolating the dangerous virus that causes the disease? If such research is not being conducted, will the Government make a grant of funds to enable this research to be carried out until the virus is isolated and a vaccine prepared to immunize people against the disease, as the Salk vaccine was developed for immunization against poliomyelitis?
– It is true that in recent years there has been a very considerable increase in the number of cases of infectious hepatitis in Australia and particularly, I think, in New South Wales, the State with the largest population.
– There have been 3,500 cases this year and seven deaths.
– The honorable gentleman seems to be well informed about the statistics in relation to this disease, but I am sure that he will not expect me to confirm or deny the particular figures that he has given. As I have said, it is a fact that there has been a very considerable increase in the number of cases of infectious hepatitis, but it is not a fact that this is a disease allied to typhoid fever. It may perhaps be transmitted - at any rate, on some occasions - by means similar to those by which typhoid fever is transmitted, but it is caused by a virus which has not as yet been isolated. Therefore, the manufacture of a vaccine to combat the disease is not possible.
The most effective preventive measure which can now be taken is the maintenance of personal cleanliness, and this is especially important for those who handle food in cafes, restaurants, and so on. The responsibility for all these public health measures is well appreciated by the State health authorities, and the measures which are necessary are in their care. A good deal of research into this disease goes on and much knowledge has been gained, and I am sure that the honorable member for KingsfordSmith can be satisfied that such things as can be done both by the State authorities, on whom the primary responsibility rests, and by the Commonwealth authorities, are being done.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Commonwealth Government has received from the New South Wales Government any recent requests for increased federal aid to accelerate the flood mitigation projects on the coastal and western rivers of New South Wales. If a request has been made, what reply has been given to the New South Wales Government?
– I am not aware of a request, but I will find out whether one has been received and, if so, say what our attitude to it is.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. Yesterday, 1 asked the right honorable gentleman whether he was aware that the commercial television licence granted for Canberra gave a monopoly of commercial television to the interests already holding a monopoly of press and commercial radio in the Australian Capital Territory. The Prime Minister, defending the Cabinet’s decision, suggested that the alternative to this course was to give licences to each of two Sydney television companies which operate Sydney television stations and are controlled by Sydney metropolitan newspapers. I now ask the Prime Minister: Was he aware that there was another applicant for a Canberra licence - Community TV (Canberra) Limited - which is wholly locally controlled, wholly independent of existing television stations and wholly independent of press and radio, and that the application of this company was superior to that of the company which was given the licence? Will the right honorable gentleman state the objections to this unsuccessful application and will he also state whether it was prejudiced by a prior commitment by the Government to the editor of the “ Canberra Times “?
– The last suggestion, of course, is contemptible, and I am surprised to hear it made. I do not really handle this matter; it is one for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. But as the question has been put to me, I merely point out to the honorable member that this series of applications was investigated by the board set up for the purpose. I have not before heard its impartiality challenged or its competence questioned. The board made a very lengthy report to which the honorable gentleman so far, apparently, has not had an opportunity to direct his attention. It investigated the applicants for a licence in Canberra and it has said that if there is to be only one licence it ought to be given to the company to which, in fact, it has now been awarded. If anybody supposes that I am going behind that recommendation, or that anybody else is going to do so, or that I am going to substitute for the recommendation my opinions on a matter on which I have heard no evidence, seen no witnesses and listened to no argument, he must think that I am sillier than I am.
– We do.
– As long as it is you fellows who think I am silly, I am delighted; I know which side the people are on.
The report was made to the Government by the board set up for this purpose. In the report, the board said, in effect, “We recommend the applicant associated with the name of Mr. Shakespeare, and if two licences and not one are to be granted, we believe on the facts before us that the scheme cannot succeed unless each licensee is associated with one of the metropolitan television stations “. In the alternative, the board said that if there were to be two licences there should be one associated with the “ Telegraph “ station and one associated with the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ station. The odd fact is that, when the Government accepts the recommendation that there should be one station - making it quite clear that this acceptance confers no monopoly right and that if the demand in Canberra develops in such a way that two licences can be justified, we will issue two - the honorable gentleman who has for years posed as the great enemy of the metropolitan newspapers, particularly the Sydney newspapers, comes into the House as their friend and defender.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he will consider serving some of the country areas not included in the present phase of television development by diverting to them the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s stations now proposed to be established in the thirteen areas for which commercial licences are being granted. Does he not think that the south-east of South Australia and the outer western districts of Victoria would be eminently suitable areas in which to initiate such a move?
– The suggestion of the honorable member for Barker is one to which, quite frankly, I gave some attention before submitting a recommendation to Cabinet. However, I believe that, because of the oft-expressed policy of the Government concerning dual services, the submission which I made to Cabinet, and which was adopted, that there should be a national station in each of the areas in which we shall be providing a commercial service was completely sound. Nevertheless, I will say that the suggestion that in the future consideration should be given to a variation of that policy so that various areas could be serviced by either a commercial or a national station, is one meriting some attention. I assure the honorable member that, although no change will be made in the present phase, the possibility of a further extension of the services along the lines he has suggested now will be taken into account.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. In view of the latest Treasury figures which show an increase in hire-purchase balances to £425,000,000, highlighting the fact that more and more functions of borrowing and lending are being performed outside the orthodox banking system, with a consequent lessening of control by the Reserve Bank, will the right honorable gentleman consider arranging a conference with the State governments to discuss the implementation of a uniform policy for the restraint of hire-purchase activity?
– Without saying either “ Yes “ or “ No “, I will look into the suggestion made by the honorable member.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to the statement by the Minister to the effect that the Commonwealth Government would put before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission any factual material that may be relevant and helpful. I ask: First, is the Minister aware that a great deal of work has been done, and progress made, in the United States of America recently in regard to the construction of a satisfactory productivity index? Secondly, whether such an index exists or not, is it not a fact that the Arbitration Commission is from time to time called upon to arrive at some conclusion regarding the increase or decline of productivity in the Australian economy? In those circumstances, would it not be better to have the best practicable index constructed and presented to the commission rather than leave the matter to wild claims and wild guesses?
– The answer to the honorable member’s first question is, “ Yes “, and the answer to his second question is, “ Yes “. This matter has received the most careful attention and I have taken great personal interest not only in the articles that have been written about productivity indexes, but also in the composition and value of those indexes. On the best advice 1 can get from our own people - and they are highly qualified technical people - I have come to the conclusion that it is just not practicable to construct an all-purpose index which will give complete and effective cover. The best that can be said about indexes is that they are one of the means used by the commission in coming to a conclusion. 1 am certain that the commission looks at the complex list of indexes presented to it in that way. Every productivity index known to us is made available to the commission, and the commission makes up its own mind on the information available to it as to what changes it will make.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development whether he can say how many applications for financial assistance for war service homes are still outstanding in Australia.
– I shall be pleased to get the information sought by the honorable member for West Sydney. He will appreciate that the Minister in charge of war service homes is in another place, and I have not at my finger tips the details which the honorable member now seeks.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether any permanent machinery exists for the discussion and settlement of mutual trade problems between the United Kingdom and ite principal Commonwealth partners, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. If no specific arrangements for consultation and co-operation have been made, can the Minister give an assurance that the agreements which are being sought by the United Kingdom with her European Free Trade Association partners, and with the European Economic Community countries will not impinge in any way on Australia’s trade with the United Kingdom and Western Europe?
– The basis of trade relationships between Australia and the United Kingdom is embodied in the Australia-United Kingdom trade treaty of 1.956. In that trade treaty, there is explicit provision for annual consultation and, whenever necessary, particular consultations on matters affecting trading relationships between the two countries. In particular, there is provision for discussions on United Kingdom agricultural policies and United Kingdom import policies which clearly bear upon our interests in trading with the United Kingdom.
Moreover, at the Trade and Economic Conference held between all Commonwealth countries at Montreal in 1958, it was agreed that there should be a point of consultation between all the Commonwealth countries. There has been established a body known, I think, as the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council. It holds meetings periodically. Ministers for finance or Ministers for economic affairs, or their representatives, are expected to attend those meetings. My colleague, the Treasurer, attended one such meeting in September last. It will be seen, therefore, that there is machinery for consultation between the United Kingdom, Aus tralia and other Commonwealth partners on any issues that affect, or may affect, our trade relationships. The United Kingdom has made its own position clear as a member of the European Free Trade Association and has stated clearly its views in respect of any liaison or integration with the European Economic Community. It is my understanding that there are no explicit negotiations proceeding at the present time between those groups, but there is an understanding that we shall be kept abreast of anything that is under contemplation.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: In view of your directive to me, when I was asking a question on a matter of life and death, that I should be brief, will you suggest to the Minister for Trade that he be brief also, instead of making long-winded propaganda speeches in answer to questions?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Will he give immediate and favorable consideration to the granting of a special amount as a Christmas gift to people who are recipients of social service and repatriation benefits, so that they may be able to meet the ever-increasing cost of living and have at least some suitable cheer at Christmas time?
– Questions of the character of that asked by the honorable member for Bonython have been asked in this House on a number of occasions over the years. I do not recall one occasion on which the suggestion was adopted by the government of the day, irrespective of its politics. The general policy in these matters is well known. We review the social service payments at Budget time and announce our decisions and give effect to them. That has been the practice of every government, whether drawn from our side of politics, or from the Labour Party, so far as I am aware. That is the practice which we shall continue.
– My question to the Treasurer relates to the shortage of farm credit and is supplementary to a question which I asked the Acting Prime Minister three or four weeks ago- Is it a fact that the banks serving country areas have found large amounts of money to pay for imports? Is there any diminution in the volume of funds required for purchase of imports? Will the imported goods be sold and the money be deposited in the banks by Christmas? If the answer is “ No “, since funds in the Development Bank are for the specific purpose of developing and increasing primary production only, will consideration be given to finding funds to tide the farmers over the normal seasonal requirements?
– I think it is generally known that there has been a substantial increase in the advances of the trading banks since February of this year. The last figures I saw showed that between February and the end of September those advances had increased by £148,000,000, and in the first three weeks of October by another £15,000,000. That is a quite abnormally high rate of increase in trading bank advances. The primary industries have not been neglected in these increases. So whatever the situation may be to-day in particular instances - I must confess that not many have been brought to my notice so far - I think there is an apprehension rather than an actual experience up to this point. It is evident that the advances over the period I have mentioned have increased quite considerably for borrowers in the farming industries as well. Whether importers’ stocks will have been cleared by Christmas and the money received as a result of that deposited with the banks is, I think, a matter for conjecture. In the present state of buoyancy of the economy I have no doubt that there is likely to be very brisk Christmas trade.
The honorable gentleman then invites us to use the Development Bank for what would appear to be a radical departure from the policy laid down in the legislation which set up that institution. That is an important issue of policy on which I could not give an answer at this stage. However, my immediate reaction is that to use the Development Bank in what would seem to be. from the honorable gentleman’s question, an emergency capacity, would be going far beyond what this Parliament intended.
– I ask the Minister for Trade a question without notice. He will recall that he told us last December that the Australia/ United Kingdom-Continent Shipping Conference had barred the national Greek-Australian Line from the cargo trade between Australia and Europe. In the intervening months, has the Minister taken any steps to secure the right of this new line to carry meat to Greece, a market which Australia does not supply and which no other shipping line serves? If so, what steps has the Minister taken in this direction?
– I remember the incident to which the honorable member has referred. I have not in my mind the history of what has proceeded since last December, but I shall refresh my mind without delay and inform the honorable member of the position.
– My question to the Treasurer is supplementary to the one that I put to him yesterday. Having regard to the fact that the work of the departments is incommoded administratively and prejudiced financially because this year’s Estimates have not yet been passed, will the right honorable gentleman give serious consideration to so rearranging the parliamentary time-table as to allow the Estimates to be, debated in both Houses simultaneously? If this were done, about six weeks would be saved in having the Estimates passed.
– I shall be glad to examine and to discuss with my colleague, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the practicability of the proposal which the honorable member has now advanced.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Government formed any intention regarding intervention in the current application by certain unions to the Arbitration Commission for three weeks annual leave? If so, is it proposed to intervene on the basis of advocacy?
– Tho position of the Commonwealth has been made known to the Arbitration Commission. The Commonwealth has intervened and assured the commission that it will make available, on request, information of an objective nature. At present the Government does not intend to intervene on the basis of advocacy 01 to make a recommendation one way or the other.
– Does the Minister for Immigration recall that in reply to a question which I addressed to him some time ago he undertook, for reasons then stated, to have discussions with the Leader of the Opposition with a view to eliminating foreign language broadcasts then being included in the session called “ Victoria’s Labour Hour”? Does the Minister know that the foreign language portion of this broadcast was then discontinued but that it has now been re-introduced? Will the Minister re-open the discussion with the the Leader of the Opposition with a view to having only the English language used in the session to which I have referred?
– I am glad that as a result of the honorable member’s action in this House his desire was fulfilled for the time being. It now seems that the Leader of the Opposition and I will have to have another conversation. For my part, I am always pleased to talk to that honorable gentleman. I shall endeavour to meet the request of the honorable member for Mallee.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that in the schedule of Miscellaneous Services accompanying the last Budget documents there are no fewer than eight items listed, relating to ministerial visits overseas, where the expenditure is either identical with the estimate or within £1 above it or £1 below it? Does the right honorable gentleman consider this circumstance to be a mere coincidence or does it represent an uncanny, even an incredible, degree of accuracy in estimating, or is there a more reasonable explanation?
– Sir, there is a very [reasonable mechanical explanation of this matter. Having brought it into the House for some days I find that I did not bring it in to-day, but, with the permission of the honorable member, I will answer the question on the next meeting day with some particularity. I raised the matter myself with the department.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Queensland Department of Labour and Industry conferred with the Department of Labour and National Service in an effort to arrange works programmes throughout Queensland, particularly in areas regularly affected each year by seasonal unemployment in the meat and sugar industries, so that many works programmes conducted by the Commonwealth, and by State anc local authorities, can be undertaken at times of the year when thousands of men are thrown out of work because of the seasonal nature of employment in those two industries?
– I think that I should say first of all that there is no major problem associated with seasonal unemployment in Queensland at the moment. I have had a review of this position made within the course of the last week. I shall send the honorable gentleman a copy. 1 think that he will find the information most reassuring. As for consultation, about three to four months ago I did suggest to my department that consultations be held on an official level between representatives of the department and representatives of the Queensland Department of Labour and Industry in order to see whether special public works programmes could be carried out at a time when seasonal unemployment might be high. It was also suggested that during these periods certain activities might be undertaken in connexion with the re-building of the Mount Isa railway line and other projects. Those consultations took place and they were thought by my department to have been successful. I hope that they bring concrete results for Queensland.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Is it true, as reported in the local press, that the light honorable gentleman said that overseas investors had their eyes upon Australia, and that the utmost encouragement would be given to them to invest in Australia? Is there any limit to the proportion of our exports that can be used in the payment of dividends overseas without injury to the Australian economy? If so, what would be the proportion, roughly, of Australia’s exports that could be used in the payment of dividends overseas?
– That is a highly theoretical question, and I do not think it admits of even a theoretical answer. All I can say for the comfort of the honorable member is that so far - and I would expect this to be the case for a long time - the benefits we have received both in internal development and in respect of our balance of payments as a result of the investment of money from overseas far exceed any liability, present or future, that one could imagine.
– By way of brief explanation of a question to the Prime Minister I point out that on 1st September I directed the attention of the right honorable gentleman to the British hovercraft, and asked whether he would consider the appointment of a joint parliamentary committee to inquire into its development and what probable impact it would have on Australia’s transport system and economy. The Acting Prime Minister replied on 13th October that the development of this machine was at such an early stage-
– Order! I think the honorable gentleman is now giving a recital of facts. He should ask his question.
– In view of the established technical advice that a 68-passenger 70-knot commercial version of the hovercraft will definitely be available towards the end of next year, will the right honorable gentleman give further consideration to my suggestions of 1st September, because of the problems of jurisdiction, control and operation which will arise in Australia?
– I warmly appreciate the honorable member’s interest in this strange device, but I must really agree with what was said by my colleague on an earlier occasion that any proposal to have a precise investigation, particularly on a non-expert level, must be regarded as premature.
– Has the Prime Minister made his promised inquiries of the Premier of Western Australia concerning the effect on aborigines of poisoning waterholes in the Pilbara district, and, if so, with what result?
– I instituted an inquiry at once as I said I would. At present, I have no final reply on the matter, but I am in fact seeing the Premier of Western Australia to-morrow, and will take the opportunity of reminding him about it.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General concerning a new Christmas stamp which I understand has just been released to the public. Will the Minister explain to the House the double significance of the design which I believe he claims attaches to it?
– I think I pointed out to the honorable member for Swan and the House some time ago the double significance of this year’s Christmas stamp. I said, and I repeat, that essentially it is a Christmas stamp but it has another significance because it depicts an open Bible with a quotation thereon and is thus related to the fact that the coming year is the 350th anniversary of the publication of the Authorized Version of the Bible. The honorable member for Swan asked me previously whether it was possible to issue a special stamp to commemorate that anniversary. I said it was considered that the double significance of this year’s Christmas stamp would go some way towards meeting that requirement. I think it does. I also remind the House that I stated that as the coming year represents this anniversary, attention was being given to the issue of a further stamp commemorating the anniversary at the time of the issue of the next Christmas stamp. Consideration is being given to that, and I hope later to have further discussions with the honorable member for Swan on the matter.
– Is the Minister for Social Services aware that many local government bodies are at their wit’s end trying to meet the many requests by pensioner home-owners for relief from rates? Does the Minister recognize that any such relief must be provided by the other highly-rated home-owners of the municipality? Does he agree that it is high time the Commonwealth Government provided pensions adequate to meet the basic needs of pensioners instead of compelling them to seek compensatory assistance from other public bodies and utilities? Finally, and in particular, will the Minister consider extending the 10s. a week supplementary pension to single pensioner homeowners and married pensioners who are still paying off their homes?
- Mr. Speaker, the honorable member will appreciate that the Government has a proud record with regard to all aspects of social services. The question of rebates of municipal and shire rates paid by age pensioners is exclusively a matter for the States and is a particular matter for local government authorities themselves. The Commonwealth Government would have no justification for interfering in any shape or form. The question of supplementary assistance is given the consideration that is its due from time to time, but it is not proposed to alter the present qualifications for supplementary assistance.
– by leave - I lay on the table the following paper: -
Australian Universities Commission Act - Australian Universities Commission - Report on Australian Universities 1958-1963.
The report that I have tabled is the first report of the Australian Universities Commission established by the act of 1959. It reviews university developments, following the report of the Murray committee and goes on to report on, and make recommendations regarding, university development in the triennium 1961 to 1963. which is the second triennium. I undertook, in replying to a question in this House recently, to give honorable members as much time as possible to study this report before legislation giving effect to its recommendations was introduced into the House. Unfortunately, that time will not be as long as I would have wished because there was some delay in the presentation of the report. This is really the earliest possible moment at which I could have brought it to the House. In the meantime, legislative work has been pressed on with so that we may deal with the matter in this session.
The Government has examined the report and has decided to accept the commission’s recommendations generally, subject to certain considerations which I shall refer to shortly. Legislation has been prepared and I hope that it will be possible to introduce a bill to give effect to the commission’s proposals very shortly in the present session of Parliament. Of course, legislation on the commission’s proposals and the report of the commission are inseparably linked and 1 would respectfully suggest, therefore, that the discussion of the report in the House could best take place in conjunction with the debate on the bill.
The report of the Universities Commission has been sent to each State Premier. In accepting the commission’s proposals generally, the Commonwealth Government is. of course, well aware that the primary responsibility for universities rests with the States. It is entirely a matter for each State to decide to what extent it proposes to support its universities financially along the lines recommended by the commission. The commission is in no sense a coercive body. Its report is in effect advice on university development to governments and to universities from an impartial and competent body.
The Australian National University is the special and direct concern of the Commonwealth Government. As such it will not, of course, be dealt with in the States Grants (Universities) Bill, which I will present to this House later on. However, honorable members should know that the Government has approved in principle recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission as they relate to the Australian National University, subject to further detailed examination. In particular. the Government has approved that arrangements for a new building for the Chemistry School should proceed.
As 1 mentioned earlier, honorable members will have every opportunity to debate this report of the Universities Commission, which is quite lengthy, when the legislation stemming from it is before the House. However, so that this important report will become part of the parliamentary record, I move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
– by leave - Recently, my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), announced in the press the visit of United States Air Force personnel and aircraft to Australia to study radio-activity in the atmosphere. As a corollary to investigations carried out by aircraft, we are at present discussing with the United States Government a programme of investigation by the United States into radio-activity in the upper atmosphere above the levels which can be reached by aircraft. The proposal is that the investigations be carried out by balloons released from a base at Mildura. The information obtained from the balloon investigations, in common with that from aircraft, will be published and will contribute to the work of the scientific committee of the United Nations in this field.
The project will be initially carried out by American personnel, who will train an Australian team from within the Department of Supply who will take over complete operation in due course. All scientific information will be available to Australia and the balloons can also carry small payloads for the Australian scientific experiments. The Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology and the Department of Civil Aviation will be actively associated with the project. All costs of the experiments including Australian personnel participating will be borne by the United States agencies.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to the National Library of Australia.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is the first major bill on library services to be introduced into this Parliament. It provides for the establishment of the National Library of Australia. Honorable members will, of course, understand that we are not in reality creating a new institution, but are rather proposing that the library services of the Commonwealth which have grown up without formal provisions since federation should now be the subject of legislation by this Parliament. But we are also looking to the future in that we seek to define the functions and role ot an institution which will increasingly play a national role of the greatest importance, similar to that of the great national libraries in other countries.
The existing National Library collections and services are already widely used throughout Australia and are increasingly known abroad. Members are aware that they grew directly from the Library of the Commonwealth Parliament.
The first federal government and the first joint library committee of Parliament gave imaginative and far-sighted consideration to library needs and took expert advice both from within Australia and abroad. It is worth noting that by 1907 the idea of a national library had crystallized and was reported to Parliament as follows: -
The Library Committee is keeping before it the ideal of building up, for the time when Parliament shall be established in the Federal Capital, a great Public Library on the lines of the world-famed Library of Congress at Washington; such a library, indeed, as shall be worthy of the Australian Nation; the home of the literature, not of a State, or of a period, but of the world, and of all time . . .
The development of such collections was limited during the first 27 years in Melbourne both by the resources available and by the presence of the excellent collections of the Public Library of Victoria and of the Library of the Parliament of Victoria in whose premises the Library functioned. However, successive Library Committees were active in collecting and publishing material of Australian interest.
The Petherick Collection Act of 1911 brought to the national collection a great contribution of Australiana. It was developments such as these, culminating in the purchase of the notable collection of Captain Cook manuscripts, which led the Library Committee in 1923 to adopt the name “ Commonwealth National Library “, by which the institution has been increasingly known since, although it has had, under that name, no statutory existence.
It is important to remember that these national collections and services, and many others which have developed since, which are in fact records of Australian life and achievement, have not been separated from the collections and services for the Parliament itself. The need for some identification of the extra-Parliamentary services of the Library was recognized as early as 1935, when a sum was placed on the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department for the purpose of the National Library. In explaining the new item the Minister representing the Prime Minister said that -
Because of the Australia-wide nature of these services, which are of benefit to scholars and libraries throughout the Commonwealth, it is not thought fitting that appropriation for them should continue to be made on the vote for Parliament.
As these services developed and thencost increased, the Prime Minister became responsible to Parliament for the greater part of library expenditure. At the same time, the Presiding Officers were becoming increasingly responsible for library matters outside their normal sphere of interest.
By 1956 the Government felt that the time had come to review the functions and the form of control of this growing research and reference institution, which was discharging nation-wide responsibilities. It therefore set up a representative committee on the whole question and asked it to advise on the future development of the library.
That committee, the National Library Inquiry Committee, under the chairmanship of Sir George Paton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, included three members of Parliament representing afl parties and both Houses. The report of the committee was tabled and ordered to be printed, and the Government is most indebted to the committee for its work.
Its main recommendations were as follows: -
There should be a Parliamentary Library and a National Library of Australia, each to be a separate institution, though closely related to achieve maximum efficiency and economy.
The Parliamentary Library should be controlled, as at present, by the Presiding Officers of Parliament, with the advice of a joint committee of members of both Houses.
The National Library should be controlled by a body with substantial responsibility for its development.
The present division of the Library concerned with the records and archives of the Commonwealth Government should become a separate agency of Government under the control of a director, within an appropriate department, the Minister for which should appoint a small committee for his guidance.
The National Library should be provided as soon as possible with a building appropriate to its functions.
Meanwhile, the separation should be put into effect so far as possible.
During this time the positions of Parliamentary Librarian and National Librarian should be filled by the one person.
An examination should be made as soon as possible by the body controlling the National Library of the desirability of securing a greater co-ordination of Commonwealth Government Library Services.
As these recommendations appealed to the Government as providing a satisfactory basis for future development, it set up an inter-departmental committee in 1959 to advise on the detailed measures necessary to make them effective. The committee worked in the closest association with the Presiding Officers and the Parliamentary Library Committee, whose co-operation and assistance have been most helpful to the Government in reaching the decisions on which the present bill is based.
In reaching the conclusions to which the present bill seeks to give effect, the Government has been greatly assisted by having before it the views of the Paton committee, of the inter-departmental committee, and of the Parliamentary Library Committee. The Government gave special consideration to the following matters: -
The separation of Government archives from the National Library.
The maintenance of library services to Parliament.
The functions of the National Library.
The form of control of the National Library.
I should like to say a few words on each of these matters, before passing on to some of the more detailed matters dealt with in the bill.
First, I shall deal with archives. Until 1942 the records and archives of the departments and authorities of the Commonwealth Government were wholly under the control of the agencies which created them. Administrative arrangements were then made which brought archives and semicurrent records under the Ministerial control of the Prime Minister, advised by a Commonwealth Archives Committee of historians and senior officials presided over by Dr. C. E. W. Bean, Official Historian of the First World War. The archives themselves were provisionally administered, initially by the Commonwealth National Library and the Australian War Memorial Board of Management jointly, and more recently by the Library alone. During this time systems have been developed, in cooperation with Government departments, to bring the archives together and under systematic control.
The Government reached the conclusion that, as these archives are essentially a collection of the Government’s own papers, many of which must remain confidential until at least a certain time has elapsed, they should come directly under the control of a departmental authority as recommended by the Paton committee, rather than under the governing body of the National Library. My own experience has convinced me that this is desirable. I attach great importance to the necessity for effective control over the disclosure of archives, particularly those of a private or semi-private nature. In my time as Prime Minister I have had applications made to me by authors and other people for access to certain documents written by my predecessors. When I have found that the document involved in a particular case has been marked “ confidential “ or “ private “, I have always said that it could not be disclosed unless the person who wrote it was available to give his consent or his personal representatives expressed their views on the matter. That, I think, is the proper approach.
Whether any part of the nongovernmental archives in the possession of the National Library should pass to the archives organiza tion is, we think, a matter which can best be left to the National Library Council and the archival organization to consider. In any event there must always be the closest co-operation between the two authorities.
Next, as to the Parliament, the Government has been concerned to ensure that the development of the National Library as a separate institution should not prejudice, but rather strengthen, the reference and reading services available to the Parliament itself. The Government agrees that the Parliament of the Commonwealth needs the best library service that can be provided for it. Members should be able to draw with freedom and confidence on facts and opinions affecting the important public issues with which they have to deal.
The bill therefore imposes a special responsibility in clause 6 on the governing body of the National Library to provide services to the Parliament. The nature and extent of these will clearly depend on the needs of the Parliament and on arrangements made from time to time between the respective governing bodies. Co-operation between these bodies, which will necessarily be most close during the period of separation of collections and services, will be greatly assisted by the presence on the National Library Council of two members of Parliament. This will be facilitated by the fact that, at least during this period, the one person will occupy the positions of National Librarian and Parliamentary Librarian.
The provisions in the bill to enable the transfer of much of existing collections and services to the National Library will, we believe, enable the Parliamentary Library to retain and develop specialized services and a specialized collection of material designed to meet the particular requirements of the Parliament.
As to the functions of the National Library, the statement of functions in clause 6 of the bill is a very general one. It reflects the library’s present activities, but provides for their development. This bill is so drafted as to permit and encourage the council to adapt the growth of the National Library of Australia to national needs as they develop and in the fullest co-operation with other authorities providing library services.
Members will be aware of the powers and responsibilities for the provision of basic library services for the people. The remarkable progress of recent years, which has brought free public library services to so many local communities throughout Australia for the first time reflects great credit on State governments and local government authorities. University libraries are also being greatly encouraged, and many public authorities and private organizations, including business firms, have also set up libraries. Together, these libraries, which co-operate freely, make up a national system of library services which can be greatly strengthened through the development of a great national library. Already much is being done in association with the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services which represents all major libraries in Australia. Union catalogues are being compiled which will ultimately reveal to inquirers the location of any important book or periodical in the country.
As to the control of the National Library, the bill seeks to establish the library on a formal basis as a body corporate. The arrangements follow the pattern for such bodies and the provisions are broadly similar to those of other government instrumentalities in related fields. The intention is that the affairs of the library will be effectively under the control of a small council of nine representative and experienced men and women. As honorable members know, the council has already been established on an interim basis, with Dr. A. Grenfell Price as chairman, two members of Parliament - the President of the Senate (Sir Alister McMullin) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) - and six others: Mr. K. B. Myer; Dr. H. S. Wyndham; Mr. Justice Crisp, of Tasmania; Associate Professor Kathleen Fitzpatrick; Professor L. G. Huxley, the new Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University; and Mr. E. J. B. Foxcroft, of my own department, who is a man of great and special interest in these matters. This council has already met, and the Government has had the benefit of its advice, and that of the Parliamentary Library Committee, in framing this bill. The Government is confident that the National Library will flourish under the control of this council, comprising as it does a group of people who are eminent and experi enced in many walks of life in the Australian community.
There are some other provisions of the bill which I should perhaps mention, lt makes the normal provision, as I have said, for a council controlling a corporate body. It is the view of the Government that the library should be a substantially autonomous body, with ministerial responsibility limited wherever possible. The finance - which will be provided, of course, by annual appropriation - the staffing - which will come under the Public Service Act - and the other matters provided for in the bill all are quite consistent with the substantial autonomy of the council in the discharge of its responsibilities.
We then think about a National Library building, Sir. We are under enormous pressure in Canberra in relation to building. This library is a going - and growing - concern, with some 500,000 books, as well as pictorial material, maps, films and so on. All these things lack a suitable building. At present, the library is accommodated in various places in a makeshift and highly inconvenient fashion and, I would have thought, in rather dangerous situations, some material being in a factory building in this city and other material being in these elegant igloos here.
– There is a good road to the library.
– Yes. That is one thing. The Government has agreed that design and planning work for a new National Library building should begin, and the interim council is now discussing requirements with the National Capital Development Commission. The Government is very much aware that the library is experiencing acute difficulties in its day-to-day work and that these will increase as the collections grow, and therefore we are keen to see a suitable building. I cannot hold out any particular date to honorable members. The first thing to do in this matter - it will not be simple, but will require a lot of work - is to have consultations between the council and the National Capital Development Commission in relation to design and requirements.
It may occur to some honorable members that the matter of copyright should be dealt with, because one of the oldest concepts of a national library which has persisted and has been adopted by many countries, including our own, is that a national library is the proper place to collect and preserve, for current and especially future use, material of all kinds illustrating the life and achievements of the people. This activity is usually supported by the law of copyright deposit, and provision was made in the Copyright Act 1912 for such deposit of copyright work in the Library of the Commonwealth Parliament. The Paton committee recommended that this privilege be transferred to the National Library. All I need say, Sir, is that this is just one aspect of the copyright law. Together with others, it is receiving the Government’s attention. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) would like to have a comprehensive piece of legislation on that matter. We propose that until that is produced the material continue to be deposited in the Library of the Parliament. It can be transferred to the National Library as we adopt the change.
– I should like to ask a question about the site for the new National Library building. Is it to be down by the lake?
– I cannot tell the honorable member. I have had it said to me - with what authority, I do not know - that the building would be near the lake and on the flank, so to speak, of the proposed new Parliament House. But I have seen so many other things that have to be done in Canberra that I have not allowed my mind to speculate so much.
– The right honorable gentleman has refused to be outflanked, as it were.
The Government’s aim in giving the National Library a statutory basis and a wide charter is to allow it to play a significant and appropriate part in the Australian library system and in Australian life generally. This, as I do not need to emphasize to the House, is of great importance, Sir. We have, we think, done a good deal - and so have governments over a long time - to intensify research and inquiry through universities and through a variety of research bodies and agencies of govern ment. The development of library resources is a necessary and natural corollary.
I think that before I conclude I should pay a special tribute to the successive Library Committees of this Parliament. These committees have over many years, by their far-sighted policies, laid the groundwork for the institution which this bill, when it is passed into law, will make a reality.
– I should like to thank the Prime Minister for his wide and generous statement on the National Library and to indicate that to-day marks a high point in the cultural development of this country and the development of its libraries, especially in Canberra.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 8th November (vide page 2605), on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ the bill be withdrawn and redrafted because it fails to repeal objectionable features of the Crimes Act, including political and industrial offences and the death penalty, and because it introduces new offences infringing freedom of speech, writing and action by individuals and organizations innocent of disloyal intent, and because, in particular, it fails -
to preserve the rule of law and the principles of natural justice in trials for these offences;
to establish the principle of trial by jury for all these offences;
to achieve certainty and precision in the definition of these offences;
to ensure the application of long established rules excluding evidence of the character of an accused person on trial for these offences;
to provide means of specifying enemy countries which or enemy persons whom it will be an offence to assist; and
to guarantee liberty bona fide to express criticisms and to seek alteration of the policy of the Australian or any other Government “.
– People in a democracy have often asked why it is necessary for a democratic institution to arm itself with provisions such as those included in this bill. Such people say that the strength and character of our political institutions are sufficient to withstand any attack, no matter of what kind. Such people, again, say that the hallmark of democracy is complete and absolute freedom and, therefore, that any rules or laws which in any way or in the slightest degree impinge upon this freedom are inconsistent with democracy. Mr. Speaker, this is a simple and idealistic approach. It might work if every country were peaceloving and if there were no people in the world who wished to dominate others. It certainly will not work in this present world.
Every country, no matter of what kind its institutions may be, must arm itself with rules and laws which will guard its institutions. The basis of political freedom in a democracy is our right to work for change through the laws of the Constitution and the right to change the Constitution if we can persuade sufficient people that it should be changed. We need laws to protect this right, and if we do not have laws that are sufficiently strong to protect this right, we will ultimately find that we will no longer have it and that we will not, therefore, be democratic. There is no inconsistency in this point of view. In our daily life, there is not one of us who does not consider that we are free to go our own way and to do exactly what we want to do so long as we do not harm others. We have laws to ensure that we do not harm others and a police force to ensure that we keep those laws and to apprehend criminals who break those laws. In the same way in our political life, we need laws such as those provided by the Crimes Bill to ensure that people who would try to undermine our political freedom are prevented from doing ‘so. The crimes denned in this bill are those that threaten our political freedom, and any government would be guilty indeed if it did not act to outlaw those crimes and to arm the executive of the day and the parliament of the day with measures that made it possible to apprehend those who wished to subvert our political freedom.
Though there has been a good deal of criticism of this bill, as far as I can see very little of the criticism has been legitimate.
Some criticism, of course, has been legitimate, and a few of the small amendments which have been foreshadowed by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) in statements outside this House show where the criticism is legitimate. This criticism has been legitimate not so far as the substance of the measure is concerned but rather to clarify certain clauses so that people who have no particular legal training will have a clearer and better understanding of what is occurring. There are other reasons why we need a Crimes Bill, and they are outlined in the speech of the Attorney-General. It is necessary since the Statute of Westminster to give the laws of this country in relation to these matters extra-territorial effect which could not be done before the Statute of Westminster was passed. The 1954 Royal Commission on Espionage intimated that the laws on these matters were inadequate and that we should be better armed. Again, this legislation is necessary to write in certain aspects of common law which are available to the States and which are available in the United Kingdom but not available to the Commonwealth of Australia. Further, it has been necessary to introduce this bill because the conditions of the mid-twentieth century make legislation of this kind necessary.
In speaking two days ago on this legislation, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said that the mere fact that some of the provisions in this legislation are included in earlier legislation in the United Kingdom and Canada, and in earlier Australian legislation, did not mean that the provisions were necessary here. He said that the state of world affairs is so much improved that no country now need be armed with laws of the kind provided by the Crimes Bill as it needed to be armed in 1911. I do not know what this reveals, but it seems to me to indicate that the Opposition has travelled a very long way since the days of 1911 and in directions which may not always have been to the benefit of this country. If it does not show this, then it indicates wishful thinking and a certain blindness to events of the last few years. In 1911, when aspects of this legislation were first covered in the United Kingdom, there was no international Communist Party which threatened the freedom of people in democratic countries right throughout the world. There was no international Communist Party that had enslaved probably more than half the people of the world, in terms of numbers. All that has happened since 1911, and surely that would make measures of this kind necessary.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition intimated that measures of this kind were introduced because the Executive felt that certain people in the community may be politically unreliable. He made it quite clear that he felt that any person, no matter what his political views may be, was politically reliable. This surely is a naive view. We do not mind what people work for so long as they work through the laws and institutions of the country; but we most certainly do mind, or should mind, what members of the Communist Party, whose avowed intention is to overthrow our parliamentary institution, may do. To say that such people are not politically unreliable is to speak plain nonsense. The country should be armed so that it can deal effectively with such matters.
Two main objections, in very broad terms, have been raised to this bill. The first is that some of the clauses are too wide and the second is that it contravenes longestablished principles of British law. The answer to one of these objections, I think, also answers the other. Most people seem to have argued that the bill is too wide because it contravenes principles of British law or of common law. An examination of what has been done in the past shows that this is not so. One provision has come in for severe criticism. This is the provision which critics say places the onus of proof on the defendant to an undesirable degree. This provision appears in sections 78 and 79 of the principal act. It also appears in sections of the United Kingdom acts of 1911 and 1920, and in the Canadian act. So that honorable members may recall exactly the provision that I have in mind, I shall read one of the sections. Wherever they appear, the sections are very similar in wording and in sense. The last portion of section 78 (2.) of the principal act reads - . . and if any sketch, plan, photograph, model, article, note, document, or information, relating to or used in any prohibited place within the meaning of this Part of this Act, or anything in such a place, is made, obtained, or communicated by any person other than a person acting under lawful authority, it shall be deemed to have been made, obtained, or communicated for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interest of the Commonwealth or of some part of the King’s Dominions, unless the contrary is proved.
As I have said, this provision goes back to the British and Canadian acts. There is nothing new in it and any critics who attack the bill on that ground surely have a pretty thin case. As I understand it, the provision appears in three places in the bill. Proposed new section 70 (2.) deals with public servants who have left the Public Service. If they have information which they know to be secret or confidential at the time they leave the service, and if later they reveal this information, they are said to be guilty of an offence unless they can prove to the contrary. No innocent member of the Public Service need have any worry about that. Certainly no innocent person retiring from the Public Service with this kind of information in his possession would reveal it to any one. Any objection raised to a provision such as this is absolutely nonsensical.
Where it appears for the second time in the bill, it is merely a repetition of the wording of the Australian act of 1914. As there has been no change whatever in the sense, it cannot be argued that anything new has been introduced. I am speaking now of proposed section 78 (2.) (b) which relates to espionage and similar activities. In the third place, proposed section 79 (5.) does not introduce any new principle in connexion with official secrets. Here again objection has been taken to the onusofproof requirement, but any person who reads the provision carefully must admit that it is completely and utterly fair. It reads -
If a person receives any sketch, plan, photograph, model, cypher, note, document, article or information, knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe at the time when he receives it that it is communicated to him in contravention of section seventy-eight of this Act or sub-section (2.) of this section, he shall be guilty of an indictable offence unless he proves that the communication was contrary to his desire.
A careful examination of the clause reveals that the Crown must prove, first, that the person has received the information and, secondly, that that person knows or has reasonable ground to believe that the information is in contravention of other provisions of the act. Surely an innocent person receiving information of this kind, if he knew it was in contravention of the act. or if he even suspected that it might be in contravention of the act, would tell somebody in authority about it. There is nothing in this provision which any innocent person or any believer in this country need fear in any way whatsoever.
Another provision relating to onus of proof has been mentioned. A similar provision is contained in the Official Secrets Act 1920, and in the Canadian act. I refer to the clause which makes any officer of a company or corporation guilty of the crimes committed by that company or corporation unless he can prove otherwise. Some may argue that a man may be so ignorant of what his company or corporation is doing that he should not be charged with a crime committed by that company or corporation, but I submit that if a person is so ignorant of what the company or corporation is doing he is gravely neglecting his duty. In any case, I submit that no objection can be taken to this provision on the ground that it contravenes British law, because the provision contained in the bill is similar to that embodied in British acts which were passed many decades ago.
Another provision which has met with considerable criticism is that which has become known as the known-character provision which, under this bill, will apply to the crimes of sabotage, espionage and betrayal of official secrets. Again, there is nothing new in the provision. It is similar to that inserted in the United Kingdom Act of 1911 and repeated in the United Kingdom amending legislation of 1920. A similar provision has been written into the Canadian legislation. It was first written into the Australian legislation in 1914, and is now repeated in this bill.
There has been much misconception about this provision. Many of its critics have said that it is necessary only to prove a person’s intent, that it will not be necessary to prove that he has done any act which would come within the definition of “ sabotage “, “ espionage “ or “ betrayal of official secrets “. Any one who has read the amending legislation carefully must know that there is no ground for such criticism. I cannot understand how some of the eminent critics in this country, who have a detailed knowledge of these matters, have been able to offer the criticism that they have of this provision. They should know that the Crown must prove that the person charged has done the act, and that he has done it on purpose. They should know that there can be no charge if the person did the act accidently, or was forced into doing it, or even if he had been framed, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) put it when he endeavoured to draw the rather pathetic analogy of somebody making bully beef.
In addition to the Crown proving that the person charged has done the act, and that he intended to do it, it has to prove that in doing the act he had a purpose that was prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial, to the interests of this country. Those two elements are not easy to prove in connexion with the crimes mentioned in this provision.
Some have asked why this provision, which is not included in our civil and criminal laws, should be embodied in this Crimes Bill. I point out that in the Crimes Bill it relates only to the three crimes of sabotage, espionage and betrayal of official secrets. A careful examination of the nature of those three crimes must disclose to any reasonable person that it is entirely different from the nature of any crime covered under our criminal law and from that of other crimes mentioned in other parts of this legislation. Without this provision relating to these three particular crimes, it would be almost impossible to obtain a conviction, as the members of the House of Commons pointed out when a provision similar to this was included in the English act of 1911.
Perhaps I can illustrate my point more clearly by drawing an analogy. If a man commits a burglary, if he opens a safe and it is proved that he did open it, he cannot say that he did not mean to open it. unless he is mad. Proof of the act carries with it proof that he intended to do the act. Under this bill, if the Crown wishes to prove a man guilty of espionage, sabotage or betrayal of official secrets, it must prove first that he has done the act and then, quite separately, it must prove that he had the intention to do the act. It must do these things because, under this legislation, execution of the act complained of does not necessarily carry intent with it in the way that burglary or murder does. Legitimate critics of this provision see a danger in the evidence of known character. They argue that evidence as to known character could be used to sway a jury into deciding that the person charged did in fact commit the act. I understand that it is proposed to submit certain amendments to make it clear that the trial judge must point out to the jury that evidence of known character shall be taken into consideration only where it is strictly relevant, and to make it clear to the trial judge that he must ensure that such evidence is not used in any way to sway the jury into believing that the act complained of was actually committed.
The use of the words “ assist by any means whatsoever “ has met with fairly heavy criticism. These words appear in the provisions relating to treason and treachery. They apply to persons who assist the enemy of a proclaimed country or assist persons against whom the defence forces might be or could be opposed. It has been suggested that the inclusion of the words “ assist by any means whatsoever” could prevent legitimate criticism of our own foreign policy or the foreign policies of proclaimed countries. I submit that any one offering such criticism cannot have read the provisions carefully. Any one who has made a thorough examination of the law must know that similar provisions are contained in the United Kingdom law. Our legislation does not contravene the British law in any way whatsoever. In any event, I submit that no close examination is required to convince any one that the provisions complained of are not harmful. Section 24a (2.) of the act says it shall be lawful to do a number of things which people can do in their normal political or trade union activities. In saying “ trade union activities “ I think I am indicating something which may be the subject of amendment. But it is quite clear that this section means that any legitimate criticism or opposition of a political nature, which we would normally regard as political opposition, is completely lawful and does not in any way come within the scope of this act. In order that people who have not examined these problems and who might be reading the act for the first time may have a better understanding of what the words “ assist by any means whatsoever “ mean, I understand there is an intention to insert in that context words such as “ intent to assist”, and that this section will be made to apply to certain other sections.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said that the provision relating to “ a proclaimed country “ would mean that a person could be caught by this act if he was friendly to a country at war with the proclaimed country. Although it must rest with the Executive of the day as to the conditions under which any country would be proclaimed, surely his statement shows a grave misconception of the terms under which a country may or may not, or would or would not, be proclaimed. I understand- that the purpose of a provision of this kind is to enable the Parliament of the day to give some assistance to a country, short of going to war on its behalf. If Malaya or New Zealand, which are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, was at war with some enemy and we went to assist either of those countries, without going to the full length of going to war on their behalf, their proclamation would be of material assistance and would prevent Australians in this country at any rate, if they wished to do so - and I hope there would be none who would wish to do so - from helping the enemies of those countries under the kind of circumstances that I have outlined. However, so that there may be no misconception or misunderstanding, I understand that the enemy of a proclaimed country must also be proclaimed, under further amendments which have been suggested by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), in the same way as a friendly country is proclaimed. I also understand that the opponents of our defence forces overseas, for instance in Malaya, must also be proclaimed opponents, so that any misunderstanding which might have arisen through a misreading of the legislation will be done away with.
There are one or two other criticisms which can be regarded as being of a relatively minor nature. The Leader of the Opposition said he was objecting to the provisions in sections 30j and 30k - industrial provisions - which have been in the old act for a great number of years. He said he thought they had fallen into disrepute and that his party might have been under some blame for not having removed them when it was in power for many years prior to 1949. Surely that represents a naive, and certainly not a correct, view of what was the case in those days. If the Labour
Administration had used sections 30 j and 30k prior to 1947, it might have found that some of the industrial troubles which arose and which led to the coal strike and to the introduction of special legislation in 1947 and 1949 would not have arisen. If the Labour Government had been a little firmer in using this legislation earlier in its term of office - in the early years after the war - it would not have been necessary to pass the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act of 1947, which led to the subsequent proclamation of the Long Range Weapons Establishment at Woomera. This was done for one specific purpose, because the Government of that day, which is now the Opposition, found that sections 30j and 30k were inadequate to meet the needs of the times. That Government found that it needed to pass more severe legislation to overcome a union boycott of the Long Range Weapons Establishment. Once the legislation was passed and Woomera was proclaimed there was no need to institute any prosecutions, for the simple reason that the union boycott of projects undertaken there faded away and dissolved once the act was passed. If the Government of that day had shown a little more courage prior to 1947, it would not have been necessary to pass the very severe Approved Defence Projects Protection Act, which was passed by the .Labour Administration in 1947, and which was used by it in the sense that under that act Woomera was proclaimed.
This, perhaps, indicates how far the Opposiiton has travelled since those times. T repeat that this bill is necessary to give Australian laws in regard to these measures extra-territorial effect, and because of the inadequacy of our laws as pointed out by the 1954 Royal Commission on Espionage. It is necessary to write this into the common law which is not available to this country for reasons which have been adequately explained earlier in this debate. It is necessary, above all, so that Australian democracy and the institution of Parliament can be armed against any people who might work in this country to undermine the institution of Parliament. If we are so naive as to think that every person in Australia believes in democratic institutions in this day and age, we must have our eyes shut and be walking around asleep. I am convinced that there is no danger whatever from this legislation to any person who is a patriot and who believes in this country and in parliamentary government in this country. On the contrary, our freedoms are more secure because of this legislation. Because of it, our freedoms and institutions are guarded. The Government and the Attorney-General must be commended for bringing this legislation before the House.
.- The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) was particularly persuasive in some aspects of what he said, but I think he missed the point of the opposition from this side of the House and from outside the House. He interpreted the lessons of history with the need to go backwards and adopt them rather than to go forward and use them as a basis for further progress. He continually confused the idea of British law with British justice. I believe we inherit the spirit and principles of British justice, but not necessarily British law. Laws are the creation of people for the time being. They are the expression, sometimes, of a spirit of hysteria and the emotions of the moment; but the spirit of justice should run through all laws. I believe that in this case Government supporters have not answered the very strong criticisms which have come from the Opposition in this House and outside it and from people with no particular political bias.
Our criticisms on these questions are legitimate. I believe that the act, and this bill which amends it, are non-specific in such a way as to be a grave danger to individual freedom. If I have time I shall quote sufficient examples from the last 30 or 40 years to show that there is still a danger, even with the jury system and with due processes of law, to ordinary citizens in legislation which proposes such far-reaching penalties. I will quote them in a moment. One great disappointment is that my friends on the Government side of the House seem to have no sense of history whatever. The instance of the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act that the honorable member for Wannon quoted is a good example of this. If you want to do something specific, pass a specific law. Do not indulge in generalities and vagueness, and do not open the gates wide so that the task of the prosecution is easier. The honorable member for Wannon did not allay satisfactorily the doubts that we have about the “ known character “ provisions of the bill. After all, what is the basis of law in the community? It is trust, security and freedom! No community is worth its salt if you have to hang or shoot its members to keep them loyal. This country has a history of basic loyalty, trust and unity, so there is no need for this kind of indictment of its people.
This bill is an indictment of Australia’s leadership for the last eleven years. If the loyalty and unity of a football team of which the captain or coach has been in charge for ten or eleven years is disintegrating, do you sack the team? No, you sack the captain or the coach! If it becomes necessary to introduce more severe punishments and to impose disciplinary action continuously and in increasing measure in an army unit, you do not look at the troops; you wonder what is wrong with the commanding officer. After eleven years of control by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his henchmen we find that the basic loyalty, trust and inner sense of security of the community are disintegrating. The man who has been in charge of Australia for more than 25 per cent, of the period of our nationhood since federation is the man who is principally responsible for this state of affairs. Fortunately, he has not done too much damage yet. The Government is on trial, not the unions. Australian citizens have a proud record of loyalty. We have never had a traitor. We did not need the fearsome penalty of capital punishment in your army or mine. Mr. Deputy Speaker.
This legislation is going against the tide of history. The most serious matter is that this is not an isolated instance. This is part of a pattern of smashing the delicate fabric of the nation. The nation is not based upon law, it is based upon cooperation and trust. Law should be the basis of freedom and of the internal management of that trust, but in the last eleven years this Government has been culpable for introducing into the community measures, atmospheres and political attitudes which have done only damage. In itself, this bill may not be so very mischievous, although it contains some dreadful clauses and departures from ordinary accepted legal procedures but, as I have said, it is part of a pattern. First there was the Communist Party Dissolution Bill of 1950, and honorable members will recall that the present Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) was defeated in the High Court on that issue by the former Leader of the Opposition, Dr. H. V. Evatt. The court held, by a four or five to one majority, that the legislation was an invalid exercise of the Government’s power. The bill was rejected also by a majority of the people of Australia, despite the great campaign that was waged to have it accepted.
When you consider the Petrov commission and the results that came to, say, a person such as Madame Oilier you will realize that the commission did not produce any valuable result in the community but was part of a pattern. When you consider the telephone-tapping legislation which was passed by this Parliament only last year; when you consider the Government’s attitude to Professor Gluckman; when you think of the number of applications for naturalization that are refused on security grounds; when you consider that a person employed in the Attorney-General’s Department was dismissed because it was learned that some four or five years previously he had been a member of the Communist Party and had been expelled; when you remember the Government’s attitude last year to the Melbourne peace congress in which I took part, and the expressed opinion of the AttorneyGeneral on which he based his judgment of this congress, as reported in “ Hansard “; when you consider the Government’s attitude to the trade union movement and to the use of the penal clauses of the relevant legislation and when you consider the view that was expressed by the honorable member for Wannon a few minutes ago that the Government should have cracked the whip on the trade union movement in 1945, 1946 and 1947, you will realize that all this is part of a pattern. I am amazed, disappointed and despairing that the Government, and particularly the Prime Minister, who has been in sole command - he has been the captain of this ship - should have introduced this measure. If the loyalty and unity of the crew of this ship is disintegrating, he is to blame.
For political purposes in many instances, McCarthyist attitudes have been developed by honorable members on the Government side, and those attitudes were expressed by the Attorney-General in the last few sentences and phrases of his speech in which he st.’:ted that only the Communist Party and Communists were concerned about the bill becoming law. But I am very concerned about these things because I have some sense of history. I have made some study of the subject and 1 hope to have the opportunity to mention enough events of recent history to show honorable members opposite that it is wrong for them to believe tha* the jury system and all the rest of the legal procedure is their final protection.
We have fought continuously to develop the system of, what I shall call for want of a better term, British justice. We have fought for all of these simple administrative systems in the legal procedure - the principle of not admitting hearsay evidence; the principle of trial by jury; of public trial; of having a counsel appear for an accused person who has been charged with a felony and of an accused person being innocent until he has been proved guilty. Those principles are part of the evolutionary pattern designed to protect the individual. We have a duty here not to retrogress and adopt the system of secret trials, as is provided for in one of the clauses of this bill. We should not open the gates so wide that the prosecution will have an easier job in proving its case. Instead, we should be looking to the continual evolution of the system of protecting the individual.
I am prepared to admit that the original Crimes Act needs consideration and discussion and even radical alteration. I am prepared to admit that the law needs continual revision. But in this instance the Government is following the unfortunate tradition that has developed over the last ten or eleven years and is going against the evolutionary tide of the development of human freedom.
I should like to read an extract from a book entitled “ The Structure of Freedom “ which was written by Christian Bay, a Norwegian who has studied in An. -ica and in other countries. T think that the extract which T shall read is most appropriate. Tt is in these terms -
The more tolerance for a variety of opinions a citizenship has developed, the more individuals can live according to the;r own lights without coming into conflicts with others This depends of course in part on the contents of convictions - some are inherently antisocial and antagonistic to others. On the whole, however, I have come to the conclusion that persons who enjoy a good degree of psychological, social, and potential freedom will develop humanistic and tolerant convictions. And on the political problem of producing a maximal freedom, I have concluded that a constitutional process of gradually expanding human rights offers the best hope.
There are a number of other appropriate and relevant passages in similar books. Through this legislation the Government is working against the evolution of freedom and trust in the community. The legislation should be rejected. If we examine the bill we shall find a number of objectionable clauses. We object to the vagueness of the bill as a whole; we object to the clause which, to use perhaps a slightly extreme term, may be called the pimping clause; we object to the principle of proclaimed countries and to all the vagueness that goes with it; we object to secret trials; we object to something that is much more abstract and difficult to pinpoint - the inhibition of the ordinary and justifiable political and industrial activity which flows from such measures.
I have examined the Attorney-General’s address to the High Court when the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was before it. On that occasion he said that the bill was not punitive but preventive. In this instance he has changed the word and claims that the Crimes Bill is a deterrent. He hopes that it will deter the kind of activity which produces the crimes which have been specified. We believe that it will be an inhibiting factor in the community and that in the end it will suppress, unjustifiably, ordinary legitimate political activity. We believe that people will be afraid to do this or that; to attend peace congresses; to take part in May Day processions and so on; to speak on street corners, or to state their views when they believe that justice has been betrayed. We believe that one of the reasons why we are so happily set in a community which believes in these ideals and principles is that people in the past have stood up against discouragement, and have fought for these ideals and principles. We believe, therefore, that this bill ought to be rejected and redrafted.
The bill includes in its provisions the penalty of capital punishment - something which is rapidly losing favour in every civilized community, and is regarded as barbaric by a great number of people. The bill specifies a number of acts which will be punishable at law, but we think that its very vagueness in relation to each one of these acts holds perils for the ordinary citizen. For instance paragraph (d) of proposed new section 24. - (1.) provides that the penalty that may be imposed upon a person who assists “ by any means whatever an enemy at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared”, shall be death. That is a dreadful penalty. It holds dreadful threats to anybody, and the provision is vague. It is not specific. How are we to know what is in the mind of the executive when it is declaring these things to be treasonable? The Attorney-General or some other person specified in the act may take this action, but how do we know who will be the Attorney-General when the prosecution is authorized? Also, how do we know how the emotional context of the times may prejudice a free trial, as has occurred in the past in Australia itself.
Proposed new section 24 (2.) reads -
A person who -
knowing, that a person intends to commit treason, does not give information thereof with all reasonable despatch to a constable or use other reasonable endeavours to prevent the commission of the offence, shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
Penalty: Imprisonment for life.
We say that this threatens the security even of the family. We say that this is the very spirit of the laws by which fascism and nazism broke down the whole structure of Italy and Germany. Probably that is the case even in Russia, and was so particularly during the Stalin regime. We say that in this community there is no place for that kind of law.
We believe that the treachery provisions, which are after all not so much aimed at protecting our own country as at protecting friends of this country, are also extremely vague. Who are our friends? Of course, foreign policy is the policy of the government in power. One has only to ask a question in the House to discover how much vagueness there is in all this. When we ask the Prime. Minister and Minister for
External Affairs (Mr. Menzies) what he means by the free world he will not say. He does not know. He says it is an imprecise term. We cannot have imprecise terms creeping into our legislation, or into the spirit and exercise of legislation, or into the authorization of prosecutions, when people’s lives are at stake. We cannot tolerate that.
The provisions regarding treachery contained in proposed new section 24aa. hold a menace for everybody. What is the position in the case of Cyprus? What would have been the position in the case of Ireland some 30 or 40 years ago? What would be the position in the immediate future if the Government decided to give effect to this provision? We know that the power to proclaim a country under this section resides in the Parliament, but we also know perfectly well, as the result of experience in the last few years, that when the government in power decides that something will be done it has the numbers to enforce its will, and that its supporters on the other side of the House will stand faithfully by it and rubber-stamp its decision. So there is no security in the provision that power to proclaim a country will reside in the Parliament, except that perhaps we shall know what country is to be proclaimed.
Oil from the Middle East may be considered a matter vital to our security, and therefore countries in the Middle East could be proclaimed. What countries are these? They are the sheikdoms of the Middle East, the territories ruled by King Saud and all the rest of them. Are we to be prevented from advocating a change in those countries? There are so many countries to-day to. whose governments we strongly object, and it is reasonable for people to be able to speak about them. Indeed, the Prime Minister earlier in the year, in the. case of South Africa, did less than his duty to Australia and to the Commonwealth of Nations and to the world by his failure to speak on the South African tragedy. Of course, we have a duty and a responsibility in that respect.
There are closely integrated states in the world, associating with one another at the United Nations, where the leaders speak to one another across the floor. It is our duty, too, to speak out. You may say that something that is happening 10,000- or 12,000 miles away is no concern of ours, but if Australia had not felt, and Dr. Evatt, as Minister for External Affairs in the Labour Government, had not felt, that what was happening on the other side of the world was also our concern, there would probably be no country of Israel to-day.
So we feel that the provision regarding treachery is an inhibiting provision even if the Government never uses it. Even if the provision just lies dormant as so many other legislative provisions do, while it exists it will tend to inhibit reasonable and free and perhaps profitable discussion.
We are also against the provision in respect of espionage. This provides that a person who for a purpose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial, to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen’s dominions, makes a sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article that is likely to be, might be or is intended) to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy or a foreign power shall be guilty of an indictable offence. It does not matter whether or not the information would be useful to an enemy. Neither does it matter where the information comes from. I suggest that everybody read the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) on this provision, in which he outlined all the things that could happen. The provision is vague in the extreme. It menaces every man unless he walks around with his eyes shut and his hands in his pockets, or stays at home, particularly if he is a person with a known character. And the known character of a person is not a matter for interpretation by the court. It is not an attitude of mind in ‘people, but could depend on an attitude of mind in the members of the government.
Then we have the provision regarding official secrets. What is the position of a person serving in the Citizen Military Forces who knows something about the internal organization of the Army or about its equipment? What is the position of a person who serves in any of the other defence forces and is in contact with its affairs? Is this provision an attempt to prejudice such people and prevent them from speaking, in the public interest, on any and every occasion when they feel it to be necessary, about what they know?
What about information obtained by a member of the Parliament? As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out, information, to come within the category of official secret, does not need to be either official or secret. I believe that nothing more farcical has been heard recently than the answer given to a senator by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) when he was questioned on notice about the horsepower, &c., of some of his ships. He replied that the information was classified. That was the Minister’s opinion. But, unfortunately - and I hope that this caused him a good deal of embarrassment - the information had already been obtained from “ Jane’s Fighting Ships “, to which it had originally been supplied from official sources.
We believe that the attitudes of this Government over the last eleven years give us no cause for feeling secure about how the legislation will be applied. So, on those grounds, we believe that the bill ought to be withdrawn and redrafted. When one speaks in that way people are inclined to say, “ Ah, yes, but in this country things like that do not happen “. It can happen here. We look up the records. We think back to more than 40 years ago, to a debate in this Parliament in which two members who are still here took part. That was the occasion of the expulsion from this House of the Honorable Hugh McMahon, the Labour member for Kalgoorlie at the time. He was expelled because at a gathering, in Melbourne I think, in referring to British rule in Ireland and the death of one of the leading Irish citizens in prison, he used about the British Empire the term “ a bloody, accursed Empire “. He was expelled from this House on grounds which would come well within the terms of this bill. What has been the judgment of history? The judgment of history, of course, is that the English had to leave Ireland, and that there was no justification for the procedures there.
We turn to the things that can happen, and we test out the principle of trial by jury in relation to them. But these are matters of emotion. Treason, loyalty and espionage are emotional and non-specific matters. I refer honorable members to the case of the Industrial Workers of the World, which occurred in New South Wales over 40 years ago during the First World
War. I will not read all the evidence, but I shall refer to the papers of the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly of New South Wales of 1920. The men concerned had been sentenced to gaol. They had been tried for sabotage, conspiracy, sedition, &c, by a jury. I stress that they had been tried by a jury. They had been sentenced to gaol. They had been taken to, I think, Goulburn gaol. They had been taken there in chains. After a long public outcry and an inquiry, the New South Wales Labour Government which was elected. I think, in 1920, appointed a Commissioner. Mr. Justice Ewing, from Tasmania. He inquired into this matter. These men had, in fact, been incarcerated. In the case of John Hamilton, the Commissioner stated -
It is not just and right that this man should have been convicted.
I remind honorable members that he was tried by a jury. In the case of the man Besant, Mr. Justice Ewing found -
My mind is in such a state of serious doubt with regard to the statement alleged to have been made by him that I feel that he should be given the benefit of that doubt. In my opinion, therefore, it is not right or just that, on the first or third counts, he should have been found guilty.
Concerning Thomas Moore, a man who spent years in prison, Mr. Justice Ewing found -
This suggests to me that Scully charged McAllister with having manufactured his evidence. I am of the opinion that it is not right or just that Moore should ever have been convicted.
The finding in the case of a man named Teen was as follows: -
Teen made no seditious speeches, although he was present on one or two occasions when seditious speeches were made. There is no evidence that he took part in the circulation of “ Sabotage “ or advised people to behave in a lawless manner. In my opinion it is not right and just that he should have been convicted.
Mr. Justice Ewing said the same about a man named Donald Mcpherson. These facts are to be found in the records of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, and they are available in the Parliamentary Library. I suggest to honorable members that when they are charged with the high and honorable duty of protecting people’s rights, they should have a look at history, not so much to see how they can protect themselves with arguments about what somebody said in 1580 or 1860, or what the Labour Party did in 1911, but so that they might learn from the lessons of history to be very jealous of freedom and cautious in the use of executive power against individuals. We do not need to go back 40 years. I am showing honorable members how the vagueness of this bill and the general terms of its provisions prejudice ordinary individual freedom. The records of this country show that although freedom, loyalty, trust and unity are inherent in the Australian character, even here in the recent past, people have suffered because of executive and similar acts against them in times of emotional crisis. The report of Mr. Justice Clyne to this Parliament in 1946 on the Australia First Movement should be studied by supporters of the Government. At page 19 of his report, Mr. Justice Clyne, who had been appointed a commissioner, stated -
I think it is proper to add that the Army authorities were not justified in recommending the detention of the following persons . . .
Mr. Justice Clyne then named eight persons and later in his report he stated - 1 next consider the case of Martin Francis Watts. As I have found, he ought not to have been detained.
I produce the records of these cases, not out of any malicious sense, but because all these examples show that though governments may not be necessarily motivated by malice when questions of heresy or political dispute and other great contentious issues come under discussion, it is very difficult for even persons most highly gifted in law and firmly given to fair play to be objective. The pattern of the past eleven years has violently prejudiced this Government’s chances to stand up and give guarantees of objectivity. We only have to cast our minds back to the recent case of Professor Gluckman. This was a decision of executive government just as it will be a decision of executive government if a country is proclaimed, and a decision of the AttorneyGeneral whether a prosecution may proceed. We have known the case of a man in the Attorney-General’s Department who was dismissed from the service, according to the Attorney-General, because of his known character.
I believe, therefore, that we cannot possibly permit this measure to go on the statute-book. The Parliament is the lawmaking body. It must not allow on the statute-book measures which contain repugnant provisions. Many of the provisions of the bill, particularly on sabotage and espionage, hold a great threat to the trade union movement. We have only to listen to the statements from the Government side of the House to know that supporters of the Government look upon the trade union movement as a sinister force. Actually, the trade union movement is one of the great disciplining forces of this nation. The million or more members of the trade union movement, particularly of the great industrial unions such as the waterside workers, the railway men and so on, are a disciplining force in the community because they know how to stand side by side and together when great issues are at stake.
For these reasons, we believe that the bill, particularly the very broad provisions of it, are unnecessary. We have seen this for ourselves. We know from our own personal experience that it is unnecessary to treat Australians in this way. I remember one example from my war-time service when I was involved in some administrative matters in head-quarters at Melbourne. The man-power authorities gave the provosts the right to pick up civilians and examine them to see whether they were absent without leave from the Army. Many of us thought that was reasonable. About that time, I was in the Melbourne gaol - carrying out my duties as an investigator and not as a customer - and I heard a still small voice outside saying, “ You can’t touch me “. I heard loud voices shouting hysterically at the man. I saw two large men - larger than the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) - and another man smaller than the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn), and these men were threatening him. They had picked up this small man in the streets on suspicion. He was a British seaman and he spent the next day in gaol. The following day the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who was then a Minister in the Labour Government, took this power away. I learnt a lesson from my war-time experience and from what I know of the people of this community and the trade union movement, I am prepared to trust everybody with freedom and nobody with absolute irresponsible power.
Sitting suspended from 12.42 to 2.15 p.m.
– The bill which we are discussing is the Crimes Bill 1960, which is designed to amend the Crimes Act 1914-1959. Whilst most honorable members quite understand what the Crimes Act is, a great many people outside obviously do not. I want to make it quite clear to such people that the act has nothing whatever to do with crime in the ordinary, accepted sense of the term. For instance, it does not deal with murder or robbery with violence, or any of those things which are dealt with under the ordinary criminal code unless, of course, such acts constitute a threat to the security of the country. This act and the amending bill are essentially security measures for the purpose of safeguarding Australia against external attack and internal subversion. If that is clear, then the purpose of the legislation which is before this House will be better understood.
The Crimes Act and this bill represent the accumulation of the wisdom of centuries on the subject of dealing with those things which threaten the security of the nation. From time to time, the ideas have been added to in the light of experience. It is quite true that, for a very long time, there has been very little alteration to this legislation. Human nature alters very little and very slowly. For centuries the methods of waging war followed a fairly regular pattern. But since the two great world conflicts, war has entirely changed its complexion. Total war, which had been unknown since the days of Genghis Khan, has assumed a new significance. The methods of Genghis Khan in total war have been injected into a world in which the people who wage war are possessed of the most dreadful instruments of destruction and the most up-to-date means of subverting the human mind.
Consequently, we must keep in mind - I am afraid that quite a number of learned people outside this House have forgotten it - that we are not dealing with things as they were in the past, but with modern means of destruction and modern means of subversion. By radio, television and all the other means of propaganda the minds of men can be blinded to the danger. Particularly can that danger be obscured by the propaganda of so-called “ peace-loving nations “. When I hear that nauseating phrase coming from men who are pressing the soul out of people I want to go outside and vomit
I believe that when certain amendments to the bill which have been forecast by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) have been introduced there will be very little in this measure to which reasonable people can raise objection. I fully recognize that this is a British Parliament in which members of the Opposition have the right to put forward the views of the minority which they represent. I recognize that, without bias, hatred or insidious purpose, they may fully discharge the duty that we would discharge if we sat on the other side of the House, although perhaps we would speak in somewhat different terms.
Here is something which the Opposition might ponder: My mind goes back to 1938 and the immediately preceding years when the Labour Party rose in a frenzy and attacked the Government because it was taking steps to increase the entirely inadequate vote for the defence of Australia. We were assured that there was no necessity for that. According to the Opposition, it was quite inconceivable that there would be war or if there were a war, it would not matter much to Australia. Therefore, it was wrong that we should prepare to defend ourselves. That was the opinion of people who were pacifists, or misinformed, or whatever you like. The fact remains that if they had won their point this nation would have been in an infinitely worse state than it was at the beginning of World War II. As it was, Australia was almost entirely unprepared.
When members of the Opposition attack this measure they should face up to the unpleasant fact that we live in an insecure world in which treachery exists. They must make up their minds just how far bipartisanism can go in regard to matters which affect the nation. I want to make it quite clear that I understand the Opposition’s approach but I understand, too, that Labour made the mistake, once, of wrongly influencing people when we were on the brink of the most terrible dictatorship that ever threatened the world - the Nazi dictatorship. If honorable members opposite are not careful, they will find themselves in precisely the same position in relation to the dictatorship which emanates from behind the iron curtain.
My friend, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), mentioned what he believed to be some miscarriages of justice. I am not going to pursue that line except to say that one case to which he referred is now history. At the time it occurred I was in the Parliament of New South Wales. Certain people who had been gaoled were subsequently released by a commission. Without reflecting upon the commission, I want to say that the wave of incendiarism which had been destroying farms, warehouses and other assets abated when the authorities took action and certain people were apprehended.
Let me remind the honorable member also that cases of miscarriage of justice do not occur only in connexion with the Crimes Act. They occur, unfortunately, in matters involving all parts of the ordinary criminal code. Innocent men have even been hanged under the provisions of that criminal code on what appeared to be the most convincing evidence. Yet people do not seriously raise objections to the code, except, perhaps, to suggest that there should be no capital punishment.
I now pass on to a discussion of the purposes of the bill. The measure is designed to bring the act up to date and more into line with modern experience of war. A second purpose is to protect the nation against attack from without and subversion from within. Are there real dangers of attack from without and of subversion from within, and, if so, does the bill serve the purpose of strengthening our protective machinery? Let me say, first, that I am not unduly impressed by the opinions of learned professors of law or of legal luminaries. I do not discount the great value of these gentlemen to the community, and I do not suggest that members of various courts, even of the High Court, have not in many cases in the past been unanimous in their decisions. The point I wish to make is this: Interpretation of law is, in the -final analysis, a matter of opinion, whether the opinion be that of a learned professor or of a judge of one of the courts. When we find that judges, like doctors, disagree, it is then time, I suggest, for men of ordinary common sense and judgment to determine, in the light of all the facts and not just of theories, what is the best course to follow. When an assessment of facts is involved, I would rather depend upon the judgment of men experienced in dealing with facts and with men than upon the theories that may be put forward by the legal experts.
I believe the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has done Australia a real service in bringing forward this amending bill, and when he presents certain foreshadowed amendments I do not think Australia will have much reason to regret the introduction of the measure.
I wish to deal briefly with a statement which was made by a gentleman for whose legal knowledge I have some considerable respect. I refer to Professor Geoffrey Sawer, who is reported to have said that it is ridiculous to make it an offence to send information to a foreign power. A newspaper report which I have before me attributes the following remarks to Professor Sawer: -
It is ridiculous to make it an offence to send public information to a foreign power, merely because the nut who does it may have some idea of doing the country a bad turn, and there is serious danger of innocent activities being made to appear criminal..
I just remind the House of the activities of an organization known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. The members of that organization controlled a wireless station outside the city of Newcastle during the last year. They came under the influence, perhaps without their being fully aware of it, of a very clever German espionage set. The station used to broadcast beautiful hymns just as a troopship was leaving to go overseas. A hymn such as “ We Will All Meet at Jordan “ would be broadcast, and it transpired that a first-class code was being used to let the enemy know the destination of the troopship so that the waiting submarines and surface vessels could have a cut at our troops who were going overseas. It is all very well to ridicule the idea of making it an offence to send out information, either in time of war or in time of cold war, which is a situation peculiar to modern times and brought about to a large extent by the introduction of modern techniques. If there is anything more innocent than playing a hymn on the radio I would like to know of it. If there is anything more pernicious than giving assistance to the enemy by sending information as to the destination and probable route of troopships, I have yet to find it.
I will now pass on to the matter of the approach to this measure of the trade unions. My own opinion is that they have been misinformed. I do not think that any sane person, and certainly not any member of this House, really believes that the unions are other than a source of strength to their members in the protection of their collective interests, in the proper organization of industrial forces and in the working out of arbitration arrangements.
As long as they are responsibly led the unions are of great value and service to the community. I would be the last to be associated with any attempt to undermine their strength or their capacity either to look after their own interests or the broader interests of the nation. But since historical matters have been brought up, let me recall that during the last war it was Ernest Bevin, one of the greatest Labour leaders that Britain has ever produced, who was forced to introduce the severest possible industrial code. Why did he do so? He did so because, as he said in the House of Commons, there was a string of Communist agents who were constantly undermining the whole industrial fabric of Great Britain. There was a conspiracy to destroy the will to work and the will to win in the struggle that was going on. Those people, trading on the loyalty which is one of the finest aspects of the trade union movement, were using the unions to destroy the very country and the very people that they pretended to serve.
There is nothing in this measure which could approach, even in imagination, the severity of the special regulations introduced by Ernest Bevin under the. Defence of the Realm Act. He knew the good and solid type of trade unionist, and he knew that what was being done was subversive. He took the proper steps to deal with it and he smashed the effort that was being made to destroy Britain’s capacity to assist in winning the war.
I am not going to quote innumerable legal arguments and I am not going to indulge in hair-splitting as to the meaning of words and phrases. I want to get down to the real common-sense basis of this measure. One of the aspects of the bill that has been ridiculed, both inside and outside this House, is the provision for dealing with public servants who go astray. Let me recount my own experience again. I do not want to speak from the book; I will tell you what I know. In 1953 I was in Sweden, and I may say that I have never seen a country more prosperous. I have never seen so little poverty, such healthy people or such clean and robust children as I saw in Sweden. I saw little of extreme wealth; I saw much of a high average standard of living. Yet, as I travelled through that country I sensed, partly as a result of my public training, that there was something wrong. I noticed certain gentlemen strolling around in pairs. They apparently had nothing to do and were obviously not ordinary police. The further I went in Sweden, the more I gained the impression that there was something, on which I could not put my finger, that did not fit satisfactorily into the picture.
I left Sweden after about a fortnight and went to Denmark. The day after I landed in that country the Swedish Government swooped and gathered in a number of people who were participating in a widespread conspiracy. These people included a number of public servants, and they had been selling all the inner secrets of Sweden’s defence system to the Russian Communists across the border.
We have in Australia people who say that it cannot happen here. Of course it can happen here. It may be happening at the present time. We cannot altogether stop it. But Sweden was a country which had every reason to avoid anything of the kind. Its standard of living was high and for 160 years it had not had a war within its borders. Yet there were in Sweden people who were trying to sell the country down the drain and to deprive it of its only chance of putting up a fight for its existence. When I asked why this sort of thing was happening in Sweden, I was informed by a chief of the Danish intelligence service - I shall not mention his name - that the Swedes were afraid of fear. He said, “We have been through it, and the next time an invader wants to come into Denmark, he will enter over our dead bodies. We know the worst, but Sweden only fears it. We have 1 per cent. of communism and the Swedes have 9 per cent.” And the 9 per cent, were working very effectively. For these reasons, Sir, I think that the measure now before us is not too stringent.
Let us now consider the argument that if this bill is passed our liberties can be taken away, our free speech can be completely stifled, and all that kind of thing. Here, I am reminded of something that happened in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly nearly 40 years ago, when a Labour Minister - a man whom I greatly respected - introduced a measure to consolidate the Stock Act. A member on my own side of the Legislative Assembly attacked that measure and completely proved to his own satisfaction and, I think, to that of most of his colleagues that a man could be dispossessed of his property and driven forth in penury and that his wife and children could starve as a consequence. The member in question really spoke in the most effective manner of an Opposition member. The Minister replied in these terms: “ Mr. Speaker, I admit that these things are possible and that under the terms of almost any act of Parliament extreme things can be done. All that I want to say to the honorable member is that the provision about which he complains has been in the old act for 40 years, and it has been transplanted into the new measure without a single amendment.” A similar answer can be given to a great deal of the criticism of the bill now before us. What really matters is not what is in an enactment but what is the general attitude of the members of the community towards their own safety.
I pass on now to a point which I think is of first-rate importance in the consideration of this measure. I do not think that more than perhaps 10 per cent, of the Australian people really understand what can happen in countries where internal subversion takes place as a preliminary to external attack. That 10 per cent, would be composed almost entirely, if not entirely, of people who fled before the Communist incursions and excursions into their own countries and before the oppression of the Nazis. They first saw the Nazis and the Communists undermine their countries before walking in and taking over. These people understand what it is to live in a country were fear rules, where no man can be sure that his freedom and liberty are secure and where no man dare speak out as we in Australia can do in ordinary public meetings and criticize the government or the system which controls our workaday activities. We can do that so long as we observe the reasonable restraints which Liberty imposes upon people, and we have nothing to fear. I recall an occasion when a statesman who was supposed later to have jumped from a window, but who did not, said to me, “When I look at the Germans achieving things at the rate at which they are achieving them, what I see makes me thoughtful, but for my part I do not want to spend the rest of my life in a concentration camp or be shot at dawn if T disagree with something that is being done “.
In Australia, Sir, we have all the blessings that freedom confers. Our people can come to our Parliament and protest here without being hustled about, as long as they behave themselves in a normal fashion. We have freedom which enables all the pundits outside this Parliament, and all the people who think they know all the answers, to state their attitudes and views. In our country, they are entitled to do that. We breathe freedom as children, and we grow up to be men and women living in freedom. I believe that in the final analysis there would be no faltering on the part of any Australian, irrespective of the political party which he supports, in his determination to defend this freedom.
What I want to make clear is that unless we learn the lessons of the last 20 or 30 years - unless we learn what subversion, sabotage and espionage can do - we may find ourselves in a position similar to that of people in other countries who dare not talk freely, because they are afraid that the next man may be an agent of the secret police, that the man who talks to them in a friendly way may himself be an agent or even that their own families may sacrifice them. These are the things which the Australian people have to wake up to. I know that when I say that, people outside this Parliament who are opposed to this bill will say that they fear that these very things will be the result of the passage of this measure. I have no such fears. I have no illusions about the fact that there may be some miscarriages of justice, just as there are in respect of every act of Parliament that has been passed.
I can answer with a clear conscience these arguments which are advanced by those who oppose the bill. I believe that this measure should be passed substantially in the form in which it has been drafted, so that the descendants of those who criticize it to-day may, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years hence, be just as free to criticize and oppose a measure as I am free to support the present bill. I conclude by saying that I support it.
.- Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) has talked about civil liberties and about the great freedoms that prevail in our country. They do indeed prevail, but perhaps to a lesser degree than is suggested by the honorable member. I agree with him that we must be wary of assault on these civil liberties and freedoms, but I think he assumes wrongly that they can be assailed only by groups within the community and not by executive government. The fact is that executive governments in other parts of the world have steadily sapped the vitality of freedom and civil liberty as national qualities. I believe that this is the great issue about which so many people in the Australian community are concerned to-day.
We are now considering the Crimes Bill 1960, Mr. Speaker. It is unquestionably a most complex measure. That is evidenced by the fact that it comprises 60 clauses and 33 pages and contains many hundreds of words. Its complexity is evidenced also by the great controversy that has manifested itself among the legal experts - the legal luminaries - who no doubt in time to come will engage in verbal conflict at great expense to somebody in order to have the real meaning of this bill interpreted. In addition, of course, many people associated with university faculties, trade unions and other organizations have difficulty in agreeing on what this legislation means. Honorable members opposite, soon after this legislation was introduced some weeks ago, contended that everything was satisfactory and that there was nothing to worry about. But what has happened since then? The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), of course, has already prepared amendments.
If the bill was good enough some weeks ago and if there was nothing to worry about then, why has he taken the trouble to prepare these substantial amendments? Why are we not told frankly that the AttorneyGeneral is in the process of bringing down another four pages of amendments? How bad would this legislation have been if these amendments had not been prepared? The matter is still one for justifiable concern.
Even the name of the bill is a trap for the unwary. It is called the Crimes Bill, and many people disregard the prospect of its application to them. This bill is said to concern crime, and who amongst us would contemplate that a bill dealing with crime would be a matter of personal concern at some future time? If the bill had been named, as it might appropriately have been named, “ Restriction of Civil Liberties Bill “. we would undoubtedly have had a far greater spontaneous reaction against it than we have had against the bill with its present name.
When we examine the legislation, we should keep in mind the remarks of the honorable member for New England, who spoke just a short time ago. We must examine it in the light of the very obvious fact that civil liberties can be impaired by the executive Government itself. We must examine the objects and motives of this Government and look at its record. I do not intend to spend much time on this aspect, but there is plenty of evidence to establish that this Government has no qualms about treading on traditional civil liberties and freedoms. This was shown in the introduction of legislation to authorize telephone tapping not very long ago. To-day, not only the Attorney-General but also a public servant, the Director-General of Security, in certain circumstances may sign a warrant to permit the tapping of telephones.
– Only temporarily.
– I admit that his warrant is only temporary, but no one can be sure to-day that a private telephone conversation is not being overheard. This applies to the doctor and his patient, the lawyer and his client, the parishioner and his priest and indeed the parliamentarian and his constituent. A constituent cannot telephone me to complain about the attitude of the Prime Minister at the United Nations or to express forthright views on the Crimes Bill with immunity from the interference of a government-appointed spiv or spy. This can be done by executive action of the Government.
There are many other indications of this tendency. The Government has shown by its overt acts that it is not enthusiastically concerned with the protection of civil liberties. This is a most important matter and the Opposition is very concerned about it. People have come here from abroad, representing reputable trade unions, and it has been undeniably revealed in the Parliament that they have been trailed by security service men intent on collecting a dossier, and on learning who has associated with them and other matters of a similar nature. Is it not true that the Prime Minister admitted a short time ago that security officers attended the meeting of Commonwealth public servants in Wynyard Park and surreptitiously took shorthand notes of what was said so that they could compile a dossier? The honorable member for New England seems to discount the prospect of the executive Government sapping the vitality of the country and destroying the freedoms for which men have fought and died in both peace and war.
I could give many other similar examples, but I will not have time to make substantial reference to them. I mention, however, that only a matter of weeks ago we had the Professor Gluckman case. He, too, was the subject of some secret report. Here, a man with an international reputation, appreciated in countries all over the world, was charged in a secret document but was not given the opportunity to question its authenticity or to establish his reputation. This type of act brands this Government as unworthy of being the custodian of Australian traditional freedom and civil liberty. Then we have the matter of immigrants whose applications for naturalization have been refused. These people are enticed to this country; they are invited to relinquish their homes and jobs in other countries. Having run the gauntlet of the screening apparatus in other countries, they are denied naturalization in Australia, but are not given any intimation of the reason for this denial.
We are now told that some 8,121 immigrants have been affected in this way. They have no redress. There is no independent authority to which they can appeal. This is a sorry state of affairs! We cannot say how many of them have been done irreparable harm in this way.
We say that one of the fundamentals of democracy is the traditional right of all Australians to be presumed innocent until their guilt of an offence with which they have been charged has been proved. Because of the matters that I have mentioned and others that I will mention, there is a wholesale spontaneous opposition to this bill. It is ridiculous- to say that this opposition is Communist-inspired. The Australian Journalists Association has expressed itself in a most effective way. In a considered submission, it has analysed the legislation, and not one Government supporter has destroyed the case that this association has prepared and circulated amongst all honorable members. The bill is opposed by organizations which have as their aim the fostering of peace, friendship and understanding with other nations. They are concerned to discover that this legislation involves a breach of Article 19 of the United Nations Charter - the Declaration of Human Rights - which says that every one has the right of freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart opinions and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
The trade unions throughout Australia are united in opposing this measure and have spoken with one voice through the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Every member, be he Liberal or Labour, has been inundated with strong protests from all these groups. The legislation is opposed by many churches, even at the State level. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria has made a well-considered and most impressive submission. I will not refer to all the points raised by this church of which the Prime Minister is a member, but its submission concludes with these words -
The Church, therefore, alerts the nation and congregation within the bounds to the dangers inherent in this legislation.
With Professor Julius Stone, Mr. Kerr, Q.C., Mr. Cohen, Professor Geoffrey
Sawer and other lovers of civil liberties, we express our concern at the way our freedom is being impaired. It is not the Communists who are now taking away our civil liberties; a very substantial effort to do this is being made by the Executive Government. I think it is fair to say in respect of this matter and the other matters to which I have referred - especially the tapping of telephones - that the Government is disregarding the will of the people. There is plenty of evidence that the Government has held this attitude on other matters. There has been a sustained campaign for the seduction of minority opinion by this Government. This was evidenced by the Communist Party Dissolution Bill which was introduced in 1951 and rejected enthusiastically by the High Court. Indeed, it was rejected by Australian public opinion. Then, of course, we had the hysterical contention that spies were running wild in this country. On the eve of the 1954-55 election, the Petrov royal commission was established. After a long, drawn-out inquiry, no one was indicted and no acts of espionage were found to have been proved. We know, too, what the Government did in 1959 when people wanted to attend the Australian congress for peace and disarmament. We know how a learned professor - there were probably others - was intimidated and deterred from continuing with his activities in regard to this matter.
The honorable member for New England, who preceded me in this debate, should have a look at the way our civil liberties are being swept away by the Government. He should keep in mind that, as a member of the Australian Country Party, he supports this Government. He need not attempt to put himself to one side in isolation; the community recognizes that the Australian Country Party is part and parcel of the Government and joins in the iniquitous acts being perpetrated at this stage. The Opposition is examining this legislation thoroughly. It has been in operation for some years now, having been introduced by the Fisher Government soon after the outbreak of the 1914-18 war. There have been subsequent amendments, but we of the Opposition disagree with many of the provisions in this legislation. For instance, we disagree with the obnoxious provision in section 30j, which declares people guilty merely on the score of association. There is no need for me to elaborate that point, for I am sure all honorable members will agree that section 30j of the Crimes Act is indeed an obnoxious provision.
I should like to see honorable members on the Government side show some interest in many other provisions in both the principal act and the bill. It is still a matter for great regret that people who come to [his country from overseas at the request of the Government may obtain only secondclass citizenship. Why, at one time, the principal act even contained provisions which involved the deportation of naturalized Australians and other people who were not born in this country. Although that anomaly has been corrected in the Australian Nationality and Citizenship Act, no effort has been made to remedy the position in the Crimes Act. I suggest that the Government might well give close scrutiny to that point in the very near future.
I come now to some of the provisions in the bill itself and deal first with clause 23, which seeks to amend section 24 of the principal act wherein provision is made to deal with persons guilty of treason. Under proposed new section 24 (1.) (c) a person is said to be guilty of treason if he levies war, or does any act preparatory to levying war, against the Commonwealth. That provision requires some examination, and I shall deal with it in a moment. Proposed section 24 (1.) (d) declares that a person is guilty of an indictable offence called treason if he assists by any means whatever an pp<”-“ at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared. Again, he is held to be guilty of treason if he instigates a foreigner to make an armed invasion of the Commonwealth or any Territory not forming part of the Commonwealth, or if he forms an intention to do any act referred to in the previous paragraphs of the proposed sub-section and manifests that intention by an overt act. For that offence, he becomes liable to the punishment of death.
The important point about that clause is that it greatly enlarges the existing definition of treason. It also removes territorial limitations and asserts the right to try people whether or not they are Australian citizens, and irrespective of whether the offence was committed in Australia. I submit that such a provision is most impracticable. The essence of the crime of treason lies in violation of allegiance to the sovereign by British subjects. This provision goes much further than that, and I submit that it is impossible of implementation. As I have said, proposed section 24 (1.) (c) makes it an offence for a person to levy war or to do any act preparatory to levying war. What is the meaning of the term “ does any act preparatory to levying war “? Some members of the legal profession have examined this point and have gone as far back as the judgment of Lord Mansfield in the case taken by the Crown against Lord Gordon in 1781. In that judgment, Lord Mansfield said -
Insurrections by force and violence to raise the price of wages, to open all prisons, to destroy meeting houses . . . have all been held levying war.
If Lord Mansfield’s judgment in that case is a precedent of any substance, then it is possible that trade union executives could be dealt with under this provision. For instance, if trade union members assembled in Wynyard Park, Sydney, to march to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, as they have done on previous occasions, and if they were intercepted by the police and there were some trouble, it could be argued that those people could be charged with an indictable offence under this provision and become liable to the death penalty. Under the provision regarding levying war, a trade union leader who called that meeting in Wynyard Park would be subject to the same embarrassment and inconvenience as the members who took part in the demonstration. Even though he were not present at the demonstration, if it were found that he took any part in inducing the members to attend the meeting, he could be charged with doing an act preparatory to levying war. I emphasize that all this is possible if the precedent set by Lord Mansfield has any substance in it. The position should be examined closely by the Government.
As I have said, proposed section 24 (1.) (d) makes it an offence if a person assists by any means whatever an enemy at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared. The interesting point here is that again the citizen charged is faced with the death penalty, and I submit that in those circumstances he is entitled to a proper definition of the offence. Certainly he is entitled to some definition of the meaning of the words “ whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared “. It is of the very essence of our system of British justice that there should be a proper definition of these things, and this bill makes no attempt to define the countries which may be at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared. Some legal opinion suggests that under this bill an enemy is not even held to be a nation. For instance, the enemy could be Malayan terrorists, an insurgent group within a territory, or a group fighting the United Nations forces. Again, in the Korean war Chinese volunteers were fighting the United Nations forces along the Yalu River some time ago. Would China have been an enemy at war had this legislation been in operation at that time? If so, what would have been the position of those who advocated recognition of China, or the exchanging of information on trade, industrial conditions, health or cultural matters? What would have been the position of those who criticized the United Nations campaign? It has to be remembered that Australians were amongst the United Nations forces at that time. Would those people have been held to have been assisting the enemy?
Proposed section 24 (1.) (f) declares that a person who forms an intention to do any of the acts referred to in previous parts of the proposed section is guilty of treason. I emphasize that the offence is not actually committing the act, but forming the intention to do it, and manifesting that intention by some overt act. It is not necessary under this provision actually to assist the enemy; all that is necessary is to form the intention to assist the enemy whether or not a state of war has been declared. Further, the overt or open act required to be proved is not the overt act of assistance to the enemy; it is merely an overt act evidencing intention to assist. In those circumstances, a speech or an article advocating trade with or recognition of China would be sufficient to render a per son liable to indictment. If, for instance, United States forces were stationed on Matsu, Quemoy or Formosa all that would be necessary would be to prove that a person delivered a speech or wrote an article advocating recognition of China and that person could be indicted for assisting the enemy.
It is interesting here to examine proposed section 24 (2.) (b), which provides that a person is guilty of an indictable offence if, knowing that a person intends to commit treason, he does not give information thereof with all reasonable despatch to a constable, or if he does not use other reasonable endeavours to prevent the commission of the offence. In other words, he is held to be guilty of an offence if he does not give information about one who intends to commit treason or if he fails to use reasonable endeavours to prevent acts of treason. Here we come to the question of informing. This provision is designed to make informers of people. Between 1939 and 1945, every one was expressing horror at the way children were used in Germany to inform against their parents and neighbours. This measure is clearly designed to make informers out of husbands and wives, mothers and sons, brothers and sisters, neighbours and friends. When this bill becomes law, it will be a question of a child saying, “ Good morning, mother, have you any dangerous thoughts to-day? “ If the mother has any dangerous thoughts, then there is an obligation upon the child to inform against her. To my way of thinking, such a requirement is beyond all comprehension. One is required to inform even in the case of intention to do certain things. For example, if a person mentions that he proposes to write an article or make a speech, one will be expected to be able to discover an intention to write a treasonable article or make a treasonable speech, and one must make reasonable endeavours to prevent the committing of an offence! What are the reasonable endeavours one is required to make to prevent treason? For instance, will it be necessary to sit up half the night endeavouring to talk one’s brother out of making a speech, or must one sit up all night attempting to dissuade him? Again, will it be reasonable enough to telephone from Canberra to Sydney, or must one telephone from Melbourne? None of the* things is clearly denned, and nobody knows where he stands. We rate them as wholly undemocratic and unacceptable. There is tremendous scope for abuse and perjury and, as the late Mr. Chifley said, this sort of legislation is capable of introducing an era of pimps and informers. I do not think the Australian people would stand for that sort of thing.
There are many other provisions in the measure about which I would like to talk. There are the provisions relating to treachery, sabotage and breaches of the Official Secrets Act. I will deal with provisions relating to treachery, in proposed new section 24aa. The penalty is life imprisonment if you are found guilty of treachery and if you do any act or thing, whether in Australia or elsewhere, in an attempt to overthrow the Constitution of the Commonwealth by revolution or sabotage, or to overthrow by force or violence the Government of the Commonwealth or of a proclaimed country. There are other interesting associated provisions. It is treachery to levy war or to do any act preparatory to levying war, or to assist by any means whatever an enemy of and at war with a proclaimed country, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared. What a formidable array of possibilities.
How is a person in Australia to know whether a state of war exists, undeclared, between Australia and another country, or between a proclaimed country and another country? Are we at war at the present time with China? It is true that we have not declared war on China, but we do not recognize the government of that country. What if we declared Formosa to be a proclaimed country? We have all observed that hostilities are in evidence between Formosa and China. There has been shelling and bombing over the straits between mainland China and the islands of Matsu and Quemoy between mainland China and Formosa. People could be in trouble as a result of the Formosan situation. Formosa enjoys the support of the United States of America and if either of those countries w!><; proclaimed, contact with China could be rated as assistance to an enemy of Formosa. In those circumstances, trading with China would be extremely risky; cultural exchanges and, no doubt, reciprocal trade union visits would be out of the question. They may be so at this time, for all we know.
As another instance, the United Arab Republic could easily go to war with the State of Israel. That is a likelihood, and it is also a likelihood that the United Arab Republic could become a proclaimed country. What would then be the position of Jewish people in our community who have strong ties of kinship with Israel? They would find themselves in great difficulty. The United States of America could become a proclaimed country. What would happen then if hostilities broke out between the United States of America and Cuba? That possibility has been mentioned by both presidential candidates in the recent elections in America. Australians would then be in trouble if they were involved in any disruption of communications with the United States of America, involving shipping and transport. Looking back, we can think what might be the current situation. We know what happened in South Korea. If that had been a proclaimed country, Australians who said that the Syngman Rhee government was corrupt, as it has since been proved to be by opinion throughout the world, would have been guilty of treachery in the circumstances I have described. Yet the people of South Korea would have had immunity from this legislation. They were able to say that the Syngman Rhee government was corrupt and they took the appropriate and necessary action to throw it out of office a short time ago.
I would like to proceed to deal with other matters, but unfortunately the repressive tendencies of this Government are such that supporters of the Government and of the Opposition have been provided with only a couple of miserable days in which to discuss this highly controversial legislation. The Opposition has not had time to put forward its views fully. This is a disgusting state of affairs, but it is fair evidence of the fact that this measure is a clear-cut example of executive government sapping the people’s vitality in respect of civil liberties and all those things which we have enjoyed traditionally since Australia became a nation.
– I was very interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), who curtailed his speech by exactly H minutes. What a wonderful gesture! He said the Government was forcing this measure through in two miserable days. Yet when the crimes legislation was originally brought down by a Labour Government in 1914 that government allowed 23 minutes for consideration of the whole of the act. That measure passed through this chamber in 23 minutes. As this debate has been proceeding, weeks have been allowed to the population to read the bill and the speeches made on it. The measure was brought on, and then there was a week’s recess. Now the debate has been resumed. The Opposition has been putting up some sort of a battle, which has not met with any degree of approval from its supporters outside. They have asked us to put some ginger into the Opposition, because they are not satisfied with what honorable members opposite are saying. This is a measure which has been put before the public tribunal. After lying on the table of the House for weeks it was raised before the electors at the Calare by-election in which Labour lost heavily and the Government maintained its majority.
We have listened to the honorable member for Hughes and others on the Opposition side - a flow of words with no logic in them. The honorable member says this measure is a restriction on the liberties of the people, but he gives no example of how those liberties are to be restricted. He gave not one example in the 28i minutes for which he spoke. His speech was just a flow of words and generalizations. He said this measure was an attack on the liberties of the people. I could not help smiling, because if he wants a solid example of civil liberties being suppressed and of men being put in gaol, I urge him to glean it from the library records dealing with the Australia First movement and see how the Labour Party, when in power, suppressed the civil liberties of people - some died in the cells - before bringing them into court to answer the charges on which they were held.
– Who died in the cells?
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra will have his opportunity to speak.
– If I may say so, 1 shudder to think of the day when the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) gets an opportunity to exercise power. We will then see what will happen to the liberties of the people. We have seen Labour in action on these things. The honorable member for Hughes and other members of the Opposition have indulged in generalizations but have not particularized. They know that if they come to any particularization at all the ground will be cut away from under their feet, because there is no basis for the charges they have brought against the Government.
Let us look at the charges which the honorable member for Hughes brought forward. He made great play on proposed new section 24 and said that the offences covered by it were punishable by death. The honorable member tried to lead the House and those whom he sought to impress to believe that, somehow or other, if a person committed any of these crimes the Government would move in and in some high-handed way he would be carted off and shot. But the honorable member knows - I wish he had been forthright in saying it - that any person accused of these crimes must be tried by a judge and jury. He has to go before a judge and jury, and the onus of proof is on the Crown. It has to prove that he committed the crime with which he is charged. It is nonsense to say, as the honorable member did, that an offender will be carted away and shot against a wall. On the contrary, if a man is charged under this legislation, he must be given a fair trial by a judge and jury; and the onus of proof is placed on the Crown right through the bill, particularly under this provision. Then he advanced a childish idea in relation to the application of proposed new section 24(l.)(c) which is in these terms -
– ti.) A person who -
The words “ levying war “ are words of great portent and are easily understood even by the smallest child. The example that the honorable member for Hughes gave of levying war is that of a person who marches in a trade union procession down the street to Wynyard Park. That is the kind of childishness that we have heard from the Opposition. Furthermore, he said that not only is the fellow who marches in the procession guilty of levying war, but also is the trade union secretary who organized the procession even though he may not be taking part in it. What nonsense! Then he moved to proposed new section 24 (1 .) (f) which states -
– (I.) A person who -
He laid no stress upon the phrase “ manifests that intention by an overt act “ which is the operative part of paragraph (f). A man has to manifest the intention to do one of the acts that is referred to in the preceding paragraphs, and he has to manifest that intention by an overt act. Let us look now at the miserable examples that the honorable member gave to demonstrate his interpretation of the paragraph. He said - I wrote this down as he was speaking - that if a man makes a speech he is manifesting an overt act and is forming the intention to do one of the acts which are referred to in the preceding paragraphs, namely, killing the Sovereign, killing the eldest son and heir apparent, and so on. The honorable member’s statements in relation to this aspect show again how childish is the approach of the Labour Party to this matter.
Then he turned his attention to proposed new section 24 (2.) (b) and stated that this section is for the pimps and the informers. He claimed that the application of this subsection will set husband against wife, and that when a little boy wakes up in the morning he will say to his grandmother, “ Grandma, what are you doing this morning? Tell me so that T can run and tell the police about you.” The sub-section reads in this way -
– (2.) A person who -
I ask any fair-minded Australian in this House-
– On this side of the House you mean.
– If there is a fair-minded fellow on the other side of the House I ask him whether, if he knew - I repeat, knew - that a person intended to commit treason, he would keep silent. We are dealing here with treason. This is not relating to burglary, vagrancy or to some petty larceny. This is a matter of treason which has been referred to through countless generations of law.
– What is treason?
– We know what treason is. If any of us knows that a man intends to commit treason is it not our inborn responsibility to give information to some one who will be in a position to prevent that act of treason? Is it not reasonable to include such a provision in the legislation? The act provides that if a man is charged with treason and if he wishes to involve some one else with him by claiming that the second person had full knowledge of the act, the accessory is liable to punishment but only if it is proved that the act done was an act of treason and that he knew that the person charged intended to commit it. The operative word in the paragraph is “ knowing “, not “ gossiping “ or “ suspecting “. If there is a person in the community who intends to commit treason and if this intention comes to the knowledge of another person, is it not that second person’s duty to notify the authorities? Any man who does not do so is acting against the best interests of this country.
It is well known in the community that Labour manifests an intense hatred for the Crimes Act. It makes no bones about that. It hates, not only these proposed amendments, but the Crimes Act itself. Labour believes that the act should be wiped out. The honorable member for Hughes criticized the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) for proposing to introduce further amendments to make the Government’s intentions clearer than they have been.
– He has been driven to it.
– He proposes to make clear, even to the honorable member for Wills, that there will be no interference with political or industrial activities. The honorable member for Hughes claims that it is terrible that the Government should seek to introduce amendments to make the whole matter clear.
The Crimes Act, which Labour professes to hate, was introduced by a Labour government. Since 1914 there have been Labour governments in office but none of them has sought to change one word, one comma or one dot in the act although they have had full authority to do what this Government is proposing to do now. Although they did not attempt to change the act, they did on several occasions invoke it against the workers of this country. That is the position. The Labour Party which professes to hate the Crimes Act - the legislation which it introduced - made no attempt to amend it in any way but, when the occasion arose, did not hesitate to invoke it and to bring to bear upon the workers of Australia the full force of the penalties which are provided in the act.
I have attempted to deal with the speech that was made by the honorable member for Hughes and to study what has happened within the Labour Party. I was most interested to hear what the two barristers in the Opposition had to say about this measure. I refer to the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). As far as I know, they are the only two barristers at present in the Opposition ranks. I looked to them for a little legal information on the bill. All that I can say about the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is that his speech, whether looked at cursorily or carefully, shows that he has the utmost contempt for the law, for proceedings in the courts and for the courts themselves. If honorable members read his speech they will notice that he places no credit upon the judges; that he places no credit upon trial by jury and that he places no credit upon the precedents that have been established in law. lt was obvious during his speech that the honorable member for Werriwa was not thinking of the proposed amendments of the act but about his position in the party. He was playing to the gallery. But through it all, this barrister, this legal entity from the Labour Party, showed that he had no faith in the judges, no faith tn the principle of trial by jury and no faith in the customs and practices of law that have been built up over genera tions. He advanced the same spurious arguments that have been put forward by the sections of the community which are opposed to this measure.
If there ever comes a time when the government of this country falls into the hands of the Labour Party and when one of the barristers sitting opposite has to be the Attorney-General, I shall plump for the honorable member for Kennedy rather than for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. At least, I think that the honorable member for Kennedy believes what he says. Although, as I shall now attempt to prove, his speech did not show a great deal of common sense, nevertheless I think that he is the “better man. The following extract from his speech is an example of what the honorable member for Kennedy regards as sound logic. He said - ff it goes through in its present form, anybody who expresses an opinion contrary to that of the Government on a domestic political issue or an issue of foreign policy could find himself in a concentration camp.
Could anything be more nonsensical than that? The charge is that any person expressing an opinion contrary to the domestic or foreign policy of the Government could find himself in a concentration camp. My great loud-voiced friend from Kennedy said that. He is a barrister, no less. But within the act itself there is a provision that it shall be lawful for a person to do certain things, and the provision sets out clearly the things that a person may do lawfully. He may criticize the Government. He may demonstrate in good faith. It is quite lawful for him to do these things, and there is no change in the original act in that respect.
– What about all the other sections?
– Let us just look at this one, because the honorable member does not like looking at it. It does not suit his book. So we will look at it and try to make it clear that the things that the honorable member for Yarra and his friends of the Labour Party have been telling the people are unlawful, are specifically stated in this section to be lawful. The section destroys completely the argument that the honorable member for Yarra has been putting to the people of Australia. When he tells them that it is going to be unlawful to demonstrate, he knows quite well - because I take it that he has read the bill - that there is a provision which states specifically that it is lawful to demonstrate. When the honorable member says that a person can be punished by death for speaking against the Government he knows full well that in the act it is stated specifically that it shall be lawful for people to do these things and that what he states is nonsense.
I turn to the honorable member for Kennedy, possibly the future AttorneyGeneral of the country. He says that the present distinguished Attorney-General now seeks to put into legislative form the same proposals as were contained in the Communist Party Dissolution Act which was disallowed by the High Court and was also rejected by the people in a referendum. He said, speaking of the Attorney-General -
Apparently, he was sore about the High Court’s decision on the Communist Party Dissolution Act or was disappointed about the result of the referendum, for he now seeks to avail himself of an opportunity to put into legislative form the opinions which he holds with regard to the various propositions which were contained in the Communist Party Dissolution Act.
I wonder about that, because I remember very clearly the Communist Party Dissolution Act. I remember honorable gentlemen opposite standing up one after another and saying to us on this side, “ What is the necessity for bringing down this measure? If you want to do something about the Communists in Australia why not simply amend the Crimes Act?” That is what they said day after day, and then for week after week during the referendum campaign they said that there was no need for the Communist Party Dissolution Act, and that what the Government should do was amend the Crimes Act.
– We did not.
– Oh yes, you did! You said to the people about the Government, “ They have the power. Don’t let this Menzies Government delude you that they need more power. All they need is to amend the Crimes Act.” Now, when we seek to amend the Crimes Act, you say, “ This is a wicked thing. You are only doing it because you did not get the Communist Party Dissolution Act into force.” So much for the logic of the honorable member for Kennedy and his friends. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) is now interjecting. He was not here at the time, but I can assure him that it would do his heart good to read the debate that occurred then. I am sure that if he does so he will be amazed, as I am, by the ability of the Labour Party to turn somersaults on almost every issue - and on none more than on this one.
Now I return to statements made by the honorable member for Kennedy. He said -
Because of the wide definitions of treason, treachery and so on, it will be possible for a person without any guilty intent to transgress and find himself in trouble merely because he has criticized the foreign policy of this Government.
I ask the honorable gentlemen opposite who will follow me in the debate to tell me how, under this bill, a person without any guilty intent could transgress and find himself in trouble merely because he criticized the foreign policy of this Government. Sir, with great respect I say, “ Let us be honest about the thing. Let us put up honest arguments.” I make that plea because that particular argument was a most dishonest one. There is nothing in the bill that says, implies or gives any idea that the sort of thing alleged could occur.
Then the honorable member for Kennedy came to the proposed new section 24ab (3.), which deals with the question of a man’s known character. The learned barrister from Kennedy, this distinguished advocate, says -
I suppose a report from the security service would be sufficient to establish “ known character “. “ I suppose.” With all his learning, after all the long, weary years he spent in order to become a barrister, he comes down to supposing this. But the bill makes it quite clear that the honorable member’s argument is puerile, and that a man is not going to be judged on something that the security service brings forth. The man’s “ known character “ is his known character as proved in a court, and not his known character according to what the honorable gentleman opposite and his friends term “ these faceless informers “. A man’s character has to be proved, and it has to be relevant, as is the case in every court of law.
So much for the contention of the honorable member for Kennedy. He goes on then with some other nonsense. The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) said something about a march down to Wynyard Park, and the honorable member for Kennedy spoke about some other march. This Government has encouraged people to criticize this measure and put forward constructive suggestions about it, and I do not object to constructive suggestions; but I do object to the dishonesty of people who for various reasons, some of them devious I suggest, have told lies about the effect of the measure. For instance, in most of the references I have heard from honorable gentlemen opposite about proposed new section 24ab (3.) there has been a complete omission of certain very important words when they have read the provision out. After the words - was guilty of a particular act- the words - tending to show a purpose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial, to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth have been left out. by them. The result is that their presentation of the provision is recorded in “ Hansard “ with dots instead of the words they have omitted. The provision then reads like this -
On a prosecution under this section it is not necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of a particular act . . . not withstanding that such an act is not proved against him
I ask any member of this House: Is that fair? Is that reasonable? Is it right to take a clause out of a bill and quote it, leaving out the very meat of it, and thereby entirely altering its meaning? It is completely dishonest and unfair to criticize in that way. It is quite wrong. I cannot understand why honorable gentlemen opposite have not taken steps to see that those people whom they control, or who control them, correct these dishonest attacks upon the bill. It is dishonest to change the meaning of a thing by leaving out certain words.
– Why are you such a hypocrite?
– I am afraid that if the honorable gentleman over there - the “ Young Pretender “ - bases his hopes of being Leader of the Opposition on the arguments he has advanced on this bill, he is doomed to disappointment. He will probably be disappointed in any case.
As I started off by saying in this debate, the Crimes Act was introduced originally by the Labour Party. It has been maintained by the Labour Party, and it has been invoked by the Labour Party. I also say that when the Labour Party comes to office and draws the cloak of responsibility on itself, and feels the necessity to look to the security and the defence of this country as a responsible government, it will realize that we must have such a measure as this. All the honorable gentlemen opposite who have sat in Labour cabinets in the past know perfectly well that they would not want to change one word of this bill if they came to office, but would welcome the amendments being made to the original act now. They would do so because the great task of the Crimes Act is to put into the hands of a government an instrument whereby people who may attempt to overthrow Australia by treason, treachery, espionage or sabotage may be stopped from doing their work or, if they have done their work, may be punished. Is it wrong that the Government should seek to have placed in its hands a measure by which it can control people who would attempt to destroy the defence and security of Australia? That is the primary duty of the Commonwealth Government. It must maintain our defences, and we cannot do that and keep out those who would attempt to spy, sabotage and commit acts of treason unless we have the means to deter them. Therefore, I support the measure. I hope that as the amendments to be brought down by the Attorney-General make themselves clear to the Opposition, honorable members opposite will see through the smoke-screen of their own making and recognize that this bill is essential if we are to keep Australia safe and secure.
.- The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) has concluded upon the note that every one in this country wants to see that action is taken to ensure that treason, sedition, sabotage and treachery are not committed in it. That is the sort of proposition with which no one in Australia would disagree, but the honorable member has spoken as though sabotage and treachery were clearly understood concepts which are applicable without doubt or uncertainty in any given situation.
– So they are.
– They are not. This bill was produced by the Attorney-General (Sir
Garfield Barwick), and he gave a speech which implied that the bill was a near perfect document, clear and precise in its meaning; but the same Attorney-General is going to produce four pages of amendments next week. If these meanings are clear and certain, as the honorable member for Barker has said by way of interjection, why is there a need for four pages of amendments? Never before in the history of Australia has there been a more amending Minister than the Attorney-General. He presented a bill on divorce which was supposed to be perfect, and within a few days he produced 90 amendments. The honorable gentleman has two bills on the noticepaper now - a Patents Bill and a Marriage Bill. Both have been criticized from one end of Australia to the other and both will be subject endlessly to amendment. The present bill is supported by members on the Government side who have been trying to convince the Parliament and the people that its provisions are clear and certain beyond doubt; but the Attorney-General has four pages of amendments to the bill. They relate to provisions which are vague, indefinite, and uncertain in their meaning and which could be applied to a wide variety of actions that have nothing to do with crime. They could be applied to many political and industrial activities which are normal in the life of the country. Nothing we have heard about the bill changes that situation.
There is nothing to prevent any Australian Government from eliminating all essential individual freedoms. Property is protected in Australia. It is not possible to nationalize the banks or to regulate interstate travel without constitutional changes; but a government can interfere with every individual freedom in Australia. There is nothing to afford the same protection to freedom of speech, of thought or of association that is afforded to property. There is nothing to prevent a reversal of the onus of proof as is provided in this bill in five distinct places. There is nothing to prevent people being compelled to answer questions as this hill does, and there is nothing to prevent known character being used against a person as this bill provides in five different places.
– That is not true.
– It is true. This bill does provide that known character can be used to secure a conviction and to establish prejudicial purpose and intent; and once that provision is applied in court proceedings, do you not think that it will prejudice the whole situation? If a person’s known character is given before conviction, will that not be taken into account by a jury in every aspect of a trial? Of course, the Government is introducing the provision for known character to be used in order to secure a conviction. There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent the use of secret reports as was done in the Gluckman case. There is nothing like the American first or fifth amendments. Are the people satisfied? If so, they are easily satisfied. No industry in Australia can be nationalized, but the individual can be nationalized.
Who stands for the powerful supreme state in this country - this Government or the Opposition? Throughout its term of office, this Government has attempted to reverse the onus of proof and to throw upon the individual the responsibility of proving himself innocent. When the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was taken to the people in a referendum, it was defeated by the people. This Government stands for the supreme state. It says to the people of Australia. “ Liberty is in danger because of the existence of groups of people in the community “. But if liberty is in danger in Australia, it is in danger from the power of the State which this Government is permitted to use. That is shown by the presentation of this legislation which will enable the Government to abuse the power of the State. That power has never been put on the statute-book before.
This legislation will empower the Executive to restrict, cut down and curtail essential liberties; and it is strongly opposed by the Australian Labour Party. Not only is there nothing to safeguard personal liberty; in addition serious inroads have been made into individual liberty in Australia. Promotions and appointments, not only in the Public Service but also in many other places, are dependent on secret reports. Naturalization has been refused for undisclosed reasons. Travel has been restricted as in the Gluckman case. Freedom of association is curtailed. There is telephone tapping, and independent thought is considerably deterred. What we need in Australia is not more but fewer deterrents. Is Australia a country where there are too many independent theories? ls it a place where we are too original, too adventurous or too radical? The answer to all those questions is, “ No “. Unfortunately, Australians have become too conservative. Radical thought is rare. Politically, those who practise it are few in number, and they are not powerful. Those who practise radicalism have little power. The power to endanger freedom and liberty in Australia is the power of the Executive, the State and the Government. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has told us that Australia is a country of doubt, fear and uncertainty. I do not think that Australia is that sort of country. It is a country of stolid confidence, if not unconcern. We have been asked: Are there spies, traitors and rebels in numbers in Australia? Of course, there are not. The most rebellious people in Australia are mild people.
There has been powerful law to deal with spies, traitors and rebels for many years. The bill that we are examining is based on an act that has been on the statute-book for many years. There is State law. The death penalty or life imprisonment are provided for those who endanger life or property. Those penalties are in the Commonwealth Crimes Act and in common law; but there have been no prosecutions. There has been no evidence of any offence or action to which the law could or should be applied. If the evidence was there, the Government would produce it; but the Government has not produced one tittle of evidence of treason or sedition. There has been no evidence of even one isolated case of sabotage in Australia while the Government has been in office, and none has even been suspected. If that is the case, this policestate legislation is unnecessary. In this situation, we are against a bill which considerably increases the powers of this Government. This bill is a political and social strait-jacket. It is designed, first, to deter independent thought by being hung, perhaps loosely, over the shoulders of the people of Australia.
The bill has been introduced only for the purpose of deterring the expression of ideas that are unpopular with the Government. The legislation is to be ready at hand, so that if the Government sees fit it can pull tight the cords and mete out punishment. It is not being brought for ward because it is needed. It has not been introduced because there are spies and traitors and rebels in Australia, but because the Government wants to encourage conformity. It wants integration within the prevailing pattern of ideas and behaviour. It wants to discourage peace activities, and what it calls pro-Communist ideas and actions. It wants to eliminate criticism of the prevailing pattern of ideas.
This Government is a conservative Government. It is a force for conformity. It seeks to preserve itself and its own social pattern, and any legislation which deals with what is called security always extends into the field of political and social radicalism, and always seeks to turn radicalism into conformity. There is always a serious risk, with this kind of policy, that what is radical will be called disloyal. In this House time and time again we have heard Ministers, and the Prime Minister himself (Mr. Menzies) alleging that what is merely criticism of him and his Government is disloyalty, and that when honorable members on this side of the House disagree with what the Prime Minister stands for they are on the side of the country’s enemies. Adopting his usual self-righteous attitude of unctuous rectitude, the Prime Minister assumes that what he stands for is the supreme virtue, and the little yapping supporters from the back bench, who are now interjecting, say, “ Aye, aye, Sir “ - the little, yapping back-benchers who have no independent thought, but who bow submissively to the rather cumbersome dictator who stands here at the table. It is almost certain that any sympathy expressed in this country for what is called a public enemy, and publicly unpopular cause, will always be branded as disloyal.
This bill has nothing to do with crime. A substantial part of the bill deals with political and international actions. For example, it provides that it shall be treason to assist by any means whatever an enemy at war, when no state of war has been declared - and the term “ by any means whatever” is not a precise term according to the common law or in any other sense, as the Attorney-General would have us believe. It is a most imprecise term. Let us look at the implications of this provision. When the Prime Minister expressed sympathy for Germany and Japan in 1938 would he have been committing an offence if this legislation had been in force?
– No, he would not!
– Would he not have been assisting a public enemy of this country? The other night I quoted at length in this House statements that the Prime Minister made at that time. He was assisting those who were soon to become public enemies, and with whom, if this legislation had been in force, we would have been said to be at war even though no war had been declared. Under this legislation would the refusal of waterside workers to load pig iron for Japan have been an offence? I ask honorable members opposite to recall what was said about that action on the part of the waterside workers. It was said that those men were traitors to the Australian community. But would it not have been ari offence under this section of the bill to load that pig iron? Would not those people who opposed the Korean war, who had a case against our engaging in the Korean war, have been judged guilty of an offence under this legislation? Did not honorable members opposite call their actions treasonable? Did they not call them traitors? Would they not have been committing an offence under this bill?
On 11th November 1959 the AttorneyGeneral made these statements in answer to a question on notice -
The World Peace Council was formed on the initiative of the Soviet Union as an instrument of Soviet foreign policy, the aim being to so reduce the resistance and capacity for resistance of the western countries that peace in the form of Communist domination can ensue. . . . The foundations and strategy for regional conferences such as the Australian and New Zealand Congress were thus firmly established by the World Peace Council.
We know that argument. It has been put forward time and time again in this House by Government supporters. The logic of the Attorney-General’s bill is clear. It will be treason to assist by any means whatever an enemy at war when no war has been declared. His attitude towards peace conferences in Australia is that the World Peace Council is an instrument of Soviet policy to reduce resistance and ensure domination, and that such things as peace conferences in Australia cany out the purpose of the World Peace Council and are instruments of Soviet policy to reduce resistance and ensure domination.
Does not the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) agree with that analysis of the Attorney-General’s attitude? Does he not say that that is precisely the position with regard to peace activities in Australia? Does it not follow, in the view of the Attorney-General, that those who take part in peace conferences commit the crime of treason by assisting an enemy - the Soviet - at war with the Commonwealth when no war has been declared?
The honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) said the other night, “ We are at war with Russia”. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) said, “ We are at war with international communism “. The Attorney-General, according to the speech that he made on this bill, bases his case primarily upon the proposition that we are at war at the present time.
– So we are!
– The honorable member for Barker agrees with that proposition. This bill destroys the distinction between peace and war. As far as the bill is concerned peace no longer exists. We are in a state of permanent war. Is it not obvious that in these circumstances any kind of peace activity could be brought within the provisions of this bill? Is it not a fact that any kind of peace conference would be illegal under this legislation? These are obviously facts, according to the logic of the position taken up by the AttorneyGeneral.
There is a whole string of possible circumstances involved in the extension of our allegiance under the “ proclaimed country “ provision. Until the present time we have been held to owe allegiance to Australia and to the Queen’s dominions, but from now on we will be asked to owe allegiance to foreign countries to which we are in no way committed. That is what is involved in the provision concerning proclaimed countries. Should the Government choose to proclaim the United States of America, for example, we will be obliged to pay allegiance to that country.
– What rubbish!
– It is not rubbish. It will be treachery not to pay allegiance to a country that is proclaimed. We will ‘have to display the same loyalty to the proclaimed country as we have previously displayed to Australia. That is quite clear, and if honorable members opposite will not take the trouble to examine this legislation and find out its real significance, they have no right to speak or to vote upon it. I submit that it is clearly established that if the United States is proclaimed and becomes involved in any kind of undeclared war with Cuba, then anything done in Australia to assist Cuba will constitute the offence of treachery, under the provisions of this bill. Should the Government proclaim Malaya, then anything done to assist the enemies of Malaya will be considered treachery in Australia. Thus the policy of the Australian Labour Party in requiring the return of Australian troops from Malaya becomes treachery under this bill. Is that not so?
– No, it is not.
– Of course, it is. Would it not be assisting the enemies of Malaya to say that Australian troops should be returned from Malaya?
– It would not assist an enemy.
– If that is so, then the presence of Australian troops in Malaya constitutes no danger to the enemy, and you may as well bring them home in any case. The provision regarding proclaimed countries is yet another force for conformity. It is a re-inforcement of the Government’s foreign policy, achieved by making it a criminal offence to oppose certain parts of that policy. That is the answer I give to the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce). This is the way in which criticism of the Government’s foreign policy can become treachery under this bill.
Now let me turn to the trade unions for a moment or two. The offence which will have the most severe impact on the trade unions is that of sabotage, which as defined in the bill includes the destruction, damage or impairment for a purpose intended to be prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth of any article used or intended to be used by the Australian defence forces or by the armed forces of a proclaimed country. The impairing of anything which may be used by the defence forces is a simple matter to-day. In times of total war, almost any commodity that one likes to think of is a commodity which is relevant to the war effort, to use the terms of the Second World War. Therefore, to impair almost any commodity is to impair something which may be used by the defence forces.
The other element that is necessary to the offence is intent to prejudice defence. Intent leading to a prejudicial purpose can be arrived at in two ways. First, it can be arrived at by considering the actual circumstances. A man need not have obvious or open intent. The intent can be deduced against him from the circumstances, apart altogether from his known character. Any man and every man is held by the courts to be responsible for the reasonable consequences of his act. If his act in fact prejudices defence, he is then assumed to have an intent which is consistent with that result.
– Is not that common law?
– Of course it is common law. So this point is established. The honorable member agrees with me. The position being as I have demonstrated, there is no need to establish an intent to impair anything if in fact an act does impair something. That is a reasonable and consistent proposition that Government supporters should see for themselves. Therefore, the offence is complete. As a consequence, if a trade union, by a strike, impairs anything which may be of use to the defence forces, and that impairment is a consistent and reasonable consequence of the strike, even if there was no intention to cause that impairment, the offence is complete. And, unfortunately, there is never a strike which does not impair something which may be used by the defence forces. We cannot have a strike without that strike doing damage. Unfortunately, that is true. If damage is done by a strike and it is damage of a kind that can be held to be a reasonable consequence of the act of the persons concerned, the offence of sabotage is complete. And that offence will carry a penalty of imprisonment for a period of up to fifteen years. There is not a strike than can occur in this country that cannot be brought within the definition of “ sabotage “ if the Government chooses to bring it within that definition. 1 want to deal now with a question raised by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). He stated not his own opinion but that of Lord Justice Mansfield that insurrection by force is the levying of war. That is the second way in which the trade unions can be involved and the march from Wynyard Park in Sydney was a perfect example of it.
In conclusion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to make one point with respect to espionage. Under the terms of this bill, it will be espionage to collect, receive or have in one’s possession any information whatever. Whether true or false, whether related to defence or whether secret or not will be quite irrelevant.
– That could cover even knowledge of the name of the winner of the Melbourne Cup.
– Yes. Thousands of people could commit this offence every day. It could be committed by people who travel on exchange from one country to another - whether or not they be Communists - teachers, trade union officials, public servants, and officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, who exchange information every day of the week across international frontiers. All these people could be convicted of this offence.
So I think it is established that this bill contains provisions which will seriously infringe the liberties of all those who are concerned with peace - all the advocates of disarmament and international co-operation - all who are associated with any strike held in this country and people who have any information whatever in their possession. These dragnet provisions associated with reversal of the onus of proof and compulsion to answer questions are things which no decent Australian wants and no decent Australian will support.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, it would seem that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) opposes not so much the provisions of this bill as the provisions of the Crimes Act itself. He objects to the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) introducing amendments that may eliminate any apparent injustice. The honorable member spent most of his time trying to convince the Parliament and those who listen outside that he supports the repeal of the Crimes Act entirely. During the last five years, we have seen on hoardings and in all kinds of places the slogan, “ Abolish the Crimes Act”. We know very well that there is one organization in this community which wants the repeal of that act.
The honorable member for Yarra said. “ Why do we have a Crimes Act? It is not needed. There is not one tittle of evidence of sabotage in this country either before or since the Second World War.” How does he know that there has not been sabotage in this country? Does he say that there has not been sabotage in any other country? The honorable member knows very well that it is impossible for the Government to announce that certain persons have acted in a manner which may appear to constitute sabotage unless there is a law under which those persons can be brought before the courts.
The honorable member for Yarra said, also, that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) had stated that we were at war with Russia. I heard the speech made by the honorable member for Moreton and I saw the honorable member for Yarra present in the chamber at the time. The honorable member for Moreton made no suggestion such as that attributed to him. He said that we are at war with international communism. Is not the honorable member for Yarra at war with international communism?
– He is not.
– That, of course, is the inference that he left with us when he spoke. There are members of the Australian Labour Party who say on every possible occasion that they are opposed to international communism, but the honorable member for Yarra has just made a speech which left us in no doubt that he is not opposed to international communism. I do not want to continue quoting all the time what the honorable member has said, because it can be read in “ Hansard “. And it will make good reading.
The interesting thing about this bill is not so much its controversial provisions as the great concern shown by certain organizations which believe that the measure is aimed directly at them. I refer particularly to the Communist Party of Australia and its affiliated organizations. I am prepared to admit that there are other sections of the community composed of reasonable people who naturally feel uneasy about certain provisions in this bill, not because they are concerned about the immediate use that the Government contemplates but because they are concerned about what may happen at some distant time in the future. This fear springs from the fact that the present Crimes Act has not been overhauled for many years. Acts frequently remain unamended for many years, and years after their enactment they are used for purposes which were never contemplated at the time when they were passed.
I want to refer particularly to certain provisions in the bill which raise fears in my mind. I propose to examine them analytically and I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will be able to throw some light on them. We have had a Crimes Act since 1914. It is fair to say that some people think of it, perhaps, as an act which restricts civil liberty. I say most forcefully that we must be realistic, Sir. In 1960, this act is the basic protection of our civil rights. If I have any complaint to make about the bill, it is, first, about its title. It should be called not the “ Crimes Bill “ but the “ Civil Rights Bill “. I think that if it had that title its meaning would be better appreciated. If I have time, I shall direct attention to particular provisions about which there is some uneasiness.
I hope that the Attorney-General will reassure the people and the Parliament about what I think is a rather cloudy form of words which creates certain doubts in the minds of some members of the Parliament and particularly in the minds of some members of the community. Legal authorities have themselves been arguing about this form of words. We can well appreciate the effect on the lay community when doubts in the minds of members of the legal fraternity are expressed. I particularly refer to the words “ known character as proved “. I do not like that phrase. However, do not let us misjudge the bill as a whole because of this expression or because one section of the community - I mean the Communist Party and its affiliated organizations - thinks that this is aimed at it.
It is interesting to note that large sums of money have been spent by this section of the community in an effort to prevent the bill being passed. The money has been spent on literature in which these people have referred glibly to democratic rights and freedom. But these organizations year in and year out support international communism. If honorable members listen on any night of the week to Peking radio broadcasting from Communist China, they will hear the assertion that the Crimes Bill is bad. Why should these people be interested in the domestic affairs of Australia? Yet we hear this propaganda from Peking 1 It is a good thing that we are tidying up the existing act. We should keep in mind what has happened to people in countries which had no Crimes Act to protect their civil liberties and had no constitutional power to protect their security against subversion and insurgence, when they required it most. If they had had this protection, possibly we would have had a different set-up in the world to-day.
The agents of international communism, of which there are a number in this country, use many techniques in their subversive activities and their efforts to overthrow democratically constituted governments. One of these techniques, which manifests itself at the moment, is to win support by suggesting that they are concerned with the freedom and liberty of the country. Has any one ever heard any greater humbug than that! What this Government is doing to provide for the security of the Commonwealth - by “ Commonwealth “ I mean the people of Australia - would not be permitted in Communist-controlled countries. When I was in these countries only last year, J saw no desire on the part of their governments to protect the rights of the people and grant them the privileges outlined in the pamphlets that have been distributed since the introduction of this bill. In one of these pamphlets, these statements appear -
Send a protest letter to the Federal Government. Canberra.
At every meeting you attend, tell all present of this attempt to steal away our democratic rights.
The people’s voice, expressed in numbers and with strength, can stop this attack on the people’s rights.
Act with your fellow unionists to defeat these amendments.
These pamphlets are published by Communist organizations. If one pursued any of these suggestions in Soviet-controlled countries which support the policy of international communism, one would very soon be behind iron bars. The time has come when we must carefully analyse Communist activities and attitudes. We should never lose sight of the nature of international communism. Communists are not a super-race, requiring super-defences to stop them from destroying the world. They are dogged, persevering, clumsy and persistent; and they are waiting for the moment when a country such as ours has no counter to the constant pressure that they maintain. When I was in Communist countries, I was told by the heads of satellite countries that history is on their side, and that we of the free world, with our social, moral and economic systems, are living on borrowed time.
As I look around and see the apathy to their philosophy amongst the free peoples of the world, I fear this may be true. They are the night and day operators of subversion and espionage. The time has come when we must have night and day protection, when we must tidy up our existing legislation concerned with our national security. This bill which amends the Crimes Act has been introduced for this purpose. The Government would be false to its trust if it did not arm itself with sufficient powers to guarantee the country’s security and integrity.
Nevertheless, I share concern with some members of the community about a few provisions of the bill. I am not concerned about what is contemplated as the immediate use of its provisions, but I am concerned about what might be done with it in the years to come. It is not unknown for tyranny to be practised within the democratic framework of a country. The leader of the Australian Labour Party engaged in a short, sharp exercise of despotism of this kind during the war when he stopped the newspapers publishing their news sheets in Sydney. All honorable members will recall the occasion - it was 16th April, 1944 - when certain copies of the Sydney Telegraph were seized because of an argument that arose between the present Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and the then president of the Australian Newspaper Proprietors’ Association. The newspaper was seized and destroyed because it contained two pictures. One was of the president of the Australian Newspaper Proprietors’ Association and the other was of the honorable member for Melbourne. Beneath them was a blank space and in that space was a quotation of Thomas Jefferson on a free press. Because that offended the honorable member for Melbourne, who is now the Leader of the Opposition, the newspapers were seized and the press was stopped on that occasion.
– That was not the reason.
– What I have said is true. I can assure honorable members that if they go to the Library and look at the newspapers for 16th April, 1944, they will see the matter to which I have referred. It was only half an hour ago that I looked at it myself in the Library and the book has not yet been put away.
South Africa is another country which no doubt insists that the suppression of newspapers and the gaoling of editors for writing comments which the Government to-day views with disfavour are legally authorized measures for the preservation of good order and the government of the State. Such actions could be described, I think, as seditious and treacherous. Anything intended to be placed on the statute book which is capable of misuse frankly makes me ultra-cautious, and I have become ultra-cautious when I have examined some of the provisions of this bill. I hope that the Attorney-General will consider amending them in the committee stage. I have no doubt about the sincerity of the Attorney-General when he makes clear that this Government has no desire to do anything that would not be upheld in the courts. But it would seem to me that there is a form of words used which should be altered. I have referred to the words. They have caused concern amongst certain sections of the community and I think it would be wise for the Attorney-General to consider whether they should be altered.
Section 8a of the principal act provided that a constable had a right to arrest without warrant if he had reasonable grounds for believing that the person had committed an offence against the law of the Commonwealth and that proceedings by summons would not be effective. The proposed amendment seeks to widen the powers to cover Territories, and I feel that there is a real risk that an officious constable in, say, the Northern Territory might arrest a person for supplying liquor to natives. Ordinarily, it is not difficult to obtain a warrant for arrest, and the necessity to go before a magistrate or judge to obtain a warrant is a very effective deterrent against irresponsible arrest. I feel that power to arrest without warrant should be limited to indictable offences, particularly as constables in remote parts of New Guinea, who arerecruited for comparatively short periods, and whose word is virtually law, might be tempted, in an over-enthusiastic use or abuse of power, to do something which we might regret very much. I do not think that the suggested amendment could possibly interfere with the administration of justice, but I do fear that, if made, it could lead to unnecessary and unjustifiable arrest on trivial charges. I should certainly like the Attorney-General to examine section 8a closely.
Proposed new section 24 (1.) (d) relates to treason. By that provision a capital offence is created, the offence being to render assistance to an enemy at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared. Unless the existence of a state of war has been declared, it seems to me that citizens cannot be taken to know who is an enemy. Even if that much might be presumed, how can- he know that such an enemy is at war with the Commonwealth if there has been no declaration? It seems contrary to all accepted ideas and ideals of British justice to place a man’s life in jeopardy when he has no knowledge that he has broken the law.
Naturally; one turns this over in one’s mind to see where abuse could occur, and a practical example of how this power could be misused is to be found in the fact that proposed section 24 (2.) (b) requires a person to inform on even a member of his own family who had expressed- the view that if a certain country were at war with Australia he would not fight and he would do his best to persuade every one else not to fight, because he did not believe in war. This certain country, not being at war, to his knowledge, at the time of the utterance, might, in the opinion of some responsible person, in fact be an enemy at war with us without war being declared. Dissuading persons to take, up arms against such a country would be held to be assisting by any means whatever, the intention having been formed as prescribed by proposed section 24(I.)(f). The overt act would usually involve more than a mere statement, but it is possible to hold that the statement of an intention might be such an overt act, for it has to be remembered that, in considering the invoking of this provision, we would be contemplating times of stress. I do not think that any harm could come from the deletion of the words, “Whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared” from proposed new section 24 (1.) (d). The Attorney-General might be able- to* clarify the situation. If he can, I shall’ be perfectly happy.
I come now to proposed new section 24aa paragraph (a) (ii) of sub-section (1.) of which makes it an offence to overthrow by force or violence the established government of the Commonwealth,, or the government of a State or of a proclaimed country. Paragraph (i) of the proposed’ new section makes no use of the words which import force. Thus, the contrast might be drawn between forcible and peaceful revolution. I’ do not know what the barristers and solicitors will say to the suggestion, but I am wondering whether a campaign, for the abolition of the Senate might be held to be an attempt to overthrow tha Constitution by revolution. I know that, sounds farfetched and unlikely, but “ sabotage “ is not defined in this provision, although it is defined in proposed new section 24ab,. a specific meaning being given to it for the purposes of that particular provision. I feel that the definition of “ sabotage “ should: be given general application throughout the measure by transferring it to section 3, which contains the general definitions.
I submit also that proposed new section 24aa (1.) (a) CO should be amended by deleting the- word “ revolution “ and inserting the word’ “ force “ or some other word” of equal meaning. I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will consider that point. I know I have stated an example which may be thought to be far-fetched, but it will be remembered that I have pointed out already that enactments of this kind have the unhappy experience of being pigeon-holed and forgotten for some time and then taken out and used for some purpose which possibly was never intended.
Proposed new section 78 is another provision which, in my opinion, should attract the attention of the Attorney-General when the bill is being discussed in committee. Honorable members will note that a person might be in ignorance of its significance, for instance, when taking a photograph of Essendon airport, or of the Sydney harbour bridge. Such photographs might be directly useful to a foreign power, which need not be an enemy, but the essential elements of the offence are present, provided that the photographs were taken for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth. Under sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 78, we have a provision similar to that discussed when I dealt with proposed new section 24ab. Here, again, I suggest that the words, “ From his known character as proved “ should be deleted. If this were done, a man would have to be proved guilty instead of starting off with the stigma that he had previously been convicted of some offences which might be of a totally different nature. I hope to be convinced that everything is in order at the moment, but when we find barristers arguing with one another as to the meaning of a term, one is left with some doubt in one’s mind.
Sub-section (l.)(c) of proposed new section 78 makes it an offence to approach, or be in the neighbourhood of, a prohibited place for a purpose prejudicial to safety. Thus, a man may be convicted for being within one-quarter of a mile of a prohibited place. If proof of the purpose were stricter, this may be a necessary safeguard to defence, but where, as I pointed out earlier, under sub-section (2.) (a) of this proposed new section it is not necessary to prove any act prejudicial to safety, it is possible that innocent people would be in jeopardy and could possibly be convicted even though they were quite unaware that they were in the vicinity of a prohibited place if the circumstances of the case or their known character raised sufficient suspicion against them. Circumstances have been known to lie, and I suggest that in this case, as in proposed new section 24ab, the conduct of the accused person should be some determining factor of his guilt. I submit that if the words, “ from the circumstances of the case or from his known character as proved “, should be deleted, thus leaving proper inferences to be drawn from his conduct. This would hardly lead to a guilty man escaping conviction and certainly it would ensure that innocent men would be acquitted, and that, after all, is our objective when analysing this bill. I always feel that it is unwise, if I may use the expression, to tie a tin can to a dog’s tail, particularly in the context of some of the provisions of this legislation.
In conclusion, if I thought there was anything less than the country’s interests at stake in this bill, I would oppose certain of its provisions. But the uppermost thought in the mind of every reasonable person in this House and in the community at large on examining a bill of this nature is, I am quite sure, that we have to-day to be more careful than ever before in the history of this country that its national security is protected against people who might engage in sabotage, espionage or some form of subversion. In this respect I believe the Crimes Act is our protection. We have to examine the legislation very carefully to make sure that every section of the community understands completely that the words which appear in this bill are not there in order to prevent justice from being carried out. I am sorry that this measure is called the Crimes Bill. I think it could very well be retitled, in order that there might be no misapprehension as to its true purpose, which is to protect the civil rights of the community.
.- The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) seems to be quite confused about the Government’s policy on this bill. He criticized the measure from one end to the other and had a great deal of doubt about it, but I wonder whether he has the courage actually to vote against it and express his point of view in that manner. We have heard many honorable members on the Government side of the House express similar views on other legislation, but they have never had the courage to cross the floor of the House and vote with the Opposition against it. The honorable member for Isaacs made some accusations against the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) who spoke before him. He said that the honorable member for Yarra was in favour of complete abolition of the Crimes Act. That is not so, and the honorable member knows it. The honorable member for Yarra referred to the amendments suggested by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) which appear at page 2494 of “ Hansard “ of 27th October. During his speech the Leader of the Opposition, said that we want this bill to be withdrawn and redrafted in such a way as to make it acceptable. Otherwise the Opposition will vote against the Government’s proposals.
The honorable member for Yarra spoke very strongly about provisions of the existing act. The Opposition opposes the provisions of sections 12a and 13 of the original act, and sections 30j to 30r. The trade union movement believes that these provisions should be withdrawn, and the Labour Party has asked for them to be withdrawn. The honorable member for Isaacs challenged the Opposition to say whether we are at war with international Communism. Let us make the position clear. We are not advocates of the cold war. We are advocates of peaceful co-existence. We stand by that, and that is our policy. Later I shall answer some of the honorable gentleman’s criticisms of the provision in respect of a man’s known character. There are many provisions of this bill which we know are obnoxious, but I have not time to deal with all of them. I will express my thoughts on some of the provisions relating to treason, treachery, sabotage and espionage. I have read in newspapers and magazines the opinions of many of our leading lawyers and constitutional authorities throughout Australia, criticizing this bill. The measure contains a great deal of legal jargon. These proposed amendments to the Crimes Act have caused these people to express concern about our civil liberties and freedom. I think honorable members will agree with me that those critics cannot be called radicals. Certainly, the legal men who have expressed their opinions in the newspapers could not be called radicals. Sir John Latham, a former Chief Justice of Australia, has expressed concern about the measure, and nobody can say he is a radical. As a former AttorneyGeneral he expressed concern about the legislation and many other lawyers and constitutional authorities have expressed concern about these obnoxious amendments to the Crimes Act.
I have received letters from many sections of the community, both inside and outside my electorate. 1 have received letters from Churches, trade union leaders, trade unionists and trade union organizations. 1 have received letters from the Australian Journalists Association, from university staff and from private individuals, and 1 have read a good many law books. The more one reads on this problem the more concerned one becomes about civil liberties and freedoms within this country. One must be concerned about the great threat to civil liberties and freedom, because this Government wishes to crush all progressive thought. It does not want to crush only the Communist party but also all progressive thought in the community. I can understand the fears of many people in regard to these amendments.
– What is wrong with them?
– I know that the honorable member for Herbert is a great advocate of the status quo, but there are elements in our community who think progressively and who want to bring about changes such as a redistribution of wealth in this country. Many people want to talk about the problems of the world, but this Government does not want to hear criticism of those things. It seeks only to maintain the status quo. If this measure is agreed to. even the newspapers will hesitate to publish critical letters condemning the Government’s foreign policy, and radio and television stations will be in a similar position. We know how concerned the Australian Journalists Association is, and nobody can say that there are many radical journalists in this country. That association is a conservative element in the community, but even its members are greatly concerned about these proposed amendments to the act.
This bill introduces into the Australian way of life what the late Mr. Chifley called pimps, perjurers and liars. During the debate on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill on 9th May, 1950, that great Australian sard -
It opens the door for the liars, the perjurers and the pimps to make charges and damn men’s reputations and to do so in secret without having either to substantiate or prove any charges they might make.
This measure will open the door to the smears and innuendoes which we hear so often in this chamber. The honorable member for Herbert, who is interjecting, is a great offender in that way. One has only to examine the speeches in “ Hansard “ of so many honorable members on the Government side of the House to confirm their attitude. During this debate the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) said, as reported at page 2501 of “ Hansard “ of 27th October last- the Australian Labour Party is in today - a real dilemma that it cannot resolve because it has within its ranks several groups, one of which represents the interests of the Communist Party of Australia and is so powerful that the other elements within the party are unable to take strong and decisive action against those forces which are acting or trying to act to the prejudice of the safety of this country.
Is there any doubt that that statement by the Minister is sufficient evidence to indicate the intent of this Government? That shows the intent of this Government and what it intends to do. It will direct these amendments not only at Communists but also at all militant Labour men and trade unionists, members of peace committees and all who represent progressive thought in this community. Let me recall what the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) did just prior to the Melbourne peace conference which was held a short time ago. He had the security service, under the control of Brigadier Spry, intimidate Professor Stout into withdrawing from the conference. In addition, letters passed between Mr. Casey, as he then was, and Professor Sir Mark Oliphant. We know that there was, and still is, intimidation in the community.
During a recent speech by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay) interjected and said that the honorable member for East Sydney was an enemy of the Australian people. During the debate on this legislation the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) said, “ We are at war with Russia “ and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) said, “ We are at war with international communism “.
– But the honorable member for Mcpherson sells his wool to Russia.
– Of course he does. I have no objection to that. In fact, I encourage him to sell his wool to Russia and to China. We are not hypocrites. We believe that Australia must trade and have friendly relations with those countries because we want to put an end to the cold war and live in brotherhood with other people. We want to see an end of this fear that now exists between nations. We believe in peaceful co-existence between nations because we know what madness will result if this Government has its way. We may have a hot war.
The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz), who is the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Trade and therefor a responsible person in the Government, is reported on page 926 of “ Hansard “ of 12th October last as having made the following statement during the debate on the defence estimates -
Nuclear arms are the only real deterrent against Communist aggression in the world to-day.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Darling Downs. It is apparent that the Government wants to continue the cold war.
The great legal men of this country are not happy about the Government’s proposals and its interpretation of the law. But it is not the interpretation of the law that we have to worry about; it is the intent behind the Government’s actions. The Government intends to control progressive and radical thought in this country. As the honorable member for Yarra has said so wisely, that is the real issue. There are not many radicals in Australia. There are not many people of really progressive thought. Because the Government has no real solution to its problems, it tries to curb and control that progressive and radical thought.
All fair-minded Australians must ask themselves why we need these amendments. I believe that the Attorney-General has made the architect of the new legislation strengthen the present position. That is the real position. The Australian Labour Party is a party of reform. We are proud of that. We are radical and will continue to be radical, but we are also lovers of freedom. It was the Australian Labour Party which saved this country from the Communist Party Dissolution Bill in 1950, and it was the Australian Labour Party which in 1951 gave the lead to the Australian people to reject the proposals that this Government put before them at a referendum seeking constitutional power to deal with Communists and communism. Why did the Australian people reject the Government’s proposals in 1951? Because they did not believe that a man should be branded and convicted on hearsay evidence or smears. It is a well-known principle of Australian justice that a man is innocent until he is proved guilty. We want to make sure that that principle remains unaltered.
You cannot defeat an ideology in this way. You must have a positive progressive proposal. Restricting freedom and criticism will not defeat communism. We know that the Crimes Bill, which is now before us, is merely the 1950 Communist Party Dissolution Bill in another form. The Government is trying to bring in the legislation through the back door. I challenge the Government to say what mandate it has from the people to introduce these proposals. I challenge the Government to hold a referendum and to let the people decide the issue.
I have dealt with some of the general problems associated with this bill and I should like now to deal specifically with two matters, first, the “ known character “ provisions of the bill, and secondly, the proposal relating to proclaimed countries. The honorable member for Isaacs had doubts about the “ known character “ provisions of the measure, but he had those doubts because he had read the legal opinions for and against the provisions, and also the articles in the newspapers which had been submitted by legal men. We know that the community feels some concern about these provisions, but I am concerned, not with the legalisms of the matter but with the Government’s evil intentions in relation to them.
While the Attorney-General was overseas a great deal of criticism was levelled at the proposed amendments to the Crimes Act, and on 31st October, the honorable gentleman issued a statement to the newspapers of Australia to rebut that criticism. He said that a similar “known character” provision had been incorporated in the British law for over 90 years, being first introduced by section 15 of the Prevention of Crimes Act of 1871; that was later transmitted into the British Official Secrets Act of 1911, and that when the Fisher Government passed the Crimes Act in Australia in 1914, a similar provision was included. That is true. But what has the Attorney-General done now? He has, in effect, enlarged the provision and placed it in three sections, namely, those relating to sabotage, espionage and official secrets. The previous penalty of seven years’ imprisonment for a breach of the law relating to official secrets and espionage has been retained. The penalty for a breach of the law relating to sabotage has been increased to fifteen years.
What was the intent in relation to known character in 1871 and 1911 in Great Britain, and in 1914 in Australia? A dishonest person, a drunkard or perhaps a wife-beater who had been convicted on many occasions would have a known character. At that time the provision could not have applied to members of the Communist Party because the Communist Party did not come into being in this country until 1920. Obviously, the provision could not have been intended to apply to Communists. But the “ known character “ provisions of this amending legislation are directed at Communists, at radical and militant Labour men and at trade unionists. Those are the people whom this bill seeks to pin down. The provisions are not mere legalisms. They are intended by the Government to pin down, curb and control. One does not need to elaborate to any great extent on this matter. One has only to consider the Government’s attitude.
A union deputation called recently on the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston). He told the deputation that the bill is directed not only at Communists but at others. We are aware of that. Let me elaborate. We know that certain people are already under notice. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) said in this House that certain members of the Australian Labour Party represent the interests of the Communist Party. So that incriminates not only Communists, but good Labour men as well. It goes still further. I quote from the speech made by the Prime Minister, that simple Presbyterian, at the Olympic Pool in Melbourne on 23rd September, 1960. What did the right honorable gentleman entitle that address? He called it “The Menace of Communism “, and I quote part of what he had to say -
Let me now turn specifically to matters in Australia. In recent times nothing has been more disturbing, and indeed frightening, than the organized campaign against Australia’s security service. At the time of the Petrov Commission, and the antics performed before that body by Communists and their sympathizers-
And their sympathizers! So again the field is widened. He went on to say later -
Is there anybody in Australia so naive as not to know the nature of the activity of the Australian Communist Party and its associates? They are not inhibited by considerations of patriotism. They follow the party line.
And their associates - the field is widening further.
Does not that line up again with what the Minister for Labour and National Service, the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes), and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) had to say? Are they not all directing their efforts in the same direction? In reference to this provision regarding “ known character “ they are widening the field, they are building up a fear among the people.
The fact is that this Government is null and void. It has no progressive proposals, and it is trying to strike out against positive people in the community. We know how the Prime Minister blundered at the United Nations, and how he came back with the same old sneers to make the same old smears. I quote again from what this gentleman had to say in his speech. He talked about how, after he came into office, his Government introduced the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, and how this measure was prevented from being put into force. The High Court threw it out, and said it was un-Australian. The Government also failed in respect to the secret ballots legis lation, and the Prime Minister said that it failed because of unity tickets. Now it is telling us a story about the Crimes Bill. These are the thoughts the Prime Minister put in his speech to this rally at the Olympic Pool, but all the time he is breathing fire against communism. At the end of his speech he said he was trying to defend justice. He said -
The latest example of what we are in course of doing relates to the Crimes Bill recently introduced by the Attorney-General. It will be open to full public examination pending resumption of the debate in a few weeks’ time. That the Communists are conducting a campaign against any law which proposes to increase the defences of the nation against treachery and sabotage is something I can well understand. The Communist newspapers have already launched a full-blooded campaign, full of the usual vituperation. That campaign is to be expected, since in their very nature active Communists are to be expected to prefer the interests of their foreign masters-
He went on to give, an explanation of what would happen under this known character provision, and said -
A man is employed at say Salisbury on important work in connexion with the construction of missiles or rockets. When a particular piece of very costly, complicated and significant equipment is completed and is being tested, one of the men engaged on the job drops a heavy spanner into the works, literally, and causes irreparable damage, throwing the whole programme out of gear and setting back the achievement of an important defence project. He could not, under the proposed law, be convicted of sabotage unless it was proved that he did the act complained of. It might be that there could be proved against him statements that indicated that he had the purpose of sabotaging the machinery. But in the absence of such evidence the man might well be heard to say, when charged with sabotage, that his hand was greasy and that the spanner “just slipped out “. Now suppose further that the Crown, having investigated this man, was able to call evidence and prove to the satisfaction of the jury that the man was an active Communist, closely associated with other Communists. Does anybody really tell me that the Crown should not be at liberty to prove these facts, which must have the most obvious bearing on the purposes which actuated the man in the act which he performed? That is what the provision in the Crimes Bill sets out to achieve.
That speech by the Prime Minister actually sums up the position quite well. First, he makes certain accusations about Communists and others, and then he talks about a worker who might accidentally drop a spanner, and say that it happened because his hands were greasy and that it was accidental. This worker might indeed be a normal person with no intent to do any harm, but if he happened to be an aggressive or militant trade unionist, under this measure he would already be guilty before he was even tried.
What can happen under this knowncharacter provision is not what was intended when the law was first introduced in 1914. This new provision to-day is aimed at people of “ known character “, and not just at people of bad repute or of dishonest character. It is aimed at militant trade unions and people of radical political thought.
I turn now to the provision regarding the proclamation of countries, in the new section regarding treachery. Proposed new section 24aa would stifle criticism of the Government’s foreign policy, and it is not in the best interests of this country. For instance, we shall have a great deal of criticism to offer against the Government’s foreign policy, because our policy is progressive. The Government has just been a rubber stamp for the United States of America and the United Kingdom in respect of foreign policy. The only way in which this country can go ahead is to have a progressive and independent foreign policy. So people must have the right to criticize the Government’s foreign policy. But under this provision people could be prevented from criticizing other countries, if they had been proclaimed. If the United States of America were proclaimed under this law it might be an offence to offer certain criticisms against Japan, or in connexion with the United States-Japan treaty. We might even find it difficult to criticize freely what is hapening on Okinawa, or to criticize the Chiang Kai-shek regime on Taiwan. Those are some of the things that are implicit in the proposed new section 24aa. Action could be taken under it against radical people in the community, and even people not in political parties, who wished to take progressive action in advocating peaceful co-existence, and to urge that Australia should be an independent force not lined up with any of the great world forces. The provisions of the Crimes Act should not be used to support this Government’s present rubber-stamp policy of saying “ Yes “ to every aspect of the policies of the United States of America and Great Britain. 1 think that the bill before the chamber is a very bad one.
We of the Labour Party are of the opinion that the provision which relates to the proclamation of certain countries is a dangerous one in view of the position of China and of the Seato countries. I think it was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) who recently clarified some of the problems related to Laos and other South-East Asian countries. As honorable members know, it is very difficult to decide the real nature of the problems in SouthEast Asia at present. For instance, in Laos rival bodies are contending for power and the inference is being drawn that North Viet Nam is helping the Communist elements. Thailand, which is a member of Seato, is aiding the right-wing elements in southern Laos. On the other hand, there is a neutral government in Laos. The position is clouded by uncertainty. Because of our Seato obligations, we could be drawn into the problems of that area, and if certain countries had been proclaimed under this legislation, we might not know where we stood. Indeed, an individual might find it most unwise to voice any criticism of the countries of that area because to do so might render him liable to prosecution for treachery and to a sentence of fifteen years’ imprisonment on conviction. I support the Opposition amendment seeking the withdrawal and redrafting of the measure.
.- One never ceases to wonder at the blindness of the present-day Australian Labour Party. If this debate has served no other purpose, it has shown how far out of touch is the Labour Party with the thinking of the majority of Australians. I understand that the Opposition asked that the debate be held over from yesterday until to-day in order that it could be broadcast. Honorable members opposite evidently place great reliance on the manner in which they are presenting their case, but I suggest that their method of presentation did not have very much effect on the result of the recent Calare by-election. As the Leader of the Australian Country Party remarked the other day, if the Calare figures were repeated at a general election the Labour Party would be decimated.
The Labour Party has claimed that the proposed amendment of the Crimes Act represents an attack on unionism, particularly militant unionism. One of the reasons that the people are not fooled by that argument is that they do not have short memories. They remember very well that it was a Labour government that used troops against strikers at Newcastle, and that it was a Labour administration which, in 1949, introduced a bill for the express purpose of dealing with strikers. The preamble to the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act of 1949 reads, in part -
And whereas that strike is prejudicing or interfering with the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community and has caused a grave national emergency:
Section 11 is in the following terms: -
Where an organization has committed an offence against this Act, every person who, at the time of the commission of the offence, was a member of the committee of management, or an officer, of the organization or of a branch of the organization shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence. . .
The onus of proof under that act was placed fairly and squarely on the man who was charged with an offence. As I have said, that legislation was introduced by a Labour administration. If that was not a direct attack on unionism by a Labour government, I should like to see one.
The interesting controversy that has been aroused by the introduction of the amendments of the Crimes Act that we are discussing has been very welcome as well as being helpful to the Parliament, because it shows just how deeply the affection for personal liberty runs in the community. We all want to see our personal liberties and rights preserved, but of course this Parliament is charged with the wider responsibility of protecting the security of the nation. It must reach its decisions in the light of all the relevant factors and after proper consideration of the welfare of the whole community, both now and in the future. I do not intend to speak of those provisions of the bill that have been pretty thoroughly canvassed during the course of debate, both inside and outside this chamber, because when one strips away the propaganda, the sensationalism, the humbug and the legal bickering, it seems to me that the substance that is left is both very reasonable and necessary in the present circumstances.
The reason for the introduction of the amendments of the act is, of course, that we live in a world which is divided between the Communist and the non-Communist countries. Everyone knows that under the Communist system, which obtains in a large area of the world, there are two systems of law - the civil law and the party law which operates with great secrecy. Everyone knows that the Communist bloc is determined to expand and to absorb small countries. Everyone knows, too, that the Communists have perfected a twentieth century phenonemon in the fifth column technique of aggression and even more modern technique for aggression, that of brain washing. In those circumstances, and in this very real situation, as everyone who is not blind must recognize, it would be absolute folly for us not to put our house in order and take some measures, however mild, to safe-guard our way of life and our citizens. We are doing that. We are taking rather mild but, I hope, effective steps to counter subversion in Australia. We have the security service, and now we have these proposed amendments of the Crimes Act. I hope that those measures will meet our needs for a considerable time to come.
It is on this point that I wish to express regret that at no time in the controversy over this bill has any protest been voiced about the underlying need to amend the act or to establish a security service. No protest has been made about the complacency of the people of Australia and of other Western countries which is allowing our country and those other countries to drift in relationship to the Communist bloc. That seems to me to be far more important than the particular measures we are taking at the present time, because if the situation is allowed to continue to drift for very much longer, obviously the pressure of the Communist bloc will mount and we shall be forced to take more stringent measures to protect our freedom than we are taking now. The Communist pressure will continue to increase and the effectiveness of the techniques of subversion will necessitate more restrictive controls than those we are proposing to exercise under the Crimes Act. This larger problem has gone unobserved by the critics who have been so noisy in their condemnation of this bill. There is only one way to correct the problem and alleviate the pressure that is on us to apply controls such as those contained in the amendments to the Crimes Act, and that is to escape from this bedevilling contest with the Communist countries by building our material strength at a much faster rate than they are able to build theirs. We can do that if we put our minds to it.
What is needed in Australia and in other countries is s new concept of personal freedom. We need a new hope for the majority of our people, and a new determination to send our country forward at a much faster rate than we have achieved so far. That is the only way to escape from this contest that is engaging lis at present. How many men in industry have a sense of pride when their industry finds a new market, or when it expands or markets a new product? Very few. Yet this pride of achievement is the very stuff of personal freedom. We should be thinking along those lines if we want Australia and other western countries to go forward to new heights of personal freedom and human dignity. If the critics of the Crimes Bill would turn their attention from the shadow of personal liberty to the substance of personal liberty they would do a good job for this country and for all the freedomloving people cf the world as well as themselves.
I regret that so far this larger problem of ensuring a continuance and a growth of freedom within our country has escaped attention. It must receive attention sooner or later if we are to preserve our countries. We can do that along the lines of employees’ partnership in industry and in ways that have been tested in small measure in many countries but have never been applied generally over a wide field. They must be applied generally. We must find through them a solution to this problem of achieving real personal freedom and human dignity.
.- I never cease to marvel at the inconsistencies and contradictions in the thinking of supporters of this Government. There has been plenty of evidence of those weaknesses in this debate. The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) began his speech by chiding members of the Opposition for applying the Crimes Act during the Second World War. He said we were quite willing to use the Crimes Act when we thought it was essential. At the same time, other supporters of the Government have tried to convince the Australian people that the Opposition has no idea of conserving the security and well-being of Australia. They have implied that we are prompted by improper motives in opposing this bill. The facts are quite to the contrary. The record of the Australian Labour Party from the beginning is proof of our positive loyalty and our willingness to use all proper powers necessary for the preservation of Australia. We supporters of the Labour Party represent a great section of the community, and the efforts that have been made by supporters of the Government to smear the characters of those who represent the great labouring section of the community are shown by our record of service for the people to be totally unjustified.
The honorable member for Gwydir suggested that on the basis of the voting at the recent by-election in Calare, the Australian Labour Pary would be decimated if there were a general election soon. In view of the fact that the Labour candidate topped the poll on primary votes, the party did not show up so badly in the by-election. The Liberal candidate finished in third place, and when we consider that he represented the Government and its policies, it is evident that the Government has slipped somewhat in the eyes of the Australian people.
The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) dared to suggest earlier that the Australian Labour Party did not believe in a defence policy in 1937 just before the outbreak of the Second World War. The fact is that at that time nobody was more anxious to see Australia strong in defence than was Mr. John Curtin who led the Labour Party at that time. He was one who brought to notice the sad deficiencies in our defences and the need for an air force capable of defending our frontiers effectively. Members of this Government were among the guilty men who were responsible for the lack of adequate defences when the Japanese struck at Australia. At that time the country was almost entirely without essential means of defence.
– Mr. Curtin did not say that.
– I can tell quite a story about the state of our preparedness at that time. We found ourselves without fighter aircraft and with a deficiency of small arms with which to arm our men. There were also bottlenecks in the production of munitions for our fighting forces. Honorable members opposite should not try to tell me about the lack of efficiency of the Labour Government. Nothing was more pitiful than the policy at that time of honorable gentlemen opposite who now seek to make strictures upon members of the Labour movement for the part they played in the defence and security of Australia.
Now I shall deal with the provisions of the legislation that is before us. I cannot understand why this legislation has been introduced in the concluding stages of this sessional period. Adequate time is not being afforded for a consideration of the measure. If some circumstance had arisen which constituted a challenge to the defence or security of this land, or if there had been some reason why more adequate power should be given to the Executive, possibly I should have felt that there was some justification for amending the existing legislation. But there has not been a single instance of treason in our community. If the Government has failed to use the existing power to meet any situation which it felt was injurious to the interests or security of Australia, it stands indicted. The Government has made no attempt to use the provisions of the Crimes Act as it stands to deal with any person who has been guilty of the kind of disloyalty I have mentioned. Therefore, its action in introducing this legislation at this stage is all the more inexplicable.
I can think of only one thing that could have prompted the Government to introduce the measure. At the end of next year, a little more than twelve months hence, a general election is due. I believe that the bill has been introduced in order to provide the Government with a theme song during the intervening period and to enable it, in the absence of a satisfactory policy, to prepare the public mind for the next election. I repeat that that is the only conceivable reason that could have prompted the Government to introduce this legislation. If acts of treason had been committed or if there had been any evidence of disloyalty in any section of the community, and if the present act did not adequately cover the situation, possibly there would be some justification for action to be taken. As no such circumstance has arisen, this legislation is quite unjustified.
I am one of two men in this Parliament who were members of the Parliament of 1926, and of those two only I participated in the debate that took place in Melbourne in that year on the Crimes Bill. The speeches that are being delivered by supporters of the Government on this occasion remind me very much of the debates on the Crimes Bill in 1926. Communism was the theme of that debate. If honorable members care to make themselves familiar with the debate that took place in 1926, they will find sufficient evidence of the fact that the subject of communism is a continuing theme that is adopted by the Government to gain political advantage at election time. 1 have before me volume 112 of the “Hansard” reports of 1926. In that volume the speech of Sir John Latham, who was the Attorney-General of that day, is reported. Of course, he was then Mr. Latham. He sponsored the legislation then under consideration. That very eminent gentleman, who is a man of great integrity and who has been the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, has expressed his views about the legislation now before us. It cannot be said that he is not a well-informed man, because he was the person who sponsored the first legislation of this kind in 1926. He should, therefore, be very familiar with matters such as those that we now have under review. Having in mind the serious concern that has been expressed by many people in this country, including eminent jurists and various persons associated with the bar, others who are active in church life or who represent various organizations in the community, including the great trade unions, I believe the Government should call a halt. It should realize that its action in introducing this measure is not in accordance with the wishes of the people, who generally feel most apprehensive about the legislation, and that it is desirable that the bill should be withdrawn and further considered.
This bill is obviously nothing like the perfect measure that the Government would earlier have had us believe. The AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), in a very eloquent speech, sought to convince us that this was a measure that had received his personal attention, and that he had endeavoured to frame it so that it would adequately meet all the requirements of security. If that was so, why is it that he has now come forward with seven pages of amendments to the bill? lt is obvious that the Attorney-General has had second thoughts, and that he now entertains grave doubts as to the effectiveness of this legislation. In view of the Minister’s evident uncertainty, and of the apprehension that is felt by many responsible people and organizations, it is right that the measure should be withdrawn, further considered and redrafted. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has been more than justified in proposing his amendment.
In considering this measure I have asked myself why the Government seeks to repudiate a definite obligation that this country assumed when it became a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 19 of which reads -
Every one has the right to freedom of expression. This includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.
We cannot profess a belief in a principle without demonstrating that belief by precept and example. This legislation abrogates that basic principle.
The preamble to the United Nations Charter includes the following declaration: -
We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined … to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom . . .
We signed that worthy document also, and we are irrevocably committed to the purpose expressed. Can we honestly say that this legislation follows the spirit of either of those documents? Of course it does not. It is well for the Government to be reminded of these obligations that we have accepted, and of the principles that we have declared we will endeavour to promote, particularly in our own country.
The Attorney-General has so widened the meaning of treason in this bill that it could cover almost any kind of action, and grave penalties could be imposed on persons whose actions were quite innocent. The bill also places emphasis on the necessity to inform. I remember how severely we criticized the leaders of the Nazi cult who encouraged the activities of informers. I remember how we used to say how reprehensible it was to encourage members of a family to inform against one another, friends to inform against friends, and all persons to become common informers against fellow members of the community. Yet this is the kind of informing that will be encouraged by the legislation before us. Every person in this country will be regarded as having a responsibility to bring to the notice of a governmental authority acts that he regards as suspicious or as, in some way, imperilling the security of this country. This is totally contrary to the spirit in this community of free people. It is an affront for the Government to try to make Australians a nation of informers. That will not lead to an improvement in the morale of the people.
In this legislation we meet a most inexplicable situation in that series of provisions relating to comment or criticism of a foreign nation which may be proclaimed although we are not at war. These involve a clear curtailment of freedom of expression of criticism which may be in no way inimical to Australia. For instance I may believe that the action of a government, such as that of Malaya or Singapore, justifies criticism, and by all democratic standards such criticism may be in order, but under this bill it could be an offence. Irrespective of how important the subject may be to the Australian nation, even questioning a motive may incur a penalty. The Melbourne “ Age “, which is a very conservative paper, has made this comment on the widening of some of the provisions of the Crimes Act -
But in his attempt to broaden the scope of the Act the Attorney-General hus included clauses which cut across the basic principles cf common law.
Proposed section 24 contains some of the major elements of repression. Its provision in relation to “ levying war “, in the extended yet obscure meaning of the term, is dangerous to human liberty. The trade union movement has declared its forthright opposition to all provisions denying civil liberty and a fair trial. If the AttorneyGeneral desired to show that there was no intention to involve the trade unions, he would make a specific declaration.
I support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition and I believe that our action is justified by public opinion.
.- The honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) accused speakers on this side of some inconsistency, but it seems to me that if inconsistencies exist they are not confined to this side of the House. If I followed the honorable gentleman correctly, he said in the early part of his speech that as a member of a Labour government of the 1940’s he was aware of the Crimes Act, that the Labour Government was aware of it, and that it would have used the Crimes Act if that had been necessary. Yet the Labour Opposition has included in its amendment these most significant terms - . . the bill be withdrawn and redrafted because it fails (o repeal objectionable features of the Crimes Act, including political and industrial offences. . . .
In other words, what was right and accepted by Labour governments from 1940 to 1949 is wrong to-day. The honorable gentleman, with some ingenuity, accuses other people of inconsistency!
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who, I think it is safe to say, is one of the rapidly rising stars of the Labour Party, said, “ It is not the law, it is the intent that we object to “. Here are two prominent speakers of the Labour Party, one being quite inconsistent in his arguments and the other saying that it is not the law but the intent to which he objects. If one can draw any inference at all from a remark of that sort, he was saying, in effect, that the law was all right but that the courts would not administer it properly. If the honorable member for Reid said anything at all, that was what he said. Of course, a suggestion of that sort in a responsible Parliament rs just too stupid and I shall not waste any time upon it.
In the course of this debate, two major areas have been traversed. The first relates to the legal interpretation, and in the discussion of this aspect lawyer members of the House have joined with that joyous abandon that characterizes members of that profession when legal matters are under discussion. The other area relates to matters of fact. In common with most honorable members, I have had no legal training. In the circumstances, I did what I think any normal man who has had enough experience to qualify him to be here, would do. On matters of fact I looked at such evidence and arguments as were available and I made up my own mind. In the relatively unknown field of law, I did what any normal citizen would do and took the best legal advice available to me. In this instance, with respect to all the other legal members of the House, it was the advice of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). It seemed that that was quite a logical and reasonable attitude to take. I was strengthened in that attitude by the fact that the Attorney-General introduced this amending bill some time ago with the evident purpose of permitting time to elapse so that it could be examined not only by members of this House but also by members of the community generally. It has been possible for the whole sweep of the amendments to be examined by all interested sections of the community and for their views to be made known to the Government and to members generally. That is precisely what has happened.
Just after the Attorney-General introduced the bill, when the misunderstandings were even greater than those that exist in some quarters to-day, like most members I received requests from organizations and individuals for information on particular points and on the general sweep of the legislation. I replied, forwarding copies of the Attorney-General’s second-reading speech and of the bill, stating the purpose of its early introduction and asking for any comments, which I could consider when my turn came to make a decision and adopt an attitude to these matters. I regret to say that from those responsible sections of the community I have had no comment., I do not know whether that is the general experience or only an individual experience, but the fact is that from those sections of the community that received from me copies of the second-reading speech and of the bill I have had no complaints. It seems that they took a course of action similar to that which I took. They took the best legal advice available - that of the AttorneyGeneral. They also accepted the assurance that he would examine such representations as were being made with respect to individual and general uneasiness about some aspects of the bill and that he would take action.
I do not propose to indulge in an attempt at legal argument, Sir. I am not competent in that field. But I do want to make one or two comments about the principles and the common sense of the amendments to the principal act which will be made by this bill. It seems to me that when we discuss a measure of this sort, we must start from a number of fairly clear propositions which to me are self-evident. The first of these propositions has been re-stated many times in this House. It is that a community has not only the right but also the responsibility to protect itself. The second proposition is that the methods of attack on a community determine the methods of defence. The third proposition is that although the Communist Party of Australia is said to be numerically weak, it is most efficiently organized. Those who obviously are better informed than I am have suggested in their writings to the newspapers that the strength of the Communist Party in Australia is between 4,000 and 5,000 members. I do not know whether that is so, but it is admitted that it is fairly weak numerically. As I have said, the party is efficiently organized. The Communists are fanatical in their outlook and they are responsible to a party of iron discipline. Furthermore, the Communist Party of this country is part of the international machine of communism. That party is just as much a part of international communism as is the Communist Party of Russia or that of China.
The last of my major propositions - it was touched on by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) - is that to-day the sort of war that is likely is very different from that which was likely when the original Crimes Act was placed on the statute-book. To-day, as is admitted, war r runs in a certain pattern. Nobody will , question this. According to that pattern, attack from outside a country is accom£panied by or in some cases preceded by j& attack from within. When the Communist Jl countries attack- and they are the only / aggressors in the world to-day - they are1 assisted by an active Communist minority in the country attacked. Who, either in this Parliament or outside it, would say that if Australia were attacked the attack would not be supported by some thousands of people in this country many or most of whom would be capable of treachery, treason and sabotage?
Those seem to me to be the admitted facts of the situation. We can leave out the radicals and forget the things that were said by the honorable member for Reid, who bears fresh evidence of the brainwashing experience that he has recently had in other parts of the world. I have stated the realities of the situation. As I see it, they relate primarily to the Communist Party and those who are acknowledged members of it, and especially to those who are, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, underground members of that party. I do not know the extent of the underground membership of the Communist Party and I do not mink that other honorable members or the people generally know it. So we have a situation in which an attack, if it comes, will be accompanied in all probability by co-operation with the enemy, sabotage, treachery and treason within this country.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and other Opposition speakers said repeatedly that amendments of the Crimes Act were not necessary at the time of the Suez Canal incident and at other times of crisis, and they asked: Why are these amendments necessary now? Where is the enemy? The answer to those questions, in the existing age and present world conditions, is that we shall not know when any attack is coming. No sensible person would expect that the sort of pressure which heralds the opening of an attack would be apparent to the Government in time for us in this Parliament to consider it and take action to combat it. The distinguishing feature of modern warfare is the sudden use of pressure in association with open or underground attack. Therefore, in’ all common sense, we just cannot afford to wait for the effects of an attack to be manifest before we take action.
I move now to another matter about which I am concerned. As I understand the broad terms of the amendments to be made in the Crimes Act by this bill, a new offence of sabotage is to be introduced. It is true that the terms “ treachery “ and “ treason “ are contained in these amendments of the principal act, but they are already used to a greater or lesser degree in the existing act. The offence of sabotage, however, is new. Sabotage is the weapon of the Communist aggressor, and in my opinion this is one of the reasons why there has been such a sweeping attack on the existing act, though not on the amendments to be made by this bill. There lies the significance of the discussion about this bill both in the Parliament and outside it. Nine weeks have elapsed since the AttorneyGeneral introduced the bill and first stated the proposals contained in these amendments of the principal act. Opposition members, who claim that they are the spokesmen for advanced thought - including the honorable member for Reid, who speaks for the radical elements in this country - have had that period of time in which to consider the bill. Who in this House will disagree with me when I say that 90 per cent, of the observations made by Opposition speakers have been directed at provisions of the existing Crimes Act which have been in it for about 40 years? The honorable member for Bonython attempted to explain away this fact, although as I pointed out, by arguments which contained some inconsistencies.
If the proposed amendments to the Crimes Act were to be challenged, one would expect representations made in this Parliament and outside it to constitute attacks on those amendments. But in representations made to me I have heard practically no attack on them. However, I have received representations which attacked the provision with respect to the use of a person’s known character - a provision that was in the original act. And I have received representations which attacked the provisions relating to the onus of proof. The provisions in which the onus of proof is placed on the accused person were in the original act, but the Australian Labour Party did nothing about them when it was in office. So, in respect of these two matters, the bill does not affect the existing situation. In his second-reading speech, the Attorney-General said -
Let me make it very plain that this provision does not change any onus of proof. It leaves the Crown with the burden of proving the whole offence, including the purpose. It must satisfy the tribunal of fact, and beyond all reasonable doubt, of the purpose as well as of the doing of the act. If the Crown relies upon circumstances or conduct or character for the proof or part of the proof of purpose, the Crown must prove all these circumstances, conduct and character and prove them to the requisite degree of certainty in criminal proof.
I now come to the last point that I want to make. I have heard speaker after speaker in the Opposition’s ranks and person after person in deputations claim that these amendments to the Crimes Act will affect legitimate industrial action and legitimate free speech. In fact, in the existing act there is a section which states in precise terms what is lawful. I believe that it is also worth noting that the proposed amendments to the bill, which the Attorney-General has circulated recently, include the following proposed new section: - 24f. - (1.) Nothing in the preceding provisions of this Part makes it unlawful for a person -
That seems to be fairly sweeping. I should think it would be fairly difficult for any one to see in that paragraph anything that was not lawful. The proposed new section continues -
If there were any doubts about the legal interpretation of the proposed amendments, I, being without legal experience, would think that the proposed new section which I have just read would remove the doubt from any reasonable mind and would restrict the area in which these amendments would operate to the one category of people I have mentioned who are the most likely people to engage in sabotage, treason or treachery.
While I will listen with interest to the discussion in the committee stage, and particularly to the contribution of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on one or two matters to which he referred in his speech, I have no doubt at all that these amendments deserve the support of this House. They are necessary to the defence of this country and I believe that they in no way infringe the rights and principles that we in this Parliament have a common responsibility to uphold.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Speaker, in this momentous debate we have the strange case of the silence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). On a former occasion he declared that if he had to choose between fascism and communism, he would choose communism.
– What year was that?
– That was in 1945. Where does he stand now? He was once, indeed, the champion of liberalism, with a small “ 1 “. He espoused the shining principles of individual liberties and civic rights. That cause he long ago deserted, and I for one shall never forget the final occasions on which he deserted those liberal beliefs which formerly he had expressed so eloquently and so passionately. During the intervening years he has won elections, has gained office and has held power; but he has become a man without a star to steer by. On his return from the United Nations, he gave to this Parliament a report in which the name of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) was not mentioned. And now, on this vital measure, he leaves the Attorney-General to go it alone; he does not even enter the debate.
Where does the Prime Minister, the head of the Government which has introduced this legislation, stand now as between fascism and communism? On the eve of
World War II. he expressed admiration for Nazi-ism and Hitler. On the eve of World War III. he conferred for over an hour, and exchanged toasts and compliments, with Khrushchev. And now he has put forward a law, fascist in conception, which at the same time is calculated to strengthen communism everywhere in Australia. Let me amplify that statement. It is a fascist law because, as presented to this Parliament, it departs from trial by jury and infringes freedom of speech.
– Not as presented to this Parliament.
– Yes. I said “ as presented to this Parliament “. Do not let the Minister try to quibble about this.
– It does not!
– The honorable member knows the form in which this law was presented to the Parliament, and he knows that for offences concerning property under the value of £50 an accused person may be dealt with summarily and not have the right of trial by jury. I am not talking about the amendments that were forced on the Government by the Australian Labour Party. I am talking about the measure as it was brought to the Parliament. It departs from trial by jury; it infringes freedom of speech; it provides for secret trials; it establishes evidence of character as evidence of guilt; and so on. All these are abrogations of the rule of law and of the principles of natural justice. They are the very abrogations that were the distinguishing features of fascist tyranny. So, the law is a law fascist in conception.
I have said that the bill is calculated to strengthen communism throughout ‘Australia. Who can doubt it? For some years, the Communist Party in Australia has been a steadily waning political group. Its membership has fallen, its finances have declined, and its influence as a political force has almost disappeared. But tyrannical and repressive legislation such as this is a shot in the arm to the Communist Party. Communism in Australia now rallies supporters with the cry that its existence is threatened. It obtains recruits by its demonstration of the character of a so-called democratic parliament. It raises funds on the cry of the need to fight this reactionary measure. This bill to amend the Crimes Act has breathed fresh life into the Communist Party and, of course, none of the backroom boys on the Government side is unaware of it It would not suit the Government’s purpose at all for the Communist Party to fade away. The Government parties live, and have lived for years, on the red bogy.
– Do you really think it is a bogy?
– I will tell you, if you will just possess yourself in patience for a moment. The Government parties use the red bogy, as they have done all through this debate, not in an effort to smash the Communist Party but in an effort to smash the Labour Party, which is the real bulwark against the advance of communism in this country. While the Labour Party remains strong, pressing forward social and economic progress by the peaceful methods of democracy, and while it continues to hold the confidence of the overwhelming majority of the working people of this nation, the Communist Party can never come to power in Australia. Every one in this House knows that that is true. The Communist Party knows it, and its aim is the destruction of the Labour Party. At the same time, the Labour Party is the only real and formidable enemy of monopoly capitalism which the present Government represents. It is the common interest of them all to destroy the Labour Party. Thus we have an unholy alliance which can be seen in action every day, and which can be seen in the concept of this bill and in the nature of the debate that has been carried on by Government supporters since the second reading was moved.
This bill was a political move, a manoeuvre designed to divide and injure the Labour Party. On sedition, treachery and sabotage provisions were deliberately written into the bill so reactionary and so tyrannical as to compel the Labour Party to oppose the measure. The hope was that the Labour Party would become divided and that in opposing these provisions of the bill it could be branded throughout the country and throughout the press as being allied with traitors and as defending disloyalists. That was the aim of this bill. There was no other obvious reason for its introduction at a time when measures to amend the Australian Constitution and to break trade monopolies urgently demanded the attention of the Attorney-General. This bill was a diversionary move made deliberately to distract public attention from these urgent problems and to blacken the name of the Labour Party, as has been attempted so often before in the history of this country by the political parties to which honorable members opposite belong.
The notable fact, and indeed the historical fact, is how that manoeuvre failed and how it has recoiled upon the Government that planned it. It is quite true that the Labour Party took up the challenge to democratic rights, as it was compelled to do. It is equally true that the Labour Party ignored the threat that it could be placed in a false position - as the Government hoped it would be - by doing so. It set out to oppose at every stage every objectionable provision of the bill. But, far from being divided, the Labour movement was fused into a new unity on this issue. For the first time the whole of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the whole of the Federal Labour Advisory Council and the whole of the Interstate Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions spoke unanimously and with a single voice in their opposition to this measure. That was the first rebuff to the Government. Far from the press denunciation of the Labour Party as being allied with subversives, which the Attorney-General had tried to promote and had confidently hoped to see spread throughout the continent, being successful, there arose instead throughout Australia a steadily mounting disapproval of the bill amongst churchmen, university men, lawyers, journalists and many other representatives of honest, independent opinion. The proof of the failure of the manoeuvre is shown in the panicky retreat of the Government revealed to-day in the series of amendments that it has circulated.
– What is wrong with that?
– I will tell you.
– That is a democratic action.
-FRASER. - The Labour Party on Tuesday last circulated a long list of amendments hitting at each of the -obnoxious provisions in this bill. We announced that we would fight for those amendments every inch of the way.
– They were given to the Attorney-General.
– That is so. To-day, two days after our amendments were circulated, the Attorney-General has produced a long list of amendments to his own measure which, up to that stage, he had had many months to contemplate. He now seeks to avoid the storm by withdrawing or amending some of the most obnoxious provisions in the bill.
– That is fairmindedness.
– Is it? I suggest that there is not one single amendment which the Attorney-General now cravenly proposes which is not based upon one of the Labour Party’s amendments handed to him on Tuesday of this week. Of course, the Attorney-General has not adopted all of our amendments, and in some cases he has not gone far enough. The bill remains obnoxious and must be opposed. But on some of the basic principles of British justice for which the Labour Party stands the Attorney-General has given way.
The Attorney-General has been compelled by the force of public opinion rallying behind the Labour Party to concede a number of points raised from this side of the House. Every obnoxious provision remaining in the bill will be fought by the Labour Party. It would be absurd to suggest that the learned Attorney-General was not already thoroughly aware of the basic principles of British justice and of how his bill flouted them, lt did not need the Labour Party to point that fact out to him on Tuesday last. He has not suddenly, for instance, become aware of the basic principle of trial by jury, or of the need to protect the right of bona fide public criticism of Government policies. Those are not new principles to the AttorneyGeneral. He has given way not because of some sudden conversion to democratic principles but because of the pressure imposed upon him by the Labour movement, backed by the force of healthy public opinion. His own undemocratic attitude remains completely unchanged.
Let me say this to those who claim that the Attorney-General has acted in a fair manner. In what an invidious position has he left his own supporters who have already spoken on this bill before the amendments were circulated - those Liberal Party and Country Party members who have already spoken in this debate and who have announced their willingness to swallow the bill whole without any amendments and who have defended in this place its most reactionary and obnoxious provisions. Surely some of them must have had their private doubts over this bill’s betrayal of democratic rights in clause after clause. If so, they did not dare to express publicly their opposition to it. They meekly accepted, defended and justified provisions so reactionary and obnoxious that even the Attorney-General has recognized that he must withdraw them - but not before many of his supporters have come forward to defend them. So much for honesty; so much for independence of opinion.
May I just say to those younger members of the Government parties who have spoken on this measure that at their age and at their stage of political experience the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), whom they now so blindly follow, never would have accepted provisions of this kind. He would have fought them with every ounce of his oratorical and debating skill. There would have been a revolt on the corner benches in days gone by if any government had dared to come forward with such a series of proposals as are contained in this measure. How sad is the decline in the independence and strength of conviction of the younger members of the Government parties with all their political careers ahead of them. What must the Prime Minister think of their subservience. How much contempt must he hold for them. The Prime Minister may well still be of the opinion that he expressed to the New South Wales division of the Liberal Party a few years ago when he said - I am quoting his exact words -
The party’s greatest undertaking is to get candidates of the highest qualifications because it is now handicapped by appalling half-wits who think they will make better leaders of the party than those at present in office.
I am sure that the Prime Minister, looking back on his own record of struggle for democratic rights, must have contempt for the younger members of his party who to-day are prepared to follow so blindly such a reactionary lead.
– Get back to the truth.
– I can understand the honorable member’s discomfort. It seems to be of a piece with the subservience of Government supporters that they will to-night vote for the gag on this debate.
– Hear, hear!
– “ Hear, hear! “ says the honorable member, although he knows mat the application of the gag will mean shutting out many elected representatives of the people who wish to express their views on this vital legislation. Honorable members opposite must know that by applying the gag they are playing right into the hands of the Communists. By imposing a gag on free debate they justify everything that the Communists say about the futility and inadequacy of the parliamentary institution. We will wait to see how many Government supporters to-night dare to vote against the gag which their leaders have ordered for this debate. The gag, particularly after so short a period of debate, enables the Communists to denounce the existing parliamentary system as a hollow sham; and we should never give them that opportunity.
To apply the gag on a bill involving the life and liberty of the ordinary man makes a mockery of our claim that in the Parliament of this country the grievances of the people may be stated and redressed.
– Get back to the bill.
– I am dealing with the bill. For any one who is a Communist there can be no better ammunition than this. For any one who is wavering in his allegiance to the parliamentary system there can be no stronger means of destroying his faith than by applying the gag to this debate. The Government is well aware of this, yet without any reason of urgency it proposes to gag the second-reading debate on this measure to-night. The honorable member for Balaclava is about to interject.
Does he deny that this debate will be gagged to-night? If it is gagged, will he be prepared to vote against the gag? He does not answer; he has no answer. What is even worse, the Government has already stated that it will allow only two days next week for the consideration of the whole of the committee stage of the bill.
– Are you so incapable of speaking on the bill that you yourself want to be gagged?
– I am dealing with the bill. The Labour Party has circulated 50 amendments. Surely that is relevant to the bill. I understand that the amendments proposed by the AttorneyGeneral cover four pages. Since the life and liberty of our fellow citizens are involved, why should not the amendments be studied and examined by this Parliament? Such an examination cannot even be approached in two days. Even if it took two weeks, that would not be too long. There is no legislation before the Parliament more important than this, and there is plenty of time between now and Christmas; yet, by limiting the discussion to two days, the Government has announced that it will prevent any consideration whatever of many of these most important amendments. There will be no opportunity whatever for the Parliament to hear the reasons for them, or to discuss them. This is a demonstration of the utmost contempt for the parliamentary system. It is open encouragement to those who would brand the parliamentary system as useless. It is, indeed, playing right into the hands of the Communists. That is exactly what the Government is doing.
– You could come back to-morrow.
– There is no member of the Labour Party who would not be prepared to come back for as long as the Government will keep this House open to allow this bill to be discussed thoroughly and to allow the public of Australia to be aroused in connexion with it.
The imposing of the gag is to be on the edict of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), who declared himself willing to consider all reasonable amendments, yet who absented himself from the whole of the second-reading debate, and who will not now permit even the reasons for many of the amendments to be stated. This is the same Attorney-General who complained a few days ago that people would not trust him and who pleaded for a new era of trust on the part of the workers of Australia. If the Attorney-General wants trust by the workers, let him get out of public life. The workers of Australia will never have any trust in a government of which the present Attorney-General is a member. It is said that at one time, many years ago, for a little while, the present AttorneyGeneral supported the Labour Party. He was quick to see where his advantage lay. He has consistently accepted anti-Labour briefs, he has become rich on the fees he has earned in paid advocacy of constitutional cases which suit the interests of the exploiters of the people of Australia. He has chosen his side; let him stay on it. Let him not make appeals to the workers; they will fall on deaf ears.
– I rise to order. What have the honorable member’s remarks to do with this bill?
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! I think the honorable member is in order but I ask him to restrain himself when referring to the character of another honorable member of the House.
– I make no further reference to the character of the Attorney-General except to say that if there had been a provision dealing with known character such as he has introduced into this bill himself, he himself is one man who would have had cause to examine it very thoroughly. In this and previous debates, the Attorney-General has concentrated on the theme that the safety of the State is the highest law.
– Do you think it is?
– I think it is true that in such a national emergency as war individual rights must be set aside. It is equally true that this makes all the more essential the restoration and preservation of individual rights when peace returns. At this juncture there is no situation existing, nor is there any warrant whatever for setting aside ordinary individual rights in this country, such as existed during World
War II., and even in 1951, when the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) told us we had three years in which to prepare for war. There is no warrant now for introducing repressive actions and laws which were not even considered to be necessary then. Yet this is what the present Attorney-General is constantly seeking to do, as he did in the phone tapping legislation and as he is doing in this bill. When he places his whole reliance on the argument of the supremacy of the State, he follows faithfully in the lead of Hitler, Stalin and other tyrants of totalitarian regimes. There is no injustice which cannot be justified by the acceptance of this argument of the supremacy of the State to the exclusion of all other arguments. The true position, in a British community, is that the individual is superior to the State and that the State exists as his servant. The Attorney-General, on the other hand, would create the master State, the slave State, the State in which, as he says, the supreme interest is the interest of the State, and in which the interests of the citizen must be subverted.
– What rubbish!
– Since the honorable member interjects, I shall quote a fellow traveller of the Attorney-General. He is the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), the Leader of the Country Party, who, according to “ Hansard “ of 20th March, 1947, declared -
There can be no order in modern society unless the individual surrenders his sovereignty to the sovereignty of the State.
What is the view on that of the honorable member who interjects? The ordinary man and woman in this country have an innate love of justice and of freedom. Perhaps there is some honorable member who will contradict that. They inherited that feeling from their forefathers, who fought and suffered to gain for us the rights we enjoy to-day. It is so easy for the young fellows of to-day to take those rights for granted. The fact is that every single right which we enjoy to-day had to be fought for, suffered for and died for. Every one of us has at least a duty to ensure that those rights which we inherited are passed on safely and unimpaired to our children in their turn. I wish that there wore more people in Australia to-day alive to the totalitarian threat to this country, which comes to us from right and left alike. One honorable member interjected and asked why I do not support this bill. I say I do not support this legislation because, in the form as originally presented to the Parliament, it is an example of the totalitarian threat from the right, just as Communist attitudes indicate the totalitarian threat from the left. We want no part of either of them, and I am certain that that is particularly the view of those Australians who have come to us in recent years from lands overwhelmed by totalitarian tyranny.
I know that it is natural for the ordinary man to say, “ These things do not concern me; I am never likely to be involved in any of these situations”. That may be so, but nothing is more true than that my neighbour’s freedom is my freedom, and unless I defend his freedom my freedom is surely lost. The average Australian recognizes this in a general way in his demand for a fair go all round. If we are to preserve Australian democracy, it follows that there must be laws against treason and treachery, and against armed revolution and attempts to overthrow the Constitution by force. The Labour Party recognizes that more fully than does any other party in Australia. As its attitude on this bill shows, it is prepared to give the utmost assistance in making such laws effective. Within the last two days, the Attorney-General has accepted - entirely for the most part - sixteen of the Labour Party’s suggested amendments to the bill. That alone is evidence as to the reactionary, oppressive character of the measure.
– That is not true.
– It is true. As its attitude on this bill also shows, the Labour Party will never agree to allowing trade unionism to be assailed, freedom of criticism abrogated and the ordinary rules of British justice set aside under the guise of such laws. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition for the withdrawal and redrafting of the bill is designed to safeguard this country against treason and subversion and at the same time to safeguard the individual rights of every member of our Australian society. This amendment being defeated, the series of detailed amendments to be moved by our party in committee is designed to achieve the same effect. The Attorney-General has recognized that by accepting many of them, under pressure, within the last few hours. In striving for these ends, I am certain that we are serving the true interests of this nation and that we will have the support of all those who understand the real issues that are at stake in this grave debate.
– I find the attitude of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) rather difficult to understand. He complained about lack of time in which to debate this bill, but not once during the course of his speech did he deal with the contents of the bill before the House. He made a contemptible and vicious attack on the character and personality of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). He went on to indulge in a contemptible and vicious attack on the personality and character of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick). He spoke in very wide terms about totalitarianism and democracy, but he did not once get down to the contents of the bill at all.
– He probably has not read it.
– I doubt very much whether he has read it. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro is a very infrequent attender in this House. When he is here he speaks with passion, but with no relation to the real facts.
If one-tenth of the dreadful and dire consequences which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro predicts as a result of the introduction of this legislation were to follow its passage, no member of this Parliament would feel that he had been justified in approving of the bill. The fact is that although the Attorney-General has foreshadowed a series of amendments which will remove some doubts, the Labour Party is placed in an awful dilemma in regard to this legislation. Its dilemma is evidenced by the simple fact that in spite of the admission of the honorable member for EdenMonaro - on the very rare occasion when he did deal with the bill - that the amendments to be moved by the Attorney-General will remove the gravest objections of the Opposition to this bill, the Opposition still intends to oppose the legislation. Why will members of the Opposition still oppose this legislation? They will oppose it because they are in a dilemma. They want the public to feel that they are not linked in any way with communism, and yet they dare not offend the Communist trade unions and the Communists in the community. They have to vote against this legislation.
There is far more to their opposition than merely a sharp and violent difference of opinion as to the exact meaning of the, bill. That is all it would seem to be on the surface. Members of this Parliament are only here because they believe in democracy and freedom of speech. All the arguments that have been advanced from both sides of the House have dealt with that theme. Opposition members have tried to show that the bill will destroy freedom of speech, while members on this side have said that it protects freedom and democracy. All these arguments, on the surface, indicate that there is only a violent difference of opinion as to the exact meaning of the bill and what will be its consequences, but there really is a far deeper and more significant division in this House than appears on the surface.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) went so far as to question the need for this legislation at all. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro repeated the phase, “ This is a diversionary measure “. If there are any gaps in the law which should be filled the Government, responsible as it is for our national security, should take action, and I see no reason why action should not be taken now. The argument of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is exposed if it can be shown that there is a need for this legislation. I wish to give two very brief and very simple illustrations to show why there is a need for it. In the first place, the common law with regard to treason does not apply in the Commonwealth of Australia as such. It applies in the separate States of the Commonwealth only except in those States which have put into statute form what they conceive to be the common law. This House should know that where a statute has replaced the common law, as in the State of Western Australia, the words used to define treason are identical with the words used in this bill, against which complaints have come from honorable members opposite.
In the criminal code of Western Australia the words “ assist the King’s enemies by any means whatever “ have been part of the law since 1902. I shall demonstrate the need for Commonwealth legislation to deal with the crime of treason. If Her Majesty the Queen were present in Australia in her own right as Queen of the Commonwealth and an attempt were made against her life, this Commonwealth Government of itself could take no action to punish the offender.
– The honorable member says “ Rubbish “, but I assure him that that is the case. The matter would have to be dealt with by the Government of the State where the attack was made. The Commonwealth would have to request that Government to take action because the Commonwealth has no common law on which to fall back, and as yet it has no statute.
– Do you think the State would not act?
– I ask the honorable member: Is this a situation in which the sovereign Government of the Commonwealth of Australia should be placed. Is there any need for this legislation?
– Of course not.
– The honorable member is at one with his deputy leader. I leave it to the judgment of the rest of the House, and the majority of Australians, to say whether it is appropriate that the Commonwealth should be in a position to punish treasonable offences against the Commonwealth.
In one further aspect there is a clear need for this legislation. The Government and the Parliament have been reminded in quite strong terms of deficiencies in our existing law. Honorable members opposite are extremely sensitive for some reason or other about the report of the Royal Commission on Espionage, and I do not want to hurt them unnecessarily. Three gentlemen learned in the law - far more learned than the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in spite of his experience of it - when investigating a complex situation concerning a network of espionage in the Commonwealth, pointed out very clearly that our law was inadequate. At paragraph 1073 of the report of the royal commission the three judges stated -
Apart from the difficulties arising from the law of evidence, it seems that the law of Australia is inadequate to combat espionage, particularly in time of peace.
They said that the law was inadequate in a time of peace to combat espionage. They continued -
It is beyond our power and duty under the Letters Patent to make recommendations regarding alterations of the law, but it is our duty to consider the law in order to report whether there has been any unlawful communication of information or documents to Soviet agents.
I am sure this House will realize it did not need the Petrov commission to show that it is the established custom of the Communists to introduce a system of espionage in all those countries at present enjoying a truly democratic system of government where they hope some day to substitute their own regime. The stark fact that Australia was definitely included in this field of operations was at least emphasized by the Petrov commission. I think every Australian admits the reality of that.
AH we have to ask is: Should the Government permit espionage to go on unrestricted, as apparently the Opposition suggests it should, or should we take the best action we can to suppress espionage in Australia? I repeat, the members of the royal commission were three eminent judges. I have never heard any one contend that their statement about the deficiencies in our law regarding espionage in time of peace was wrong.
– That was years ago.
– The need for amendment of the legislation is clear and longstanding. In any event, it is hard to believe that any members of this Parliament could resent legislation which genuinely aims at preventing actions designed to imperil the security of this nation. There have been many passionate speeches aimed at presenting the other side of the picture - the political freedom of the individual. It is very easy to make such passionate speeches proclaiming, with all the rhetorical fervour that honorable members opposite practise so frequently. about British justice, trial by jury, democratic liberties and freedom of speech - all those phrases which have become cliches because they are fundamental in our constitutional practice. But honorable members of the Opposition make no reference to points of detail wherein these conceptions may be challenged in the bill. It is easy for honorable members opposite to coin slogans which excite emotions, and I will be happy to give the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) a mention in that regard. He longs to attract attention in this House, although he is getting a little bit old and a little bit passe. I will refer to a phrase in which the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member for East Sydney seem to find such joy - “ the faceless informer”. In reality that phrase has no meaning or application in this bill. How can there be a faceless informer, when the ordinary legal processes of a trial and the proof of offences by the evidence of witnesses are clearly provided for in the act? These emotional utterances are of little value in an analysis of legislation of this kind. The Government has stated quite clearly that it favours the enactment of a law which will punish actions threatening our national security, but that we all favour the preservation, so far as it is consistent with this, of the right of the individual to criticize and advocate changes in policy through constitutional means. The Opposition has taken great comfort from various sources of support outside of the accepted political parties and partisan organizations which might be especially interested in opposing this legislation. This, of course, is interesting in itself. Honorable members opposite have been rather chary of quoting trade union opposition, Communist opposition and other sources of opposition which could reasonably be suspected of having influenced them in their attitude. On the other hand, they have derived great comfort from the fact that there has been considerable legal disputation as to the precise meaning of certain portions of the bill. So eagerly has this disputation been seized on to bolster up the opposition of the Labour Party to this legislation that where eminent members of the legal profession have expressed some doubts - as lawyers frequently do - about the precise meaning of relatively small portions of the bill, they have been quoted as being opposed to the whole bill. Two eminent legal gentlemen from Sydney are on record as saying that, in general, they support the legislation but would prefer to have certain doubts which occur in their minds settled by obvious words in the bill. Messrs. Wootten and Kerr are the gentlemen to whom I refer. They have expressed some doubts as to the question of intention in the definition of treason. All sorts of sinister imputations have been cast against the use of words in this bill in relation to the offence of treason, simply because the draftsman has used a form of words which has been traditional in the interpretation of the common law - the words “ assist by any means whatever the King’s enemies “. Those words have been accepted in several States of the Commonwealth and as a part of the criminal codes of those States. They have been accepted in Western Australia since 1902, without any question whatsoever. It is a form of words which was accepted by Sir Samuel Griffith, the first Chief Justice of this Commonwealth, who drafted a criminal code for the State of Queensland. It is a form of words which he, in turn, had derived from a disinguished royal commission in England in 1878, which had attempted to draft a criminal code there. It is not uncommon to find members of the legal profession taking great delight in exercising their forensic skill in throwing up possible doubts as to the precise meaning of words in a bill of this kind. The number of cases which go to appeal before the High Court and the Privy Council bear witness to the infinite variety of arguments that can be produced to indicate that no two cases are precisely alike. Each presents a challenge to find a distinction in the application of a form of words to it. The Government has made it abundantly clear that it believes that the proposed definitions of treason in the bill are dependent upon an intent - a guilty intent - to assist the enemy. There is no need to treat this House as a forum for judicial decisions on the point or to analyse the long list of case law which is available and which generally supports the Government’s views; there is no need to analyse some jurists’ opinions which cast doubt on the existing case law. It is sufficient to say that as evidence of the Government’s previous belief that its definition of treason did include an intent to commit treason, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has announced that he is prepared to make this clear beyond all doubt by some additional words in the bill. This should remove a great area of disputation in regard to the definition of treason and the words “ assist by any means whatever “ which have excited such controversy in the columns of the daily papers. While dealing with this aspect of the definition of treason, I want to dispose of the argument that, as the bill is now framed, it threatens political liberty. This it clearly does not do. The Crimes Act 1914-1959, which this bill proposes to amend, contains a section clearly designed to preserve political freedom. It is worth quoting at length, to make this perfectly clear. I refer to section 24a (2.) of the existing Crimes Act, which says -
It shall be lawful for any person -
to endeavour in good faith to show that the Sovereign has been mistaken in any of his counsels;
to point out in good faith errors or defects in the Government or Constitution of the United Kingdom or of any of the King’s Dominions or of the Commonwealth as by law established, or in legislation, or in the administration of justice, with a view to the reformation of such errors or defects;
to excite in good faith His Majesty’s subjects to attempt to procure by lawful means the alteration of any matter in the Commonwealth as by law established; or
to point out in good faith in order to their removal any matters which are producing or have a tendency to produce feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of His Majesty’s subjects.
Have we heard any honorable members opposite mention that provision which is contained in the existing Crimes Act to protect political liberty? They have never mentioned it. They have ignored its existence and have perpetrated a fraud on the people they are trying to excite in this regard.
– That is nullified by other clauses of the bill.
– It is not. It is clear enough. It says, “It shall be lawful”. Only this afternoon in this House the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) suggested, as a serious proposition, that the bill Would expose the whole of the Labour Party to charges of treachery if it continued with its policy - purely a political policy - of requiring the withdrawal of our troops from Malaya. The Labour Party has completely ignored the provision that I have read. The words are unambiguous and clearly it is lawful for any person to do any of the things I have mentioned to change the existing law by lawful means. It is lawful without any qualifying words, and therefore it has force throughout these definitions of treason and treachery.
This afternoon the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) came out with some remarkable statements in which he referred to Communists and other progressives. He was reported some time ago as having made a statement at a caucus meeting linking Communists and the progressives, but, because caucus meetings are secret, people were prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt as to whether he had made the statement attributed to him. But the honorable member makes no secret of where his sympathies lie. To-day he referred again to this linking of Communists with progressive thinking in this country. It is small wonder, then, that the very passion of the arguments which have been used by Opposition members tends to link them with the hysterical denunciation of the bill by the Communists, or exposes them to the charge that they either have not tried to understand the bill or are deliberately misrepresenting it to this House.
The plain truth is that Labour has been caught by its old dilemma. It does not want to be linked with the Communists in the public eye, but it feels that it cannot afford to fall out with the Communists in the trade unions. Therefore, in spite of the amendments by which the Attorney-General proposes to remove the objectionable features of the bill and the doubts which exist in the minds of some people, the Opposition still opposes the legislation. Do honorable members opposite seriously suggest that there should be any exception to our national duty, for instance, to expose treason? Treason is an offence which goes to the heart of our national security. There is nothing -odd in imposing an obligation on any one who knows of treasonable activities to tell the Government about them and to take some action to stop them. We have heard honorable members opposite say that this is disgraceful because we expect people to inform on their relatives. I repeat my question to them. Do they seriously suggest that there should be any exception to our obligation to do all in our power to expose treason if we know about it? Can a person be excused from exposing treason because the traitor happens to have some blood relationship to him?
– This is going back to the days of Hitler and Stalin.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh very truly refers to Hitler and Soviet Russia. The interesting thing is that in Hitler’s Germany and Soviet Russia to-day political criticism of the government - not the offence of treason - is punishable. Our present legislation clearly exempts political criticism from any punishment.
– You do not know what you are talking about.
– The honorable member for East Sydney may have his views, but I think that the Australian people will appreciate an attempt to explain the bill rather than to indulge in extravagant remarks.
The other great area of disputation outside this House, and over and above the clear interests of the Communists in opposing this bill, is the question of admissibility of a man’s previous conduct and character to assist in proving a purpose prejudicial to the Commonwealth in cases of sabotage and espionage. The Government believes that this does not differ to any marked degree from the existing law of evidence. It is clear that the purpose of calling in evidence the conduct or character of a person is only to show that the act that a person did was done with a purpose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial, to the Commonwealth. In other words, we come back again to the problem that I mentioned earlier of proving a person’s intention.
All kinds of sinister motives and wicked fascist intentions have been imputed to the Government, and extravagant and fantastic consequences have been suggested. How can these charges be true since the phrase complained of comes directly from section 78 of the existing act where it has reposed in peace and quiet since 1914 when, in turn, it was taken from the British Official Secrets Act of 1911?
– That operates only in time of war.
– If these charges contain an atom of truth so far as this Government is concerned, they apply equally to all governments which have allowed that form of words to remain unchallenged for so long - since 1914 - in the existing Crimes Act.
– ‘But that operates only in time of war.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh had better read the act. There is hardly one honorable member opposite who has not ranted about British justice. But this question of the evidence of a person’s character and conduct forms a definite part of our law of evidence and of the British law of evidence. This is not, as the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) suggested, one of the things that people have shed blood to establish. It is a doctrine that has been carefully and thoughtfully hammered out in the courts of England by great judicial minds.
The general law in criminal cases clearly allows past conduct and character to be brought in evidence for particular purposes.
– For what purposes?
– If the honorable member will be patient I shall explain them to him. A well-known text book on the law of evidence states the matter in this way-
– What do you know about criminal cases?
– I grant that the honorable member for East Sydney has had more experience than I in the criminal law. The text-book has this to say about the law of evidence -
In criminal cases the leading principle is that evidence of all matters which are irrelevant to the issue will be excluded, but to this there is the exception that evidence will be admitted of any facts which tend to explain or throw light on the transaction in issue, as, for instance, to establish a systematic course of conduct or to show criminal intention or guilty knowledge in the mind of the accused, or to rebut the defence that the criminal act was done accidentally or undesignedly.
Clearly, it would be of enormous importance to show intention in cases of espionage or sabotage because the obvious plea - in such cases where a person is in a prohibited place or is taking photographs of defence installations, or is engaged in actions which could damage defence equipment - is that he had no guilty purpose but happened to be doing these things innocently or accidentally. Obviously, conduct on previous occasions, which is relevant to the offence charged, should be available in evidence if it tends to show a guilty intent. Equally, evidence of character as proved in aspects relevant to the offence charged is admissible.
From the same well-known text-book 1 shall read, for the benefit of honorable members, the general principle. It is in these terms -
Our law, for instance, is as a rule extremely careful in criminal cases not to allow any evidence to be given until after conviction of any offences committed by the person or of any previous conviction recorded against him. Nevertheless, such evidence will be admitted when it is necessary to determine in what mind, or with what intention, he did the act with which he is charged.
The importance of being able to give evidence of a purpose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial, to the safety or defence of the Commonwealth will be clear, I think, from the concern which honorable members expressed in regard to the need for a guilty intent in the case of treason. But the distortions to which this has been subjected, not only in this House but also outside, are really amazing. Honorable members opposite have quoted with a great deal of approval a resolution by the Presbyterian Church of Victoria which condemns the bill in general, and this provision in particular. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) directed attention this afternoon to what had happened there. In its reference to this part of the bill the material submitted to the Presbyterian Assembly was quite false, and the Assembly would not be able to make a clear judgment on it.
– Withdraw that!
-I shall not withdraw it. It is true. One part of the material which was submitted to the Assembly was false. One portion of the document, which in its ecclesiastical language is called an overture, on which the Assembly’s resolution was based, reads in this way -
Whereas the Prime Minister claims that the Crown must prove the element of the offence of sabotage, the act itself in this section states it is not necessary to show that the accused person is guilty of a particular act-
It leaves out entirely the words which qualify the particular act. That was a clear misquotation of the proposed new section, leaving out very important words. It provides that - it is not necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of a particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial, or intended to be prejudicial . . .
Those words qualifying the word “act” were left out by the persons who submitted this material.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- Despite all the Attorney-General’s platitudes, propaganda and perorations, inside and outside the House, and the rather incapable speech of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) who is now at the table, this bill, so far as the Australian Labour Party is concerned, is still unacceptable. The draftsmanship of the bill was sloppy, and remains sloppy; the language is imprecise and the conclusions erratic, if not definitely dangerous. The inevitable snowstorm of amendments which the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) likes to bring down will soon be with us. He reminds me of a legal washerwoman. He comes along with his arms full of amendments. The dirty linen of the previous week is entirely forgotten in a flood of new linen for all the parliamentary beds in this institution. There have been more amendments from this precise and oh, so eloquent and magnificent lawyer, than we have ever had previously. There were 91 amendments of the marriage bill. We are already in the full spate of amendments of the legislation now before the House, and we do not know where it will finish. As at Christmas time in the Highlands, the snow is drifting gently down upon the praying populace.
It is pretty certain that some of the provisions of this bill are, according to the conclusions we have reached, in conflict with international law with regard to trust territories, such as New Guinea. It is also certain that a very wide field of interests outside the Labour Party disagrees with some of the provisions of the bill. Those interests have not been placated. Instead, they have been passed over. The people concerned may be sent a copy of the Minister’s latest amendment, but so far as the dangerous provisions of the bill are concerned - and the bill is purely a piece of camouflage - the Minister has not placated that important body of opinion outside, a body of non-political opinion. It is the opinion of lawyers and professors, journalists and others. The Minister just argues. He argues in Parliament, in the newspapers and on television. He has led us into a kind of legal jungle and left us there. We are being slowly drowned in a welter of words. The law that will emerge from our discussions here is far too important for that.
I want to put some points to the Minister, not from the legal side but from one’s experience in life and in politics, in regard to some of the matters with which the bill deals. The Crimes Act, which the bill seeks to amend, does not, in the words of the Attorney-General, concern itself with the protection of the property and person of the individual citizen. That is the important point that the Labour Party argues. The act concerns itself with the protection of organized government, be it government of the Commonwealth or of a territory. It becomes particularly important, in view of that fact, to scrutinize the Crimes Act to see whether it is the object of the act to protect the Government, or to protect the Executive.
It has been said by the Attorney-General that Part II. of the bill deals with offences against the government, and by way of qualification he has alleged that this means offences against Australia and not offences against the Executive of the day. True as this might be by intent, in actual practice the administration of such an act is always conducted by the Executive with the intent to protect itself and not the government. The case of the King versus Sharkey is a classic instance of an executive protecting itself. That happened to be an executive from this side of the House, but how much more reckless would the existing Government be in similar circumstances! Our act may have been an act of panic or of quick thinking in the circumstances, according to the interpretation we place on it, but the action taken under this bill would be premeditated and planned - a cold-blooded act of politics.
The Labour Party generally has tried, at executive and caucus meetings, at meetings outside as well as inside the Parliament, and by visits to electorates by its constituent members, to explain that a responsibility resides in the Government in regard to amendment of the Crimes Act. Nothing will allay the fear of the Australian people in regard to this measure. What do the people fear most about this bill - because there is an atmosphere of fear? That fear may be synthetic, but it has been created by the Minister, the little Napoleon as he was described recently, strutting up to the platform and saying, “This is what is going to happen to you if - “ He says: “We are going to codify everything in sight - the divorce law, the marriage law, the laws on treason, the laws on this and the laws on that. We will eventually get round to all of them. “ So, the minatory finger is pointed at the Australian people. He says, in effect, “ Be careful or something will happen to you “.
So, we have the fear of the AttorneyGeneral. The fear that the Government has is something that it has had for a long time. It uses this fear at election periods to win votes. Now, like a Frankenstein monster, it has control of the country. Because of its fear and panic over communism and concern for its ally, the Democratic Labour Party, the Government is likely to fall into totalitarianism so far as the amendment of this legislation is concerned. The Labour Party has pointed that out time and time again. The history of totalitarianism in this century has been that of parliaments - kindly, wellintentioned parliaments - placing in the hands of dictators far-reaching powers for the alleged preservation of those parliaments, only to find that the dictators have kept the powers for the preservation of their regimes. Nobody can convince me that it is not the intention of this Government to preserve itself at all costs, even at the cost of its Country Party ally or its more disreputable ally, the D.L.P. It will survive no matter what happens. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that in relation to this legislation the Government will go beyond the bounds of totalitarianism to stay in office. That is another reason for the alteration of the Crimes Act at this time. There is no other time factor involved, so far as one can see. One must look deeper for the cause.
It is well for honorable members to look at the proposed bill, not only as an abstract measure, but also to its potential as an instrument of oppression which may be used by an unpopular regime trying to protect itself from the criticism of an outraged constituency - the people of Australia trying to slough the Menzies Government off their shoulders and not succeeding because of the clamps that have been put on, and fear of the thought control imposed by the Crimes Act. That is the essence of the position. This bill, Sir, professes in the most scandalous way to say that it has nothing to do with the unions or with industrial law. Since when has one of the greatest sources cf unrest and one of the greatest sources of opportunity for the workers to improve their standards not been under surveillance by a tory government? How silly to talk of a coco-nut without milk! In introducing this bill the Minister has delightedly tried to disguise the fact that it touches on the industrial situation. If it did not he would have none of it. He would not be bringing it down in this House.
My conclusion, and that of the Labour Party generally, is that this bill is a dagger aimed at the heart of the industrial unions. It is part of the pattern, the horrible pattern, that has been created, of Liberal members of Parliament turned Arbitration Court judges; of the Arbitration Court turned into a court of pains and penalties by punitive clauses, with the unions being mulcted of sums such as £500, in an attempt to weaken them financially and to discipline them. This is the final throw. In the event of a strike, the provisions dealing with treachery, sabotage, espionage, acts prejudicial to secrecy - what you will - will be applied to unions to frighten them. How can the Minister say that the bill has no industrial implications when its very essence is an industrial implication? Is the Minister correct, or are the unions being foolish?
Are the men who live close to danger, who live close to their jobs, and who know how precarious earning a living can be in this country under a Liberal regime, wrong? Why have unionists crowded into King’s Hall during recent weeks? Why are our letter boxes bulging with letters of protest? Why is it that great churches, great jurists and great journalists have come to our aid in pointing out the dangers in this bill? Their concern is well-founded, and I think I can point to the reason for it in a few minutes.
Take the case of treason, for instance. This subject has been bandied about in a dozen resolutions. We are going to get another armful of amendments from the Minister when he can think of a new idea. No matter how brilliantly or otherwise the Attorney-General deals with it, you do not get good law by creating fear and undercurrents of uneasiness. That is why the Minister has failed miserably. To put the matter simply, the Minister may know what he means, but will the judge who has to interpret the act in the future know what he meant? There may be no AttorneyGeneral of his calibre to say, when this bill is law, just what the interpretation of it should be.
Under the act, of course, in the cliche’ of the lawyer it becomes a rule of law, and the pathway to the law is the road of natural justice. But if we brush these cliches aside, we know that the intention as conveyed in so many of these regulations and amendments is not clear. As the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) and others have pointed out, there is the fear and undercurrent of anxiety in relation to the terrible crime of treason. We must see that the legal cliches are swept aside. If the language is good English and precise, what is wrong with that? We must get the language and the intention clear. We can have no imprecise terms, no ambiguity and no legal double-talk. That is why I believed - as I still believe - that the best way out for the Labour Party was to denounce the bill in its entirety, reject all amendments and offer none. Otherwise I feared that we might be judged by the public on our known character - collaborators with the Government in attempting to amend the unamendable.
The Attorney-General in debate urged all of us to return to our books. That is good advice in searching for the history of this bill and others like it. He said to his lawyers in the charmingly, intolerant way of his, “ When you have not interpreted what I seek, you had better go back and read your law books “. It is always good advice to tell everybody to go back and get an authority. Not only lawyers do it; but people who are not interested in the law will probably seek out the best-sellers. I think I have some very interesting points even though I have no intimate knowledge of the law but some references which sort of throw the Attorney-General in the precise and perfect language of the English jurists in relation to these things. You cannot fool round with such an item as treason. The most interesting and perhaps the. most vital reference I picked up on this matter of treason is from Hallam’s “ Constitutional History “, Chapter XV., pages 203-226. Match this sterling piece of advice I will quote against the Minister’s but’s and if’s. I ask honorable members to listen to this precise, clean and clearcut language against the fluffiness of the Attorney-General’s phrases. This is what Hallam says, and he is a great British authority. All the lawyers have been fed upon his works. This is a standard work. Even the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who is not with us to-night but who is in his first year as a law student, would have imbibed this wisdom. Hallam stated -
No people enjoy a free constitution unless adequate security is furnished by their laws against the discretion of judges in a matter so closely connected (as the law of treason is) with the relation between the Government and its subjects.
That is the whole point. This is Magna Carta in a nutshell. No people enjoy a free constitution unless adequate security is furnished by their laws against the discretion of judges in the matter of treason, in relations between a government and its subjects. Can you trust the old kings, as Kipling has said? You know the breed; you cannot. Against your law-making you must have precision in this House so that when the judge comes to interpret it, there is a feeling of security, of safeguard and protection for the people. There is not anything of that sort in the bill that has been produced by the Minister, but is there not the clean-scrubbed atmosphere of liberty in the commentary by Hallam? Is there not a feeling of reassurance about it and the smell of Magna Carta - the good law? But as you look through clause after clause of the bill, wearily tossing off amendment after amendment, you do not find this tough law, this good law that belongs to the people. And as the people have to adhere to the law for the term of their natural life, they know a good law when they see it. The bill we are discussing never achieves that sense of protection and reassurance. It never apears to be for the people. Instead, the Minister is continuously apologizing for grubby little clauses of the bill which, on the face of it, negates British law and justice and carries overtones of discipline and punitive action. This is the bill which, under pressure, the Attorney-General is forever amending.
Then there is the question of espionage. Can anyone imagine that this Government could ever bring a law relating to espionage into this House after the disgraceful case which emerged from the Petrov commission’s inquiry into alleged espionage? If you are ever going to judge a government on its known character, you must condemn the Menzies-Fadden Government of the day for its contemptible unconcern for the Australian people and its mishandling of very fine people in connexion with the Petrov commission. Espionage! The very word shrinks away when you think what this -Government has done in relation to espionage in order to trap innocent Australians. Then, when the whole sorry business of the Petrov inquiry rolled on week after week and month after month, what transpired? There was nothing to prove. There were no spies in the union. There were no spies in the Labour Party. There were no spies generally in Australia. And we got a clean bill of health.
That is the point that ought to be recorded. I remind honorable members that the Prime Minister not many years ago came into this House with allegations of espionage against persons attached to the Soviet Embassy. By his careful gravity, he gained the full assent of this House to the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into such matters. When the rubbish produced by the security service agent Petrov had been carefully sifted and many reputations had been smeared in the course of this sifting, it was discovered that this House, deceived by the Prime Minister and impressed by his seeming solicitude for the protection of the country, had simply created in the witness box of the tribunal a political loudspeaker through which propaganda against the Opposition was broadcast by any witness that the representatives of the Government cared to call. The grave solicitude of the Prime Minister as shown in this House revealed itself as grave solicitude for the return of his Government by fair means or foul. So the Labour Party led by its tolerant leader, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), cannot subscribe in any way to the gruesome provisions relating to espionage. Against this background is measured the stature of the AttorneyGeneral. He is the leg-man and the boy who does the work for the Prime Minister. The Government’s record in relation to espionage and in context of this bill is so bad that I need say no more but pass on because half an hour is not very long in which to reveal the ramifications of this measure.
When you search about you find an atmosphere of caution and carefulness, and one asks why the bill was introduced at this time rather than any other time. Is there any clue to be found in the AttorneyGeneral’s speech when he refers to the increase in the importance of the Territories. This may be a shadow of the Gluckman case or it may be a shadow of apartheid and what happened in Dr. Verwoerd’s Africa. “ Territory “ in the Commonwealth Crimes Act is defined to mean - a Territory of, or under the control of, the Commonwealth.
There can be no doubt that this definition includes trusteeship territories. Not too many members of the House have touched on this matter; and it rather disturbs me. It is well to remember that whatever constitutional limitations there may be in favour of personal freedom or liberty within the Commonwealth of Australia, these limitations do not exist in the Territories. There may be constitutional limitations on the mainland of Australia because of the Parliament and public opinion, but no such things exist in the native lands of the Territories where the under-privileged and inarticulate inhabitants live their daily lives. The Constitution gives the Commonwealth Government supreme power, and it may govern by decree, lettre de cachet or any other obnoxious instrument of oppression it chooses; and it has indeed been held by the High Court that the right to trial by jury on indictment given to the Australian people by section 80 of the Constitution does not exist in a Territory. I derive that advice from “ Rex v. Bernasconi “ (1915) 19 C.L.R. 629. I mention that for the benefit of the Minister at the table who may need some legal corsets within the next half-hour.
If the known character of the Prime Minister and his Government in relation to espionage is so shocking, I ask honorable members: What will happen in New Guinea? Let the Prime Minister’s representatives in the Territory enact apartheid laws against coloured peoples - and remember that the Prime Minister was the one leader in the Commonwealth of Nations who supported Dr. Verwoerd in these laws - and let some one here say, “ No native should tolerate or obey these laws “. The Attorney-General has a weapon ready to his hand for such a man. The Minister says -
An offence in relation to a Territory may well be committed outside the Territory itself . . . inciting to or encouraging the commission of an offence-
That is within a Territory against its laws. So there you have it. What happens to our vaunted progress in New Guinea? Are we sticking the chain gang in? Are we putting the manacles on our black brothers and other people in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? That is something for us to consider. As I said before, if that can be done in regard to espionage in Australia, it can be done in a territory that is governed under a trusteeship. Let us consider the position of a journalist or somebody else who went to the Territory and wrote back to some one in Australia. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), to his eternal credit, went rampaging through the Territory. He stirred up a lot of trouble. He found out what was wrong. On occasions he spoke roughly and crudely, just as we Australians do, and he made us feel that we had not lost our identity in relation to the welfare of our black brothers. Under the proposed law, should he write to me and should I publish what he said, we could be indicted, because there is no protection in regard to a territory. That is an important matter.
I put these things before the House to show the extreme lack of precision which characterises the bill. The Attorney-General in certain statements he has made in the public press, has placed great reliance on the protection which may be accorded to accused persons by what he describes as common law. I profess to be a student of only a few day’s standing, but I am advised - and my research supports this - that there is no common law of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth may enact legislation of this nature to protect itself. It is the statute that makes the offence, not the common law. The Attorney-General has continuously referred to the fact that the words in proposed section 24 (1) (d) have been established by authority as not applying to political or industrial activities. We have seen enough of the known character of the Government to believe that that is purely poppycock, that it is a complete fallacy. It is an attempt to hoodwink the people, and we ought to get that thought into the amending clauses of the bill.
Let us consider the matter of treason “ Treason “ is an enormous word. Treason is rarely, if ever, committed in this country. We all, whatever our political affiliations, love this land of Australia. When you have a Minister trying to define the sin that some one may commit in the future, you have to go to the pure law authorities for a definition, not to these people on the other side of the House. What about this crime of helping the enemy? All of us have had a go at that. All of us feel uneasy about the fact that we might be helping the enemy by saying that the Boer war was a terrible thing and that the Zulus should not have been speared. We know what the old colonialism was. But the provision that it is proposed to insert in the act will close every mouth. Even little babes who may lisp something that they have heard on the radio may be indicted by the Minister for saying something against the imperialistic might of Australia and the Menzies Government.
In the bill we have imprecise, woolly, smudgy, scrubby language that nobody can understand. I gained something from the sources to which the Attorney-General drove me in my search for precision in language relating to war and the waging of war. If what I found was in the bill now before us, we would all feel rested and comforted and everybody could sleep safely in their beds at night. I found the passage I am about to quote in Stephen’s Digest of the Criminal Law, which, in article 71, refers to the type of offence that I have been discussing. It is the first time I have seen the statement, but I quote it with pleasure, because it is a rare gem. It reads -
Every one who, with intent to help the enemy in any war in which His Majesty may be engaged, does or attempts or conspires with any other person to do any act which is designed or likely to give assistance to the naval, military or air operations of the enemy, to impede such operation of His Majesty’s forces, or to endanger life, is guilty of felony and must on conviction thereof- pay the penalty prescribed. How much clearer is that statement than is the language of this bill? The passage I have read categorically protects the people. A person must not do certain things in relation to the Army, the Navy or the Air Force. That provision may even be amended to include atomic energy and things of that kind. But everything is there in precision. Are we to fall back into the errors of the past? In my research I have discovered a reference to the sort of thing that happened in the days of Edward III., the Plantagenet king. He must surely have had an AttorneyGeneral like the one we have. This is the passage I unearthed -
In 1615, Edward Peacham was convicted of treason on account of certain passages in a sermon found in his study . .
They had never been published. They had never been preached. I wish the honorable member who belongs to a clerical family had abided with me long enough for me to point out these incidents to him. Edward Peacham was arraigned and imprisoned for years. He died in prison. Let me tell the House what happened to another person at about the same time, during the reign of the Plantagenets and under an AttorneyGeneral who was a transmogrification of the present Attorney-General. This is the passage I wish to read -
Algernon Sidney again was similarly convicted of treason in 1683 on account of an old unpub lished manuscript treatise on sovereignty found in his house. He was executed, but his conviction was subsequently reversed by Parliament.
Apparently the Attorney-General of the day brought in one of his numerous amendments. What can you do in a case like that?
Let us get back to the matter of known character. The definition of “ known character “ is a most contemptible clause. In its defence, the Attorney-General has said that it was previously in the Crimes Act. Is it not time that we did a bit of scrubbing up and got rid of it? Of course, it is. That is the most complete reason 1 could have thought of. Who is going to tell us about the known character of an accused person? The gum shoe boys, the security service, will do anything to get a conviction. We will be getting back to the days of the pimp, the stoolie and the urger. As the Prime Minister has warned us, this must never happen if we want to retain our natural integrity. I hope the AttorneyGeneral will strike out of the bill the clause relating to known character. It reverses the old tradition that a man is presumed to be innocent until he is proved to be guilty, lt provides a sort of cynical view that if you fly with the crows you will be shot. It is a horrible political provision. It leaves too much power to the security people. We will have thought control and fear rampant in the community if it is retained. The clause relating to known character has been one of the most argued parts of the bill. Perhaps Messrs. John Kerr and J. H. Wootten, who are Sydney barristers, got right on the point - the Attorney-General has never been on this point - when they said in a joint letter to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ -
If a prima facie case cannot be made against a man without resort to his character, it simply means that not sufficient evidence of his guilt is available.
That is the pure essence of common sense, the pure essence of the law. If a prima facie case cannot be made out against the man, it simply means that he should go free. The statement made by those two barristers cuts through all the flam, all the legal fiddlefaddle and the gobbledygook. Those learned men who practise in the courts of this country say that, if you are cowardly enough to bring a man in, to dismiss the jury, to have him brought before a judge. to have a legal quibble and say, “ This is his known character”, you have not enough evidence of the crime on which to arraign him. Is that not clear? Is that not sensible? Is that not decent? But the AttorneyGeneral will not have any of that.
These are terrible offences which carry a penalty of death, imprisonment for life, imprisonment for fifteen years, or imprisonment even for two years in the case of a false claim made on the Commonwealth. To go from the sublime to the ridiculous, I remind the House that recently the pharmaceutical benefits legislation was amended to provide that a false claim in regard to a prescription was an offence. If little Ethelfreda has a cold, if some one prescribes Irish Moss and the bill which goes to the Government contains a claim for a paregoric or some other substance, the person responsible is regarded as permitting a false claim to be made on the Government and is liable to imprisonment for two years.
Members of the Australian Country Party are interjecting. If their false claims against the Labour Party were added up, they would suffer imprisonment for life. Such legislation represents a rotten breaking down of standards. A poor blind chappie who cannot write his name and who makes some errors is alleged to have made a false claim and is mulcted of 5.2. It is Draconian law. The bill creates a bad atmosphere. That is why we detest it. It is introduced in the atmosphere of the Gluckman case, the pursuit-of-peace meetings, the frightening of the academics, the telephone-tapping, and of Menzies coming into the House and warning us about Communists and coming in again the next day all of a dither and saying the people concerned were not Communists. The sense of guilt that is created by the fact that big brother Barwick is watching is not for this country. We have already made the Minister feel ashamed of some of these amendments, his thought police and his report of a conversation. The Kampei-tei of Japan was never as thorough and as malicious as are the provisions of this bill which seek to get a little baby chattering at the table to inform against its mother. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) is again interjecting. Would he like one of his merino lambs to testify to the fact that he was a very indifferent grazier and a very indifferent politician?
I conclude, Sir, by saying that one significant feature of the bill is the lack of any provision concerning habitual criminals. I mention this only because in New South Wales -
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and I have one thing in common; he is a layman and I am a layman, and we are both required to apply ourselves to a study of the merits of this piece of legislation as laymen. I must confess, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I have listened with a great deal of interest and with all the powers of comprehension that are available to me to what the lawyers have had to say about this bill, but I find, as I frequently do, that it is necessary for me to reach my own decisions as an ordinary mortal.
I am conscious of the tremendous importance of this measure, and I am astonished to find that the honorable member for Parkes can turn his contribution to a debate on such a serious subject into a piece of burlesque. The purpose of the debate is to bring out the faults and frailties of the measure, if there are any, and to suggest what might be done to improve it. If I have, as I say, anything in common with the honorable member for Parkes, it is only that we are both laymen, and that is where our common interest begins and ends. He has applied himself to an examination of this bill and, left to his own devices, he would, on his own admission, have rejected it completely and absolutely out of hand. He would have offered no suggestions as to what, might be done to improve the measure. Indeed, he would have withheld any suggestion of an amendment and he would have completely rejected the bill in its present form. But the honorable member for Parkes, like all other members of Her Majesty’s Opposition, is never left to his own devices. He is bound by hide and horn to follow the decisions reached by the socialist party, and in this instance the socialist party has decided that the bill in its present form should be opposed, and that amendments should be proposed and supported by the members of the Opposition.
The honorable member for Parkes has to surrender his personal right to make his own decision and to give his own opinion that the bill should be rejected, and he is duty bound now to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The honorable member for Parkes, like a great many other honorable members opposite, has forgotten that there was a time when we had no Crimes Act. He and his colleagues have forgotten that there was a time when we had no Army, no Navy and no Air Force - and no Crimes Act. We were at that time, of course, dependent for our defence on the British Empire and the constituents of it, and on the friends whose respect we could win from time to time. Had we remained in that dependent position we would now have no need for defence forces or services as we know them to-day, and we would have no great need for a Crimes Act in any shape or form. But our country has become an independent country, largely by the resolution, the courage and the determination of the valiant people who went before us. In the process of becoming an independent country we have assumed responsibilities that rightly belong to every self-respecting independent nation. These are the responsibilities of nationhood, and they are twofold in character.
In the first place, we have our national responsibilities, which we are in duty bound to discharge. In addition, we have our international responsibilities. Our assumption of nationhood demanded that we should accept both national and international responsibilities. It is clearly not possible to accept our national responsibilities and reject our international ones, and it should be absurd to suggest that we should accept our international responsibilities and reject those that we should rightly assume in our own country.
It is the first duty of the nation, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to do all that lies within the power of its Parliament and its people to defend itself against aggression or the threat of aggression, no matter from whence they come. Only in that way can a nation win the respect of its friends and reduce the cupidity of its enemies, and one of the lamentable facts of life is that every country seems to have enemies, lt is necessary for us to recognize that fact. It is surely the second duty of a nation to do all that lies within the power of its people and its Parliament to defend its friends against aggression or the threat of aggression no matter from whence they originate.
These responsibilities are the responsibilities of nationhood, and there is no escape from them except by way of their complete repudiation, which would bring all the defeats and disgrace which are inseparable from repudiation. We have cause to be proud of the way in which succeeding generations of our people have accepted and discharged their national and international responsibilities in full, and sometimes at great price. We can be proud of the valiant way in which the States attempted, ever so long ago, to set up their own defence organizations under their own sovereign powers, before federation ever became a practicable proposition. We can be proud also of the way in which the Commonwealth Government assumed these responsibilities immediately after federation. Indeed, they were the first responsibilities to be accepted by the Commonwealth. If it had not accepted them, our Australian history might have ended with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
It was that fateful event that forced upon us the full stature of nationhood, and within a few weeks of the outbreak of that war the pattern of our defence structure was complete. But it is th; height of folly to imagine for a single moment that that pattern was confined to the conventional armed services - the Navy, the Army and what was ultimately to become the Air Force. These forces are utterly useless unless they are supported by security powers adequate to protect the community against crime in all its forms and criminals in all their nefarious practices. What is the good of sending the armed forces of this country or of any other country to defensive positions or into battle if they are to be betrayed by treason, if they are to be betrayed by treachery, or if they are to be betrayed by sabotage in any of its forms?
In 1914 these dangers were recognized. lt was to meet that situation and because the common law of the States was wholly inadequate to meet the needs of the Commonwealth that the first Crimes Act was passed by this Parliament in 1914 - 46 years ago. It was passed by a Labour administration, a socialist goverment led by Andrew Fisher. Admittedly, it has been amended from time to time by successive governments, regardless of their party-political allegiance, but no serious attempt has ever been made to revise the act in its entirety, or to broaden its provisions to meet the changing circumstances of modern society. That has now been done for this Government by the learned Attorney-General, who has applied himself to this most difficult task and who has, to the satisfaction of the members of the Government, submitted proposals that are adequate to meet the changing circumstances. That has been done, and it has been done with exceptional skill.
If the Crimes Act was necessary in 1914, and no true patriot would doubt it, how much more urgent is the need for a Crimes Act, adequate for the protection of our people and our country, to-day when the free world is being attacked by the forces of subversion from day to day, from week to week, from month to month, and from year to year, and when in our own age and generation these forces have already met with territorial successes that far exceed the conquests of a traditional war of aggression? It was these conquests to which the honorable member for Parkes was referring when he said that this bill was designed to excite the fears of the people of our country. I would that some one in these other countries had brought down a Crimes Act for the purposes for which this act has been brought down. Had that been done, much of our contemporary history would not have had its tragic sequence.
These are the fears that the honorable member for Parkes described as unfounded. He would have us believe there is no such thing as subversion; there is no such thing as treachery; there is no such thing as a traitor; there is no such thing as sabotage of any importance, or espionage of any importance. In his view, these words, these phrases, these bogys, have ben introduced into this bill to excite spuriously the fears of the Australian people.
Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I may, I would like to direct the attention of the House to perhaps the most tragic document I have ever seen. It belongs to our own contemporary history. It is described to me as a manifesto of the twentieth anniversary of Soviet aggression against the Baltic States, and it is issued by the Estonians, the Latvians and the Lithuanians now living in our own country, spread over the six States of the Commonwealth. This tragic document begins with a recital of the rape of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union on 15th June, 1940, and it concludes with an impassioned re-affirmation of faith in the ultimate liberation of these enslaved countries. The document states -
We - free Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians - are conscious of our responsibility toward our nations and toward history. At this 20th anniversary of Soviet aggression, we feel duty bound to give voice to the aspirations of our captive peoples.
We accuse the Soviet Union of committing and continuing an international crime against the Baltic States.
We demand that the Soviet Union withdraw its military police and administrative personnel from the Baltic countries.
We request that the governments of the free world, especially those of the Great Powers, undertake all peaceful ways and means to restore the exercise of the right of self-determination in the Baltic countries and in the rest of East-Central Europe.
We appeal to the conscience of all mankind to perceive the magnitude of the injustice perpetrated upon the Baltic countries and to support the efforts toward the restoration of the liberty of these countries.
We convey to our people at home our pride in their resolute resistance against the endeavours of the oppressor to destroy their national and personal identity.
We express to our peoples behind the Iron Curtain our deep conviction that the Soviet system - as all tyrannies throughout history - carries within it the seeds of its own destruction; that it cannot and shall not prevail.
We pledge to intensify our joint organized activity in the free world to promote the cause of liberty for the Baltic countries.
We, finally, declare to the free world and the Communist-dominated world, including the U.S.S.R., that, once free again, the Baltic nations will do all in their power to ensure the best possible relations with their neighbours on the basis of mutual respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
That document was delivered to this place only a few weeks ago. It was written on behalf of men and women living all over our country, integrated into the Australian scene. It refers to incidents in our own contemporary history. These three countries and a great many others that can be named categorically were deprived of their freedom largely because they had no adequate crimes act to protect their freedom and to support their navies, their armies, and their air forces in the field. The task is utterly hopeless unless these security supports are available to the defence forces.
I come back now to the bill itself. As my learned friend the Attorney-General said in the course of his second-reading speech, Commonwealth criminal law is ancillary to the discharge of the responsibility of the Commonwealth to protect itself. Would any one suggest that the Commonwealth should not protect itself? Would any one suggest that the Commonwealth Government should not discharge its responsibility by exercising its right and its power to bring down legislation designed to give protection to the people and to the Constitution of this country? Would any one suggest that we have no right to protect our institutions and services and to enforce our constitutional obligations? Would any one suggest that this Government should not do these things or that any other reputable government should neglect to do these things when the need for them is patent? This bill is designed to that end. It has no other purpose, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
The Leader of the Opposition described many of the bill’s provisions as, to use his own words, “ both desirable and unexceptionable “, but he took the strongest possible exception to those provisions dealing with offences which the bill describes as treason, treachery, sabotage, disclosure of information by Commonwealth officers, espionage and disclosure of official secrets. Here is a great bill, which contains 60 clauses and 33 pages. Here is a bill of enormous importance which is designed to revise and extend the Crimes Act in order to give our people the protection that they need. A responsible citizen of our country who is no less than the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition says that he is willing to support this bill. He sees in it much that is desirable and unexceptionable, but he raises the strongest possible objection to these exclusive proposals dealing with treason, treachery, sabotage, disclosure of information by Commonwealth officers, espionage and disclosure of official secrets.
One might be tempted to ask why a man who holds a responsible position, having applied himself to a study of the relative merits of this measure with the assistance of the members of the Australian Labour Party - or, rather, the Australian socialist party - reached a decision that this bill is desirable and unexceptionable except for the provisions relating to treason, treachery, sabotage, disclosure of information by Commonwealth officers, espionage and disclosure of official secrets. The Leader of the Opposition interpreted these provisions in their present form as an attack on the liberty of the subject, and they were variously described by the Opposition members who followed him as objectionable and totalitarian in character. Nor is this kind of interpretation exclusive to Opposition members. It is shared by those who have no competence to understand the bill in the first place. This kind of interpretation is shared by the credulous and the uninformed who want to read into this measure sinister motives and purposes on the part of the Government.
Largely because of its great size, its sparse population and its comparative isolation, this country has always been vulnerable to treason, treachery and sabotage. These offences have always been clearly defined since we have had a Crimes Act and I have no doubt that they were familiar in the common law long before that. Our vulnerability has increased with every passing year until to-day it menaces not only the 10,250,000 people who live in Australia but also all those who are dependent on us through our wide range of filial loyalties and our international commitments and obligations. To the limit of our physical resources and the physical resources of our friends, we can defend ourselves against aggression in all its traditional forms and, indeed, in its new forms. But are we to leave our defences against treason, treachery and sabotage as they were in the original Crimes Act passed by this Parliament 46 years ago? Or are we to reject such defences altogether, as the honorable member for Parkes suggested? Are we to leave wide open to a single act of treachery. to a single act of treason or to a single act of sabotage this country that can be enflamed and destroyed from north to south and east to west during nearly six months of every year - this country whose water supplies can be dissipated and destroyed by a single act that would imperil the lives of all Australians? People who are not conscious of these things are not capable of realizing the dangers that face us.
Successive governments have amended the Crimes Act on twelve different occasions to meet dangers to our security as they have been revealed from time to time, and dangers have now been revealed by our own contemporary history. This Government would be recreant to its trust if it did not follow that example. It is necessary that people realize the seriousness of our situation, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Here is a Crimes Act which was enacted by this Parliament for the first time 46 years ago and which has been amended on twelve occasions. Here is a world situation in which great and powerful and ancient nations have lost their liberty and thenfreedom with the enslavement of their people. Had governments in those countries had an opportunity to introduce legislation such as this, such measures would have been supported by ail reputable persons in those countries. Our opportunity is now. Now is the time for us to take appropriate action to bring the Crimes Act up to the requirements of the stark realities of our situation and to empower the government of our country to deal with the traitors, those who are treacherous and those who would engage in sabotage or espionage or any form of betrayal.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, one might almost be convinced by the arguments of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), who prates about threats to our liberty and so on, if one were not aware that he is one of four Ministers in this place who belong to the Australian Country Party, the members of which are going flat out to trade with Communist countries and to assist those countries in every way possible by steady trade.
Right at the outset, Sir, I protest, as my colleagues who have already spoken have done, at the gagging of this debate. I do not know about Government supporters, but many Opposition members want to speak on this most important and fundamental measure. As a result of the Government’s restriction of the debate, the Opposition has had to conduct a ballot in order to determine which of its members would have the privilege of speaking on this measure at the second-reading stage. I understand, furthermore, that the debate at the committee stage of the bill next week, also, will be limited. After all the time that the Government has had in which to bring forward this legislation, and despite the time that is still available for consideration of it, the Government wants to rush the legislation through the Parliament. What is the Government afraid of? Is it afraid of genuine criticism, or the press statements, or the statements of the churches? One needs only to refer to the petulant and intellectually arrogant reply of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) to the Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, duplicated copies of which have just been handed to honorable members. All that I need to quote from the reply is the second and third last paragraphs. I need not go through all the petulant comments the Attorney-General makes.
– Read the lot.
– I know you do not like it, but the people outside do not like this bill.
– Read out all of it.
– Order! The honorable member for Lyne will remain silent.
– Honorable members opposite who interject are the sort of people who want to look after our liberty! In his reply the Attorney-General said -
But although your Assembly appears not to have had the advantage of a copy of the bill or of my own second reading speech, it undoubtedly had the benefit of the most emphatic statements of the Prime Minister, made in Melbourne before the date of your Assembly’s consideration of this matter upon the very matter the subject of paragraph (b) of the sixth premise.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. Is it competent in this debate for an honorable member to read portion of a letter which does not give a correct account of what the AttorneyGeneral has written to an important body in this country?
– The Chanis in no position to determine whether it is true or not.
– That is the sort of censorship that one can expect. The Attorney-General’s letter continues - 1 am sure your Assembly knows of the Prime Minister’s professional standing as a lawyer. Nonetheless, your Assembly has chosen to accept the seventh premise, the direct and necessary implication of it being that the Prime Minister’s statements must be disregarded as they are deliberately untrue or made with careless ignorance of the bill. I would hope I have said enough both here and in the documents I enclose to demonstrate that what the Prime Minister said was absolutely true. For myself, I cannot express the shame I feel that your Assembly took the course of sustaining the seventh premise of the Overture.
That is the reply of the Attorney-General on a matter which has been the subject of controversy in the press ever since this bill was presented, to this Parliament. That is the kind of petulance, intellectual arrogance and intolerance that the Australian Labour Party is determined to do its best to avoid being imposed upon the people of this country. If honorable members opposite have any thoughts that this legislation has not aroused widespread disapproval, even with the amendments that are now foreshadowed, I just invite them to wait and see.
The intolerance and arrogance of the Attorney-General are typified by his absence for almost the whole of this debate. He did not even listen to the leaders of our party. In the short time for which he was in the precincts of this chamber he was engaged in conversation with a former member of this House whom he has elevated to another sphere. How Government supporters can pretend to be liberal and still support this sort of legislation is beyond my comprehension. These liberal members - backbenchers and others - supported this bill before any intimation was given that the important amendments which the Labour Party forced on the Government were to be introduced into this House. They rose, and slavishly and servilely supported legislation which would outrageously take away the liberties of the Australian people - the sort of people whose graves you can see if you go to the cemeteries up north, people who laid down their lives to protect us from inroads upon our liberty.
– You are talking nonsense.
– I am not talking nonsense. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) referred to the protection afforded under section 24a (2.) of the act in respect of criticism of the Government. I understand that the Minister is a lawyer, or is a lawyer by repute. He must know quite well that that provision in the act refers to sedition, and sedition only. There is no indication in this bill that that provision will be extended to the new crimes introduced by this bill.
The people of Australia must seriously wonder whether in fact they defeated the Government’s 1951 referendum proposals. I suggest that those proposals were rejected by the Australian people for three reasons. The first was the impreciseness of the definitions of “ Communist “ and “ communism”. The second was that the onus of proof was to be reversed, and put on the accused instead of on the Crown. In five instances, under this bill, the onus of proof is to be transferred from the Crown on to the accused.
– That is not true.
– I will quote a few of them if the honorable member has any doubt about it. The third reason for the rejection of the 1951 referendum proposals was the country’s determination that people should be punished not for their political allegiances but only for misdeeds.
I am suggesting that this Government is deliberately trying to evade the rejection of the 1951 proposals. The man who, in another capacity, gave advice to the Government on that occasion is now the AttorneyGeneral who has entered this Parliament and tried to evade the decision of the Australian people in that referendum. He suggests that people are to be punished for their actions and misdeeds, and punished pretty severely; but he brings in such an important incriminating dragnet factor as a person’s “known character”. That is going back again to relying on people having been accused of being Communists, nonconformists or unsafe people in the community.
This is a political bill. It does not deal with the sort of things with which the acts passed in the 1870’s dealt. This bill is being considered in 1960, with all the implications and complexities of war at this time. The pervasiveness of what is called the “ war effort “ affects every person in the community. We are not back in the days when countries had professional soldiers engaged in places distant from the ordinary people who had very little contact with the war. The bill is a pervasive sort of thing. Anything that is just transplanted willy-nilly into a bill in 1960 which slavishly borrows from a previous law must necessarily bring burdens upon the people that it takes in its ambit.
I suggest to honorable members opposite, and to people outside the Parliament who are of the genuine liberal faith, that this is a fair test: What would be their reaction if the Labour Party had introduced this bill? I wonder whether honorable members opposite would have been prepared to allow all the dragnet provisions contained in this bill to be passed without criticism.
– What dragnet provisions?
– I will refer to some of them in a minute. Do not worry. I will refer to all of them, if possible. Before I do that, I wish to direct the attention of the House to the whole atmosphere in which this bill is just an incident. It is an important incident, but it is only an incident. It comes in the wake of such, things as the telephone tapping legislation that was recently passed after being introduced by the Attorney-General. In more recent times there was the Professor Gluckman case, in which the Government outraged the respect for Australia of many people not only in this country but also outside it. They did not think that Australia could do such a thing as trample on the freedom of people, including people of repute, without ever giving any sort of answer to the person concerned, or to the world at large, as to why such an outrageous thing as the prohibition of visitors to a territory administered by this country should happen. The same thing applies to intending immigrants. A Minister quietly tells an honorable member, “ I cannot let your constituent know this, but quite frankly this fellow is a security risk, and we cannot let him in “. That is the sort of thing that is happening, and that is the kind of atmosphere that is smothering the freedom of the people of this country.
– You would bring them in, would you?
Mr. REYNOLDS__ 1 would not bring in a person whom I knew to be a traitor, but I object to these secret-message security people fobbing around and making accusations when nobody can ever confront them or test their allegations. That is the sort of thing that is happening in this country. It is the sort of thing that happened in regard to Professor Gluckman and the security service.
There are many satisfactions in being elected to this House, but one of the most sickening things that has happened to me since I entered this Parliament is that people come to me and confide to me something which they have not confided to anybody else. A person from a university comes along and says, “ I was in the intelligence service in the Army, and when I was demobilized I was invited by the security service to be their agent at the University of Sydney and to give them weekly reports, for which I was to receive £2 a week. I toyed with the idea but it did not appeal to me and I gave it away.” Who knows what damage is being done in the community with this sort of thing. It is called the deterrent, but it stifles freedom of discussion, academic freedom in the universities and any kind of radical inquiry in the community. I do not attend peace conferences, but I do not deny the right to attend them to other people if they are convinced that that is the correct course to follow. When this bill becomes law, such action will be highly suspect.
Another incident that we have witnessed in recent times is the intervention of the Government, under this Attorney-General, during the hearing by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission of an application for wage increases. For the first time a government has gone into court and appealed to the court not to grant salary increases that were being sought. Now the Liberal Party is distributing anti-Communist pamphlets and the Prime Minister is making speeches at thi Olympic Pool and other places in Melbourne. The whole atmosphere is be ng poisoned. This is not only the opinion of people like myself who have no time for communism; it is the opinion also of many others in the community. If time permitted, I would read the opinions of some of these people, including farmers and graziers. As the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) said, th’~ despicable business gives comfort to only one section of the community, and that is the Communist Party. Of course, the Communist Party is now able to parade as the guardian of liberty, and we of the Labour Party are fighting to keep people free of this taint.
The Labour Party objects to the provision of the bill which removes the right of trial by jury. It is fantastic that at this time we must fight once again for the right of trial by jury. We object to the provision which will allow an accused person’s previous character to be brought into consideration in determining his guilt; and we must not forget that the penalty could be as severe as imprisonment for 15 years. We object to the provision concerning proclaimed countries. Although our friends may be proclaimed, this is not carried to the logical extension of p oclaiming our enemies. The provision is vague and indefinite.
We object to the “pimping” provisions which place the onus on citizens to notify the authorities about people who, they believe, may be likely to commit treason. The penalty for not doing this is life imprisonment. This provision requires ordinary people in the community to make judgments about what is treason, and I dare say it would be difficult to find any one in the community who is very clear as to what constitutes treason. When people are in that state of uncertainty, what can they do? They must play safe, and that means that they will make accusations against others. But the person who is wrongfully accused has no redress, unless a merciful AttorneyGeneral decides off his own bat that the accused person has had a bad trot and perhaps should be given some compensation. Any person could accuse another of intent to commit treason. This is the atmosphere of pimping about which Mr. Chifley warned so much in the later years of his life. We have criticized this sort of activity in totalitarian countries and we have deplored the atmosphere of secrecy that pervades Russia. We are supposed to set an example to the world, but instead we are falling into the ways of totalitarian states and enslaving ourselves with dragnet provisions which embrace not only Communists but also the community as a whole.
We object to the imposition of capital punishment. We think that this form of punishment should be forgotten in this part of the twentieth century. We object to the vague provisions which include the phrase, “ assist by any means whatever “. It is all very well for the Attorney-General, with assumed authority, to say, “ Have no worry about this, it is clearly defined; ‘ assist by any means whatever ‘ does not mean ‘ assist by any means whatever ‘; it means ‘ assist by any means whatever ‘, as already provided by common law “. We do not applaud such a parade of language. We believe that after the experience gained in 100 years, we should have the ability to phrase these provisions so that they clearly express our intention. We should have the command of language necessary to frame our laws so that in 1960 they say specifically what we intend them to say. This vagueness places the liberty of the people in jeopardy. The decision given by a court of law depends upon the language used in an act and the intention that is conveyed by that language. “ Assist by any means whatever “ seems to me to mean “ assist by any means whatever “.
Then we have the expression - assist by any means whatever an enemy at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared;
No indication will be given that we are at war. Though war has not been declared, we could commit treason if we had dealings with a country that may be an enemy of the Commonwealth. But the treachery provision goes further and deals with assistance to an enemy of a proclaimed country. Our friends are proclaimed, but we are not told who are the enemies of our friends. If in our doubt we unwittingly assist the enemies of a proclaimed friend, we are guilty of treachery for which the sentence is life imprisonment. All this is too vague, and perhaps the Attorney-General will clarify it. There is still a lot to be done, but I very much suspect that not nearly enough will be done.
There is about this legislation a general air of restrictiveness. Intellectual, social and political activities are being stifled, and there seems to be the mark of economic restrictiveness. Maybe that is why this bill has been introduced. People in the community are unable to obtain credit and an attempt is being made to divert their attention from the economic situation. I have had some experience of the present state of the economy. A brother of mine was approved by the Queensland Government as a suitable applicant for part of a subdivided station in Queensland. He had the required managerial capacity and other attributes that established his suitability to go on the land. He was successful at the ballot and won one of the four blocks, but the Development Bank would not give him any credit. I can give many other instances along similar lines. I wonder why the electors of Calare voted as they did. They took it out on the Liberal Party, but the Australian Country Party jumped on the bandwagon.
Many of these matters have been mentioned before, but it took some time for members of the Parliament to understand the meaning of the bill. I think it is to the great credit of the Australian Labour Party that in the face of a good deal of intimidation it took full time to consider the bill thoroughly, to seek the views of the industrial sector and to seek legal advice. To my mind, the Labour Party came forward with a well-considered and responsible opinion. With a good deal of justification, it could have opposed the bill outright, but it has tried to act as responsibly as possible and has come up with proposals that it thinks should be included in the bill, bad as the bill is. Under the terms of the bill, treason is committed by any person who levies war or does any act preparatory to levying war against the Commonwealth. The bill does not specify whether the act shall be preparatory to the person himself levying war or preparatory to some other person or persons levying war against the Commonwealth. It is all very well for the Attorney-General to attempt to persuade us that this could not affect trade unions, but if a strike were in process and attempts were made to break up that strike, and there was physical resistance by the strikers, then, on Lord Mansfield’s definition of treason - the kind of thing we have in this bill - the activities of the strikers could be interpreted as treason and could be punishable by death. I do not say that these are likely happenings under the bill, but they are possibilities.
When this bill becomes law, it will remain on the statute-book for a long time and will be administered by governments of all kinds. I have the greatest respect for our judiciary, but in my opinion and in the opinion of people much more eminent than I, judiciaries operate in the political and social atmosphere of the generation in which they live. Certain people have analysed the way in which the Constitution has been interpreted in the past. They say that up to about 1920 our judiciary adopted a restrictive attitude to Commonwealth powers under the Constitution. After 1920 the judiciary, wherever possible, gave the benefit of the doubt to the Commonwealth. Judges operate in the social, economic and political climate of the day. I am not referring to party political climate but to political attitudes. When provisions such as I have referred to are placed in a bill, we must have regard to possible future interpretations of them.
Proposed new section 24 (1.) (d) refers to any person who - assists by any means whatever an enemy at war with the Commonwealth whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared.
A person would not know who were our enemies, but in that state of doubt he could commit a crime for which the punishment is death. It is this doubt about which we are protesting.
A similar argument can be applied to proposed new section 24aa which deals with the offence of treachery, the punishment for which is life imprisonment. The proposed new section states that no person shall levy war, or do any act preparatory to levying war against a proclaimed country. But the bill does not state clearly what is meant by “ levying war “ or by acts preparatory to levying war”. Vague statements such as those will bc retained in the bill unless our amendments are carried.
Proposed new section 24aa (1 .) (b) (ii) states that a person shall not - assist by any means whatever an enemy of and at war with a proclaimed country, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared.
The Labour Party would welcome a more specific definition of treachery so that criticism of the government’s foreign policy and genuine trade union activities would not fall within the ambit of the bill. I hope that an appropriate amendment will be made to this bill. Freedom of speech and criticism is guaranteed under the provisions dealing with sedition. The Labour Party wants that freedom generalized to cover all the crimes mentioned in the bill. We want freedom extended to criticism of government policy and criticism of government action in proclaiming certain countries to be our friends and other countries, by inference, to be our enemies. We want those matters stated clearly.
The Attorney-General says that in the absence of treacherous intent, no amount of political opposition, no matter to what lengths carried, and no amount of industrial action or protest, no matter to what lengths carried, can constitute the offence of treachery. But there is that qualification - in the absence of treacherous intent. The known character provision not applying here, what evidence would a court be expected to take into account in determining treacherous intent in respect of certain trade union activities or political criticism of the Government. What are the criteria? Those questions must be answered satisfactorily before I could think of approving many parts of the bill. I heartily approve of many aspects of the bill but there are others that stick in the gullet of any person with any liberal attitude at all.
Treachery is committed also by any person who assists an opponent of our Defence Forces. The proposed new section dealing with treachery refers to acts committed against a proclaimed country, levying or preparing to levy war against a proclaimed country and assisting by any means an enemy of or at war with a proclaimed country. How do we know who are the enemies of a proclaimed country when no state of war has been declared? Proposed new section 24aa (2.) states -
Where a part of the Defence Force is on, or is proceeding to, service outside the Commonwealth and the Territories not forming part of the Com- monwealth, a person shall not assist by any means whatever any person against whom that pan of the Defence Force or a force that includes that part of the Defence Force, is or is likely to be opposed.
The proposed section makes no reference to accidental assistance. That would still come within the ambit of the bill. We not only take into account our known enemies but we safeguard ourselves against what might be our enemies. There is uncertainty about who are our potential enemies, and that is a serious objection to the bill.
For the benefit of some honorable members opposite I want to refer to specific aspects of the bill. A Minister said to-night that under this measure there will be no shifting of the onus of proof. In fact there will be. Proposed new section 70 (2.) states -
A person who, having been a Commonwealth officer, publishes or communicates, without lawful authority or excuse (proof whereof shall lie upon him) . . .
The penalty is imprisonment for two years. Proposed new section 78, dealing with espionage, uses the words “ unless the contrary is proved “. Under this provision the penalty is seven years’ imprisonment.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, we have just heard the usual conglomeration of words that we have become accustomed to hearing in the last two days. Panicky statements have emanated from the opposite side of the House. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) did not contribute anything to the debate that has not been said in the last two days. I would like to deal with two matters that he raised. He referred to the 1951 referendum on the Communist Party Dissolution Act, which was rejected by the people. He said that offences under this bill should be punished on deeds. That is precisely what the bill is about. It deals with deeds. When one reflects on the referendum in 1951, it is interesting to recall that one of the arguments used at that time by honorable members opposite and by the public throughout Australia who debated this matter was that the purpose of the Communist Party Dissolution Act could be achieved by an amendment to the Crimes
Act. That was said over and over again, and we are now doing that very thing. Another thing mentioned by the honorable member which interested me was that he was in the intelligence service of the Army.
– I did not say that I was.
– I thought you said you were.
– You referred to the security service, and you referred to it in scathing terms. You sought to establish that the employment of a security section in a service like that or anywhere else was tantamount to a destruction of the freedom of the people.
– I said nothing like that.
– That is what I gathered from what you said. After all, the purpose of a security service is the preservation of our freedom, as the honorable member should well know. I agree that this is a very important measure, and I also agree that it is long overdue in this country. In my opinion, the Crimes Act should have been reviewed some years ago. However, we are reviewing it now, and I agree in every possible way with what is being done. I want to be identified with this bill because I believe that it is a piece of legislation which is of the utmost importance to the preservation of our freedom and the security of this country. I hope that the provisions of the bill will never have to be invoked. If they never have to be, that will be all to the good. But that is no argument against having legislation that can and must be used if the necessity ever arises. There is no doubt that there are certain dangers confronting our community and our security is frequently at stake. That being so, this is really a very necessary bill.
It is undoubtedly true, as has been said by many honorable members during the course of this debate, that certain decent citizens have become very alarmed and disturbed about this measure. But when we analyse the position, we find that those who have become alarmed fall into certain categories. There are those who have been whipped into a state of fear by the propaganda that has been disseminated throughout Australia from various sources.
Some people are always sensitive to this kind of thing. Then there are those who are genuinely jealous of our freedom and are suspicious of Parliament itself in some circumstances. I fear that sometimes the activities of members of the Opposition create that feeling in the minds of these people. Again, there are those who have academic minds. I refer to such people as lawyers, who are prepared to argue the rights and wrongs of anything, and who can take obvious sides when necessary; in other words, when necessary they can argue either way. I refer also to professors who live in the clouds. They, too, rejoice in attacking a measure of this kind. Then we have the students of Australia who are of an inquiring mind. Of course, these young men and women would be interested in discovering all sorts of things about the bill. But it must be admitted that there are also decent citizens who, not being aware of the facts in relation to the measure, do become alarmed. It is not amongst those people that we find the greatest furore in connexion with this measure.
There are three main influences disturbing the people of Australia in connexion with this bill, and those three main elements have a very important axe to grind. First and foremost, there is the Labour Party, the Opposition. It may be argued that it is the function of the Opposition to oppose. I grant the Opposition that privilege because, when all is said and done, that normally is its function in this Parliament. But on this occasion, in the interests of the nation and its security, I do think that honorable members opposite ought to be factual in what they present to the people. Even though they compose the Opposition, they ought not to go out seeking to deceive the people into believing what they themselves know full well is not true.
There is no doubt that the members of the Opposition are divided amongst themselves even though they have been trying to present a united front to this legislation. I know there are many members of the Labour Party who have views different from those which have been expressed by the Opposition during this debate. As a matter of fact, that was demonstrated to us to-night when the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) disclosed quite definitely in this House that he still believed what I understand he advocated in the caucus room - that the bill should be opposed in its entirety, that it should be thrown out and that no amendments should be submitted. Other members of the Opposition do not take that view. No doubt certain amendments will be submitted by the Opposition. One cannot blame it for that, but I think one can honestly say that the Opposition’s attitude in this .matter has been guided not by truth but by the possibility of discrediting this Government. In other words, the Opposition has treated the measure as a political vehicle instead of dealing with it on its merits.
Then there are the unions. Certain unions are opposed to the measure. They have a link with the Labour Party, and they, too, are guided by and imbued with the same motives as the Opposition. But we do see that the unions making the greatest outcry are those which are controlled by the Communists. The cry from them is .the loudest. We do not hear the same great cry from the other unions.
The ones most concerned of all three elements are the Communists themeslves One can quite understand that because this legislation is designed to curb the very activities which are the lifeblood of the Communists. Because it is so designed, every .Communist or fellow-traveller of the Communists in Australia is naturally ,100 per cent, genuinely opposed to this measure. They .want to keep on with the conduct of the cold war and this legislation will put a spoke in their attempts to carry on their nefarious activities throughout Australia. Because of that, they, too, are engaging in great propaganda campaigns throughout the Commonwealth. That is why the people are hearing so much about this measure at the present time. They must be warned not to swallow the false propaganda that is being disseminated to them.
Let me now state the policy of this Liberal-Country Party ‘Government. We stand for the freedom of the people. That is a fundamental plank of the platform on which we were elected and a fundamental part of the policy that we have pursued ever since.
– The people will take some convincing on that point.
– They have returned us at election after election and a Government candidate was elected at the recent Calare by-election - because they believe and have enough evidence to .prove that this -Government can be trusted to preserve the freedom .and security of .the people of Australia. That cannot be .denied. Again, no one in this House can gainsay that we have one of the most brilliant lawyers in the English-speaking world filling the office of Attorney-General and guiding the passage of this bill.
– He .has had his losses, too.
– In arguments on law - and I know nothing of the law - we have to trust some one. I should like to know whom we could trust more. Should we trust those people who have been putting certain specious arguments to the people, or should we trust a man of the reputation of the Attorney-General of this country, who is known far and wide throughout the world as a man of great integrity and great ability and one who knows precisely what he is doing in connexion with matters pertaining to the law? The ; people should take that into consideration.
Why have we a -Crimes Act? I do not want to go too deeply into this question because it has been dealt with so many times in this debate. But every country in what we call the free world has similar legislation, under this or some other name. No country would be doing its duty if it did not have on its statute-book a measure with all the provisions to protect the security of the people that are contained in this act. It is interesting and worth repeating, I think, even at this late hour, that the Crimes Act has been on our statute-book since 1914. It was brought in by the Fisher Labour Government after the outbreak of the First World War at a time, as has been said, when this country really was reaching the stage of nationhood. Many of the provisions of this bill have been in the act since 1914 and they mean the same to-day as they meant then. There is no ambiguity about them.
– What sections are you referring to?
– You know them ,as well as I do. Labour has been in power in the Commonwealth sphere on many occasions since the Crimes Act was first introduced, but it has never taken the opportunity to remove the provisions to which it now objects. That is an extraordinary thing and it must make one doubt Labour’s sincerity. I repeat that Labour has had the opportunity over and over again to deal with the measures with which it now disagrees, but it has done nothing about the matter.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said that the Labour Party objected to the inclusion in the Crimes Act of certain offences such as treason, treachery and sabotage against the security of this country, disclosure of information by Commonwealth officers, espionage and the disclosure of official secrets. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, or any other intelligent person in Australia, whether those crimes can be called anything but extremely serious? I can only question the integrity of the Labour Party when it goes on record as being opposed to measures being taken to deal with those offences.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said that much of the original act is now out of date. It is nearly 50 years since the act was introduced and we are now living in the new era of 1960. Great changes have taken place which make it even more important to have legislation of this kind. As has repeatedly been said we have grown up as a nation, and we must accept responsibility for our own destiny. We are proud of our British heritage, but we are an independent, vigorous nation which to-day is not tied to any one’s apron strings. We must accept the responsibility for our own security.
The whole world has changed in recent years. It cannot be gainsaid that since the end of World War II. all the peoples of the world have lived in dread and fear. We have had no real peace. It is true to say that the world is divided into two camps - the free society of the Western democracies, and the group of nations embracing international Communism. The two ideologies are completely incompatible; one cannot compromise with the other. We in Australia are living on what one might call the boundary fence between the East and the West. We are a Western nation with a heritage of Western origin. We benefit from the great traditions that have been handed down to us; yet we are living, geographically, in a position where we have more than half of the world’s population to the north of us. Of the 1,000,000,000 people who are contiguous to us, no less than 600,000,000 are under the heel of communism in Communist China. Only within the last fifteen years have most of the countries between Communist China and Australia gained their independence and started to sort out their way of life in preparation for the future. They live in constant dread as they try to hang on to the independence they have gained. Their only chance to preserve that independence is to embrace democracy and the conditions of life which exist in the free countries of the world. The alternative is to become satellites of Communist China or Soviet Russia. That is their mortal danger at the present time. This is evidenced by the fact that a battalion of Australian soldiers is to-day in Malaya - one of the countries that have recently gained their independence - in order to preserve the integrity of that country and to drive out the communists who have infiltrated into many Asian countries. The pressure of the cold war is felt in all these new nations and treason, treachery and sabotage, about which we have heard so much in this discussion, are ever-present.
Mr. Speaker, if these countries fall to communism then we in Australia are in mortal danger. We must do everything in our power to assist these countries to retain their independence by preventing international communism from overtaking them. In the years to come Australia will be one of the greatest nations in the world, but the responsibility rests upon the people living at the present time, and upon this Parliament, to lay the foundation upon which this greatness must be built. The disease germ of communism is with us. No one can deny that Communist infiltration has taken place, and that it is very penetrating. It is our duty as a Parliament to see, for the sake of our children and future generations, that we do not allow this terrible thing to grow and to destroy the freedom of which we are so proud.
As I have said before, we have benefited from the great traditions of the past, but even so we are still a comparatively young nation with no inhibitions. We must make our own choice and I believe the people of Australia want to lay the foundation of a great free democracy. That being s:, this bill directly meets that responsibility. Who can deny - if he speaks the truth - that there are in this country people who are prepared to sell it out to the Communist system? There are people here who would be prepared to do anything to destroy our industrial growth or to destroy the whole of this country for the purpose of implanting communism in it. These is no question about it. They are prepared not only to destroy us from within, but also to destroy the basis of our friendship with countries which think and act, as we do, to resist communism.
– Would Healy be one of them?
– I think he would. You should know best. Are we going to allow those people to go free if they commit an offence?
– Now we know about the act.
– It is true that we must have this kind of legislation to deter the type of activity which is possible within our midst. Are we to allow these people to carry out treacherous acts in this country without having any legislation upon our statute-book to deter them? There is no person in this country - whether he be a member of the Opposition or not - who need fear anything in this legislation if he is a loyal Australian. Liberty to criticize is preserved in this legislation and freedom of speech and of assembly are upheld. The intention to commit a crime against the security of the country must be proved against the offender, as well as the act itself. That has been made clear by the AttorneyGeneral.
– How are you going to catch Healy?
– I am not catching Healy. What are you talking about?
– Who said it?
– He said it.
– You agreed.
– What do you mean? Healy is an avowed Communist.
– You said he was engaged in treacherous acts.
– I did not. I said he was an avowed Communist.
– Do you say he is a loyal Australian?
– I do not know. He is a Communist and I know it is a Communist who does not act in the best interests of Australia.
I am not going into the details of the act. I leave that to the lawyers, and it has been well and adequately done. It has been said, in the course of this debate, that political criticism will be stifled by th s legislation. That is utter nonsense. It has also been said that industrial freedom will be jeopardized. The Attorney-General has met quite a number of unionists and has given them a complete answer to these statements. Any one with any reason would be satisfied with the explanations he has given. There is no possibility of industrial freedom being jeopardized by this bill. Members of the Opposition say that individual freedom will be suppressed by it, but individual freedom will not be sup pressed at all by this measure. To say that it will is to practise complete deceit on the people of Australia.
Members of the Opposition say that natural justice is denied by this legislation. It is quite wrong to make those statements to the people, because they are not true. They are misleading statements to make in connexion with this bill. There are certain amendments to be dealt with later by the Attorney-General and, when he submits them, I think it will be found that they are a complete answer to what has been said by the Opposition on this matter. I have no doubt that the Opposition knows these things well. I have no doubt that the Opposition knows that the AttorneyGeneral’s answer is complete and that there is no need to fear any part of this bill.
The Attorney-General has been extremely fair in allowing full and free discussion of this measure and in taking notice of all the matters that have been put to him. He is most anxious that the whole of this measure should be fair and reasonable in every way and that there should be no doubt whatever that our freedom in any shape or form, as we know it and want it in this country, will not be jeopardized. He has given an assurance that any criminal act must be proved and that the intention to commit that act must be proved. I cannot see how you can go beyond that. The Attorney-General has agreed to the wording of certain amendments to the measure and I have no doubt that, when they are produced to this House, they will satisfy everybody. For the sake of this country and its future. I believe, this legislation is too important a matter to use as a political plaything or as a means to try to deceive the decent people of Australia into believing that it is something of which they have to be fearful, because that is simply not true.
.- 1 address myself to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and I support it. I have listened with patience to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) and I can agree with quite a lot of what he has said. I can agree when he says that this legislation should be considered in a cool, calm and collected manner and that there should be no panic. But I am afraid that I cannot extract from his behaviour a belief that he, at least, was not attempting to stimulate panic.
The Minister suggested to us that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) was one of the world’s greatest - if not the greatest - lawyers in connexion with these matters. I am not prepared to accept that suggestion. I am only a layman in these matters, just as is the Minister for the Army, but I know from my own experience of the Attorney-General that he brought down what was described as a history-making bill - the Matrimonial Causes Bill. He received great praise from a lot of legal persons in this House, on the introduction of that bill, but it was a layman who said that he thought it was produced by a third-rate lawyer’s clerk. I wish only to say that the Attorney-General - this brilliant lawyer; one of the most brilliant in the world, who has produced this present bill - made 57 amendments to his own measure, and I have no doubt it is not yet a workable proposition. He has brought down another epoch-making bill and has suggested almost twice 57 amendments to it. So I am bound to conclude that he is not as trustworthy in drafting and bringing forward bills as has been suggested. He also proposes to submit quite a number of amendments to the bill now before us. I want to destroy the illusion that he is such a great lawyer.
But perhaps we should finish with lawyers. All I have to say about them is that I am a layman, and after all it is laymen who have to give the final judgment on this issue, whatever we do. Professors including Professor Julius Stone and Professor Sawer, and eminent legal men including Sir John Latham say that the bill means one thing, and other eminent legal men say that the bill means something else. Those on one side assure us that those on the other side do not know what they are talking about.
They agreed on one point, and probably they are both right. It is true that if you hand to lawyers a bill that is in the course of preparation and permit them to deal with it, they will roll it around as a child rolls a lolly around in his mouth, and if you listen to their respective opinions you just do not know where you stand. That is the position in which the people find themselves in relation to the legal interpretation of this bill. If the lawyers can have such divergent views about it now, heaven help the working man - the poor first victim - because ultimately there must be a victim of the law or there would not be any need for the law. Goodness knows what it will cost the working man to get free of the lawyers. With those remarks I dispose of them.
The Attorney-General and honorable members on the Government side have assured us that all is well, and that it is not the intention to take any action against the ordinary people, although we are told that persons committing treason, this, that and the other crime will be dealt with severely. We have been told also that the bill is not directed at trade unionists and people who have been exercising what they considered to be their ordinary rights of citizenship. One member of the legal fraternity on the Government side to-day assured a trade union delegation that if any member of the delegation were charged under this bill he would defend that person free of charge. Having listened to that honorable member’s contribution to the debate on this measure all I can say is mat he would charge a fair price for his services.
Although the guarantees which the Attorney-General and Government members have given may have been given in good faith we cannot accept them. Once this bill becomes law how will honorable members opposite be able to meet the guarantees that they have given? The Attorney-General would be the only person who could honour the guarantee that he has given because, under hrs proposed amendments, it is provided that action cannot be taken without his authority. Neither I nor members of the trade union movement take much consolation from that.
We object to the known character of an accused person being admitted in evidence. The Attorney-General has suggested that in our every-day life we are entitled to, and frequently do, assess matters from the point of view of the known character of the person whom we are considering. That is quite right. I also am entitled to make my assessment, and I know that every trade unionist and every section of the community will make their own assessments, of the known character of the Attorney-General. I do not mean my remark to be taken as a reflection on him, but since he has held his portfolio we have had the Gluckman case, we have had attacks upon trade unions, and now we have the Crimes Bill.
Honorable members on the Government side have suggested that the Labour Party is exploiting this measure for purely political purposes. They have suggested also that the bill in its original form was introduced by the Fisher Government - a Labour administration. I am bound to admit that to be true. It was introduced at a time when war hysteria was running very high. The First World War was probably the first important war in which Australia had been involved, and the fact that the Crimes Bill was introduced by the Fisher Government carries little weight with me. It all happened many years ago, and the Fisher Government could have been wrong. Probably the Fisher Government introduced many measures which this Government thinks were wrong. For instance, the Fisher Government established the Commonwealth Bank, and there are a lot of things about the Commonwealth Bank with which this Government is not satisfied. Again, the Fisher Government introduced what were called “ Fisher’s flimsies “ - paper currency. There is a vast difference between the kind of paper currency that was introduced by the Fisher Government and the kind of paper currency that we have now, because “ Fisher’s flimsies “ guaranteed payment in gold. Each £1 note had a real value of £1. So, simply because a measure was introduced by the Fisher Government does not mean that it has all the merits that this Government claims for it.
In his Speech the Governor-General stated that the Crimes Act had been little amended since it was introduced by the Fisher Government, and that this Government proposed to bring it up to date. Let us look now at the process of bringing it up to date. For a start, apparently you go back 300 or 400 years to get a basis on which to work, because the AttorneyGeneral has referred to laws, acts and books that go back into antiquity. All kinds of books and laws have been thrown at us and now not only the Australian Labour Party but also the churches and professional organizations are in a state of confusion and a state of hesitancy. When people are in such a state, and a man’s life is at stake - because we are dealing here with a lifelong sentence of imprisonment - one can only object to the passage of a measure such as that which is now before us.
Not only the Australian Labour Party, not only the Communist Party, and not only the trade unions, but also the churches and professional organizations are apprehensive about this bill. In this regard I wish to protest at what was said concerning the decision of the Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. Two lawyers on the Government side of the House have directed attention to the fact that in certain sections of the overture issued by the Presbyterian Church, three dots have been inserted in order to conserve space. Said the lawyers, “Dot, dot, dot”, and a Minister who is not a lawyer said straightout that, because something had been left out and replaced by dots, that was dishonesty.
– The words left out vitally affected the meaning.
– It was the Minister himself who just spoke of that matter. Honorable members opposite have little to do and a poor case to present if they have to resort to attacking an honest assembly of Christian people.
It is not only the Presbyterian Church that is apprehensive about this matter. After all, these people are not Communists. I believe them to be honest. I have received a letter from the Preston Methodist Churches, which are representative of people who go about their business in a Christian manner. They wrote to me on 29th October last in the following terms: -
Commonwealth Crimes Act.
At the Quarterly Meeting of the Preston Methodist Circuit, which was attended by sixty representatives of the eight Methodist Churches in the Preston district, it was resolved - That this meeting fully endorses the protest made by the 1960 Methodist Conference of Victoria and Tasmania, against certain features of the Commonwealth Crimes Act and the Amendments Bill at present before Parliament. It is the wish of this Quarterly Meeting that you will convey to the Hon. the Attorney-General, this expression of dissatisfaction with the proposed legislation, coming from the representative body of a large number of responsible citizens of your electorate.
There, we have the Methodist Churches of Victoria and Tasmania protesting, in addition to the protest that has been made by the Presbyterian Church.
Those church people are not Communists, and I think we are entitled to give considerable weight to their protest. They are not in the habit of involving themselves in the political forum. I think that they do so on this occasion only because they fear that their liberties and their right to operate in certain directions are being seriously attacked. It seems to me that they would not have reached that conclusion without giving the matter serious consideration and taking competent advice on it. It goes without saying that they are dissatisfied and feel that if, according to their conscience, they perform what they consider to be a Christian duty in supporting such things as peace conferences, they will be liable to come within the provisions of this act. I want to make the point that in our minds the important question is not whether we will come within the provisions of the act, but whether we will be liable to do so. That is the most important aspect that we have to consider. The present AttorneyGeneral will not be here for ever. He may make more “ blues “, and if he does, most assuredly he will be promoted and made a judge. Then we may have the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who made a brilliant speech the other night, as Attorney-General. 1 shudder to think what the result of that development would be.
I suggest that the churches should be left alone. They have made their protest. They realize the dangers. I know that one of them has been termed dishonest and sneered at. So far, the Methodist Church has not been sneered at from the Government side, but it has been suggested by implication that that body is under Communist influence. I am not under Communist influence, Mr. Speaker. I never have been, and in fact, there is no man in this House who has suffered more from the Communist Party, or who has been hurt more severely by it. than I have.
Many trade unionists have come to the Parliament in recent weeks. Only to-day, we had a deputation of unionists representing skilled trades. All the men who came here to-day were skilled artisans, men with a sense of responsibility. They are apprehensive. Of course, they have been assured that everything will be all right. They talked with supporters of the Government. I think they behaved themselves very well, and it may also be said that they thought they were well received by the Government supporters. There was friendly argument, but nevertheless they have gone away with the questions they raised in conversations with honorable members opposite unanswered. They are satisfied that the amendments to be submitted by the Attorney-General will give them no real guarantee that their liberties will be preserved.
The Attorney-General, in introducing this bill, said that probably the great value of the bill lay in the fact that it provided for deterrents. It certainly ha9 deterrent value, but trade unionists know that for the words “ deterrent value “ can be substituted the words “ terrorist value “. It is proposed to deter people by holding over them provisions prescribing penalties of death and of life imprisonment. That is a form of terrorism that could not be matched in fascist nations. The Attorney-General said that he had gone to the books to fashion legislation that would provide a deterrent. I suggest to him that home-made and workable models of deterrents are to be seen in Russia and were to be seen in Nazi Germany.
The Government will not satisfy the people by introducing the kind of amendments that it proposes, amendments which, for instance, do not guarantee trial by jury or the removal of those clauses to which trade unionists object. It has been said that we should place faith in the judiciary in these matters. In to-day’s Melbourne “ Age “, under the heading “ The Penalty of the Court “, the following comment appeared: -
Two court penalties reported this week may not be comparable in the strictest sense, but I feel they throw some light upon the standards by which we live. A hit-and-run motorist was fined £20 for failing to stop after an accident in which a pedestrian was killed. Another man, from a humbler walk of life, stole an egg . from a milk bar and broke it on the pavement outside. He was put on a bond of £20 to be of good behaviour for six months. The penalties of a criminal code reflect, however dimly, the community’s set of values. Should a re-appraisal be made?
The hit-and-run motorist was the son of a Liberal Party knight who is very prominent and is the president of an employers’ organization in Victoria. The motorist was found guilty. His car struck and killed a man. He failed to stop, did not report the incident and was not discovered until some days later. He was fined £20. He did not even lose his licence. The person who stole an egg was fined £20 and was placed on a bond for six months. He was a working plumber. Yet in these circumstances we are asked to put the most implicit faith in the judiciary. So far as the powers provided in the bill are concerned, I would not put a great deal of faith in the Attorney-General, in view of his record of working class repression. So far as the judiciary is concerned, new crimes have been deliberately created so that the resistance of the workers to the projected attacks upon them in the present economic circumstances can be handled comfortably. On 15th March, speaking on the Address-in-Reply, I stated - . . one of the things which the Government has in mind is that the workers will protest at the pill it is trying to make them swallow, and that, therefore, it proposes to streamline the Crimes Act in order to make more crimes for more unions to commit.
I see no reason to alter my mind. I support the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Pearce) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . 23
Majority . . . . 24.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House- divided; (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.47 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
z asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The following answer to the honorable member’s question has been supplied: -
The Minister for Civil Aviation, Senator Shane Paltridge, made a full and detailed statement on the Electra modification programme to Parliament on 17th August. That statement, which is at pages 46 and 47 of the Senate “ Hansard “ report of 17th August, is repeated below because it not only gives all the answers to the honorable member’s question, but should prove of general interest to members’. - “ It will be recalled that in September, 1959, and March, 1960, Lockheed Electra aircraft crashed with total loss of life in the United States due to structural failure of their wings and, as a result, the Department of Civil Aviation imposed speed restrictions on Electra aircraft operating in Australia. Since that time the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation has made an intensive re-analysis of the design of the aircraft and has determined to its satisfaction the cause of the two accidents. They have previously been announced publicly by Lockheed as being caused by structural failures in the power plant area which allowed the power plant, when initiated by gusts or other forms of agitation, to move violently in a circular motion, with the result that the wing finally failed by flutter. In addition, the re-analysis showed a weakness of the aircraft when subjected to some forms of sharp-edged gust which, although it could not have caused the accident, needs remedial action.
I would like to reiterate at this stage that at the present restricted speed of 225 knots applied in Australia there is no possibility of a failure occurring from either of these defects, but it is obviously necessary that the aircraft be modified so that it can return to the higher cruising speed of 275 knots. Lockheed has now designed the necessary modification and a team of Lockheed executives has recently visited Australia and discussed a modification programme with Australian operators and the Department of Civil Aviation. As a result, the Australian aircraft and those of T.E.A.L. will be returned to the Lockheed plant at Burbank, California, for modification. The programme of modification has been mutually agreed by the operators and will commence in December, 1960, the last aircraft being completed in June, 1961. The modification programme is based on each aircraft spending twenty days> at the Lockheed plant and on one aircraft per day being released after modification.
Lockheed has agreed to carry out the modification of the aircraft and affected associated spares at its own expense and to obtain FA. A. approval for it, together with approval for the modified aircraft to return to a speed of 275 knots. The airlines are required to deliver the aircraft at Burbank in accordance with an agreed schedule. The operators have agreed to waive all future claims against Lockheed arising from this particular design weakness and from any consequences of the accidents which have resulted from it.
The modification will consist of increasing the stiffness of the power plant area and strengthening the wing. As it will involve the extensive use of jigs and tools of considerable magnitude, it is obviously best for the modifications to be carried out at Burbank rather than here in Australia, and I have therefore agreed to the Lockheed proposals that the aircraft return to America.
I believe that there is every likelihood that approval of the modifications and removal of the speed restrictions will be given by the American Federal Aviation Agency by 16th December, but before the restrictions are removed in Australia, I have said that I will require a complete technical justification from Lockheed. With this in mind, I propose to have a technical expert visit Lockheed with one of the first Australian aircraft, to fully evaluate the Lockheed calculations and assessment.
The nature of the accidents in America is such that no chance can be taken of their happening again and the House can be assured no return to the higher cruising speed of 275 knots will be permitted in Australia until I and my department have been completely convinced of the efficacy of the modifications. I should add that I am satisfied the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation has done everything possible to find the cause of the accidents and to design modifications which will make the aircraft completely safe at the higher speeds.”
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The following answers have been supplied: -
The operators have agreed to waive all future claims against Lockheed arising from the particular design weakness covered by the modifications and from any consequences of the accidents which have resulted from it.
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has furnished the following information: - l.
s asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) £14,400, (b) £15,720.
d asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
When will the report of the inquiry into the Australian dairying industry which was handed to him early in August be presented to Parliament for consideration?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry was tabled in Parliament on 9th November, 1960.
y asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Dependable estimates of the number of aborigines in Australia are available only for very recent years. On page 328 of the Official Year Book No. 46, 1960, reference is made to earlier year books in which accounts were given of efforts to estimate the aboriginal population at the time of the first settlement.
s. - On 5th October, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) asked the Acting Prime Minister the following question, upon notice -
In the reply on 19th October (“ Hansard “, page 2200) it was indicated that the information requested in 2. and 3. would be provided as soon as it was available. This information is now to hand and is as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What are the details of the various statutes by which he is bound in making recommendations to the Crown for the conferring of Imperial honours?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The statutes of the various orders of knighthood are made under the authority of the Sovereign. They govern the orders, and, among other things, provide for the designation of the order, membership, ceremonial, office bearers and their duties, and so on.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 to 6. On each occasion prior to the departure of a Minister on an overseas mission on the official business of the Government a statement is made to this House indicating the purpose of the visit and the countries which will be visited. In addition, each year a statement is included in the estimates of my department for each individual ministerial visit which has been undertaken during the year including the estimated cost of the visit and the actual expenditure where this is available. All the information which the honorable member seeks therefore is available to him in statements made in, or in documents presented to, the Parliament.
s asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
During the years 1950-1956 grants were made on the basis of fixed amounts (a) per head for approved European specialist teaching staff; and (b) type of school and attendance thereat. As from 1st January, 1957, the basis was changed to payment according to the professional qualifications of teachers. At present educational grants-in-aid to missions operate in the case of schools which follow the Administration syllabus or other approved equivalent syllabus and are either “ Registered “ or “ Recognized “ under the Education Ordinance which provides the following assistance: -
y asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The figures for Europeans have been extracted from the relevant Commonwealth “ Year Books “, while those for aborigines have been compiled by the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration, with the co-operation of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. There was a net increase in the aboriginal population in the years 1957 to 1959 of between 1 and 2 per cent, per annum.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 November 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19601110_reps_23_hor29/>.