19th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is addressed to you, Mr. President. Has your attention been drawn to a report in this morning’s Sydney Daily Telegraph, which states, among other things, that “ Senator NeilO’Sullivan is the glamour boy of the Senate”, and that “Senator Jim Arnold is the best looking man on the Labour side”. As those statements meet with the unanimous disapproval of all members of the Senate, will you undertake to have the contest re-staged in order that we may all have a fair go?
– The matter raised by the honorable senator is very interesting, but I do not think it is one of public importance.
– Can the Minister for Social Services say whether the Government will give, under the proposed housekeeper service scheme, financial assistance to homes such as “ Wanslea “ in South Australia, and “Wanslea” in Western Australia? The function of those homes is to care for children, sometimes whole family units, while mothers are in hospital.
– The proposed housekeeper service has reached the stage at which an endeavour is being made by the Commonwealth to operate it in association with theStates. If the negotiations are concluded successfully, it will be for the appropriate State authorities and not for the Commonwealth to select the bodies to which assistance shall be given.
– Yesterday, the
Minister representing the Treasurer informed the Senate that Russia owes this country approximately £8,760,000. Can he say how that sum is to be repaid ? Will it be repaid in gold, or by an exchange of commodities? If it is repaid in gold, will the gold come to Australia or be sent to Great Britain?
– I do not think that I said yesterday that Russia owes this country over £8,000,000. My recollection is that that sum represents the balance of payments due by Russia in a particular year. I do not know what the present balance is. I think that there must be an adjustment by a running series of transactions. I shall make inquiries about the matter and furnish the honorable senator with the information he seeks in due course.
– While the Minister for Trade and Customs was answering a question by Senator Morrow yesterday, Senator Maher interjected that because of Australia’s favorable trade balance with Russia the latter country. was preparing for war. In view of the implications involved, will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate if it is the intention of the Government to refuse to export commodities to Russia?
– I cannot connect the honorable senator’s question with any interjection by Senator Maher. However, I point out that Senator Maher does not speak on behalf of the Government.
– On the 10th May I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice, whether, in view of the scarcity of labour and materials, consideration would be given to installing washing machines in houses being built by the Government, rather than providing laundries. The Minister for Social Services informed me that his colleague was examining the position and that a reply would be prepared for me as soon as possible. I should like to know if a reply is yet available.
– I have not yet received a reply from my colleague. I shall take steps to expedite it.
– In the course of the reply to a question that I asked on the 17th May concerning the provision of more adequate facilities for persons in country districts, and at the General Post Office, Melbourne, who desire to utilize the telephone system to make long-distance trunk calls, the Postmaster-General furnished quite a lot of information concerning the programme of the department, for which I am -grateful. However, I should like some more specific information about the erection of shelters at country post offices and the provision of adequate and more suitable accommodation at the General Post Office, Melbourne, for persons who have to wait while trunk calls are being connected. Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General say whether there is any possibility of such facilities being provided in the near future ?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s request to the attention of the Postmaster-General and obtain an early reply for him.
– Following the announcement of the Tasmanian Government that it will make money available at only 2 per cent, interest for persons who have purchased or are building homes under the Tasmanian State Homes Act, will the Minister representing the Treasurer say whether there is any likelihood of the Commonwealth Government making a similar reduction iri the interest rate charged to ex-servicemen who are building or purchasing homes under the War Service Homes Act? I point out that any such reduction would be of great benefit to ex-servicemen if it could be made in the near future.
– I think that I can. fairly say that the question asked by the honorable senator relates to a matter of policy and that the Government does not ordinarily make such announcements in reply to questions. However, I shall bring the honorable senator’s suggestion to the notice of the Treasurer so that he can consider it without placing him under any obligation to make a decision or to reply to the question.
– I preface a question to the Leader of the Government by pointing out that we have been given to understand that within the next two or three weeks the Parliament will rise until September. The information that has come to me from various trade unions in Melbourne indicates that there is a great deal of unrest amongst trade unionists because of the steep rise of prices that has occurred in Melbourne and throughout Victoria generally. In the circumstances, will the Minister say whether the Government will consider convening a conference of State Premiers or other authorities for the purpose of taking determined action to check the steep rise of the cost of living and restore the value of the £1, and so bring about some measure of contentment amongst the trade unions? I point out that if such action is not taken during the long parliamentary recess it appears inevitable that serious industrial trouble will occur throughout Australia.
– The matter raised by the honorable senator is one in which all Australians are vitally interested. I believe, however, that all phases of the problem are already being investigated. The Government is determined to leave no stone unturned in carrying out its policy.
– Seven or eight years ago the then Government promised that the city of Mackay in Queensland would have the next national regional broadcasting station, but so. far no station has been erected there, although regional transmitters have been established in other localities. As the Mackay district is badly served ,by the national stations, especially during the summer when bad atmospheric conditions prevail, will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral take steps to have the promised regional station erected as soon as possible to provide an adequate national broadcasting service for this area?
– The erection of a regional broadcasting station at Mackay has not been overlooked. The work has probably been delayed by shortages of materials and equipment. However, I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.
– In explanation of a question that I wish to ask the Minister for Social Services, I point out that applicants for workers’ compensation whose claims are subsequently rejected sometimes find themselves ineligible for the sickness and unemployment benefit. The position is that an injured worker applies for compensation under Commonwealth or State workers’ compensation legislation. Ultimately, due, perhaps, to a finding of contributory negligence, or for some other reason, his claim is disallowed. The injured worker then finds that the time within which he must apply for the sickness and unemployment .benefits has expired. I understand that the Director-general of Social Services has certain statutory powers under which adjustments can be made in such cases. I ask the Minister for Social Services whether he will give consideration to accepting the date of a claim for workers’ compensation under State or Commonwealth legislation, as the date of eligibility for sickness and unemployment benefit in the event of the rejection of the claim for workers’ compensation? I believe that such a provision would only be fair in view of the fact that an injured person whose claim for compensation is rejected would have received the sickness and unemployment benefit from the first day of his incapacity had he applied for the benefit within the specified period.
– I have not heard of the difficulty mentioned by the honorable senator. Quite frequently the department gives the benefit, and subsequently the worker gets compensation and the department has to recover the amount of the benefit from the compensation that had been awarded’. No case in which the benefit has been denied because of confusion on the part of the worker as to whether his rights are for compensation or unemployment or sickness benefit has come to my notice. That fact indicates that there is a discretionary power within the department and that when the difficulty arises it is adjusted in some way or other. Although I have not heard of instances in which a case has been prejudiced, I think there is a lot of merit in the suggestion that the application for compensation should be accepted as an application for sickness benefits. I will ask officers of my department to inquire into the matter and give me a report, so that I can ascertain if an amendment to the act would be justified.
– As wheat for milling both for flour and poultry foods is stored in bulk on the mainland, and there are no bulk stores in Tasmania, would it be possible for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to approach the Australian Wheat Board so that wheat can be stored in bulk in Tasmania? At present, millers have to carry large stocks, so that there will be no danger of stocks failing because of the shipping position. Would it be possible to revert to the position that existed eighteen months ago when wheat was stored in bulk in Tasmania?
– When I was in Tasmania recently, I understood from the Premier, Mr Cosgrove, that the Government of Tasmania intended to make provision for bulk stores so that it could carry adequate supplies. If the honorable senator will put the question on the notice-paper, I will check the position with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to see what can be done by the Australian Wheat Board to assist Tasmania to overcome the problem.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation with reference to the application that may be made by former prisoners of war in Malaya for sustenance payments. Immediately those men were released they made reports to the war crimes trials authorities. Seven copies of the reports were made. Would the Minister for Repatriation permit the responsible authorities who are sponsoring the soldiers’ claims to have access to those reports ?
– Claims for sustenance from former prisoners of war who were in Japanese hands are not under the jurisdiction of my department. In regard to the reports that the honorable senator has mentioned, I would be very glad to see him after the Senate rises and if he will give me full particulars, I shall see what can be done.
– Some time ago, I asked the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport whether he would put an end to the quota system which is restricting the free sale of petrol by the oil companies, and preventing free enterprise and open competition. The Minister replied that the quota system was being continued in order to conserve dollars. Now that dollars are no longer the predominant factor governing petrol supplies, will the Minister consider abolishing the quota system?
– The matter is under consideration, ‘but no decision has yet been reached. Every aspect is being examined in order to see whether controls can be relaxed.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Air the following questions, upon notice : -
– The Acting Minister for Air has supplied the following answers : -
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Spicer) read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 7th June (vide page 3830), on motion by Senator O’Suluvan -
That the hill be now read a second time.
– Last night, I said that I believed that I had received a mandate from the people of Tasmania. Prior to the last general election, my name was bandied throughout that State. I stated my views to the people, and I was elected. Therefore, I believe that I have a mandate to speak in the way in which I am about to speak.
In the course of this debate some honorable senators opposite made distorted statements and statements that were not based upon the truth. The Government, in an endeavour to create a state of hysteria, has told the people that we are on the verge of war. Certain persons in this country have been referred to as the agents of Russia. I point out to the Senate that many prominent men in the United States of America have stated that if the cold war were to end soon, the American economy would be in a very bad condition. It is the cold war that is maintaining the buoyancy of the American economy to-day. America is selling armaments to other nations. It occupies the position that was formerly occupied by Germany, which sold armaments to other nations in order to keep its own people employed. I have a table showing the percentages of national revenue expended by various countries upon their armed forces and upon social services and education. It is as follows : -
That proves conclusively that Russia, the country that honorable senators opposite have defamed, is not spending upon its armed forces as great a proportion of its national revenue as some other countries are expending upon their armed forces.
– Where did the honorable senator get that information from?
– It has been culled from the budgets of the countries to which I have referred. The table is printed in the Peace J ournal. The figures that I have quoted prove that there is no foundation for the statements made by honorable senators opposite that Russia desires war. The Government realizes that, if it can create a condition of hysteria in this country, it can persuade the people that Russia does want war. History is now repeating itself. The conditions that prevailed in this country in 1917 are similar to those that prevail to-day. In that year, the newspapers and ignorant and unscrupulous members of Parliament made distorted statements in order to create a condition of hysteria in Australia. In 1917, a railway strike occurred in New South “Wales. It was caused by bad working conditions and the attempt of the tory government then in power in that State to introduce the Taylor card system, which was designed to enable employers to make their employees work much faster. If any honorable senator wishes to inform himself about the system, he should read Upton Sinclair’s book, 2’he Jungle. At that time there was hardly a man in industry over 40 years of age. Men became nervous wrecks and broke down. One man asked, “ Where are the old men ? “, and he was told, “ We have not got any ; they are in the cemetery “. The tory government that was in power in New South Wales in 1917 wished to introduce that system into this country. As a preliminary, it endeavoured to create among the people a condition of hysteria similar to that which this Government has endeavoured to create. Sir George Fuller, the Acting Premier of New South Wales at that time, published the following statement : -
The Enemies of Britain and her Allies have succeeded in plunging Australia into a General Strike.
For the time being they have crippled our Country’s efforts to assist in the Great War.
At the buck of this Strike lurk the I.W.W. and the exponents of Direct Action.
Without realizing it, many Trades Unions have become the tools of Disloyalists and Revolutionaries.
A great conspiracy has been fomenting for the past two years to prevent Australia rendering further assistance to Great Britain and her Allies.
Every striker is playing a game for Disloyalists.
Every striker is singing from day to day the hymns of the I.W.W. and marching to their music.
The Government is Not Against the Unions.
All Unionists who volunteer for work will be accepted as Unionists, and will be enrolled as members of the new Unions registered under the Trades’ Unions’ Act.
Those are the unions that are supported by members of the Liberal party - company unions, organized by the employers. In 1917, the employers told the workers that if they returned to work they would be allowed to join those unions and would be protected. In order to entice workers into those unions at that time, “ scabs “ were granted a 44-hour week, whilst genuine trade unionists had to work for 48 hours a week. The genuine trade unionists declared that they could not be broken in that way. They fought on, and eventually they won. To-day, this Government, in an endeavour to discredit certain people, is indulging in propaganda similar to that which was disseminated in 1917.
Thi3 bill stinks in the nostrils of all decent-minded people. It is not aimed at the Communist party. The Communist party is being used as a smoke-screen. It is unpopular, and those in power are taking advantage of its unpopularity to create a condition of hysteria and to hide from the trade unions and the people of this country generally the real objective of this bill. The measure is designed to enable the Government to repay to the monopoly capitalists the money that they subscribed to the election campaign funds of the present Government parties. The Government intends, by this bill, to curb the activities of four or five trade unions. The first trade union that it proposes to attack under this measure is the miners’ federation. In the past, mine-owners, in their efforts to obtain coal as cheaply as possible, operated their mines in an inefficient manner, and in fact in a dangerous manner. To-day, our coal mines are in a very dangerous condition. The coal-owners have installed mining machines. They have told us that they are going to win by machinery 70,000,000 tons of coal by removing the pillars that are holding up the roofs. On the other hand, the leaders of the miners’ federation have stated that the miners will not work the machines in dangerous places. The owners are trying to force the miners to use the machines irrespective of the danger involved. They are more concerned with the earning of profits than with the safety of the lives of the miners.
– That is not correct.
– It is absolutely true. Although Communists are in the minority on the executive of the federal council of the miners’ federation, the Government is using the fact that Communists are in those positions at all to discipline the federation. The first Communist that the Government will attack in that organization may be Mr. Idris Williams, its president, who lost a leg and an eye in World War I. He was congratulated by the government of the day during World War II. for assisting it to get coal. That federation will be attacked at an early stage because it is known on very good authority that a return will have to be provided for big business that contributed substantially to the campaign funds of the Liberal party last year.
In a talk delivered to the Third Summer School of the Australian Institute of Political Science, Senator McCallum, who is regarded as an authority by honorable senators opposite, said -
The pressure of large property-owners can be made manifest, if other methods fail, by the giving or withholding of party fund’s. The Hon. D. B. Hall has given convincing evidence, in his paper, of the enormouslyincreased cost of elections since the Commonwealth began, and of the consequent dependence of candidates on party funds. Whence come those funds? Not, to any appreciable extent, from the small annual subscriptions of members of political leagues. They come from wealthy men whose wealth will be increased if certain policies are adopted, and diminished if certain other policies are pursued. “ Business is business.” Is it feasible that business men put money into campaign funds at the promptings of unbusinesslike motives?
At the time of delivering that address Senator McCallum was honest. That was before he entered pastures new to nibble at the bit of cheese. Honorable senators opposite regard him as an authority on these matters.
– How did the cheese get into the pastures?
Sena to r MORROW. - Honorable senators opposite are well aware how it got there.
– Does the honorable senator intend to vote against the bill?
– The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) should mind hia own business.
– Does the honorable senator know how he will vote?
– I advise honorable senators opposite to have patience. They will know in due course which way I shall vote. After the miners’ federation has been dealt with the Government may’ attack the Waterside Workers Federation,, because Communists occupy several’ official positions in that organization. Included in the council of that organization are six Communists, twelve Labour men, and two men with no particular political affiliations. The Government will attack the organization on the excuse that it is Communist-controlled. Honorable senators opposite do not know what they are talking about in that connexion.
– But the honorable senator himself knows the “ Corns “.
– I also know the “ rats “.
– And the “ reds “ ?
– Yes, I know the “ reds “ and the “ yellows “ as well. That organization contains Communists, Liberal party supporters, Country party supporters, socialists, and supporters of the Labour party. It is not concerned with their political opinions, provided that they comply with the rules of the organization. It does not discriminate in any way. I know the Communists in the organization because they have revealed themselves. Although the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) has stated that the Communists have been responsible for holding up shipping, I point out that a member of the Australian Shipping Board has stated that 70 per cent, of the delay in the turnround of ships has been due to importers using the wharfs for storage purposes for many years. In Hobart the transport workers work an 8-hour shift. Frequently when the waterside workers, who work two shifts, finish at 11 o’clock at night, the whole of the storage space on the wharfs is full. The waterside workers are blamed for delays, although the real cause of the trouble is that the warehouse men are using the wharf facilities as cheap storage space. We must face the situation that has developed.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the carriers are to blame because the goods have not been shifted off the wharfs?
– Warehousemen are to blame because they have been too mean to provide their own storage facilities, and have been using the wharfs for that purpose. I did not say a word against the transport men, who only work one shift. The next body to be attacked by the Government will be the Seamen’s Union, although there are only a couple of Communists in the leading positions in that union. If some honorable senators who support the Government could see how councils of unions conduct their meetings, they would realize that there is far more intelligence displayed there than on the Government side of this chamber. They are realists who handle the bread and butter questions that arise in the unions. Then the Government will attack the railway men. T know something about the railwaymen because I have been connected with their union for many years, and I have also been a member of the federal council of their organization. There are only four Communists on that council, and all the ether members belong to the Australian labour party. I regard the provisions of this bill as an insult because it will enable the Government to control my union, and te dictate to me. I am not prepared to support any proposal of the “Government unless it is reasonable. I also point out that my colleagues on the federal council of the railwaymen’s organization, many of whom are far more capable than I am, will also be subject to dictation by the Government.
– How many members of the council are there?
– Eighteen. We have been told that any person who preaches the doctrines of Marx or Lenin will be liable to be “ declared “ under the legislation. I was sitting in the House of Representatives when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) delivered his secondreading speech on this bill, and I took particular notice of his remark that a senator could be declared. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) interjected and warned the right honorable gentleman that he was on dangerous ground. The Prime Minister immediately said that he did not make threats unless he was prepared to carry them out and he then made another very pointed remark. At the time I wondered against what member of the Opposition in this chamber the Prime Minister’s remark was directed. I naturally thought of my old friend, Senator Ward, who upbraids the Liberal party constantly, and 1 thought that the Prime Minister’s wrath must have been directed at him. However, I discovered eventually that the Prime Minister probably had me in mind when he made his very threatening remark. I remind the right honorable gentleman and honorable senators generally that I have never written a book about Marx or Lenin. For their benefit, 1 shall read a passage from an address delivered by an honorable senator opposite, at the third summer school of the Australian Institute of Political Science in 1935, in which the following statement appears : -
Marx, therefore, was stating little more than a truism when he stated that “Social production “ brings men into “ definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will “.
He went on to say -
There is truth, also, in the Marxian view that changes in economic relationships demand changes in legal and political institutions. . . .
The writer of that article is obviously advocating Marxism.
– Who wrote that article ?
– It was written by Senator McCallum.
– Does Senator McCallum know that the honorable senator proposed to mention that matter?
– I have heard Senator McCallum broadcasting on foreign affairs and I always said if ever I caught up with him I would “ tell him off “ because he is the greatest distorter of facts and the greatest deceiver I know. He is one who will come under this legislation if it is enacted as it stands. Of course, I realize that it was before he had nibbled the piece of cheese that he wrote the article from which I have been quoting.
– Probably the reason why Senator McCallum is not present to-day is that the honorable senator frightened the life out of him !
-I do not know about frightening him. I know that my remarks will hurt his conscience a little, if he has one. We were told by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), who introduced the bill, that minorities should not be allowed to rule, and that minorities were at present doing certain things in this country. Listen to the following passage from his speech : -
Statements upon this bill have been made which not unfairly could be well described as maudlin rubbish. In opposing provisions of the bill it has been said that repressive measures have never suppressed an idea and the survival of Irish nationalism has been quoted as an example. I reply that throughout their centuries of struggle the Irish people were sustained by their devotion to their faith and their love of country. The Communist wreckers, against whom this bill is aimed, deny their God and are traitors to their country.
The Irish were fighting not for their faith, but for their bread and butter. It was said that the Catholics were fighting the Protestants, which was an absolute lie. The fact is that the Catholics and the Protestants combined to fight the exploiters in England, who were grinding them into the dust. In fact, the Catholics and Protestants raised arms against their exploiters. The following passage from a book, Ireland’s Own, written by one, Jackson, sets out the position very clearly : -
The risk involved in this policy was that t he United Irishmen, till then a constitutional party, would become in fact what the Government alleged they were - a Jacobin conspiracy - and this is what resulted. In the and, as we shall see, Pitt had to come to the rescue of the Irish Administration.
The Administration foreshadowed its programme in three bills introduced concurrently with the debates on the Catholic Relief Act: (1) a convention act, (2) an arms act, and (3) a militiaact.
The first, which made all assemblies of deletes illegal, was designed to prevent the United Irishmen and the progressive Catholics from developing a political party by organizing the newly emancipated Catholic utters. The second, by prohibiting the importation, manufacture and sale of arms and gunpowder, was designed to cripple in advance any attempt at insurrection. The third was designed to provide a counter-revolutionary force with which to suppress any movement by the volunteers or similar bodies. In this way all further advance by the United Irishmen was tobe barred.
The Catholics were debarred from organizing resistance to their exploiters. They laid down their arms, but they handed them to the Protestants, and collected money for the Protestants to carry on the struggle. Cole, Emmett and Parnell were all Protestants. The fight was not a religious one at all, but a struggle for bread and butter. We all know the result of the Irish rebellion, which paved the way for the eventual overthrow of England’s capitalistic control of Ireland. Movements are occurring throughout the capitalistic world to-day because the members of those movements must resist the rule of minority monopoly capitalists.
In order to refresh the memory of honorable senators concerning the history of oppressive legislation, I propose to mention the fate of such legislation in a number of countries in which it has been introduced. Oppressive legislation certainly did not achieve its purpose in Ireland, which finally overthrew the yoke of English landlordism. Oppressive legislation in Russia led to the Mensheviks, under the leadership of Kerensky, seizing power. However, Kerensky found after a few months that he could not carry on the government of Russia, and the Bolsheviks stepped in and assumed control. Incidentally, the word “ bolshevik “ means majority, and the word “menshevik” means minority; so what happened was that the majority took the control of Russia out of the hands of a minority. What happened to the Czar, who had introduced the oppressive legislation which led to the overthrow of the system which had existed in Russiaforso long? He was shot. In modern times, Greece was the first country to come under fascist control. That occurred when General Metaxas set himself up in Greece as a dictator. The Greeks revolted, but they did not obtain their political freedom until during the recent war, when they were able to demonstrate their loyalty to their country by assisting the Allies. After the war it was decided to hold an election in Greece. As the result of that election a popular, progressive government was elected by the people. Greece had borrowed money from the money lenders of England, and they were paying interest of 16 per cent on that money. The first action of the new popular government was to reduce the interest rate to 5 per cent. The great Churchill intervened, and put a general in charge of Greece, in place of the popularly elected government, and the country is now being ruled by a dictatorship. England has spent £200,000,000 fighting democracy. The United States of America has now taken up the cudgels for capitalism, because English capitalist? could no longer afford to govern Greece. What has happened in Germany? Hitler, as we all know, introduced legislation that was very similar to this bill. First he attacked the Communists, thenhe turned his attention to the social democrats, and then to the trade unions. He burst asunder the Labour movement in Germany. He put fascist officials into the trade unions. The wording of Hitler’s proclamation of the 20th May, 1933, was almost identical with the wording of this bill. It stated -
Thu highest authorities of the State or the officers authorized by them can confiscate in favour of the State the property and rights of the Communist Party of Germany and its auxiliary and cover organization as well as the property and rights which are used or intended to be used for the furthering of Communist activities.
On the 14th July, the ban was extended to the Social-Democrat party which was the equivalent of the Labour party in this country. That proclamation stated -
The provisions of the law for the Confiscation of Communist Property of the 20th May, 1933, apply also to the property and rights of the Social Democrat Party of Germany and its auxiliary and cover organizations as well as property and rights which are being used for the furthering of Marxist or other people and State hostile activities as determinedby the Minister of the Interior.
There again we find wording very like that of this bill.
– And the honorable srnator is strongly against the bill?
Senator Wright interjecting,
– I have listened respectfully to honorable senators opposite making their speeches on this bill, and all I ask is that the same courtesy bc extended to me. I do not interject, ]’ sit quietly and give all honorable senators an opportunity to say what they want to say. We are all elected to this chamber to do our best, but Senator Wright interjects continually.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! I suggest that the honorable senator get back to the bill.
– I am appealing to you, Mr. Deputy President, to maintain order. Senator Wright is pursuing here the tactics that members of his profession resort to in the courts. They adopt an arrogant attitude, and browbeat some poor defenceless witness into saying something that he does not mean. Senator Wright is the most arrogant and probably the most ignorant of all the members of his profession that I have met. I repeat that the wording of this bill is almost identical with that of Hitler’s proclamations against the Communists and the Social Democrats. I say “ it can happen here “, and it will happen here if the workers of this country do not awaken to the danger and rise in protest., It happened in Germany in spite of the fact that 6,000,000 Communists voted at the elections in that country. The aim of this Government is to draw the teeth of the strong trade unions and so to prevent them from using their industrial strength. Then the Labour party itself will be attacked. We shall be accused of having preached the doctrines of Marx and Lenin, because whether wo like it or not, our objective is based on the Marxist doctrine. We shall be told that there is no difference between the Labour party and the Communist party. In fact, we have already been told that. The anti-Labour parties are after our scalps. They have made the terms of this bill so wide that the Government will be able to rope in any person that it seeks to suppress. The bill is wide enough to bring even university lecturers within its provisions. A person could bc declared for advocating the use of electricity simply because Marx advocated the use of electricity. Similarly any man who advocated free education, or the nationalization of banking, could be classed as subversive. We are told that the committee that will be constituted to screen suspected Communists will consist of honest men. We do not doubt that, but let us look at the basis upon which the screening will be carried out. The committee will be asked to determine whether such and such an individual or organization has propagated the philosophy of Marx and Lenin. No matter how honest the members of the committee may be, they may be compelled to admit that the person or organization concerned did in fact propagate that philosophy, and therefore came within the wide provisions of this measure. I repeat that the bill is designed to draw the teeth of the militant industrial organizations of this country. Why is that to be done? It is to be done because the Government knows that another depression is coming. Prices are rising still further and the standard of living is falling. The Government fears that should that happen, the trade union? would rise. The aim of this bill is to prevent such a rising because it would deprive the monopoly capitalists of some of their profits. The Government parties are financed by the monopoly capitalists ; they have to be paid back because business1: business.
– What did the honorable senator mean when he said that the tra do unions would rise?
– They would rise ti* fi slit for better conditions as they have always fought. Almost every social vform that has been introduced into this country has been the result of direct action by the Labour movement. That movement has been forced to resort to direct action. The Euroka Stockade made our semi-democratic system of government possible. Then there was the great strike of 1891. Our whole semidemocratic system is based upon concessions that have been won by rebels from time to time. 1 have dealt with Greece. I propose now to refer to Spain. Spaniards were so poor and conditions were so bad that the people rebelled. They decided at a constitutional election to chance thoi” government. I have’ before me a pamphlet on Spain printed by the press department of the Spanish Embassy in London. It shows that, at that election, “the Republican and Workers’ parties gained 277 seats. Those parties included the Socialists, the Republican. Left, thcRepublican Union, the Catalonian Es- querra, the Communists, the Basque,
Nationalists, the Marxists Unification Block, the Syndicalists, the Federalists and the Left Independents. The parties of the right, which included the Monarchists, the Catalonian Liza, the C.E.D.A., the Agrarian Party and the Traditionalist; secured 132 seats.
The first action of the new Government was to give land to the people. At that time Spanish workers were receiving as little as one piastre or about Cd. a day. What happened ? The minority was not satisfied. It revolted with the aid of the Germans, the Italians and the Moors, who were traditional haters o.’ Roman Catholics. With the aid of wellarmed outsiders the minority was able to defeat the Spanish workers, who wc.v armed mostly with picks and shovels ami a few rifles. Ultimately a fascist dictatorship assumed control and still controls Spain. It is expending 62 per cent, of its national budget income on armaments to keep the people of Spain down. Mussolini, at the behest of a minority, overthrew the Italian Government nml became dictator of Italy. But what happened to him ? Mussolini was hanged in an undignified manner alongside Iks mistress and is no more. The same thing happened in Japan, where Tojo was hanged. What happened to Chiang Kaishek who, according to the American people, was head of the most corrupt organization in the world? The peo; le rose and drove him out, and now he is jumping from island to i.«land seeking to escape. I would not like to be in his shoes. I am endeavouring to show honorable senators that minorities rule. Under capitalism the majority does not rule. Australia is claimed to have a democracy, but there is little democracy here. When the previous Government went to the people and got a mandate and put it* legislation into operation, it was challenged in the High Court and the legislation was disallowed by five men. In that case a minority of five could say whether a semi-democracy should work in Australia or not.
– lt was government by law.
– Law or no law. it was not justice. Five men had control, and two of those gentlemen indirectly had an interest in the business that was before them.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Motion (by Senator Grant) put -
That Senator Morrow be granted an extension of time of 30 minutes.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Tha’, was when the Labour Government was in office.
– The Labour Government was never responsible for repressive legislation such as that which is now before the Senate. If any organization should be dealt with under this legislation it is the one to which T have been referring. I have before me the articles of association of the organization, which has been registered as .a company. The nominal capital is £2,000 in £1 shares, of which Frederick B. Hinton holds one share. In order to show the deceit of those responsible for forming the company, I point out that, according to the articles of association, the company was formed - . . to buy, hire, distribute films - educational, scientific etc. mid newsreels. To acquire and operate a broadcasting and television company. To indent, export and mann facture pianos, organs, radio and television sets. Buy original and copyrights of songs. Acquire, sell or develop property.
Of course, the company does not operate in accordance with the terms of the article? It has no telephone at its premises, because it does not want business. Those who control the organization are misleading the people by pretending that it is a legitimate trading company, when, in fact, it is a fascist organization, engaged in training men in the use of arms for use in any disturbance. Up to the 10th November, 1944. only 1,200 shares had been taken up of the total issue of 2,000. Mrs. Hinton also holds one share.
– Does she do rifle practice, too?
– From what is the honorable senator quoting?
– From the article* of association of the company.
– In what newspaper are they published? The honorable senator is reading from a newspaper.
– What I have been quoting was taken from the articles of association, which were obtained from the office of the Registrar-General in New South Wales. I do not use quotations that cannot be substantiated. I have no use for filthy newspaper propaganda. As I have said, this company was patterned on the New Guard, and we know that the New Guard was formed to attack the working people, particularly their leaders. Now a similar organization has been formed. What are we going to do about it? The Minister for Trade and Customs when introducing this bill, made a sen time .:ral appeal to the feelings of the people by referring to religion. Always, when the people whom he represents find themselves in difficulties, they profess to become sentimental, and talk about religion. They use religion as a cloak to conceal their real purpose. Religion is a private matter, and every person is entitled to his own religious beliefs. I would never discuss religion with any one, because religion is sacred to each individual person. The Minister for Trade and Customs said that communism began where atheism began. That is not true.
Marx said that.
– There is no communism in the world to-day, except a primitive form of communism among the aborigines in Australia, these poor people whom we have driven into the desert to starve. Among them -there is no right of private property. Everything belongs to the community. If a shirt is given to one blackfellow to-day, it may be worn bv any one to-morrow. Honorable senators opposite do not understand history or political economy. They scoff, but they are really scoffing in their ignorance. We have been told that the practice of religion is forbidden in Russia. I have here a publication called An American Churchman in the Soviet Union, written by the Reverend Louie D. Newton. The book contains a photograph of the congregation of the Moscow Baptist Church listening to Dr. Newton delivering a sermon. There is as much religion in Russia as there is in other countries. In fact, 17 per cent, of the Russians attend church, whereas only 12 per cent, of our people do so. There is more religion practised in Russia than there is in this country, yet Government supporters have raised the religious bogy because they know that religion touches the people of this country on a soft spot. The Minister for Trade and Customs said that the Irish rebels fought for their faith. They fought for their bread and butter.
– What the honorable senator has said about religion in Russia, is different from what Monsignor Fulton Sheen has said. “Senator MORROW.- The book to which I ha ve referred can be read by any honorable senator.
– It is only one man’s opinion.
– It is not. Senator Kendall said that communism started approximately in 1927.
– In this country.
– Unfortunately > lie knows nothing of the historical background of communism. The seeds of com1munism were sown 600 years before Christ, when electricity was discovered, and the germ of capitalism was planted 300 years before Christ, when steam power was discovered. Approximately 300 years before Christ, Hero of Alexandria devised a machine, the aeolipile, consisting of a little hollow ball. The ball was filled with water and a fire was lit underneath it. Steam then emerged from four jets, and drove the ball round. It was a form of jet propulsion. Those discoveries lay dormant for a considerable time. Then men discovered that they could harness steam. The harnes sing of steam caused the industrial revolution in England because it revolutionized production. Men were taken from the fields to be employed in factories. As in every other age, when the industrial revolution occurred the people of England became victims of their environment. Marx has said that the age of electricity is the age of socialism. Electricity lay dormant until approximately the sixteenth century, when Queen Elizabeth’s physician began to investigate its nature. It was not used until approximately the nineteenth century. Electricity is now doing work much more effectively and efficiently than does steam, consequently another revolution is in progress. Electricity is changing the whole outlook of mankind. Marx was right when he said -
The mode of production of the material means of life determines, in general, the social, political, and intellectual processes of life. It is not the consciousness of human beings that determines their existence, but conversely, it is their social existence that determines their consciousness.
Men do not make revolutions. Social conditions make revolutions, and social conditions are influenced by modes of production. Honorable senators opposite have alleged that certain people in this country are trying to cause a revolution. It is obvious that they do not know the first thing about history or the science of dialectics.
– Then I am glad that I do not.
– The statements made by the honorable senator prove that he does not.
– What has electricity to do with the .bill?
– I say that electricity will be responsible for the coming revolution in the social life of this world. Men do not make revolutions, but in the preamble to the bill it is stated that certain people in this country want to cause a revolution here. That is why electricity is relevant to the bill. Material conditions, not men, mould the age. To return to religion-
– Why not return to the hill?
– I am discussing the second-reading speech delivered by the
Minister for Trade and Customs, in which he raised the bogy of religion. Lenin said -
The State must not concern itself with religion; religious societies must not be bound to the State. Every one must be absolutely free to profess whatever religion he likes, or to profess no religion, i.e., to be an athiest
Marx also made a statement upon religion.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of the Communists?
– I am standing up for science and justice. I believe that too little is known about science in this chamber. Honorable senators opposite are standing up for newspaper “ tripe “ and propaganda. They are trying to defeat science and justice by their propaganda. Marx said -
The irony of world history turns everything upside down. We, the “revolutionists”, the “ rebels “ - we arc thriving far better on legal methods than on illegal methods, and revolt. The parties of order as they call themselves, are perishing under the legal conditions created by themselves. They cry despairingly with Odilon Barrot . . . legality is the death of us; whereas we under this legality, got firm muscles and rosy cheeks and look like life eternal. And if we are not so crazy as to let ourselves bo driven to street fighting in order to please them, then in the end there is nothing left for them to do but themselves break through this legality so fatal to them.
I have referred to those statements by Marx and Lenin because it has been said that Marx and Lenin advocated the overthrow of the existing system by force.
I have quoted extensively from publications because I ‘believe it to be necessary to enlighten the people about what is happening in this country to-day and to explain why there is going to be a change. Marx has said that dialectics is the science of the general laws of motion, both of the external world and of human thinking. Volumes have been written on that science. We say that the external world creates our thinking and that our thinking does not create the external world. We have now reached the stage when the external world has forced us into fu cb a. position that we must change our system of society in order to keep alive and do better things for the people. This is what Marx advocated -
Abolition of property in land, and application of nil rents of land to public purposes.
That principle was adopted in Queensland a long time ago. In that State, they have the perpetual lease system.
– It also has a freehold system.
– It has adopted the perpetual lease system in part. When the Theodore Government introduced its land legislation, Digby Denham and others went to England in an attempt to prevent the Queensland Government from obtaining money, because they considered that it was interfering with the rights of monopolies. Marx also advocated -
A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
Abolition of all right of inheritance. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants ii.nd rebels.
Centralization nf credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital, and an exclusive monopoly.
We shall eventually be forced to centralize credit in the hand of the State. When the Chifley Government introduced the Banking Bill 1947, the Liberal party raised ari outcry against the measure. It tried to work the people into a state of hysteria tied to convince them that the nationalization of banking was opposed to their best interests. Subsequently, the Chifley Government was defeated at the polls. But. whether we like it or not, the conditions and circumstances that will prevail in the future will force us to nationalize banking in this country. Centralization of control is the corollary of capitalism.
– Has the honorable senator quoted the policy of the Labour party in this connexion?
– I have read what Marx advocated in 184S. This measure provides that any person who advocates the teachings of Marx and Lenin may bc declared, but some of the things that Marx advocated are already in operation.
– The honorable senator is upholding Marx?
– I am pointing out how stupid this bill is, particularly the way in which it defines a Communist. Tinder this measure, the Government could, if it so wished, declare any man, woman or child in this country.
– The honorable senator has not read the bill.
– I have read the bill carefully. I say it is a dangerous measure, and that if its administration is in the hands of some members of the present Government parties we shall be the victims of oppression. A Communist is defined as “ a person who supports or advocates the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin “. Any person who has read Marx knows that Marx did not lay down a programme for communism. All that Marx did was to analyse the capitalist system. The bill is based on false premises. The definition of Communist is so wide that the five honest men who will form the committee that the Government proposes to establish could, without any difficulty at all, declare any person to be a Communist if they acted upon that definition.
– Before a person canbe declared the Governor-General must be satisfied that he has been doing something prejudicial to the safety of Australia.
– The bill does not state that. It states that a Communist is a man who advocates the teachings of Marx and Lenin. I am very much afraid that, if we are not careful, the Government will be able to declare all of us.
I wish to direct the attention of the Senate to certain things that are occurring in this country. The Jews in Victoria are already being questioned. I think that some action should be taken. I shall read a letter that I have received from the Australian Council of Civil Liberties.
– I rise to order. I ask you, Mr. Deputy President, whether the letter that the honorable senator proposes to read has anything to do with this bill? The action of which he is complaining was taken under the law as it stands at the moment, and not under the law as it will stand if this bill be passed.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Senator Morrow will be in order if he connects his remarks with the bill.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to2.15 p.m.
– I should like to point out to the Senate that I have been speaking in the interests of democracy, science and justice, not of any political party. I believe that every political party has a right to exist, provided that it complies with the laws of this country. I am a law-abiding citizen. Therefore I support the upholding of the law. I am against repressive measures that will prevent any body of people organizing, provided that the organization functions on democratic lines.
– Such as in Russia?
– I am afraid thai Senator Wood does not know what he is talking about. However, if this legislation becomes law it will be the forerunner of further repressive measures. In order that it shall be obeyed, further repressive legislation will be required and there will be no turning back. It can and will happen here unless we nip this legislation in the bud. If it, goes on and on we will finish up with a police state and concentration camps. Surely we do not want our country blighted in that way. Unfortunately a lot of peopledo not realize that that is so,because they have not studied the political situations in other parts of the world. Consequently they have only a one-sided view in relation to the future. We on the Opposition side of the chamber study the past in order to try to assess what may happen in the future. It has already happened elsewhere because legislation was introduced along the lines of this legislation. In the interests of this country we should not pass this measure.
– Whom does the honorable senator mean by “ we “ ?
-I mean the working people of this country.
– We are all workers.
– Honorable senators on the opposite side of thechamber are stooges for the monopoly capitalists. I hope that the working people of this country will acquaint themselves with the contents of this bill, because it could lead to war. I am one who believes in peace and that the majority of people in this country want peace. Unfortunately, some people take the wrong road to peace. If we are not careful we shall be sidetracked and plunged into war before we know where we are. This legislation will prevent people who understand the position from openly demonstrating what should be done.
Motion (by Senator Guy) agreed to -
That the various documents’ and books quoted from by Senator Morrow be laid on the table of the Senate.
– I lay on the table the following documents: -
– It is not my desire to speak for any length of time on the bill before the Senate. It is an important and very necessary piece of legislation. Therefore it demands urgency. I feel that I should not let this opportunity pass without declaring where I stand. I support the bill because I believe that the legislation is needed to return the people of this country to the Australian way of life as we once knew it and would like it again. A definite stand should be taken before the situation becomes any worse. A majority of the people of Australia to-day, including people of various political beliefs, accept the assurances that were given to the electors on the hustings by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr.Fadden), that if the anti-Labour parties were returned to office they would ban the Communist party in Australia. When one has an enemy to contend with I believe that the best form of defence is attack. We know that this menace is to-day world-wide. In Australia we have the foe without as well as the foe within. This legislation will deal with the foe within. As far as the foe within is concerned we havethose practising Communists who are underground working secretly, and those who are well known to us all, and therefore are above ground. I do not consider that when this legislation is passed there will be many more underground than there are to-day. I hope that our security service will be strong enough to bring to light those now working undeground. I believe that it will. “Under this legislation we will be able to control all those who seek to disrupt the smooth working of industry and throw this country into chaos. I hope many of those who to-day are playing with Communistic doctrines will realize that they areplaying with dynamite, and will become honest citizens and follow the Australian way of life. By so doing they will find that life will be happier and healthier for them and their . families. We have been shown plainly that among the objectives of the Communist organization is the overthrow of democratic government. The Communists are attempting to do this by causing chaos, and eventually attempts would be made to undermine our social structure, abolish our present economic system, destroy our democratic form of government, and establish in its place a dictatorship. Believing these things to be facts we realize that we have not now in Australia adequate laws to safeguard ourselves against this menace. I further believe that the action we are taking in bringing in this legislation will be followed by other free countries in the world who also see the dangers that lie ahead. There appears to be a mistaken impression that if we outlaw the Communist organization we will thereby endanger the liberties and civil rights of innocent people. I do not think that that would happen. I point out that he who never makes a mistake is one who never tries to do anything. It is better to make an honest mistake in an attempt to achieve something worth while than to let the Communist party go on dictating its policy - as it has been in Australia - and holding up transport and production whenever its members feel like so doing. In common with honorable senators on both sides of the chamber, I have the utmost regard for the trade union movement and those connected with the trade unions who are not under Communist domination. Honorable senators opposite have stated that this bill has been introduced to cripple the trade union movement. Surely they do not think for a moment that this Government would commit political suicide, which is precisely what it would be doing if much of what some honorable senators opposite have said was true. The final say in relation to all legislation rests with the electors of Australia. If the Government passes legislation with which the majority of the people disagree, within a very short period of time the electors will be able to register their disagreement by means of the ballot-box. The former Government found that to be true on the 10th December, 1949. In time the people will say whether they approve of this bill and other legislation that has been brought forward by the present Government. They will do it through the ballot-box. I have no doubt about the outcome, just as I have no doubt about what the result would be if there was a double dissolution. Eather than see the present tactics employed again, I would welcome a double dissolution in order to enable the people of Australia again to give their answer, which would then be reflected in the Senate as well as in the House of Representatives. In as many words the Opposition has told the Government to mind its own business, to leave the trade unions alone, and to leave it to the members of the trade unions to do their own job.
My experience in life has been that people are fortunate to be offered help in difficult jobs that may prove too much for them. I should have thought that the trade unions would welcome help in any shape or form to rid themselves of these subversive people in their midst. 1. know many individual unionists who feel that way about the matter. I admit that many unionists have got the control of their unions into safe hands after a long time. The job has not been completed because a number of trade unions are still under the control of the Communist party. If left to the unions alone I feel that this would be a lengthy job. I consider that many unions would welcome the help of this legislation. I have been amazed by the remarks of honorable senators opposite in relation to the amendments that have been already incorporated in ‘ this bill, and those still to be dealt with. Does not this prove that the supporters of the Government are reasonable men? Have not these amendments been brought about by discussions that have taken place in the Senate and in another place? Is not this just how the Parliament should function? Honorable Senators should not merely be rubber stamps. Surely both sides can learn from each other. At least we have demonstrated that Ave can learn from discussion and from appreciating the other fellow’s point of view.
All honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber share my hope that the legislation enacted will be such that if it is still on the statute-book when Labour is again elected to office in this country, it will require no alteration. This measure will destroy subversive activities in this country and thus develop it into a land in which we shall be proud to live. If possible the banning of the Communist party must be achieved without any industrial disturbance. The passing of this bill will be another step in the crusade for democracy and free enterprise. Although some people think otherwise, I believe it is a crusade for more efficient and happier trade unions.
I admit that the Communist movement made great progress during the depression years. As has been pointed out by honorable senators opposite the conditions of those years played into the hands of the Communist party. I hope that the lessons learned then will never be forgotten, that governments will benefit from the sad experiences gained and that they will do everything in their power to see that such conditions shall not be allowed to return. I am convinced that co-operation between employer and employee is at a higher level to-day than ever before.. That is one of the ways to stop the growth of antagonism between employer and employee. We have been told by honorable senators opposite that during the period of eight years of government by the Labour party the numbers and activities of the Communists decreased in this country. Honorable senators opposite have claimed that the reason for such decline was that Labour was in office. I am quite prepared to believe that communistic activities did not thrive during the years that I have referred to. However, I am convinced that Labour is not entitled to all of the credit. The main reason why communism did not thrive to the same extent as in the depression years was the changed circumstances. There was work for all and money for all. That was not merely because the government in power was a Labour government. It was largely because of the high prices being received for our main exports - wool and wheat were at a very high level - thus circulating a large amount of money, the major portion of which found its way to the Treasury, through taxation of the producers. I contend that subversive organizations and people must be treated with determination. As in wartime, the people expect the defence forces to fight determinedly against the foe without, so to-day they expect their National Parliament to take a determined stand against the foe within. Never before, to my knowledge, has the attention of the people of Australia been focused on the Senate as it is today. I know that the people are looking to honorable senators to do their duty by dissolving for all time those organizations which take their orders from a foreign power and are attempting to obtain control of this country in order to wreck our democratic forms of government. When this legislation is implemented and Communist sentiments and activities are things of the past, Australia will be a country where our children can grow up in the freedoms that we desire. Australia will prosper as a nation and its people will be happy and contented. 1 shall conclude my remarks by quoting the words of Shakespeare -
To thine ownself be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Then caust not then bc false to any man.
Let us be true to those who have gone before us and have given their lives in fighting for the freedoms of this country. Let us be true to those that will come after us, and do what we can now to leave behind iia an Australia of which our children will be proud and in which they will be happy to live and work. I commend the bill, which 1 heartily support.
Senator COLE (Tasmania) [2.311.- I propose to give my own impressions of the measure. Members of the Opposition look upon the bill as a measure that may bc necessary in the present circumstances, and we had hoped that when it was introduced the Government would adopt a reasonable attitude. T trust that the Government will accept the various amendments that will he moved by the Opposition to improve the bill and to make it acceptable to the people of Australia. The majority of the people want the Communist party to be abolished, but they do not want legislation of the kind represented by the bill in its present form.
I propose to show, in the course of my remarks, what an ordinary trade unionist considers to be wrong with this bill. In the first place, it is a fascist measure. The Government already has ample powers to deal with any subversive organization or persons. The bill takes from the citizen the right to a trial by jury. It leaves a person open to charges of which he is ignorant, and it may smooth the path for a man’s private enemies, or for public pimps, to injure him. It will bring into action paid informers, and make possible surveillance of people’s private affairs by supercilious public officials. It cuts across democracy, and is a savage attack on the trade union movement of this country. It takes away the right of trade unionists to elect their own officials. It is a measure which may be used to smash the Australian Labour party, along with the trade unions, as happened in Germany under Hitler. Those are all criticisms that have been directed against the bill by the Opposition and by the people of Australia, and it is for the Government to rebut those criticisms.
I propose now to refer to two of the points mentioned by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) in the course of his speech. In order to justify the proposals contained in this measure the AttorneyGeneral described in detail the procedure that he would adopt if he suspected an employee of stealing money from his office. Prom recollection, I think he said that he would first call the man before him and acquaint him of his suspicions, and then, if the employee could not prove that he had not taken the money, the employer would dismiss him. I point out at once that the hypothetical case outlined by the Minister is not parallel to any circumstance envisaged by the bill, inasmuch as this legislation will enable the Government to declare an individual before he is informed of the allegation made against him. Furthermore, as the bill stands at present, a person who has been declared will have to convince a judge that he has not been guilty of some unspecified change. Under the bill, although a person who has been declared will be punished for what is virtually an offence, he will not have the rights ordinarily enjoyed by a person who has been accused of committing some criminal act. In fact, he will not even possess the rights of the hypothetical individual who has been accused of stealing the AttorneyGeneral’s money. The bill proposes to invert the normal process of law by assuming that a person who has been declared has actually been guilty of an offence. If we apply that procedure to the hypothetical case mentioned by the AttorneyGeneral, the suspected employee would be regarded as having stolen the money until he offered positive proof that he had not, in fact, done so. Of course, such a procedure assumes, for a start, that the money has in fact been stolen, and it is obviously so unfair and unjust that any court of law would uphold an action for wrongful dismissal by an employee who lost his job in such circumstances. Another aspect of the illustration offered by the Attorney-General is that it indicates the Minister’s personal attitude towards such a serious matter as theft. On his own admission, all that he would do when a theft had occurred would be to dismiss the employee concerned. Whilst such conduct on the part of an employer would not amount to compounding a felony, it would be, at least, a condonation of a felony; and I am rather appalled to think that the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth would condone a felony.
I think that it would be wise to examine the new situation envisaged by the bill because even the Attorney-General does not seem to realize the consequences of the enactment of this measure in its present form. I assume that the AttorneyGeneral will be responsible for the administration of this legislation, and it is significant of his point of view that he has stated that a person who is declared under the bill will not, in fact, be subjected to any penalty, because “ he has committed no offence “. Honorable senators opposite have repeatedly stated that no penalty is provided because the fact that a person has been declared does not constitute an offence on his part. The Attorney-General therefore contends that the procedure outlined in the bill for a person to be declared does not amount to a punishment, but is merely a “ consequence “ of that person’s activities. Apparently the fact that the declaration by the Government of an individual would almost certainly deprivehim of his livelihood is not to he regarded; as a penalty, whereas we all know that it is one of the most severe penaltiesthat could be inflicted upon any individual. Examining a little farther theposition of an individual who has been! declared under the bill, it is obvious that he would not be entitled to receiveunemployment benefits, and since hewould most certainly be refused accommodation by any financial institution, it is clear that he could not set himself up in private enterprise. Honorablesenators will realize, therefore, that the declaration of an individual will impose upon him a punishment which is; much more severe even than that meted out to persons convicted in Victoria of capital offences. However,, such severe punishment is, in the view of the Attorney-General, not a penalty at all, but merely a consequence of his having been declared.
Prom what I have already said it isevident that we must examine the bill critically in order to make sure that thepeople of Australia get a fair deal. That is the attitude that has been adopted byLabour ever since this bill was introduced. We are determined to ensure that the Government shall not take action that will be detrimental to the welfare of thepeople. Whilst it is true that the antiLabour parties are in office, the fact remains that, as the Opposition, Labour has a duty to guard the people’s rights. The fact that the Government has found’ it necessary to introduce about 34 amendments to this measure justifies the stand* taken by the Opposition in this matter. We hope that the Government will realizethat our attitude is dictated by our concern for the welfare of all sections of the people, and also that it will accept the amendments which we shall move in committee. Those amendments have been prepared by members of the Parliament who represent and understand tin* working people of the community, and know what their reactions would be to the passage of this measure in its present form.
I have spoken on communism several times in this chamber, and all honorable senators understand my attitude towards it. We know that the Government Iia; » mandate to introduce legislation to ban 4he Communists, but it is not entitled to go beyond that. It is not, for example, -entitled to introduce legislation that will interfere with the rights of every individual in the community, as this bill would do. Fortunately, some bad features of the bill have already been recognized and will be modified because the Government hae agreed to accept amendments proposed by the Opposition. We all know that communism is a hateful doctrine, and that it. is based on a fallacy. That fallacy is the denial of God. Therefore, the Australian labour party does not support communism. However, it does support the trade union movement, and the rights of the people of Australia. We are endeavouring to safeguard those rights. We are determined that oppressive action shall not be taken against the people. I hope that at the committee stage the Government will accept the amendments that will be moved by the Opposition to improve the bill so that it will be a workable measure. Most honorable senators favour the banning of the Communist party, but to me. that is not the best method of dealing with the problem. I said that in my first speech in this chamber. Banning the Communist party will not get us anywhere. However, the Government has a mandate for that action, and has introduced this measure in pursuance of that mandate. I believe that the bill will prove abortive. The Government should oe sure that it is sponsoring a measure that the people really desire, and not one that is designed merely for political advantage.
.- It is obvious that a number of honorable senators opposite have either not read the bill or have failed lamentably to understand its provisions. Their speeches were full of inaccuracies, to some of which I shall draw attention shortly.
Senator- Nash. - That will be a job.
– Only because the honorable senator ha9 a warped mind that is not open to conviction.
– I rise to order. I object to the statement that I have a warped mind, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the word “ warped “ and substitute “ prejudiced “. Time is an important factor in this proposed legislation, and I should like to see it put on the statutebook as soon as possible. Consequently, I shall not delay it unduly. Only one honorable senator opposite has denied that the Government has a mandate from the people to ban the Communist party and its affiliated organizations whose objective is subversive and revolutionary. Any government would be faithless to its trust if it did not take steps to deal effectively - I use the word advisedly - with subversive organizations. Failure by the Government to deal with the Communist menace would be a betrayal of the security of this country. Is it. not amazing that, notwithstanding the protestations of honorable senators opposite, and all their professed antipathy to communism, they always rush to defend it, whenever action is taken to frustrate its activities? Many thousands of people throughout the world to-day are greatly perturbed by the danger signs. There is ample and plain evidence of a grave and sinister force in our midst. There are movements that aim at the destruction of the true democratic principles of self-government - movements that are foreign to Australia and abhorrent to our British way of life.
Let us discard the idea that communism flourishes only in poverty and destitution. There may be an element of truth in that claim but it is not wholly true, and honorable senators opposite who make it repeatedly show a poor appreciation of the zeal of the idealists who propound the Communist doctrine. Many of them hold university degrees and have only a> most abstract knowledge of what privation means. Communism is, and is intended to be, a system of government opposed to democracy. The Communists are becoming more and more arrogant as the years pass. Communism is flourishing in Australia to-day more than ever. Communist inspired industrial disturbances are increasing, yet the socialists still claim that Australia has never been as prosperous as it is to-day. Honorable senators opposite cannot have it both ways. Their assertion that communism flourishes only in poverty must fall to tie ground in the face of their declaration that Australia is prosperous to-day.
We must take a more realistic view of our dealings with this menace to constitutional government. If communism is a political philosophy, it is a challenge that must be accepted. We must cease to follow the line of least resistance and must abandon our vain attempts to console ourselves that what has happened in other countries cannot happen here. I say that it can happen here. We could all give instances of how the tolerance of’ peoples of other countries has led to their undoing. If we do not want Australia to become a satellite of a foreign power; if we do not want Australia to be socialized and sovietized, let us take appropriate action before it is too late. The President of the United States of America, Mr. Truman, said in his inaugural address last year -
Communism purports to offer freedom, security and greater opportunity to mankind - misled by this false philosophy many peoples have sacrificed their liberties only to learn to their sorrow that deceit and mockery, poverty and tyranny are their reward. Communism subjects individuals to arrest without lawful cause, punishment without trial, and labour as a chattel of the State. Communism decrees what information that individual shall receive, what art he shall produce, what leaders lie shall follow, and what thoughts he shall think.
That is a terrible condemnation of what some people describe as a political philosophy. Some time ago the Roman Catholic bishops of Australia published the following declaration to the world : -
The imminent danger facing this country is that the Communist party will use the power which it has gained over a large part of the trade union movement to overthrow the machinery of government, to seize political power for itself and to achieve the ends of communism, viz., the destruction of political, social and religions freedom.
This is not a political issue; it is a grave national emergency. Communists inspired the disastrous coal strike last year. That was admitted by the Chifley Government. Now. communism stands before the world stripped of its pretence of being a political philosophy. It stands revealed as a world-wide conspiracy to im pose Russian imperialism, to stamp out. democratic freedoms, and to establish in their place a despotism as terrible and absolute as anything in Asiatic history.
Communists are engaged in a deadly plot against our national security. One is shocked to read that Communistinspired strikes have reached an all-time high in Australia. Our record is worse than that of Great Britain or the United States of America. Statistics compiled by research services show that industrial disputes have increased steadily in Australia since the cessation of hostilities, whereas in the United Kingdom and the United States of America they have declined. In 1949, no less than 13 per cent, of the workers of Australia went on strike. In Great Britain the number was only 2-J per cent., and in the United States of America less than 4 per cent. Such strikes mean of course an increase of production costs, and the soaring of prices of commodities to dizzy heights. The resultant high cost of living deals a damaging blow at any proposal to extend our overseas markets, and our national economy suffers. Australia is forced to take a back seat, not because we lack resources, but because we are unable to deliver the goods. The principal sufferer is always the ordinary worker because as the purchasing power of his wages declines, the cost of living rises, and living standards deteriorate. Attempts by the Government to put value back into the £1 are frustrated. Increased production, which the Communistinspired unions are preventing, would be one solution of our present economic problems. To increase production, we must eliminate the “ go slow “ methods of Communist elements. We must endeavour to secure a quicker turnround of ships. Honorable senators opposite can assist materially by urging their supporters to disregard the decrees of the Communists, to remain at work, and to submit their industrial disputes to arbitration. Unfortunately, to-day the man who produces more or works a little harder than the man alongside him is looked at askance, and regarded as doing something inimical to the best interests of his fellow workers. Not long ago there was a grave danger that the government of this country would pass out of lawful hands and be usurped by the fifth column. Our foreign policy walargely dictated by the waterside worker; and members of the seamen’s union.
The Chifley Government seemed to he impotent in the face of that threat. Our industrial operations were continually sabotaged by the few but very important unions that are Communistdominated. The effects of the Labour Government’s weakness can be seen in the loss of our overseas markets and the deterioration of Australia’s prestige. The Australian Communist party inspired and assisted the Indonesian Communists in their revolt against the Dutch. In defiance of the then Australian Government the Communists placed a ban on Dutch, shipping. That directly involved the Australian Government in a serious threat to its relations with a friendly nation, indeed one of our former allies. The Australian Communists took similar action to support the Malayan Communists against the constitutional Government of Malaya. I submit that no Communist can be loyal to Australia and Stalin at the same time. He has no. choice. He acknowledges a. loyalty solely to Stalin. We read recently of the betrayal by Communists of vital defence secrets to Russian agents. That can and will happen here if we allow the Communists to continue their activities unchecked. The agents of Russia are at work in Australia to-day. The power to make and unmake governments is one of our most precious inheritances from our forefathers. Communism aims to destroy our system of government. The Communists do not believe in the parliamentary system. They believe in dictatorship. The urgent need to deal effectively with Communist elements in this country cannot be denied. It is generally admitted that the Communists control such organizations as the Eureka Youth Movement, and the Australian Peace Council. It will be admitted readily that they white-anted and infiltrated some trade unions. Some people doubt the association of the Communists with the Labour party. Some claim that the Australian Labour party does not include Communists hut when one considers the links of the past, one may be excused for having some doubts. I quote the words of a very prominent member of the Australian Labour party, the late Mr. J. A. Beasley, when he spoke in this Parliament a few years ago.
– Why does not the honorable senator leave the dead alone ?
– I am merely quoting his words and I have the greatest respect for his memory. This is what Mr. Beasley said -
We feel it our fluty to inform honorable members and the people of their electorates of the facts of the position that has developed. Because of our close association with our own political organization, we are satisfied that the Communist party now controls the policy and domestic affairs of the Labour party in New South Wales. Circumstances have arisen in New South Wales today which definitely establish that the Communist party is controlling the policy and domestic affairs of the Labour party. The process of asserting that control has been spread over a long period of years, but developments have all been in accordance with a well-defined plan. The activities of the Communist party arc not confined to Australia. It is a world-wide organization and its policy for any country is not determined within that country. Communists all over the world take their direction from a central bureau in Moscow, and adopt whatever procedure that central authority may decide upon.
Those are the words of Mr. Beasley, who was a senior Minister in both the Curtin and Chifley Governments and who became resident Minister in London and later Australian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom. On the 23rd September, 1948, Mr. Brennan, another high member of the Labour organization, who until recently was a member of the House of Representatives, said -
I do not think Communists should exercise any influence over the Labour party, but they do to-day.
A prominent member of the Tasmanian State executive of the Labour party and a member of this chamber was put on the mat only this week by the Labour authorities in Hobart because of his association with a Communist organization, the Australian Peace Council. I know it will be said that the Labour organization in Hobart supported that honorable senator, but it only proves my statement that the Labour party will support in some instances the Communist influence in this country.
– Order ! In what way does the honorable senator connect this with the bill ?
– I want to show how important it is to ban the Communist party because of its infiltration of various organizations. I wish to show how imperative it is to ban communism because it is white-anting the great Australian Labour party and the great trade unions. The late Mr. Maurice Blackburn, who was also a member of this Parliament, said on the 12th November, 1936, in the Labour Call-
I did not say that there was an unbridgeable gulf between the principles of the Communist party and the principles of the Labour party. I have always said, and I say now, that the principles of the parties are the same, and that their differences are differences in method only.
The constitution of the Labour party provides that membership shall consist of affiliated unions and those persons who are enrolled as members of the organization and pledge themselves to the party constitution and platform. That is quite right and proper, but all members of the Communist-controlled unions in Victoria which are affiliated with the Australian Labour party are members of the Victorian branch of the Labour party. I cite the Amalgamated Engineers Union, the coal miners’ federation, the Tramways and Motor Omnibus Employees Union, The Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association, the Waterside Workers Federation, Clothing Trades Union, The Plumbers Union, the Ship Painters and Dockers Union, and many others. They are all affiliated in Victoria with the Labour party. In 1947, the affiliated unions paid £6,220 to the Australian Labour party as affiliation fees, whilst the individual political branches in the same State paid only £787. Provision is made in the constitution of the Labour party for unions affiliated with the Labour party to pay affiliation fees. The Labour party takes cash from the Communist members of affiliated unions and falsely asserts that Communists cannot join the Australian Labour party. All the members of the affiliated unions including Communist members of those unions, then become financial members, and can vote to elect delegates to attend their annual conference. They can instruct their delegates how to vote, and can vote also for the selection of men to represent them in the State or Federal Parliament.
At a Labour party conference in Melbourne in 1948, Mr. Keon, who is now a member of the House of Representatives, submitted a motion calling on every affiliated union and all Australian! Labour party branches and Labourparliamentarians to combat the antiAustralian disruptive tactics of theCommunist party. If they were sincerein their declaration, one would havethought that that motion would have been carried, but it was defeated by 132 votes to 106. Honorable senators assert that they support the banning proposals, but immediately they proceed to endeavour toput into the bill a clause which would? make the banning of the Communist party ineffective. I refer to the onus of proof provision. It has been said that somehonorable senators do not believe in the ban, and are using their opposition tothis clause as a subterfuge to defeat the proposal altogether. I suggest that a realistic view must be taken of this; matter. The position must be studied’ fairly and squarely on a commonsensebasis. On the surface, it appears that thisprovision is the only bone of contention; between the Government and honorablesenators on the Opposition side. Practically all honorable senators in the Opposition have claimed that they support the outlawing of communism. If they: are sincere, they will not bring forward! amendments to make the proposed lawunworkable.
Senator Katz, Senator Morrow and others have said that this bill is ani attack on the trade union movementThat is absolute and utter nonsense. I was going to say that it is the quintessence’ of madness but I will say merely that it is the quintessence of stupidity. TheCommonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act was introduced by the Liberal party and for the first time in federalhistory the unions had a voice,, because the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is based on the principle of” industrial organization. Every honorablesenator on this side of the chamber believes in and fosters the trade unions,, but will not stand unions that are controlled by Communists.
The question of the onus of proof islargely a matter for legal minds, but it as not proposed to condemn anybody without a fair trial. Proposed amendments to the bill are designed to give a declared person the right to go before a proper court and show that he is not what he has been declared to be. Grave misconceptions arise from the debate on the onus of proof clause. British law has not always placed the onus of proof on the accuser. Under the proposed amendments to the bill a declared person has only to swear his innocence and the onus will be changed to 4he Crown, because the Crown must sustain its declaration. It is ridiculous to say that any person can be declared. The bill as proposed to be amended will lay it down clearly that before any one is declared, the Governor-General, which means the Executive Council or the Cabinet, must be satisfied that the person is not only a member of the Communist party or one of ite auxiliaries, but that he is engaged or is likely to be engaged in activities prejudicial to. the -security of Australia. Even then he cannot be declared until the material facts have been considered by a committee.
– That amendment is not yet in the bill.
– It is a proposed amendment which I hope the Leader of the Opposition will support. Under that proposed amendment, a person cannot be declared until a committee consisting of five persons, including the Secretary of :he Department of Defence, the head of the Security Branch, and the SolicitorGeneral. They must be screened by that committee and cannot be -declared even then. Cabinet will have the final decision and will take full responsibility. Senator McKenna said that any two members could form an Executive’ Council and declare Smith or Brown. It is proposed to make that a Cabinet responsibility and there will be no hole-and-corner .business. No cabinet, whether Labour or Liberal, would go so far as to act in an underhand manner on such a serious proposition.
Largely, this is a matter of administration. It is one thing to have power, -and another thing to use it. Subject to the powers constitutionally conferred on this Parliament, the various State governments have full and plenary powers. If they wished, they could decree that every honorable senator opposite should be beheaded. Some might say that that would be a desirable reform; but no government would be so idiotic as to carry out such a suggestion. Every member of this chamber breaks a law occasionally, but he is not prosecuted if it is merely some minor offence. He might walk along the wrong side of the street or alight from the wrong side of the tram, but no administration prosecutes him, although it has the power to do so. The onus in on a person suspected of being illegally in possession of property to prove his innocence. He must prove that he became possessed of the property legally and lawfully. A penalty is provided for him, but there is no such provision in this bill. The onus of proof is to be placed definitely and squarely on the Crown in certain circumstances. The attitude of honorable senators opposite is alarming. They say that they agree to the proposal to ban the Communist party, but they want the Communists to remain in the trade unions, where they can carry on their nefarious .work, and betray Australia through the agency of the unions. If the onus of proof provision in the bill is abandoned, the teeth of the measure will be drawn, and the whole bill might as well be thrown into the waste-paper basket. As has been pointed out by other speakers, the onus of proof provision as it appears in the present bill is also to be found in other Commonwealth legislation, including the Crimes Act and the Customs Act, as well as in some State legislation. In the emergency legislation introduced by the Labour Government to deal with the coal strike last year, a similar provision was included, although the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) now describes it as obnoxious. If it was good enough for a Labour government to include such a provision in legislation last year, on the ground that an emergency existed, surely the present Government has the right to include it in this legislation, because no one will deny that a state of emergency exists at the present time. As a matter of fact, the provision is in no way novel, and was freely employed during the war. As I have said, the
Labour Government itself reversed th onus of proof in its emergency legislation during the coal strike, and placed the onus of proof on the accused. Mr. Justice Isaacs, who later became GovernorGeneral of Australia and was at one time Attorney-General, stated that the burden of proof rested where justice would best be served. The bill does not provide for the imposition of penalties except in respect of charges that have to be proved by the Crown. All the talk of British justice, liberty of the subject and reversing the rules of law is so much humbug and moonshine. Liberty for what? Liberty to engage in subversive activities ! Liberty to disrupt the economy of Australia ! I will have none o~ it. What is wrong in asking a declared person to go into the witness-box and say that he is innocent-? If he does that, the onus of proof reverts to the Crown. If he is innocent he has nothing to fear. Drastic situations demand drastic remedies. We live in extraordinary times, and this is emergency legislation.
If we ignore the distortions and the humbug of honorable senators opposite, and concentrate on the bill itself, we find that it is designed to deal with a simple issue. Those honorable senators who are opposed to communism, and wish it to be effectively banned, will support the bill. Those honorable senators who are for communism, and want to protect the Communists, will vote against the bill. Honorable senators opposite have the issue before them, and the people of Australia will look anxiously for the division list. Quorum formed.)
– I regret that the number of honorable senators present at the conclusion of the speech of . the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat was insufficient to form a quorum, but the reason may be that this bill, which is aimed at traitors, was used as an excuse by an ex-member of the Labour party to make a slanderous and treacherous attack on the party to which he previously belonged, and on men who, after having served their country well, have passed on. Perhaps that is why Labour senators preferred not to be present, for his remarks would be nauseating to decent men.
This bill Would be considered calmly. The Government has claimed that the bill was introduced in accordance with a premise given to the electors before the last election, and to give effect to the mandate which it received from the people to ban the Communist party. The Government was undoubtedly given a mandate to ban the Communist party. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), speaking then as Leader of the Opposition, said that he would ban the Communist party, and strengthen the laws of the country in order to permit the party to be dealt with. The Labour party recognizes that the Government has an obligation to defend the country. It is advised by its security service, and has in its possession knowledge that is not available to members of the Opposition. If the Government, in the light of that knowledge, believes that the Communist party should be banned, then the Labour party will accept this bill up to, and including, clause 4. The wisdom of such a measure may be debated, but the Labour party will not oppose the first part of the bill, recognizing that the Government received a mandate to go as fatas that. We have been told that the purpose of the bill is to ensure the safety of Australia, and to protect our democracy. However, the bill as originally introduced in the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister was so vicious that it would have destroyed the very things which it was supposed to protect. One of the most important distinctions between a totalitarian country and a democracy is that in a democracy the rule of law shall prevail. As I have said, the Opposition has not objected to the banning of the Communist party. The fight has taken place to protect democracy and, as far as the Labour majority in this Senate can ensure it, to see that the rule of law shall prevail. Certain provisions of the bill not directly concerned with the banning of that party are vicious and dangerous, tending to destroy that which distinguishes Australian democracy from oppressive totalitarian rule. One such provision which the Opposition considered could not be tolerated was the right of entry and search by security officers. There are some thousands of these officers, and many of thom a.re very fine men. Some, of course, were appointed because they are of the type that can get information which is not available to others. The provision in. the original bill that security officers could break into a man’s home without warrant, and search the premises and. the owner’s person, and take possession of documents, was very close to certain legislation in Nazi and Communist countries. The Government, in its anxiety to protect democracy, was about to do something that was the negation of democracy. To that the Labour party has objected and will not compromise on its amendment to correct the danger inherent in such a practice.
As has been frequently pointed out during this debate it is impossible to kill an idea, except by killing the person who holds the idea. The truth of that statement is borne out by what has happened since the present Prime Minister commended the Nazi system in 1938. Over the years the attitude of the leaders of the parties now constituting the Government has vacillated and has been one of conflicting policy and weak action in connexion with the Communist party in Australia. For instance, in 1925, Mr. S. M. Bruce, said -
I appeal to my fellow citizens to support and assist mo to destroy this viper that has raised its head in our midst.
He was referring to communism. Later, he declared -
The Government is determined to defeat the nefarious designs of the extremists and, armed with a mandate of the people, will take all necessary steps to accomplish this end.
That is very similar to what is being said by Government spokesmen to-day. Actually, little was done in the matter in 1925. Mr. Bruce’s statement was so much political propaganda. Speaking on the 18th January, 1949, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), said -
We are against the communists, and there will be no quarter.
The parties that support the present Government have vacillated on this issue. First, they said they would ban the Communist party; they then said they would not. Finally, the pesent bill was brought in. It is without precedent in Australia, but it is not without precedent in other parts of the world. On the 20th
May, 1983, a. measure was introduced into the German Reichstag providing for the dissolution of the Communist party. Strangely enough, the 20th May was the date upon which the bill now before us left the House of Representatives to be sent to the Senate. The German legislation provided that the highest authority in the State, or officers authorized by it, could confiscate, in favour of the State, the property of the Communist party in Germany, and of its auxiliary organizations, as well as the property used, or intended to be used, for furthering Communist activities. That measure was opposed by the Social Democrat party, although that party was itself opposed to communism. Nevertheless, the law was made. Very shortly afterwards, the Jewish community in Germany was attacked. The property of Jews was confiscated, and many of the intelligentsia, Jewish professors, professional men, and others were persecuted, and thrown into concentration camps. Finally, the Social Democrats themselves were brought within the scope of the legislation. Shortly before the outbreak of the war, the present Prime Minister who was then Attorney - General, travelled abroad. After his return, he addressed the Constitutional Club, in Sydney, on the 24th October, 1938, and in his speech he expressed his admiration for Nazi Germany, and his contempt for Australian democracy.
– That is nonsense.
– I shall table the document if necessary. Mr. Menzies said -
They (the Fascist rulers) have made an end of many abuses which still remain a drag upon the progress of lands in which there is more liberty and less ‘determination to correct the faults . . .
Why was Hitler able to tear up the Treaty of Versailles, absorb Austria and the Sudetenland without firing a shot? The dominating reason why he was able to do it all is that he gives the German people a leadership to which they render unquestioning obedience.
If you and I were Germans sitting beside our own fires in Berlin, we would not be critical of the leadership that has produced such results.
That was the germ of the idea that was written into the bill in its original form. The measure, as introduced into the House of Representatives, provided for the proscription of individuals and for the giving of great power to the administration. Under it, despite what has been said by honorable senators opposite, two Cabinet Ministers, sitting with the GovernorGeneral in council, could have declared an organization or an individual. lt would be not an interpretation of the law by a court but the opinion of a political party. It has been amended considerably since it was introduced. I believe that the amendments have been made because the Labour party has a majority in this chamber and because it has been able to focus the spotlight of public opinion upon vicious provisions.
The bill was introduced into the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister in an atmosphere of hysteria reminiscent of Germany. The right honorable gentleman’s second-reading speech was excellent in delivery and beautiful in its choice of words. For the moment, he hypnotized the people of Australia. He said that the measure would not be altered or amended. I tried to get a seat in the House of Representatives so that I could listen to his speech, but every available seat was filled. Despite what the Prime Minister said on that occasion, he has, under pressure by the Opposition, retreated to some degree. The bill was amended by the Government in the House of Representatives and doubtless it will be amended in this chamber. It is said now that the Government, by the amendment that it has made and those that it has foreshadowed, has met the main objections raised by the Labour party, but that is not so. We shall eliminate vicious provisions and safeguard the liberty of the people of Australia. The bill has been improved to some degree, but it is still not a democratic measure.
We believe that the onus of proof should rest firmly upon the Crown. Hon orable senators opposite agree that if persons are charged under the penal provisions of the measure, the onus of proof should lie upon the Crown. In other words, they agree that before a man can be fined five or ten pounds for an offence against the measure the Crown must satisfy the court of his guilt. They argue, however, that if a man is declared and dismissed from the position by which he earns his living, the onus of satisfying a court that he should not have been declared should rest upon him. Why the distinction between the two cases? If a man is declared, his character will be taken from him and, in some instances, his means of earning a living also. There is no doubt where the onus of proof should lie. When the bill was introduced into the House of Representatives, the Government argued that if the onus of proof were to be placed upon the Commonwealth, it would be necessary to disclose secret or confidential information to establish such proof. That was rot. It is now proposed that if a man who has been declared goes into the witnessbox and swears on oath that he is not a Communist, the onus of proof shall shift to the Crown. That will mean that, if the Commonwealth is to prove its case, it must disclose to the court the secret or confidential information upon which it acted and do all those things which it contended could not be done.
I believe that the Government is ashamed of the bad way in which the original bill was drafted, if not of its contents. The Prime Minister said that if an employer charged an employee with a defalcation or neglect of duty, the employer would place the onus upon the employee to prove he did not do or fail to do what was alleged against him. What has happened in relation to this bill can best be described, in terms of employeremployee relations, in the following way : An employee drafts a document for his employer. The following morning, he tells his employer that he has discovered nineteen mistakes in the document, and that he proposes to correct them. The next day, he tells his employer that he has discovered another sixteen mistakes, and that he proposes to correct them. In those circumstances, the employer would tell him to take the document away and re-draft it. I believe that the Government would have been well advised to withdraw this bill and re-draft it, but it has not done so. The measure is now a patchwork piece of legislation.
If the passage of the bill has been delayed, that is due to the actions of the Government. It foreshadowed a number of important amendments only yesterday. It is playing for time. That was made clear by the speeches that were delivered by honorable senators opposite yesterday. The bill has been badly handled by the Government, and it would be wise to withdraw it and re-draft it. I believe that some honorable senators opposite, although they think that communism must be combated, agree with us that the manner in which the Government proposes to act is unwise. Why should not the ordinary rule of law be allowed to operate? Senator Wright told us of the vicious laws that are in operation in England. They are on a par with this measure. If the honorable senator’s argument is sound, why add another vicious law to those to which he so strenuously objects? He objected to the vicious British legislation under which farmers may be dispossessed of their land, and I agree with him that it is wrong. The viciousness of this measure exceeds that of the measure to which Senator Wright referred. That legislation referred to property resumption, but this act proposes to take away or injure a person’s good character and his means of earning a livelihood. It can be stated generally that, under our present laws, the onus of proof is placed upon the accused only in relation to matters that are peculiarly within his own knowledge. The onus of proof provisions in this measure should be amended, because we must not endanger our democracy by following the putrid practices of totalitarian countries.
Communism has nothing to offer this country, and the people of Australia know that it has not. If this country is governed in a democratic way, communism will be defeated. Honorable senators opposite have talked of Communist infiltration of trade unions. One honorable senator opposite who was at one time a member of the Labour party - he left it when it was under fire, but we have had many traitors - said that Communists were in the Australian Labour party because some trade unions paid to the party affiliation fees in respect of their members. He argued that any Communist member of a trade union in respect of whom affiliation fees were paid to the Labour party could vote at elections of officers of the party. The honorable senator should know that, irre spective of whether a person may have paid affiliation fees to the Labour party through a trade union or any other channel, if he is a Communist, he is automatically barred from voting at any election for officers of the party. The honorable senator should know that some trade unions in Western Australia pay affiliation fees to the Labour party on behalf of all their members except Communists. He should know also that every member of the party signs a pledge that he is not a member of any other political party, including the Communist party. The Government has tried to convince the people that the Labour party is sympathetic to the Communist party, but the fact is that the Communist party is more viciously opposed to the Labour party than it is to the Liberal party. During the general coal strike, Mr. Healy visited Parliament House. He was ostracized by Labour members; but, at a time when the Chifley Government was engaged in a. life-and-death struggle with communism, he drank in a bar in Parliament House with an honorable senator who was a member of the Australian Country party. It is true that he may only have been telling him a funny story.
The Communist party, in its manifesto, said -
We utilize this campaign in order to win the masses of the workers from the treacherous Labour party.
Honorable senators opposite have something in common with the Communists in that strategy. The Communists are not friends of ours. We have always fought them, but we have never believed that, in order to beat them, we should depart from democratic principles. We do not want the banging of a revolver butt on a door to constitute a right of entry into the houses of our citizens. If the Government wants to deal with the Communist party, let it do so, but, in doing so, let it take care not to intrude upon the rights of democratic citizens under the pretext of protecting their freedom. This country has fought for many worthwhile things. As the anti-Labour parties came back into power they saw that they got their dividends out of it. In the main the young men who went into battle in two wars believed that they were fighting for the high principle that no man should be convicted, maligned, or scandalized without trial. But that is what this bill will do. In effect, the Government says that if a man in the Public Service is declared he will merely lose his job, and similarly, if a member of a trade union is declared, he will only lose his job. However, I point out that in addition to losing their jobs those men would be stigmatized.
– Attlee did it.
– I am pro-British and pro-justice, not anti this and anti that. The policy of the Labour party is to achieve the justice that we consider to be right. We do not waste our time trying to scandalize people and doing things likely to destroy this country. This matter is in the Government’s hands and I shall leave it to the Government to deal with the Communist party. The Opposition has announced its decision on clauses 1 to 4, and the Government has all the information that it requires from the security service. The Government contends that the danger has become more grave since 1945. It talks of information in the possession of the Minister which cannot foe disclosed to the Parliament. Honorable senators opposite have admitted that it would be quite possible for an innocent man to suffer injustice under this legislation. Australia has always defended democracy. There are two ways of defeating a nation. The first is by infiltration and by force of arms; the other is by an association of ideas taking the shape of legislation which destroys personal liberty and refuses the protection of law as known to democracy, thus changing the national character to one similar to that of totalitarian countries. Whether the pattern follows the methods of Hitler or Stalin - is Nazi or Communist - matters little. I bate both of them. In that connexion, this legislation will establish a milestone, or, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said, a precedent in democratic practice. It is to be regretted that Government members of this chamber and of the House of Representatives choose to scandalize individuals rather than deal with legislation on its merits thereby using the privilege of Parliament to injure members of the public with inpunity. I sin cerely regret the speech that I have heard in this chamber to-day by a supporter of the Government, who was previously a member of the Labour party, during which some members of the Opposition left the chamber. I hope that the Government will take into consideration the full implications of this measure. The Opposition is fully in accord with anything that will protect and preserve our democratic institutions.
. in reply - Two main points have emerged from this debate. The first is that we have let the people of Australia see that at all events this Government respects the deliberative character of the Parliament, which has been dead for over eight years during Labour’s regime. We have restored it. Arising out of full, free and open debate we have been amenable to reason and have accepted certain amendments which, however, do not alter the great purpose or intention of the measure. In substance they really put into the enactment itself what would have been done administratively. I shall touch briefly on the principal proposed amendments. There has been expressed a fear that an innocent man, harmlessly at his home gardening or in the bosom of his family, might be arbitrarily dealt with in some gestapo-like fashion. I do not consider that any honorable senators opposite believe that contention for a moment. The Executive does not behave in that way in a democracy. However, just to make the matter perfectly clear, it is provided that before a person is declared, the circumstances of any complaint made in respect of him must be investigated by five responsible people, namely - not necessarily in order of seniority - the head of the security service, the Solicitor-General, who is head of the Crown Law office, the head of the Defence Department and two other men with special qualifications and ability. They have first to be convinced that there is some substance in the allegations. Only then will the matter be passed on to Cabinet. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has indicated this decision will not be made - as has been suggested by Senator McKenna - by two Ministers who happen to be at Government House at the time. This is a serious matter. After investigation of the complaint by the five responsible men who will constitute the committee, two of whom need not necessarily be members of the Public Service, the matter will go to full Cabinet, which will accept the final responsibility.
– In each case?
– Before a declaration is made.
– Once a declaration is made, will the matter be examined by Cabinet?
– It will be examined by Cabinet before the declaration is made.
– That would waste a lot of Cabinet’s time.
– We do not expect that many people will be declared. Once the Communists realize that we mean business - and we do - they will run for cover. There has been a lot of loose talk about the onus of proof. I shall deal more fully with that aspect in the committee stage. There is nothing new about it. Similar provisions are contained in the immigration legislation, taxation legislation, the Crimes Act, and many other acts. The Government is not interested in pursuing innocent, lawabiding people. It intends to stop wreckers before they can put into effect their nefarious designs. Any person who happens to be declared will possess information regarding his own movements, character, and activities. To put the onus of proof back onto the Crown all he need do is to go into the witness box and deny the affirmation. Is not that a simple, straight-forward matter? A lot of noise has been made about this being a departure from British law. There is no such thing as a departure in this measure.
– The measure does not yet contain that provision.
– I wish the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) would not be so technical. This is the substance of the measure that will be before the chamber. The provisions of the Crimes Act are very vital to the security of the country. That legislation has been invoked by both Labour and non-Labour governments alike. Section 30aa of the Crimes Act provides - (1.) The Attorney-General may apply to the High Court or to the Supreme Court of a State for an order calling upon any body of persons, incorporated or unincorporated, to show cause why it should not be declared to be an unlawful association. (7.) If cause to the contrary is not shown to the satisfaction of the Court, it may make an order declaring the respondent body of persons to he an unlawful association.
The onus of proof is on the declared organization. There is no departure from that. I shall now refer to the eleventh edition of Taylor on Evidence, which states this matter very clearly. I am sure that Senator McKenna will have a high regard for this treatise. An age-old accepted principle of British law is the throwing of the onus of proof onto a suspect or an accused person. That is solely a presumption of fact, arising out of circumstances within the knowledge of the person charged. Paragraph 140, at page 143, reads -
The possession of stolen property recently after the commission of a theft, is prima facie evidence that the possessor was either the thief, or the receiver, according to the other circumstances of the case; and this presumption, when unexplained either by direct evidence, or by the character and habits of the possessor, or otherwise, is usually regarded by the Jury as conclusive. . . .
– But there will not be a jury.
– The onus stays, whether the matter be before a magistrate or a single judge. The point is that the bill merely raises a presumption in favour of the Crown. When a presumption is raised in a criminal prosecution the accused has to rebut that presumption, and he does so by giving, or calling, substantia] evidence. This legislation, as Senator McKenna pointed out, does not provide for a trial because under it no charge will be made against any individual; and we cannot have a trial unless a charge has been preferred. The “ declaration” may be set aside by the bare denial of the individual “ declared “ that he is a Communist and that his activities are prejudicial to the safety and security of the country, unless the’ Crown can bring evidence to the contrary. The purpose of the provision is to get the suspected person into the witness box, and if he cannot be convicted out of his own mouth under cross-examination the “ declaration “ will be set aside. That is a very simple proposition.. The fifth amendment that will be moved will require that any individual who is declared must have been, after the 10th May, 1948, a member or officer of the Australian Communist party.
– We have not yet had an opportunity to debate the proposed amendments.
– That is why I am explaining them now. The last amendment that will be proposed by the Government is designed, like the rest of the clause, to deal with a specific menace to our safety and security. As soon as we have dealt with that menace effectively and have crushed it, the GovernorGeneral will be empowered by proclamation to repeal the measure. Both the Prime Minister and I emphasized that fact in the course of the speeches that we have made in the respective Houses of the Parliament, but we now give proof positive of our intention by proposing to incorporate it in the legislation. .
The second point that has arisen from the debate is the amazing confusion of thought and expression of members of the Opposition. I cannot even guess at the cause of that confusion. It may be, of course, that some honorable senators opposite want ‘ to have a “ ticket on the tote “, a bet “ each way “. When the legislation is enacted, and they are discussing it with those who want to destroy communism, they will be able to say, “ You heard my speech ; I was very strongly in favour of the bill “. To those who do not favour the legislation, they will be able to say, “ You know the stand that I took on this matter. We did not let the legislation go through without a fight “. I am quite sure that the great majority of the members of the Australian Labour party are vehemently anti-Communist. Indeed, that fact is generally admitted ; but that it not the attitude of every member of that party. Senator Morrow’s harangue, to which we listened this morning, was typical international communistic propaganda that we hear from schoolboys and on street corners. I do not think that even the most loyal member of the Australian Labour party will deny that there is an attempt by the Communists to infiltrate their party, and that is why some members of that party are making such a fight on the bill. I shall give a few instances to support my contention. Under the heading, “ Communist Front “, the Sydney Morning Herald of the 8th April, 1950, stated -
Last month the Australian Labour party State Executive declared the Council to be a communist “ united front “ organization. To-day, the State conference overwhelmingly endorsed the executive’s action.
The council referred to is the Australian Peace Council, and the extract that I have just read represents the official attitude of the Australian Labour party. I invite honorable senators to contrast that attitude with the views expressed by Senator Morrow in this chamber. In doing so, I am not singling out Senator Morrow particularly, but since he is a member of the Senate and his actions are open to public scrutiny, I do not think that it is unfair to refer to him in this connexion. I propose to quote a short passage from a speech which he made on the 27th April last, in the course of a personal explanation in this chamber. Referring to the Australian Peace Council, he said -
Any man or woman who attempts to smear this peace organization, which has for its objective the security of this country, is a traitor to the people.
So, the Australian Labour party stands condemned out of the mouth of Senator Morrow as a traitor to the people.
– Will the Minister table the document from which he has been reading so that I may be certain that he has read all of it ?
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ashley) is welcome to the document. There is, as I have said, a great deal of difference between the official attitude of the Australian Labour party and that of individual members of that party. Listen to this report which appeared in the Melbourne Argus of the 10th May, 1950 -
The conference carried a resolution making it compulsory for all State and Federal Labour parliamentarians to be members of an industrial group, and take active part in its works.
It was also evident from other statements that appeared in the press about that time that the executive of the Australian Labour party took a very poor view of the attitude adopted by many members of the party towards communism) and it called on all members to take some active steps to commit themselves and to declare where they stood in the fight that the party was making against communism. Of course, we know that many members of that party in this Parliament have been fighting communism with all the venom of a crippled dove.
Senator McKenna made a very good speech, but it had little to do with the bill. He uttered sentiments to which we all subscribe. For instance, he said that Labour stands for the rule of lav/. “We all stand for the rule of law. It is common knowledge that members of the Parliament and persons outside the Parliament of all shades of political opinion have fought for the preservation of British law as we in this country know it. It is, therefore, a gross exaggeration for Senator McKenna to suggest that this measure is opposed to the rule of law.
– Does the Minister believe in trial by jury?
– Of course I do, when trial by jury is suitable. On the 5th June. 1947, when Senator McKenna was Minister for Social Services in the previous Government, he said, in introducing a particular measure -
The Government considers that one of its greatest responsibilities is that of ensuring the defence of Australia-
To that I say a hearty “ Amen ! “ The whole purpose and intent of this legislation is to ensure the safety and security of Australia. It is not aimed at peaceful, law-abiding organizations, but at preventing Communist wreckers from destroying our safety and security.
Reverting to the subject of the onus of proof, I shall repeat now a quotation that I used in my second-reading speech. Dealing with the inherent right of the Australian Commonwealth to. enact legislation for its own protection, Mr. Justice Isaacs said -
A nation has the strongest right to trust ite executive officers who are administering the law to be both vigilant and careful to form, where necessary, a fair and honest prima facie opinion as to the citizenship of any person within the territory, and to accuse no one of intrusion except upon strong moral grounds for believing the fact. If such an opinion, however, exists, the public have a right, where the nature of the case requires it, to call on the suspected person by such procedure as the legislature makes lawful to satisfy a judicial tribunal as to the actual fact. That seems to be only elementary self-protection and to be inseparable from any self-governing constitution. I must confess to some surprise that it is necessary to justify it. For, otherwise, persons who are criminals, anarchists, public enemies, or loathsome hot-beds of disease, may, by secret or fraudulent entry into the country and being sheltered for a time ‘by their associates, defy and injure the entire people of a continent.
– What caused Mr. Justice Isaacs to make that statement?
– Common sense. The remarks that I am now about to make are made by way of illustration and not by way of criticism of the Australian Labour party. I do not say that that party is undemocratic. Any organization has the right to take such steps as it considers reasonable and adequate for its own protection. Paragraph 69 of the rule9 of the Australian Labour party provides -
The Central Executive shall have power to withdraw any candidate on the grounds of unfitness for the .position, or if the past record of that candidate renders him or her, in its opinion, unworthy of confidence.
I do not now criticize that provision. I think that is a very wise rule: but, by what authority do members of the political party opposite place the safety of that party above the security and. safety of the nation ? Honorable senators opposite may remember that a little while ago four Labour members of a State Parliament, who were, as far as I know, dependent upon their parliamentary positions for their livelihood, were declared by the -party to be ineligible to contest their seats at the forthcoming State elections.
– What did the antiLabour parties do to Senator Foll?
– This hurts, I know! The four members of the Labour party were deprived of the positions in which they had earned their livelihood for years, notwithstanding that they had been returned to the Parliament as the elected representatives of large constituencies. What right had the executive of the party to deprive them of their opportunity to re-contest their seats? No answer is forthcoming to that question. The State executive of the Australian Labour party, which met quietly somewhere, did not even call upon the four members of the party for an explanation, but, without making any charge against them, withdrew their endorsements. In other words, they were “ declared “. The questions that were put to the executive in consequence of its action were asked, not by an ordinary individual in the street, but by the Premier of that State, and they have not yet been answered. Mr. McGirr asked -
Where and when and by whom were the four parliamentarians adjudged guilty? What was the charge laid against each of them? Were they present at the time they were charged ? What was the evidence ? Were they heard in their own defence?
Again I ask honorable senators opposite by what authority they place the sanctity of the Australian Labour party above that of their country. I do not agree, nor do I think the people of Australia will agree, that it should be so placed. However, I am not criticizing the right of the Australian Labour party to take the action to which I have referred. Every lawful institution or association has a right to make its own laws and regulations to safeguard itself from attack either from within or without, but as that principle apparently is conceded by the Australian Labour party why should it not be extended to the security of our country? We have been told that this legislation will offer opportunities to the poisoned pen, the pimp and the informer. That, I believe, is far from the truth. As I have indicated in my opening remarks, any allegation, or charge that is regarded as sufficiently serious to warrant consideration of a declaration, will be referred to the committee of five that I have mentioned. No one will suggest that the three members of that committee whom I have named are irresponsible people.
– Why has the Government decided to amend the bill in this way?
– We have nor closed our minds to reason. If the inclusion in the bill of provision for the committee pleases the Opposition and the people, there is some merit in following that course. The amendment is not necessary, however, because it provides for administrative procedure that we should follow in any case. Section 41 of the Crimes Act states -
Any person who conspires with another to charge any person falsely or cause any person to be falsely charged with any offence against the law of the Commonwealth, shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
Penalty: Imprisonment for ten years.
Section 35 (1.) states -
Any person who in any judicial proceeding, or for the purpose of instituting any judicial proceeding, knowingly gives false testimony touching any matter, material in that proceeding, shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
Penalty : Imprisonment for five years.
Section 36 states -
Any person who, with intent to mislead any tribunal in any judicial proceeding -
fabricates evidence, or
knowingly makes use of fabricated evidence, shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty : Imprisonment for two years.
– Why not make a similar provision in this bill?
– There is no need to repeat the provisions of acts of parliament. The prospect of an innocent person1 being dragged from the bosom of his family and subjected to the stigma and indignity of a declaration under this measure is negligible because of the screening processes that will be carried out. The provisions of the bill will apply only to people who are now, or since the 10th May, 1948, have been Communists, and whose activities are, presently or potentially, a menace to the security of the country. There is no ground for the belief that a person will be liable to be declared merely for thinking. That is a gross distortion of the provisions of the measure and, apart from being puerile, it is something that should not be expected from responsible senators. I repeat that the only people who will be affected by this bill are those who are now Communists or have been Communists since the 10th May, 1948, and whose present or potential activities constitute a danger to the security and defence of the country. If honorable senators opposite want to protect such people, they will have an opportunity to do so by voting against the second reading of this bill. By so doing they will be saying, in effect, “ We stand as defenders of Communists who are a menace to the security of the country”.
– Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
Motion (by Senator Spicer) put -
That so much of Standing Order 407a be suspended as would, prevent the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Osullivan) speaking in reply for more than 30 minutes.
– There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
– I thank the Senate for its courtesy. I was about to deal with minorities. If my recollection is correct, Al Capone was the head of a minority group. Nefarious as he was, his depredations were not half so menacing to the continuance of constitutional government as are the activities of the Communists. “ Squizzy “ Taylor, too, was the head of a minority group, but wicked and vicious as his activities were, they did not constitute the menace to the safety and security of our country that exists in the Communist party.
It has been wrongly suggested that this measure is a veiled attack on the great Australian trade union movement. Senator Finlay made a sincere and moving address on that subject. One could readily see his great devotion to the great Australian trade union movement; but this bill constitutes no menace whatever to that movement. On the contrary, when the measure becomes law, the trade union movement will be able to breathe much more freely because the strangling weight of communism will have been lifted from it. Already since this Government has been in power, many trade unions have thrown out their Communist executives because they know that the Government will stand behind them and see that the rule of law is applied. A strong, active, and democratically controlled trade union movement is- not merely useful, but is essential to the development of this country. Without a strong trade union movement there would be industrial anarchy. I have always advised young people in whom I am interested to take an active interest in the affairs of their trade unions, not only that they may enjoy the benefits of unionism, ,hut also that they may appreciate and share the responsibilities of trade unions. Upon our great trade unions rests a tremendous responsibility; and in their hands- lies a tremendous power. Therefore, if any assurance is necessary, I say again without hesitation or qualification that, in my opinion, a strong democratically controlled trade union movement is not merely desirable, but is absolutely essential. The trade unions know that, under this Government, they will be afforded the utmost protection. Indeed, were it not for the support of a large number of trade unionists, we should not be in power to-day. Obviously, an overwhelming number of trade unionists voted for the present Government parties, because the employers of Australia, by themselves, would not be able to win one seat.
The Opposition has argued that the Government has ample power to deal with the Communists under the Crimes Act, and that there is no need for this legislation. Here again there is confusion of thought. The Crimes Act is designed not to prevent the commission of crimes but to punish criminals after crimes have been committed. This measure is designed to frustrate wreckers before they are able to wreck our defences, destroy communications, and take the thousand and one other actions that are open to them to tie up our industries and destroy our economy. That danger was emphasized when Dr. Fuchs was arrested and prosecuted in England recently. He was in a position of trust, and was engaged on too secret scientific investiti ons on atomic energy. It is cold comfort to people of the United Kingdom and to us that Dr. Fuchs is now serving a ‘ term of imprisonment of fourteen years.
– At least he got a trial hy jury.
– Yes, because he had committed a crime. Again I emphasize the vast difference between declaring a man to be a danger in certain occupations and laying a criminal charge. If a person “ declared “ under this bill is a public servant, he will be deprived of the protection of Crown employment for his activities, but he will not be sent to gaol. No penal provisions can be invoked against him. He will be merely removed from his present employment. I remind the Senate that, speaking to this bill, Senator McKenna said -
I challenge any member of the Government side who knows anything about security precautions in this country to say that absolutely effective action was not taken by the Labour Administration to weed Communists out of key positions in the Public Service. I am not prepared to disclose or discuss here how that was done because the information was confidential.
I have no complaint about that, but in view of that statement, how can Senator McKenna and his colleagues challenge a government that does not propose to go as far as they themselves went?
– Has the present Government continued in the same way ?
– Probably it has. During the speech by Senator McKenna, reference was made to the members of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Incidentally, several honorable senators opposite have said that the Labour Government did not appoint two Communists to the Stevedoring Industry Commission.
– They were nominated by the unions.
– And appointed by the Government. That is the point. Supposing by a weird stretch of imagination that men of notorious record had been recommended. Would .the Government have felt obliged to appoint them? Section 6 is clear. It states that the chairman and other members of the commission shall be appointed by the Governor-General in Council.
– The Labour Government cancelled their appointments, too.
– I am asking honorable senators to bear in mind the effect of a declaration. If a man who is declared is a federal public servant, it is proposed that he shall forfeit his position. If he is a member of a particular type of union where he can do damage to the security and safety of the country, it is proposed that he shall not hold office in that union. During the debate, when reference was made to the election of certain members of the commission, Senator Spicer interjected -
Does the honorable senator think that they should have stayed there?
Senator McKenna replied to the interjection ;
In view of their actions, we do not think so. When it was found that they were sabotaging the work of the commission, flouting its orders and behaving in a manner that was unthinkable, the Chifley Government removed them from office.
So it should have done, but why stop this Government from doing the same thing? I am not complaining about the Chifley Government acting as it did. I am pointing out that the objections that honorable senators opposite are taking to the Government’s proposals are completely misplaced if they are sincere.
– Why ask for powers when they already exist?
– The Government has not the power under the Public Service Act. I have been referring to the Stevedoring Industry Act. The members of the Stevedoring Industry Commission were not under the Public Service Act. The principle is there. The Government must have that right. I am not criticizing the Chifley Government, but I do say that criticism of this Government for attempting to put something into an act of Parliament for the protection and the security of the country is either ill-founded or not sincere. Senator Grant has been frequently referring to trial by jury. A trial by jury can take place only if there is a charge. In this case there is no charge. Senator McKenna expressed the position admirably when he’ said during the debate, following an interjection by Senator Spicer -
We abolished the whole commission and established a Board. We abolished the principle of representation on a commission. The Attorney-General surprises me by his interjection, because the fact is that we abolished the whole Commission. The members of the Commission were not charged with any offence.
Surely the Attorney-General understands that there can be no trial unless an offence has been committed.
That answers the whole question that has been raised by the Opposition. The people who would come under the bill now before the chamber are not to be charged with an offence. After careful scrutiny and examination, they are to to charged with being in a position where their nefarious activities might prejudice the safety of the country. The only penalty provision in the bill is under clause 7 which provides that if a person has been declared and continues to do the things that are forbidden and implicit in the declaration, he shall be liable on conviction to five years’ imprisonment. But before the person can be convicted, he is entitled to be tried by a jury and in that event the usual court proceedings and forms are to be observed. If a man deserves to be declared, I do not think that this country owes him anything. Honorable senators know what communism is. To bring it into perspective, I shall quote a few of the recitals from the bill-
And whereas the Australian Communist Party also engages in activities or operations designed to bring about the overthrow or dislocation of the established system of government of Australia and the attainment of economic, industrial or political ends by force, violence, intimidation or fraudulent practices.
And whereas the Australian Communist Party is an integral party of the world Communist revolutionary movement, which, in the King’s Dominions and elsewhere, engages in espionage and sabotage and in activities or operations of a treasonable or subversive nature and also engages in activities or operations similar to those, or having an object similar to the object or those referred to in the last two preceding paragraphs of this preamble :
And whereas certain industries are vital to the security and defence of Australia (including the coal-mining industry, the iron and steel industry, the engineering industry, the building industry, the transport industry and the power industry).
Believing in the validity of these recitals the Government has introduced, this bill to provide for the dissolution of the Australian Communist party and other Communist organizations.
– What is meant by the basic theory of communism?
– I can answer that by giving honorable senators some of the ideas of Stalin. This is what Stalin said in his Theory and Practice of Leninism, pages 50 and 196 -
The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is a relentless struggle waged with bloodshed . . a war a hundred times more difficult, more long drawn out, more complicated than the most bloodthirsty war which could be possible between nations.
That gives an idea of the communism against which we are fighting and from which the Government wants to protect Australia. In Pravda of the 9th September, 1928, Stalin said -
The world nature of our programme is not mere talk, but an all-em,bracing and bloodsoaked reality. . . . Our ultimate aim is world-wide communism; our fighting preparations are for world revolution, for the conquest of power on a world-wide scale.
Following is an extract from Left-wing Communism, by Lenin, at page 9 -
The dictatorship of the proletariat is the . most determined and the most ruthless war waged by the new class against the bourgeoisie.
Again in the State and Revolution. page 116, Lenin declared -
It is clear that the liberation of the oppressed class is impossible without violent revolution and without the destruction of the machinery of State Power.
It has been said that anybody who overthrows the Liberal Government could be declared. That is utter rot. What honorable senators on this side of the chamber are opposed to is any attack on our system of government. If honorable senators believe in the validity of the recitals in the bill and that communism is a real menace, they will agree that the Government must have in its hands the means of dealing with the danger. It wants to be in a position to anticipate and prevent the commission of the offence, not to punish the offenders afterwards. Unless the Government is armed with this measure as it proposes to have it amended by the Senate, the responsibility for leaving the Government defenceless against -the depredations of communism will be on the Opposition.
The amendments foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition would make the bill a hollow mockery. It is like saying to a nervous housekeeper, “ We will give you a watch-dog, a big fierce-looking one, to protect you against any marauders; hut, of course, we are going to take its teeth out first “. If honorable senators opposite persist in the amendments that have been foreshadowed, they will be taking the teeth out of this bill. Instead of putting into the hands of the Government effective means of defending the country against those who wish to wreck and destroy the Australian way of life, they will be giving the Government an empty weapon that will be of no use at all against the menace that threatens the country. I commend the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause (3.)- (l.) In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ authorized person “ means a peace officer appointed under the Peace Officers Act 1925 or a person declared by the Attorney-General to be an authorized person for the purposes of this Act; “ the appropriate court “ means -
– The Opposition has already circulated a number of amendments which it will put before the Senate. I propose to deal with them in the order in which they are set out in the printed notice and they will become part of the relevant clauses of the bill itself as they are reached. My first amendment refers to the important definition of an authorized person. Under the clause that the Senate is considering, an authorized person is defined in these terms -
An authorized person means a peace officer appointed under the Peace Officers Act 1925 or a person declared by the Attorney-General to be an authorized person for the purposes of this Act. ‘ “
I move -
That in the definition of an “ authorized person “, the words “ a peace officer appointed under the Peace Officers Act 1925 or “ be left out.
This definition has relevance in particular to clause 21 of the bill.
– That is the only clause, I think.
– The honorable senator is correct. Clause 21 deals with the right to search for property belonging to the Communist party or to some organization which has been declared under this bill to be unlawful. I think it will be conceded very readily that the entry of a peace officer or a security officer into the home, office or premises of a person is a very serious matter. The mere entry brings a great deal of social odium on the premises themselves, and on the occupants. A search of that type must be conducted with a great deal of tact and discretion. Underlying such a search is an allegation that the person has committed a crime in helping to conceal property and there are penalties for that offence under this bill. In effect, the person is suspected of being subversive or of helping persons against the best interests of the country. Not one honorable senator on the Opposition side has any objection to any peace officer in this country. There is not the slightest desire on the part of the Opposition to reflect on one of them. As far as honorable senators on this side know, every peace officer in Australia is a thoroughly estimable citizen. I want it to be clearly understood that I am not reflecting on any one of them.
– The honorable senator is only saying that they cannot be trusted.
– I have already referred to the delicate nature of the task in which they may be called upon to engage and among the peace officers there are men attending to all types of work. There are men at the highest level conducting very important investigations. The Attorney-General will correct me if I am wrong, but I understand that there are 2,000 Commonwealth peace officers in Australia. Many of them act as guards, in a more or less formal way, at certain Commonwealth establishments.
A great many of them are night watchmen, and they were engaged because they were fitted for service of that kind. It is claimed that many of those so. engaged are qualified to act upon reasonable suspicions entertained by themselves. In the bill as originally drawn, such officers were authorized to act on their own initiative, but an amendment was inserted in clause 21 of the bill, at the instance of the Labour party, providing that officers could enter premises only on a warrant. Entry into private premises, in the circumstances envisaged in the bill, is a most serious matter. Authority to do so ought not to be vested blindly in a whole body of men. In a matter so important to the people concerned, it behoves the Government, and the AttorneyGeneral in particular, who will administer the measure, to select carefully the officers who are to be entrusted with such work.
– They will not go out and act on their own.
– Clause 21 provides that any peace officer, who reasonably suspects that there is in certain premises property of an unlawful association, may go to a magistrate, and ask for a search warrant.
– The honorable senator does not suppose that the peace officer would do that without instruction.
– I assume that he would receive instructions from a higher authority. I assume that the AttorneyGeneral himself will be the final authority in such a matter, and I maintain that it should he clearly stated in the bill that full responsibility for authorizing a search must rest ipon a Minister who is responsible to the Parliament. What objection can the Government have to the amendment? I gather from the interjection of the Attorney-General that close scrutiny will he maintained over officers entrusted with the task of entering and searching premises. That being so, why not place the position beyond doubt in the legislation itself? We do not want the Attorney-General to say, after sorry; dreadful incident has occurred in a private home, that the Parliament itself agreed to give full authority to the peace officers, and that, therefore, he could not be held responsible for what had happened. We wish to ensure that the person who administers this legislation shall accept full responsibility in the Parliament for what may be done in. the matter of search. The Attorney-General has said that every member of the security service will not be free to seek a warrant to. search premises. Very well, then, let the Attorney-General stand up to that assurance. The Opposition is an integral part of the Parliament, and the Opposition does not agree that the power of entry and search should be vested in all peace officers. Final responsibility must rest with the Government, and in this instance that means the Minister who administers the act; in other words, the Attorney-General. If the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment, we can only conclude that it is hoping, because of the broad terms of the measure, to escape responsibility should anything go wrong; that in such an event, the Attorney-General would protest that he did not know that the officer concerned in the incident was going to act. Then the onus would be thrown back on the Parliament, of which the Opposition is a part. I ask the Attorney-General whether there is any good reason why the amendment should not be accepted?
– I suggest that this amendment was framed because clause 21, in its original form, authorized peace officers to enter premises and search for documents. One can understand that, in the opinion of some people, it would be conferring too wide a power on a peace officer to authorize him to enter and search premises without obtaining a warrant from a magistrate. That might be a legitimate objection to the bill in its original form, but clause 21 has now been amended to provide that an officer must first obtain a warrant from a stipendiary magistrate, and take the appropriate oath. I do not think that there is a great deal in the point taken by Senator McKenna’.’ A Commonwealth peace officer is a man who has taken an oath to perform his duty according to the law. He is a member of a force with high traditions, and I suggest that such a man would not be an inappropriate officer to make a search, of the kind contemplated in the clause. He is not a person who would undertake such a search on his own initiative. He would undertake a search only when directed to do so by a proper, superior authority. Therefore, I suggest that it is unnecessary that the peace officer should be directly authorized to act by the Attorney-General himself. Of course, a person other than a peace officer would have to be authorized by the Attorney-General, but a peace officer is a part of the administrative machinery of the Commonwealth. He is a member of an organized force, and performs his duties in accordance with orders given to him from time to time. I suggest that the fears which Senator McKenna has expressed are far-fetched, and come near to casting reflections on the force itself that are quite unjustified. Since clause 21 has now been put into a form that is satisfactory to the Opposition, the present clause should be accepted as it stands.
Senator CAMERON (Victoria) [4.55 J. - The magistrate who would issue a search warrant would not be responsible for the selection of the officers who were to execute it. The magistrate would probably accept on good faith what was told him by the peace officer, feeling that he had no alternative. I agree with what Senator McKenna has said, and I do so because of my own experience of certain peace officers. As I said in my second-reading speech, Commonwealth peace officers are men to whom, in the ordinary way, no exception can be taken. They are reputable men, but they are not qualified, mentally or by experience, to undertake the important work of entry and search. As a Minister, I took the stand that officers should prove, or attempt to prove, their allegations. In one instance, I found that the officers had deliberately misrepresented the whole position in order to have a capable and conscientious government servant put into a concentration camp. I believe that the Attorney-General, because of his knowledge and experience, is the person who should authorize officers to enter and search premises.
– I again urge the Government to accept the amendment. It is perfectly clear that we intend no reflection on Commonwealth peace officers, and no reflection is implied. I agree with the statement of the Attorney-General that the amendment originated out of the iniquitous form in which the right of search provision first applied in the bill.
– We do not acknowledge that it was iniquitous. The honorable senator must have a totalitarian mind to put the matter in that way.
– The Government acted wisely in accepting in the House of Representatives the amendment circulated by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). That amendment, by the way, was circulated before any of the Government’s amendments were placed before the House of Representatives. I am not making recriminations against the Government in what I am saying at this stage. When the Government’s original proposals regarding the right of search were criticized both inside and outside the Parliament, the Government wisely retreated from the position it had taken up. In spite of the fact that the amendment now before us was prepared while clause 21 was in its original form, the validity of the amendment is not affected. The Attorney-General does not suggest that a great burden would be imposed upon him if he undertook the task referred to in the amendment. He has not met my point that peace officers are engaged upon all kinds of. duties. They are selected to perform certain duties, and the nature of some of their duties does not justify confidence being reposed in them to undertake the responsible job of searching under the provision of this bill.
– If that were so, their superior officers would not depute the job to them.
– In suggesting that the Attorney-General should have a personal responsibility in this connexion, we are also suggesting a safeguard. If I were in his position, recognizing the difficulties into which an indiscreet peace officer might plunge me, I should want those who were to be entrusted with this very important work to be subjected to an effective screening. The Opposition, in addition to suggesting that a little extra responsibility or work should be imposed upon the Attorney-General, is suggesting something for which, ultimately, he will be thankful. I believe that the amendment, if accepted, will safeguard him and the Government. “We are not moving it for that reason. That is only incidental to our purpose, which is to prevent inexperienced and indiscreet people from undertaking searches of this nature. If they are to be permitted to do so, we want to make it quite clear that the Government of the day must accept full responsibility for their acts. That is the real purpose of the amendment. It has the additional advantage that, if accepted, it will enable the Attorney -“General to safeguard himself.
The Opposition will press the amendment. I remind the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) that the Government has not yet accepted an amendment moved by the Opposition in this chamber. I agree that we have not accepted in full all measures introduced by the Government. If the Government were to meet us on this amendment we might initiate a new order. So far as the amendments circulated by the Government are concerned, I can almost promise that, if that were done, we should return the compliment in the near future. I say quite seriously that we want to get this measure on the statute-book with the least possible recrimination between the Government and the Opposition. I have said that I believe we are in complete agreement regarding the broad purposes of the bill. Let us accept that position, and agree that we are arguing only about methods. The Government wants to get the bill through Parliament and put it into operation. We are prepared to help it to do so. There is nothing unreasonable in this amendment, and nothing that the Attorney-General has said would justify the Government in refusing to accept it. The AttorneyGeneral and the Minister for Trade and Customs are both reasonable men. I believe that, upon consideration, they will be prepared to meet the Opposition upon this amendment and start the new order to which I have referred. Having looked at the amendments that the Government has circulated, I think that we might readily accept some of them. If the Attorney-General considers that this amendment involves a vital principle from the Government’s viewpoint, he has not stated what it is. We believe that it involves the important principle that there should be parliamentary responsibility in an important matter such as this. Although this is a minor matter, the acceptance of the amendment by the Government might smooth the way for the acceptance of other amendments. The Opposition will move fourteen amendments, but it has been outbid by the Government, which will move sixteen amendments. It will take a considerable time for the committee to consider 30 amendments. If the Government is not prepared to hold out the olive branch to us in relation to this amendment, there may be very close debates upon other amendments of greater consequence than this. If the Ministers will cast their eyes round the Government benches, they will see smiling faces and hopeful looks, and they may be encouraged to meet the Opposition on this amendment.
– I do not oppose the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
– I express my appreciation of the way in which the Government met us on the amendment that has just been agreed to. I refer now to the definition of Communist. I do not propose to move an amendment in relation to it, but I am concerned to know what is in the mind of the Government and what the definition means. It is -
Communist “ means a person who supports or advocates the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of Communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin.
That is one of the most important definitions in the bill. It is the basis for the declaration .of persons under the provisions of clause 9. Important consequences may flow from those declarations. I. shall put to the Attorney-General the thoughts that are in my mind. Does the definition mean that a person who is a Communist must support all of the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin ? Does it mean that he must espouse all of them? If it does not mean that, does it mean that he must espouse 99 per cent, of them? If not, what percentage? This is a matter upon which I have practical difficulties. I believe that Marx has written much, and Lenin has written a great deal. I confess that I am not very familiar with either of them a3 writers, but I have learned in the course of this debate that, jointly and separately, they have advocated many things that are embodied in legislation in this country. They have advocated, for instance, free education, central banking, state-owned transport and the redistribution of the population in rural areas. Those are activities of which everybody approves. In order that the Opposition may understand what is meant by the definition I pose a question to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer). Does the definition mean that, if anybody in this community advocates any one of the teachings or practices of Marx and Lenin, or. more than one, he comes within the definition? If one of them is not sufficient, how many must it be? Section 23
Pf the Acts Interpretation Act provides -
Unless the contrary intention appears, words in the plural shall include the singular.
That provision applies to every act of Parliament. I direct the attention of the Attorney-General to the enormous net east by the definition. If anybody who advocates anything that Marx or Lenin has advocated falls within the definition
– That is not what it says.
– I have told the Attorney-General of the difficulties that I foresee. I should be glad to hear his interpretation of the definition.
– I confess that the formulation of the definition was not easy. It can be said in its favour that in the course of the debate in this chamber and in the House of Representatives no one has suggested a better one. The Labour party itself is from time to time faced with this problem in the application of its own constitution, because it will not have Communists in its ranks. They are the people that we are talking about now.
– Members of the Communist party.
– It would be absolute nonsense to say that the only Communists were persons- who were members of the Communist party. If they ceased to be members of the party, they would cease to be Communists. If the party were dissolved, there would be no Communists. We must define the persons that the Government wants to get at and who, as I understand it, the Opposition also wants to get at. The definition of a Communist must have reference to the beliefs or practices that he espouses. I suggest that there is firm support for the definition in the bill. It is the way in which Communists in Australia define themselves. I refer the committee to the report of the Victorian royal commission on communism. Under the heading “ Marxism-Leninism the following passage appears: -
The 1048 Constitution of the Communist Party of Australia, however, speaks of “ Marxism-Leninism, the basic theory of our party “, and it is necessary that I should explain the relationship of this theory to that expounded in the Manifesto and elsewhere by Marx and Engels. What I have already cited shows unmistakably that they contemplated violence and force as an accompaniment of the revolutionary change, but there is much to show that both Marx and Engels in their later years thought that violence might not always be necessary, and that in countries like England and U.S.A., other methods might alleviate and change the position of the working masses.
The next heading is “ Leninism “ - the other branch. The report reads -
Lenin would have none of this, and later I shall point out his attitude to those Who thought that capitalism could be reformed so as to be tolerable to the proletariat. Wherever he deals with these matters he is uncompromising in his opposition. He regarded Marxism as a living force which called for development to keep pace with life, and therefore with the phenomenon of monopoly capitalism or imperialism. He considered, too, that the Second Internationale, in accepting the doctrine _ of national defence, had abandoned the Marxian view that “the workers have no country”. He insisted on a return to Marxism. Moreover, he emphasized again and again the revolutionary aspect of the Manifesto. “Leninism “, said Stalin, “ is Marxism of the era of imperialism and of the proletarian revolution. To ,be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular “. And Stalin himself, in the preface to the work quoted from, is said to bo the foremost living MarxistLeninist scholar of to-day.
There is a good deal to support the proposition that is contained in this definition that a Communist is a person who supports or advocates the objectives, policies, teachings or practices of communism as expounded by Marx and Lenin. I emphasize those words. Tt is not just some particular part, but the policies of communism - the conception of communism as expounded by Marx and Lenin. Let me illustrate what I mean by reference to an entirely different subject, and one which I hesitate to associate with the subject of communism. Supposing we were considering a definition which had relation to, shall we say, Christianity, as expounded by the Roman Catholic Church. We would be immediately concerned with the totality of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. It would not be said, for example, that the people who believed in the doctrine of the Trinity were necessarily persons who came within that definition, because although the doctrine of the Trinity may form part of the total concept of Christianity as expounded by the Roman Catholic Church, surely there are people who could believe in that doctrine without believing in the totality of Christianity as expounded by that church. I think that is true of this definition. It does not create the difficulty that because Marx happened to expound some particular doctrine on taxation, therefore everybody who believes in that doctrine would be caught by this proposition, any more than the person in my illustration who believed in the doctrine of the Trinity would come within the definition I have used as an illustration.
– The Government has not put that in the bill.
– I suggest that that is the conclusion that must be reached if full force is given to every word in the definition. It is not the simplest thing to define. However, the definition is no wider than is necessary for the purpose that we seek to achieve. I assure the Senate that I knew nothing about Mr. Justice Lowe’s report when this definition was evolved, and it is interesting to find a completely independent confirmation of the language that we have used in endeavouring to express a definition of the word “ Communist “.
– He also mentioned Engels.
– It is true that he mentioned Engels in his explanation, but the emphasis is on Maarxism -Leninism ; he gives a heading to that. The Communists themselves do not mention Engels, but their constitution speaks of Marxism-Leninism. In his summary of findings, Mr. Justice Lowe stated -
The philosophy and guiding principles of the Party are Marxism - Leninism, i.e., Marxism as developed by Lenin and Stalin, who emphasize the revolutionary aspects of Marx’s teachings.
I submit that the committee should have no hesitation in accepting the definition.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania) [5.20’. - I feel that the committee is indebted to the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) for the very interesting and informative discussion that he has just embarked upon. I think his picture of the difficulty that arose in connexion with one particular religion poses exactly the difficulty that arises in relation to the definition. The Minister was good enough to embark upon a rather lengthy discourse. I appreciate very fully the difficulty of denning a “ Communist “. I am glad that it was his responsibility and not mine, because it is a matter of the greatest difficulty. I was interested to hear from the Minister how he and the Government interpreted the very wide scope of this definition. If he, as a lawyer, and I, as a lawyer, and others, had such difficulty, what is to be the position of the. ordinary man or woman in the street? There may be many people in the community who have never heard of Marx and have never read a line of his writings. They would not know what the totality of the concept of communism was. let alone what constitutes a quarter, a third, or a half of it. There would be many honest people in the community who, in the ordinary course of their lives, could advocate the very concepts of Marx and Lenin. The Minister supplied a very good answer with his illustration. I sympathize with his point of view and I ask him to appreciate the great difficulty of the ordinary man in the community. . That is what I am most concerned about. Would he go so far as to say, in the .light of the discussion and debate on the second reading of the measure, that an essential element in the Government’s concept of a Communist, under this definition, would be that that person should have a revolutionary tendency, or, in other words, an intention or desire to achieve his objects by revolutionary tendencies or action? By revolutionary I do not mean merely strong action, but action that contemplates the overthrow by force of society or any phase of society as we know it to-day. For the sake of easing the minds of the ordinary people in the community will the Minister make it clear that a person will not be declared unless he has a revolutionary objective - not a person who abstractly picks up one or other of the doctrines advocated by Marx or Lenin, as the Minister referred to a concept of Roman Catholicism.
I am voicing this aspect of the matter, not because we are suggesting an alteration, but to clarify the position for the ordinary people. The Opposition does not -propose to alter it. We realize the grave difficulty of defining “Communist”. If the Minister, on behalf of the Government, could give us an indication how he will apply it, that would be a real help, not only to the committee, hut also to many people in the general community who would be hesitant about embarking on discussions that otherwise they would have no reluctance to undertake.
.- It must be realized that when the clause comes into effect the Communist party will not be in existence; it will be of the past. According to the definition clause of the bill, “ Communist “ means - A person who supports or advocates the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin.
In the English-speaking world in my younger days, the man who taught economics in Great Britain was H. M. Hyndman. In hia works on the economics of socialism he espoused many of the teachings contained in the doctrines of Marx. “lt is really interesting to learn that some of the teachings of Marx, more especially in relation to decentralization, are now being advocated in Victoria. As a layman, I was very interested in the terminology that was used by Senator McKenna and the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) when they spoke as legal men. I have read Mr. Justice Lowe’s report, which was based upon evidence given before the commission. Even in Russia there were two divergent schools of thought about communism. There were Trotsky’s ideas on the one hand, and Lenin’s ideas on the other. Students will agree that, in the main, they sought the same objective.
– They were both pledged to Marxism.
– That is so. They sought the same objectives. Let us consider for a moment Mr. Justice Lowe’s report. In that report he stated: “ Marx laid the foundation in collaboration with Frederick Engels “. In fact, Engels played a part second to none in elaborating the teachings mentioned in the fourth paragraph of the clause. As I view communism, its philosophy was laid down by Marx and Engels, and Lenin and Stalin were products of another generation. Leninism sets out the tactics that are to be employed in implementing the ideals of Marxism. Apart from the fact that members of the Australian Labour party disagree fundamentally with the ideology of the Communists, which has been transplanted to this country, they also differ from Communists in their conception of the tactics that should be employed to improve the lot of society. I do not suggest for one moment that I know as much law as the AttorneyGeneral or Senator McKenna does, but, like many other members of the Labour movement, I have given the best years of my life seeking for a panacea to cure the ills that afflict society to-day. I see grave dangers in the definition of “Communist “ contained in the clause. I was pleased that the Attorney-General did not pretend, for a moment, to suggest that he could explain all the consequences that may ensue from the passage of this legislation. The plain fact is that some of the greatest minds of the world have endeavoured to solve the social problems which confront us, but have not succeeded in doing so. At the same time we must recognize that many of the views put forward by social reformers of the past have since been accepted and implemented. During Marx’s lifetime there was great controversy about the respective merits of Marxism and the views put forward by Henry George.
In the State of Victoria, which I represent, great concern has been caused by the interrogation of a group of young Jewish migrants, who are certainly not Communists. The fact that that interrogation has taken place shows that we must be on our guard to conserve the rights and liberties of all sections of the community. The definition of “Communist” is so wide that it could embrace almost every member of the community. I realize the difficulties which confront the Government in endeavouring to draft legislation that will be effective, and I admit that its task is not easy. Senator McKenna mentioned, in some detail, the legal difficulties that may confront the Government in enforcing this measure. I am not concerned so much about the position of members of the Australian Labour party, who have behind them an organization which is sufficiently large to protect their rights, as I am about the position of members of small political and social groups who have not that protection. I suggest fo the Attorney-General that he should seriously consider the views expressed by members of the Opposition and the criticisms they have to offer of the definition of “ Communist “ so as to prevent the bill from doing injustice to individuals in the community.
– It is difficult to define exactly who is a Communist, but the definition contained in the clause must leave considerable doubt in the minds of those who have been trying to combat communism We must be careful not to jeopardize the liberty of ordinary lawan example of what I am saying, I point out that Lenin stated that the programme of the Communist party “necessarily includes the propaganda of atheism It is well known that there are a number of atheists in the community, and the Communists employ skilled dialecticians to preach the doctrine of atheism amongst all sections of the community. On the political side, the Communists also use the killed services of propagandists to discredit the present political parties. For example, in the Communist manifesto that was issued in 1930, the following passage appears : -
We must necessarily destroy the treacherous Australian Labour party before we can attain the objectives of the revolution.
Each member of the Communist party is assigned a task, to which he is expected to devote all his energies, and the activities of the Communists are directed not only at members of the working class hut at people in all classes of society. For example, a prominent doctor in Melbourne has been propagating Communist doctrines for some time.
Another practical difficulty which 1 foresee in the administration of this legislation is that when it: has been enacted the Australian Communist party will, at. least theoretically, cease to exist. How, therefore, is an individual to be charged with being a Communist when there is no such organization as the “Communist party “? In its present form the definition of “ Communist” is so wide that any one who subscribes to even one of the manifold radical views expressed by Marx or Engels is liable to be declared a Communist. A devotee of some particular religious faith might feel that because another individual was preaching the doctrine of atheism that that individual was engaged in a Communist activity, and might move the Government to “ declare “ that individual. Many of the current political, social and philosophical ideas are identical with views expressed by Marx, and it is obvious that under the present definition of “ Communist “, people who urge those views, irrespective of their motive or standing in the community, will be liable to be declared. 1 therefore urge the Government to re-draft the definition of “ Communist” so as not to jeopardize the freedom of ordinary, decent citizens and to set out more precisely what kind of subversive activity renders an individual liable to bc be declared.
Senator CAMERON (Victoria) [5.40”! . - The proposed definition of “ Communist “ is most unjust. I place myself in the position of a judge who may be called upon to interpret this legislation in a case that comes before him. The responsibility of determining exactly who is a Communist is left entirely to the judge. From the report of” Mr. Justice Lowe, who was the royal commissioner in the recent inquiry into communism, it is perfectly obvious that he has never read the works of Karl Marx. He relied entirely upon the evidence of people who, like himself, had not read Marx’s works.
– But Communists gave evidence before the royal commission.
– It does not follow that because a person calls himself a Communist he has read the works of Marx. To illustrate my argument, I mention that Marx is reported to have stated on one occasion : “ I have sown a harvest of dragons, and I have reaped a harvest of fleas “. He meant to imply that the would-be interpreters of his philosophy were really mental pigmies, and did not understand what he had written. Is it not an obligation of the Government to appoint as its adviser some one who is familiar with the works of Marx and is expertly acquainted with Communist teachings? Apparently, the Government wants to deal with persons who advocate the overthrow of society by violence. Lenin is reported to have stated that Marx refused to be associated with Bakunin because he regarded Bakunin as the representative of anarchy, in that he had advocated the organization of groups for the purpose of overthrowing society by violence. In their manifesto Marx and Engels stated very clearly and definitely that the Communist party should be a majority party, consisting of a majority of the working class, and not a separatist organization or a minority organization. As I have already pointed out, the definition of “ Communist “ in the clause would, entitle a judge to determine for himself, without any real guidance from the legislature, who is a “ Communist “. I have often heard judges complain that the Parliament passes legislation, which the judges have to implement, without clearly indicating its intention. Of course, if the interpretation placed upon legislation by a judge meets with the approval of the government he is regarded as a sound jurist, but if his interpretation does not coincide with the government’s views then he is condemned as being a poor jurist. Lenin has been described as a man who developed the theories of Marx and placed his own interpretation upon them. In fact, Lenin divided Marx’s philosophy . into three parts. The materialist conception of history meant, according to Lenin, that as the material conditions under which men and women work and live change, so their political and social ideas also change. For example, persons who are financially embarrassed or on the breadline, view matters very differently from other people more favorably placed. The craftsman enjoys conditions that are materially different from those of the workers engaged in intensive repetition work. Then he went on to explain at great length how those material conditions affected the ideas of the people. The other component that he laid down was the theory of surplus value. That means the value that is appropriated in the form of rent, interest or profit, after the cost of production has been met. I use the words “ cost of production “ in their widest sense. The cost of production includes wages, payments for raw materials, managerial expenses, and so on. Then he laid down another component, the theory of class struggle. He pointed out that there was a struggle between the “ haves “ and the “ havenots “. That struggle has been going on over the ages, and it is becoming more and more intense. Those briefly are the three parts of Lenin’s interpretation of the Marxist philosophy. The Marxist philosophy is. laid down in three volumes, the first and most important of which was written while Marx was alive. The other two were added by Engels from notes left by Marx. One of the objectives at which Karl Marx aimed was to change the state of society. He believed that the means of life - in other words the means of production - should .be owned in common by the people, rather than by a few privileged persons. The Marxist philosophy is- not a dogma, but a guide to action, having in view the conditions and circumstances peculiar to each country. For example, the guide to action in China would be very different from the guide to action in a country such as Australia where every adult person has a vote, and where changes for the better can be made in a constitutional manner; but, where people are denied the right to vote, and are suppressed and frustrated, the guide to action would be very different from what it would be in Great Britain and in this country. No country in the world provided Marx with a better opportunity to study, and elaborate on his principles, than did Great Britain. He had full access to documents in the British museum. Lenin contended that the Marxian philosophy was based on German philosophy, English political economy, and French socialism. Therefore, Marxian philosophy is a profound study. My opinion is that Mr. Justice Lowe has not read the Marxian philosophy to satisfy his own mind. He has judged it on the evidence of people who considered themselves to be Communists. Possibly they had ideas that were quite alien to the philosophy of Marx. Just imagine putting the Marxist philosophy in the form of an act before a judge, and placing on him the full responsibility of interpreting what is meant by the definitions in this bill ! As Senator Katz said, this is a drag-net definition.. Surely there is an obligation on the makers of a law to supply a reasonable definition. That could be done quite easily if the Government so desired. It could define a Communist, for instance, as “ a person who advocates the overthrow of society by violence “. Surely that is not beyond the capacity of the Leader of the Government or of the Attorney-General. I say, therefore, that whilst the Government could supply a clear definition of “ Communist it has not done so. Instead it has left the matter open to interpretation.
Senator McKenna has used the word “ revolution “. We very often refer to a “ revolutionary “ change when we do not mean bloody revolution, but a social revolution, brought about by constitutional means by people meeting together and discussing dispassionately and intelligently what can be done to change the state of society for the better. In logic, a thesis is laid down. Then there is the antithesis and ultimately there emerges what is known as the synthesis. Syntheses are frequently the basis of laws, particularly in countries where the people have an adequate franchise. Having all these things in mind, I consider that the Government is not justified in producing a definition such as this. I repeat that it is not beyond the capacity of the Government to set out specifically what it has in mind. The Government is taking action against persons who call themselves Communists. There is no reason why it should not be specific. To place a definition such as this in the hands of a judge is merely, to use a colloquialism, “ passing the buck”. The Government is quite capable of doing the job itself, but for obvious reasons - I say this without the least desire to be offensive - it does not propose to do that. It prefers a dragnet definition so that it will be able t« indict suspected persons such as, perhaps, Senator McKenna and others who have tried to get some clarity on the matter. When the late John Burns was indicted by certain members of the public after his resignation from the English Cabinet as the result of the declaration of war in 1914, he said that most people were either slaves of shibboleths or prisoners of phrases. Quite a number of people who say that they are Communists have not the slightest idea of what communism means, and very often people who say theY are not Communists are in fact Communists. When the acid test is applied, as it is periodically, and men have to decide where they stand, not by their words but by their actions, very often people who claim to be Communist* are found not to be Communists, and others who claim to be anti-Communist*, are found to be Communists.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania) ‘5.i>5]. - The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) has failed to reply - perhaps inadvertently - to my reference to the Acts Interpretation Act. If he is to make a further comment on this definition, I invite him to say whether, by subs ti tut- - ing the singular for the plural, the definition could be regarded as including : person who advocates “a teaching” of communism as expounded by Marx an-! Lenin. I am suggesting that unless some contrary intention is shown, that may he a proper interpretation under the Acts Interpretation Act.
– It has to be a teaching of communism.
– I agree. I thought the Opposition had put the viewpoint rather effectively that there are so many teachings and so many phases of communism that it is a proper interpretation of this definition to say that a Communist means a person who advocates a teaching, a principle, or a practice of communism. If the Acts Interpretation Act does apply, I submit that that interpretation will stand unless it is expressly negatived. I know what the Government is aiming at. It wants to include within the provisions of this bill the person whom we know tobe a Communist, although we are in the greatest difficulty in defining the term. I readily concede the Government’s difficulty. However, the Attorney-General will admit I am sure that the net cast by this definition is exceedingly wide. I should like to know whether he has in mind that, in administering this definition or acting under it, he will look for a revolutionary tendency in the sense that I put to him not long ago. Again I invite the AttorneyGeneral to say something on the question that I have posed in relation to the application of the Acts Interpretation Act to this definition.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, Senator McKenna had indicated that he felt some difficulty in relation to the definition of “ Communist “ by reason of the application to it of the provisions of the Acts Interpretation Act, which provides that words importing the plural shall include the singular. When one looks at this definition, no difficulty whatever is presented by reason of the provisions of the Acts Interpretation Act. Senator McKenna has not given sufficient emphasis to the words of the definition, particularly the words -
The objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism.
The singular of that term, “ the objectives “, is not “ an objective “. It is “ the objective “. After all, “ the objectives “ is a collective conception, and to think of that term as a singular conceptis to misread the clause and change its meaning to “an objective”. That would be changing the meaning of the clause altogether:
It seems to me to be perfectly clear that if one applies the relevant Acts Interpretation Act section to this definition in the manner in which Senator McKenna suggests is possible, the only possible result is that one then reads “the objective”. That would not make sense in this context once it was found that communism involved more than one objective. I suggest that analysis of the problem completely answers the suggestion that difficulty arises because of the application of the Acts Interpretation Act.
Senator McKenna and some other speakers have also made some suggestion that it might be possible to get over this difficulty of definition by emphasizing the revolutionary character of the activities of the organization. Quite frankly, I would not be prepared to go that far I invite honorable senators to turn to the paragraph of the preamble which reads as follows : -
And whereas the Australian Communist party, in accordance with the basic theory of communism as expounded by Marx and Lenin, engages in activities or operations designed to assist or accelerate the coming of the revolutionary situation in which the Australian Communist party, actingas a revolutionary minority, would bo able to seize power and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat.
That accurately states the present objective of the Australian Communist party. It is expressed in a form which recognizes the possibility that the present activities in which that body may be engaged may not, of themselves, be revolutionary activities, but are activities or operations which, in the minds of the members of that body at any rate, are designed to accelerate the coming of a revolutionary situation. As I understand it, the members of the Communist body look forward to a set of circumstances in which they can say, “ We now have a revolutionary situation “. That may be brought about by all sorts of circumstances. In their conception, it might come about of itself as I understand it or a situation could be assisted and accelerated .by activities which, in themselves, are not necessarily revolutionary activities. For that reason, I would not accept a suggestion that this definition should necessarily include some words which refer to revolutionary action.
The problem which this committee is faced with to-night in making up its mind about this definition is one which members of the Opposition must face themselves for their own purposes. If they have a better definition than this one, now is the time to bring it forward. As I understand it, this measure, insofar as it provides for the dissolution of the Communist party, will become law and before very long it will be impossible for the Labour party to define Communists for the purposes of its party platform and its own constitution by reason of membership of the Communist party.
– It will be difficult in the Liberal party, also.
– That . may encourage honorable senators opposite to assist the Government in this regard if they have any suggestions to make. It will not be possible to say that a Communist is a man who is a member of the Communist party because the Australian Communist party will cease to exist, but there will still be Communists in the community and there will still be persons, who may be Communists, who will seek Entry into the Australian Labour party.
– They may seek entry into the Liberal party, also.
– We shall deal with them.
– We shall deal with them, too.
– I am giving honorable senators opposite full credit for that. As I understand it, they do not want Communists in the Australian Labour party and if this measure becomes law, they will have to find some means to define what a Communist means. They will not be able to define him by reference to his membership of the Communist party, because that will have gone. So this problem, with which all honorable senators are faced as a legislature, is something that honorable senators on the opposite side should not try to escape from if they are sincere in their protestations. If they have any concrete suggestions to make on how this definition can be improved, I shall be interested to hear them, but the Government has not heard any yet.
Senator McKenna has said the net is thrown widely. The Government has to have a definition that is wide enough to catch the people whom it is after. I hope the definition is no wider than the purpose it is intended to serve, and I believe that that is true. The Government has supported the definitions by reference to the Communist party’s own constitution, and by the decision which was reached by Mr. Justice Lowe quite independently of the definition which the Government itself formulated. In those circumstances, I suggest that what the Government has put into the bill should be accepted by all who sincerely desire to see this problem settled.
– I thank the Attorney-Genera) for the explanation that he has given in answer to the questions that I posed to him before the suspension of the sitting. The Attorney-General frankly acknowledges that the definition is exceedingly wide.
– I said that it’ was wide.
– Let me come to express terms. The Attorney-General said that it was wide, and unquestionably it is, and that acknowledgement justifies many of the fears that this party has entertained about the measure. I concede at the beginning of my remarks that there is grave difficulty in defining a. Communist, and I should not like to be faced with the Attorney-General’s task. I intimated that the Labour party did not propose to amend the definition. The Attorney-General has been good enough to refer to the recitals of the bill, indicate that what the Government has in mind is a body that is concerned with revolutionary activity, or which, if not revolutionary in character in itself, is designed to further, or assist, the Communist objective. That rather answers the second question that I posed to him as indicating that the Government is focusing its mind on activities that are revolutionary, either directly or indirectly, in their operation. That reassures the Opposition very appreciably and, to a very great extent, removes the fears of the Opposition about the use of this wide definition in the hands of the Government.
Regarding the Acts Interpretation Act, and the third question that I raised, I agree that in reading this clause as now drafted the word “the” is not affected. The word “ objectives “ may become “ objective “, the word “ teachings “ may become “ teaching “, “ policies “ become *’ policy “ and so on, each one of them having reference to a concept of communism. I think I can accept the argument that the Attorney-General has posed that whether the matter is expressed in the singular or plural, one comes to a total concept of communism.
The Attorney-General referred to the difficulties which will face political parties in identifying Communists after this bill becomes law and when, according to law, there will no longer be any members of the Australian Communist party. That body is to be banned by the Parliament and therefore will have no further entity. The point raised goes to the very root of one of the objections to the measure that was raised by the Opposition. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have never differed from the Government in its broad purpose to ban communism and to take true Communists out of key positions in the unions which are related to vital industries. There is no argument about that. The Labour party has been doing a great deal in that field, as I indicated in my second-reading speech. The danger that was seen by the Labour party was that those people would no longer be identifiable in the community, and would present as grave a problem to the Liberal party and the Australian Country party as to the Labour party. Knowing the Communists and something of their machinations, I suggest that they will commence a process of infiltration of bodies that at the moment are completely free of them. The grave difficulty that will face executives of the organizations is that those persons will not have a label, and the very difficulty posed by the Attorney-General will then arise. Nobody will be able to say, “You are a member of the Communist party”.
If it is desired to bring under the provisions of this legislation persons who were once members of the Communist party, it will be necessary to invoke the retrospective provisions which are admitted to be among its unpleasant features. It will be necessary to declare that a person who was, at some date prior to the passing pf the act, a Communist, may not be a member of the Labour party, or the Liberal party or the Australian Country party. That indicates one of the very real difficulties which will arise cut of the proposed method of dealing with the situation. The difficulty will arise, not only in connexion with political parties, but also in connexion with al! sorts of organizations which, at the moment, are happily free of Communist infiltration and influence. We may be sure that the Communists will not cease their activities. According to the findings of Mr. Justice Lowe, who inquired into the activities of the Communist party in Victoria, there are 13,000 active members of the Communist party in this country. At the last general election, 89,000 people voted for Communist candidates. I do not believe that they were all Communist supporters or sympathizers. Many thousands of them, I am sure, were among those who voted straight down the ballotpaper, having no sense of civic responsibility. In some States, the Communist candidates occupied No. .1. position on the ballot-paper, and therefore attracted votes from people with no sense of responsibility.
– What is the value of being in No. 1 position on the ballotpaper ?
– There must be some advantage in it, judging by the eagerness with which the position is sought by candidates for Parliament. Whether the number of Communists in Australia be 1 3,000 or 30,000, it represents a great many persons who must be kept track of by the security service, in order to make sure that they are no longer advocating Communist doctrines, or dc ing the work of Communists. It would appear that a constant check will have to be kept on the social, cultural and political life of the country in order to achieve the broad objective regarding winch the Opposition and the Government are at one.
– In this clause, a Communist is defined us a person who supports or advocates the objectives, policies, teachings, principles or practices of communism, as expounded hy Marx and Lenin. That definition must be read in conjunction with the following paragraph in the preamble to the bill .-
And whereas the Australian Communist party, in accordance with the basic theory of communism, as expounded by Marx and Lenin, engages in activities or operations designed to assist or accelerate the coming of a revolutionary situation, in which the Australian “Communist party, acting as a revolutionary minority would be able to seize power and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat.
We are in the midst of a revolution. At this stage, I can do no better than quote from the work of one of the most advanced thinkers of our time, Harold Laski. He has been condemned in various parts of the British Empire, and in other parrs of the world, for his advanced thinking, hut he has always been respected, even though some of his opinions have not “been immediately accepted. From his took Reflections on the Revolution of our Time, I quote the following: -
We are in the midst of a period of revolutionary change that is likely to bc as profound as any in the modern history of the human race. We shall not understand its inner nature unless we recognize it (o be as significant in its essentials as that which saw the fall of the Roman empire, the birth, with the Reformation, of capitalist society, or, as in 178!), the final chapter in the dramatic rise of the middle class to power.
It is not a revolution made by thinkers, “though some of them have foreseen its coming, and even shaped the Large outlines of iti direction. It is not a revolution, either, which any group of statesmen has deliberately brought about, even though some of them, consciously or unconsciously, have hastened its advent and increased its momentum. Its nature lies, as its inevitability will be found, In all that goes to give its present character tv> our society. We can, of course, recognize its advent and prepare for it; in that event, wis might build a civilization richer and more secure than any of which we so far have knowledge. Or we may choose to resist its onset; in which case, it will appear to some future generation that our age has sought rather to sweep back the tides of the ocean than to oppose the decrees of men.
As always in a period of revolution, the -drive to fundamental change is accompanied by disintegration and conflict; and, as always ; lin, these are attributed to the wanton choice of evil mcn instead of to those deeper and impersonal causes which they are powerless to control and of which they are no more than transient symbols. As always, also, we seek less to discover those, impersonal causes than to find some easy and partial remedy which will effect, at least for our own time, a passing obscuration of the obvious and more painful symptoms of the disease.
– Order ! The honorable senator may not make a second-reading speech at this stage.
– The opinions expressed by this noted thinker, Harold Laski, are germane to the matter at present before the committee. Evidently, the Government has not recognized that we are in the midst of a revolution. Whether it is a Communist revolution or a democratic revolution we do not know.
– How is a revolution evidenced?
– By the breakdown of confidence among the masses of the people in the old system, which has produced two world wars, and the worst economic depression in the history of the world, during which the people suffered poverty in the midst of plenty. Millions of people in Asia have been exploited, and are now trying to express” themselves. That is evidence of the revolution that is going on.
– The same sort of thing has been going on for centuries.
– That is admitted. I am pointing out that, under the terms of this legislation, any person who does anything to accelerate the revolution may be declared as a Communist.
– Would it not be more accurate to describe the present world trend as revolutionary?
– It may be so described, but the change-over from the feudal system to the present industrial system in Europe was described as an industrial revolution, even though it was not a bloody revolution. The change was peaceful. Karl Marx advocated many of the methods that are necessary to bring about a more just state of society. There is at present among the people an urge for reform. They do not want to go back to the conditions that existed before the war. Any one who has a real interest in the welfare of his country at the present time must be in favour of reform. The definition of “ Communist “ in the bill is so broad that it could include any person who genuinely desires to promote the welfare of his fellow men. Karl Marx wrote most of his works 100 year ago, and many of the reforms he then advocated have since been put into effect.
This definition should ‘be further considered and amended, so that it will cover only those whom we want to reach, without affecting genuine social reformers, such as those who recognized and opposed German fascism in its early stages, and suffered in consequence in concentration camps. We do not want this legislation to represent an attempt to -perpetuate a system that is already in the final stages of decay. This definition is very wide and inherently dangerous. The Opposition does not intend to move that it be deleted, but I suggest that the Government give serious consideration to narrowing and defining its field of application.
– The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) referred to the recital in the preamble to the bill, which begins -
And whereas the Australian Communist party, in accordance -with the basic theory of communism . . .
I interjected when the Minister for Trade and “Customs (Senator O’sullivan) was speaking, and asked him exactly what he meant by “ the theory of - communism “. All that the Minister did in reply to my remark was to read something allegedly written -by Stalin. That was not a reply to my interjection. I have asked the Attorney-General to explain precisely what he means by “ the theory of communism “ but he has not done so. That indicates that the Government has not made the study of what we call communism that we are entitled to expect of i t, especially as the writings of those who are accepted as authorities upon the subject are readily available. In the Parliamentary Library there is a book entitled Marxian Economic Handbook by an author named W. H. Emmett, a Sydney engineer, who lias devoted approximately 25 years of his life to studying the writings of Marx. He is not a member of the Communist party, the Labour party,, or any other political party. He considers, in my opinion correctly, that thereis not that intelligent approach to the problem that there should be. That is one of the reasons why he acts in an isolated capacity. Another book in theParliamentary Library is entitled The Handbook of Marxism, written by Emile Burns. It is a compilation of most of the writings of Marx. In -my judgment, if the Government analysed and studied thewritings of Marx intelligently and critically, its approach to this problem would be very different from what it is. I have another book, which is not, as far as I know, available in the Parliamentary Library, containing an interpretation of Marxism, by Lenin. It would have been easy for those who drafted this bill toapply their minds to the problem and. having done so, to decide exactly what they meant and state specifically the acts that they considered Communists would commit and against which they desired to protect the community. Instead, we have mere assumptions. Reference is made in the preamble to the teachings of Marx. I had not heard one Government supporter explain what they are, although the Minister for Trade and Customs quoted a passage from Stalin’s writings. That is rot satisfactory from the viewpoint of the Opposition or the judges who will be called upon to interpret the measure. Lawmakers are under an obligation tomake their intention as clear as it can be made. That has not been done in relation to this bill, although it could easily have been done.
Terms are often misused. Hitler misled millions of Germans by claiming that he was advocating and giving effect to what he called national socialism. No person who has any knowledge of the philosophy of Marx would accept what Hitler said. Although he described what he was doing as socialism, he was actually giving effect to a most vindictive form of capitalism known as fascism. He succeeded in misleading, not only millions of Germans, but also many persons in other countries, including the present Prime Minister of Australia, who. on the 12th December, 1938, in St. Stephen’s Church, in Sydney, actually defended and justified what Hitler was doing to re-arm Germany.
I do not accuse the Prime Minister of Slaving been actuated by ulterior motives, but I do say that he has not made that intelligent approach to the problem that would have obviated much of the trouble with which we are faced now and are likely to be faced with in the future.
On public platforms I have often used
An analogy that is not scientifically correct, but is sufficiently accurate to express the philosophy of Marx. He said that contained in society are the elements of its own negation and reconstruction. In order to present that statement in, a3 it Were, its elementary form, I have likened -Society to an apple ripening on a tree. Contained in that apple are the elements cf its own negation and reconstruction. The seeds do not mature nor are they released until the apple is rotten ripe. That is what is happening to society. In Russia, society had to become rotten ripe before the revolution occurred. Had the intelligentsia, or alleged intelligentsia, of Russia made an intelligent approach to the problems with which they were faced, as I am requesting the Government to do now, the Russian revolution, with its tragic consequences, might never have happened. That remark applies equally to the eastern countries now.
There is a great deal more in thi, problem than the Government seems to think there is. It appears to me that it lias acted upon mere assumption and has indulged in wishful thinking. If it is not prepared to make the intelligent approach that can be made to this problem, and to study social problems as a scientist Studies scientific problems, it must accept the responsibility for the consequences. Dealing with the definition, I am certain that those who were responsible for it, including Mr. Justice Lowe, have not even a nodding acquaintance-
– Mr. Justice Lowe had nothing to do with it.
– He based his judgment on the evidence.
– He had nothing to do with the definition.
– The AttorneyGeneral quoted Mr. Justice Lowe in justification of the definition.
– It is not his definition.
– I have not said that it is. I have said that he based what he said upon the evidence, and, ipso facto. he assumed that what he said was correct. I join issue with him. I say emphatically that it was not correct. He did not make that intelligent approach to, and critical analysis of, the problem that, as a royal commissioner, he was under an obligation to make. Just as Mr. Justice Lowe was under an obligation to study this problem as it should be studied, so are the Attorney-General and the other members of the Government under such obligation but, instead, they ask the Opposition and the people of this country to accept mere generalizations, which may mean nothing or everything. They have refused even to narrow the definition in the manner suggested by Senator McKenna, by using the singular rather than the plural.
I believe that our criticism of the definition is justified, especially as there are thousands of unsophisticated persons in this country who do not study these questions as they can be studied and who, for very obvious reasons, will be caught in the net cast by this measure. The ultimate result may be that the innocent will be punished for the sins of the guilty. Then the Government will say that it has banned communism, but all that it will have done will have been to make communism even stronger than it was before. There are circumstances over which the Government has no control. They are rapidly changing economic conditions to which Marx directed attention. If the Government ignores those circumstances and approaches the problem in the way in which it has done, then the responsibility for what will happen will be the responsibility of the Government and not of other people. I have said before that practical experience without theory is blind, but theory without practical experience is futile. The most balanced approach to a problem is the approach made by men who have practical experience plus theoretical knowledge, but that has not been the approach in relation to this bill. . The Attorney-General, other members of the Government and the draftsman who arc responsible for this definition are as capable as is anybody else of preparing a clearer definition, and one that will specify the acts against which it is desired to protect the community, provided they will apply themselves to the task, but they have not done so. The policy of the Government has been to try to stampede us into acquiescence. It wanted the Senate to declare the bill an urgent bill and * to apply the “ guillotine “ in order to avoid the discussion that is necessary if we are to prevent the commission of the acts which the present Government parties condemn and which the Labour party condemns. Unless the Government reconsiders this definition, it will not discharge its obligation to the people and to the judges who will have to interpret the measure.
– When I spoke on the motion for the second reading of this most amazing bill, I said that, to my mind, this definition was the most important part of it. [ regret deeply that, so far, nothing has been clone by the Government to alter it. This definition is more important than the onus of proof provisions. People will be caught in its wide net, and the onus of proof provisions will not apply until then. When my colleagues Senator Cameron and Senator Katz were addressing the committee I was reminded of a verse in the scriptures. According to the 16th chapter and the 31st verse of the Gospel according to Saint Luke, Father Abraham said to Dives -
If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
The definition of “ Communist “ in the clause is the most amazing definition that 1 have ever seen. It is apparent from the speeches of supporters of the Government, both in this chamber and in another place, that they expected that when this measure was introduced, the magic word “ abracadabra “ would be uttered and the measure would be passed by both Houses of the Parliament and receive the Governor-General’s assent within a short space of time. Thereafter the Communist party would cease to exist. As honorable senators are aware, Great Britain still remains the father and mother of political liberty. Yet the Government of Great Britain was not so stupid as to introduce a bill ‘ such as the one now before the committee. The Labour party in GreatBritain was far too well informed oil. sociology, history, and the respectivemerits of Leninism and Stalinism tointroduce such a measure. The supporters of the Government are now beginning to discover the difficulties associated with this matter. As Senator McKenna has already pointed out, if theCommunists change their name it will bedifficult to pursue them.
– That is the reason* why the definition in its present form, was decided upon.
– From time to time the opponents of Labour have been called, the Liberal party or the United Australia, party according to the time and place. It has been claimed that Marxism and: Leninism are synonymous terms. That is incorrect. In point of fact, Lenin modified the doctrine of Marx. He interpreted Marxism in relation to conditions in Russia. Let us consider what has been, the attitude towards this subject in several democratic countries. Until lately there were fourteen Communist members of” Parliament in Norway. As a result of propaganda in the unions and what we would call leagues, there are now no Communists in the Parliament of Norway. That country was not so foolish as to* introduce a measure of this description. Likewise in Sweden the number of Communists has been greatly reduced by propaganda. Despite the strong: Catholicism that exists in Belgium, theParliament of that country has not introduced a measure of this kind.
– I rise to order. I submit that the honorable senator is making a second-reading speech.
– Senator Grant should confine hisremarks to the clause before the committee.
– I am convinced that the definition has been framed very widely in order to embrace sections of the community other than Communists. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan), when he was true to himself
– Order ! The honorable senator should not refer to the second-reading debate.
– In my address during the second-reading debate I stated that in the committee stage I would show the difference between communism and socialism. Almost every night during the current election campaign in New South Wales Mr. Treatt, the Leader of the Opposition in that State, has claimed that they are synonymous terms. Indeed, during the federal election campaign last year the present Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) claimed that they were twin brothers. It is obvious that the definition has been drafted so as to include members of the Labour party and the trade unions.
– That is fantastic.
– It is not fantastic. Mr. Treatt has said that that is so in as many words. I recollect that in the House of Representatives towards the end of the Eighteenth Parliament the then Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) stated that opponents of Labour had claimed that there was no difference between members <of the Labour party and Communists. The Liberal “ storm-troopers called M hear hear “, whereupon the right honorable gentleman said that that would do him. Honorable senators opposite cannot have it both ways. Although the Government believes that that is a fact, it has not the guts to say so in the definition, because every social reformer and every member of the Labour party throughout the world could be included in it. Even the President of France, M. Auriol, who is a socialist, and other followers of the policies of St. Simon in that country, would be included. George Plekanoff, the great Russian economist, would also have been included. Judging from the expressions on the faces of honorable senators opposite it is obvious that I might just as well be talking about Mars. However, I remind the committee that the personal liberty of 8,000,000 citizens is at present in the hands of people who apparently have not even read a book on sociology. Having gone so far as to refer in the definition to people who subscribe to thedoctrines of Marx and Lenin, I wonder that the Government did not also refer to the advocates of the doctrines of Stalin. I contend, however, that the definition should merely have involved those “who are members of the Communist party “. It is quite evident that the members of the trade union movement in this country consider that the definition has been framed to include them.
– The honorable senator is trying to sell them that story.
– If that were so I should get more for it from them than from the intelligentsia in this chamber. The Australian Council of Trades Unions has carried resolutions of protest against this definition, because it considers that trade unionists would be within the definition. I do not believe that this bill has been introduced solely for the purpose of banning the Communist party. In trying to justify this definition the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer), who is at least more logical in his arguments than some of his colleagues - although that is not saying very much for him - mentioned the findings of Mr. Justice Lowe. I have yet to learn that that gentleman is an authority on communism. He obtained all of his knowledge about the Communist party through an informer named Sharpley. I must say that prior to the appointment of the royal commission on communism in Victoria I had never heard of Mr. Justice Lowe. I make that remark with all respect due to the judiciary. Marx probably had almost as great an influence on humanity as any man that ever lived. But even people who claim to be Marxists have fought amongst themselves and split into factions. When Lenin introduced his new economic policy he said that the Marxist doctrine would be inappropriate in Russia. Marxists claim that the Stalin philosophy is not Marxism. I do not think it is either. Tito claims that he has adopted Marxian theories. In China the Communist leader Mao Tse-tung fell out with Stalin and stated that he intended to apply his own Marxian theory to China. He was thereupon expelled from the central committee, and a Russian was sent to China to take control.
– Order ! Senator Grant must confine his remarks to the clause before the committee.
– That poses the question whether Stalin or Mao Tse-tung was Marxian. The whole of the socialist movement of the world is opposed to Stalinism. Every member of the Labour party in England is a socialist. In the last 30 years I have never- denied that I am a socialist. There is no such thing in existence as communism. The definition of “ Communist “ is so wide that I submit in all humility that if it is allowed to stand the Government will be a laughing-stock. It should be withdrawn and re-drafted so as to be at least intelligent, if not intelligible.
– I ask for a better -definition of “ the appropriate court “. The present definition reads - “ The appropriate court “ means -
It is a fact that ‘when this bill was first introduced to the Parliament no provision was made for application to the Supreme Court of a State. That certainly surprised the Labour party because the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender), when he spoke at Randwick on the 18th November last, during the election campaign, made it very clear that organizations would be given the right to make an application to’ such an authority. The relevant portion of the Sydney Morning Herald’s report of his remarks states -
So that it cannot be said that we are going outside the processes of law, we shall allow any organization named, other than the Communist Party, the right to go to the High Court, or to the Supreme Court, to establish that they are not carrying on any subversive activity.
I point out that as a result of amendments foreshadowed and circulated by the Opposition in the House of Representatives, the Government moved to alter the original clause so as to permit organizations to have access to the supreme court of a State as well as to the High Court. The present defini tion of “ the appropriate court “ provides that any organization concerned! by this legislation may apply to the supreme court of a State in which a majority of its members reside. It iata that point that I shall direct the amendment that I intend to move. It. may well happen that an organization! which has representatives in, say, six States, may not have a majority of its: members residing in any one State. The effect of the clause in its present form would be to prevent that organizations from exercising a right of appeal to ai supreme court. I intend to move, therefore, that any such body shall be permitted to appeal to the supreme court of a State in which a substantial number of its members reside. I concede, at once, that the term “ substantial number “ is not precise, and it has not a great degree of definition. It is not a term of art, but I point out that the Government has, itself, employed that term in clause 10 (3.), which provides -
Where the Governor-General is satisfied that a .substantial number of the members of an industrial organization are engaged in a vital industry . . .
The inclusion of the term which I suggest will not permit, as might be imagined, a body to make six applications to the various State supreme courts. There will be only two parties to any suchapplication, the Commonwealth of Australia and the organization concerned,, and the organization concerned must: select the State supreme court to which it desires to appeal. Having made an application to that supreme court, the matter at issue will be resolved between) the Government and the organization,, and the organization will not be free to make application to any other supreme court or to the High Court, because the matter will be res judicata as between the parties. “When I point out that many of the organizations that may be affected by this legislation may not have a majority of their members resident in one State, I think that the Government ought clearly to accept my amendment. I therefore move -
That in the definition of “ the appropriatecourt”, paragraph (o), the word “majority” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ substantial number “.
The adoption of that amendment will permit an organization to go to the supreme court of a State in which a substantial number of its members are resident.
– I suggest to Senator McKenna that on this occasion he might extend to the Government similar consideration” to that which I extended to him in the first amendment to the bill that he moved in committee. There is not a great deal at stake, but I suggest that the substitution of the term “substantial number “ for “ majority “ in this particular definition may create difficulties. As the clause stands at present, an organization which has been declared has three choices. It can appeal to the High Court, when it will experience no difficulty whatever, and where no question can arise about whether a substantial number of its members reside in a particular State. In the second place, it can appeal to the supreme court of the State in which its principal office is situated. In the third place it can approach the supreme court of the State in which the majority of its members are resident. I suggest that most of the organizations that may be affected by the legislation will not experience any difficulty in proving to the satisfaction of a State supreme court that a majority of its members reside in a particular State. There will be no practical difficulty, of course, in the way of an organization taking full advantage of the appeal provisions by approaching either the High “Court or the supreme court of the State in which its principal office is situated. Even assuming the existence of the difficulty suggested by Senator McKenna, which is that an organization may not have a majority of its members resident in any particular State, I suggest that the organization already has ample rights of appeal. The Government wants to avoid the possibility of a multiplicity of appeals. It is true that some means may be found to , overcome the difficulty suggested by Senator McKenna, but if we adopt his proposal we can imagine six separate applications being made to State supreme courts.
– Why not?
– The matter is res judicata once it has been resolved by a court.
– How will the application commence? It will be made by certain persons on behalf of an organization, because, in many instances, the organization concerned will be an unincorporated body, and, in consequence, persons will be acting for it. Suppose that an organization has a substantial number of members in each State, and by some process the organizations of that body make application in each of the States to the supreme courts. The applications might even be made by different individuals. That is not outside the bounds of possibility. In any event, I suggest that the term “ substantial number “ is a somewhat vague expression. If there were no other considerations involved, I concede that there would be some force in Senator McKenna’s contention. However, I repeat that an organization affected by this legislation can go to the High Court without any difficulty, or can go to the supreme court of the State in which its principal office is situated. If a majority of its members reside in a particular State, it can apply to the supreme court of that- State.
– I appreciate the comments made by the Attorney - General (Senator Spicer) and I regret that my reciprocal treatment of the Government cannot commence at this point. The AttorneyGeneral has pointed out that an organization has three choices in determining what court it shall approach to lodge its appeal. However, in many instances, organizations affected by the legislation will not have a clear majority of members in any one State, and the organization will thereby lose the right to go to the supreme court of a State. The Attorney-General has acknowledged that not a. great deal is involved in my proposal. I suggest, therefore, that since my amendment is designed to concede greater freedom Qf approach to the courts, the Government should be prepared to acknowledge that it is reasonable. In connexion with the suggested use of the term “ substantial number “, I point out that the interpretation of that term will be decided ultimately by the courts themselves. The courts must determine whether, as a matter of fact, the organization which presents itself before it in a State has a substantial number of members in that particular State. The substitution of the term that I have suggested for the word “ majority “ need occasion the ‘Government no embarrassment, because the interpretation of that term will be resolved by the courts. Furthermore, as I have already pointed out, the Government has itself employed that term in clause 10 (3.).
– Clause 10 (3.) envisages the possibility of only one appeal by an organization affected by the legislation.
– I acknowledge that. I do not want a situation to arise whereby an organization may approach the supreme court in six States simultaneously, and the possibility of that occurring did not appeal to me very strongly until it was mentioned by the Attorney-General. I say that only one right of appeal is conferred hy the present clause. The clause does not purport to confer a right of appeal to six supreme courts. I do not think that the possibility envisaged by the Attorney-General will arise.
– Which State having a “ substantial number “ of members will the body concerned select?
– I do not think that it makes any difference whether the State in which the smallest number of members of an organization resides, or the State in which the largest number of members resides, makes the application. The point is that once the matter has been determined by a supreme court, it cannot be raised again in any other supreme court. If the rather extreme position mentioned by the AttorneyGeneral arose, and the members in six States lodged simultaneous applications to the supreme courts in the respective States, the Government would still be a party to all six proceedings. The AttorneyGeneral knows perfectly well that the Government would immediately draw the attention of the courts to the fact that similar applications were pending in other States, and that the courts would say to the applicants, “ Make up your minds in which court you want this matter determined “. Five of the courts would! adjourn the matter until it was disposed! of in the sixth court. Once the matter had been determined in that court, it would be regarded by the other five courtsas being res judicata. I think that theadoption of the amendment that I have moved will merely have the effect of granting greater freedom of access om an even basis to all organizations, and! although not a great deal is involved, Bathe Attorney-General has himself admitted, the Opposition is obliged to pressfor the inclusion of its amendment in the bill.
– I suggest to Senator McKenna that the difficulties which hehas suggested would be completely met. and the difficulties which I have in accepting his present suggestion would; be avoided, if, instead of inserting the words “ substantial number “, the words “ in which the greatest number “ were inserted. It may be necessary torn ate some consequential alterations? to the clause, and I should like am opportunity to discuss that matter with) the Parliamentary Draftsman before the matter is finally resolved. There will! always be one .State in which the greatest number of members of a body reside, and that State will be clearly- ascertainable. I submit that such an amendment should meet the wishes of Senator McKenna.
will limit the application of the right of appeal to one State. Sometimes the executive positions of organizations rotate amongst the States, whilst the secretary’s office, and what might be termed “ the principal office “, remains stationary. I am prepared, of course, to give considerationto the suggestion of the Attorney-General. Like him, I do not wish to rush thismatter without giving it proper consideration. The adoption of the Minister’s suggestion may involve implications that I do not see at the moment. My counter-suggestion would be that we postpone consideration of this definition for the time being, and return to it when we have had an opportunity to consider the position.
– It would be necessary to postpone the whole clause.
– In that case, I shall pass to. my next point, and at a later stage move the motion for the postponement of the clause.
– I do not want to be taken as agreeing to the postponement of the clause. I should not be averse, however, to the postponement of consideration of this definition.
– That was what I had in mind. 1 suggest, Mr. Chairman, that consideration of the definition could be postponed by agreement if the Standing Orders permit.
– The entire clause would have to be postponed. -
– I give the Attorney-General an assurance if we leave tac matter on the basis that the whole clause is postponed, I certainly shall not open up matters that have gone by. I cannot, without consulting members of my party, commit them to such an agreement, but they have heard my undertaking, and I shall rely on them to support me.
Amendment - by leave - temporarily withdrawn.
– My next point relates to the definition of “ the specified date “. The definition reads - “ the specified date “ means the tenth day of May, One thousand nine hundred and forty-eight, being the last day of the National Congress of the Australian Communist Party by which the constitution of the Australian Communist Party was adopted;
The significance of that definition is that if enables the Government to reach back and pick up people who were members of the Communist party as far back as “ the specified date “. In effect, it gives retrospective operation to this proposed law. It enables steps to be taken that could have serious consequences for the individuals concerned. An act that a person committed two years ago and which was not unlawful at that time will become retrospectively unlawful by the operation of this bill. I concede the Government’s claim made during the Minister’s second-reading speech that there had to be some retrospective effect. I shall not argue that matter, but I now wish to draw attention to two important pronouncements. The present Prime Minister, in his policy speech delivered on the 10th November, stated -
No person now a member of the Communist Party shall be employed or paid a fee by the Commonwealth; nor shall any such person be eligible for any office in a registered industrial organization.
The laws with respect to sedition or other subversive activities will be reviewed and strengthened. Conviction under such laws will disqualify from employment under the Crown or from office in a registered organization.
So, plainly and emphatically, on the 10th November last, the present Prime Minister drew the deadline - the 10th of November, 1949. Lest there be any doubt about that, let me quote a subsequent statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 19th November. Speaking on behalf of, and in the unavoidable absence of, the Prime Minister, Mr. Spender said -
To declare it illegal won’t be sufficient, and we proposed to accompany that declaration by certain consequences. Those who were members of the communist party on the 10th of this month, shall not hold office under the Crown, in the Armed Services, or in an industrial union.
Then in italics, indicating that the words are these used by Mr. Spender, the following passage appears: -
That deadline of November 10 was kept very secret because we knew the communists, and if we had waited to fix a date after we got into power they would have been running for cover.
That shows that the then joint Opposition parties gave most careful consideratold to the deadline. The electors were told that the deadline was the 10th November, 1949. I concede that some such deadline had to be drawn to avoid the difficulty that would be caused hy people resigning on the day before this bill became operative. Obviously deep consideration was given to the deadline. It was kept secret until the 10th November. Now we find that the hill provides for the deadline to be drawn approximately eighteen months earlier, on the 10th May, 1948. I think that calls for an explanation from the Government.
– First, I emphasize that there is no provision in this bill that has retrospective operation in the sense that a man can be made guilty of acts which, at the time of their commission, were innocent. This bill, in its true interpretation, is entirely prospective in its operation. It is true that power is taken to declare persons of a certain class, and that that class is defined by reference to their membership of the Communist party at any time between the 10th May, 1948- the date on which the party adopted its latest constitution - and the date on which this measure Wl become operative. However, they will not become liable for any offence and they will not suffer any penalty merely because they were members of the Communist party between those dates. Further, it is not possible for the Governor-General under this legislation, as it has been presented to the Parliament, to declare a man merely because he was a member of the Communist party between those dates. The GovernorGeneral has to go further than that. Having found that a man was a member of the Communist party, that is, that he falls into the class of persons referred to in the bill, the Governor-General further has to declare that that man is a person who, at the time of the declaration, is engaged, or is likely to engage, in subversive activities. So, even in making the declaration, the only effect of this reference to membership of the Communist party between the dates referred to is to define a class of persons to whom the bill can be made applicable. The operation of the bill is limited in two respects. First, it can only he applied to persons who fall into a specified class and, secondly, the Governor-General must be satisfied that even persons within that class are engaged - not have been engaged - or are likely to engage, in subversive activities. I suggest, therefore, that it is an entirely false approach to this definition to regard this legislation as retro spective in the generally understood sense of that word.
– Then why go back to the 10th May, 1948 ?
– We believe that it is necessary to go back to that date for very good reasons. Senator McKenna has referred to the Prime Minister’s statement that no person “ now “ a member of the Communist party shall be employed by the Commonwealth. We are at least fulfilling every word of that undertaking. We also believe, from the knowledge we have gained of the subject, that, if we are really going to catch in the net all the people we are after, it is desirable that membership of the Communist party should be relevant as from the date that the latest constitution of the party was adopted, which was the 10th May, 1948. In these circumstances, I suggest that there is no reason whatever why the 10th May, 194S, should not be the specified date for the purposes of the bill.
– I cannot subscribe to the view that has been expressed ‘by the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer). I have already referred to the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and directed attention also to the specific ‘ terms in which the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) mentioned the deadline date of the 10th November, 1949. The Attorney-General said that the Government was honouring the Prime Minister’s statement that no person “ now “ a member of the Communist party would be employed by the Government. If he claims that the Government is doing that and no more, he fails to answer my point that people who were members of the Communist party on 10th May and ceased to be members of it on the following day are still caught up in the declaration. That is unquestionably the case.
– That is right.
– So it goes much farther than taking the people who were members of the Communist party on the 10th November. It can go back to people who ceased to be members of the Communist party on the 12th May, 1948, two years ago. So it goes back a great deal further than the Prime Minister intimated in the course of his policy speech-
– It could also pick up somebody on the 9th November, the day before the policy speech was delivered. Both can play at that illustration.
– It will also go back two years-
– Come out into the open. Whom is the honorable senator trying to cover up?
– Order !
– If I proposed to reply in kind to that interjection, I might ask who the Government is trying to catch. The Attorney-General has said that the committee would have to accept the position that no penalty followed the declaration of a person as a Communist. There are two elements in the declaration of an individual by the GovernorGeneral. The first is that he is a Communist and was either a member of the Communist party after the 10th May or a Communist within the meaning of the definition that the honorable senators considered this afternoon and is prejudicial to the security of the country, if a man were prejudicial to security in fact and did not fit the definition of a Communist, he could not be declared.
– Not under this act.
– Not under this act. There would then be another course for the Government to take. So roping a person in as a Communist is plainly one of two essential elements that enables him to be declared. Surely the AttorneyGeneral is not going to pretend that the consequences of a declaration are not serious, apart from those expressed in the bill? Those consequences are denial of employment in the Public Service and denial of office in a vital union and the removal from both places of the persons who happen to be in them at the time the declaration is made. What of the odium that will attach to a declaration of that nature? A man will never shed that odium which must attach itself to his family as well as to himself forever, and it may have drastic economic consequences for him and for them.
The Opposition has expressed grave concern regarding the serious conse quences that flow from a declaration under this bill even as it is proposed to be amended by the Government. A man may be declared on two counts. One is that he is a Communist, and the Government may reach back two years to pick him up. The second count is that he is prejudicial to security. I do not know of any more serious allegation that could be made against a man in any country than that charge which means that he is a traitor and a danger to his country. Such an accusation would make any man a leper in the community. Yet, if I interpreted the Attorney-General’s meaning correctly, he put it to the committee that there were no penalties flowing from a declaration under this bill.
I suggest that a. declaration attaches to itself the most dreadful social odium apart from the refusal of a position in the Public Service and in a trade union. A man would be branded for ever even if the declaration were set aside later. He would be known and would have the greatest difficulty in getting employment anywhere in the country. I assure the Attorney-General that honorable senators on this side do not regard lightly either the expressed or the unexpressed consequences of a declaration on an individual. That is one of the major factors that have influenced the Opposition in taking such a firm stand on the onus of proof clause which honorable senators will discuss at a later stage.
I shall refer now to sub-clause (3.) of the clause that the committee is discussing. At a later stage, subject to the acceptance of an amendment that I shall move to clause 5, I shall move for the inclusion of the words “ or appeal “ after the words “ an application “ in sub-clause (3.). I think that it would be more appropriate in any event to postpone consideration of that clause until the committee has dealt with clause 5.
– I entirely agree.
– Having for the purposes of the moment traversed clause 3, I move -
That further consideration of clause 3 be postponed.
I give my personal assurance that I shall not open up anything other than the definition of “the appropriate court” when consideration of the clause is resumed. I make it clear that I cannot bind the other members of the Labour party, as I have not consulted them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Further consideration of clause postponed.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 - (3.) A body of persons so declared to be an unlawful association may, within twentyeight days after the publication of the declaration in the Gazette, apply to the appropriate court to set aside the declaration, on the ground that the body is not a body to which this section applies.
.- I move-
That after sub-clause (2.) the following new sub-clause be inserted: - “ (2a.) The Executive Council shall not advise the Governor-General to make a declaration under the last preceding sub-section unless the m uteri al upon which the advice is founded has first been considered by a committee consisting of the Solicitor-General, the Secretary to the Department of Defence, the Director-General of Security, and two other persons appointed by the Governor-General.”.
This is an amendment that was envisaged by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in the statement that he made recently. It is designed to ensure that before the Governor-General makes a declaration in regard to an organization, a responsible body will examine the material upon which he is to act. The body that has been chosen consists of the heads of three important departments and two other persons. It is thought desirable to bring in also some outside representation to be appointed by the Governor-General. I suggest that the amendment is one which should commend itself to the committee.
– I am happy to reciprocate the courtesy that was extended to the Opposition by the Government earlier to-day when it accepted the amendment that was moved by the Opposition. Honorable senators on the Opposition side approve this new. sub-clause. The establishment of a committee does something to allay the fears that were held by the Opposition that the Attorney-General of the day might act upon a report that had come to him from the security service without screening the information himself and that he would act simply on a recommendation.
The Opposition approves completely of the three prominent officers who are named in the amendment. It has great confidence in the three gentleman and is satisfied that the presence of any one of them on a screening committee will eliminate from their consideration any anonymous letters that they might receive and that after scrutiny they will relegate such documents to an appropriate place.
I point out that there is no obligation on this committee to furnish a report under the clause as presented. The duty that is cast upon the committee is to consider the material and I have no doubt that it will make a report, but I draw attention to the fact that that is not specified. It has to be assumed that the committee will at least make some recommendation after it has considered the evidence. An assurance was given to honorable senators earlier to-day by the Leader of the Government (Senator O’Sullivan) that Cabinet itself will give consideration to the case of each person who is declared. I take it that the AttorneyGeneral does not think that I am misrepresenting what his leader said in the course of his reply to the secondreading debate. That also gives the Opposition some confidence that a very high degree of responsibility will be exercised by the Government in determining upon the declaration of any individual.
The Opposition made the point ir. earlier speeches that two Ministers, neither of whom need be the Ministers in charge of the administration of this bill, might declare a man after reference to the Governor-General, and I believe that that led the Government to give the undertaking that no person will be declared until first he has been screened by this departmental committee. The Opposition has not the slightest objection to the personnel of the committee. On the contrary, honorable senators on this side entirely approve of the personnel as far as it is known to them. After the proposed committee has. considered a case, the Attorney-General will make his recommendation and then that will have the consideration of the full Cabinet. If the Opposition had known of these safeguards earlier, they would have allayed some of the fears that have been entertained not only by the Opposition but by thi press and a large section of the public.
– Fears which were fostered by the Opposition.
Proposed new sub-clause agreed to.
– I move -
That in sub-clause (3.) the words “so declared to be an unlawful association “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “declared to be an unlawful association under sub-section (2.) of this section.”.
The only reason for the altered wording is that the Government has inserted a new sub-clause between sub-clauses (1.) and (3.), and the reference to a body of persons so declared, that is a body declared under sub-section 1, seems a little removed from the point where its declaration is referred to. Consequently, I suggest a different form of expression.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That in sub-clause (3.) the words, “on the ground that the body is not a body to which this section applies “ be left out.
Sub-clause (3.) reads - (3.) A body of persons so declared to be an unlawful association may, within twentyeight days after the publication of the declaration in the Gazette, apply to the appropriate court to set aside the declaration, on the ground that the body is not a body to which this section applies.
The declaration of the Governor-General would set out, first, that a body came within the definition in the act, and, secondly, that its continued existence would be prejudicial to the security of the country. < Sub-clause (3.) provides that a declared body may appeal against the declaration, but only on one of the two grounds upon which it has been declared, namely, that it is a body to which the section applies. Sub-clause (1.) reads - ( I . ) This section applies to any body of persons, corporate or unincorporate, not being an industrial organization registered under the law of the Commonwealth or a State-
The sub-clause then describes four kinds of bodies to which the legislation applies. Here, again, the net has been spread exceedingly wide, so wide that it might gather in almost any kind of organization.
– Except a trade union.
– That is so; but, as Senator Sheehan pointed out, it might very well gather in the Australian Council of Trades Unions, or various trades and labour councils in Australia. Of course, the Opposition recognizes that if the Communist party is to be effectively banned, the Government must be free to pursue Communists into other organizations.
– Could not a deregistered trade union come under this provision ?
– Once it was deregistered it could come under the scope of the definition.
– Would it not cease to exist once it was de-registered?
– There is a section in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act which provides that a de-registered union may continue as a voluntary organization, although it loses its corporate entity. As I have said, the declaration of a body would be based on two counts, first, that it was a body that came within the definition in the act, and, secondly, that it was a body the continued existence of which would be prejudicial to the safety of the Commonwealth - in other words, that it was a treacherous, traitorous body engaged in activities designed to undermine the Commonwealth. The act provides that the declared body may appeal against the declaration that it comes within the definition in the act, but it is to have no right of appeal against the more serious allegation that it is a danger to the security of the Commonwealth, and no more serious charge could be preferred against an organization than that. The purpose of my amendment is to allow a declared organization to have access to a court on both points of the declaration, so that it may argue that it is not such a body as is described in the act ; and, even if it is, that its existence does not constitute a danger to the security of the Commonwealth.
Later, we shall encounter a similar provision dealing with the declaration of individuals. I have less sympathy with organizations than with individuals, because the dissolution of an organization only means that its members lose the right of association in a particular way. However, I regard as very serious the refusal of the Government to allow a declared body access to the court in order to obtain a judicial review of the most serious allegation that could be made against it. The Opposition feels strongly on this matter.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– The amendment is unacceptable to the Government. It is curious that the Opposition should persist with an amendment of this kind after it has swallowed the clause that provides for the dissolution of the Communist party itself, without any trial or right of appeal. I understand that the Opposition recognizes that the Communist party itself, is engaged in activities of a treasonable and subversive character.
– The Government says so.
– It is a disgraceful thing that members of the Opposition should be prepared to support the dissolution of the Communist party without being satisfied that the declarations to which they, as members of the Parliament, have agreed, are correct. Are we to assume that the Opposition is willing to dissolve the Communist party, to wipe it out of existence, without being satisfied that the allegations made against it are accurate ?
– That is the interpretation of the Attorney-General.
– It is the only interpretation that can be placed upon the attitude of some members of the Opposition. They cannot have it both ways. I ask honorable senators opposite, here and now, whether they approve of the dissolution of the Communist party, without trial and without appeal. That is a test. Only a few minutes ago, the Opposition agreed to clause 4 that has the effect of so dissolving the Communist party. If they do not approve of clause 4, then they were engaged in a pretence when they allowed it to be passed on the voices.
– We will give the Government pretence, if that is what it wants.
– However, I prefer to believe that the Labour party does realize that the Communist party is nothing but a treasonable conspiracy, and that it should therefore be abolished. Well, we have agreed to the clause that provides for the abolition of the Communist party. We now come to the clause which deals with affiliated .bodies, those bodies that may be the future manifestations of the Communist party itself, and as to which the Governor-General in Council may solemnly reach the conclusion that their activities are detrimental to the security and defence of Australia. Could any self-respecting government permit the continued existence of a body regarding which such a solemn declaration had been made? Quite obviously, such a body must cease to exist. The declarations in respect of which Senator McKenna suggests there should be a right of appeal must involve matters peculiarly within the knowledge of the government of the day, and as to which it is its responsibility to make the only effective decision that can be made. The question of whether a person or a body is engaged or is likely to engage in activities prejudicial to the defence or security of the Commonwealth is not one that can be satisfactorily dealt with by a court. That has been recognized by the highest courts of the British Commonwealth. I refer the committee to a passage from the decision of the Privy Council in the Zamora case, reported in 1916, 2 Appeal Cases, at page 107. Their Lordships said that-
Those who are responsible for the national security must be the sole judges of what the national security requires. It would obviously he undesirable that such matters should be made the subject of evidence in a court of law or otherwise discussed in public.
Because we believe that proposition to be sound, we are not prepared to extend the right of appeal in the manner suggested by the Opposition.
This amendment must not be considered in isolation. Other amendments foreshadowed by the Opposition propose that the whole of the onus of proof in proceedings under this measure shall be placed upon the Government. If the amendment relating to trial by jury were accepted, the onus placed upon the Government in relation to those applications would be the onus of proving beyond all reasonable doubt to a court or a jury that the facts were as the Government alleged.
– What is wrong with that?
– I am seriously asked by a honorable senator opposite, “ What is wrong with that ? “ I shall tell him what is wrong with it. Let us assume that there is in existence an organization of the kind referred to in clause 5 and that Cabinet has unanimously and solemnly come to the conclusion that it is engaged in activities prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth. Let us assume that it appeals to a court and that it has the right of trial by jury. If the court or the jury is left in a state of mind in which it is not certain that the organization is engaged in subversive activities - it thinks that it might be, but it is not certain - then, according to the Labour party, the organization must be allowed to continue to carry on its activities. That is the proposition that is advanced by the Opposition, and that is the proposition that it must justify. The proposition is that if the Government says that an organization is engaged in subversive activities and is undermining the security of this country, and if a court, having considered the matter, is left in a state of mind in which it is not satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that the organization is engaged in those activities, although it thinks it might be, the organization must be allowed to continue in existence, presumably until it has undermined the security of this country. Apparently, the Labour party is not prepared to agree that anything should be done about it until the damage is done. We are not prepared to accept that proposition. We cannot accept the amendment.
– The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) injected a great deal of effort into his speech.
– In defence of his country.
– In defence of his country, he is prepared completely to abrogate the rule of law in certain circumstances. I remind the committee of what the Attorney-General said in the course of his second-reading speech. He stated -
Is it seriously suggested that any responsible Minister of the Crown who has taken the oath of office would ask the Governor-General to make such a solemn declaration unless he had the soundest possible evidence to support his request?
I emphasize the words “ the soundest possible evidence “ -
Every time a Minister acts in relation to a serious matter of this kind, he must be satisfied that there is on his files, among the material on which he acts, all the evidence-
Not just evidence but all the evidence - required to support his signature.
If the Attorney-General has in his possession, not all the evidence, but any evidence to show that a body or an individual is a grave menace to the security of this country, he will be false to his oath of office if he does not indict that body or the individual. It is his plain duty to do so.
– Or if it is considered that it is likely to act in that way.
– That is not provided in the clause. I suggest that the Attorney-General is thinking of clause 9. Clause 5 (2.) provides -
Where the Governor-General is satisfied that a body of persons is a body of persons to which this section applies and that the continued existence of that body of persons would be prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth . . .
The words are “ would be prejudicial “ and not “ likely to be prejudicial “. The latter phrase is not used in relation to organizations. There is a significant difference between the provisions relating to the declaration of an organization and those relating to the declaration of an individual. An individual can be declared if it is considered that he is likely to act in a manner prejudicial to the security of this country. The AttorneyGeneral, in drafting this bill, decided that he would pick only organizations in respect of which, on the admission made in his second-reading speech, he has all the evidence necessary. What is the duty of a Government to its people? What is the duty of an Attorney-General if he has all the evidence that he requires?
If lie has any evidence that an organization or person is acting in a treasonable or seditious manner, it is his plain duty to indict that organization or person.
– The clause does not provide that the organization must have been guilty of treason. It uses the words. that the continued existence of that body would be prejudicial to the security “.
– That is in the opinion of the Attorney-General or the government of the day. It is to be left untested by anybody. The bare declaration of the Governor-General, made on the advice of the Executive Council, is to be the factor that will damn an organization for ever, even though the AttorneyGeneral is in possession of all the evidence. No court is to be allowed to throw any light upon the matter. There is to he a complete and utter abrogation of the rule of law, which one would expect the Attorney-General to support in unqualified fashion. I reject altogether the suggestion that he made, when running for cover, that he and the Commonwealth should not be compelled to disclose security secrets. Before the AttorneyGeneral recommended that an organization be declared under this measure, he would have, as he has admitted, a mass of evidence at his disposal, gathered from all kinds of sources outside the security service. I do not invite him to disclose the size of the security service, ‘but I venture to say that if he mentioned the number of persons who are engaged upon that work, we should see instantly that, in order to justify a declaration of this kind, he would have to rely upon information from all kinds of sources, because an organization of the type that we have in mind would be scattered throughout Australia. It would be wrong if the government of the day, having all the evidence necessary to convict an organization of treason, sedition or subversive activities, made no move to do so. The rule of law is designed to prevent that. This clause provides for arbitrary action by the Executive - unassailable in courts of law and not subject to the processes of law. Under this measure, an issue could be determined upon the “ say-so “ of the Attorney-General or the Government. It is proposed that the declaration shall be made by the Governor-General, but everybody knows that that is a pure formality. v
– That is a most misleading statement.
– What does the Attorney-General suggest is misleading?
– The statement that the declaration by the Governor-General will be a mere formality. What Senator McKenna has said is true in one sense, but in another sense, it is completely misleading.
– If the Attorney-General suggests that the importation of the Governor-General into this matter is not a pure formality, I am prepared to join issue with him. In these matters, the Governor-General will act upon the advice of the Executive Council. At a meeting of the Executive Council only two Ministers, neither of whom is the Minister who has sponsored the declaration that may be under consideration may be present.
I have had something to do with the security service. I played some part in the establishment of the security service that now operates under the formal jurisdiction of the Attorney-General. I have some knowledge of this service, its charter and activities. For two years, I acted as Attorney-General, in the absence from this country of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). On only one occasion during that time was it necessary for me to decline to reveal the source of my information. I do not accept for a moment the cover that the Attorney-General seeks when he speaks of the need for secrecy about the security service of this country. That aspect of the matter has already been dealt with adequately by other members of the Opposition, who have referred to the activities- of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America and a recent prosecution in England.
– What about treason?
– I agree that it may be necessary to take precautions to prevent trouble from happening. The security service is available for that purpose. The Government already possesses power to prevent the association of persons for any purpose whatsoever. The Minister has already admitted that the net cast is exceedingly wide. It ranges from bodies affiliated with the Australian Communist party, about which I raise no question, to bodies that may be merely influenced by one or two men. of a large number. I have already cited cases in which kindergarten committees and school committees could be picked out. This is a very wide cast of the net. The Opposition is not prepared to concede the principle that it will stand aside all the processes of law and that the provision for recourse to the courts should be thrown aside in favour of a bare declaration by the Executive Government of the day.
– I agree with Senator McKenna. The power of the Executive to declare without recourse to law has operated in Germany against the Communist party and the Jews. The Social Democrats, a party which was similar to an industrial party in this country, was declared without any reason being given. Even the press of this country expressed horror at that action. The matter never reached the courts, and there was no appeal. In dissolving the Social Democrats party no doubt the executive of the Reichstag thought that it was serving its country. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that he would dissolve the Communist party, and the country endorsed his policy, we did not object. However, the right honorable gentleman in his joint policy speech, did not tell the people that his Government would introduce a new law that would enable the Executive to declare a man guilty of a most villainous action, without giving him the right to clear his name before a court. The Government contends that such persons can be charged with an overt actThen the person has to be committed. A group of persons could be charged with conspiracy. This is a serious charge for which the existing law provides heavy penalties, particularly when persons conspire to use violence against the government. The country’s intersts can be protected by bringing the matter quickly before the courts where it can be dealt with effectively. It should not be possible for the Executive to declare groups of persons in this country subversive and give them no right to clear themselves.
– They would take the country away from us.
– They might under the present Government. People declared by any government should have full recourse to the law. The first move made by the Chifley Government against the leaders of the Communist party was to issue a statement about their position. The Government considered that a statement made by the Communists concerned could possibly be interpreted as seditious. But the Government did not abrogate the rule of law in ‘this country, the Attorney-General of the day took action. The Parliament made the law, and the courts were there to interpret it. There has been no outcry from anybody. The former .Government did its duty and maintained what we considered to be one, of our most highly ‘treasured rights, that is the right of access to and the protection of the courts. I think that we have a strong case.
– I consider that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) has not stated this matter clearly to the committee. He has accused the Opposition of agreeing to the banning of the Communist party, and then of being directly opposed to its former attitude. I point out that the Government has stated to the Parliament that the Australian Communist party is subversive and that it is prepared to follow the members of that body in their various guises. Were that the only consideration we would probably be prepared to look at this matter in a different light. The Government is assuming that the party will adopt other guises, and it intends to declare those bodies. If the Government has evidence that members of the Communist party are trying to retain their organization in another form, I think that it is only fair to the Parliament and to the people that the Government should say to some appropriate body, “ We have evidence that this particular organization is an offshoot of the Communist party “.
– That is the subjectmatter of appeal. We do not say that there can not be an appeal.
– How will the Government know that in following them into these other organizations it will be pursuing the Communist party?
– That is the subject of the appeal.
– That is the very point that we raise.
– The Opposition has already conceded that.
– If that is so, T am under a misapprehension. I understand that only one point was conceded.
– That is the point.
– I disagree entirely. I take the view, as Senator McKenna has stated it, that there are two points at issue. The Government is conceding only one point. It is not prepared to take up the other attitude. I believe that if the Government has all of the evidence, it should be capable of saying to the court, “ These people are subversive “. There should be no diffidence about agreeing to the Opposition’s proposed amendment. There is no risk involved in the Government going before an open court and proving that those people are subversive.
– Order ! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Chairman having reported accordingly.
– Order ! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– A few nights ago Senator Aylett raised on the adjournment the matter of recruitment for the Australian Regular Army, and I told him then that I would make inquiries of my colleague, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis). I have discussed the matter with my colleague, who informs me that the Army estimates provide for 19,000 personnel, of whom 3,000 may be civilians. Every endeavour has been made, not only by the present Government, but also by ‘ the previous Administration, to bring the Australian Regular Army to full strength, and although a relatively good response has been obtained, the Army is not at full strength and there are vacancies. Because of that situation the Army authorities, by direction of the Government, have been in communication with the War Office in England, and have discussed the position with them. They are now contemplating launching an appeal in the United Kingdom for the recruitment of up to 4,500 personnel for the Australian Regular Army. By agreement with the War Office, recruitment of the personnel will be made from four categories : (a) personnel in the United Kingdom who have served in the British Army during the war and have since been discharged; (6) army personnel, including national servicemen, who have completed their full-time service; (c) personnel in the United Kingdom who have been graded as “ B “ class for British army requirements; and (d) personnel held on the supplementary reserve of the British Army.
– What does “ B “ class mean ?
– I could not say. Honorable senators may remember that when this matter was raised by Senator Aylett, he suggested that it might be wiser to invite suitable men to migrate to Australia, and to enlist them after their arrival in this country. The Minister for the Army informs me that there is no bar to that procedure being followed. Men who migrate to this country from the United Kingdom may join the Australian Regular Army on their arrival, and they will be very welcome if they do so. The last point raised by Senator Aylett, was if I may say so, not in keeping with the high tone of his earlier remarks. He suggested that the Australian Government’s purpose in recruiting men from the United Kingdom for the Army was to use them, as strike-breakers. My colleague asks me to say that that is not a fair approach to the matter. The present Government, like its predecessor, has a great responsibility to maintain -the Regular Army in a fit . state. The experience of both Administrations has demonstrated the difficulty of maintaining the Army at the strength at which it should be maintained, and I suggest to honorable senators opposite that, instead of making critical comments on the Government’s endeavours, they might reasonably be expected to assist us to implement our plans. In conclusion, I say that it ill-behoves an honorable senator who is a member of the Australian Labour party to accuse the present Government of desiring to use the Army for strikebreaking purposes, because in this generation the only occasion on which the Army has been used to break a strike was when it was so used by a Labour administration.
– Last week I directed the attention of the Government to the dismissal of Dr. P. S. James from his position as resident medical officer at the Repatriation. General Hospital, Heidelberg, Victoria, and I requested information concerning the reason for his dismissal. So far no answer has been forthcoming. The notice of dismissal expired yesterday, and Dr. James is now out of employment. He says that he does not know the reason for his dismissal. I am informed that he is a particularly brilliant medical officer. Although he is now aged only 33 years, he graduated Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at Adelaide University in 1941.
In the recent war he had six and a half years service with the Army, including service overseas. During the four years in which he has been employed at the Repatriation General Hospital, at Heidelberg, he has served that institution faithfully and well. He is not aware of any complaint having .been.made against him by his superior officers. To indicate his value to the hospital, I mention - that some little time ago he was asked not to take annual leave because of the pressure of work. There is an acute shortage of doctors, and medical . officers with Dr. James’s qualifications cannot be picked up every day. At the time of his dismissal, Dr. James was engaged in treating arthritis in patients who were also suffering from schizophrenia, tuberculosis or nitrogen mustard cases, and he had undertaken special research in those branches of medicine.
Dr. James received a letter from the medical superintendent of the Repatriation General Hospital, at Heidelberg, informing him that Mr. Lussen, the Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation in Victoria, had stated that the Public Service Board had decided that his services should be terminated. The letter contained the following extract from a memorandum written by Mr. W. E. Dunk. Chairman of the Public Service Board : -
Dr. James is a temporary officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, the termination of his employment lies with the authority vested in the Repatriation Commission. The Public Service Board does not propose to intervene in this matter. . . .
That looks like a clear case of “ passing the buck “. First of all, Dr. James was informed that the Public Service Board had decided to terminate his employment; but, as the portion of the letter that I have read indicates, he was then informed by the Chairman of the Public Service Board that the Repatriation Commission had terminated his employment, and that the board did not propose to intervene in the matter. The doctor is a popular young man, who is well liked by his patients and the staff, and they want to know why he has been dismissed. Forty medical officers at Heidelberg hospital have held a meeting and have requested that Dr. James be reinstated in his position pending an inquiry, and I think that that request is fair and reasonable.
– ^ Did the honorable senator say that Dr. James was only a temporary employee?
– He is only a temporary employee, but he is a very brilliant medical officer. Since Australia is short of doctors, I do not think that the matter of his temporary status is relevant. His services should have been retained, at least until a definite charge was made against him and he- was- given an opportunity to answer it. His dismissal at the present time, when so much publicity has been given to the debate on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, casts a grave reflection upon him. According to my information, Dr. James is not a Communist, has never been a Communist, and has no affiliations with the Communist party. I now ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he will appoint a board to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Dr. James from the Repatriation General Hospital at Heidelberg?
– -I informed Senator Morrow only yesterday that the questions that he had placed on the notice-paper, including the question a’bout Dr. James’s dismissal, would be answered in due course. The decision to terminate Dr. James’s service was made by .the Public Service Board in accordance with its authority. At this stage I have nothing further to add to the statements that 1 have already made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of Works and Housing R. A. Knowles, P. M. Wilson.
Senate adjourned at 10.43 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 June 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1950/19500608_senate_19_208/>.